Friday, March 6, 2009

Niches - Moving to Two Archtypes

There's been some good blue activity on the WoW Forums. I'll clarify that by "good", I mean I think they are looking at and discussing some important tanking issues (in large the result of the topics masterfully vocalized by the Tankspot community).

"We also recognize that if we change DK cooldowns that their base mitigation would need to come up to compensate. We futher recognize that doing that too much leads to four tanks with the same exact health, armor and avoidance numbers. We don't want a world where the druid has Bear Wall and Bear Stand and Bear Block all of the same magnitude as the warrior, and some players would argue we are too close to that already"- Ghostcrawler

To look back on BC Niches (in a completely abridged, non-scientific, probably bias glance) . . .

Warriors could avoid most crushing blows with shield block, which we had to spam. Spell Reflect was virtually essential for some fights, as was the ability to avoid being feared by regularly timed fears. Warriors also took the least spell damage, due to defensive stance. Warrior DPS contribution was low, threat did not scale well without external buffs, and multimob tanking was difficult at best.

Paladins, assuming intelligent gearing, avoided all crushing blows with holy shield, and had hands down the best multimob tanking ability. Bosses which silenced were more difficult, as was tanking caster types whom didn't melee. They had less cooldowns, and no reliable, safe way to avoid fear (bubble+cancelaura macros were possible, but dangerous). DPS contribution was high.

Druids took all crushing blows, but had high health and armor to make up for it. They hit the armor cap very early, though, leaving little room for improvement there at higher levels. They took the most spell damage (though they could withstand the most spell damage), and could not avoid being feared. DPS contribution was high, and multimob tanking was reasonable. They were the most limited by encounter design as to what they could tank (Illidan, Kael, RoS, Nightbane, Archimonde,

Warriors were shoe-ins for most final bosses, Paladins were warriors that were weaker on bosses (for lack of cooldowns) and stronger on multiple monsters, and Druids we're by design unable to tank so many final-bosses that it was hard to justify having one in a fulltime/main tank-like position.

Was this a good design? Not really. It was pretty sweet as a warrior, I'll admit, but I wasn't happy that I couldn't use equally skilled & geared tanks of any other classes on certain content.

So we now have a game with...
No crushing blows.
No regularly timed fears.
No spell reflect or shield-equipping requirement.
More equal DPS and Threat output for tanks.
More equal AoE tanking ability for tanks.
More equitable cooldowns for tanks.
Closer values for armor and health pools.

Go back and look at the color coded niches above. How many of those are gone?

I'll be the first to say that warriors had too many things going for them in BC, and that tanking needed a rebalance (especially considering the addition of another tanking class). And like so many with a Blog/Website/Voice, I'm going to pretend like I know how it should have been done.

Warriors and Paladins should be similar. Druids and Deathknights should be similar. Just like most buffs and debuffs are province to only two class+specs, I think its reasonable to expect a paladin-or-warrior, and a deathknight-or-druid, in a raid.

Don't even try to pretend that some parts of boss fights are tankable by one archtype or the other - any more then you pretend a mage can buff Prayer of Fortitude or a priest to buff AI. Expecting one-of-two classes, instead of one-of-four, would give a huge amount of flexibility to guilds/raids in populating their roster.

If this was the case, I don't think most people would be upset if the Sarth3D tank had to be a deathknight/druid, and a warrior/paladin had to tank the drakes - provided we later get to points where the reverse may be true (and no one-tank boss takes a specific archtype). I would far prefer the kind of encounters that developers could design when they have a more diverse opponent - then the fights we would see if every boss was equal for every tank (set attack speed, set damage range, set physical-to-magic damage ratio, set burst size, set ability timing, ect).

We are currently facing changes which put all tanks into one box, the result of being told that all tanks would be viable for all all encounters, and the subsequent distribution of all things which made us special. This is a mistake, and will lead to bear-wall, rune block, will of the natureopolis, divineskin, ect.

I'm not expecting that they give us four balanced-but-unique tanking classes - just suggesting two different significant niches, which will both get their fights to shine, each composed of two slightly-varied-though-acceptably-similar classes.


Franklin said...

As much as I love my warrior, I'm leveling a death knight, and from everything I've seen, they're clearly better tanks at the moment. In fact, they're a better class overall.

Anonymous said...

its fun, right now warriors are the least wanted tanks and the least wanted dps...

Tarsus said...

I personally think that the dominance of one or two tanking classes right now is reflective more of encounter design than anything. Different encounter design will mean different tanks come to the forefront.