• Bares mostly like the taste of fase!

Tag: Rotations

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!

Part Deux

Hello Guardians!

I probably should have put this up last weekend, but I got distracted by Heroes of the Storm. In any case in my last post I talked about what kind of RPS levels we could expect in Warlords. As we found out it appears that our base Rage generation is going to be substantially higher than it was in Mists.

But what happens if a Guardian chooses to talent into Pulverize? Is there any kind of change to Rage generation? Let’s find out.
 

Assumptions of Play

As with the basic rotation, in order to come up with an estimate of the Rage generation for a Pulverize rotation you have to come up with a set of assumptions. Obviously being able to simulate the rotation will give the most accurate result, but we can’t do that yet.

  1. 1 Pulverize every 10 seconds.
  2. Given the previous assumption, at least 3 Lacerates every 10 seconds.
  3. The number of Mangles won’t be appreciably affected by when a Pulverize is used.
  4. Any remaining GCDs are filled with Lacerate.

The obvious question that follows these assumptions, is can they be proven? Well, not very easily it turns out. The first two are pretty obvious, in order to maintain the buff from Pulverize you need at least three Lacerates. Simple. For the second assumption however, it is not very likely that you will end up using Pulverize in the “free” (and by “free” I mean that it can’t reset Mangle) GCD. That means it’s pretty likely that it will negatively impact the number of times you can press Mangle within a 10 second window.

That being said, it’s really hard to quantify what that effect is within a spreadsheet. I know that the RPS of Mangle as it is represented in this version of the SS is actually a bit higher than it should be. But there isn’t enough of a possible discrepancy that it changes the results.

You’ll notice here that I didn’t mention Thrash anywhere. There’s a couple reasons for this. The first is that in order for Thrash to be Rage positive in a normal rotation – or at least enough of a difference that it’s worth using – it needs to be used during the “free” GCD mentioned earlier. The second is that in a Pulverize rotation, a Lacerate has extra benefit in that it pushes the next Pulverize forward. This also increases Rage generation beyond the original chance to reset Mangle.

At higher Haste levels we will have more of these “free” GCDs within a given 10s window. However this number won’t increase significantly enough to allow the use of Thrash in any amount that significantly affects Rage generation outside of an AoE scenario.
 

Results

These results will look familiar to anyone that read my previous post. The essential conclusion to be drawn from these results – just like the previous ones – is that if you choose Pulverize you will still be swimming in Rage. At best you will actually have more Rage than a regular rotation, and at worst you’ll have an about equal amount. Anyway time for pictures!

nekkid_2

You can clearly see that Haste is far and away beating Crit already, and we haven’t even put any gear on.

500stats_2

At something similar to dungeon levels of gear Haste is still far-and-away killing Crit.

1000stats_2

I feel like I’m just repeating myself here, but this is what it looks like at 1000 Haste and Crit rating.

2000haste_2

And here we can see the GCD cap causing Haste to level off. However it’s unlikely that we’ll approach that amount of Haste at all during the expansion, given the push for other secondary stats as well.
 

Conclusions

The conclusions here are identical to what we saw previously. Namely that Haste far, far, far outperforms Crit and we’re probably currently generating too much Rage. I expect we’ll see changes that address both of these issues in a future pass on the Guardian rotation.

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the sorts of changes that I’d like to see happen to Guardians in Warlords of Draenor. Most of this was admittedly triggered by Theck’s Post on his blog. While I will never be as witty as Theck – which admittedly would be pretty much impossible – but I can be sort of blunt and endearing in my own way. Of course a thread got started on this topic before I had a chance to get my real thoughts out there, but what the hey. It’s my site (not really) and I’ll do what I want.

Basically this is going to be a thought vomit post. I have no real structure planned, more just covering topics as they appear in my brain. In any case, let’s get started!

Mastery and Damage Smoothing

Damage smoothing is one of those odd properties that’s never really been a problem in 10H, but has consistently been a problem in 25H until Siege of Orgrimmar. Guardians have always been the tank that scales the least as content increases, since we have no percentage based damage reduction beyond armor. We have really strong base mitigation, but preform poorly against encounters that either ignore it, or have some sort of mechanic that drastically increases incoming damage throughout the encounter. Solving this problem is approached from several directions:

  • Consolidation to 1 raid size (Mythic 20man).
  • New Mastery.
  • Adjustments to Tooth and Claw.

