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Thread: AP Debuffs Explained

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    AP Debuffs Explained

    I am attempting to do a few things with this post:

    • I want to cover what an AP Debuff is
    • How it differs from a Slow Debuff
    • Provide developer views on the effects and importance of said debuffs
    • Discuss who can bring it & how it can be improved
    • The math behind it

    Question: What is a AP Debuff?

    An Attack Power Debuff is an effect which reduces the NPC's Attack Power by a given amount. This results in less damage being applied against a tanks armor value, resulting in increased mitigation on Melee (and some special) attacks.

    Question: So it's like Thunderclap, Icy Touch, etc?

    Answer: No, Attack Speed Slow debuffs alter the rate of incoming damage, not the actual amount per hit. Simply, the mob is going to hit you just as hard as if the Thunderclap had never been applied, it will simply deal this damage slower. Conversely, an AP debuff results in less damage per hit, but doesn't alter the rate the damage is applied. You will still be hit at full speed rate without a slow effect, just each individual hit will be smaller.

    Thus for maximum survivability, a raid will want to ensure a AP Debuff and a Melee Slow are both active and present on a target for the duration of the encounter.

    Taken from the Warrior Q&A:

    Question: Demoralizing shout (AP Debuffs) tends to have a very minimal impact in most situations, are there plans to improve this ability?

    Answer: I think by “most situations” you must mean “PvP.” Demo Shout has a massive benefit against raid bosses. It’s probably 20% less damage from a typical boss and literally like 50% against say Thorim’s Unbalancing Strike. However, removing 400 attack power from a Feral druid with 9000 attack power, or a Shadow priest who doesn’t care about attack power at all is of much more limited use. Monsters and players use pretty different combat formulae (which is one of the weird things about the old design of say Vindication). We would like Demo Shout to be more useful in PvP, at least against characters who rely on attack power.

    Taken from Re: WTB AP debuff so I can do my job

    Question: Shouldn't Death Knights get a AP Debuff like the other 3 Tanks so we can do our job?

    We made it much, much easier to get those buffs and debuffs than ever before. But you still can't say make a raid of 10 rogues (or even a tank, a healer and 8 rogues) and then say "bring the player, not the class" should let you be as competitive as a raid comp that maximizes buff / debuff potential.

    There are very few mandatory buffs, and we made it even easier to get those that affect tank survivability, such as Fort, Gift and Kings.

    You don't need an AP debuff to be successful, and if you really want one, there are plenty of ways to get it.

    Taken from
    Re: WTB AP debuff so I can do my job

    Question: Doesn't this unfairly hinder 10 man raids?

    We don't assume an
    AP debuff for a 10-player raid, though it is certainly nice to have. We assume you have it in a 25-player raid. We make some assumptions about the most important buffs and debuffs for larger raids, particularly those trying the heroic / hard mode content. Those include things like Replenishment, Fort, Kings, Gift, Bloodlust / Heroism, CoE, the AP debuff, Sunder Armor, the attack speed debuff, and maybe Scorch and a few others. Even in those cases you don't need every buff / debuff the game offers and even if you're missing one of the big ones, you can overcome that with enough skill (or gear). The bosses don't do an instant berserk if they detect you are missing Demo Shout. Yes, it will be harder without. Hard modes are for guilds capable of doing hard modes. Normal modes are for almost everyone.

    Fortunately, Demo Shout isn't hard to get. No, you can't just randomly assemble any 10 characters and have a strong raid comp. But you certainly have a lot more flexibility in how you assemble your groups than in the BC content, and the proof of that is in the enormous diversity of raids that are beating the encounters.

    Question: Doesn't the second comment conflict with the first?

    Not totally, It is however possible to overcome a lack of one debuff assuming your raid has the skill or desire to offset it. There are several specs which are non-tanks which can apply a AP Debuff even if they suffer a DPS loss. You would have to have a very exact raid balance in 10 man format including duplicates of some classes to not have access to a AP Debuff.

    This does not mean I am in agreement with Death Knights lacking a AP debuff, it does however enforce that a Raid is a collaborative effort and DPS are expected at least by the Developers to chip in and help out if necessary to ensure raid success.

