Friday, March 5, 2010

Blue Review: 03/05/10

The wife made a good point last night about the high volume of dev posts on the forums lately. If they keep feeding us blue posts, people are bound to develop delusions of entitlement about it. It would probably not be a terrible idea for GC and the crew to lay off their responses for a while, and let the community simmer a bit.

But, if they're going to post, I'm going to parse. Here's what I've been able to find from recent days that's relevant to the future of our ursine alter egos. (I'll include relevant bits of the OP for the sake of context)

Cataclysm: Druids and the Parry/Block Problem

Based on the just-released information, not being able to parry or block is going to be a huge handicap for raiding Druids in Cataclysm.

This isn't because it will inherently make us weaker; even with the changes to parry and block, it's probably possible to balance a theoretical Druid with only dodge with a theoretical plate tank with dodge, parry, and block.

The problem is itemization. Any item with parry, block, or both is likely to be very undesirable to Druid tanks, and will likely be a downgrade from items 1-2 tiers lower.

Why will this problem likely be worse than it is now?

  1. There will be 2 wasted stats which will be common on tank gear, instead of just one. (You don't see block on much tank gear currently).
  2. With our Stamina multipliers reduced (and EH probably less important), the increased Stamina on the higher-tier item will be less likely to make up for the avoidance/threat loss, as sometimes happens now.

Why is this a huge problem?

Bears will gear up more slowly than plate tanks, since they have fewer gear choices. This means that when a guild starts doing the hard content, the Bear will likely be weaker as it will be less geared.

What are some solutions?

  1. Allow Bears to parry and block. The argument that this breaks flavor is nonsensical; with low-level NPC bears able to parry, not being able to parry breaks flavor.
  2. Let Bears use block and parry rating on gear. These stats would be translated to stats we can use.
  3. Design Bears to not share tanking jewelry with plate tanks.

I disagree with a lot of the sentiments in this post. For starters, at least on my server, the Druid population outnumbers Hunters and Rogues combined. There are more opportunities for 10-person progression than ever before, and with the coming changes to guild design, we might just see an uptick in small raiding guilds, so I'm not sure that we'll be backbenched by the game design.

I don't know that I've ever seen leather items with block or parry on them. Besides, this post seems to forget the importance of damage negation resulting from Savage Defense on combined probability crits when using Swipe. Druids do more than dodge and absorb damage. Crit IS block for Bear tanks, it's just a lot harder to work combined probability crit strikes into our effective health calculations.

Let's see what GC has to say:

Ghostcrawler: If druids have lower avoidance (assuming you call the new parry and block avoidance), then they'll have higher armor and health to compensate. There is no reason druids must have block and parry to be competitive. They really haven't missed it much in WotLK.

I think the only real risk to druids from a design paradigm perspective is the risk of being a mana sponge. Druids were worried about that coming into this expansion, but as we've seen, it wasn't an issue. With mana mattering more, it could be, but high armor will still help with that.

The comment about leather was just that if leather provides as much health as plate, then the Bear multiplier doesn't need to be as high for druids still to have higher health than other tanks.

We can conclude the following points:
  1. Bears will continue to have higher health than other tanks as an element of their core class design.
  2. Bears will not be getting block or parry (with Savage Defense, who needs block anyway?)
  3. We could see armor and heath buffs if our avoidance is seen to suffer. This seems like a slight clawback from last year's nerfs.

@Cataclysm stat change preview

Parry - Parry no longer provides 100% avoidance and no longer speeds up attacks. Instead, when you parry an attack, it and the next attack will each hit for 50% damage (assuming they hit at all). In other words, Dodge is a chance to avoid 100% of the damage from one attack, Parry is a chance to avoid 50% of the damage from two attacks, and Block is a chance to avoid 30% of the damage from one attack.

Let's not forget that Dodge also feeds Rage to a Bear, indirectly giving us more ways to mitigate damage. Currently, I don't know how well our dodge chance is expected to scale with gear in Cataclysm, but if, as some people fear, we lose a little competitive edge on other tanks whose avoidance stats scale better than ours, it seems from the posts above (merely reiterated by GC in this topic thread) that Blizzard will buff our health and armor.

