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Posts with tag tanking

Warlords of Draenor: Tank changes

Tank
Technical Game Designer Chadd Nervig, aka Celestalon, has been answering some inquiries on Twitter lately, and hinted at a few of the changes we can look forward to with tanking. It seems all tanks are up for tweaks, in some fairly overarching ways.

If you're not familiar with Resolve, it's essentially what Vengeance has become in Warlords of Draenor, albeit with some changes. Currently, Resolve improves self-healing and absorbs done by the tank to the tank and partially converts mastery to attack power. How it will be further tweaked in Warlords remains to be seen, but the overall change itself should help tanks be tanks without overshadowing the DPS.

The rest of the tweet is much more intriguing, but does fit with the overall theme of scaling down we're seeing in Warlords. Lowering tank health and mitigation seems risky, but if boss damage is also reduced, then it shouldn't be a problem. For a long time, Blizzard has made noises about how they wanted to slow down the pace of boss fights, especially in the final tiers of an expansion. Damage that's less devastating, healing that is slower pace and choices that are more meaningful. To me, these changes read as being in line with that philosophy. I will be interested to see them implemented, and how they affect gameplay in the beta.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Do certain roles encourage bad behavior?


I still like tanking and healing more than anything else in the game, but they have their deficiencies while you're trying to smash Hexos into a well-deserved stain on the floor. In order to finish off Brawler's Guild achievements, I went DPS for the first time in 6 years and then thought, "This is actually kind of fun. Let's try some LFR and see what this puppy does in a raid."

In a matter of days, I and my hapless raid-mates encountered the following:
  • A tank who RP-walked to everything. (Spoils took forever.)
  • A tank who posted the meters after each trash pull and boss to make fun of the least well-geared DPS.
  • Tanks who couldn't be persuaded to kill the blademasters in Gates of Retributon, trapping the entire raid in perma-combat.
  • Tanks who kept taunting Thok back and forth to alternately breathe on or tail-swipe the raid.
Notice a pattern?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

What's going wrong with tanking in five player content?

Tanking is not always easy, mind you. But tanking can be an incredible amount of fun, and I hope that it'll make a real comeback in terms of popularity when Warlords of Draenor goes live. Right now, I feel like a few problems really keep tanking from being as universally popular as it could be.
  • Difficult to get starting gear - For most people, it's hard to get started as a tank. Gearing is an issue, because some tanks (DKs, warriors and paladins) need specific tanking gear, while even the leather tanks still generally use different stats to some degree, different enchants, different weapons for tanking than DPS or (especially) healing. This is a problem the gearing changes in Warlords should really help with.
  • Where can you learn it? - Tanking requires a different skill set from DPS or healing. While proving grounds exist, they don't really teach the most important part of being a tank - reacting to other players. It can be hard as a new tank to walk into a dungeon having never done it before. That leads into the third difficulty of picking up tanking.
  • Dungeons don't provide any sort of experience right now - With the wildly disparate gear levels on people running random dungeons, you can have a tank in 450 gear trying to hold aggro off of players in 580 gear. While it can be nice to be the tank in 580 gear, even you might have trouble when groups don't cooperate, run ahead of you, pull mobs half way across the zone, and generally simply refuse to act like any kind of groups at all. This is something I'm hoping the gear squish and ten levels will do away with - we'll all basically be on the same page when Warlords dungeons are being run.
While there are still a lot of places where tanking is both fun and rewarding - raiding (especially in a guild group, be it heroic, normal or flex), challenge modes, even in LFD or LFR if you get lucky - I do think it can be a lot to ask a new tank (whether or not she or he is a new player or just new to the role) to grow a thick skin fast enough to deal with the toxicity possible in the current random queue environment. Which is a real shame, because tanking is fun - it can be stressful, and oftentimes groups have an expectation of a tank doing the work of knowing how every fight works for them, but that's not always a negative.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Switching roles

It's officially the end of the expansion, because I'm tanking again. Every expansion, this happens. I start off tanking, something happens and I switch to DPS, and then by the end of the expansion I'm tanking again. The best part is that it usually happens in the middle of working on heroic progression, meaning that I'm suddenly tanking the hardest fights in the game. Usually without having ever tanked them before, in fact. Last night for instance I found out that I am much better at doing Heroic Norushen if I go down to kill the big add with some Vengeance built up, for how much it helps with Shield Barrier if I mis-time and get hit by the big attack.