    Who Can Bring a AP Debuff:

    There are currently 12 viable specs capable of applying a AP Debuff, we will discuss this by class and list any talent point requirements if required.


    Hunters have the strongest base effect via their pets once the pet is Level 80. They require no talent point investment, but the effect is fairly short lasting at 10 seconds. A common misconceptions is the Hunter has to be a certain spec. This is false. Any Hunter can use the pet family which provides the debuff.

    So lets look at the most likely possibly issue.

    The current popular Hunter pet for raiding is a Wolf. Wolves belong to the Ferocity tree, and have a special ability to increase the Hunter and Pets Attack Power by 320 for 20 seconds every 40 seconds. This 320 AP buff is really what they are giving up. The Carrion Bird which apply the AP debuff is also of the Ferocity family, and so can use an identical talent tree to the Wolf.

    If you can convince the Hunter in your raid to get a bird, you can save them some time and direct them to Dragonblight. These birds are level 72, but will auto level to 75 once tamed. They are currently the highest level tamable Carrion Bird, which means the hunter will have to level the pet the other 5 levels on their own.

    The effect at 80 is the following:

    Demoralizing Screech
    Blasts a single enemy for 85-129 damage and lowers the melee attack power of all enemies in melee range by 574. Effect lasts 10 sec.

    The thing is is the debuff is short lasting, but is an AE effect much like a Warrior's shout. This allows the bird to fill a similar role in a pinch and doesn't require any alteration of talent points, but does use a stable slot and is a slight DPS loss to a Hunter.


    Warlocks are the second class in terms of raw untalented power. The DPS loss for a Warlock is steeper then that of a Hunter, due to the fact they often would prefer to use a different Curse. The base effect can be applied by any spec.

    That said, occasionally you have to make due the if the tanks are -really- getting smacked around asking the Warlock to use the following may help.

    Curse of Weakness (Rank 9)

    10% of Base Mana
    30 yd range
    Instant cast
    Target's melee attack power is reduced by 478 and armor is reduced by 5% for 2 min. Only one Curse per Warlock can be active on any one target.

    This effect is stronger then the Base ability of a Warrior or Druid at level 80, and the Curse is obtained at level 71. The issue here is if you want a maximum powered effect for max reduction, the Warlock would have to invest 7 Talent points in the Affliction and get 2/2 Curse of Weakness.

    Doing this results in the Curse being on par with all the fulled powered AP debuffs in the game currently. For a rough estimate at how strong the Curse is without talent points I'd venture around a 12% reduction in incoming melee damage. It should be noted that the Curse of Weakness is the longest lasting AP debuff currently in game.


    Paladins have no base AP Debuff ability, without investing in talents, they can not gain this ability.

    Paladins gain Vindication (-574 AP at level 80 at 2 Point investment) by spending 12 points in the Retribution tree. Vindication is applied passively during combat and can hit a max of 4 or so targets with either Hammer of the Righteous (If Prot) or Divine Storm (if Ret). Holy Paladins can not be expected to reasonably apply Vindication.

    The effect however does only last 10 seconds which requires considerable attention by the Paladin to maintain as any target switching or ability which prevent the paladin from landing several attacks in a row can result in the Debuff dropping off.

    It is generally considered easier for Paladin tanks to apply their own debuff then it is for Warriors or Druids due to Vindication's passive application and low talent cost. However Paladins lack the ability to apply the debuff to a large group of NPCs like the later two tanks can.


    All 3 Specs of Warrior can apply
    Demoralizing Shout. It is generally considered easier for Fury Warriors to apply it as they invest points in the Tree which increases it's power by default. Arms or Protection Warriors can apply the effect also however, but may not be able to provide a fully powered shout as easily as Fury can.

    Demoralizing Shout
    10 Rage
    Reduces the melee attack power of all enemies within 10 yards by 411 for 30 sec.

    This ability without any talents increasing it's effectiveness is roughly equivalent to 10%-12% or so reduction on NPC's damage variant on if the NPC is trash or a boss. Warriors with 10 points invested in the Fury tree however, can increase it's power to rival all of the previous effects, resulting in maximum reduction at -575 AP.

