[WoW] Tanking Changes

Ghostcrawler announced some design changes around the threat mechanics via a forum/ blog post today. Basically tanks will be getting an automatic 200% treat increase next patch. It’s mostly due to dps who don’t like having to hold back in instances when they get a lower geared tank. This plays into the issue I was discussing a couple of days ago about there being some barriers to people picking up tanking for the first time.

The threat change won’t make any difference to how tanks play, since they usually go for their best threat rotation anyway. Other proposed changes for more DK-like survivability active cooldowns sound interesting, but are likely to make the tanking classes play more and more similarly.

But there’s an interesting thread running through the post and it’s to do with threat dump abilities (ie. feign death, soul shatter, cower, etc.)

It’s not fun for the Feral druid to stop using special attacks in order to avoid pulling aggro. It’s fun to use Feint at the right time to avoid dying, but it’s not fun for Feint to be part of your rotational cooldown.

I had thought feral druids had a Feint ability of their own, why would it be fun for rogues to use it but not for cat druids? (I’m not sure I’ve ever seen either a rogue or a feral using an aggro dump, but besides that.)

We like abilities like Misdirect. It’s fun as a hunter to help the tank control targets. We are less enamored of Cower, which is just an ability used often to suppress threat. We like that the mage might have to use Ice Block, Frost Nova, or even Mirror Image to avoid danger. We don’t like the mage having to worry about constantly creeping up on the tank’s threat levels.

This is where I get confused, because several of the ranged dps classes have aggro dumps, as well as two of the melee. If it’s bad for one class to have to use that ability, why is it OK for the others?

Anyway, regardless of what you think of threat and the proposed tanking changes, the big question is why this was considered to be so important that it’s being changed mid-expansion. My guess is that instance tanking just isn’t keeping up with strong AE dps such as mages and frost death knights and this is a quick fix.

But it will take some of the teamwork out of instance play, having to adapt to what the tank was doing and watch your threat will become a playstyle of the past.

29 thoughts on “[WoW] Tanking Changes

  1. Ferals have cower, which is not an aggro dump, it’s a reduction. And it reduces current threat by 10%. That’s great later in the fight but early on it’s a drop in the bucket.

    MD and Tricks are aggro controllers. Being able to MD does lower your threat – but more importantly it controls threat to another person. The ‘another person’ part is the fun part. Being able to send adds to a tank is fun. being able to drop aggro and send adds to…someone else on the threat list is not as fun.

    As to the ice block thing – I think ice block is fun because it saves the mage, not just drops aggro. Same with mirror image. Frost nova can be fun when controlling adds. But just dropping threat entirely? Not as fun.

    • “I had thought feral druids had a Feint ability of their own, why would it be fun for rogues to use it but not for cat druids?”

      Kal said it for me. Note also that good rogues use Feint to also take less damage in raid aoe phases, not just for lowering threat.

  2. Free translation: Bribing tanks to run heroics hasn’t brought enough of them. Maybe completely eliminating threat as a mechanic will bring more of them in so that people can continue their daily token grind?

  3. Feint reduces damage from AoE attacks now. So a rogue can use Feint as a defensive CD in response to a boss ability, and not just as a threat reducer. I think GC is referring to the damage reduction part as fun, but not the constant threat reduction.

    My guess is that they don’t like threat reduction abilities that you use on cooldown, but they’re fine with longer cd abilities that you use in an emergency.

    • Yup, that’s exactly it.

      I do have to use Feint occasionally for threat in the early portion of high movement fights where a tank may be having to drag a boss around an area – as I’m not usually affected quite so much by the movement handicap it’s easy for me to chew at a tank in this situation even with Tricks.

      Feint also reduces 50% of aoe damage though – you might not see it being used much, but I actually do use it quite a lot to mitigate damage, especially on raid wide aoe when the healers are under extra pressure – Neffy’s crackle or Chimereon during the gather up phase is particularly powerful, but when learning fights I’d regularly use it on Magmaw’s aoe and Omm nom’s with the flame thrower thing etc.

