From out of the blue yesterday came a new Dev Watercooler blog post from Ghostcrawler, where he revealed that Blizzard has decided tanks shouldn’t have to worry about generating enough threat to hold mob aggro against crazy DPS.

Specifically, tanks on the starter end of the gearing grind shouldn’t be crushed under the weight of trying to hold aggro against raid-geared DPS going balls-to-the-wall in a pick up group.

Ready? This isn’t some “we think it would be nice to someday…” announcement. The hotfix apparently went live today, August 16th, and right now all tanks in their tank mode will have their threat generated from damage boosted, going from 300% threat from damage to 500%. They’ve also ramped up the rapidity by which Vengeance builds in the first few seconds of a pull.

Surprise!

When the announcement went out yesterday, folks I talked to had a wide range of responses.

Among them were that this was the end of the game as we know it, tanks will no longer have to know how to do anything, skill is dead, everybody dance now or quit in disgust, blah blah blah.

Say what now?

I’ll admit, I thought that the days of there being anything tank-related for me to talk about here were gone, what with the high levels of knowledge and awareness I see among the players I run into every day, but I guess I was wrong.

Let’s talk about what this really means for you and me, mmm’kay?

Tank threat generation has been increased. Not just by a little, but by a metric shit-ton. Threat from tank damage has almost doubled. It’s close to TWO metric shit-tons now, and that’s a lot.

So, it’s all crimson blood spraying and rolling in the clover for tanks now, right? We run in, lay down a few quick swipes, then we can go stagger away from the keyboard looking for a Guinness while the DPS finishes the pull.

Right?

Well, maybe a teeny bit, but not really.

The big reason that it’s not going to work that way is that encounter design, even on trash pulls, has changed a lot over the years.

It used to be that the bread and butter, meat and potatoes pull (it’s lunch time, I’m hungry) was the tank runs in and hits the mob, the DPS burns it down. There would be minor variations on that theme, a few extra adds maybe, a healer or ranged spellcaster that wouldn’t come along for the ride, but that was pretty much it.

These days, just as GC points out, the design has changed.

Now, most fights in high level instances and raids have some kind of mobile component, a multi-mob component, and also what my wife Cassie refers to as a gimmick.

The mobile component is simply something to encourage people to move around. Tornados swooping in and out, rocks falling from the sky, mobs that start cleaving/flaying wildly, stomps that you have to jump to avoid being hit by, green or red shit to move out of, electrical fields to pull mobs out of, the list goes on and on.

A mobile component; Blizzard designing fights where the player needs to think about moving your ass instead of just standing and mindlessly pushing buttons in a fixed rotation.

The multi-mob component. This doesn’t just mean that there was more than one mob standing there.

This is where during the fight you need to be aware of the area around you, including behind you, because there may be roaming packs of adds wandering around, there may be adds that spawn periodically out of nowhere and come running in that the tank has to grab on the fly, there may be adds just like the old days that heal others or do evil debuffs and poisons that need to be killed first or locked down with interrupts, and there may even be adds like in Stonecore or Zul’Aman that, if not stopped, will run off and bring a LOT of friends to your fight.

And finally, the gimmicks. Ah, the gimmicks.

It seems like every encounter has some kind of thing that’s different. Bosses that will fixate on a target and charge them. Mobs that are frozen that need to be drug through fire, mobs that are on fire that will destroy you unless you hit a frozen mob first to get chilled out, mobs that will bubble and you have to go jump around flipping levers, all sorts of stuff.

Gimmick. It’s an unkind term for unique encounter mechanics, but it’s accurate.

Tank threat is buffed now. A lot.

So, how does this change the game?

It doesn’t. It simply smooths out the flow.

If adds come running in, the tank still has to tag them and do damage to them to generate threat. End of story. You will not suddenly, miraculously grab adds and hold them automagically without doing anything to make it happen.

You will not be able to charge in, blast up and tune out. You as the tank will still have to be mobile when necessary, be aware of your surroundings and actively grab adds and distribute damage/threat amongst them, and you will still have to handle the gimmicks of each encounter. 

What you can expect to change is that, if you are already doing everything you are supposed to, you will have a much stronger chance of holding aggro on all members of an AoE group, even if you are focusing on Skull, and the DPS are ignoring your marks to blow up whoever they want.

This change would normally encourage you to prioritize AoE threat generating abilities more. Since most AoE is on some kind of cooldown cycle now, you’re probably already using your AoE abilities whenever they’re up anyway, so, well, no big change there. Right?

