Ask the Devs 9 – Tanking

Community
Welcome to the answers thread for our World of Warcraft "Ask the Devs" global Q&A. These answers are in response to the round #9 questions on Tanking, which can be seen here: http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2151756590

You can check out the Ask the Devs #10 Questions thread here: http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2151592611

Q: Vengeance is a great tool to help raid tanks hold aggro over DPS, but in 5-man heroics it doesn't stack high enough to keep up with the threat generated by overgeared DPS burst damage. Are there any plans to address this? Are there any plans to help warriors put out more initial threat before Vengeance has been ramped up? Nikelsndimes (NA), Cémanana (EU-FR), Arthur (TW), Mancake (NA), Migol (NA)

    A: We think Vengeance works well overall. It provides sufficient threat without causing the tank to do more DPS than the dedicated DPS characters, and doesn’t let the tank just neglect abilities that cause threat. A full stack of Vengeance probably provides too much threat, but we didn’t think it was necessary to nerf that mid-expansion. Overall, we don’t want tanks to have 100% guaranteed threat on a pull, so we don’t want to buff that aspect of Vengeance, but we also don’t want DPS specs to constantly have to throttle the DPS they can deliver midway through a fight, so we have to strike a balance.

    Note: There are fights with tank swaps or incoming adds, or similar mechanics, when threat may matter mid-fight. This is intended – encounter design varies widely.


Q: Have you considered normalizing initial Rage for feral druid tanks? For example, when a warrior uses Charge, it generates 15 points of Rage, which lets them use another aggro generating ability quickly, something that Feral druids tend to be a bit short on. Why in Cataclysm was the bear bonus health pool was reduced, as well? Their survivability always depended on the amount of health since they don’t have parry or shield block. Do you have any plans to improve bear tanking in the future? At the moment, it’s considered to be the weakest tank. Have you considered giving druid tanks an additional tool to pull casters at range? It’s the only tank class that doesn’t have a talent or spell to help in those situations. Pødêrøsø (LA), Вирко (EU-RU), Амелья (EU-RU), Condenacion (EU-ES), Whitewnd (KR)

    A: Bears are getting a significant mitigation buff in 4.2 and we’re retuning their damage such that it’s a little easier to hold aggro at low gear levels, and a little harder at higher gear levels. While we definitely don’t expect the community to ever agree on anything, we’ve seen little evidence of a widespread concurrence that druids are “the weakest tank.” There are plenty of druid tanks out there, handling everything from Grim Batol to Sinestra. Tank balance overall is in a really good place. Players may focus on potential problems that could arise in the future but we also have ample time to address those problems should they occur. Gone are the days when we would just release a class into the wild and refuse to touch it again until the next expansion.


Q: Do you plan to bring other tanks to the same level as Death Knights who have a lot of advantages over other tanking classes (easier to heal, quite a number of various safe abilities, etc.)? - Меланори (EU-RU)

    A: Death knights are a somewhat different style of tank compared to the others. They take significantly more damage than other tanks, but then heal/shield that extra damage back instead (and sometimes more). Due to taking more damage, and that damage coming in spikes, they’re also the most likely to die to unexpected burst (such as when they don’t have runes up to Death Strike, have no cooldowns available, and fail to dodge or parry a few attacks in a row. They also have more personal impact on their own survivability and mitigation than any other tank, by tying much of their performance to Death Strike (and especially optimally timing their Death Strikes). So in the hands of a really skilled player, they can do some amazing things, but not usually much better than the other tanks. We’d actually like to head more in that direction with the other tanks (making them tie more of their defensive performance to their ability usage), in the future.


Q: Compared to DKs, Paladins are weaker when facing mass magic attacks. A Paladin has no choice but to stack stamina in this situation. Is there any change coming to this for Paladins? 新垣綾瀨 (TW)

    A: We don’t balance tanks around their sustained magic damage reduction, since we don’t typically assault tanks with continuous magic damage. We do frequently intersperse physical damage with a burst of magic damage, usually timed around the cooldowns that all tanks have available, and find that that is balanced. If we ever did a fight like Hydross again where there is almost no physical damage, we’d have to explore some other options.