My concern is that this could pull us back from one of our strong roles, which is magic avoidance. Considering that we can expect to be fighting large dragons in Cataclysm, buffing our armor might not be the way to proceed.

For the record, here's GC's pithy response:

Ghostcrawler: Tanks will still be required to tank raids and I expect most heroics. You're not in any danger of being upstaged by a dps spec who has slightly more armor and health than they do now.

Do Warriors really need another Cleave?

Buried in this post was a nice little nugget for Bears.


The actual problem, in our minds, is threat scaling. Warriors (and all tanks) could AE tank just fine in Naxxramas.* It only became a problem over time when the dps of the dps classes grew so much more quickly than the tanks, largely because the dps classes have so many dps stats on their gear while plate tanks have Strength. Tank damage was pretty close to 50% of dps damage in the first tier of content, which was our goal, but has slipped to 25 to 30% of dps (your mileage may vary) in Icecrown.

We need a system that keeps tank damage scaling at the same rate as dps damage. However, that system can't be dependent on gear stats (unless you're willing to see tank gear go away) and can't be as ridiculous as deep talents that say "You get 5 AP per point of Strength."

I think you just notice threat issues more on AE pulls because things like Tricks and Misdirect mask any problems on single target pulls. Separate problem.

And yes Paladin tank AE damage and threat generation is still too high, largely because of Seals and HoR, but long-term we're going to nerf that instead of making all tanks able to trivially maintain threat in all situations. Referencing the other thread on threat a little, why as a tank would you even care what buttons you push if maintaining threat is a foregone conclusion?

* - AE tanking was fine in Naxxramas. AE damage was, and has remained, over the top. We prefer a model where the risk of tanking too many mobs is that the tank dies, not that you can't maintain threat on them all (within reasonable limits of course). We also prefer a model where the dps do AE damage on some pulls and switch to single target dps on others.

This is a refrain on his previous posts from February on threat scaling, and trying to determine how to make the threat game more fun for tanks. There seems to be a growing concern that the threat game is inhibiting the development of new tanks, because the Journeyman tank queues up with an ICC geared DPS and cannot for the life of them keep agg during trash pulls.

So, with the subject focusing on threat scaling, GC continues:


Dude pulled aggro does not represent a failure of class design any more than you sometimes dying represents a failure of class design. Both are going to happen sometimes unless you're absolutely at the top of your game. That's part of the challenge of playing your role. For our part, we'll make sure you have the tools to do your job, and for the most part you do. I don't think the tools are the issue, as I said above.

I'm talking philosophy here, because I assume that's usually more interesting to a wider audience. Philosophically, tank threat generation is working correctly (i.e. as we intend) with perhaps 4-5 exceptions that we would like to fix:

1) Paladins can do a little too much AE tanking "splash" damage, often without even setting out to do so.
2) Tricks and MD take too much of a burden off of the tank / hide issue #3.
3) Damage and therefore threat generation aren't scaling well at very high levels of gear. <-- this is the big one. 4) There is too much incentive to AE every pull, which puts a burden on the tank to AE tank every pull. 5) You could probably add that bears need a button to hit besides Swipe.

That last little nugget is what made me smile. It might be cool if they'd work toward a system that rewards combinations and rotations with extra threat, similar to the damage of rogues and cat Druids. It would seem to come naturally for Druids, considering how we already use combo points while leveling in Cat form.

Plate wearers have things like Armored to the Teeth which helps them scale up their damage commensurate to their armor.

Generating massive threat might be more fun if we had to pay closer attention to the order in which we mash buttons, and this would also reward skills like target cycling and stacking bleeds, thus providing us with incentives not to just spam Swipe. It would also preserve current PvP mechanics, since threat has no affect on other players.

Interesting things coming from the blue posts these days. I'll keep my eyes peeled for more, but don't be too surprised if they get quiet for a bit and let us all fester.

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