Random Wow Thoughts: Draenei vs Worgen females, shortage of tanks

Earlier this week I referred to a survey about the relative popularity of different class/ gender combos among WoW players. One of the things that came out of the survey is that Draenei are the race where players are most likely to pick a female character. And a commenter noted that worgen females (despite being the most recent race added to the Alliance side) were perceived as being a lot less attractive.

So I thought I’d show some newish alts side by side.

femalecomp

femalecomp2

I am also not fond of how the worgen females look in play, but if you look at the still screenshots they look mostly fine. I think the worgens have way too large boobs – it may be appealing to the furry fans but I find it really detracts from the lean, mean, feral killing machine look. There is also an uncanny element of sticking a non-human face on top of a human(ish) body, which doesn’t happen so much with the male worgen who have a much more feral, animalistic stance.

The draenei on the other hand has a beautiful face but her posture, with the hugely arched spine, looks uncomfortably weird (or more likely, designed to have her arse stick out as much as possible). It’s fine for an alien race to look weird but I find this very off-putting.

So how is that shortage of tanks thing going?

There is still a deep shortage of tanks in WoW, and this time around we’re seeing it in the raid guilds as well as the 5 mans. I think the extra perk reward helped the numbers in the short term, but the main draw to playing a tank/ healer in random instances is still the shorter queue.

I also notice increasingly that players in my guild who don’t play a tank are very reluctant to consider tanking on a new alt. Somewhere along the line, it feels as though the barrier to learning the role became overwhelming for people. So as the regular tanks want a break or want to level non tanking alts, guild groups become rarer. I’m not sure how typical we are, but I’ll just throw it out there as an example. It has the effect that I’m way more popular with guildies when I tank, even though it’s not my preferred role at the moment. Although they also have an increased interest in ranked battlegrounds at the moment, perhaps because you don’t have to wait for a tank.

On the forums, someone suggested making dungeons that don’t require tanks or allowing a pet/ NPC tank to fill out the instance group. If this happened, there would genuinely be no point in tanking unless you really love it, especially if the NPC tank was good. Plus few PUG players would put up with an inexperienced tank who is learning the role if they could just summon a pet to do it. The same would apply to healing. (And probably to dps too – pets already don’t break crowd control which puts them ahead of the game really.)

Zarhym also said:

That said, you do raise some good points about offering challenging, rewarding content to players which doesn’t rely solely on players waiting for a specific class role which is in high demand across the boards. In our minds, there’s potentially something missing between daily quests and dungeons, from a content/progression perspective. To that end, we’re exploring some options for the future.

This hints at some kind of solo/ skirmish content in the works (I wondered why it had taken Blizzard so long to steal the skirmish idea from LOTRO.)

One of the other interesting comments in that thread was from someone who used to tank/ heal in TBC and Wrath but finds them both too difficult/ stressful now. And yes, it sucks that instances can be fairly chilled and relaxing if you roll in as dps whereas tanks and healers have a fairly stressful time of it (not so much now that people are getting overgeared but the same idea holds.)

 i’d rather half !@# an instance as dps than actually have to focus on being a good player.

In which WoW finally starts bribing the tanks

Announced as an addition for the next patch (and this is not an April Fool):

Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented. In the case of tanking being the least represented role, the “Call to Arms: Tanks” icon will display in the Dungeon Finder UI menu <…> Regardless of your role, you’ll always be able to see which role currently has been Called to Arms, if any.

Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. <…> Every time you hit these requirements (there is no daily limit) you’ll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount.

They go on to discuss why they decided on these incentives, and note also that the pets and mounts come from a variety of sources, but (this is the main thing) they are already in the game.

Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little.

My thoughts:

It will be an interesting experiment on a scale that only Warcraft can organise, so I’ll be interested in hearing how it goes.

I know enough people that quit running heroics in any role because they didn’t enjoy them, even with the gold and tokens that are given as rewards, to wonder how many tanks can be lured into LFD with a few random shinies. I’m sure it will improve the number of tanks queueing, but I wonder by how much.  It certainly wouldn’t have enticed me to tank if I wasn’t in the mood. I don’t need the gold and I don’t care about the pets or mounts – if it was a tank specific mount that might have been another question :)

Also, to get the reward you need to queue SOLO for LFD. That means you can’t bring your favourite healer with you (or favourite dps player/s) and really do have to take what the random generator provides.

