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Block Capping – Mastery vs. Stamina

August 5, 2011

If you haven’t read Meloree’s excellent post over on Sacred Duty, go do so now. I’ll wait.

The importance of being block capped cannot be underestimated, especially in this tier. If your goal is to make yourself as easy as possible to heal, then you should be block capping on pretty much every fight.  This post is about the Mastery vs. Stamina tradeoff you make when block capping, and how to minimize the Stamina loss you incur while pushing to the block cap.


Let’s start by looking at gemming tradeoffs. If you’re going for maximum Stamina while still matching socket bonuses, then your preferred gems will be +20 Mastery / +30 Stamina in yellow slots, +60 Stamina in blue slots and +20 Parry / +30 Stamina in red slots. To bias instead towards Mastery, your preferred gems will be +40 Mastery in yellow slots, +20 Mastery / +30 Stamina in blue slots and +20 Parry / +20 Mastery in red slots.

In all three cases, the tradeoff is the same. Each point of Mastery costs you 1.5 Stamina.

Flask vs. Elixirs

Your two options here are +450 Stamina vs. +225 Mastery / +900 Armor. In Theck’s simple model, 900 armor is worth about 128 Mastery. Therefore the two Elixirs together are worth the equivalent of 353 Mastery, and so it’s actually a really excellent tradeoff. The problem, though, is that the armor doesn’t help you block cap, so looking at this tradeoff purely from a block capping perspective, you give up 2 Stamina for each point of Mastery gained.


Assuming equivalent item levels, the Mastery trinkets and Stamina trinkets have the same tradeoff as gemming. For example at the 378 item level, you can get 383 Mastery vs. 575 Stamina. Each point of Mastery costs you 1.5 Stamina.

Block Capping for Heroics:

I am assuming you start off with full Stamina gemming. Don’t swap any gems to Mastery yet.

Step One: Equip Two Mastery Trinkets

What’s fantastic about the trinket slot is you have flexibility. If you ever do need more Stamina, you can just swap out trinkets without having to regem all your gear. Therefore this is the first place you should start when going for the block cap: equip two Mastery trinkets. I recommend the Essence of Eternal Flame and the Spidersilk Spindle. For some fights, e.g., Heroic Baleroc, you may find yourself equipping the Mirror of Broken Images, so this is a viable alternative also.

Step Two: Swap out Gear

Swapping in lower ilvl gear is a better alternative to regemming all your stuff if the conversion is actually more favorable than 1 Mastery vs. 1.5 Stamina. I’ll go over some examples so you can see which slots are ripe for gear swapping (and which aren’t). Again the flexibility of gear swapping allows you to retain higher ilvl pieces gemmed for Stamina instead of Mastery, so that you have them available on any fights where it is necessary (or just for threat e-peen flexing if you’re into that sort of thing, ahem).

I highly recommend using Digren’s gear list over on Maintankadin, since his rankings are absolutely correct from a block capping perspective. I’m going to specifically point out the places in his list where a lower ilvl item jumps over a higher one.


The neck slot is a case where you can make a good tradeoff in terms of Stamina vs. Mastery by swapping your Sinestra neck for the Firebound Gorget. Even if you didn’t gem maximum Mastery in the Sinestra neck, you’re losing 48 Stamina to gain the equivalent of ~45 Mastery. This is an excellent tradeoff and one you should make before doing any other regemming.


Your best (realistic) option for a cloak is actually the 384 PvP cloak. It has the most Stamina and Mastery. If you can’t PvP though, then your choice of cloaks is likely going to come down to the 378 Rep cloak vs. the 372 Al’Akir Cloak or the 365 Thrall quest cloak. This is a case where the tradeoff is very clear: equip the 372 or 365 cloak instead of the rep cloak. If you compare the 378 cloak vs. the 365 you lose only 40 Stamina to gain ~50 Mastery.


The Shannox belt is wonderful, but if you don’t have it yet, your choices are probably between the 378 reputation belt, Girdle of Indomitable Flame, and the 372 Jumbotron Power belt. This is another slot where the conversion is favorable for the Jumbotron, and so you should downgrade your belt to the Jumbotron if you’ve got it.