      90% of the time I use Feint is for the aoe damage reduction.

  4. If they’re going to make aggro-monitoring by dps irrelevant, just remove the mechanic all together. Make the mobs always stick to the tank regardless of what anyone else does, and let people mindlessly pewpew to their heart’s content.

    • Agreed – not that WoW was the hardest game to manage threat in anyway, but this pretty much removes threat as an element of gameplay.

      In the next patch – DPS players reported that pressing buttons was difficult, so the game will automatically apply a set amount of damage every second (based on your current gear) to your current target.

  5. Pai – I think that is effectively what they are doing; all the tank needs to worry about now is tagging adds when they show up and even a DK with just diseases and blood boil will be able to hold most things.

    This change did somewhat surprise me though; it makes sense as a way to try and lower the “gear threshhold” for new tanks in PuGs. However this also addresses the issue of frost DK and warrior threat without having to give them a baked-in threat reduction or feint (though I don’t see why the former would be all that bad, they already have stances which work perfectly for it…just attach a threat reduction to the stance itself).

    In general I am not in favor of “dumbing down” or removing play aspects from the game but I can see their “greater good” sort of reasoning. Maybe I’ll start tanking randoms outside of my guild.

  6. Welcome back to LK heroics where tanks were made of glue, healers had unlimited mana and overgeared dps could pew-pew as hard they pleased.

    The problem isn’t overeager DPS, it’s that overgeared DPS are bribed to run instances where the gear dropped is 20-30 item levels below what they’re already wearing.

    Unless we get a new tier of heroics, I fear we’re headed back to chain pulling and gogogo groups.

  7. It’s an attempt to fix pug tanking that doesn’t address the main issue – people who aren’t the tank expect too much from the tank, too little from themselves and are horrible in response to problems.

    Not expecting tank numbers to change much in response to this. And it doesn’t address the issue of ninja pulling.

  8. This is ironic given what I said in my own post today about eliminating the tank/threat mechanic and having the DPS throttle aggro themselves.

    They tried to move away from this with Cata, but it looks like the masses have spoken.

    • My gut feeling is that at its core this is about control. Who controls an instance group?

      It’s clear from the gogogo trend and people pulling when they don’t think the tank is pulling fast enough that a lot of DPS don’t want the tank to control the pace of the run (healers used to have a LOT of control in vanilla, partly through actual priest shackles and partly through pointedly letting people die but I don’t think this is so common now.)

      • Well, as stabs said, I don’t expect the tank numbers to change much. The LFG tool and vote-kick mean that a healer to tries to make a point is likely to get dumped. Warrior tanks never had a problem with gogogo, because rage requires action. Other tanks were more paced, but if gogogo is the what the trend has become, I’m gone-gone-gone.

        (Mostly gone anyway, I only play WoW with a dedicated group of RL friends in small dungeons.)

      • Goes to prove that my misgivings about the LFG system on multiple levels back when it was released were not unfounded. It made getting groups faster, yes, but the negative effects it’s had on both server/group interactions did more harm than good.

  9. To be honest, threat has never been an issue for equivalently geared and skilled tanks and dps. The only time threat matters is when your tank is poorly geared, or inexperienced, or just plain bad, and in those situations threat isn’t any fun; the dps either hold off/slow down (not fun for them) or ignore the tank’s low threat and pull aggro (not fun for the tank or healer). I don’t see this change making the game any easier or less complex when it matters, on raid bosses in progression content.

  10. I’m curious as to how this is going to affect hunter pet tanking. Would be nice to not have to continually MD to my pet when I’m soloing old content.

    • A couple of months ago I leveled a priest from 1-80 largely by doing dungeons and this was my observation.

      My disc priest was capable of pulling a boss off about 60% of the tanks I grouped with through level 45ish. Most tanks at that level are fairly experienced players, too, in the sense that they’ve played the game before. I wouldn’t want to be a new player attempting to tank in the current LFD environment; it’d make me quit.