There is a whole other question about whether it’s really a good idea to reward people explicitly for playing needed roles. It tends to attract the people who are most interested in the rewards rather than in the role. Plus it’s generally unfair and if the game is that dependent on unpopular roles then it’s time to look at why they are so unpopular.

In this case: why is tanking instances so less popular in Cataclysm than it was in Wrath?

I’d suggest that it isn’t because tanking is harder than it used to be, it’s just that the dungeons are longer and less popular than they used to be. And the easiest way to get dragged through a dungeon you dislike (esp. where you don’t want to learn all the pulls) is in a dps or healing role. Also, it’s far easier to gear as a dps first in instances and then work on the tank gear  – so even a lot of keen tanks will want to do a lot of runs in dps mode on hitting 85.

My other issue with the bribes is what happens if one role is least popular, and another is just a little bit more popular, and the third role is massively over subscribed? Surely there should be some reward for healers even when tanks are most in demand? Or should we just penalise dps even more than long queue times for LFD would imply, pour encourager les autres?

[Guest Post] The first three seconds

(Salanna is a mage who runs in the same raid group as Spinks, for her sins. Her hobbies are drinking, setting things on fire, and reminding tanks of their own mortality.)

Hi. So, Spinks is away, and has rather unwisely turned her blog over to other people. People like me. A mage. Spinks situates herself in front of the boss, helmet on, shield up, perfectly placed and nailed there with tent pegs, whacking the boss with a fishing pole to show how hard she is. I’m just inside her line of sight, zapping four kinds of hell, with nothing between me and the world but a blue bar, the 130% aggro threshold, and my chef’s hat that I forgot to take off before entering the instance. Tanks taunt the boss, but mages taunt the tank.

Now, about that aggro threshold. Spinks and I, we have a funny relationship with that. This mage, see, has been working on improving my own DPS lately. A DPSer’s trade is never fully mastered, of course, but I’ve had my share of catching up to do. Now I’m not going to get stuck into the whys and hows here – there are plenty of resources for that – but I spent a good while following all the good advice, and it wasn’t clearly helping. Couldn’t work out what was wrong. I was beginning to think that I needed to hit the buttons harder.

Then I started paying attention to the very start of the fight. You know the bit. The tank has no rage yet, they’ve maybe landed a sunder, they’re moving around trying to position the boss so it doesn’t insta-kill the clothies – and those same clothies just let loose. The boss goes on a rampage, the raid leader emits an audible sigh on teamspeak, there are general exhortations in /raid to give the tanks time at the start without naming any names, and we all ress, rebuff and try again. All for the want of one second’s worth of patience from the DPS, on a fight where we’re nowhere near the enrage timer. Absurd, isn’t it?

Except. That’s the one moment in the fight where everything is aligned for those DPS. Particularly for a class like a mage where mastering your role is in large part about maximising the use of cooldowns, the start is the only place in the fight where all the cooldowns align. The macroed abilities (and mages do like to stack their macros), weapon procs, trinkets with mismatched internal cooldowns, more often than not a Bloodlust – this
is where they all stack, and stack multiplicably.

Which means that if you fluff that part of the fight, you’re not just missing out on a couple of seconds valuable damage time, but you are missing out on the highest potential damage per second in the entire fight. If you don’t keep up here, there is nowhere else in the fight that you can catch up. For a class like a mage with its many cooldowns, the difference does seem to be astonishing – in the right fight it can be the difference between being in
the top third and the bottom third of the meters.

I discovered that the rest of the effort I’d put in before was making a difference – but until I got the beginning of the fight just right, any improvement was getting lost in the noise. I had lost the race in the first ten seconds and could no longer make a sensible comparison.