If you have the Carapace of Imbibed Flame off Beth’tilac, it’s the clear winner, but if you don’t and bought the T12 chest, then this is another slot where it’s favorable to downgrade to the 372 T11 Heroic chest instead.


The feet are an interesting spot. The Rhyolith heroic boots, although they sport slightly less combat table coverage, have such a huge Stamina advantage over the Mirrored Boots. At 89 Stamina difference, you need to gain > 60 Mastery in order for the offset to be better than just regemming your gear. You can see that even with reforging on the 391 heroic boots, the Mirrored Boots maintain a more favorable tradeoff when compared with just regemming, although it’s *extremely* close. The Mirrored Boots have 70 more Mastery once you reforge the Rhyolith boots, but the Rhyolith boots have ~100 more armor, which is worth another 14 Mastery or so.

In terms of combat table coverage, the Mirrored Boots have the slight edge, but once you factor in Mastery + Armor, you’re better off with the Heroic Rhyolith boots assuming you can block cap without changing this slot.

A more interesting comparison is with the War-Torn Crushers. Here it’s not much of a contest. The Mirrored Boots cost you 79 Stamina, but you make that up in spades. Again, this is somewhat disappointing, but the easily obtainable 378 piece is better than the Sinestra loot. This is one of the first slots you should swap out, as it is one of the most favorable conversions you can make.

Final Swap Order Notes:

My suggestion for gear swapping if you were a maxed out 13/13 HM tank with Stamina gemming is to do it in this order as long as you’re still below the block cap:

(1) Craft the Mirrored Boots and swap them in for your War-Torn Crushers.

(2) Pick up the Firebound Gorget and replace your Caelestrasz’s Will.

(3) Downgrade your 378 items to 372 (or even 365 in the case of the cloak) in the cloak and belt slots.

(4) Downgrade your T12 chest if you picked it up to the T11 Heroic chest instead.

Step Three: Regem

Once you have the ideal piece of gear in every slot, you want to gem for Mastery. You should start with the items that you swapped in. Again, that way you retain the maximum flexibility as far as building a max Stamina set as well as a block cap set. So go to the Mirrored Boots, the T12H chest, and the Jumbotron Belt first and regem all of them for maximum Mastery.

After that if you’re still not at the block cap, it’s time to regem other pieces of gear. It really doesn’t matter how you do this, since the tradeoff as far as Stamina vs. Mastery is identical no matter what slot you modify. Just keep swapping out gems until you get to around 100.5% using the following macro:

/run dr=function(x)return 1/(1/16+0.9560/x)end;DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("Need 102.4 - Currently at: "..string.format("%.2f", GetDodgeChance()+GetBlockChance()+GetParryChance()+5))

Final Thoughts

I try to stay above 175k health or so unbuffed. Especially if you’ve picked up a few 378 drops and a couple of tier pieces, you should be able to block cap while retaining a decent health pool. The trick is knowing which gear swaps are the most favorable, and to avoid aggressive regemming until you’ve exhausted all other options.

As Mel says, we’re overpowered. Now go out there and show your fellow raid members just how insane block capping and the new Holy Shield are!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2011 10:40 pm

    Stamina Scrolls (150 stam) are Guardian Elixirs now. So your Elixir for Flask trade can ignore the whole armor issue completely. It’s 450 Stamina (Flask) against 150 Stamina (Scroll) and 225 Mastery (Elixir). Or 300 Stamina vs 225 mastery -> clearly better than 1.5:1 for Combat Table Coverage, as well as for TDR.

    I’m pretty certain a 372 Al’akir cloak with dodge/mastery works out to be slightly better than the 384 PVP cloak for “Combat Table Coverage/Stamina Equivalency” – or whatever name we’re giving the items total value. Calling dodge roughly 1/3rd as good as mastery leads to the H-AA cloak coming out ahead of PVP cloak for me. Clearly the 378 rep cloak is terrible, though, and the PVP cloak does beat the 365ilvl quest cloak.