The first change is obviously already happening. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that we’re getting a new Mastery in Warlords. But what could this Mastery look like? First we should look at some of the requirements for a tank Mastery specifically:

  • Plays into active mitigation abilities.
  • Scales with content.
  • Physical damage reduction only.
  • Functions as a “damage smoothing” mechanic.
  • Guaranteed damage reduction.

The current +armor Mastery meets 4 of those requirements, but fails the “active mitigation” test. So how would we fix it? Having it affect Savage Defense and/or Frenzied Regen doesn’t meet all of those requirements so it would have to be something new. Well what about Tooth and Claw? What if some incarnation of it became our Mastery? Consider the following:

  • Tooth and Claw no longer triggers from outgoing melee attacks.
  • Tooth and Claw now procs when you take non-AoE physical damage.
  • When active, Tooth and Claw reduces the Rage cost of Maul to 0, and resets the CD on Maul. Lasts 15 seconds and expires when Maul is next used.
  • When Tooth and Claw is applied to a target it reduces single-target physical damage dealt by the target by Y% for X (probably 3) seconds, increased by Mastery.

Something like this solves multiple problems with one – admittedly large – stone. Obviously there are a number of possible permutations for a new Mastery, but this is just something that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while.

For what it’s worth Mastery will also have to increase our damage output in the new “Tanks are 75% of a DPS” paradigm. Easy way to do that? Make it increase bleed damage just like Feral. Done.
 

Rage Generation

There are a few items that fall under this umbrella. The first thing I want to discuss is how the overwhelming majority – more than 75% – of our RPS comes passively from autoattacks. That isn’t fun to me. Something like the Warrior model where you press buttons to generate Rage makes more sense. Pressing Mangle is exciting because you know when you’re going to get Rage. Unless you have an autoattack timer you’re really just buttclenching until more Rage shows up. So if we were to remove Rage generation from autoattacks, where would it go?

We also have these other pretty iconic Guardian bleeds – Lacerate and Thrash. Lacerate stacks to 3, for no real reason anymore other than damage. What if there was a more important benefit? What if it increased Rage generation somehow? What if bleed ticks generated Rage? While also being sort of passive, it also requires action on the part of the player rather than just making sure you have a target, that it’s in front of you, and within range.

This means that Thrash would likely need to go back to its original 6 second duration for Guardians, which is fine really. You already use it that often in AoE anyway, and it would make the single target rotation more interesting. An alternative is to bring back Pulverize in some form, although that may be drifting too far into the realm of “maintenancey buff” that players generally don’t like.

The second item that’s primarily Rage generation related is the purpose of Enrage. It just doesn’t feel important beyond the first raid tier of an expansion. Sure you use it sometimes but a fixed value Rage ability isn’t very fun. What if it instead increased Rage generation for a period of time? Basically I’m talking about changing it into the 4t15 set bonus, maybe even a direct replacement. It would make sense to take it off the GCD at that point – I mean heck it should be off the GCD already anyway.
 

Global Cooldown

Probably the change that I want the most is a normalization of the GCD to 1 second for all tanks. A 1.5s GCD as a tank is an eternity, and I’m always jealous of Protection Paladins and Brewmaster Monks and their short GCD. Having played Feral and a high-haste caster in the past, it just feels much more fluid to me. This would have a secondary effect of making Rage generation more granular, which would be great improvement to the very “blocky” implementation we have now especially at really high Crit levels.

Of course if we go down to a 1 second GCD, it goes without saying that the cooldowns on Lacerate, Maul, and Swipe would need to be removed.
 

Vengeance and Cat Form

This is kind of a braindead change, but since Vengenace will no longer grant Attack Power, there’s no reason to have it be cleared when you shift into Cat Form. This makes Displacer Beast substantially more attractive as a Guardian, not to mention things like Dash and HotW Cat DPS.
 

FIX TREANTS

Dear god. Please, please, please, please, please fix Force of Nature. It’s a simple 2-step change:

  1. Make them scale off of weapon damage and attack power.
  2. Make them re-taunt their current target when they lose aggro instead of YOUR DAMN CURRENT TARGET. This has caused me no end in frustration.

Boom. Done. Force of Nature fixed.

What do you think? Anything in particular you want to see changed? Definitely check out the thread linked above for more detailed discussion.

Life after 4.0 Cont.

