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Guardian Feedback – Build 15668
Initially I thought I could afford to wait until objective empirical evidence was available to “prove” my observations (as GC wants – http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4427538376#14) since we lack a practical “test” environment for tanking at this point. None of the 5man dungeons is even remotely threatening enough to be used as a qualitative measuring stick of how any tank actually functions. The best anyone can really do at this point is answer these two questions:
- Do you feel like you’re ever in danger of dying?
- Do you feel like you ever have problems holding threat?
If your answer to either of the above is “Yes” then there is probably a problem with your particlar class somewhere. Otherwise the only real feedback that can be offered at this point is subjective feedback. The problem is subjective feedback differs from person to person. However based on my anecdotal experience – given that I communicate with more other Guardians than your average Bear – it seems to be shared with a large portion of the Guardian population. This leads me to ask about the reasoning behind some of the decisions made with regard to Guardians.
In this post I will be talking about several topics. First I will be talking about some of the Guardian abilities that could use some enhancing, specifically Thrash, Maul, and Cat Form. Second I will offer my opinion on the Guardian version of “active mitigation” and possible ways to make more granular. Third I will touch on some of the talents, including possible ways they could be improved to allow for more player choice. Fourth I will look at the horrid default UI and how despite being one of the most important items in the “active mitigation” system it fails its role miserably. Finally I’ll take a brief glance and Symbiosis and the possible abilities we can get.
2. Guardian Abilities
Before we go any further, I want to emphasize that I am overjoyed Fury Swipes is gone. Thank you.
Initially I had planned to discuss the overwhelming dislike of how Guardian ability usage has panned out thus far in Beta. A poll I conducted (http://theincbear.com/poll-how-do-you-feel-about-the-new-guardian-rotation) resulted in 68% of those surveyed responding that they disliked the method of ability usage in MoP. After spending a lot of time playing in Beta, and looking at our abilities compared to other tanks – such as Protection Warriors – I realized that the problems are mostly related to Thrash and Maul.
Before I begin with Thrash, I wanted to briefly touch on Pulverize. Our Cataclysm rotation was defined by a 18 second floating window of Pulverize. Within a given 18 second window (12 GCDs) you would sacrifice between 4 and 6 of those to maintaining Pulverize depending on how lucky or unlucky you were with Misses/Dodges/Parries. I imagine that this mechanic was tossed because a lot of newer Bears didn’t understand it or felt it was clunky. I can’t say I disagree with that sentiment, and I’m making an assumption based on the “Class Feedback” thred posted in the Druid forums back in the day.
It seems that Thrash has replaced the entire Pulverize mechanic as that “floating window”. Consolidating the 4-6 button presses down to just 1 makes sense to accomplish a similar goal. However the 6 second cooldown has remained. As a result the amount of potential downtime compared to the benefit it provides in terms of Rage generation doesn’t make sense, especially in pre-raid levels of gear. The question to be asked is “Are we as a tanking specialization going to be balanced around an assumed 100% Thrash uptime?”
If so the cooldown should be reduced or peferably removed. Otherwise there’s no real reason for it to last longer than 6 seconds. We will be pressing it off CD anyway to give ourselves as many chances as possible to refresh it before the duration runs out.
Maul suffers from a fairly simple problem. It will never be used in any situation that is even remotely threatening. GC acknowledged this recenty when referring to Protection Warriors here: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4856945747?page=24#466 – and the same applies to Guardians (with the exception of “not tanking” – which I’ll talk about later). The only thing necessary to make the tanking rotation more interesting is add a proc like Ultimatum, except for Maul. This would kick in just enough randomness to the rotation to make it interesting again. Having an ability purely exist for the purpose of soloing when it does less than a quarter the damage of Mangle makes no sense.
Before we go anywhere, everyone knows that “Bearcatting” was incredibly overpowered and needed to be removed. That’s fine. However as a Guardian, I don’t see a use for Cat Form in its current state. I ran a quick parse last night and found that without using any DPS increasing cooldowns, Guardian Cat Form does between 15-25% less damage than Guardian Bear Form with 0 Vengeance. That doesn’t really make any sense to me. Obviously I’m not saying that it should be 90-95% of a full time Feral Cat like it is now, however it should at least be more effective than simply sitting in Bear form the entire time.
There are further implications to this with Heart of the Wild. With this sort of damage variance currently Heart of the Wild will have to grant Guardians an absolutely absurd damage bonus to make it as effective as Feral Cat Form for the duration.
This could be the result of Feral being undertuned in general as compared to other Melee DPS, or it could be the result of Guardian Bear DPS being drastically overtuned. I have a feeling it’s a combination of both. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a nerf to both Bear Mangle and Lacerate sometime soon.
3. Active Mitigation
Our “active mitigation” model is shaping up to be very interesting. The percentage damage reduction has been replaced with Dodge, which is pretty intriguing. Frenzied Regeneration now has a variable consumption component based on the amount of Rage it consumes up to a maximum of 60. I like that as well. The most recent changes to Savage Defense have introduced a system of charges with cooldowns to artificially prevent 100% uptime. At first I wasn’t a big fan of artificial reduction like that, but it has kind of grown on me.
I’d like to take it a bit further though. Savage Defense still feels too binary – either you have enough Rage for it or you don’t. It doesn’t have the same variance that Frenzied Regeneration currently does. So why can’t we change it a little bit?
Lets look at the following potential changes:
- Decrease the Rage cost to 20.
- Decrease the Dodge percentage gained to 15% per use.
- Allow the Dodge gained per use to stack to 3.
- Track the duration of each charge individually.
- Remove the cooldown from the activation of Savage Defense.