It’s not like you can do Swipe spam, no matter how much you would have wanted to. But you can pop it every time it’s off cooldown, and expect it to have tastier results.

Likewise, for DPS players, this does not signal the death of Vanish/ Feign Death and Misdirection/Fan of Knives. Adds will still come in from wierd directions, and being able to send them off to the tank is always a good thing. Likewise, having an emergency “Get them the f&*(^ off of me” button never loses it’s value.

So.

In conclusion…. I don’t know where the hell all the panic I saw came from, or the rage about dumbing down the game, but I for one welcome our new threat overlords, and invite them to come tank at the pug table.

My Warrior and Hunter alts will be sure to make you feel RIGHT at home.

22 Responses to “The tanks all said wha?”
  1. Zwingl says:

    I sure hope you’re right.

    I’m afraid that it caters to DPS being stupid.

    Then again, I helped solidify the stereotype of Huntard in Vanilla WoW…

    Zwingli

  2. Tesh says:

    It should make lower level tanking cleaner, too. Heirloom gear makes DPS players steal threat way too easily, and this might help.

  3. Sunnier says:

    I was confused by the panic, as well. Threat has never been the hardest part of being a tank, except in 5 mans, where there’s a dramatic shortage of tanks. In raids, threat is easy. The hard part comes from all the movement, positioning, and timing that tanks have to do. Ignoring threat will just make the tank’s job more interesting and the damage dealers’ jobs more fun.

  4. FaceTank says:

    I like the idea and agree that tanking has changed over time. Kinda reminds me of how things used to be where you could get so far ahead on threat that you didn’t really need to worry about it but there is alot more for a tank to worry about nowadays… Gone are the days where you could get a huge threat lead and then afk for half the fight.

    I think the only thing that worries me a bit is how they want to change mitigation to be more active. They want to change everyone to be closer to the DK model of mitigating damage instead of most things being passive. I understand why they want to do it but I am not a big fan of DK tanking (tried it and didn’t like it – it seemed more stressful to me for some reason) so it will be interesting to see how they implement it.

  5. Dan says:

    I don’t think this is an ezmode button for tanks, I think it’s an ezmode button for DPS. Back when I raided seriously and was an alternate raid leader, I remember having a chat with on of my better DPS, a kitty drood. He was routinely pulling aggro from the tank by leaping in and doing balls to the wall DPS in the first seconds of the pull. WHen I told him he needed to slow down and watch his threat, his response was “the tank needs better threat gen.” In truth, he was right. That particular tank sucked, and the guild was working on replacing him. But he was the tank we had, and I couldn’t get it through that droods thick skull that it was HIS JOB to watch his own threat. Even if he had to wait for 30 seconds before doing anything to let the tank build threat, that was his job, and if he pulled aggro, it was his fault.

    I’ve ran pugs with good tanks and crappy tanks. I’ve played with tanks that outgeared me and with tanks that were in quest greens to my raid purples. I almost never pull aggro off them because I had Omen installed and I watched it closely. This is a buff to stupid and/or lazy DPS that don’t want to have to pay attention to things like threat generation or aggro tables. They don’t want to have to think about the tanks threat or hold off for a second or two on that balls to the wall aoe DPS. This IS dumbing down the game, not for tanks, who have an insane amount to watch and think about during most pulls, but for DPS who really have only 3 jobs. Don’t stand in the fire, damage the mobs, and don’t pull threat.

    • Josh says:

      @Dan
      Unfortunately, when you are consistently riding the coattails of the tank on threat, a dps is often forced to reign in their dps. I have lost track of the times I have resorted to auto-attacking, or even stopping attacking, on my warrior. This is not at the pull, this is mid-fight. While I can play my warrior intelligently it makes it difficult to actually PLAY my warrior.

      This change does make it easier on the dps. It also makes it much easier to tank. Which will, in turn, allow for easier healing through dps not pulling aggro. Does it make things ezmode? No. Mechanics will divide the wheat from the chaff.

