Tanking for Dummies


Thoughts on Loosing Block
October 19, 2009, 12:57 pm
Filed under: Analysis | Tags: , , , , ,

Tanks are loosing quite a few stats in Cataclysm, replaced by “Mastery.”  It has been confirmed or implied that we won’t be seeing defense on gear anymore, or hit and expertise, or even dodge and parry.  I, for one, won’t miss too much the vagueness and obfuscation that such stats can bring to the tanking process, but I do think that there’s some important questions to be asked about the fate of Warrior tanks given the demise of a certain key stat: Block Value.

It’s easy to forget just how many prot abilities figure in to that one little stat so let me remind you.  Shield Slam’s bonus damage is figured off of your Block Value.  Shield Block’s effectiveness is, needless to say, directly linked to how much you block.  Damage Shield’s damage is a percentage of your block value.  And, of course, the damage blocked when you block is determined by that number.

Come the next expansion, however, block value is gone as a stat, period.  When you block the damage mitigated will be percentile based, which is good in my opinion.  However, it begs the question of what will be the fate of these other linked abilities.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that damage and threat would be greatly reduced if nothing is changed.  But what possibly should take it’s place?

Shield Slam to me seems fairly straightforward, the block value can be made up by increasing the contribution of Strength to the damage.  Seeing as there is already a certain amount of double-dipping going on (since Strength also contributes to Block Value), finding the right co-efficient would keep things very similar to the way things are now.

Shield Block and Damage Shield are a lot more tricky.

Damage Shield, for one, has always struck me as kind of stop-gap for Warrior threat.  It helps with our AoE threat, but now that it is loosing the ability to proc anything (most notably Deep Wounds) it seems to me to be increasingly extraneous.  Worse yet, it penalizes warriors for having high avoidance.  Now, avoidance is going to likely be pretty standardized come expansion time, but I think many headaches could be avoided if the talent was dropped entirely and a flat boost given to Thunder Clap and Shockwave to boost Warrior AoE threat.

Shield Block’s issue is more one of repetition.  We do not know what mechanism is going to determine the amount of damage reduced by blocking, but unchanged Shield Block’s mechanic looks very similar to another Warrior ability, namely Shield Wall.  The primary difference, in this case, is Shield Wall works for all damage, and Shield Block, presumably, works for only physical damage.  Were it not for the tendency of the need for cooldowns and physical damage being so often related (I can think of one fight where large hits of magic damage were the problem worth mitigating, that being Sarth 3D), I think this would be fine.  However, since that is the tendency, I can feel the nerf-bat hanging Damocles-like over us waiting for a chance to strike.  In the interest then of avoiding this sort of duplication, allow me to recommend to Blizzard an alternative use for Shield Block, or the cooldown that would normally occupy it’s slot:

Give us real magic damage mitigation cooldown.

I don’t care if you have to throw Spell Reflect to the dogs to do it, it’s useless anyway.  By contrast, something that has the effectiveness of, say Anti-Magic Shell would get used all the time.  I can’t help but feel that trading, say, two cooldowns of questionable utility for one of great utility would be a fair trade.

But that’s just me.

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