Tanking for Dummies

Throwing Rage to the Curb
July 29, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis, Strategy | Tags: ,

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, Rage, as a system, is downright broken.  The mechanic is unsustainable without introducing constant tweaks and nerfs.   It needs to be replaced.  Scrapped.  Put out of its misery.

Or what have you.

But what should replace rage?  If you were to turn rage into a resource generated over time, you simply have Energy, ala Rogues.  If you make it too finite a resource, you end up with something too much like Mana.  So what can used that maintains that kind of frantic fast paced play we’ve come to expect?

Personally, I think looking for a resource to manage is a red herring.  We need something dramatically different.  We need…

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Warriors: A Problem of Design
July 26, 2009, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Analysis, Strategy | Tags: ,

We’ve had two revelations about Warriors recently that should be an important study of videogame design.  First we have the revelation about the limitations of rage mechanics, and second we have the impact of rage mechanics on Warrior gear design.

To wit:

This really just gets back to the way rage works, which is that damage leads to rage so you have to pick a point at which you balance warriors. High damage and high rage? Low damage and low rage? The way to fix it is to normalize rage even more so that you always get X rage per second regardless of gear. But once you always get X rage per second you essentially just have rogue energy. So, as with the previous question, we don’t like the way it is working and want to change it but we don’t have a perfect substitute in the can just yet.

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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.

Wanted – More Shields!
April 13, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Humor, Rants | Tags: , ,


I don’t think I could ever love tanking on a Death Knight or a Druid in the same way I love tanking on my Warrior, and the reason is simple: I love shields.

I loved shields before 300 demonstrated to the world that shields are awesome.  It’s not just an implement of protection, it’s dangerous weapon.  The first time that someone strapped a block of wood or stretched hide to their arm for added defense was also the first time that someone smacked someone in the face with it.  Let’s be honest here – there is something just fantastic about that image that is almost as timeless as the idea of the Warrior.

I want to know why we don’t see it more.

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3.1 – Upcomming Warrior Changes
February 10, 2009, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Analysis, Talents | Tags: , , , , , ,


In case you missed it, part 2 of Eyonix’s class updates reveal had some interesting bits for warriors.  Most of these seem like they’re designed to address warrior DPS and raid utility, but most of them qualify as fairly sweeping changes to existing class mechanics, particularly for tanks.  To cut to the chase, the warrior specific section says:

  • Changing stances now has a much reduced cost: you lose a maximum of 20 rage (10 with Tactical Mastery). For example, if you have 100 rage and change stances, you will have 80 rage remaining. If you have 10 rage and change stances, all of your rage is lost. In addition, we may change the penalties associated with some stances.
  • You now gain rage when damage done to you is absorbed, such as through a Power Word: Shield.
  • Blood Frenzy now causes 2/4% physical damage done.
  • Sunder Armor (and similar debuffs) now reduces armor by 4% per application, and is now a single rank. Creature armor has been globally reduced so that debuffed targets should take about the same damage from physical attacks that they did before this change. The net effect should be that this debuff is slightly less mandatory in PvE and is not disproportionately more powerful against cloth targets in PvP.
  • We are also adding increased damage to Arms, possibly through Overpower or Slam.
  • We are also looking at granting rage when the warrior blocks, dodges or parries.

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