      • Dan says:

        @Josh Everything you said is true, which is part of the problem. Truthfully, DPS is pretty simple right now. Don’t stand in the fire. DPS the mob (it used to be the “right” mob, then they changed AOE tanking), don’t pull threat off the tank. Without going back to nonesense nostalgia about “the good old days,” (I remember the hell of getting a raid slot as a hunter in Vanilla) at one time this game was a challenge, and required you to constantly get better and improve to go to the next tier of content. Then the last half of BC hit, and the game become less about achieving a challenging goal, and all about participation awards. Especially at the 5 man and heroic level, the level of situational awareness and class proficiency demanded of a DPS is pathetically low right now, and all this does is take it even lower. Blizz is catering to the lowest common denominator of competence (which is to say incompetence), and dragging the whole game down as a result.

        Let me put it this way. In BC getting into heroics was hard. You had to play your class at max level for at least a few weeks to a month before you could access most of the heroics. I rarely remember a random pug then that didn’t end well, and I ran a lot of randoms. The reason was that there was a system in place to force people to have basic proficiency before they set foot in heroics, and it was a self-weeding system. People who are too lazy or incompetent to be decent at their class are usually too lazy or incompetent to become revered with a dungeon rep. Then they dropped the requirement down to honored, and all of the sudden I was back to running heroics with my guild if I wanted to get out of Steamvaults in less than 4 hours. I miss the days when I could hang out in Shatt, find a few random people, and have a fairly decent certainty of a successful run. Now, with the dungeon finder and non-existant entry standards, the most basic gear checks or attention checks are major hurdles for most groups.

    • Fatmandu says:

      What you say is true if Blizzard continues to design encounters as though threat generation is a major priority. And if they do, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in agreement about this change being a DPS ezmode. But if tanks no longer need to fight their DPS to hold aggro, what does this open up for design encounters? Will we see more multi-add fights? What about more “untankable” bosses? Or movement phases with an aggro table clear? I am actually intrigued to see where Blizzard takes this design change. Again, all this is predicated on Blizzard altering their encounter design. If they decide to be lazy about it, all bets are off.

  6. Grim says:

    Hmm. Now I may actually try leveling my itty-bitty Warrior tank again.

  7. DeGei says:

    I personally think that Blizzard has looked over how people were playing with stats, etc, and said, “If we can’t force them to stat like this, then lets give them threat and open up more options for mechanics.” If the Devs can assume that the Tank is going to have massive amounts of threat it gives them more leeway in things for the tank to do.

    As I stated in a post I had to revive my blog to make (as much as a surprise as you yourself doing a tank post), there can be events (gimmicks as you put it) during a fight where the tank has to dash across the room and activate something, dump off a debuff, etc, without having to tank swamp (assuming the boss goes immobile and the other tank has another set job) and then return without the dps suddenly being on the verge of passing his threat or pulling it all together.

    I want them to use this for great effects and not just as a mechanics change.

  8. Andy says:

    While the threat thing is interesting, I don’t think it’ll have much of an effect on tanking as it is now, apart from maybe making it a bit less stressful.

    But! The talk of changing mitigation to be a much more active thing, that is interesting and has the potential to completely change how tanks are played. At the moment, tanking in a lot of fights doesn’t feel all that different to just being a DPS that gets hit, so it’ll be nice to have it so tanking is more about staying alive rather than doing damage/generating threat.

    Interesting times!

    • bigbearbutt says:

      Well said, well said. And good point.

      But I’m replying to you mostly to say, ‘Love that picture, that rocks.’

  9. persistence (arygos) says:

    BBB,
    I won’t be all doom and gloom. I’m still playing my tanks and enjoying it. But, I do fear where tanks are going.
    I used to be able to distinguish myself as a good tank – “he picks up mobs when you CC” “he has good threat Gen and picks up loose mobs that get away”. “He may not be the best geared but he picks up the fights quickly and you wont have a problem”.
    Well, with the most recent changes, I fear I wont have any gauge at all for my skill. Making mitigation part of a rotation leaves a lot to wonder about. Right now, the only difference between me and a bad tank is gear and simply knowing the fight. Cooldown management is also super important, but there are no tools to say whether I’m using them properly or not. If I die, I can’t tell if it was the healer or me. I mostly look at my log or recount death log and see the immediate things that happened around the time I died. “Did I get enough heals?” “Did I die slowly over 12 sec or quickly in 3 sec?” My fear is with the recent cc changes, the recent threat changes, and upcoming mitigation changes, its going to be very difficult to determine when someone is a good tank and when someone is a bad tank.

