Introduction

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.

 

Aesthetics

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!

NewModel

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!

11 Comments

  • AsgardTM says:

    My main worry on the alpha (during the artifact scenario, not a real dungeon) was aoe threat. With thrash now on a cooldown as our only aoe ability we’re going to be in trouble if it misses some adds, either from multiple spawn points or delayed spawning.
    Guess that ties into the 3 button rotation worry though. Am I right in remembering that most other tanks get more ability options through talents, when we’re just limited to Pulverize?

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      Remember the idea is that people won’t instantly die if you don’t manage to grab *everything*. Hopefully that pans out.

      We get some additional short CD buttons, but nothing rotational. Pulverize is the only thing that “changes” the rotation, and even then you only replace a Moonfire or a Lacerate with a Pulverize, so it’s not exactly hard.

    • Depart says:

      Even if people don’t instantly die it feels bad when you’re the tank and things are wailing on your group and you don’t have the ability to deal with it ASAP. Like Asgard says below, I don’t think the meta Blizz intends is for mobs to occasionally be loose punching healers in the face.

  • AsgardTM says:

    The intent may be to avoid instant death to the squishies but I still worry about the AoE situation when compared to other tanks:
    Warriors with 6-sec Thunderclap, 9-second Revenge in a frontal cone and (much longer) Heroic Leap as baseline. Thats boosted to 2 extra cooldowns and radius increase from talents. Further AoE ability from Artifact,
    Deathknights with Rune-based Blood Boil and Death & Decay. Talents adding an Heartstrike for 3 target hits, Bloodbolt for ranged aoe damage and Bonestorm.
    Monks have Keg Smash, Fire Breath, Rushing Jade Wind, Black Ox Statue.
    Paladins get Consecration (with Hammer of the Righteous combo), Avenger’s Shield & Blessed Hammer.

    This looks like a bit more of a whine than I intended but seeing all of those aoe abilities/talents has me worried. If they’re not needed then why do so many others have them?. I’m not arguing we should have like-for-like abilities but something extra seems required.

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      I understand the concern, for sure. We’ll need more exposure to encounters in Legion before making a determination that “yes it’s definitely a problem”. All we know right now is that it might be.

  • Tanktop says:

    I feel like the rotation will most likely be

    Mangle > Lacerate > Moonfire > Lacterate
    Then: Mangle > Lacerate > Thrash > Lacerate
    and just replace a Thrash cast with a Moonfire to refresh it.

    Thrash will still do its own damage. According to the preview guides Thrash does “minor Bleed damage” and Moonfire does “minor arcane damage.” What it comes down to is which ability does more damage upfront. That would make Ion Cannon feasible since you would be able to drop Moonfire.

    Seems very similar to the MOP style to me honestly.

  • Robert says:

    Hey guys is tankcast your podcast?

  • Tetonka says:

    Why do Bears have to always be the broken tank that needs fixing? Xpac after xpac? If they’re going to gimp our AoE, what are we getting in exchange? If other tanks can do everything we can do PLUS have better AoE, what raid is going to want to carry a bear?

  • Rorona says:

    Sounds like the Game has gotten a bit awry and strange, they could give Druid’s Guardian bear’s Maul an AOE swipe effect similar to what they have done with the major glyph call it Frontal Slash and make it a cone affect like what was swipe was in Vanilla and let thrash be the 6 second aoe effect that affects everyone around the bear. That seems a better option than add in a non-cooldown swipe give them an extra button that allows them to spend the extra rage on a button when needed, and allow maul to single target for CC mobs.

    I find the Druid now quite confusing and Blizzard is trying to change every class to a must-have Tank, DPS and Healer spec (like Riot in League of Legends) which is kinda a bit silly, because of the fear the class being underplayed instead of letting the players find ways to play them. Being a Druid so much things that could be done with the Druid is quite at a loss which can be done in a video-game which cannot be done in a Table-top RPG and Blizzard has seem to have loss the vision of in that field. Players are being hand-held and spoon fed and players don’t like type of game.

    Four specs of Druid is just stupid IMHO, there should be three and all them should be hybridish. I stand by this Druid of the Claw, Druid of the Flame and Druid of the Talon should be the specs

    Claw use a weapon swap to swap specs and can only do this out of combat (or use a cool-down for a weapon swap so they can swap specs on the fly) and have certain abilities available dependent of the weapon at hand.

    Flame should be a pure dps using a combination of range and melee, where swapping positions constantly increases the damage output.

    Talon should use the eclipse mechanic and when on the Moonkin side use pure dps skills and major healing spells becoming unavailable and when on the healing side vicea versa the forms, lock the Eclipse mechanic in position so they don’t swap specs in midst of battle.

    Forgive my rant but I used to love this game and hate it what’s it become.

  • Stormbringer says:

    As I am not part of the alpha/beta, I cannot add my thoughts to the thread on the official forums, so the best I can do is put them here. Some of the spell names may not be correct, but the underlying point is there.

    Back in WoTLK, bears had great AoE, I believe it was Swipe. In 4.0 this was changed to giving Swipe a 6sec CD, with the rationale that the bear could rotate around mobs applying Lacerate. One run through Halls of Stone showed that this made bears, in my opinion, useless for AoE tanking of trash, because if mobs were missed by Swipe they went to the party and wipes ensued. It doesn’t matter so much on boss fights, however unless instance design has zero trash in it in Legion, the same painful experience of trying to tank trash at the start of Legion when DPS go nuts on anything will cause bears to be viewed as useless. This is exactly what happened at the start of Cataclysm, and why I stopped playing my druid tank and started with my warrior, which had more AoE utility.

    It was not until 4.1 that Blizzard changed the CD on Swipe from 6sec to 3sec, which made bears playable again, and I started playing my druid. Blizzard made a mistake and they corrected it.

    The same mistake, exactly the same mistake, is being made now. I see exactly the same arguments against the 6sec CD on Thrash that I saw when Swipe was given exactly the same CD. I really don’t see why the CD is necessary anyway, why is it broken? What needed a fix?

  • Irageuquit says:

    Awesome breakdown, thank you for doing this, it took a lot of the fear from the new expansion for me. Im very new to guardian tanking, Ive tanked with pally, dk and warrior in the past, but i truly am loving Bear Tanking. From what i’m seeing we are getting Swipe back, which should help with the AOE problem, and its possible Thrash will get a proc, which i think would be really cool. Not sure if I like the moonfire filler option…more for flavor than anything. This expansion seems to be all about the flavor of each spec’s abilities matching it’s overall theme and while moonfire is a VERY druid spell I just think it would have been more flavorful to have a spell that was more bear themed, like a bite…or something. Then again the Galactic talent is kinda cool…and i could always change my name to moonbearpig.

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