Armstrong's Devastate FAQ
Posting verbatim from the Warrior forums. All credit to Armstrong for this. Also, this has been added to Fortifications on the Warrior forums, but our own thread is broken. :)
Last updated June 23 2007.
Note: This document assumes a level 70 warrior with Sunder Armor (Rank 6) and Devastate (Rank 3) trained, 3/3 Focused Rage, and 3/3 Imp. Sunder Armor and 5 Sunders on the target, except when noted otherwise. All threat values are before Defensive Stance and Defiance modifiers. All damage values used for the purpose of calculating threat are considered to be after mitigation from armor.
Some answers include subjective elements based on my own experience and that of other warriors, and may or may not reflect your own experiences depending on your spec, gear and many other factors.
A note on the tooltip:
Like many other tooltips in WoW, the tooltip for Devastate doesn't accurately reflect how the ability works. To stay true to Blizzard's style while being more accurate, the tooltip should probably say:
"An instant weapon attack that causes 35 damage for each application of Sunder Armor on the target plus 50% of weapon damage and causes a high amount of threat. In addition, this attack will renew the duration of the Sunder Armor effect."
How much damage does Devastate do?
The formula for Devastate(Rank3) is as follows:
(W ? 2) + (35 ? S) - M
W = Weapon Damage
S = Number of Sunders stacked on target
M = Target's damage mitigation from Armor
"Weapon Damage" is the damage you deal with one normal "white" hit, which is based on the basic damage range of the weapon you have equipped, plus damage from attack power.
Like many other "instant" melee attacks, Devastate calculates the damage bonus from Attack Power based on a formula that uses a "normalized" weapon speed. The purpose of this is to reduce the viability gap between slow and fast weapons when used for "instant" attacks that are based on weapon damage. In other words, instant attacks using a slow weapon will still deal more damage than using a fast weapon, but the difference is not as big as it would be without the normalization. With all 1H weapons except daggers, the Attack Power component of Weapon Damage is calculated based on a speed of 2.4. With daggers the speed is 1.7.
Using Devastate on a target with 0 Sunders will deal close to the equivalent of 50% of a normal white hit before mitigation from armor. Using Devastate on the same target after 5 Sunders are applied will deal 50% weapon damage plus 175 before mitigation from armor.
This means that for the most damage per rage point spent, Devastate is always best used with 5 Sunders on the target.
Note that Devastate is affected by the One-Handed Weapon Specialization talent (10% damage increase), which most tanks should have. Devastate damage is also affected by talents and abilities that increase overall damage or crit bonus, such as Enrage and Impale.
How much threat does Devastate generate?
Depends how much your Devastates hit for. Devastate has a flat "bonus" threat of 101. This is in additon to normal threat from damage dealt. For example if your Devastate hits for 200 after mitigation from armor, you are generating (101 + 200) = 301 threat per use.
But the tooltip makes it sound like the ability generates a fixed amount of threat per Sunder on the target.
According to folks who spend a lot of time figuring out threat values, Devastate always generates threat equal to (total damage + 101). So while the added damage per Sunder does naturally translate into added threat, the "innate" threat bonus is always 101, whether you have five Sunders or no Sunders at all. No this doesn't match what the tooltip says, but it isn't the first time Blizzard messes up the wording on a tooltip...
Does Devastate generate more threat per hit than Sunder Armor?
Depends how much your Devastates hit for, but in most cases, yes.
Sunder Armor generates 301 threat.
So from the example above, your Devastate needs to deal 200 damage to generate as much threat as Sunder armor. Same threat, but with the added bonus that your target now has 200 less healh on its bar. A 200 damage Devastate is very easy to achieve at level 70, even when wearing tanking gear.
It is important to note however that because for most tanks the rage cost of Sunder will be lower than the rage cost of Devastate, a 200 damage Devastate is still not as efficient as Sunder in terms of Threat-per-rage, or Threat-per-second when you queue up Heroic Strikes between Sunders. See next question.
Does Devastate generate more threat per rage point spent than Sunder Armor?
Depends on your spec and how much your Devastate hits for. :)
The scenario that favors Sunder Armor the most is when you have 3/3 Focused Rage and 3/3 Imp. Sunder Armor, meaning that Sunder costs 9 rage and Devastate costs 12 rage.
With Sunder generating a flat 301 threat for 9 rage, Devastate needs to generate 401 threat to compete. This means that Devastate needs to hit for 300 damage to become as rage-efficient as Sunder in threat alone. Hitting for 300 is certainly achievable with level 70 blues, particularly with a slow weapon. It's also achievable with a few epics and full raid buffs, even using a fast weapon that lends itself to Heroic Strike spam.
However #1: Regardless of whether or not you generate as much threat per rage as you do with Sunder with sub-300 Devastates, your Devastates are also dealing damage to the mob, when Sunder would deal zero damage.