    Warriors can increase this ability in two ways:

    Booming Voice: For 2 Talents in the top tier of Fury, warriors will increase the radius of Demoralizing Shout to 15 yards and the duration of the effect to 45 seconds. This results in a wider application area and reduces the amount of time spent refreshing the ability saving both rage and global cooldowns.

    Improved Demoralizing Shout: is a 5 Point talent in the second tier which increases the power of the attack reduction by 8%/16%/24%/32%/40%. At max reduction (and 5 point investment) this altered Demo Shout to be -575 AP reduction on all NPC's in Range.

    The obvious advantage here is a Protection Warrior can apply this on demand to any number of targets in range provided they have Rage. They can also choose to forgo extra TPS and invest in additional mitigation from the debuff.

    For illustrative purposes the rough 5% the Improved Talent provides would roughly be the difference in tanking between tanking in full gear and tanking without a chest plate and leg armor. Thus it really comes down to how well each individual warrior can mange without points in talents like Deep Wounds weather or not they'd take the Improved Talent.

    Feral Bear Druids:

    While all druids have access to Bear Form, and thus Demoralizing Roar, it is only considered feasible to be applied by a Bear Tank due to the length of the debuff and the costs of shifting continuously.

    Demoralizing Roar (Rank 8)
    10 Rage
    Requires Bear Form, Dire Bear Form
    The druid roars, decreasing nearby enemies' melee attack power by 408. Lasts 30 sec.

    Notes: The Range is 10 Yards, and the ability is obtained at level 77. It will increase in power 1 point per level till level 80, resulting in -411 (equivalent to the Warrior ability).

    Likewise, the Druid Feral tree has an talent to increase it's power.

    Feral Aggression is in the first Tier of the feral tree, and has a 5 point cost. Each point will increase the power of Demo Roar by 8%/16%/24%/32%/40% resulting in a max reduction at 5 points of -575.

    Differences between Druid and Warrior:

    Prior to Level 70 the Druid ability was considerably less then the Warrior one. This will only equal out to even post level 70. Additionally, the Druid lacks any ability to increase the range or duration of Demo Roar.

    So for Ease of Clarity we'll break this down into AE and Single Debuffs:

    AE AP Debuff:
    Demoralizing Screech
    Demoralizing Shout
    Demoralizing Roar

    Single (or Limited) Debuff:
    Curse of Weakness.

    Last edited by Fenier; 02-08-2010 at 05:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Math Behind it (Establishing Reduction)

    Trash Mobs:

    Important Notes:

    All values are verified using a hunter and Beast Lore.
    Testing done on normal level 80 mob and an elite level 80 instance mob.
    Same mob used for all 3 test sets in each case (hunter used freezing trap while I used dual spec to test different values)
    When comparing to the -575 Value, a fulled talented Curse of Weakness, Vindication, Demoralizing Roar / Shout or a base Demoralizing Screech should all fall to within a fraction of a percent for comparable effectiveness.

    Test Case 1:

    Mob: Infesting Jormungar
    Zone: Storm Peaks
    Mob Type: Normal

    Base Stats:

    Melee Damage 421 - 587 Damage

    Demoralizing Roar - Base Value of -411 AP

    Melee Damage 362 - 528 Damage

    Variance in minimum hit - 14%
    Variance in maximum hit - 10%

    Demoralizing Roar - Talented Value of -575 AP

    Melee Damage 339 - 505 Damage

    Variance in minimum hit - 19.5%
    Variance in maximum hit - 14%

    Test Case 2:

    Mob: Azure Mage Slayer
    Location: Heroic Violet Hold
    Mob Type: Elite

    Base Stats:

    Melee Damage 569 - 792 Damage

    Demoralizing Roar - Base Value of -411 AP

    Melee Damage 489- 713 Damage

    Variance in minimum hit - 14%
    Variance in maximum hit - 10%

    Demoralizing Roar - Talented Value of -575 AP

    Melee Damage 458 - 681 Damage

    Variance in minimum hit - 19.6%
    Variance in maximum hit - 14%


    Given that the minimum and maximum values scale slightly differently, it still appears to be at least a 12% averaged reduction per hit on the base line ability. This appears to increase to a 16.75% averaged reduction at a fully talented shout / roar.