Which gives me to wonder if this is an intentional design. Competition between DPS is a crucial part of keeping the overall DPS of a given raid group good and healthy. But when the difference to the outcome of the encounter is so small – there are very few fights in any given raid these days where a couple of seconds off the enrage timer is the difference between success and wipe – it seems absurd to put this level of tension between the DPS I reckon it is deliberate at least in principle, if perhaps not fully intended to have turned out the way it has. I can see that there is, and should be, a benefit for DPS and tanks who get to know each other well.

Asking the designers to remove that benefit is unlikely to be successful – and rightly so. But I suspect that how it has turned out in practice is, at least in part, a victim of the funny scaling of threat versus damage. Right now, this problem is bodged by non-tanks who help with threat by means of Tricks of the Trade and Misdirect, and nowhere is that help more important than the start of the fight. But this takes some responsibility for one of the most intricate parts of the fight away from the tank, leaving them with another five minutes of “three-stacks-taunt.”

That’s not a good thing. My raid’s tanks are all great, experts at what they do. I want them to be able to show that skill. I don’t want them to feel like they’re taking the place of an adequately buffed voidwalker. But I’m caught directly between showing proper respect for the tank, by giving them the little time they need, and showing respect for the raid as a whole, by learning to up my DPS.

So Cataclysm will cure all ills, right? Well, maybe. If the level of tension today really is a result of 64 ilevels of threat vs. damage, then it’ll benefit both from the gear reset and from the developers’ work to try to address that scaling in future. Both the risk of pulling aggro and the consequence of it is likely to be lower in a first tier Catclysm raid than in the end dungeon of Wrath; and DPS’ dependence on nailing the first few seconds of a fight will be lower thanks to the proportionately smaller procs and buffs at that tier, so the pressure to ride the edge will be eased. I reckon the measure of a successful outcome here will be if that tension between DPS and tanks can be ramped up a bit over the lifetime of the expansion, without having to resort to outside hackery again, and without sending us all back to Outland to farm the materials for Subtlety enchants for our cloaks.

Knockback Man, thank goodness you came!

Imagine the fun we had in the Halls of Lightning yesterday.

The group started with the familiar ‘gogogo’ call of the hopelessly incompetent dps (a shaman in this case), so I headed off to gather up the first couple of pulls at about the same speed as usual.

All goes well. We head down the slope to pick up a few more mobs. I see the first boss with his adds approaching – I consider whether we could take all of them plus the group at the bottom which I hadn’t yet pulled. I decide that this group probably isn’t high enough dps for it so draw back a bit to wait when ….

KNOCKBACK MAN, THANK GOODNESS YOU CAME!

Suddenly ‘my’ mobs all fly backwards in random directions. Naturally one of them pulls the boss (in empowered mode, of course), plus the extra group. I think … something … and go pick up as many as I can. Some of the ranged guys run off, shoot a few arrows, and then run after the healer. He runs in the opposite direction whilst still managing to type ‘omg keep aggro’. I can barely see where the rest of the mobs are due to having a huge and arcing boss in my face but I suspect some of them may be out of AE taunt range. This proves to be the case.

A wipe ensues. And as per usual, while I’m yelling at the misbegotten shaman who dared use an unauthorised knockback on my mobs, everyone else is yelling at me. My husband is yelling at the shaman too but he isn’t actually in the group, he’s just watching over my shoulder.

Imagine for a moment that you are a game designer and you have been challenged to invent a new ability that will really really annoy every tank in the game.

How do you do it? Think about the tank’s job in PvE, then think about how other people can make it more difficult. If there is a random element, even better.

  • A misdirect that sends the monstie off to smack a random group member? (My burglar has that in LOTRO.)
  • A castable shield that removes all threat from the tank? (That’d be a paladin special.)
  • An amnesia spell that just resets the monster’s threat table? (My sorcerer had that in DaoC.)
  • The ability to teleport a monster away from the group in a random direction? (That’s City of Heroes.)
  • Or maybe an instant AE nuke which also flings all monsters away in random directions at the same time? (What is this I don’t even …)

Knockback is the epitome of anti-crowd control, allowing a hapless caster to create chaos where once there was order.

