I’ve decided to do this on a daily basis as new information comes out. It’s just easier on everyone (but mostly me) that way.

What happened today?

“How committed is the development team to having all tanks perform within an “acceptable variance” on all encounters? In Cataclysm we saw several “niches” become severe problems for tank balance on certain heroic encounters. For example:

  • Deathknights on Yor’Sahj
  • “Bearcatting” on Madness, Spine, Ultra, and Blackhorn
  • Deathknight and Druid compared to Paladin and Warrior for Impales on Madness
  • Warriors for Blood tanking on Spine
  • Paladins for most of heroic T12 due to Divine Guardian
  • Warrior/Druid/Deathknight vs Paladin on Al’Akir”

We don’t think any of those cross the line. If it were the same class showing up for all of those bullet points, that would be a problem. Our tanks all have strengths and weaknesses and unusual encounter mechanics may synergize or clash with them, but that’s more interesting than extreme homogeneity, which would be the alternative. We like the puzzle aspect of “solving” boss encounters according to the comp and strengths of individual groups. We think it has helped contribute to the fun of killing bosses having such extraordinary legs (meaning that we’re on tier 14 now and have made hundreds of dungeon bosses).

If memory serves the first Spine kill was Blood DK / Prot paladin and the second was a pair of druids. Now granted, world firsts sometimes have to resort to unusual strategies since they undergear the fights because they haven’t had weeks to farm up better gear. Your mileage may vary.

As a counter-example, paladins on Heroic Major Domo initially were able to solo-soak the scorpion cleave, letting guilds with paladin tanks keep him in scorpion form longer than those without. We thought that crossed the line and we changed the boss mechanics to disincentivize that particular strategy. I fully admit that these calls are subjective.

Um. What?

At Blizzcon 2011 another Feral Druid was in line ahead of me and asked specifically about Bearcatting. The response he got was at 28:50 of this video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhRch8Smsaw

The answer is distinctly:

You are definitely going to be losing that DPS. The other tanks can’t do that.

That is directly contrary to GC’s answer above. Obviously people (especially designers) are allowed to change their minds. I do it all the time. I just wish there was some insight into the process behind the change.

Both Slash and Muspel had follow up posts:

“A lot of these problems are by and large, problems which a little bit of modification in the encounter’s design could be solved, if they were picked up early on. Death Knights on Yor’sahj makes a difference because the fight’s mechanics cater to them in every way. Simple changes could have allowed them to retain DK flavour and advantage, without making the difference anywhere near as large as it was.

If picked up by the encounter team, these simple adjustments could mitigate the potential for things to go out of control. This doesn’t apply just to tanks, but if encounter design had picked up, say, that Spine’s initial burst requirement was simply impossible for many classes and specs, that Anub was being broken by block being block, or that DK’s fed into this superclass for Yor’sahj, these situations would limit themselves to “nice to have” instead of “this feels broken”.

A lot of the problem for tank balance is that trends have tended to carry across entire tiers. Maybe this wasn’t intentional, but it’s like a person decided that a way to compensate DK’s for being weaker last tier was to cater many mechanics to them this tier. MoP could lend itself to more of the same, if it continues the same feeling where encounter designers do whatever, and class balance never seems to enter the picture even when the encounter’s very design breaks it, especially since Active Mitigation can work on these things now (hit ShoR, laugh at Impale)”

“It’s an issue for the same reason that fights like Spine of Deathwing are a problem for DPS balance.

It’s fine if there’s a “best” tank and a “worst” tank for an encounter. It’s less fine when the gap becomes too wide, as was the case on Yor’sajh.

By comparison, fights like Rhyolith, Shannox, Omnotron, Sinestra, and post-fix Domo still had a best and a worst choice, but the differences were minor enough that there wasn’t a strong incentive to switch.

In Dragon Soul, that hasn’t really been the case. DKs were insanely good on Yor’sajh, while warriors were at an incredibly disadvantage. Warriors were the best blood tanks, and DKs/Druids just plain couldn’t do it pre-nerf. Warriors needed tons of externals for fights like H Madness and H Hagara. DKs (and sometimes bears) would get wrecked by Blackhorn.”

We’ll have to see if there is more information forthcoming.

Nature’s Vigil is currently affecting Frenzied Regeneration. That doesn’t seem intentional.

I believe the intention is that the healing amount is increased, but that it does not deal damage based on that healing.

Muspel first pointed me in this direction, so I went to test Nature’s Vigil with Frenzied Regeneration. Turns out it does actually increase the amount healed by Frenzied Regeneration. This turns into an interesting choice analagous to what we had with T11 gearing – pick the 4pc bonus for burst or offset pieces for average survivability. Obviously we’ll have to take a look at how big the difference between Nature’s Vigil and Heart of the Wild is large enough to justify using NV every once in a while.

That’s all we’ve got for today.

Oh, and by the way Episode 34 of the Team Waffle Podcast is now available for you to listen to.

Shameless plug ^.^

4 Comments

  • jacemora says:

    I linked to your page and commented on the vid on my site. TLDR version. Since when has feral PvP been Rip, Bear, Win? And so much so that the crowd cheered? Really?

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      That’s basically how you kill Rogues, Warriors, (and to a lesser extent) Deathknights. That’s before the removal of Vengeance though. Removing Vengeance in and of itself nerfed a lot of the survivability of Bear.

  • Pancakes says:

    This tanking inequality seems like such a strange line of thinking.

    As a bear MT for our raid I’ve never felt like our progress was harmed by not using another class instead of my druid.

    Having a well played dk can take a lot of pressure off of the healers and would help on first kills, but no more so than a pally/warrior/druid.

    The OP tank for Yor’sahj wasn’t the one with the highest self heals, it was the tank who worked with their healers and their toolkit to overcome whatever hurdle was in their way.

    • Arielle Arielle says:

      True, but that was straight up easier for DKs than anyone else. Oddly enough the same situation was severe enough to prevent DKs from being overpowered on Chimaeron, but they refused to do the same thing for Yor’Sahj.

      When we were learning Spine, I honestly am not sure how we would have killed it without having Sunnier to tank Amalgs. That’s how close the DPS was.

      Madness was hilariously lopsided as well pre-nerf. Having two tank classes that could survive with one or two less external CDs made it infinitely easier.

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