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Legion Talent Review

July 3, 2016

Hello Guardians!

For a long time now there hasn’t been many details to talk about that weren’t totally subject to change, or simply easier to talk about on TankCast. However we’ve entered the tuning phase of talents now, and since most of them are mechanically fine it makes sense to finally examine them and see where they are in terms of effectiveness. Obviously some talents are more of a feel or playstyle choice, but there are definitely still informed decisions to be made. So let’s get started.

Level 15 Talents

We have one talent with a very defined offensive and defensive benefit in Brambles, and two talents that generate more Rage which can be used for both offense and defense in Blood Frenzy and Bristling Fur. The quesiton is how good are they at each? Since Brambles is obvious, we need to first figure out how much damage Rage contributes. Since the only way to convert Rage into damage is with Maul, we just determine how much damage one Rage is worth. To do that we follow some simple steps to find the damage-per-Rage (DPR) of Maul:

  • First we define how to calculate the desired value: DPR = (Melee * Multiplier * Versatility * Artifact) * (1 + (Crit+0.1))*(1 – Armor DR)/Rage Cost
  • Then we remove terms that duplicate for Brambles: DPR = (Melee*Multiplier)*(1+(Crit+0.1))*(1 – Armor DR) / Rage Cost
  • Since we know that the biggest difference the Maul Crit trait will cause is 9.1%, we can replace it with an additional constant: DPR = (Melee*Multiplier)*1.091*(1 – Armor DR) / Rage Cost
  • Fill in known constants: DPR = (Weapon DPS + (AP/3.5))*1.5*1.091*0.68/20
  • Simplify: DPR = 0.055641(Weapon DPS + (0.28571*AP))

So it really comes down to how much weapon DPS you have which determines your total Maul damage. The overall contribution from AP is only ~1.5897% per Rage, but how does that stack up for each of the talents? Blood Frenzy is 0.66 RPS per target (or 1 RPS per 1.5s melee), and since Brambles also scales with the number of targets attacking you that is never going to be enough Rage income to overtake Brambles. However Bristling Fur scales with incoming damage, so generally it will end up generating more Rage over time except in sustained AoE situations. Is it enough? The easy answer to that question is unsurprisingly, math.

  • Determine Rage needed to equal Brambles AP coefficient: 0.01589719011X = 0.24 = 15
  • Determine Rage needed per Bristling Fur use: 40*15/1.5 = 400

That tells us the absolute most you would need is to take 400% of your HP in damage when Bristling Fur is active and then spend all of that Rage on Maul. Reality is probably somewhere closer to half that value, which is ~200% of your hp in damage (to get 200 Rage) which is close to 40% per melee swing, which we’ve been told is not going to happen. Therefore we can draw the conclusion that neither Bristling Fur nor Blood Frenzy will ever be equal to Brambles for pure damage. But what about survival?

Let’s start at the other end. Blood Frenzy gives one extra use of either Ironfur or Mark of Ursol every 67.5s per target. The easiest way to look at it is in terms of EHP which simplified, is (HP / (1-%DR)). Using that we can determine how much of an increase in EHP one MoU gives:

  • %EHP Increase = (HP / (1-%DR2)) / (HP / (1-%DR1))
  • Add known Magic DR: %EHP Increase = (HP / 0.567) / (HP / 0.81)
  • Simplify: %EHP Increase = 0.81/0.567 = 1.4285714285714285714285714285714 or 42.857% more EHP for ~10 seconds or so after traits and talents

Unfortunately Ironfur isn’t so easy. We know that any equal percentage increase in Armor generates the same constant amount of EHP, which means the percentage increase in EHP decreases as Armor increases. Instead we’ll have to think about it slightly in the abstract. Consider that the EHP increase from one Ironfur is some value Y. We know that Brambles is esentially a flat EHP bonus since it applies to every damaging event you receive. Therefore in the case of Blood Frenzy, we’re looking at 45 melee swings at 0.24AP each, for a total of 10.8AP. Let’s use a real-world example to see if they’re comparable using a Beta 110 PvP Premade which has 2,296,297 Health, 5572 Armor, and 17,705 AP.

  • Using the values above we know that the you will gain ~1,202,296 EHP with each Ironfur application.
  • Since we would be adding HP for Brambles, we remove the DR to find that we need a total of 714,549 to match Ironfur.
  • 10.8 * 17,705 = 191214 which means Brambles will never come close to Blood Frenzy, or subsequently Bristling Fur.

Now, these assumptions ignore that Ironfur would only last ~10 seconds. However I believe that limitation is handily countered by the fact you can apply the Ironfur whenever you want within those 67.5 seconds, and that EHP has consistently been demonstrated to only valuable when you need it. We also know that HP scales a lot faster than AP making it impossible for Brambles to catch up from starting values this low. Thus while Brambles is clearly far and away the best DPS talent of the three, both Blood Frenzy and Bristling Fur handily defeat Brambles for pure survival.

On the topic of Bristling Fur vs Blood Frenzy, I think Blood Frenzy is a little bit too weak in comparison. There are almost never situations where 3-4 targets are active for long durations. Usually you only end up with 1, or possibly 2. Sometimes you have a large number of targets for 5-10 seconds, but that’s not enough to justify taking Frenzy for difficult content. There should still be a gap, but maybe one not quite so large. I’d suggest nerfing it to 0.75-0.8 Rage per % HP in damage taken.