Thunderstorm in particular is a dreadful example of game design. It’s an instant AE nuke, also gives some mana back to the caster, AND knocks back the enemies in a random direction by 20’.  This means that it mixes together a few abilities that a caster would really want to use, and a side-effect that will make everyone hate you in instances. Tanks will hate it because they inevitably lose some control, plus there is a good chance that at least one of the mobs goes flying into another group. Also there is a special hidden aspect to Thunderstorm which forces shamans to use it JUST as you hit shockwave so your best AE threat ability is completely wasted and now on a cooldown while the monsters run wild … 20’ away in random directions.

But all is not lost, there is a glyph of thunderstorm that PvE-ifies the spell. So you get the same damage, more mana, and no knockback. It’s also a great example of how glyphs can be used to customise spells in interesting and useful ways. That should be a win, right? Well, it would be a win if the PvE version of the spell was the default, and people had the option to glyph for the PvP/solo friendly knockback.

I don’t know what they were thinking. Because otherwise that was a neat and player-controlled way of letting spells behave differently in PvE or PvP situations. But the non-PvE friendly version should never have been the baseline.

All that means is that clueless players wander into groups, toting spells that are guaranteed to piss off the rest of the group and with side-effects that have no good place in group content. A 20’ random AE knockback is very very rarely going to be useful in a group.

I could imagine games where this would be less of an issue. Where chaos in PvE is the order of the day. Where tanking and healing abilities are more spread and players are more self sufficient, so spraying a bunch of monsters around just makes it easier for people to pick separate targets and bag them. But WoW is not that game.

Spells with multiple effects

One of the hallmarks of more recent iterations of WoW abilities are new spells which do multiple things. Shockwave, for example, puts out some damage, a lot of threat, and also stuns mobs.

Warriors have a lot of fun with Shockwave. It can be used to hold a group in place briefly while you charge off and grab another set. It can be used purely for the threat, with the stun as a side-effect. It can be used in PvP purely for the stun, with the damage as a side-effect. Producing more than one effect makes the spell more flexible and more group friendly, not less.

Also there are very few occasions where the side effect is problematic.

Another example would be lifebloom which heals like a regular HoT with a burst heal at the end. So in TBC druids could choose to either stack the HoTs (rolling lifebloom) or let it bloom. Again, not an ability that would ever hinder a group but the extra effect makes it more flexible and fun to use.

And the knockback abilities can also be great in the hands of a skilled player. I’ve seen Blastwave used to knock mobs back towards the tank, for example.  But not every situation is knockback friendly. So really the caster needs to be able to choose when to use that side-effect, not have it tacked on to a spell that is part of their core dps rotation.

Knockbacks used right

Warhammer Online had some great notions for knockback. And in that game, tanks were given many of the CC spells.

The knockback was intended to let tanks throw an enemy away from a more vulnerable group member in PvP. And throw people into lava in Tor Anroc, an awesome PvP scenario featuring narrow paths r around pools of lava which was roundly hated by every class which didn’t have a knockback and loved by every class which did.

What the devs realised is that knockback is a PvP ability, where maintaining perfect control of a pull is less important than ‘get it off me right now!!!’

On rewarding tanks and healers

Gordon of We Fly Spitfires posted a provocative  guest post last week, suggesting tanks and healers should get more rewards than other characters?

His thinking was that this could address both the supply and demand issue (giving better rewards encourages more people to take up the less popular roles) and also rewarding people for taking on more responsible/stressful tasks. That’s how real life works after all … isn’t it?

I think this is a bad idea on several levels, but to come back to the real life analogy, this is the same reason that teachers and social workers are paid less than lawyers and CEOs, even though their jobs are recognised as being very important and they are often understaffed. And the main reason is that it doesn’t much impact the bottom line. The people paying the CEOs and lawyers feel (for some reason) that their market value is higher.

Or in other words, as long as the majority of players prefer dps roles, they won’t want to pay to feel disadvantaged or to feel that the developers prefer the tank and healer classes. I think current gen games are taking the better route by making it smoother and easier for players to try out different roles on the same characters. And the social rewards for playing the undermanned roles will eventually filter through.