    I believe that the Sinestra Neck also works out to be slightly favorable to the Gorget (ilvl378 gorget) as well. You’re not taking into account the strength and socket bonus, probably. But the advantage of 18 stamina, 56 strength, 138 dodge against 59 mastery ends up in favor of the Will by just a little bit.

    I swear the math on Mirrored boots didn’t work out quite as well for it when I did my math on it before release, but I appear to have done something horribly wrong at the time. I should go ahead and pick them up after all.

    Good thing about the gorget, though. I have no hit and expertise, I didn’t want to leave Nirvana.

    Thanks for the shout out and compliment 🙂

    • August 6, 2011 2:43 am

      I didn’t know that about Stamina scrolls. That makes two Elixirs a pretty attractive option actually.

      Agreed on the cloak, although notice I said “best (realistic) option.” The Al’akir cloak is extremely difficult to get given the size of his loot table and the fact that 1/3 of the time the cloak will be Dodge/Parry garbage if it even does drop. I’m not bitter about the fact that it has never dropped for me despite many kills. Oh no. Not scarred at all. 😉

      As for the Sinestra neck vs. the Firebound Gorget, I disagree. I have both in my inventory, so the gain I see in CTC is not theoretical. The Gorget clearly gives me the numbers I cited for the Stamina tradeoff I cited, so the edge definitely goes to the Gorget. The Strength difference only amounts to a 0.06% Parry delta, so it doesn’t count for much at all. For me the gain in CTC with a +20 Mastery/+30 Stamina gem in the Will when I swap to the Gorget is 0.54%, which is quite a substantial gain.

      Now you could slot the Will with +40 Mastery instead of +20 Mastery/+30 Stamina, but that still doesn’t come out in favor of Will. You narrow the gap down to only a 0.28% for the Gorget, but now the Will only has 18 Stamina more than the Gorget. It’s still a clear win for the little guy!

  2. Anafielle permalink
    August 6, 2011 1:39 am

    Thanks for the post. I’m actually moving over to block capping tonight, I think. Damn useful and timely.

    To check my CTC, I like the addon that Rhidach mentioned in his WI post a week or two ago called Visual Combat Table. It’s just a pretty bar that displays your CTC and has a nice detailed mouseover. I like it.

  3. Anon permalink
    August 9, 2011 12:44 am

    Great blog, love the advice here. I have always taken the approach to gemming heavy mastery, but you intrigued me to possibly rethink my approach using stam heavy and swapping out pieces to hit 102.4% as need be. I am curious though, what are your thoughts on using the prot pally 4pc?

    For example I can use tier shoulders/hands the rest mix and match 372/378 off pieces(391 shannox legs) double mastery trinkets, heavy stam gemming and reach the 102.4% with roughly 203k HP. I happen to also have the tier chest and helmet, I know which are not ideal itemized piece of gear. However, I can gem heavy mastery to reach the 102.4% with double mastery trinkets, but only having roughly 193k HP buffed. All these numbers are assuming mastery food and 450stam from cauldrons.

    I am leaning towards using the 4pc, although my guild is only 1/7heroic(10man) at the moment so the bigger health pool might be more useful later on perhaps?

    • August 10, 2011 9:17 pm

      If I can get 391s I would definitely use the 4pc. The gloves, shoulders and legs are all excellently itemized, and once you gear up, you’ll be well over block cap and want to stack some avoidance anyway. The chest will work well for that.

      Right now I wear shoulders and gloves from tier (I only have 378 in those slots), and I use the Shannox 391 legs and the Beth’tilac 391 chest. I would definitely switch to the tier chest and tier legs if I could get them at the 391 ilvl.

      I would never wear the T12 helm though. It’s just trash compared to the Baleroc helm.

      • Anon permalink
        August 11, 2011 8:10 am

        Here are the two setups I’m comparing with gear I have available to me. I guess they are very similar, and I’m splitting hairs. using 2pc & using 4pc.

        I currently only have access to 372 Maloriak helm and 372 Tier body for those two slots, as we haven’t seen Beth’tilac body or Baleroc helm drop yet in 10m. I guess I’m just trying to weigh out how powerful the 4pc bonus is. Ideally, I would want the Baleroc helm and tier 391 legs as you said above.

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