Level 30 Talents

The only change for movement talents is that Guttural Roars replaces Feline Swiftness (which is now part of Feral Affinity). However there’s a new, additional problem for Displacer Beast. Legion introduces a new “shapeshifting cooldown” which is incurred every time you change forms. That means every time you use Displacer Beast you are prevented from using any damaging abilities for 3 seconds. You can still use cooldowns and trinkets, but that’s not much consolation. Unfortunately this change means that use of Displacer Beast is going to be further restricted to only those instances where a blink is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately I think this punishes Guardians the most out of everyone.

Guttural Roars will end up being the default talent for most raid scenarios since Stampeding Roar can function as both a personal and raidwide movement increase. Wild Charge is clearly great for solo, 5 person, and pvp content. I think Displacer Beast will be the odd one out for this set of talents.

Level 45 Talents

Here we have the new quasi-support “affinity” talents. We’ll set aside Restoration and the passive effects for now, and just look at the pure DPS output of Balance and Feral. To start with, Feral Affinity grants a 35% bonus to energy regenration which is multiplicitive with Haste. However we’ll start with a base value of 135 Energy per second (EPS) for now. Since we don’t have to worry about Primal Fury it’s easy to approximate ability usage.

In order to “accurately” (at least within a reasonable measure of error) we’ll define a cycle as 30 seconds, since that works for both Feral and Balance fairly well. Within that window for Feral we know there will be 1 Thrash, 1 Rip, and some number of Shreds. We also know that we’ll start with 100 Energy and gain 10*1.35*(1+Haste) energy every second. Combine all of that information and we can come up with a formula to approximate Feral Affinity DPS.

  • DPS = ((Melee + Shred)*Armor) + Rip + Thrash
  • Add unique variables: DPS = ((1+Haste)*(Weapon Damage))*0.68+(# Shreds*13.74/30*(Weapon Damage/2)*0.68+(AP*0.6186/30)+(AP*2.19/30)+(80*0.14*AP/30)
  • Determine Shreds: DPS = ((1+Haste)*(Weapon Damage))*0.68+(((20+(30*10*1.35*(1+Haste)))/40)*13.74/30*(Weapon Damage/2)*0.68+(AP*0.6186/30)+(AP*2.19/30)+(80*0.14*AP/30)
  • Simplify: DPS = ((1+Haste)*(Weapon Damage))*0.68+(((20+(405*(1+Haste)))/40)*0.31144*(Weapon Damage/2))+(AP*0.46695333333333333333333333333333)
  • Fill in Sample PvP Data: DPS = ((1+0.1033)*(12750))*0.68+(((20+(405*(1+0.1033)))/40)*0.31144*(6375))+(18450*0.46695333333333333333333333333333)
  • DPS = 9565.611+23171.7795+8615.288 = 41352.6785

It’s worth noting that I’ve excluded all multipliers which are common between both affinities. This includes Versatility, Crit, Mastery, and Artifact Traits. Haste is included because it impacts each of the specs very differently. Additionally I accounted for Cat Form’s doubled AA damage by dividing the Shred multiplier by 2, instead of doubling the AA damage. So, let’s move on to Balance.

Surpriingly Balance is much easier to calculate. All of the spells are purely based on AP, and the only ability that has a varying number of casts in a 30 second window is Solar Wrath. Everything else is fixed. There will be 3 Starsurges, which also means 3 empowered Lunar Strikes and 3 empowered Solar Wraths. There will also be 2 Moonfires and 3 Sunfires. All remaining time is spent on regular Solar Wraths, since its AP/Cast Time value is higher than a regular Lunar Strike. We then combine all of that information to again, come up with a formula to approximate Balance Affinity DPS.

  • DPS = (3*SS+3*ELS+3*ESW+2*MF+3*SF+((30-Total Cast Time)/(1.5/(1+Haste))*SW))/30*NI
  • Add unique variables: DPS = ((3*1.1*4.5*AP)+(1.2*3*3.5*AP)+(1.2*2.2*3*AP)+(2*(0.45+(4*(1+Haste)))*AP)+(3*(0.9+(3*(1+Haste)))*AP)+(((30-(3*2/(1+Haste))-(3*2.5/(1+Haste))-(8*1.5/(1+Haste)))/(1.5/(1+Haste)))*2.2*AP))/30*1.2
  • Simplify: DPS = (35.37AP+(2*(0.45+(4*(1+Haste)))*AP)+(3*(0.9+(3*(1+Haste)))*AP)+(((30-(3*2/(1+Haste))-(3*2.5/(1+Haste))-(8*1.5/(1+Haste)))/(1.5/(1+Haste)))*2.2*AP))/30*1.2
  • Add sample data: DPS = (35.37*(18500)+(2*(0.45+(4*(1+0.1033)))*18500)+(3*(0.9+(3*(1+0.1033)))*18500)+(((30-(3*2/(1+0.1033))-(3*2.5/(1+0.1033))-(8*1.5/(1+0.1033)))/(1.5/(1+0.1033)))*2.2*18500))/30*1.2
  • DPS = (654345 + 179938.4 + 233649.45 + 206186.2)/30*1.2 = 50964.762

So we can clearly see that Balance pulls ahead of Feral pretty substantially. Interestingly enough it appears to be purely because of Nurturing Instinct granting an extra 20% spellpower. If that was reduced back to being equal, Balance and Feral would end up being pretty close together. However I don’t know what the consequences would be for the intended target of Resto, but that would be easy to solve by having Resto grant a healing bonus of some kind. But one remaining question is how does this compare to Guardian DPS?