My gear is adequate - about ilevel 566, with quite a few heroic pieces - but it's still a learning curve and one that's sometimes fairly hard to adjust to, and not just for me. This is a raid we've been clearing weekly, and suddenly here's a new tank who doesn't know what's going on as well as the previous tanks did. Combine that with my general sense of perfectionism (I do not like making even the most understandable mistake) and it can be pretty stressful.

But sometimes it's necessary -- your group has all the healers it needs, and you volunteer to DPS. You've been playing a hunter, now you're on your priest healing instead. (Hi, Final.) You're a tank but you're burned out and you need a change of pace. So, how can you deal with this, both as a player and as a group with a player switch? While I'm not pretending to having any sort of universal answer, here's a few things I've noticed.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Warlords of Draenor: Tanking and the future

One of the things I'm thinking about lately is how tanking is changing in Warlords of Draenor. In at least one major way, it's not changing - Active Mitigation established itself in Mists, based in part on DK tanking in Cataclysm, and it's going to be front and center in Warlords of Draenor. But right now, AM tanking heavily relies on four stats (depending on the tank class) and all four of those stats will be gone come Warlords, meaning that we're looking at a pretty significant change depending on the class. The remaining stat, mastery, is probably going up in value, and in addition, we'll have crit, haste, readiness and multistrike to consider. But stats aren't the whole of the game, and they're not the whole of the changes, either.

In addition to new stats, there are the abilities each tank will see affected by readiness to consider. There are also Draenor Perks for each tank spec, granted randomly as we level from 90 to 100. There are changes in what abilities exist, in what specs get them. Vengeance is gone, replaced with Resolve, buffing our self heals and absorbs. In short, while the basic idea remains the same - generate resources via attacks to spend on damage reduction in one fashion or another - how we go about it, how it interacts with us has so many changes that it's worth discussing in length. There's so much change coming in that I don't pretend I'll catch all of it, which is why we have comments, after all.

So what do I expect to see out of tanking coming 6.0? It should be noted, this discussion is based on the Warlords alpha patch notes and such datamining as I've looked over, and I freely admit I only tank on one class, so while these are general observations I may be missing key class specific factors.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Vengeance is now Resolve

This is one of the bigger changes (and one closest to my heart now that I'm tanking again) - Vengeance is gone in Warlords of Draenor, replaced with Resolve. Resolve is basically Vengeance minus the stacking buff to attack power, because of the way Vengeance interacted on certain fights. To put it into perspective, last night was my first night seriously tanking, and I was number four on total DPS - it would have been far higher had I not forgotten I was tanking for the first fight. At present, with Vengeance and tank AoE for purposes of picking up threat (plus, I admit, some fairly beefy Shield Slams once Vengeance stacks all the way up) you can see some ridiculous tank DPS, easily surpassing dedicated DPS players.

The solution being implemented here is to overall increase tank DPS without an unreliable mechanic like Vengeance adding different attack power depending on how much damage the tank takes. This also removes the temptation for tanks to deliberately take more damage in order to get Vengeance stacked up faster. So Vengeance is gone, and Resolve is implemented. How does it work?
  • Resolve improves self-healing and absorbs done by the tank to the tank (so no, it won't buff priest bubbles) based on the damage taken (ignoring avoidance and mitigation, same as Vengeance now) within the last 10 seconds, and your Stamina. This means stuff like Death Strike, Shield Barrier, things of that nature. If you cast a heal on someone else, Resolve won't buff it.
  • Each tank class' tanking mastery will now add 12% attack power, and the amount of attack power will scale with mastery as well. This is in addition to current affects, not replacing it - your tanking mastery will do what you're used to it doing, it'll just also do more.
  • Brewmaster monks will no longer deal less damage. That 15% damage penalty? Gone.
The goal here is for tanking damage to remain meaningful without overshadowing dedicated DPS players, something I feel is profoundly fair. Whether or not it works out for all classes we'll see when we get a chance to test it out, but the basic principle is sound - with tanks now using crit and haste (and the new stats Readiness and Multistrike as well - see Blood Craze here for just one potential use of Multistrike for tanks) we're in a situation where tanking DPS will likely go up just because they're wearing the exact same gear as DPS players. The age of Vengeance's unpredictable scaling probably needed to end.

