The Future of Tanking

An interesting Tank post on the Official WoW forums, posted by Ghostcrawler. This mirrors in a very timely manner a post by Sheepbreaker that asked about the role of Tanks in terms of which is the best choice.

Blurb from the official post, skip past if you want my humble opinion. The quick version is that I’m excited by the potential, wary of the way change has been managed before, and taking everything with a grain of salt.

Till a month after launch nothing is really known.

1) Our goal in Lich King is for all 4 tanking classes to be viable.

2) We would like for tanking to be a little more fun. I’m going to leave this vague on purpose, but it is definitely a concern.

3) In 5-player instances, most warriors, druids, paladins and death knights should be effective tanks. The healing specs may have a harder time than the dps specs. Arms wariors, Fury warriors, Ret paladins, Ferals and most DKs should do fine.

4) In 5-player heroics, the expectation is that the tank has a heavy investment in tanking talents and appropriate gear. Arms warriors might have trouble tanking a heroic unless they overgear the instance.

5) For raids, we want all 4 tank classes to be viable. If your group has e.g. a Prot paladin and Feral druid as main tanks with appropriate gear and reasonable skill, you should be good to go.

6) This is a shift in philosophy for us. Previously, we sometimes tried to steer Ferals as being better off tanks than main tanks. We also expected specific classes to appear in the raid. Our new assumption is that you might have any of the 4 tanking classes as a tank. We are trying to achieve as much parity as we can among the 4 tanks without making them too similar. If nearly all guilds want the same class as their MT, we’ve failed.

7) This is a big one: the game isn’t finished. We aren’t spending too much effort yet to make sure mitigation, threat and tools are similar across the 4 classes at level 80 in blue or purple gear. Likewise, your talent trees and core abilities aren’t finished. Tanking (and PvP) need to have a lot of other pieces of the game in place before we can really get the numbers right. It’s fine (useful even) to point out when you feel a particular ability, talent, class or build is too good or not good enough. But please don’t infer the work in progress as a reflection of our intent. If we end up changing our minds or if things don’t work out, it will be posted here.

8 ) There are a lot of changes in Lich King that change tanking and raiding in general. I won’t list them all out here, but keep in mind things like itemization changes, widespread raid buffs, consumables, UI changes, etc. Just keep them in mind. We’re not in Tempest Keep anymore.

Now I’m keen to know more, but have to ask how in hell this does not sound like the classes are being totally homogonised? I get its not finished, but then i expect Tanking to evolve after th elaunch too. Finished will be a while away, and I hope that we can still see the flavour of the classes retained.

Which is exactly what Sheepbreaker was on about: which is the best choice for tanking the new end game? And was  way of saying to Blizzrd please consider non-warriors, and to players please keep the non-prot-warriors in mind when choosing a tank.

As a glorified “trash-tank” I say praise be; spread the word!

Non-Warrior tanks are beautiful tanks in some places, and I can’t imaging tanking any other way than Prot Pally. It just makes sense that you have abilities that gather everything to you. That said – Warriors are damn tough to beat if done well, and all Tanks are totally viable, but players need to adjust strat as you already said.

I’m not sure that Prot Pally is always 2nd choice though. I’ve not often been overlooked as a tank for an instance based upon class. It might be easier for Druids and Warriors to get geared (especially damn druids), but once your Pally has the stats, they are popular as hell.

And certainly more popular than a Ret-pally as DPS, at least till Lich.

This might be different in Instances beyond ZA, but I have not been there to be able to comment too much. Can you do (Hydross?) that damn boss with all the Murlocks without two pallys in rotation?

I also think there has been a subtle backlash against non-warrior tanks by the Warrior community, which precipitated the changes coming in Wrath for Prot-Warriors. They are getting true multi-mob aggro powers, which will till then be the domain of the Pally.

There was a need, which Pally tanks filled perfectly; and Warriors want a piece of the action too. Fair enough, but only fair as long as Pallys get some of the abilities that make Warriors great too. Pally taunt is handy as an “oh shit” button, but really does not help with threat, where as Taunt is a majestically beautiful solution. Gimme some auto-threat jumps like Taunt and I’ll be unstoppable.