It may be necesarry to increase the number of available charges, but the goal here is to add more choice to how Savage Defense is used. If we can choose to expend a large number of charges and/or Rage in a short time to gain a large mitigation boost, or spend a little Rage/charges to gain a small mitigation boost for a long period of time. Unfortunately I don’t know if Blizzard has the tech to actually accomplish this, but it would certainly make our existing “active mitigation” model more interesting.
I’m a little concerned about the binary nature of T1 talents. Movement speed is incredibly powerful in a PvE environment. So much so that unless you need Charge to help with some mechanic (Al’Akir tornadoes for example) you will always pick Feline Swiftness. This ends up being a passive stat boost in the end since a potential movement speed enchant is converted to pure stats instead. What can we do to make it less binary?
Why not turn the passive movement speed gain down to 8%, but let it stack with a movement speed enchant? At least this way you have sacrifice something for the same movement speed bonus. This could potentially adversely affect Feral and I can’t really comment in that regard.
Displacer Beast needs help, or to be replaced entirely. It’s purely a PvP talent at this point, but something should be done to make it less lackluster in comparison to the other options.
Tier 2 is pretty much fine at this point. All of the options are pretty compelling in their own right.
Typhoon is pretty amazing as a Guardian since it functions as a secondary AoE interrupt. I’m not particularly impressed with Mass Entanglement, and haven’t had a reason to use Faerie Swarm. Both have potential uses though, I just hope there will be situations where they are desired.
I’m worried that the current interation of Guardian Treants will be exploitable on some mechanics. Something like Impale is the most immediate example I can think of, simply pop Treants and watch them eat a free Impale. Other than that the choice between SotF and Incarnation is a pretty good one depending on if you prefer burst RPS or sustained RPS. Depending on a given fight it’s quite possible that one will be better than the other.
Overall a good tier despite the AI concerns on Treants.
Vortex is the easy winner here. Disorients break on damage making Demoralizing Roar a little problematic to use in a group or raid situation. Bash is “meh” and use will depend entirely on whether the target(s) is/are immune to Typhoon / Vortex or not.
There’s some interesting stuff here. It’s hard to really comment on any of them more than briefly without actual practical testing. But I do have some thoughts:
Heart of the Wild has two remaining problems. First is the need for some way to reduce the CD/Duration of the ability, probably via Glyph. Some phases where you would have the opportunity to use HotW as a Guardian don’t last the whole 45 seconds, which can mean that you use the talent for only half (or less) of its duration. I suppose to recognize this the ability to self-cast Rejuv in Bear Form and the 6% passive Agility were added, but that kinda feels like a gimmick that doesn’t fit the talent’s intended function.
Second is some way to accommodate caster vs melee weapons. The easiest way to do this I suppose is some sort of dramatic AP/SP buff beyond what is given to compensate for the lack of toolkit. It’s not crucial since you can weapon swap as a work around, but that feels clunky.
Dream of Cenarius just feels totally irrelevant. At best you could get it so synergize with an NS+HT (would that work?). At worst you never use it at all. But I’m okay with 2/3 being useful.
Nature’s Vigil This seems incredibly overpowered when combined with a high Vengeance stack, multiple targets, and Berserk. It could be interesting once the percentages and Guardian DPS is tuned correctly.
5. Default UI
At first glance it may be tempting to dismiss a topic like this by saying “Nobody uses the default UI.” But how many people really download UI addons? The truth is if I didn’t know that I would be replacing the default UI with X-Perl, Power Auras, DoTTimer, and Badkitty (if it’s still around) trying to tank with the default UI would make me furiously frustrated. There have been some recent steps taken to improve it (moveable portraits FINALLY), but there’s still a long way to go.
To illustrate what I’m talking about, I took a screenshot of the default UI as it appears now in the Beta, and highlighted the areas a Guardian (and likely any tank) would need to keep track of in order to make sure they are doing their job optimally.
If you move your character portrait and target to the middle of the screen, you have 3 distinct areas you need to keep track of. First are the debuffs on your target. Is Lacerate Up? Thrash? Sunder Armor? Weakened Blows? While there is an option to present only the debuffs that are relevant to you, it’s not stringent enough. The ones you truly care about can easily get lost in a sea of things you really don’t care about. Not only that but they are incredibly tiny and almost impossible to track the actual duration.
Solution: Add a UI option to make your debuffs bigger and add a numeric timer to them.
Second your character’s buffs are in the top right corner of the screen. This is a pretty inconvenient place for critical ability / cooldown duration information to be located. This is probably the biggest problem, since it drastically increases the distance your eye has to travel in order to gather all information necessary to evaluate the situation and select the appropriate action.
Solution: Add the ability to move temporary buffs under your character’s portrait, and make them big enough for you to actually see them.
The third problem is proper cooldown tracking. At least adding the ability for cooldowns to be displayed in numeric format would help significantly.
Symbiosis sounds cool, and really looks like a cool idea as well. If correctly balanced as a utility spell it can be used to fill in whatever utility box gaps we have for a given encounter. There are a couple problems with it though.
- All tanking specs are granted buttons that increase the effectiveness of “being a tank” – except Warriors. You can’t do that for a utility button without opening the Dark Intent box.
- Some of the buttons gained by a Guardian are pretty useless. Fear Ward and Spell Reflection are the key offenders here. Why isn’t the Priest Fear Warding you anyway? What can you actually use Spell Reflection on?
Personally I would much, much rather have Intervene over Spell Reflection and Psychic Scream (Roar) over Fear Ward. I’m sure there are other Guardians out there with differing opinions on what they would find more useful, and I hope those opinions are expressed.
I really like how Guardians are coming along. There have been a great many strides made since the original communications back at Blizzcon. We’re not there yet though. If we could have some sort of idea what the thought process was behind some of the (lack of) changes – in particular Thrash and Maul – that would greatly help.
Thanks for reading.