Q: Is there any chance that we can see damage reduction numbers being used in the statistic UI, just like shield absorb amount of Discipline priest? 首領先生 (TW)

    A: The default UI should show the damage reduction from armor against a creature of equal level. We’ll look into also showing the damage reduction against a +1, +2, +3/boss-level mob, like we do for hit or expertise. Beyond that, there is typically passive damage reduction from talents/stance/presence/etc., which should be relatively easy to combine with armor to find your damage reduction.


Q: Have you ever considered adjusting DPS HP? Seems that while their large pools of health help them on "accidental" situations, a fair portion of the time they can take aggro and tank adds without consequence. Jainel (LA)

    A: We’re generally happy with how well DPS are able to tank (which is to say, not very well). We like that they can take a hit or two (depending upon content) before dying, and that the penalty for that happening is a huge drain on healer mana.


Q: As far as I remember, about five tanks were required in a 25-man group in Burning Crusade. However, the number of tanks in raids has been decreased to one or two since WotLK. I think this is one of the reasons heroic parties suffer from lack of tanks. What if raids have required more tanks? 명장한니발 (KR)

    A: We don’t actually recall many four+ tank fights in Burning Crusade, and that includes fights like High King Maulgar where non-tanks could perform the tanking role. While we do find some elegance in a design where a 5-player group scales perfectly up to a 10 and 25-player group, that introduces some problems as well. It could potentially extend the tank shortage we see in 5-player dungeons up to raids (to be fair, it’s also possible needing more tanks for raiding would create more tanks for dungeons). A larger problem is that we just don’t want to over-constrain encounter design to always require 4 or 5 tanks. Sometimes it’s nice to have a fight that’s just a single bruiser without requiring a tank swap or meteor-style cleave. Nearly every raid fight in Cataclysm asks for two tank-specced characters, with a few requiring one or three. That’s likely the model we will continue to use. If we wanted to do a fight with many tanks, we’d likely let some of the DPS specs step in.


Q:Are there any plans to update the leg armor in 4.2 now that the plate tanks receive no dodge from agility? Maybe introduce a new leg armor patch that adds str/stamina, or a mastery/stamina? Dariok (NA), Fredik (EU-ES)

    A: We did. As you’ve probably seen by now, it’s called Drakehide Leg Armor, and it provides Stamina and dodge rating.


Q: Can you make it so that taunt doesn't miss, just like you did for interrupt abilities? Doesn't feel as though it would be a complete upset to overall balance. Madmartygan (LA)

    A: Yes, absolutely! And in fact we did it back in patch 3.9. Tank classes’ taunts have been unable to miss since then. We recognize that tanks will nearly always choose mitigation stats over threat stats and it’s particularly frustrating to have to reach a hit cap just to make sure taunts or interrupts don’t miss, which is why we no longer require that.


Q: Are there any plans to simplify the impossible situation for tanks (8% hit rating, 26 Expertise but all defensive stats at max at the same time) somehow, either through stats on gear or through changes to the game mechanics? Have you considered giving tools to tanks to allow easier capping of hit and expertise to help with threat management? Sunyara (EU-DE), Gilbey (EU-ES)

    A: We don’t currently balance around the assumption that tanks cap hit or expertise. We’re definitely looking at ways to make reliably hitting more attractive to tanks in the future, though. Currently, missing is just a compound to the issue discussed in Question #1. Getting tanks to care about threat stats, not for the threat benefit (but for a mitigation benefit), is one potential direction. For example, DKs want to make sure their Death Strikes hit because of the mitigation benefit. Druids care about crit because of Savage Defense. We speculated at one point that we could make Shield Block (and now Holy Shield) require a successful hit to do their jobs. We’re not sure we will go that direction, but it’s one idea. We would of course compensate tanks for any potential loss of predictable mitigation.


Q: At the moment, tanks need to use addons to see threat levels and clearly see which mobs they have aggro with. With all the recent changes and updates being made to the UI, are there any plans to make seeing threat levels and aggro easier and clearer? Castan (EU-EN)

    A: We’d definitely like to build threat into the UI more, especially for tanks and for multiple targets. We try to keep our default UI relatively unobtrusive so that players can see the actual battlefield, but we realize this design goal can come into conflict with players’ need or desire to have copious amounts of information displayed. Finding the right compromise is something we wrestle with constantly and one reason why our UI changes tend to come more slowly than, say, class design changes.


