A defensive update on the patch

English: A line of M109A6 Paladin howitzers as...

Patch 5.0.4 brought us some changes, and its taking some players like me a while to understand and absorb them. I’m damned if I can fit 9 classes worth of changes in my head at once, so I’ve kept to just a few. My Death Knight main and a few of the toons that I tank with: DK, Warrior, and Paladin. I’ll get around to adding the Guardian Druid into that soon, and then also spec’ing the non-tanks like my Warlock and Hunter. I wonder if Hunters and Warlocks can pet tank / solo now.

One thing about the new Tanking model is that multi-mob tanking is much more viable, as long as the tank does not get stunned or overwhelmed. When either occur you are in deep trouble very quickly. DKs, Pally, and War all hurt when faces with 10+ mobs, and the old days of doing an instance in a single pull. Now if the mobs cannot hit your character for enough damage per second to chew through the shield, then your character will never get hurt at all. Generally that will never happen at level, and even (Level -10) needs to be considered. At (level-25) or less I think its the same old run and giggle mode, which is good. At level on normal mode all Tanks should be able to solo bosses like Slabhide with reasonable gear and use of cool-downs.

As a quick summary:

  • Death Knights – feel essentially the same as previous Blood spec did, and play very much like a dps character. Good solid fun.
  • Paladins – slow and steady damage, unkillable due to great cooldowns, highly controllable self heal. The cockroach is back.
  • Warriors – fast paced leaps, charges, and thunderclaps. High damage, lower survival. Best fun to be had by far.

Death Knight – overall nothing greatly changed, and everything did. The Blood style plays the same, and it is the other tanks who now are moved to an absorption/healing based actions (aka Active Mitigation). Essentially our world changed because we have moved from having a somewhat unique ability, to having just one of the best implementations of the soak/damage model. I liked it a a DK and like it on the others too. As dps the talents feel narrow.

I’m not sold on the concept of switching talent choices per fight, except to say that if a player can do that well they are a much greater asset to their raid than a player who specs once and never changes.

Paladin – I was newbie tanking in Outland back in the day, and loved the fact that mana was returned by getting hurt. Likewise now we get all sorts of resources back from being hurt. I’ve run a few old heroic 70 and 80 dungeons in solo mode to test the performance of the Tankadin, and while I think their overall damage is too low, the survivability is very strong.Cooldowns are needed for heavy damage spike fights and too many mobs can rip through the bubble very quickly.

Paladin’s strength is the control of when they can apply their heal, and the advantage of doing either a powerful shield strike or heal as a 3x holy power combo move. I found on bosses or big trash pulls that sometimes all I did was self heal, and the slow attrition of concentration and the AoE effects whittled down the creatures. The Paladin was never in trouble, but also never was near the DPS that the Warrior did.

Warrior – A Protection Warrior at the moment is crazy fun. They do as much damage as some lowbie dps and can head smash their way through mobs darn quickly. Having additional uses of charge via talents means that for now I grind quests as Prot. Never dying has many advantages. They are still a very agile tank, being able to move across the battle exceedingly quickly. Solo’ing was almost as easy as the others, but at times my health was dropping and it took special attention to snap it back up. Thankfully the cooldowns provide for some interesting power-ups, and I was also using Herbalism’s small heal and spare potions.

If I could somehow get a huge gear jump I think the Warrior would benefit strongly from a powerful set of items and correct re-forging. Parry and mitigation re-forging appear to make a large difference in the form discussions out there, and my Warrior feels like she wants to smash heads harder, but cannot just yet. The potential is certainly there.

But why have 3-4x tank characters?

Heroic Utguard Pinnacle (h-UP), Heroic Magister’s Terrace (h-MgT), and Normal Stonecore are all easily solo-able for all three classes, which means grinding for those elusive mounts is now easier as a character can be parked out the front of each to do each one each day with no travel time. Till the new world events this is what I’ll be spending free time on. I’m pondering adding the Druid to be parked in front of Molten Core, purely because the rare mats and drops from there still sell well.

In terms of comparison neither the Paladin or the Warrior can hold a torch to a Death Knight for solo’ing and damage. Some of that might be due to much better gear (ilevel 333 vs 378) and my familiarity with the DK class, but it seems the DK is slightly ahead for now. Warrior is probably a close second, but their healing is still not as exceptional or as controllable as the Death Knight. Things will be interesting at level 90 where we are meant to be playing, as I can see a Warrior becoming once again the powerhouse of Tanking. Having the only AoE taunt will be an exceptional ability, and as gear improves their block/soak mechanics will get stronger and stronger. A Paladin too might also be powerful again for the ancient reason they were awesome in the past, that they have so many cooldowns which increase survival. By comparison the DK cooldowns are just trivial. This is also good as I think there needs to be some separation between the tank styles and perhaps this is enough. Not sure as yet.

I’m looking forward to adding a Monk to the lineup too; 5x Tanks will be excellent.

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4 thoughts on “A defensive update on the patch

  1. Playing a Warrior (Itemlevel 40x) as my main i can confirm your observations. The Damage Output is (depending on the fight) good to outstanding. On heroic Madness Dragon Roar crits for 1M Damage after the Impale. On normal fights the damage is only a few k below the DD’s.
    The little buff (more rage through Slam and Revenge) a few weeks after 5.0.4 was needed. The HP before felt a little squishy. An high uptime of Shield Block / Barrier was only with extreme luck and perfect play possible. Now chaining Shield Block is something which happens regularly.
    I miss the old vigilance, especially on spine hc and before ultraxion. A Taunt with no Cooldown was definitly a nice tool.
    And the warrior still feels extremly mobile. With the talent for half charge CD and the Glyph for half Jump CD and Safeguard, where we charge to a friendly player there is always something ready to move fast from A to B.

    P.S. Sorry for any mistakes, I’m not a native speaker of English.

  2. I do the same thing – while my Paladin is my main tank class, I keep a capped warrior, druid, and DK on the bench to pull out and play. Looking forward to adding a Monk to the repertoire.

    My paladin does feel a bit slow, especially compared to how fast Retribution feels. Specing into Divine Purpose did help alleviate some of that slowness. But man, so many more buttons to push.

  3. I’m really struggling with the new 5.04 prot Pally… It isn’t the idea of active mitigation (I enjoyed the spamable WoG in 4.0/4.1), but rather than rotation feels so unnatural.
    I’m struggling with the CS X X CS, rather than CS X CS. Also two short-term buffs to manage (weakened blows + SS). Also SotR off-GCD messes with my rhythm, made worse by watching for DP procs. Also what feels like more skills in the rotation.
    Uggggg – for some reason just can’t get into it.
    I’m seriously considering rolling a warrior (which I haven’t tanked on since 3.1).
    Help!!! How did you adjust?

  4. @Wulstan – I guess I didn’t have far to adjust as I was only mucking about on the Paladin before the patch. I had very little to unlearn. And I’m sure I’m doing it incorrectly too. :)

    @Saif and Christoph – thanks for your comments folks and glad the post resonated a little. The mix will be interesting as we approach the first raids in MoP. Already players are talking about going back to DeathKnights now that they are powerful tanks. It frustrates me that people switch mains for the flavour of the month, but I also understand that “optimal” is a valid goal for players too.
    We have a lot to look forward to.

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