The other reason is that a lot of people who take up careers in teaching, the ministry, social work, etc do it because they feel some kind of a calling, or enjoy other rewards of the work. You don’t need to pay through the roof to get these people, they’d do the job anyway.

There is still a balance point where more rewards would attract more and better qualified candidates. Unfortunately, in MMOs, rewarding the social aspects of group friendly classes acts against the other trend which is being more accessible to soloers.

Or in other words, devs could create awesome group content rewards and that would effectively reward tanks and healers because they get to do it more easily … but people would complain about feeling forced to group.

Other reasons not to overly reward tanks and healers

  • Plays into ‘special snowflake’ syndrome which already affects tanks and healers disproportionately.
  • What are you going to reward them with exactly? More gold, reputation, badges or gear will just mean that they gear up more quickly and are no longer motivated to continue running the instances. Maybe a random pet – a little tank pet might be cute, especially if you could get it to shell dps who stand in the fire.

In fact, far from rewarding tanks and healers, I think that if the disparity continues it’s likely that their rewards will be more spaced out. To encourage the players to keep tanking and healing instances so that the dps can have their shot too. Anyone remember Utgarde Pinnacle at the beginning of Wrath – only instance which dropped a purple tanking weapon. It was run a lot. Because all the warrior and paladin tanks wanted that drop.

That’s how to get more instances running.

And on another note, why don’t we have achievements for different roles?

I don’t get behind extra rewards, but wouldn’t it be fun to have some achievements for tanking 100 instances, or healing them? Or completing some instance or raid in all of your character’s possible hybrid specs, just for fun?

Maybe that’s all the reward people would need.

But devs have been very reluctant to include class specific achievements, even when (as in WoW) they’ve been very explicit that achievement points are pointless and meaningless.

10 reasons why Tanks shout at Healers

 

  1. We’re actually paying attention to you. Here am I, trying to keep the bitey things off your back and when I look round you’re … standing in a fire. GET OUT OF THE FIRE!
  2. We’re actually paying attention to you #2: dps may be nice chaps and chapesses but as soon as the fight starts, they’re deaf, dumb, and blind to everything except their optimal rotations (assuming they are paying attention at all) or will get distracted completely by the occasional high crit. SHINY! They won’t care if the healers are turning cartwheels at the back of the room. I, on the other hand, am paying close attention to at least my own health bar and probably yours too.
  3. We’re actually paying attention to you #3 (co-dependent argument): So why exactly are you not paying as much attention to me as I am to you? If I had to run up some stairs to grab a boss, I may have assumed you were not nailed to the ground and could follow? Why does nobody love me as much as I love them? IT’S NOT FAIR! Am I fated always to be losing my heart to uncaring unresponsive healers? *sob*
  4. We’re not actually paying attention to anyone except you: most tanks don’t notice what the dps are doing and won’t realise you had to run off to heal them. Whereas healers probably keep an eye on everyone by default.
  5. We’re not actually paying attention to you. Oh, you were dead? What sort of excuse is that? OK, moving swiftly on.
  6. We probably know the instance backwards. When I’ve run an instance enough times, I pretty much know what my health bar usually does in conjunction with a healer who is paying attention. I will notice if it does something radically different for no obvious reason. (This doesn’t mean not making allowances when you know you’re with an inexperienced or undergeared healer.)
  7. You just ran off and pulled a patrol by mistake? Oh, it was on purpose because you were getting bored. I see. *RAGE*
  8. I know if I made a mistake. If I’ve taken a wodge of damage, I know fine well if it was my own fault. I won’t shout at anyone for that (unless it’s to hide my own incompetence). But if I know that I didn’t stand in the fire then that dismisses one set of reasons for my health to have dropped unexpectedly. You’re probably what’s left.
  9. You’re married/ partners in RL. Nuff said.
  10. Warriors just like to shout. Battle Shout, Commanding Shout, Shout at Healers (no cooldown on this one but it doesn’t last long either). People also pay more attention if you shout at them, it’s a proven fact. Probably.