Q: Protection Paladin is not only the most desired tank because survival abilities for groups and various utilities, but players also generally consider Paladins as an indispensable Class in raids. I know all tanking Classes are being equalized constantly, but survival abilities of Protection Paladins give huge advantages compared to other tanking Classes. Can we expect that other Tanking classes will see more survival abilities for groups in terms of equity? 디아소르테 (KR)

    A: Like druids, paladins have the enormous benefit of being able to fill all three roles in a group. Paladins also retain a wide variety of buff and utility abilities from vanilla when they (and shaman) were more of a support class that was intended to have low individual throughput but made other classes in the group shine. We have been slowly moving away from that design in our effort to avoid class stacking and support the “bring the player, not the class” philosophy, but it’s hard to move quickly on changes like this. (As one small example, we briefly removed Lay on Hands during Cataclysm development, and there was an outcry even from within the team.) Because they can fill many roles and still provide a lot of utility, it’s not surprising that you see a lot of druids and paladins in your raid groups. We’ve tried very hard to not make any particular tank class mandatory, and we feel we’ve been pretty successful in Cataclysm. So far we haven’t seen an encounter like Sartharion or Anub’arak where a certain tank class was perceived, probably accurately, as necessary for progression.

    Protection paladins do bring a lot of utility, but it is quite difficult to make a table comparing a paladin’s Divine Guardian to a Protection warrior’s mobility or a bear druid’s ability to cast Innervate or even Rebirth during lulls in an encounter. They are fundamentally different abilities that have greater or less utility depending on the encounter and your individual raid comp. We don’t want to just hand out a Divine Guardian equivalent to every tank class, just like we don’t think warriors or paladins need the ability to battle rez. It’s a fine line to walk. Homogenization really rankles some players (as it should), but being unable to tank (or heal, or DPS) an encounter because of lack of tools is equally unacceptable to many players.


Q: Is there any plan to add a new tank class in the future? I think spell breaker in the Warcraft III is an awesome choice for that! 聖淇淋 (TW)

    A: We’ll add new classes when the time is right. We don’t see WoW as a game that can support unlimited different class types (and the different talent specs almost behave as full classes these days!), so we want to be judicious about when we add classes. One of the challenges with tanks (and other roles) especially, is this: on the one hand, there is a core set of abilities that any tank needs in order to perform their job, especially in a 5-player dungeon where you can’t rely on other players in the same role to help cover your deficiencies. On the other hand, having so many similar abilities (e.g. a taunt, a short cooldown, an efficient heal) necessitates a certain amount of homogeneity among those classes. But what players (and designers!) really want in a new class is something exciting that no one has seen before. Adding another class that tanked just like a warrior wouldn’t add much to the game – it wouldn’t drive many new tanks or encourage a veteran tank to try a different tanking class. On the other hand, adding the death knight, who tanks relatively differently (though some players might argue still not differently enough) was an enormous challenge and the kind of thing we continue to tweak over time.


Q: What are your intentions with each tank's mastery and mastery in general?Migol (NA)

    A: Mastery is intended to be a defensive stat for tanks. We want it to be at least in the same ballpark of value per rating as avoidance. To go into a bit more depth on each tank:

    Death Knights: We’re pretty happy with how mastery has turned out. It does have the oddity that it scales down in value with your mitigation, but also up in value with your health. But it does indeed scale up pretty smoothly in value, and doesn’t have any unintuitive breakpoints or anything, so we’re happy with it.

    Druids: We’re pretty happy with how mastery has turned out. It scales well, doesn’t have any unintuitive or unfortunate interactions with other stats, and provides solid performance value.

