Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Warlock Tanks

One of the more exciting Pandaria Beta revelations was the existence of a glyph which allows Demonology warlocks to tank things.  Sadly, the hopes and dreams of many warlocks were dashed when Ghostcrawler declared that glyph was more of a fun item, that maybe would allow the warlocks to offtank mobs and maybe emergency tank for a short while.

That reminds me of paladin tanking back in Vanilla and early TBC. A gimmick tank. It made paladins very unhappy, and finally Blizzard gave us full tanking capabilities.

I would go so far as to say that this glyph is a bad idea. Allowing people to think that they might tank, but not actually letting them tank sounds like a recipe for failure.

In my opinion, if Blizzard wants to go down this path, they should embrace it fully. Make Demonology a proper tanking spec, and the Felguard into a pet which enhances your tanking (as opposed to one that tanks for you). I think it might be kind of cool, and would give warlocks an extra bit of differentiation from mages. Mages and warlocks are a bit too similar, and it might be nice to separate them a bit more.

Of course this means a lot more work for Blizzard, adding another tank spec to balance. Not to mention that existing demonology warlocks might be unhappy that they got turned into tanks.

But if Blizzard doesn't want warlocks to properly tank, they should remove the glyph. Half measures are just going to annoy everyone. The experience of early paladin tanks is evidence of this, and Blizzard should really avoid making the same mistake twice.

21 comments:

RJ said...

To be fair, this is actually just re-adding a capability that Demonology Warlocks had before Wrath. Back in Burning Crusade, there were actually literal Warlock "tanks", and Classic even had gear to support it (kind of).

I don't know if I'll get the glyph or not for myself, but I think the capability is kind of interesting.

RJ said...

Also, as I just remembered, the difference between this and Pally tanking is that Paladins had a literal tanking tree. A whole spec that claimed to be for being a tank. It wasn't a throwaway talent point like Shamans had, or a random ability.

The difference is that the presented DESIGN for Paladins had them be a tank. A player could fully spec into defense and threat. And the rest of the game design didn't support that at all. Conversely, this is just a single glyph with nothing else; even the spec that uses it gives no illusions that it is a tanking tree. Some people may think the glyph is silly, but I highly doubt anyone would actually think that it makes Demonology a tanking spec.

Rohan said...

Eh, I think you'll see people who say "if Blizz didn't want us to be tanks, why would they make the glyph?". And then you'll get people insisting on tanking things that they shouldn't tank, or warlocks signing up as DPS for LFG and attempting to tank.

All in all, messing with tanking just ends badly. You're either a tank or you're not. I don't think "in-betweens" ever work out.

spinksville said...

Wish I could have a glyph to give my warrior a ranged dps spec :P

Also, if they really wanted warlocks tanking, they'd give them a healing pet.

Clockwork said...

I personally wish they'd give all the Pure DPS classes a secondary role. I think it would be interesting to have Hunters and Warlocks tanking through a pet (though I appreciate the complexity this would introduce to the game and challenge to design) but I agree that if they are going to do it, they need to go all the way.

However I get the feeling that the glyph was intended to be akin to the Druid talents that let them briefly tank....a thing you can do in a pinch, but no intended as a primary role.

masith said...

I have often wondered if the initial design for hybrids was for them to switch between roles mid fight and this was why they were mediocre at everything in Vanilla. Blizzard seemed to realise that this didn't work and now a hybrid playing a dps spec is no different to a pure dps.

It seems to me that they are now suggesting that Warlocks will be able to fill this hybrid role. Unfortunately WoW has become so much of a min max game in raids nowadays that the concept of using a glyph in case the tank dies is unrealistic.

Much as it makes me a sad warlock I am inclined to agree with you that they need to either support warlock tanking properly or remove the glyph altogether. As it is it will be an unused reminder of what could of been.

Kring said...

I think they have no choice then to add additional roles to the 4 single role classes. With 10 man raids here to stay their raid designers have a lot of limitations and there is only so much you can do with 2 tanks, 2 healer and 6 DD. WoW is 7 years old and we've seen it all. Now imagine the flexibility they would gain if every class would be able to fill 2 roles.

> That reminds me of paladin tanking back in Vanilla and
> early TBC. A gimmick tank. It made paladins very unhappy,
> and finally Blizzard gave us full tanking capabilities.

I had the same idea. They add the glyph as "fun item". One patch later, LFD will be nerfed and the queue will jump back up to 45 minutes. That's the moment they will allow warlocks to sign up as tanks to LFD and only to LFD. And next expansion they can fix it completely and add the functionality as full tanks.