The section of the patch notes detailing the change is, as always, behind the jump.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Warlords of Draenor

Interview: Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig talks Warlords of Draenor

I was lucky enough to head over to Blizzard Campus this week to talk to Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig. Chadd is a huge part of the class design team, key to a lot of the changes we saw in the recent Warlords of Draenor patch notes, which is just what we discussed. We were also joined by Senior Community Representatives Zarhym and Lore. You can also find a much-abbreviated summary on Wowhead.

Olivia: First up, is there anything you really wanted to clarify and get out there?

Celestalon: I've tweeted about pretty much everything. This was the first version of the patch notes, there have been more changes since then, those patch notes are about a week old or so?

Zarhym: Yeah it's like, tons of changes. [Rygarius] said he had a huge list of changes.

Celestalon: There's another five thousand words that aren't up there yet, which [Rygarius] is working on now.

There have been different amounts of patch notes released for different classes. Paladins have been complaining that they haven't got enough, rogues have been really happy that not much has changed. Is it safe to assume there's more to come? This is just step one?

There's definitely more coming. Like, for example, paladins had relatively few patch notes, and a lot of that is we were relatively happy with how things played out, at least for ret and prot, with the exception of a few things we can solve with tuning – changing numbers. So a lot of what you see in the patch notes now is what we call design changes, so the mechanics that we want to change so we can get to some design that we like.

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Filed under: Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Wowhead introduces class guides

Wowhead has just launched a new feature for players new to the game, and players new to a different class as well -- class guides written for virtually every class and spec in the game. The guides act as a brief overview of what you'll need for the class you play, covering spells, talents, glyphs, enchanting, gemming, reforging, and even topics like tackling the Proving Grounds and Challenge Modes. Some guides also include basic DPS rotations for each spec as well.

Written by familiar faces from around the WoW community, the guides themselves are fairly basic -- you won't see any number crunching or theorycrafting. Instead, they act as a quick reference for players wondering what they should be doing with the character they play. That said, it's a wealth of quick-reference information that I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep bookmarked. Check out the class guides for yourself over on Wowhead.

Filed under: News items

Next steps after boosting a paladin tank to 90, part 2

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

It's always weird coming to the end of an expansion and seeing the road before you suddenly much shorter than you remember it was the last time you gave it a serious look. Very soon things will radically change -- the gear that made us gods will be obsolete, health pools will be laid low, and the stats that we had come to loathe will be no more. As they say, all good things must come to an end. Pandaria is no different.

This is a path we've walked before, in the twilight of every expansion. As the content winds down in its own interminable fashion, and we run that end raid for the umpteenth time, we find solace in trying new experiences through the prism of alts. As I discussed in last week's post, with the advent of the boosting feature, many folks will be trying out paladin tanks for the first time -- especially since they now have the advantage of skipping the (painful) journey of leveling a tank entirely. This guide is for them.

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Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

Next steps after boosting a paladin tank to 90

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

With the introduction of level 90 boosts on the horizon, many players are going to be trying new characters, classes, and specs they may have never tried before. I expect this means that many folks are going to give protection paladins a go for the first time, which is a very exciting prospect, because the spec makes for a very fun tank playstyle.

In order to help those new folks hit the ground running, I'm kicking off a two-part "quick start guide" that'll break down the spec in the 101-iest way possible, to give those new tankadins a barebones foundation that they can use to jump right into getting their faces pounded in. For today's post I'm going to talk about why one should choose to spend $60 or their free Warlords-given boost on a protection-specced paladin, and what they need to know to safely jump into that first dungeon.

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Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

Oops, I queued as tank again

I've tanked a few LFR's lately. The thing is, I didn't mean to.