  • DPS = (4WD*1.2*Mangles*1.15*Armor) + (2.4AP*Thrashes + 0.15AP)*1.15 + 1.2*(0.45AP*Moonfires + ((0.5/2)*Haste)) + (1-Mangles-Thrashes-Moonfires)*2WD*1.2*Armor + Melee*Armor + (Maul*WD*Armor)/3
  • Insert formulae and simplify: DPS = 1.9332857504WD*Haste + (0.4AP*Haste+0.15AP)*1.15 + 0.43AP*Haste + 1.632WD*(1-0.20889*Haste – 0.1666666666666667*Haste – (0.125/Haste))
  • Add sample data: DPS = 1.9332857504*(15937.5)*1.1033 + (0.4*18450*1.1033+0.15*18450)*1.15 + 0.43*18450*1.1033 + 1.632*15937.5*(1-0.20889*1.1033-0.1666667*1.1033 – (0.125/1.1033))
  • DPS = 33994.5945591351 + 12546.3321 + 8753.03055 + 13469.20634270108 = 68763.16355183618

So obviously Guardian DPS (on a single target) approximation beats the pants off of either Feral or Balance Affinity DPS. That’s clearly not the intention because you have no reason to ever shift except for resto, because there’s no benefit. Plus this doesn’t talents or cooldowns. Expect significant buffing of both in order to make them remotely viable beyond passives.

As for, Restoration, it ends up being the only affinity with a distinct survival benefit. This also means it will end up likely being the default selection for most people. I doubt many people will end up using Feral or Balance for actual DPS outside of Mythic raiding or possibly PvP, since those are generally the situations where maximizing DPS is of reasonably high importance. That’s fine, since it harkens back to the Bearcat era anyway.

Level 60 Talents

Here we have the new and consolidated crowd control talents. None of these have changed in function, which means Mass Entanglement is still effectively useless. You’re left with a choice between Mighty Bash and Typhoon, so you’ll end up picking whichever one is most appropriate for the situation. It’s quite a shame that Mighty Bash, out of all of the possible talented stuns for tanks, is by far the worst. Hopefully some tuning ends up being done. Maybe the Guardian version of Bash should be a cleave? I don’t know, but certainly something.

Level 75 Talents

These talents are all about active Rage generation, or generating additional Rage from rotational abilities. At least on paper anyway, in reality you end up with 3 talents that have varying levels of Rage generation and DPS benefit – which is what makes a good set of talents anyway. In any case Soul of the Forest is a good baseline to start with, so let’s look at its total Rage generation. Thankfully the formula remains (almost) unchanged from Warlords, so it’s pretty easy to evaluate.

  • RPS = ManglesPerSecond*Rage
  • Insert formula: RPS = 1/(1/((0.2*(1/(GCD*2))+(0.8*0.2)*(1/(GCD*3))+(0.8-(0.8)*0.2)*(1/(GCD*4)))))*5
  • Convert to Haste: RPS = 1/(1/((0.2*(1/((1.5/H)*2))+(0.8*0.2)*(1/((1.5/H)*3))+(0.8-(0.8)*0.2)*(1/((1.5/H)*4)))))*5
  • Simplify (<3 Wolframalpha): RPS = 1.044445H
  • Sample PvP Data: RPS = 1.044445 * 1.1143 = 1.1638250635

The reason I converted it to a simple equation based off of Haste (or rather, Wolframpalpha did) is because Galactic Guardian also scales from Haste, and I needed a common way to compare the two. In any case, the result is a reasonably simple and accurate equation for determining the tangible value of Soul of the Forest. If we’re to compare it to Galactic Guardian, we need to come up with a way of calculating the number of procs per second.

  • RPS = (Melee+GCD+Thrash DoT)*15
  • Convert to Time: RPS = ((0.1*(1/(2.5/H)))+(0.1*(1/(1.5/H)))+(0.1*1/3))*15
  • Simplify (<3 Wolframalpha): RPS = 1.600005*(H+0.3125)
  • Sample PvP Data: RPS = 1.600005*(1.1143+0.3125) = 2.2828

We can see from the start that Galactic Guardian is nearly twice as good as Soul of the Forest before even considering the fact that GG also scales with the number of targets since it triggers per damaging event. That’s a little unfortunate. GG should be better, but not that much better. But what about Incarnation?

We know that for Rage generation purposes all Incarnation does is remove the CD from Mangle. However that also means you don’t generate any Gore procs because you aren’t pressing buttons other than Mangle (in terms of the best case survival scenario). So at best we’re talking about ((30/(1.5/H))*6)/180 or 2/3H RPS. That’s…..pretty bad in comparison to either of the other two talents. However Incarnation definitely has a redeeming quality in that it allows us to do huge burst DPS for cleave or AoE situations. That fact alone means it will likely see huge amounts of play in Mythic+ dungeon content.