    Raid Boss Example:

    Test done on Mexxena in 25 Man Naxxarmas. Talents refer to the adjustment made by increasing the power of the effect with Improved Demo Shout or Feral Aggression. Vindication did not provide a AP Debuff at time of Testing and Hunter's Carrion Bird was a max of -411 AP equaling it to the Base Reduction field.

    Normal Value 19,547 - 26,828 Damage
    Base Reduction of -411: 17169-24450
    Talented Reduction 1/5: 16978-24259
    Talented Reduction 2/5: 16787-24068
    Talented Reduction 3/5: 16596-23877
    Talented Reduction 4/5: 16405-23686
    Talented Reduction 5/5: 16220-23501

    This shows a minimum hit difference of 17.1%
    This also shows a maximum hit difference of 12.5%
    This is an averaged decrease in melee damage of 14.8% at full power (-575 AP)

    An important note here is the Raid Boss follows the same pattern as normal non-raid trash, but you don't see quite the same drop off in terms of Damage Reduced.

    Trash showed a 14% variance in maximum hit and a 19.6% difference in minimum compared to the verified values above of 12.5% and 17.1%. Even as this seems to be the case in this test, your looking at a less then 2.5% difference between how -575 AP effects the Raid Boss compared to normal trash.

    Simply by applying Shout at base rank (- 411 AP) you reduce the maximum hit of the Boss by 8.9% and the minimum hit by 12.2% or 10.55% averaged.

    By adding a talent point to the Shout this changes the base reduction in maximum hit by a very small percentage, my math gets me .8% and the minimum by 1.2% or roughly 1% averaged. This average reduction continues all the way to 5/5 talented, there is a slight curve to the reduction which makes it just under 1% thus shown above which is why fully talented the reduction is 14.8% instead of 15.55% when speaking in context of this particular NPC.

    It is important to note that all NPCs are slightly difference, but you can expect a roughly 10-12% reduction in melee damage at -411 AP and ranging from 15-17% at a maximum value of -575 AP.

    Special moves such as Thorim's Unbalancing Strike derive a larger percentage of their damage from the NPC's Attack Power, thus you should see larger reduction in power, possibly as high as Ghostcrawler's claimed 50%. This makes Attack Debuffs a very important part of any 25 Man Raid (Since they are balanced around being there) and a considerable survivability boost to any 10 Man format raids.
    Last edited by Fenier; 02-08-2010 at 03:42 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Thanks alot for the thread, I was looking exactly for something like this.

    Special moves such as Thorim's Unbalancing Strike derive a larger percentage of their damage from the NPC's Attack Power
    Would be nice to have a list of the boss who have attaques which depends of the AP. But I feel i'm asking too much ^^

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Really nice to see this with some math. Been trying to get my guildmates to understand the strength of the AP debuffs ingame.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Where is the one for death-knights?

    Oh.. right.


    Glad you at least collected the related blue posts on the issue.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    This is a good thread for telling people the importance in PvE, but you seem to underplay the importance in PVP.

    Demo Roar IS VERY GOOD, in PVP. It does do it's job significantly. Especailly if the target has resilience (i.e. doesn't get blown up). As a bear I will always roar to the rogue/warrior/dk/paladin/feral/enhance/hunter attacking me. It is a significant decrease in their damage. And it all helps.

    While I am happy for you to underplay it because it makes my PVP life easier (I will still use it on my enemies), in the interest of benefiting the community I suggest you do not underplay it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    In my house
    I'd be interested to see what the number difference was for marrowgar's sabre lash (and the trap bone guard trash with the same attack.)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by Steakdinner View Post
    I'd be interested to see what the number difference was for marrowgar's sabre lash (and the trap bone guard trash with the same attack.)
    This would be harder to measure because there is currently no ability that shows you the raw damage of a Undead mob type. The reason Beasts are typically used is due to the fact that Hunters can see the damage values using Beast Lore.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    I've usually been kind of careless when applying my DS when i started playing, but i've gotten better at remembering. To be honest, i knew it gave a good amount of damage reduction, but didn't think it gave 10% damage reduction. This is a very helpful explanation! thx

    And yea, i would be interested in the number's on marrow gar's saber slash too. too bad

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