    Paladins: Mastery is an attractive stat for paladins, but has some design problems. It scales very well, but due to the nature of our combat tables (and being able to “fill them up”), you can get “block capped,” which is a massive performance benefit. Worse, Protection mastery scales with itself, since there are no diminishing returns on block chance, and the amount of rating you need to block cap goes down as your dodge and parry improve, allowing you to put even more of your stats into dodge or parry. This sort of feedback loop is something we always try to stay away from, so we plan to change this in the future. We tried several alternatives for 4.2, but weren’t happy with the results. Any change which made mastery weaker (such as subjecting block to diminishing returns or changing what it does) would have required mitigation compensation for paladins elsewhere (with all the design risks inherent in making such changes), as well as asking many players to extensively re-gem or re-forge. We’ll ask players to do that when the need is great, but we didn’t think this problem crossed that line. The major risks are that Protection paladins become too powerful or too weak or that gear with mastery will at some point be rejected once characters are over the cap. We don’t think any of those problems will manifest themselves in the 4.2 content.

    Warriors: Warriors’ mastery is in a similar boat as paladins’, except that it still provides a notable benefit past the cap and scales much slower, making it much more difficult to “block cap.” That delays, but doesn’t remove the problem.


Q: Will we see a tanking Legendary sometime soon?: – Pedoso (NA)

    A: The tanking community both loves and hates when this question comes up, but it received a lot of votes, so we’ll answer it. The answer is not soon, but probably eventually. The problem with tanking legendaries, of course, is that the shield-users and non-shield-users tank with different weapons. That’s not a deal breaker, but it is a consideration. We could allow the legendary to be transformed from a one-hander to two-hander or we could just design an item for a more narrow audience (such as a shield). The 4.2 legendary has fairly wide appeal, and the 4.3 legendary will have much more narrow appeal. We don’t want to fall into the trap of making legendaries too formulaic.


Q: Are there any plans to teach players in-game how to tank when they are at an early stage, or at least at some point in the leveling process?: – Romner (EU-EN)

    A: A system to teach players how we intend for them to perform their roles is something we realize we’re lacking. We have some pretty cool plans to help solve this problem in the future, but we’re not quite ready to make any announcements, and Ask the Devs just wouldn’t be the appropriate venue anyway.
Edited by Nidrorian on 09/06/2011 17:43 BST
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85 Troll Warrior
12515
Yay, they're there!
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6 Human Mage
0
Edit the title and write 'Answers' mr. Blue! Oh, and thanks for getting the answers over here. :)
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85 Troll Shaman
5670
I like this. I like it alot.
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87 Orc Death Knight
10260
So many great questions unanswered.. and so many with so little research behind them. "Are you going to add any new tanking legs?" "We already have"... NOOOO!
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90 Night Elf Rogue
9025


Q: Can you make it so that taunt doesn't miss, just like you did for interrupt abilities? Doesn't feel as though it would be a complete upset to overall balance. – Madmartygan (LA)


A: Yes, absolutely! And in fact we did it back in patch 3.9. Tank classes’ taunts have been unable to miss since then. We recognize that tanks will nearly always choose mitigation stats over threat stats and it’s particularly frustrating to have to reach a hit cap just to make sure taunts or interrupts don’t miss, which is why we no longer require that.


Wow.

Are people that bloody stupid that this was a highly rated answer?

A request to the devs.

If there is a question asking about something that already exists, could you possibly not answer it? It's annoying when there are other questions that are skipped because people don't know how to use google or read patch notes. I mean, fair enough on the armour kit front, that's something you'd need to go to the PTR for (unless I've missed something), but something that's been in the game for over half a year? seriously?

/prepares to be told that it was an added extra because it was so easy to answer, and so didn't take up another question's space.

Q: Is there any plan to add a new tank class in the future? I think spell breaker in the Warcraft III is an awesome choice for that! – 聖淇淋 (TW)


Cheeky. I like this guy.
Edited by Maievs on 08/06/2011 18:47 BST
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85 Night Elf Rogue
10770
Did you really list feral innervate as a feral tank raid utility? Really? Do the devs play the game?
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That felt like it was written by a politician; leaving questions unanswered while at the same time praising his own accomplishments =\

And why weren't the questions that were left unanswered edited out? I would be pretty pissed if my question got picked to be served to the devs, only to have it ignored.
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90 Night Elf Druid
12180
Rage is for druids still a problem, it wasn't even answered. It seems like sidestepping all the answers is the common tactic at these Ask the Devs series. What a waste of time.