Level 90 Talents

The gut reaction to this set of talents is going to be “why on earth would I ever use Earthwarden“? Well we know that Earthwarden is bad for any situation where incoming damage is split between more than one source, because each charge cannot apply to more than one damaging event whereas GoE would apply to all of them within the 2 second extension. So what we need to is compare the 2 second extension on some number of Ironfurs (since if you’re extending Mark of Ursol then GoE automatically wins) to one charge of Earthwarden.

In a 2 second window at 1.5s attack speed we’ll assume that for the best case scenario Ironfur will affect two attacks. Which means GoE has an equivalent of a 15% EH increase spread over two attacks. We know from using our sample data earlier that we’ll end up with an extra 2 seconds of ~1.2mil EHP, while GoE would grant ~400k for the same period of time. However if you’re able to also have one Ironfur up at the same time (which isn’t that unreasonable with full talents) that value jumps to ~675k which turns out slightly better than the additional 2 seconds of Ironfur, and that doesn’t include the starting 3 charges or the fact you will generate them faster than you would a new Ironfur. What does it all mean?

Take GoE for tanking more than one target, dual wielding targets, magic damage, or where self-healing is important. Earthwarden will probably perform better for you against a standard 1.5s (or slower) swing boss. Survival of the Fittest is merely for more cooldowns, similar to where you would have taken the old Bristling Fur. However you might find that it also performs very well in Mythic+ 5 person content.

Level 100 Talents

So that leaves us with the last talent tier, which is really easy to evaluate. We know that Lunar Beam heals for 24*AP total, however that value is also multiplied by Versatility, Crit, and our Mastery bonus. Using the sample data, we can easily generate a total heal of ~691,465. Unfortunately that only happens every 90 seconds. Healing for ~30% of your HP is no small thing, however consider Rend and Tear over the same period. For R&T to equal that, you only have to take (100(691,465))/6 or 11,524,420 over 90 seconds which is ~128,049 DTPS. That’s a pretty trivial number to reach in any kind of content. In all honesty I’d probably cut the cooldown of Lunar Beam in half for it to be a midpoint between R&T and what Pulverize will end up sitting at.

Speaking of Pulverize, it’s a complete waste of a talent at 8%. It needs to be at least 12% for anyone to consider taking it over R&T.


Hello Guardians!

I know it’s been a very long time since I’ve posted anything here. Frankly, there hasn’t been much to talk about until the last couple of weeks or so. What little Guardian news came out was easy to discuss on TankCast. It turns out having a tanking podcast means there isn’t any reason to make blogposts about trivial things. However since the Legion Alpha has begun that’s all changed.

Before I begin I recommend you check out a few things:

  • Troxism’s tanking feedback document based on his experiences so far in Legion.
  • The tanking feedback that Sunnier and I wrote based on our experiences, and talking to other tanks about Warlords tanking.
  • The latest episode of TankCast.
  • Finally, you should read the original two posts written by Celestalon defining the general goals for tank design going in to Legion. Most of the pertinent discussion has already been folded into the original posts, so be careful when reading the rest of the thread. Hopefully all of these items will provide enough context to support what I’ll be saying for the rest of this post.



I want to start off with a topic that’s generally more subjective – how Guardians “looks and feels” in Legion so far. In my opinion at least this area has experienced significant improvement. The new forms and skins all look fantastic. Just look at this!


I’ll admit to being a little sad that “Ice Bear” is actually “Blue Ghost Bear”, but it still looks amazing. In any case Blizzard has definitely hit it out of the park on that one. Plus the thematic changes of switching towards being an actual bear with high health, armor, some self-healing, and magic damage reduction. It’s actually something I’ve been asking for going back to Warlords beta, as I’m sure some of you will remember. Specifically Savage Defense has been replaced with Ironfur and Mark of Ursoc has been added for magic damage. Both feel fantastic. For flavour, Frenzied Regeneration is now a HoT and is based on the amount of damage taken rather than your attack power. Our new Mastery also fits into this motif rather splendidly.

Barkskin has a new – although it appears unfinished – personal graphic. Some new combat animations have been added to better suit the updated model. All in all the overall game aesthetics of the specialization are fantastic and I look forward to a fully-finished version.

Rotation and Active Mitigation

Unfortunately things kind of go awry from there. Well, partially anyway. The bleed effect on Thrash has been replaced with Lacerate‘s bleed. So effectively Thrash is now an AoE Lacerate. Further, we’ve gotten Moonfire as a – at least it would appear – replacement for Faerie Fire. Lastly, Lacerate now has a 3 second cooldown.

The change to Thrash is one that lots of people – not me – have been asking for, for a long time. Unfortunately it has degenerative consequences to the rotation. Consider the proposed rotation for Legion compared to the previous two expansions:

  • Mists: HT (if needed) > Mangle > Thrash (snapshot – 6sCD) > Lacerate (snapshot – 3sCD) > FFF
  • Warlords: HT (if needed) > Mangle > Thrash maintenance (dyanmic) > Lacerate (dynamic)
  • Legion: Mangle > Lacerate (dynamic – 3sCD) > Moonfire (dynamic)

What you’ve probably figured out is that the Legion “rotation” devolves into a repetition of this sequence: X -> Lacerate where “X” is either Mangle or Moonfire. Moonfire being treated as a filler button because there is no actual reason to press Thrash is just … depressing. How have we gotten to a 3 button rotation that only varies when you get a proc? And even then you just press button 1? How is this fun? There’s no variation, there’s no challenge, and it’s almost impossible to execute it incorrectly. Granted you can add Pulverize – which you likely would for one target – and replace one of the Moonfires with a Pulverize (since you will always have enough Lacerates to refresh it) but…yay?