  11. The issue with threat is that it’s a legacy mechanic from days of yore, where it’s no longer important, especially compared to Vanilla when 90% of the fights were all threat management, but it still hangs around enough to be a pain in the ass for the tank who is a little undergeared or still getting the hang of tanking.

    The issue of tank homogenisation does raise an interesting point, however. In the past nothing has made tanks flip their shit more than not being able to do everything every other tank can do. From the bitching about DK’s being needed to tank early WotLK content to Paladin AoE threat mechanics being needed for SH and Hyjal to Warrior tanks all through everything, you’d hear bitching until tanks were made more in line with other tanks which gradually necessitated a lot of mechanical sameness. So at this juncture, why fight it?

  12. The irony is that I don’t think new tanks ever worried about threat overmuch. To me, going into a new instance for the first time was nerve-wracking because A) I didn’t know the abilities, B) I didn’t know whether I needed to move/interrupt them, C) I didn’t know the mob patrols, D) I didn’t know whether my death was because I sucked, the healer sucked, or the DPS sucked, and E) everyone expected you (the tank) to already know A, B, C, D, and to explain all the boss fights besides.

    I suppose we have the Dungeon Journal now to handle the boss fights explanations/etc, but wiping on trash because the tank screwed up is still my #1 /facepalm moment, even when I am the one tanking.

    • Azuriel-

      100% agree! As someone who usually plays a healing role but would like to get into tanking, the few times I’ve tried have been such a perfect storm of “What is this, I don’t even…” that I just (mentally) threw up my hands and went back to more familiar pastures.

      It’s so difficult to learn a role that has so few “outside” indicators of what and how the last pull went wrong– dps have meters, healers can even check meters to some extent. But tanks…the death log? Still, as you say, does that just show you a tank error, or a bad healer— and how do you even tell if you’re new to the role?

      Anyway, sorry to ramble on, but it’s something I really feel (and my warrior alt languishes at low levels because of it). I thought you stated a lot of the issues very well here.

  13. I leveled my dk to tank near the end of wrath, and getting over the hump from regular instances, where everyone was at roughly the same gear level, to heroics filled with t10 geared people chasing badges. Watching every mob in a pack running a different direction was painful and frustrating, especially since I was still learning the pulls and my own toolbox. I struggled for a couple of weeks, uncertain if I wanted to continue tanking, until I got a 251 weapon. I think with the new healing changes that transition is even more brutal, although JP from non-heroic instances makes bridging the gear gap a bit easier.

  14. My biggest concern here is the possible future(4.3ish) homogonizing of the tanks.

    Right now my warrior is an OS tank(who does tank often in raids). My DK alt is a tank and I have an upcoming tank Druid alt. I like seeing tanking from different perspectives and other sides, and playing around with different styles.

    If all the tanking styles end up ”toss out a few abilities for threat, then use Ability C for your ‘Death Strike’ esque ability”, then there will be no point to seeing other tanks styles, and I’ll become closer to just letting my sub run out. The threat thing I’m not too bothered by. I mean, it’s obvious they want to push more tanks somehow into the game. But my concern again is down the line when they just further mash classes together into one big mess of a class where it really won’t matter what you play anymore except for the color your class shows up as on the Grid.

    IF they take their time and try to keep the tanks different it can work, but needless to say I’m skeptical these days of what the devs do. I guess I’ll just hope for the best.

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  16. I haven’t played WoW in a few months, but I can’t recall threat being an issue (except maybe with people who AOE in the first five seconds of a fight) in any dungeon or raid since mid-Wrath. (And that includes a ton of random heroics while gearing up my Druid and Warrior tanking alts.) I don’t think this is going to help the tank shortage.

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  18. +1 for the WoW PCC (World of Warcraft Pointless Changes Committee.)

    Threat isn’t a barrier to entry level tanking (IMO). Threat isn’t an issue with experienced tanks (hence the label of “experienced”). What does this really do? Even going to the fringe, I can only see negative consequences of this change.

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