[3.33] Revenge is sweet! And whose responsibility is threat anyway?

How is everyone enjoying the new WoW patch?

It has been primarily a balancing patch (you can tell this because paladins got nothing) with the addition of a random battleground finder, and some tweaks to make crafted gear cheaper and reagents more accessible. Plus increasing the demand for frozen orbs which come from heroics (i.e. nudging bored players back into the LFD tool).

bestpatchchange

Also, the best patch change of all is that the login screen now reminds you that your battle.net account name will be your email address.

This is handy for people (like me) who keep typing in their old user name by mistake.

How about that Revenge, kids?

Protection warriors did get some love via a tweak to Revenge, which now does a lot more damage. And if you pick up Improved Revenge, it even turns into a mini cleave rather than a random chance for a short stun.

To give an idea of how much difference this makes, I logged in after the patch and queued for a heroic on Spinks. And it was the first time I’ve ever topped the damage meters while tanking (I was on about 3k dps). Since Revenge was part of the standard rotation anyway, at least up until the last patch, the real beauty of this change is that you don’t have to change much about your playing style. Veneretio suggests shooting Revenge up to the top of the priority list. And then it  just – magically — gives you crazy damage and threat. The damage, at least, was warranted and brings us more in line with other tanks. The threat is a nice bonus but was not in any way necessary.

For example, the other thing I did after the patch was run the weekly heroic raid, which was Patchwerk. I pulled threat off a paladin tank who was wearing threat gear, without trying. And I was in full tank gear because I forgot to switch. First I laughed, because it was so ludicrous. And also because single target threat for tanks is a measure of e-peen (as in ‘phwoar, look at the threat on that!’).  Then I noted that I’d have to be careful not to pull threat inadvertently when we have a fight that requires us to swap tanks. Death Knight tanks also picked up an insane single target threat boost this patch, so will be in the same boat.

Which roughly means that in WoW at the moment, the only players who actually need to be careful and watch that they don’t go over tank threat are … other tanks.

The usual question when warriors get more damage is how it will affect the class in PvP. Will players find a way to work this into overpowered arena combinations? And for that we need to wait and see. Because Revenge can only be used after a block, it may simply be a learn to play issue. Don’t melee the shield warrior. They can still be disarmed, crowd controlled, nuked, and otherwise taken out of play.

Who is responsible for threat?

I was thinking about how the responsibility for threat management has changed in WoW over time. (I’m relying on memory to check when these changes came in so please correct me if I am wrong.)

In vanilla WoW, it was the tank’s responsibility to generate enough threat to distract mobs from the healers, and the dps responsibility not to out threat the tanks. It was completely normal for dps to back off a fight, wait for three sunders, or otherwise sit around twiddling their thumbs while they waited for tank threat to build up. Alliance was vastly overpowered compared to horde because all of their dps caused 30% less threat due to paladin buffs.

In TBC, dps classes gained more abilities to control their own threat. Active threat reduction cooldowns became more prevalent and more widely used. So instead of having to wait for tank threat, dps classes could hit their cooldown (to reduce their own threat) and keep nuking. Paladin threat reduction buffs were available to horde as well as alliance. Hunters also gained misdirect, which allowed them to add more threat to another player (i.e. a tank). This helped immensely with tricky pulls such as Gruul. If a hunter pulled with misdirect, then the tank got an immediate threat lead right from the start.

Incidentally I do love misdirect and tricks of the trade. It’s awesome when you’re in a fight with an aggro wipe and someone can help you to pick up the boss again quickly. I like the notion of controlling the fight as a team effort.

In Wrath, tank threat got beefed up significantly, and also rogues picked up a misdirect-equivalent of their own. Suddenly more dps classes could actively help with tanking (by controlling where the threat was directed) but at the same time, the idea of dps being forced to ease off for threat reasons was mostly eliminated. It just isn’t a big part of the dps role any more.

And although tanking is fun and more fluid than ever, it’s also easy as a tank to feel that in some fights you could be replaced by a lump of rock, or a pet. The hunters and rogues would misdirect to you, and the lump of rock could probably take the hits without needing to block or parry anyway, let alone use Revenge.

I do wonder where the devs plan to go with this. Will they go further with the lump of rock paradigm, making it even easier for a group to complete an instance with a poor quality tank? Maybe healers should get in on the act too, and be able to redirect some of their healing aggro?

Or will threat generation go even more over the top, more passive threat generating abilities, making tanking even easier?

I’m not sure that either of those options will make tanking more fun for me. That’s the big risk to tanking that I see going into Cataclysm.