If there’s no challenge, how are you expected to get any enjoyment out of performing it correctly? I understand that Blizzard wants tanks to have more focus on our Active Mitigation tools and when to use them (thus supposedly shrinking the barrier to entry for new tanks), but since they’re off the GCD they don’t conflict with our primary rotation and thus not exactly hard to utilize to begin with. A lot of the fun in the last two expansions came from timing a Healing Touch to give you the maximum benefit while limiting the impact on your rotation – the fact that tank survival largely degenerated into a world of passivity is a whole other discussion – at least for me anyway.

I think Sunnier said it best when she asserted that tank resource generation was being converted more into a function of time, rather than skill or gear. It makes the outcome easier to balance and more approachable to new players, true. But what’s the cost? Where is the optional complexity we were promised? I don’t see it, and that makes me sad.

Plus the existence of Ion Cannon further confuses the issue. If we’re supposed to time the expiration of Moonfire for a big burst of Rage when we need/want it (which admittedly would be cool), why are we encouraged to shoehorn it in as a filler spell in our rotation? That completely defeats the purpose of Ion Cannon to begin with!

All of my frustration about the damage/resource rotation aside, I really do love the new set of Active Mitigation tools. They feel very “bear-esque” and seem capable at performing their duties while simultaneously having weaknesses that can be used during encounter design, such as bleed damage. As expected I’m fine with this, especially since I’ve been the one asking for these changes for two whole expansions.

End Part 1

When I started this post I didn’t expect to make it a multi-part thing. However I haven’t really had a lot of time to spend with the Artifact traits or talents to form more than a judgmental opinion of them. Some seem wildly overpowered, some seem useless, same old same old. I’ll do another post next week talking about those specifically once I’ve had more of a chance to play with them (since L110 templates don’t exist and I actually have to go GET AP). We’re discussing Guardians over here on the forums, so please post a comment here or on the forums to voice your own opinion.

Until next time!

Warlords Tanking Feedback

August 18, 2015

Warlords Tanking Feedback

You may remember that on our last episode of TankCast, Sunnier and I talked about some feedback we had regarding the tanking experiecne in Warlords. I wanted to share with you the written version of that feedback, since it formed the core of our show and some may find it more interesting to consume in a written format rather than audio. Further, I wanted to provide an avenue to comment on what we talked about and give your own impressions of tanking in Warlords.

Note: This post was co-written by both myself and Sunnier. It’s an attempt to summarize how we (and possibly others) felt about tanking in 6.0-6.2, trends we did/did not like, and what we’d like to see in 7.0. Our goal in this post is to just discuss general opinions on tanking as a whole, rather than focus on a specific class or spec.

Mob/Boss Movement
If you’ve listened to our podcast (http://theincbear.com/podcastgen) for a single episode, we’re sure you’ve heard our complaints about mob movement in this expansion. However it’s important to point out that it’s not necessarily a universal complaint about movement across the entire expansion. On the whole mobs with large hitboxes (Twin Ogron, Archimonde, Mannoroth) actually feel more responsive than in Mists. We remember tanking Horridon and almost feeling like we could kite him due to his unusually slow movement speed, and how sluggishly he responded to your movement due to how client-server polling worked back then combined with the size of his hitbox.

HOWEVER (and this is a big one) mobs with small hitboxes (Maidens, Velhari + adds, other orcs in general) are absolutely heinous, especially when combined with temporary movement buffs like Body & Soul from a Priest. On Maidens specifically it wasn’t uncommon to have Sorka or Marak go flying across the room during a “ship phase”. This is horrible for a couple of reasons. First it can quite often cause the mob to go behind you, thus making it both impossible for you to hit it while simultaneously allowing the mob to ignore your avoidance. Second for encounters with strict positioning requirements (Ner’zhul, Velhari) minor fluctuations in movement due to encounter mechanics (Infernal Tempest, Malevolence) can have horrible consequences. Taking a whole lot of movement damage in Velhari P1 purely because the Enforcer decided to fly across the room when you moved for Tempest is one of the most horrible feelings we’ve ever had while tanking.

Damage & Survival Tradeoffs
We think there are a lot of different ways to approach this topic, so we’ll start with DKs. Troxism and Mag have been big proponents of the idea that “Any survival after minimum requirements is useless and should be converted to DPS instead.” We don’t agree, but that’s not really the point. The problem is that not all tanks are equally able to shift survival resources to damage resources. DKs famously have BoS, but we think that’s fine in concept. Monks have Chex, and while this may not necessarily be directly comparable to BoS, it’s still an active choice that you have to make for a given encounter.

The rest of the tanks don’t really have those kinds of choices. The Paladin option (SoT v SoI) was removed during one of the Highmaul hotfix waves, but that was purely because the tradeoff balance was wildly in favour of SoT. Guardians don’t really have anything like BoS or Chex that can be used on any encounter (important qualification there). HotW does exist, yes, but it’s only usuable on encounters where one tank is sufficient for the duration. The tradeoff is also wildly in favour of DoC in any kind of progression content (I think Kromog pillars are an exception here).

