Tanks for the memories, threat – the Threat Change, Part 2

If you missed the thrilling first installment – cue “under a rock” joke – the summary is as follows:

1) Ghostcrawler suddenly announces that Blizzard are effectively removing threat as a mechanic.

2) A massive threat buff for all tanks is hotfixed in the same day.

3) People had interesting, well-thought-out opinions. (A lot of other people had less well-thought-out opinions too, but we didn’t feature those).

And this one’s just kept on rolling in a manner that I haven’t seen since – well, OK, since Blizzard’s last major announcement about 3 weeks ago. Nonetheless, the “Threat gone – what now?” discussion has kept rolling these past few days. Here’s the next installment!

Several people have stood up and given their reasons why they don’t like the change:

  • Lono of Screaming Monkeys feels that tanking has been gutted: “Being able to juggle threat and survivability while fighting a 10 meters high ogre despite the stupidity of my fellow pug members is something I take a lot of pride in. This is what I love about tanking, the challenge, having to do it all at once, knowing that if I mess up its the entire raid that falls and succeeding despite that.”
  • Klepsacovic of Troll Racials are Overpowered simply prefers threat to survival: “I much prefer threat management. Nail a rotation. Keep track of all the mobs. Know where they will come from and where they might go. For me, that is playing. It isn’t decision-making, at least not on a high level, but a learned activity, something that is not perfectly identical every time, but of a known theme. “

Meanwhile, other bloggers are eloquently defending the changes:

  • Big Bear Butt thinks that tanking has totally changed 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.”
  • Zinn at Jinxed Thoughts feels that this change stops tanks’ job being taken from them: “If I join a group and everyone in the group has aggro but me, for any reason, it makes me rather obsolete. Imagine if you somehow could keep the healer from healing or the dpsers from dpsing?”

And finally, Andrew at Eye of the Storm has been testing the tank changes out in practise: “Previously I felt like Tanking was like herding cats. You had little to no ability to control where the mobs were going, and your own team’s dysfunction was a major driver in the frustration.This change has made the threat issues on packs much better, and the threat issues I saw in single target basically resolved.”

Have you tried out the tank changes? Do you think they’re a major alteration for the better or the worse?

All quotes taken directly from their respective articles

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No threat, tanks, we’re …

If you heard a massive screeching sound last night, that was the sound of the WoW juggernaut being forced into another incredibly sharp turn, threatening to topple over, with Ghostcrawler leaning on the wheel shouting “Stay on target! Stay on target!”. Or something similar.

Yep, it’s been announced that threat is effectively being phased out as a mechanic in WoW. In a completely unprecedented move, Blizzard have announced this was happening, then promptly hotfixed it into the servers – so as of now, tank threat has approximately doubled.

The blogosphere, needless to say, had some reactions:

  • Cynwise has three “crackpot theories” – which aren’t that crackpot at all – as to why this change came as a sudden hotfix: “Blizzard’s PR department keeps tabs on the industry, and there was an EA press conference today. Some pretty substantial stuff got announced – more SW:TOR demos, ME3 trailers, a new MMO, FIFA 2012, lots of stuff. Blizzard had two things in the can to keep WoW players focused on WoW today – RealID cross-server grouping to remain free, and massive tanking changes. Guess what the WoW community is talking about today?”

  • Tobold thinks this is a case of distributing responsibility more evenly: “If a large enough number of players would have actually liked to shoulder a higher responsibility, they had 7 years to express that by taking on one of the roles that tended to get all the blame in a group, tank or healer.”

  • Looking for More is unequivocally in favour of the changes: “Look, any hardcore raid tank can tell you the real measure of a tank is doing the fight mechanics and using their mitigation right. Threat is BASIC. Nerfing threat does not nerf the really hard parts of tanking.”

  • Spinks is somewhat confused at some of the statements Ghostcrawler has made: “several of the ranged dps classes have aggro dumps, as well as two of the melee. If it’s bad for one class to have to use that ability, why is it OK for the others?”

  • And Azeroth Hit Me has some ideas for how tanks could work now threat is no longer an issue: “Instead of just moving the boss/adds out of bad, perhaps there is a bonus for moving them into certain zones, like air strike targets, or runes they have to be moved onto in a certain order, but the runes position are random and change each battle.”

What do you think? Do you love the changes? Do you think there are Cunning Reasons behind the hotfix? Or are you one of the (very rare, as far as I can tell) people who aren’t so thrilled?

All quotes taken directly from their respective posts.

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The Spread Of Bad Habits In Low Level Dungeons

Anyone ventured into an instance recently? C’mon, hands up. Specifically low level ones. Big Bear Butt’s got a post today about his recent experiences in a low level instance – well, I say experience, but it doesn’t sound like he gained much in the way of XP while he was there.

Most of his post is an entertaining tale of what happened in the dungeon. He says he was levelling a new druid and felt there came a time when he should try tanking a low level dungeon. Risky business, I know. But BBB explains that he had all the old bear-tank tricks up his sleeve to compensate for the lack of any bear AoE abilities at low level. Wasn’t enough: apparently his problem turned out to be the DPS.

The DPS, two Hunters and a Warrior, actually attacked while I was still running up. I hadn’t even gotten close enough to face pull and boom!

So mobs are on the three DPS and their pets, but not ALL the mobs of the group. I grabbed one of them, and started trying to get the rest, and the healer panicked, exacerbating the problem by frantically casting heals to try and keep all the DPS alive… bringing the remainder of the mobs down on her head.