Hey, they just got warlock content for 2 add-ons instead of only one. :)

> Not to mention that existing demonology warlocks might be
> unhappy that they got turned into tanks

That could be solved with a 4th role like druids will get.

> Also, if they really wanted warlocks tanking, they'd give
> them a healing pet.

You mean instead of our 47 different self healing spells and abilities? :)

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Hofflerand said...

Demon Hunting is a GLYPH. Protection is an entire specialization which was clearly supposed to be a tank in Vanilla but wasn't allowed to be due to some strange developer bias. I don't think your comparison is strong.

Demonology does competitive DPS and the warlocks who don't want to occasionally off-tank will have many other enjoyable/useful glyphs at their disposal. It's possible Demo can be made a true tanking spec at some point, but there'd be problems, some of which you pointed out. For the time being, the glyph is quite cool and I'd be excited for it if I had a max-level warlock.

Hofflerand said...

"All in all, messing with tanking just ends badly. You're either a tank or you're not. I don't think "in-betweens" ever work out."

Sure they do. I can taunt and kite as Ret, Arms Warriors can taunt, throw on a shield, and pop Shield Wall, etc. It makes these classes feel very different in 5-mans than, say, my mage. If some warlocks are stupid enough to try to tank over a true tanking class, their groups will kick 'em. It should be obvious warlocks aren't meant to tank when they aren't allowed to queue as such.

"It seems to me that they are now suggesting that Warlocks will be able to fill this hybrid role. Unfortunately WoW has become so much of a min max game in raids nowadays that the concept of using a glyph in case the tank dies is unrealistic."

Glyph of Demon Hunting isn't intended for regular use in raids, but it still belongs in the game. Have you seen all of the Shockadin glyphs? Clearly Holy Paladins won't regularly use 'em in raids, but they're still awesome. In MoP, talents and glyphs will be easier to switch between, less set in stone. We should support the devs in adding some variety to this game before it gets any more stale.

lancore said...

And so it begins. That half assed version of the glyph wouldn't be able to tank anything.
But not only that, it existence alone already starts to nerf the rest of the spec.
Meta had 600% armor from cloth since 3.0 - In the same patch the new glyph got changed to be not viable as tank, meta gets nerfed to 400%

I'd love to be in perma Meta and tank the shit out of everything, that was a dream I've had for about a year now. I'd gladly give up the demo dps spec for that.
But if blizzard doesn't have the balls for something fresh and new, then please remove the whole glyph, and leave dps demo alone

Anonymous said...

The really good side of TBC was the fact that skills, talents and gear enabled some unusual but clever ways you could play your class.
They had 2 bosses for warlock-tanking and 2 bosses for mage-tanking. Proper talenting and PvP gear allowed moonkin tanks. I also remember 100%-avoidance rogues (sadly, with buil-in 50% treat reduction they couldn't hold agro). Even shadowpriests got a shot at demonform Illidan tanking.

Helistar said...

All in all, messing with tanking just ends badly. You're either a tank or you're not. I don't think "in-betweens" ever work out.

As a feral hybrid druid, I respectfully disagree :) At the same time, you could say that feral druids are tanks and they can spec into DPS while remaining tank-able.

Cygnia said...

I would LOVE to be able to tank with my 'lock! I never got to do the cloth tank bit with Gruul's posse back in BC...

Anonymous said...

Demo is a good case for a spec that could be turned into a tank without much effort. But there would be some effort, and there are two main things preventing it. One is that they are trying to figure out monks and don't have the energy to do this also. The other is that they're not going to itemize tanking cloth.

Kinzlayer said...

I agree with you Rohan, I tanked as a pally during TBC and it was a miserable experience, kind of a fun difference from warrior tanking but after everything was said I went back to tanking on my warrior for actual raids. I even "tanked" as a lock for the Leo fight and for Blood Council but those situations are gimmicky.

Ted A. said...

I must concur with Rohan, this will end poorly. I was Paladin tank through tBC, and Wrath. The Developers continued to tell us they wanted us to tank, while making sure encounters favored Warriors (evidence with Developers quotes is in my old WoW blog).

This would be an ideal time to add Warlock tanking. They will be introducing Monk tanks in MoP, so that should help with the workload.

The Developers have a solid idea of the 'kit' a tank needs now. T

Anonymous said...