It would be nice if all tanks had equally usable damage gains while sacrificing some amount of survival. Maybe everyone has a talent tier where there’s a “pure damage” option, a “pure survival” option, and some kind of hybrid option. We think this would be a great way to try and convince people to try different talent builds. In an ideal world every tank would have some kind of rotational way to support this gameplay, or at the very least changed on a fight-by-fight basis.

Stat Variances
One of the new things in Warlords was combining each classes’ tier set onto a single item for each slot. Many were happy with this, particularly those in swap positions (3rd tanks, swap healers). One of the compromises we had to make for this feature was that each spec would have to deal with the same itemization on a given piece of a tier set. In an ideal world this would be fine. However we’ve learned that it takes an outrageous amount of effort to tweak the effectiveness of each secondary to be within a certain variance. And it’s fine if it’s not something that’s possible.

BUT we have to have an alternative option. Tier sets specifically should be nearly ideally itemized for each spec. That’s the point. Otherwise everyone hates their classes’ other specs because as a Guardian I end up with Crit and Haste on my gear. Or a Feral ends up with Mastery and Haste. Either tier gear should be ideally itemized for each spec (or almost) and swap on spec change, or we need reforging back for tier gear specifically.

Removing reforging forced us to think about the native stats on gear, which is great, except for the four important pieces you don’t get much input on: whichever head/chest/leg/shoulder/gloves slots you fill with tier. Perfect stats on all tier isn’t necessary, but it doesn’t make us feel good to have such limited customization over a huge amount of gear. Picking a pair of bracers with your #1 and #3 stats over one with your #2 and #4 feels good. Being locked into a chest piece no matter what the stats are doesn’t feel good. Obviously there is still a choice available: you can drop your tier bonuses for better stats, and that’s a path many specs take, but it’s not a happy one.

The other option is to make sure each secondary is within a reasonable variance of the top stat, which doesn’t seem feasible to us.

Iterative Tuning
This is probably going to be a sore spot, but it needs to be talked about. Prior to week 5 of HFC (the Prot Paladin buffs) tank balance this expansion was wildly off in one way or another. DK and Guardian AoE was way too high at launch (and Guardian’s was subsequently nerfed a little too much), Guardians were way behind in Highmaul due to being unable to handle the magical melee swings from the adds reliably (because GoE was a cost increase), Prot Paladin DPS fell behind in BRF, Brewmasters were wildly too good in BRF, and Guardians started too strong in HFC. I’m sure I’m missed a few, but that’s kind of what happened.

We feel like tuning needs to be way more iterative than what we experienced this expansion. Preferably during the PTR cycle for a given patch.

We will say that balance now is probably the closest its ever been, which is a great achievement. We just wish it hadn’t taken an entire expansion to get here. The goal should be to start at this kind of parity, not finally reach it at the end of an expansion. Tanks also have the benefit of being almost completely absent from PvP, which means as long as we aren’t made unkillable in PvP it’ll be fine and the developers should be able to do as much tuning to tanks as they want.

This is one area where you won’t see us complaining at all. Replacing Vengeance with Resolve has worked out fantastically, and we see no reason to change it in 7.0.

Demon Hunters
Historically when a new class has been introduced to the game, they have been tuned (either intentionally or coincidentally) to be more powerful than their existing cousins. Sunnier and I were actually just talking about how it doesn’t feel right to introduce a new tank class when the role hasn’t really been fully fleshed out yet in the new “AM” world of tanking. Those two combined feel like this is potentially a recipe for disaster. Will this be another Wrath DK / Mists BrM? Or will it finally start out the right way? Impossible to tell right now but it’s definitely something that We hope the team keeps in mind.

Alternatively we’re worried that Demon Hunters may be designed from the ground up with both AM and dps/survival tradeoffs, much like how BrMs were designed with AM in mind originally. We don’t want any role design changes to be shoe-horned into the existing tanks.

Passive Mitigation
Does passive mitigation scale too well into the later tiers of the expansion? Highmaul felt considerably more deadly (spec balance issues notwithstanding) than BRF or HFC have felt so far when playing poorly. We talked about it, and it feels like the passive survival (or “EH”, temporary or permanent) has scaled way faster than incoming damage this expansion. Certainly with poorer active defenses incoming damage needed to scale less than in Mists, but this expansion almost feels like a reversal of the Mists trend. The “danger” that comes when you aren’t able to keep your defenses up needs to be more permanent throughout the expansion, instead of mostly existing during the initial “gear” phase. Since there are multiple things that go into EH (Armor, Stamina, passives, Mastery, etc), this is something that should be revisited for Legion.

External Cooldowns
We know this is something that Magdalena likes to talk about a lot, but we only really partially agree. Healers should have external CDs. I don’t think that DPS specs should bring external CDs though (and I’m dubious about tanks). HoSac has been probably the most constant problem in this space for Warlords. When something as powerful as an external cooldown has varying numbers available in a raid instance, how do you create enough instances for them to be used without potentially gimping some compositions? How many Ret Paladins and/or DPS Warriors do you assume the raid has? We feel like the easier solution would be to eliminate DPS external CDs to further integrate Healer and Tank gameplay.

Taunt Swaps
We wanted to spend a moment to cover the mechanics we saw to require two tanks, and what worked and what didn’t. Note that while most encounters could be “classified” under more than one category, we’ve typically selected the ones that are the primary reason(s) you have two tanks. In some cases there is more than one mechanic that “forces” you to have two tanks, but every time that 2nd one is some kind of debuff.