He goes on to speculate how the tanking classes are balanced at the moment, saying that at the same low level warriors would have solid AoE threat abilities but bears have nothing. He’s hurting a bit over that and I don’t blame him, though I’m not sure I agree with BBB’s conclusion that other tanking classes with their fancy AoE abilities ‘train’ DPS to let all nitwibble break loose within miliseconds.

What do you think – are tanking classes unbalanced right from the offset, and are DPSers spoilt and allowed to switch their brains off by AoE-tastic tanks?

_Quote taken directly from BBB’s post

You can find Big Bear Butt’s homepage here_

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Threat – Whose Responsibility Is It?

Zellvirae has a stonkingly well written piece about threat and role mechanics over at the Dead Good Tanking Guide. I couldn’t put this post down.And it’s extremely relevant to WoW today – have you noticed how unbalanced the various role responsibilities like threat and mitigation are?

That’s exactly what Zellvirae’s saying. He’s taking a long, hard look at what responsibilities tanks, healers and DPS have in group content in Cataclysm, and what we’re meant to enjoy doing. And he’s asking – why is it different for some roles to others? Why is something put into the game for one role because it’s enjoyable, but not for other roles?

What strikes me as odd is the fact that healers are now being asked to develop a more strategic view of their gameplay (the right spell at the right time) with regard to finite mana pools, while damage dealers are simply looking for their best button … What compounds this foggy thinking is the assertion that healers find picking the right spell at the right time fun, as opposed to just their best spell.

He’s also looking at how the responsibilitise have been moved around between tanks, DPS and healers as WoW’s progressed. He gives frequent comparisons between how things were in TBC to how they were in Wrath, and now look to be going forward into Cataclysm. And he says the balance is wrong: tanks and healers have a whole lot more plates to spin compared to DPS who are just meant to well, DPS. Back in the day where good DPS watched their threat…ahem, anyway.

Zellvirae rounds it up with some assurances he doesn’t see the game as broken but this needs fixing, and here are some potential ideas. Absolutely brilliant piece, somewhat out of leftfield given this topic doesn’t come up outside of theorycrafting forums.

What do you think – do tanks and healers have too much responsibility in comparison to DPS (were things better back in the day) or does Cata’s role balance work nicely?

_Quote taken directly from Zellvirae’s post

You can find Zellvirae’s Dead Good Tanking Guide homepage here_

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Ideas For Getting Personally Involved With Plot

Klepsacovic’s pointing out that the current ideas of how we progress just don’t work. Gear? Fleeting. And story – well, there’s a problem. Our characters don’t actually influence the game’s story at all because, Klep says, we’re pawns.

And pawns who never get anything done because the game’s plot has to be there for everyone – and so no-one permanently influences the story.

Happily Klep’s got an idea on how to change this quandary. It’s quite simple but would seriously affect how we felt about NPCs to the extent our ingame priorities could change every five minutes. Kelp thinks NPCs should be intelligent. Think for themselves and actually affect us players directly and individually. So we’d really have a reason to hate the boss who’s messing up our character’s ability to get on with hero’ing.

Maybe I’m out on a leisurely daily run around Quel’Danas when all of a sudden a bunch of abominations wander in and flatten everything, including me and the naga who theoretically drop chest keys, so dammit, now I have to wait for respawns because the beach just got cleared out. After this I personally have quite a bit of motivation to go to Northrend and kill Arthas.

With things like this happening to everyone randomly, Klep reasons we’re all going to want to deal with the threat to make our own lives in game easier. The beauty of his idea is that once someone, say, kills Arthas – Arthas’ dead. But it’s not the end of the story, because other NPCs think to themselves “I could be a better evil mastermind, I’ll mess up that player’s day for starters.” It’s a flowing, evolving story with more bosses and reason to hate them. It’s probably quite difficult to achieve for developers, but the immersion factor would go through the roof.

Take a read of Klep’s post for the details I’ve missed – then tell us or him what you think. Do you want personal raesons to hate bosses or is shiny loot and being able to kill bosses many times over enough?

_Quote taken directly from Klep’s post

You can find Troll Racials Are Overpowered’s homepage here_

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Achtung Panzercow: Solution To Tanks’ AoE Threat Woes

I’ve been hearing that tanks are having a problem with AoE threat. Well, Linedan at Achtung Panzercow has a theory to help flailing tanks in dungeons. It’s mostly tailored for warriors but it may be useful for other classes, especially if you have a similar talent to the warrior one he’s citing. Which I don’t know off the top of my head, as I’m a willowy healer rather than a dedicated meatshield, levelling prot warrior aside. Or something.

Now if you’ve tanked some heroics the past two weeks, you know that your AOE threat is down a bit, or maybe more than a bit depending on your class.  … Add in the huge DPS increases that some classes got (yes, mages, you can stop cackling gleefully now), and the fact that people still cannot grasp the concept of “wait two seconds to let the tank get agro,” and I’ll bet you’ve been having a moderately frustrating time running your heroics.

Linedan’s idea is short and sweet. While it’s been  around as a tactic used on and off by tanks for a while, it’s not been suggested as a panacea for the tank ailment that is 4.0. He’s anticipated tanks reading it and shrinking back in horror at the idea, and goes on to reassure that it won’t destroy your stats. Well, mostly.

He rounds off with telling us about a Heroic he ran to test his theory, and says it went incredibly smoothly. He even thinks it could be used in lower tier raids, so long as you check your healers aren’t going to have a heart attack. So what’s the magic idea? Go read his post!

What do you think – are there ways round the AoE threat problem, or is this AoE threat problem all a puff of hot air?

_Quote taken directly from Linedan’s post

You can find Achtung Panzercow’s homepage here._

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