However #2: While on paper the stat requirements for Devastate to compete with Sunder on threat-per-rage alone may seem like an issue, it isn't so much in-game. The situations where you'll be using Devastate to hold aggro are boss fights where you should be generating plenty of rage to also spam Heroic Strike in-between global cooldown cycles. Heroic Strike and Shield Slam and Revenge should remain your main sources of threat, meaning that you'll be using Devastate as a rage-dump for some added damage on the remaining global cooldown cycles.
In cases where you are starved for rage and don't have the stats to hit for 300+ with Devastate, you still have the option of using Sunder for that particular fight.
If you don't have Imp. Sunder Armor, Devastate only needs to hit for 200 damage to be as rage-efficient as Sunder Armor for threat generation.
In what other ways is Devastate better than Sunder Armor?
Devastate can crit.
Devastate deals more damage (and threat) as your gear improves.
Devastate deals more damage (and threat) with buffs.
Devastate damage (and threat) benefits from damage-increasing talents.
Devastate can proc "on-melee-hit" effects from items and enchants, including Windfury.
Would there ever be a situation where Devastate should be used even when Revenge is lit up?
Not likely. Particularly since the changes made to Revenge in patch 2.1.0.
Revenge (Rank 8) generates threat from (Damage) + (~200 bonus threat). Assuming an average of 350 Revenge damage after mitigation from armor, that's a whopping 550 threat total. You would have to hit for 450 with Devastate to generate as much threat as Revenge. While Devastate scales with gear and Revenge doesn't, it's not likely we'll ever have access to tanking gear that yields that much Devastate damage before the level cap is raised again.
If threat is the priority, continue to use Revenge every time it's lit up. If threat is not a factor and you can Devastate for 350 damage or more, skip Revenge and use Devastate for the added damage.
So fast weapon or slow weapon for raiding?
Fast (when tanking).
Due to Devastate using a normalized speed for AP calculations, and because the ability only factors in 50% of weapon damage, weapon speed doesn't have nearly as much of an effect on Devastate as it does on Heroic Strike.
When raiding, you'll typically be generating enough rage to queue up Heroic Strike on almost every hit, and the rate at which you can use Heroic Strike is invertly proportional with your weapon speed. So even while spamming Devastate, the frequency at which you can use Heroic Strike will still have the largest impact on your DPS and threat generation (which is the reason why fast weapons were always better for tanking in the first place).
The notable exception to this rule is with daggers. Because they are normalized to 1.7 speed for AP calculations on instant attacks, daggers deal noticeably lower damage with Devastate.
Slow for secondary aggro
Carrying a slow weapon for higher Devastate numbers is a good idea for those fights where you need to remain second on a mob or boss' threat list. Since you'll only be gaining rage from your own white damage, a Shield Slam every 6 seconds should be priority number one, but if you have enough rage (and the gear for it), Devastates for 300 damage or more in between the Shield Slams should be next on your list.
Slow weapon for solo grinding then?
If you own a slow weapon with a base DPS comparable to your fast tanking weapon, and ideally with damage-increasing stats, use it for higher Devastate damage in situations where you don't generate enough rage to spam Heroic Strike.
5-man trash mobs?
Tanking trash mobs in 5-man instances may also qualify as a low-rage situation, but mobs are usually dead before you have time to apply 5 Sunders, which means you won't be using Devastate anyway, so weapon speed doesn't really matter there.
Since Devastate replaces Sunder Armor once 5 Sunders are applied, is there any value in speccing 3/3 Imp. Sunder Armor?
For grinding / DPS and tanking 5-man trash, definitely. For raiding, it's a question of preference.
Imp. Sunder enables you to quickly apply 5 Sunders on an regular outdoor mob and use Devastate on it right away. Or in some cases, use the extra rage for a few Heroic Strikes or a bigger Execute. Sunder is also still a good "filler" ability when tanking trash mobs in 5-man instances, even if you never stack them up to five.
In a raid instance, if you're tanking something that will live long enough for you to have time to apply 5 Sunders to it, it's probably also hitting you so hard that spending the extra 15 rage at the beginning of the fight won't be an issue. However, in cases where establishing aggro quickly is key, the rage saved on the initial Sunders can be used to queue up simultaneous Heroic Strikes for more threat early on. This becomes even more meaninful on fights where the boss "dissapears" long enough for the Sunder debuff to wear off and aggro resets multiple times. Nightbane is a good example.
Is Devastate needed for raid tanking?
Shield Slam (combined with 5/5 1H specialization and 3/3 Shield Mastery) still provides the biggest overall threat (and damage) improvement beyond Defiance.
Devastate is a DPS ability conveniently placed in the Protection tree to provide warriors who choose to spec heavily into it with an option to contribute further to their raid's overall DPS and to increase their damage while soloing.