Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tank Changes

Ghostcrawler has written a post on upcoming tank changes in WoW. The changes can basically be broken down into two items:
  1. Tank threat is being significantly boosted, to the point where tanks can maintain threat leads with minimum effort. This is coming in a hotfix soon.

  2. The tanking classes will have some of their survivability changed from passive to active. Basically, moving towards the Death Knight model where the tank uses Death Strikes at appropriate times to stay alive. This will be implemented with the 4.3 patch.

In the past, tanks have had responsibility for both threat and survival. And yet, survival has always been the most important. I don't think that--in the history of the game--there has ever been a time where tanks sacrificed survival for more threat.1

So this change is basically Blizzard throwing in the towel after 5 years and saying, "Well, you tanks don't care about Threat at all, so we're going to stop trying to force you to care." Instead, tanks will have to take a more active role in their survival. They will still gear and optimize for survival. But if, for example, Shield Slam has to hit the enemy to boost your armor, then stats like Hit and Expertise become survival stats instead of threat stats, and will be valued higher as a result.

Additionally, this will make it easier for under-geared tanks to group with geared DPS, which should help out Dungeon Finder groups a little.

The truth is that tanks never really had to care about threat, save at the edges of progression content. If a DPS pulls threat, most people consider it the fault of the DPS player. This change is merely reflecting that reality.

1. Possibly Horde-side Vaelastraz back in Vanilla, as the Horde didn't have Blessing of Salvation then. But I don't know for sure. I do know that Horde tanks were pretty sick threat machines compared to Alliance tanks in my experiences back then.


  1. The changes are odd, but so is there timing. This has the potential to have a major effect on tanking rotations, and tank balance. It doesn't seem like something you do in a hotfix/patch. It seems more like something you'd have to do in an expansion. I wonder what the reason for pushing this now is.

  2. The more threat hotfix is a strict bonus. It doesn't do anything but make life easier for the tanks.

    I think the patch timing is because of Death Knights. Death Knights need to be "equalized" with the other tanks.

    They could have added more passive survival to the DK, and then rolled it back in the expansion. But they're instead choosing to bring the other three classes to the DK level instead.

    No matter what happens, Blizz has to make changes to at least one tank class in 4.3. So if they have enough time to work on three tank classes, then may as well do the changes then.

  3. That threat hotfix is live as of now

  4. The Threat change makes me happy. Honestly, threat was never a huge issue for me. I tended to be pretty sticky. But there were occasions. A miss here, a slip of the finger there, an over zealous DPS there, there and over there. However, the biggest reason I like the change is the piece of mind. I tend to be overly critical of myself and get really anxious fairly easily. But I love to tank. This makes it so I don't have to pull my hair out, screaming at the monitor "What did I do wrong?! WHAT DID I DO WRONG?!?!" (This is a exaggeration of course) whenever I tank and some little thing goes wrong. One less year off my life or something.

    As for the change from passive to active survivability, I honestly don't know. I'm just going to wait out on that one and see what happens before I say anything about it. :D

  5. Fantastic change. I've hated tanking ever since cata hit and I suddenly started losing aggro left and right becuase people still can't assist or follow a kill order. That shouldn't make sense, people doing stuff like that should pay the consequences and I know that intellectually. But it still feels like -I- failed when a dps pulls aggro and dies, like -I- messed up somehow. Even when I know I didn't do anything wrong, it still feels like I failed as a tank, and I hate that.

    It's the same when I heal, I don't care how stupid you are, if you die to anything besides bad-stuff-instakill then I feel like I failed to keep you alive. As a result I stopped healing when cataclysm hit. I almost stopped tanking too, that terrible terrible feeling even if I know I did everything right, and would have if not for the horribly long DPS queues. This is possibly one of the most welcome changes since november.

  6. I don't think DK tanks have threat issues compared with other tanks, at least not that I'd noticed. Survivability issues perhaps.

    DPS behaviour in instances has been changing for awhile, and it's not about being overgeared. Even in low level instances I've seen DPS pull extra packs and expect them to be tanked, informing the group that it's how the game is supposed to be played at high levels. I guess Blizz is just putting the seal of approval on that.

  7. Yeah been leveling a warrior purely in dungeons, and a lot of dps will go pull extra packs then bring them to you and yell at me to tank them.

    I find they soon stop doing it if you just let them die before tanking the mobs.

  8. @Elladrion. My feelings exactly! My warrior tank is in full 346 gear and there was no way I could keep threat from a well geared frost DK in heroics.

    Even though he should have been managing his aggro a bit more, I always felt like I was doing something wrong.

  9. At what point does an MMO start to become a single player game with multiplayer chat?
    This is another example of blizz removing challenge and making the Wow experience just a spectator event on rails.

    Threat management was killed in Wrath when Blizz made dungeons zerg rushes..this is just the consequences of that choice.

  10. I wonder how this is going to play out in the low level instances, where tanks don't have all of the tools of the trade yet. After all, in the low level instances (up until ~L30 or so) a Ret Pally could tank almost as well as a Prot Pally.

  11. Additionally, this will make it easier for under-geared tanks to group with geared DPS, which should help out Dungeon Finder groups a little.

    Or will the "Wut is Omen? lulz" DPS take it as license to be even more careless in an effort to stroke their Recount/Skada epeens, using the threat increase as an excuse to do so?

  12. I feel like the whole Cataclysm expansion basically has been Blizzard throwing in the towel and simplifying the game, after initially pretending to return to "old days". They know losing subscribers is inevitable with an old game, but they're trying their best to slow the bleeding and making changes they wouldn't have implemented before. There is a very fine line between fixing quality of life issues and simplifying the game too much. It's sad to see what was once a really great (to be fair, it's still pretty good) game turn out like this.

  13. So with this change, yay.... Where does that leave HoSal. Were losing a nice cd which I used often for aggressive dps. Hopefully Blizz can give us a replacement.

  14. Personally I would prefer the challenge of tanking to be more about managing one's own survivability as opposed to managing threat, so I am relatively happy about the change.

    From 4.1 to 4.2 I changed from a Paladin tank to DK because Paladin was mind-numbingly boring...CS til 3, Holy Shield or Heal...smack people with hands and other nifty party buffs as needed but with a decent group they rarely were.

  15. By the way, assuming tank threat is now non-issue, doesn't it make all threat-reducing talents of dps... pointless?

  16. It sounds like the focus of playing a tank will shift into protecting your self.

    If I am right, this can be what I want to see. The current tank system is like, what a player should worry about is to make mobs hate you more than the others and your gears will generally keep you standing. Not bad, throwing some F words may work as well. But imagine that you focus on the incoming attacks, block one then parry another. Everything is done by the player but the magic numbers of the gears. Isn't it exiting?