  • Heavy Handed (Saberlash) – Used thrice (Butcher, Kromog, Zakuun (I guess you can count P4 M-Darmac if you stretch it)). Interesting as long as it’s combined with something else, like heavy movement (making you pay attention to your cotank’s location) or heavy damage. In Warlords this worked rather well in the three cases it was used, and is quite frankly something we could see more of.
  • Run Awayyyyyyyyy – Used 4 times total (Ko’ragh, Imperator, Reaver, Kormrok (and I guess Sorka)). Fun if there’s something for the affected tank to do, like positioning, cooldowns, or a time limit, but if it lasts too long than it gets boring. Ko’ragh felt like we spent half the fight running around the edges being bored. If the duration is short enough (like Reaver/Imperator), then it’s okay.
  • Go Somewhere Else – Used 5 times total (Maidens, Blackhand, Gorefiend, Archimonde, H&F). This works because you are naturally doing a specific task when you’re forced to go somewhere else.
  • Raid Split – Used 3 times total (Blast Furnace, Thogar, HFA). Again this works because you’re naturally always doing something when the raid is split in these situations. I think we could see this more often as well, but these specifically affect the whole raid more than something like HH.
  • Council – Used 3 times total (Twins, Maidens, Hellfire Council). Too often a council fight means that tanks only have to deal with half of the pool of boss abilities, and it’s boring. Twin Ogron abilities had repurrcussions on both tanks, which made that fight interesting, but HHC was positioned separately so each tank didn’t have to pay attention to what the other was doing. Sometimes that’s okay, but you have to have other mechanics to compensate. Instead HHC ended up being rather bland from a tank perspective.
  • Split Roles – Used 6 times total (Kargath, M-Blackhand, Kilrogg, Socrethar, Tectus, Xhul’horac). Like a council mechanic, these work if both tanks are engaged in the encounter. Kargath is a great example of this, as both tanks are actively doing a job that involved reasonable amounts of movement and positioning. Socrethar less so. The person tanking Socrethar himself is generally bored out of their minds, while the robot tank is having a great time.

One “category” that isn’t listed here are debuff swaps. As long as a fight is interesting in other ways, a debuff swap to force two tanks is far better than the alternative. Debuffs are almost always used to avoid single tank situations, and many of the examples have some sort of added complexity to the swap. E.G. very precise swapping (Mannoroth), or swapping after another specific event (like waiting for Brackenspore’s breath). Fights where there’s nothing to do while waiting for your debuff to fall off are problematic, though. Flamebender and Gruul are prime examples of a failure in debuff swapping (though Gruul probably would have been more interesting if it wasn’t so easy to split between 3 groups).


The big summary of all this is: tanks don’t want to be bored for long periods of time, and pretty much all the failures in encounter mechanics for tanks include a stretch where all a tank is doing is dpsing or running away. That’s sort of complicated by the fact that tanks are often immune to other encounter mechanics, understandably (sucks if the RNG god selects a tank for something they can’t properly react to).

That again leads into having a dps/survival tradeoff. With the option to spend some resources on damage, at least those boring “dps while waiting for a debuff to drop” times are alleviated.

What are your thoughts? Anything that we didn’t talk about here that you want to add?

Hello Guardians!

There’s only one piece of news that I’m here to talk about today.

Multistrike Nerf

Ursa Major now lasts 15 seconds (down from 25 seconds).

And let’s be honest, it was a needed nerf. Our HP was getting really out of control. Don’t believe me? Look at this:


So obviously that’s just outright broken. The question is does it change anything regarding our stat priorities? Nope. The value of certain stats has certainly shifted, but the overall priority remains the same. Something that is actually quite interesting is that the value of Haste actually decreases with the nerf. If you think about it, that kind of makes sense. I’ve previously described Haste as a “jack-of-all-trades” stat, so nerfing the potency of one of Haste’s effects will nerf Haste itself. Nobody really cares though, because Haste was already pretty bad compared to every other stat (except Crit).

Pre_Hotfix_Weights Post_Hotfix_Weights

You may notice another interesting piece in the changes above – item level is now even more important than it was before. I mean item level was already super important, sure, but now it’s even more important. So keep that in mind when looking at potential upgrades when transitioning between difficulties in HFC.


Another perhaps unanticipated change is the effectiveness of various trinkets. The hotfix obviously reduces the value of Tyrant’s Decree because of the decrease in the average HP multiplier. That means your HP will dip below the 60% threshold more often, negating the primary value of the trinket to begin with. That doesn’t necessarily make it bad, but less good than it was before.

On the other hand, it also greatly improves the value of Warlord’s Unseeing Eye because a greater percentage of you health will be missing, which means you’ll receive a greater damage reduction effect. Not only that but you can see from the charts below that Anzu’s Cursed Plume has also shot to the top of the list due to the increased value of Mastery.

Pre_Hotfix_Trinkets Post_Hotfix_Trinkets

The one I’m still dubious of is Seed of Creation. We know that Seed doesn’t really help with those situations where you’re taking huge hits at once, and is really only a pure damage reduction trinket. That being said it is probably worth experimenting with to see if it truly does hold any value or not.