I don't mean I pulled aggro. I mean that when I queued, I forgot that I had tank selected alongside DPS. I do this in five man heroics I'm running for justice points as well. When I find myself selected to tank the dungeon (often only noticing after I get in and no one else is the tank) I usually shrug and put on my tank set and do it. It's not the group's fault I keep forgetting to uncheck that box, after all. And there's a bit of an up side. The other day my wife and I were talking in game and I said "I think I'm going to ride my blue dragonhawk" which surprised her, because I am not a mount collector. "Wait, you have a blue dragonhawk?" Well, yes I do, and I can thank forgetting to uncheck that tanking box for it.

I'm under the impression that I'm fairly rare in this regard. I don't know how true that is, because I've really only talked to a few people about it, and some of them don't play hybrids, so there is no other box for them to check. I'm sure all the warlocks I know would select tank if they could, for instance. But at least some folks seem to do this from time to time.

Being an opinionated cuss, I have some thoughts on this whole phenomenon I'd like to share.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

The Light and How to Swing It: The ups and downs of protection's funky aggro

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

Granted, as far as class design goes, protection paladins are sitting fairly pretty (and not just the blood elves). Our rotation is great, our stat priorities produce a fun playstyle, our talents do what they need to. We don't have any serious holes in our stable of cooldowns, and on the whole staying alive isn't really an issue for us as long as there's a healer nearby. If you had to ask me what the biggest source of frustration with my paladin is, I would quickly reply with the inconsistencies of how aggro plays out.

That's not to say that single-target, Patchwerk-like aggro is an issue. Vengeance as-is means that tanks really aren't going to lose threat if they have a lead and they're being punched in the face. Rather, where the look and feel of the system breaks down is on the periphery, and in particular when new adds appear as the clock ticks on those crucial few seconds between spawning and gnawing of the closest healer.

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Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

The coming tank squish?

When Wrath launched in 2008, the last thing I ever expected to see was a decline in the number of druid tanks. We'd just come off a successful expansion of not being Innervate bots, and I thought we'd capitalize on a new set of talents and skills in Wrath to hold our own against the brand-new death knight. Not so: The population of feral (now guardian) druids went into freefall and has never really recovered, and at the time, protection paladins took a hit too.

My best guess remains that the popularity of the death knight and the protection warrior in early Wrath pushed a lot of druids and paladins out of tanking. We had more role options than they did, so respeccing to melee, heals, or ranged DPS was a better option than getting yourself or others benched. There were other things going on that probably didn't help much, but at the end of the day it was a numbers game that the bear and paladin simply lost. It was a vivid lesson that design decisions that don't necessarily have much to do with your class or role can wind up having a serious impact on them anyway.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Tanking mechanics that aren't taunt on X stacks

Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has been putting his new Twitter account to good use, keeping players informed of design intent, limits, ideas and more. One recent tweet particularly caught my eye, related as it is to my now-ex main, and a role I miss terribly.

The story behind this is that the taunt at X stacks model, that was so prevalent in Dragon Soul, in Normal Mode difficulty and some heroics, was the thing that made me switch from tank to healer. I even wrote about it, to express my frustration. Commenters at the time thought it was an attempt by Blizzard to make tanking more accessible, and to increase the tanking population. But, for me at least, easy-mode tanking drove me away.

And the "taunt on X stacks" model has far from disappeared as we've moved through Mists. While there have been fights like Will of the Emperor that really demanded a lot from tanks, many others didn't. Stone Guard, while it was another taunt-swap, at least required some more engagement. But there's still far too much of the taunting on X stacks. Writing the Bosses in 5 Seconds guides, I just have to figure out which debuff, and how many stacks for many of the bosses.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Clarifications on Cross-Realm raiding and Warlords' Group Finder

Community Manager Lore has released some additional clarifications on the differences between the cross-realm functionality being added to the Raid Browser in patch 5.4.2, and the new Group Finder being introduced with the new expansion in patch 6.0. These two features are entirely different things -- the Group Finder is an all new feature being built from scratch. This new Group Finder will allow players to find and create groups for any content at any level.

The cross-realm functionality in 5.4.2, however, is just that -- cross-realm functionality. Currently, the Raid Browser only allows players to see other players from their own realm. In patch 5.4.2, players will be able to see cross-realm players as well -- something that is similar to what the popular addon oQueue already accomplishes via the BattleTag system. Follow after the break for the full post from Lore.

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Filed under: News items, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

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