Were we playing the same game, Ted A.? There were only 2 encounters in the TBC which favoured warrior tanks. One was Reliquary of Souls where warrior tank's Spell Reflection doubled raid's DPS. The other was Illidan maintanking due to Shear not missing and warrior +75% block rate spammable ability.
Even then, geared raid could down Reliquary without spell-reflected double damage debuff (even with warrior tank, rogues still managed to interrupt Deaden). Extremely well-geared Paladin could also achieve Shear immunity and tank Illidan.
On many other encounters paladins simply had the upper hand. Warriors had no Heroic Throw, no charging in combat, no taunting outside melee range (and bosses were generally taunt-immune too), and no AoE threat moves except terrible Thunder Clap which was expensive, limited to 4 targets and did not scale with attack power.
Paladins on the other hand had ranged abilities and they had Consecration (scaling with spell power), and they had 100% mana from the start vs warrior's 0 rage.
There were some encounters that were terrible to tanks as a warrior and laughable to paladin tanks.
Remember that guy Leotheras that dropped threat list literally EVERY 20 SECONDS while spinning around in random directions. Warrior tank simply had NO chance to pick him up unless Leo happend to stop spinning next to warrior. No charge in combat, no ranged ability, no taunting. Warrior tank had to wait near shaman totem which shooted fire at Leotheras to pick up Leo as he rushed to destroy totem. I.e., the totem did the tanking.
Paladin tanking? Throw a shield at Leo and he comes to you.
Offtanking as a warrior was also terrible. You need to keep 2nd place on threat while having 0 rage since boss doesn't hit you.
Don't even get me started on Hyjal trash which could be simply AoEd down with paladin tank very much like WotLK heroic. Anetheron infernal tanking? Paladin comes with his own resistance aura and ranged pull abilities. Warrior needs dedicated misdirecting hunter AND dedicated paladin/shaman for resistance.
Only at WotLK have warriors been given the abilities for normal tanking experience. But of course paladins had to be ahead no matter what and so they were given Ardent Defender. Guess what class tanked HM Lich King back at 80?
*end of paladin hate comment*

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting idea, but a lot of work for the development staff. If you go with Demo tanking, which is a natural fit, you need to do something about the other three pure DPS classes.

Rogues could be made into an avoidance tank spec. I did that in Rift and LotRO for a while and it was fun.

Mages could get a 'heal through damage' build. This would cause some interesting outrage in the rest of the healing community but it is mechanically viable.

In both cases, this requires work to build an avoidance-threat / healing set of talents and reitemize the drops. It does have the advantage of not really changing the play style of the base class, just adding new capabilities.

Hunters, however, are a problem. I cannot think of any decent mechanism that would permit them to tank or heal. Too much focus on pets is a bad idea as you are relying on the AI to an uncomfortable degree. I'd say range tanking, but that works in SW:ToR because of the prevalence of ranged mobs. I do know that Hunters have managed to tank significant fights, but that is a definite skill-cap problem; the average person needs to be able to perform the role, not just the star players.

Kring said...

Hunters have a deep connection with nature and already have a healing spell for their pet.

Giving them a healing spec wouldn't be unrealistic IMHO. And they could use the shamans caster gear for this spec.

*vlad* said...

@ Cygnia; Actually it was mages that 'tanked' in Grull's Lair. We Warlocks had the job of Enslaving the big Felhound that was summoned.

The fights we did 'tank' were Leotheras in SSC and Capernian in TK, though realistically we were spell damage soakers and did not tank in the sense of taking melee hits.

Fn0 said...

It is kinda similar to a DK DPS. They can pop blood presence, icebound fortitutde, sacrifice their pet (remember DK needs to be in blood presence to taunt in MoP). Warrior equips shield, protection stance, pops shield wall. An enhancemenet shaman can equip a shield, taunt, pop shamanistic rage. A shadow priest can tank for 6 seconds with Dispersion, drop aggro with fade. All this isn't meant for prolonged tanking, it is meant for example: to beat the enrage after tank got one-shot (e.g. our first kill Warmaster HC), to tank while the tank is being ressed, to tank some adds while the boss is solo tanked. Also, keep ind mind demon form currently lasts 30-36 seconds. That is quite some time (tho they're changing the demon mechanism). Enough for the solo tank to get rid of their debuff?

"It makes these classes feel very different in 5-mans than, say, my mage."

A mage can "tank" as well, with mirror image and ice block. A mage can kite as well, with (improved) blink, frost nova, and drop aggro with mirror image or invisibility.

Also, please don't compare an entire spec with one single glyph. If one single glyph (or talent choice) isn't viable in raiding, who cares? If a whole spec isn't viable (like a spec does awful DPS, isn't a viable healer, or isn't able to be a competitive tank) then we have a problem. Because the latter forces people into the other trees they have which they may or may not like. They stepped away from that; for example in the case of warlock they want the player to play all 3 specs competitive, but prefer the one they like most. In raiding, what this meant is that for each DS boss one spec is better than another, but each requires different forges. So for min-max you want to respec and reforge, but once you got on farm it does not matter.