- Feral innervate gives about 5k mana, listing this as a raid utility shows how much the devs understand their classes.
- Druids have real problems with rage, while warrior rage mechanics were buffed in the transition process to cataclysm, druid rage gain mechanics didn't change.
- You really think shield tanks and non shield tanks are on the same level? LOL
- Mastery is good for all? LOL

Nevermind, i'm done with it, i don't want to support a company which is completely disconnected with its customers.

Call me when you have real honest answers instead of this !%@!ty politician answers which don't say anyhting.

I'm out. Cancelled sub.

See: http://img802.imageshack.us/img802/2017/cancel.jpg
Edited by Adre on 08/06/2011 20:42 BST
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85 Tauren Druid
13080
When talking about different tanking perks, like how a paladin can reduce the damage on 9 or 24 people by 20%, you can't list a 5k mana innervate which the bear have to shapeshift out of bear form to cast. You just can't.
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90 Night Elf Druid
12180
08/06/2011 21:17Posted by Optimas
When talking about different tanking perks, like how a paladin can reduce the damage on 9 or 24 people by 20%, you can't list a 5k mana innervate which the bear have to shapeshift out of bear form to cast. You just can't.


Apparently blizzard can -.-
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90 Night Elf Druid
8730
Eh? This has not the same answers as the one on the us site. Missing the answers about mastery.

Thus the following seems to be missing:



Q: What are your intentions with each tank's mastery and mastery in general? – Migol (NA)

A: Mastery is intended to be a defensive stat for tanks. We want it to be at least in the same ballpark of value per rating as avoidance. To go into a bit more depth on each tank:

Death Knights: We’re pretty happy with how mastery has turned out. It does have the oddity that it scales down in value with your mitigation, but also up in value with your health. But it does indeed scale up pretty smoothly in value, and doesn’t have any unintuitive breakpoints or anything, so we’re happy with it.

Druids: We’re pretty happy with how mastery has turned out. It scales well, doesn’t have any unintuitive or unfortunate interactions with other stats, and provides solid performance value.

Paladins: Mastery is an attractive stat for paladins, but has some design problems. It scales very well, but due to the nature of our combat tables (and being able to “fill them up”), you can get “block capped,” which is a massive performance benefit. Worse, Protection mastery scales with itself, since there are no diminishing returns on block chance, and the amount of rating you need to block cap goes down as your dodge and parry improve, allowing you to put even more of your stats into dodge or parry. This sort of feedback loop is something we always try to stay away from, so we plan to change this in the future. We tried several alternatives for 4.2, but weren’t happy with the results. Any change which made mastery weaker (such as subjecting block to diminishing returns or changing what it does) would have required mitigation compensation for paladins elsewhere (with all the design risks inherent in making such changes), as well as asking many players to extensively re-gem or re-forge. We’ll ask players to do that when the need is great, but we didn’t think this problem crossed that line. The major risks are that Protection paladins become too powerful or too weak or that gear with mastery will at some point be rejected once characters are over the cap. We don’t think any of those problems will manifest themselves in the 4.2 content.

Warriors: Warriors’ mastery is in a similar boat as paladins’, except that it still provides a notable benefit past the cap and scales much slower, making it much more difficult to “block cap.” That delays, but doesn’t remove the problem.



On which I wanted to add: Druid mastery, it scales well? Really? And it has no unintuitive interactions? With it's 50% chance on crit and thus it's interaction with hit and expertise. Really?
Edited by Serika on 08/06/2011 21:58 BST
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90 Night Elf Druid
0
How do you think of the ressource requirement for interrupt in PvE encounters?

Tanks already have a lot of things to take care of during an encounter, e.g. positioning the boss, watching out the adds, using abilities to generate as much threat as possible while rolling cooldowns to take as little damage as he can.

under this kind of situation, the ressource requirement for interrupt is just not fun. while tanks are using their ressource (rage, runic power, mana) on their threat abilities, they HAVE to hold and reserve them for interrupting the boss' ability every 10 seconds or so.

