Tanking for Dummies

Nerf News (or, in case you missed it)
January 13, 2010, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Advice for Non Tanks, Analysis, News | Tags: , , ,


It should be noted that we have been warned about some potential in-coming nerfs to Protection Warriors.  You may read certain choice responses here, here, and here (reply #385).  In case you missed the information involved , allow me to get you up to date (from oldest to newest):

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Top 4 Issues with Warrior Tanking
July 3, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis | Tags: , , , , ,

In Wednesday’s post, I pointed you to some pretty epic Crab commentary that shines some light on where Blizzard is on Warrior Issues.  I am going to try and break this down as much as I can to get to the good juicy bits.

Legacy Tanks

I’m not sure that statement is accurate, but here is the problem. There are A LOT of warrior tanks. They are tanking every fight in Ulduar. If warriors were too low and if we buffed them, I don’t see how that would increase the numbers on the other tanks. I don’t think the conclusion to be drawn is that warriors are overpowered. I think the conclusion to be drawn is that warriors were the traditional tank and lot of established guilds have established MTs who see no reason to reroll the FotM. It’s not actually a goal to have 25% of each tank in Ulduar, but is also seems strange to buff the most popular tank. Won’t that just make them more popular? Again, don’t misinterpret that as GC sez suck it up warriors. It is something we have to keep in mind, however.

I love reading these things because it demonstrates that blizzard is tracking demographic data.  I will admit though, I wish I could see how their parsing this data to come to this conclusion.  Does “a lot of warrior tanks” include those who are leveling as prot because it is awesome and fast?  Does “tanking every fight in Ulduar” also mean they’re tanking said fights successfully?

But let us step past these points and get to the meat of what he is saying, which is effectively that most guilds are using the same tank that they always have because they get the job done.  To me, this precludes the important issue of leveling and gearing a tank.  That time investment I think is the greater barrier to entry of new tanks of other classes.  In effect, it’s not necessarily because we’re better tanks that we’re more populous, it’s because we have a head start on everyone else thanks to those years where warriors were the only tank class.  Logically, I think this should mean that in terms of tank population, that Warriors should be at the top followed by Death Knights, Druids, and then Paladins.  If anyone knows if this actually follows the demographics on the ground, I’d love to know.

Block Sucks

Block is a systemic problem. We’re not sure we can make it a very compelling mitigation stat in a world where tank avoidance is so high and bosses hit so hard. However I will say that the Coliseum fights should focus less on the blow-your-cooldowns-or-die style of encounter.

Well, that would be a relief (thought I think it will make DKs rather unhappy) as I think part of the problem is encounter design in any case.  It is hard, however, to ignore the fact that having added block rating or block value on gear feels rather like wasted itemization points.  So what are we to do with block?

I’ve put in my two cents about this before, which pretty much comes down to “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  Folding it into some sort of offensive Proc as Yakra Suggests is intriguing, but I’m not entirely sure where that puts Paladins (who also have shield issues).  I don’t see this as comming to any conclusion in 3.2.  It might be the job for a new expansion entirely.

Rage Mechanics Suck

There are some mechanics we’d like to change with warriors, as I have already stated. Having to spam Heroic Strike is definitely one of them. Rage starvation is never fun (which is not the same as “I can ignore rage.”) This is a slightly different argument that whether or not warriors have the stats they need to do the job, which seems to be the bigger concern in this forum at the moment. I am personally not particularly interested in who is the “easier” tank. I don’t think any of them are significantly different from each other. You still have to know when to use your cooldowns, when to swap your gear, how to coordinate with your raid and when it’s you that’s the problem and not your class…

…Rage starvation is a problem. Frankly, we’re not sure a model where you have to get hit in order to tank is that compelling anymore. Something that has come up a lot is changing rage (even for Prot) to damage done. This is a slight nerf to the PvP mechanic of being punished when you hit the warrior, but there are other ways to solve that as well. Again, we’re talking a big change here. I’m not sure we’re comfortable jacking with such a core mechanic before 3.2.

Personally, I think the whole “prot warriors generate rage when doing damage” is a great idea because it solves one of the core issues of prot tanking, which is that any avoidance you have hurts you a little bit.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not experiencing much in terms of rage starvation right now, but the impact by the numbers is hard to ignore.  If you’re looking to create some balance in the force here, my advice to the Developers would be to try and develop a mechanic (or set of mechanics) that equalizes rage generation across gear sets.  If threat suffers because of lack of hit or expertise, I think that is a different issue, but at least make it so we can have a chance to use our abilities even if we parry.

Our Cooldowns Suck

…for the encounters we’re doing right now.

This is the bit I think is missing from the discussion.  Frankly, I wish it wasn’t even part of the discussion, but there it is.  Why is it that so many encounters in Wrath seem designed to favor one type of cooldown over another?  There is that tantalizing line “However I will say that the Coliseum fights should focus less on the blow-your-cooldowns-or-die style of encounter,” of course.  But without any substance behind that it is really hard to guess what sort of encounter it will be.  Mobility perhaps?

It really boils down to that it is hard to imagine a situation where cooldowns aren’t going to play a role in determining the “better” tank for the fight, and I am hard pressed to point to any Warrior cooldown that stands out particularly well on the field right now.  How about some innnate Guardian Spirit goodness to my Last stand?  Or, you know, a minute cooldown on my Shield Wall?  Or some actual spell mitigation from Spell Reflect?

Or, better yet, let’s see Blizzard put on some serious encounter thinking caps and prove me wrong.  I know there are challenges independent of cooldowns (Archimonde?  Anybody?).  I want to see them.  I want to see them in 3.2.  Show me the beef, or the crab cakes, or what have you.

I’m definitely doubtful that Blizzard will deliver on that promise, but this is definitely a time I would love to be wrong.

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?

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Blue Promises: Looking at Heroic Strike
February 18, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis | Tags: , , ,


In the spirit of a previous Wednesday, I think it is time again to look at a recent post by one of our illustrious Blizzard employees – in this instance Ghostcrawler.  The subject?  Heroic Strike, and it’s particular role as a warrior unique mechanic/pain in the butt.  The crab says:

We still are not convinced that warrior tanks are operating at some huge deficit compared to other tanks. There are going to be situations where one or the other classes are going to feel easier as tanks, just because the abilities and mechanics are still different despite all of our homogenization (and we really don’t want to homogenize any more).

I think there are some quality of life issues we can improve for warriors. Heroic Strike is definitely one of them. It does its job in letting you convert excess rage to threat without consuming a global cooldown, but it requires a lot of extra button pushes. It is something we are discussing.

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