Let the mage stand well back, unload like a FelCannon on speed, and then I’l pop my normal pally taunt, and follow with a Warrior taunt just as that expires. Ka-boom, more threat than the pesky glass cannon could ever generate.

I am afraid of the change in tanking coming. DKs being added to the Tank pool will shake the relationships to the foundations, and I expect Blizzard to protect Warriors and Death Knights before Druids and especially before Paladins in the Tanking role.

Why? = History

Pre-tBC non-healer pallys at end-game were an amusing sideline. In tBC Pallys have power to do all three in an OK manner. In the balance and counter-balance tweaking that Wrath is already showing, I expect a repeat of the respec-disease that Pallys had around the last lull before tBC. You do not change class fundamentals (Blessing of Huh?) without creating havoc.

As the classes get tweaked and updated, the community will adjust again to the new myths and capacities of each Tank class. This means the “Who Tank It?” question will also be in flux again. Damn it, I know that Warriors are the cornerstone Tank class, so they’ll get first go. Then DKs will because there will be 10 million of them. Then I think the Druids as they can always switch out and dps if needed.

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5 thoughts on “The Future of Tanking

  1. They will never make Thunderclap = Consecration.
    Pally tanks are also still the only tank able to readily become uncrushable.

    Taunt is over rated.
    Are there any taunt vulnerable bosses in a raid instance?
    Even for a warrior it’s only a trash mob – ‘oh shit’ button.
    Be ready for a wipe fest in any group led by a tank who relies on it to hold aggro.

    To make 10 man raids more viable (or at least to reduce the need to be constantly swapping people in and out for a good raid composition) the tanks need to be all brought closer together in the ability to MT an instance.

    But seeing as it’s early days in Beta I think it’s way to early to be making any calls on whether changes are good or bad.

  2. I don’t know much about warriors but I do know there is a whole lot more going on than taunt 🙂

    Not to mention 5 zillion item changes to move between trash and bosses and whether it’s mitigation or threat gen or etc that’s required.

    Shield wall, stance dances and etc all come into it of course.

    On Tidewalker (Hydross is the elemental dude) we used 2 pallys on rotation to gather up the murlocs. One of them a tank and one of them a healer. Don’t think we were ever able to do it with only our pally tank.

    I’ve always run, ever since I started in Kara back in the day, with a pally and a warrior tank, it’s always worked very well for us as each class brings something different to the table.

    Our T6 raid features a warrior MT, pally tank and feral druid which works well for us.

  3. As a warrior, taunt is indeed something I almost never even bother using unless I’m in a PUG or a group that simply doesn’t understand tanking chemistry and unloads without paying attention to Omen.

    With relation to your reference to paladins and their strengths against bosses with crushing blows, it should be noted that Blizzard has made it known they will not be implementing crushing blows as part of Wrath endgame. The only time crushing blows will be seen is if the mob is higher than 3 levels above you, and that won’t happen when you reach 80 unless they add a boss or two that’s 83+.

    With all that I’ve read, though, it really does sound like all tanks are going to be equally viable, and will continue to have their niche moments where they excel over other options. If anything, the acceptance of pally tanks by the WoW community has forced a door open that may never be closed, even halfway – much to my frustration.

    I’ve lost count of the times in the past 6 months where I’ve been turned down as tank for a 5-man in favor of a paladin tank. Why has this new trend become the standard? Because it’s EZ-mode. No CC means nobody in the group has to even think or be good at what they do. Throw some heals to the pally tank to keep them up, and let the rest of the group pew pew away with no need for banish/seduce/sap/sheep/mc/trap. It’s absolutely maddening to me.

  4. @ sLLiK – Funny, I got passed over for a Kara spot for a Warrior the other day. It does go both ways.

    Saying pally tanking is Ez-mode is a little incendiary, but I get that you’re also pretty sick of the Pallys taking the runs. DKs must be a major pain in the but soon too?

    Unloading without watching threat is a problem that all tanks have; and while pallys can sometimes forward load threat, the same dull-headed DPS will survive the initial pull with a pally, but will end up squished regardless. I figure drop them from the group and get somebody that will listen and learn.

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