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!