October 22, 2010

While I’m waiting for the Blizzcon stream to stop being bad, I’ll continue with discussing the changes bears received with 4.0.  The threat section is long.  I’m sorry. ;)

Rage Normalization

This is a change I’m not sure I like, but I don’t really hate it.  It’s a lot more noticeable in 5 mans and raids that I severely outgear.  Bears now get 16 rage per auto attack, and 32 rage per crit (+5 rage from talents) regardless of how much it hits for.  No more filling up a rage bar with a single auto attack crit, which is unfortunate.  Rage gain based on hits is calculated to your max HP and will calculate if an attack is dodged, misses, or is parried.  Not entirely positive how, but the reasoning for this is that you shouldn’t™ become rage starved when you’re tanking content you outgear.  Yeah.  Right.

Heroic ICC, I never run out of rage, even with spamming maul.  Anything below that in difficulty, even if I wear DPS gear, I just don’t seem to have the rage to do anything for a prolonged period of time.  It’s pretty rough.  Even with heroics, I have to be way more conservative with rage than I’ve ever had to be.  Swipe’s rage reduction will help in Cata, but it just doesn’t feel comfortable operating with limited resources.  It’s easily manageable by simply not hitting Maul unless I have excess rage, but most content now I just zone out and spam things until it dies.  Not the best way to do it, but, ya know… carried by gear. ;)

Threat and Threat Rotations

Threat changed almost drastically.  Yes please.  It was/is a very nice change from having a completely non-moving rotation.  With the addition of Berserk procs, it caused a priority system to occur.  I love this.  I absolutely do.  I now pay attention to what I’m doing as I’m tanking.

Pulverize needs some work.  Having Swipe do more threat than it is just plain silly.  While I do like the mechanic of it, it’s damage and threat needs to be raised a little bit.  Its soundfile needs help too.  Regardless, like I said, I enjoy its mechanic.  I enjoy the fact that there’s a penalty to using it(and maybe it IS best that it’s damage and threat is iffy, at best), and that working around that penalty is entirely possible through smarter usage and timing.

Berserk Procs and Lacerate.  H’oh boy.  Where to start here?  It makes for a more interesting rotation, but if you pay attention to the rotation and the proc timings for more than 30 seconds, you begin to notice a pattern and a fundamental flaw to this mechanic.  It tends to proc right after you start a GCD, making it nearly impossible react right away, like you are able to with Sword and Board (Warriors use GCD abilities to force a proc, rather than relying on a dot.  It’s much more controlled).

It’s rather frustrating hitting Pulverize and having Berserk proc at the same time, causing the biggest downtime Lacerate can have in a rotation.  You can either ignore the proc and put Lac back up (which is a threat loss) or you hit Mangle(yes) and have Lacerate down for 2 globals, with a new tick happening after 4 globals.  It’s fairly ugly and should be avoided… but RNG will screw you whenever it wants.

Now, I mentioned a way to work around with timing, at least initially.  I’ve found the best time, in regards to Lacerate ticks, to use Pulverize is the second GCD after a mangle.  So, Mangle > Something(1st GCD) > Pulverize(2nd GCD) > Lacerate(3rd GCD) >Mangle.  With this position in the rotation, Lacerate should tick after the Mangle, giving the potential for 2 Mangles in a row.  Of course, if the Pulverize buff is down, you’d want to use it on the 1st GCD to get it back up.  Doing it this way, however, will cause a Lacerate proc to happen when you’d be hitting Mangle anyway.

The whole thing is more than a little awkward.  Making Lacerate tick faster or slower most likely wouldn’t work to solve this.  If it ticked faster, you run the risk of having a chain of Berserk procs and then just doing nothing but keep Lac up 100% and spam mangle.  Slowing the ticks down *might* work, but it will obviously result in lower threat potential.

AoE threat, while completely do-able, is a pain.  Comparatively speaking, Bears have one of the stronger AoE attacks out of the 4 tanks.  Swipe hits hard.  The cooldown is completely fine because of this, and I’m used to it.  It’s just that we are missing our second AoE attack, which we get at 81.  It’s not the end of the world that we don’t have it, and I don’t mind.  It requires more attention and watching health bar cues and watching omen to see who’s creeping up.  Once Lacerate is spread around enough, you end up getting to tab-mangle between Swipes, which is pretty nice.  Thrash lessens the burden, but the method doesn’t change at 85.

All in all, Bear threat now requires much more attention.  I both like and dislike it.  I like it because I’m not falling asleep in my chair during raids.  I dislike it because I find myself paying more attention to my buffs and debuffs and procs than I do to the surroundings around me while tanking… and tanking what I tank… it can be pretty damn detrimental.