To summarize:

  • No, the sky is not falling.
  • No, nothing has changed in terms of the kind of gear you like.
  • Yes, you stil want ALL THE TRINKETS.
  • Give Seed a try before you write it off completely.

Good luck in HFC!

Hello Guardians!

I used to be a little more prompt with these, but since I’m running a guild now that takes up the huge majority of my free time. In any case, 6.2 is here and of course I’m going to let you know what to be concerned about if you’re a Guardian!

Class Changes

Of course the thing that everyone wants to know about is “What has changed for Guardians?” Well, that’s why I’m here. Well, most of the reason I’m here.

Thrash now deals 10% more damage.

The long awaited buff to our AoE is here! It’s unfortunate that we had to wait until now, but even a small buff like this will be enough to address our AoE issues relative to other tanks. It’s also a welcome improvement for Challenge Modes.

Bear Form now increases armor by 285% (up from 250%) for Guardian Druids.

It’s a very small buff. In the end it comes out to between 4% and 5% additional damage reduction which, while not totally ignorable, is pretty ignorable. In the end you won’t even notice the difference but hey, a buff is a buff.

Healing Touch no longer cancels Bear Form for Guardian Druids.

A quality-of-life improvement that eliminates the need for everyone to use a cancelaura macro for Healing Touch.

Savage Defense now also reduces physical damage taken by 20%.

The patch note says “25%” but it’s incorrect, the buff is a 20% reduction. This is the most significant out of all of the changes, as it boosts the minimum amount of damage prevented to 0.8 swings from 0 for Savage Defense. The median also increases to 2.24 swings, however there is also a reduction in the amount of damage prevented by Primal Tenactiy. This reduction isn’t anything that you’ll notice as a player, but it is there.

Dream of Cenarius effect can now be held for up to 40 seconds (up from 20 seconds) by Guardian Druids.

Another great quality-of-life change. I argued pretty vehemently for this during Beta, and it’s nice to see that the change has finally been implemented.

Force of Nature’s summoned Treant now deals 100% more damage.

O-kay? Everyone knows what the issues with Treants are right now from a survival standpoint anyway, so a 100% damage bonus does nothing to address that. However the change does push it slightly ahead of SotF for overall DPS since it lines up nicely with cooldowns and trinkets. Not that anyone cares.

Guardian of Elune (Guardian) now also passively increases the Druid’s chance to dodge by 10%.

A required buff in order to keep GoE at least somewhat competitive with Pulverize. In a raid environment the talent is still relegated to “what can I cheese” status, but it is still the best talent for CMs.

Raid Gear

Of course with any new raid instance the question “what items do I want” arises! Well, there are lots of different things to shoot for this tier. And by “things” I mean “trinkets”.

  • 2 Piece Bonus: Our 2 piece bonus this tier is excellent. Boring, but excellent. You definitely want to grab this as soon as you can. You can also run 2pc/2pc with T17 Gloves/Shoulders and T18 Legs/Chest.
  • 4 Piece Bonus: Our 4 piece bonus is not particularly that great for raiding scenarios. You’re never going to be pooling 90 Rage to use Frenzied Regeneration after Savage Defense. However it is great for soloing, since you will often do precisely that.
  • Seed of Creation: This tier also re-introduces the idea of class-specific trinkets. Unfortunately ours is only strong for AoE situations or situations with lots of damage events. Also remember that it has a “thorns” effect where it will do damage equal to a percentage of your attack power. Note that this won’t be equal to the amount absorbed, as that is increased by Resolve.
  • Tyrant’s Decree: Great pure survival trinket. This is more valuable for Guardians because we have Ursa Major.
  • Warlord’s Unseeing Eye: Again, an amazing pure survival trinket. The secondary stat (Haste) is terrible, but the passive effect is very good. During PTR it scaled infinitely with incoming damage, and it’s not clear whether or not that has persisted onto live.
  • Anzu’s Cursed Plume: A great upgrade from Blast Furnace Door. Definitely get your hands on it.
  • Tablet of Turnbuckle Teamwork: Oddly enough, Tablet is still a great option because of the on-use Bonus Armor. However it won’t compete with higher difficulty HFC trinkets. Still a good one to have around though.
  • For the rest of your gear, there’s generally only one choice. That choice will either be the god combination of Multistrike/Mastery, or whatever piece of gear has the most of the stat you want – Mastery or Multistrike. Those of you doing Mythic raiding will probably trend towards Multistrike, and those doing mostly Heroic or Normal will likely trend towards Mastery.
  • If you’re looking for “stat weights” or something to that effect, I’m waiting until I have reliable damage information from Mythic HFC to post those. I have values from PTR, but it’s unclear what will have changed since then.


Guide Updates!

Just a really quick note that the Guardian guides that we maintain across the interwebs have all been updated for 6.2. These are:

Just a friendly reminder that if a guide is not on this list, I can’t vouch for its accuracy.

Additionally, I’ve decided that I won’t be doing any Mythic video guides for this or any subsequent tiers. The fact is that our guild just doesn’t clear Mythic fast enough for any information in them to be useful for anyone else, and Khaelyn’s written guides on Summonstone and our forums are more than enough to help anyone that’s looking for Mythic-specific information. I’m still going to do the heroic guides though, as they will continue help a large number of people.

Speaking of guides, Slootbag did a great video on HFC tanking earlier this week. You should check it out. I’ve embedded it below for easy-watching.