    • Suxxy says:

      +1

      The best compliment I got from a healer was on my alt Warr tank in H UK, it went something like (who am i kidding, i ss it, it went exactly like):
      “wtf i go from having hsit tanks with crazy good gear scores to one with less than 5k that takes f*** all damage and can hold threat”

  10. Blasfemur says:

    You ask where the panic and rage came from, but I can hardly believe you’re really all that shocked. You’ve been playing this game for some time now, and you know better, Triple B. The WoW community is nothing if not consistent. Rage-induced, panic-stricken, nihilistic, arrogant, ego-driven, and wry — and that’s on a good day! We’ve not gotten to racist, homophobic, selfish and cruel. I’d say we’re lucky that all we got this round is a little anger and worry over this change. There’s much, much worse that this community is capable of dishing out. I do believe in the existence of a relatively silent majority of players who aren’t all these negative things we’ve come to know, and I thank you for being amongst the more vocal of those who wear the white hat.

  11. Caerlin says:

    Minor nitpick: I think only the increased threat multiplier has been hotfixed. The Vengeance changes will be “In an upcoming patch”.

  12. Kaethir says:

    I read this article and had a great, resounding feel of ‘Meh.’

  13. Sharaltan says:

    Its a retarded change.

    I tank and dps on my feral druid. I like threat, if should matter more not less. The game is descending into a race to cater to the most blinkered, tunnel visioned playtstyle.

    An encounter should involve a tank fighting for threat, the dps doing their best dps, whilst both managing aggro so that the tank keeps the boss whilst still allowing the enrage to be beaten. I like that cower is necessary on the pull for me, it should be necessary after that as well.

    The problem is not threat. Its bliz messing up game design, its the stupid levels of gear inflation which means dps ramps up like it does. It happened with healing in wrath, and the knock on effects on tank gearing and health, its happening with dps in cata with knock on effects on threat.

    As a long time tank or dps, I just fail to see why this is necessary, or desireable. Yes it makes things easier, and simpler, but I play this for fun, not to be bored senseless.

    Then again, I’m not a dps whore. I dont care about topping meters. I like fights like rhyolith where my dps sucks, but the important job (pre mega nerfs) was to stear the boss. In dps races, like Baelroc threat should matter to make the encounter interesting, because its tediously boring to tank or dps.

    • Sharaltan says:

      forgot to add.

      Tanking is not hard, its really not. Its pathetically easy now in raids. The myth that tanking is stressful or hard or even interesting anymore needs to be dispelled.

      Shannox – main tank just has to hold aggro and move from traps…yawn.
      Beth – main tain goes up top, holds boss, drops down, repeat. repeat. taunt swap….yawn.
      Rhyo – aoe add that dont need tanking, tank big add for 30secs. die of boredom. tank boss in phase 2 for 20secs…..yawn.
      baelroc – hold aggro on boss, oooooh thats hard. Yawn. yawn. tab out, read wow blogs, tab back, loot.

      Alys – ok, I like this one, multi phase, have to interrupt occasionally, have to position adds, and make them eat grubs, dodge tornadoes, taunt swap. Dps challenge (easy bit still nice idea) for tank. Good fight.

      Major – stand in middle aggro boss, um, oh wait thats it. Everyone else has to stack and spread and whatever, do I? nope, stand there al fight…..yawn.
      Rag – tauntswap, occasionally move from fire, and meteors…..yawn.

      Is this good raid design? is is bollox.

  14. Gharg says:

    I think this change is long overdue.

    After Ulda, I took a few months off druid tanking and focused on my mage instead. When I returned to try for a few Heroic Runs, I was so woefully less geared than the ICC raid ready players that I could not hold aggo no matter how focused, well read or experienced I was.

    Unfortunately, this led to me dropping tanking for the rest of Wotlk and I was only able to pick it up again once Cata emerged.

    If the best way to get pre-raid gear is through VP farming heroics, and our community is still experiencing long queues waiting for tanks in LFG, then this change can only be seen as a positive.

    It means new players trying tanking at 85 and new undergeared alt tanks have one less thing to be abused about in groups, which might actually mean more people enjoying tanking.

  15. George says:

    As a tank and Subtlety rogue, I don’t see how this is anything but good. Will it cover for people who overpull or pull for the tank? No; the tank will, as always, have to choose to do that. Will it remove a real mechanic from the game? No; threat management is supposed to be obsolete, but it has been forced on players by gear differences. Will it let DPS who outgear their tanks and tanks outgeared by DPS do their actual jobs and not their Vanilla-era jobs? Yes, and it will be glorious.

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