OK, so the big reason for all the shouting at healers is because tanks and healers in particular have to work together in fights. And that means sometimes you need to coordinate your efforts and communicate. And when you have to communicate quickly in the middle of a fight with no time for discussion, that may mean shouting. It also means not much time for critical thinking.

The other big reason for shouting at healers is pure frustration. I noticed myself doing this on our attempts at heroic beasts this week, and I hope I apologised to them all afterwards because I felt pretty bad about it.

In the first part of that fight, once your cooldowns and consumables are blown, you just have to sit there and take the hits. As a tank, there’s not a darned thing you can do to reduce the damage you are taking. You can’t move out of the way, there’s no avoidable damage to avoid. You just have to go through your standard tanking threat rotation and hope like crazy that healers are on top of it.

I think it’s that sense of total powerlessness that fuels the shouting. Because when people ask afterwards why you died, the only thing you can possibly say is, ‘Not enough healing.’

What tanks really think of healers

This is inspired by a great shared topic at Blog Azeroth which asks about non-healers view of healers.

And I think this is really typical of WoW in that Nigiri (who is a healer) asked the question, and everyone who has responded so far has played a tank. And they have all said the same thing: I don’t care where the heals come from as long as they keep coming.

Bear in mind that WoW has 4 classes capable of healing and there is some competition between them. Plus support classes always like to feel that they picked the most useful/desired combination because you feel like a tool if you’ve gone to all the effort of levelling and gearing up one group-friendly toon only to find that you aren’t wanted. So healers in WoW are always asking: which type of healer would you prefer in your group. I used to do this when I played my druid too in TBC; maybe I didn’t come out and ask, but I was very sensitive to my ‘groupability’.

But like the other guys have said, no one else cares who is healing as long as it is someone who is paying attention. And that’s a sign that the heal classes are reasonably balanced at the moment, for solo/group play at least.

As a raid leader, my preference is for a mix of healing classes because they each bring something different to the table. In Ulduar specifically, I prefer priests but that’s down to encounter design. In practice, no one is cut out because:

  1. We don’t have many priests
  2. I’d still want to use a mix of classes

I’ll come back to my preferences with healers later because it is a bit more than ‘whoever is there’.

My first experience with heals

I want to share a story from years back in Dark Age of Camelot.

I was playing my first ever MMO and my first ever MMO character which was a minstrel (a kind of jack of all trades class with a bit of melee, a bit of crowd control, a few buffs, and a group speed buff). And I had been soloing on Salisbury Plains with some success – I’d killed a few mobs, died a couple of times, business as usual.

Then I ran into a friendly cleric, so we grouped up. And I knew they were a healing class but it was the first time I’d ever been in a group in the game. We eyed some monster up.

I said to him that I thought we might be ok but it would be a tough fight, because it had killed me before.

He said, it’s ok, I’ll be healing.

I was doubtful. But I figured that two people were better than one and the worst that could happen would be that we died and had to release and run back.

When I fought that monster, I was a living combat goddess!! My health barely dipped. It wasn’t hard, it wasn’t even easy. I swung my sword a few times, and it may have hit me but I laughed off the damage. Then it died. I didn’t just have healing, it was as if my health bar had suddenly stopped being an issue.

I said, wow, that seemed easy.

He said, yes.

So I pulled another one.

So what do tanks really think of healers?

With a healer at my back, I feel as though I can do anything (in the game). I will charge the biggest bosses, I will smash skulls in PvP, and nothing will stand in my way. It’s the craziest kind of team-up – a tank and a healer is one of the most powerful duos in just about any game I’ve ever played. So it can be a really great partnership and lots of fun for everyone involved.

