The Wednesday WTF.

OKAY SO IT’S THURSDAY.

Anyway.

The topic of this week: the death of tanking. For those of you that got into the beta this will be old news, but for people like me mucking about on the PTR… uh… okay, it’ll probably still be old news. So Blizzard nerfed threat generation hardcore. Actually what they really did was streamline threat modifiers and modify baseline threat generation, but so far it amounts to the same thing. Right now the difference between what a tank generates in threat vs. a non-tank is not very big at all. And since the other guys are doing things that, you know, hurt (or unhurt… their… enemies… whatever it is healers do), tanks get left in the dust. This means that on the PTR and I assume to some extent in beta dungeon groups are filled with people complaining about threat and then rage-quitting over it.

Do these people not remember anything before WotLK? I mean, really? What was the single most important mod for raiding in TBC? Okay, it was BW/DBM, but the second most important mod was Omen. A mod that does nothing but tell you how close to a messy death you are. That is to say nothing of vanilla raiding. If you don’t remember “WAIT UNTIL FIVE SUNDERS GUYS” chances are you either A) did not raid in vanilla, or B) are a labradoodle. And for much of this there were fears, gouges, blinds, etc all of which dropped aggro. Threat before WotLK was something that people had to consider, something that was a measure of a player’s skill, and I for one am happy for its return.

Tanking in WotLK is boring. Sure, you can blame tank burnout on the higher pressure to attend, as tanks are the most difficult to replace, but I know plenty of tanks that went through vanilla and TBC without so much as batting an eye, and are now questioning if they want to tank in the future. Threat is a non-issue, and for the majority of WotLK fights positioning is a non-issue (seriously I’ve tanked most of H ICC10 while disconnected); what else is there for tanks to do besides stand there and be giant masses of HP? You get to set the pacing of the pulls, and other than that have about as much skillful input as a hunter’s pet.

I too was initially tempted to jump on the ‘the sky is falling!’ bandwagon. I got into a dungeon with my pretty darn well geared warrior tank, and I couldn’t keep threat for a single pull. Not one. It was pretty frustrating. Further runs I was more successful as I got the hang of the new abilities and generally having to try, but it was still not 100%. When I took a moment to think about it though, some things occurred to me:

  • The problems tanks are having right now on the PTR and in beta are in AoE situations. Blizzard has stated innumerable times that Cata will not be an AoEfest.
  • This is the only expansion where DPS thinks it’s okay to hit a target the moment a tank runs in. Or even before the tank runs in. If they are now pulling aggro doing just that, this is not a problem with threat generation, this is a problem with DPS being stupid.
  • For the PTR in particular, things are not balanced for level 80. Remember that the new cap is 85, which is when you will have your full suite of abilities for tanking. Before then, threat is balanced around the assumption that you do not severely out-gear the content, as is currently the case. This exacerbates the aforementioned stupid DPS problem.
  • Blizzard is still tweaking numbers. The final product will likely have slightly better threat generation for tanks, which is all they need in my opinion. If you think they need a massive buff… see above.

Tanking is a headache right now, but that’s only because we’ve forgotten how WoW worked before WotLK. We’re also going to have to relearn how to conserve mana, not break CC, CC in the first place, and probably several additional things. I suspect we’ll look back on WotLK and shake our heads at how things are done now.

I suppose you can argue that the added difficulty makes the game less fun, but that’s an opinion, and one that Blizzard and a large number of their players do not share. More engaging, more dynamic, and more difficult is what we can expect all across the board come Cata. When the game puts a high requirement on the player, it doesn’t have to give so much weight to gear. Wouldn’t you rather be able to play with skillful players rather than geared players? Wouldn’t you appreciate it being readily apparent that you are a skilled player? Wouldn’t you rather your tank be a member of the raid, instead of that green bar that puts up sunder armor?

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