Today I am Going to Fly

Some men are born posthumously. ~Nietzsche

Chill of the Throne

Posted by penuruloki on October 30, 2009

So for all the talk about avoiding another Sunwell Radiance style debuff in Wrath, Blizzard just announce that Icecrown Citidel will have one. For the most part, I’m glad it will. I spend most of my time healing, and nothing irritates me more than having bosses kill tanks in 2 hits. Nothing like looking back at the logs and seeing a tank go from 100% health to dead in 1.5 seconds. I also don’t like spamming my biggest heal all the time, even if my Paladin healers are among the best prepared to do so. Most of us understood, long before the Dev conceded the point, that the problem lies with high avoidance. Tanks are supposed to take damage, and we’re supposed to heal it. The more often the boss misses, the more damage he needs to do when he does land a hit. That’s fine with a sufficient heath buffer, but health pools haven’t scaled nearly as much as damage has in Wrath, so the buffer for the big hits is gone. So either they needed to buff tank health tremendously (and risk a pvp imbalance that some of could care less about), or they needed to nerf avoidance and have fewer, smaller hits. They chose the nerf. If that makes for more predictable, more managable damage, I’m all for it. There may be some balance issues between classes, as I’ve noticed my Paladin’s avoidance scaling better than my Druid’s (currently the Paladin leads by ~10% with slightly worse gear). The Druid should benefit from a slight armor advantage to offset this, but I’m not sure he does anymore with all the nerfs that have come down the line.

While it’s evidence of poor planning, it does foreshadow the future of tanking after Wrath in Cataclysm. A few days ago they began to speculate on the Cataclysm tanking changes over at World of Raids. Something I missed is that removing defense from gear also removes avoidance. I should have realized that sooner, since I’m in the habit of adding the ~5% miss boost my Paladin gets from defense that my Druid does not when comparing stats. Ghostcrawler has also been talking about adding expertise to bosses, so that your avoidance scales downward as you go to higher grade raids (i.e. the additional avoidance you get each tier is offset by increased boss expertise). That means that tanks will be treading water on avoidance, scrambling each tier just to get upgraded avoidance … so they can get hit just as much as before. That would let Blizzard smooth out the damage spikes though, without resorting to a last minute debuff that wipes out a good chunk all at once. It would also restore the relevance of gear to the game (but more about that in a later post).

A lot of the Mastery information discussed in the article can only be speculation at this point, but it does make sense to replace non-scaling stats (+def rating, +hit rating) with a stat that doesn’t cap and can scale with gear (Mastery). Until we actually get to see Mastery in action though, I don’t think there’s much that can be said about it.

Lastly they mentioned the block changes. Changing block from a value to a percentage is something I have mixed feelings about. They had a choice here. The current system is broken because the tanks that block have a flat damage reduction from it, while those that don’t get a scaling damage reduction. There were two ways they could go to fix this. They could either give a flat damage reduction to all tanks in some form (and they did this for Druids with Savage Defense) or they could move block to a scaling damage reduction (as it looks like they will for Cataclysm). The benefit of the former option is that they gain more control over increases in damage reduction. If the bosses in the next raid hit for 2k more per hit, you can just add 1k to the tank’s block, and count on the healer to 1k more out of their gear. The math is a lot simpler. Apparently concern over trash mobs makes too much block too powerful, and Blizzard decided to go the other way and make it all scaling. So block will become the equivalent of an occasional armor boost. Non-blocking tanks (hopefully Druids too and not just DKs), will likely get a slight armor advantage that sits midway between the hit and block amounts.

Overall, the changes for 3.3 and on into Cataclysm might be a bit demoralizing for tanks that get to watch their stats drop and lose some of their power on packs of mobs out in the world, but it’s better for the healers, and good for the game at large.

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One Response to “Chill of the Throne”

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    Chill of the Throne « Today I am Going to Fly

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