But there are some caveats:

  1. The usual rote goes that if the tank dies, it’s the healers fault. If the healer dies, it’s the tank’s fault. If dps die, it’s their own silly fault.  If the healer gets aggro then I have done something very wrong. But don’t go out of your way to die by forgetting to heal yourself or get out of the fire.
  2. I do prefer being healed by a player I know or have played with before. It’s funny how that works. You do get used to someone’s playing style.
  3. Communication helps. I prefer healers who tell me in advance if there’s anything special I can do to help them out in a fight. As a tank, I may not notice aspects of a boss which only affect casters (like silences). And may not know if one particular type of healer needs a hand on one particular boss.
  4. One thing I learned from playing healers in WoW is that they are not fragile butterflies. All of them have ways to handle themselves which means that screaming like a girl when a not-very-hard hitting add heads your way is somewhat of an over-reaction.
  5. Run towards the tank when you get aggro, not away. We all actually do have ranged taunts now, but it’s still a good rule.
  6. Don’t freak out at constructive criticism, even if it means someone correctly calling you on a mistake that you made. This applies to anyone really but some healers are particularly sensitive. It isn’t personal!

What do you want from patch 3.1?

I haven’t written much about the upcoming class changes in WoW because it’s a moving target. Lots of changes have been mentioned. Some have been added to the test realm and then removed again, and other things have been tried which weren’t expected.

One thing we can see is that there’s some fairly hefty class balancing in the works here. It’s not a few minor changes. One goal of the dev team is to rebalance the various tanks so that they’re all roughly competitive for all the new content. So with that in mind, druids and death knights are lined up for nerfs.

Intriguingly, I don’t have a link for the quote but it was implied that Sarth+3 was never meant to be easier with a druid or death knight tanking. How could they not realise that the huge health pool and/ or crazy cooldowns on the main tank would make that fight easier?

But aside from that, there are two different types of nerf:

  1. tweaking some numbers (a bit less damage, a bit less avoidance, a bit more health, etc)
  2. changes in the way the spec plays (different rotations, new abilities, etc)

Nerfs are always bad because they imply that the designers made a mistake, but sometimes its unavoidable. And changing the way a spec plays is all very well, but what if there comes a point where it just doesn’t feel like the class the player loved any more?

That’s the danger of it.

I feel bad for my friends who play DKs who loved the interactive way the cooldowns and the avoidance gear played into the tanking. It’s not that the cooldowns are going away, I’m sure they will be fine, but being effectively told that your cool effective class was a design error is hard to take. They’ll be more like warriors in future, I think. Just instead of a shield they have loads of extra armour from auras. It’s not really the “Hey y’all, look at this! I can tank with a 2-hander” that a lot of people were looking forwards to.

This is not to say that DK tanks weren’t overpowered. They took the warrior niche of having the best ‘oh shit’ abilities and magnified it to the extreme. And it was partly those defensive cooldowns that had made warriors the preferred progression tanks in the past.

I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m actively hampering my raid in progression content just by being there. So yay for nerfs, I guess.

But at the end of the day, I’ll judge 3.1 for (prot) warriors based on whether we get:

  • dual specs
  • more damage/ threat
  • rage on dodge/parry so my threat doesn’t suffer when I get better gear
  • Not having to spam heroic strike on every cooldown to keep competitive threat

The first two are definitely in the works. For the rest, I guess we’ll wait and see.

Any special changes you’d like to see for your class right now?

10 cool things to read this week

Hurrah, it’s that linking time of day again.

1. Michael@MMO Nation thinks that AAA fantasy MMO’s are a solved problem. Time for developers (who aren’t Blizzard) to move on.

2. From The Medium is Not Enough … The Wrath of Khan as Opera with Action Figures.

3. Nerf this Druid shows us tabards in a whole new way. I swear I had never even thought of this before I saw her screenshot, and no one in my guild had either!

4. Kill Ten Rats thinks that MMOs need a pause key. This is actually why I don’t play on PvP servers, sometimes the cat throws up or the phone rings, or life happens, etc.

5. Out of Mana knows what the P stands for in PvE tanks. It’s not my fault, chargen made me that way!

6. The Writers Cabal Blog talk about envy in game design, and how designers use envy deliberately to make players compete.

7. The Ancient Gaming Noob interprets icons as you’ve never seen them before.

8. Muckbeast writes about why we need enforced downtime in games to encourage people to be social.

9. Fel Fire wonders when main spec is main spec, and other loot distribution issues. This is only going to get worse when/if dual specs arrive.

10. Yay, the Blood Bowl trailer. How good does this look?

Weirdest news story of the week: Putin attends a secret ABBA concert.