I know there is talent to remove the ressource requirement for interrupt. but imo, those are not fun talents you promise in cata.
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85 Tauren Druid
0
Q: Vengeance is a great tool to help raid tanks hold aggro over DPS, but in 5-man heroics it doesn't stack high enough to keep up with the threat generated by overgeared DPS burst damage. Are there any plans to address this? Are there any plans to help warriors put out more initial threat before Vengeance has been ramped up? – Nikelsndimes (NA), Cémanana (EU-FR), Arthur (TW), Mancake (NA), Migol (NA)

A: We think Vengeance works well overall. It provides sufficient threat without causing the tank to do more DPS than the dedicated DPS characters, and doesn’t let the tank just neglect abilities that cause threat. A full stack of Vengeance probably provides too much threat, but we didn’t think it was necessary to nerf that mid-expansion. Overall, we don’t want tanks to have 100% guaranteed threat on a pull, so we don’t want to buff that aspect of Vengeance, but we also don’t want DPS specs to constantly have to throttle the DPS they can deliver midway through a fight, so we have to strike a balance.

Note: There are fights with tank swaps or incoming adds, or similar mechanics, when threat may matter mid-fight. This is intended – encounter design varies widely.



that's nice. Now could you answer the question?
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87 Tauren Paladin
9810
I'm still laughing at the fact they listed Bear Innervate as a viable utility.

I do agree that they shouldn't just get Divine Guardian because homogenisation is bad, but damn, give them something.
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90 Dwarf Warrior
10955
Personally I don't see all tanks as being equal. My own experience is of pallies being just a wee bit OP, warriors pretty robust and druids a fair way behind. I don't have experience playing a DK but have had the hassle of healing them (they still seem to be the most brittle tanking class).

Of the four classes I reckon its the druid that is most in need of tlc. Personally I'd prefer a druid model that relies on them being the stamina based tank that has the health pool that soaks up the damage that warriors and pallies block. The utility described in the post doesn't really exist as to innervate or battle rez means shifting out of bear form into squishy form. It just isn't really practical when you're getting beat up!

Unlike bears, pallies can use all their powers in tank mode. The healing abilites of my paladin have saved a group over and over again. My warrior is jealous! Letting bears use some spells while in bear form might be the way forward - maybe instants like rejuvenate or else allow them to maintain their bear stats for a few seconds after shifting so they could shift, battle rez and shift back without losing their bonus armor and stamina.

Druids also need some help with their rage generation and AoE threat. Blitz and Blood & Thunder are great talents - I can charge a group of mobs, stunning 3 targets and getting the rage to get rend up , thunderclap and let off a shockwave. Druids need a similar way of getting a headstart on a fight and of getting aggro on a pack of trash. Even hunter tenacity pets have better AoE - if a hunter's bear can thunderstomp why not let a druid bear do the same.

Show bears a little affection and tanks really will be in a fair place.
Edited by Nibelung on 09/06/2011 01:04 BST
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85 Undead Warrior
1470
fail answers are fail...>.looks up a decent dps spec
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90 Human Paladin
13155
My tanking partner in raids is a warrior and we are happy with how we perform in relation to each other, i have the oh s**t button (LoH which gets used on others more than me) he has better mobility, i have a 20% raid damage reducer for 6 secs, he has a 20% raid wide health boost that lasts 10 seconds. warriors also have enraged regen, granted its not as powerful as LoH but its still a lifesaver (especially when used with last stand/rallying cry) and on a shorter cd.

Warriors and Paladins seem well balanced, his excellent mobility is just as useful as LoH and removing either from our raids would cause serious problems. We accept that our classes are different and work to what suits the raid best.
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85 Blood Elf Paladin
5210
I cannot for an instant believe that a question from a single region got more votes than the far more common collective questions from across all regions.

Q: Compared to DKs, Paladins are weaker when facing mass magic attacks. A Paladin has no choice but to stack stamina in this situation. Is there any change coming to this for Paladins? – 新垣綾瀨 (TW)


Telling me this got more votes than questions which were asked across all regions?
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