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.


Blizzcon 2009 Warrior Tank Summary
August 24, 2009, 12:42 pm
Filed under: News | Tags: , , ,

Presuming you didn’t follow the coverage of Blizzcon like a Hawk, there were a lot of changes.  After the cut are, I believe, the system related ones most relevant to Warrior tanks.

Continue reading

Warrior Tank Patch Notes Review
August 3, 2009, 7:09 am
Filed under: News | Tags: , , , ,

For your reading pleasure, what you need to know from the patch notes set to come out soon (perhaps tomorrow?).

# Agility: The amount of agility required per percentage of dodge has been increased by 15%. This change required recalibrating the amount of dodge a player has with 0 agility by a slight amount as well, so all players will see their dodge percentage vary a small amount.

# Block Value: The amount of bonus block value on all items has been doubled. This does not affect the base block value on shields or block value derived from strength.

# On-Use Block Value Items: All items and set bonuses that trigger temporary increases to block value have been modified. Instead of increasing their block value amount by 100% like other items, they have all had their effect durations doubled. This applies to Glyph of Deflection, Gnomeregan Autoblocker, Coren’s Lucky Coin, Lavanthor’s Talisman, Libram of Obstruction, Tome of the Lightbringer, Libram of the Sacred Shield, the tier-8 paladin Shield of Righteousness bonus, the tier-5 paladin Holy Shield bonus, and the tier-5 warrior Shield Block bonus.

# Dodge Rating: The amount of dodge rating required per percentage of dodge has been increased by 15%. This is before diminishing returns. Combined with other changes, this makes dodge rating and parry rating equally potent before diminishing returns apply.

# Parry Rating: The amount of parry rating required per percentage of parry has been reduced by 8%. This is before diminishing returns. Combined with other changes, this makes dodge rating and parry rating equally potent before diminishing returns apply. Parry still diminishes more quickly than dodge.


# Bloodrage: This ability now generates 20 rage initially, and 10 rage over the next 10 seconds. The health cost is unchanged.

# Shield Slam: The benefit from additional block value this ability gains is now subject to diminishing returns. Diminishing returns occur once block value exceeds 30 times the player’s level and caps the maximum damage benefit from shield block value at 34.5 times the player’s level.

# Talents:

# Fury

* Armored to the Teeth: This talent now provides 1/2/3 attack power per 108 armor, up from per 180 armor.

# Protection

* Devastate: Weapon damage and bonus per Sunder Armor on the target increased by 100%.
* Shield Specialization: Now provides 5 rage on a block, dodge or parry instead of 2 rage on a block.
* Vigilance: This talent and Blessing of Sanctuary will now both be able to be cast on the same target without sometimes overwriting each other.

And lest it somehow be missed among all the other changes:

* The local Postal Service has grown tired of walking so far each day to collect mail and has decided to install a large number of new mailboxes in Stormwind, Undercity, Darnassus and Orgrimmar.

Best Change EVAR.

What does your block proc?
July 7, 2009, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Gear, Lists | Tags: , , , ,

Looking ahead to the horizon, I can’t stop thinking about Block and what you could do with it.  Particularly, I’ve been mulling around Yakra’s idea that some kind of proc should occur based on your percent chance to block.  This seems like a good use to me (it at least keeps the block rating part of the equation, keeping down the amount of re-itemization needed), but does bring up the question of what would work as a proc for something that is going to be proc-ing so often?  It seems to me that this can be broken into two categories of effects, offensive and defensive, each with their own class of balance problems (at least from a design perspective).

Continue reading

Blue Post Alert: Messing with Block
May 29, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis, Rants | Tags: , , , , ,

Ghostcrawler is at it again.  Now he is teasing us about Block:



Think about it this way.

Avoidance is good because it removes a lot of damage. Avoidance is bad because it is unpredictable. If you stack too much avoidance, you are likely to give your healers coronaries.

Mitigation (armor and straight damage reduction) is good because it’s consistent. As you all point out, you can start to learn how much a blow will actually do to you. Mitigation is bad, from a player’s perspective, because it can’t save you. If you have 10 health and dodge, you might live. If you have 10 health and hope your armor will save you… well, it won’t. You become the dreaded mana sponge because you are never avoiding damage completely.

Mitigation also has a risk from a design-perspective that when fights get too predictable they become too easy and unexciting. Imagine a tank with 75% damage reduction and no avoidance. You could calculate from the moment of the first attack whether you will survive the encounter. Heck, you might be able to not even heal the tank and know you’ll survive depending on the specific abilities used by the boss.

Block as a mechanic is somewhere between avoidance and mitigation. Ideally it removes a fair amount of damage (vs. all damage) reasonably often (vs. rarely). If block is up 100% of the time it just becomes armor that you improve through a different stat. We have let block chances creep up frankly because the amount blocked is pretty trivial when bosses are hitting for 40% of your health pool every swing. If this still strikes you as too RNG, imagine abilities like Shield Block and Holy Shield that could guarantee 100% chance to block for a short period of time.

We don’t think block is cutting it as a mechanic, but the direction we are likely to take it is probably more of a change than you are considering.

We also don’t think it’s necessary that every tank rely on avoidance, block and mitigation in equal amounts. They can’t get too far apart or someone will come to dominate for certain encounters, but we don’t think the tanks need to be completely homogenized to get what we want either.

If (to make up numbers) the DK and druid get hit for 20K every swing that hits, but the warrior and paladin get hit for 24K half the time and 16K half the time, then that seems like it would work. When the boss emoted that his big hit was coming, you could make sure you had your cooldown ready to guarantee a block.

So you’re looking at Block, eh?  Sort of like you’re looking at Heroic Strike?  I’ve got your number crabby.  That’s a discussion you started in February.  Where’s the beef?  Or, should I say, where’s the gumbo?

Continue reading

May 13, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Gear | Tags: , , ,
Hero's Surrender

Hero's Surrender

Repeat after me…

Block Value is the amount of damage blocked by my shield.

Block Rating is the chance that a block will occur.

Get it straight, that is all.

Continue reading