Caster Tank Specs, and why we need them

90 Pandaren Priest
16845
Contents:
1) Why caster tanks?
2) What would make caster tanks so different? How might they work?
2a) Cast-time spells
2b) Attack range
2c) Resource system (mana)
3) Itemization
4) Examples
4a) Battlemage/Spellbreaker
4b) Battle Cleric


1) Why caster tanks?
  • Different play-style, potentially drawing players to tanking who don't like how the current melee tanks feel
  • Help even out LFD queue times
  • Expand the pool of spell plate users (holy-paladin-only feels awful, especially when you get spell plate and don't bring an hpal to your 10man raid)
  • Increase the versatility of some 3-damage-spec classes
  • Plate mail with a caster theme looks really cool!

2) What would make caster tanks so different? How might they work?
The most basic differences are cast-time spells versus instant strikes, attack range, and the resource system (rage, runes and runic power, mana). We want to maintain some of these differences so that caster tanks feel different, but some need to be altered to make sense for tanking. This means we need to make some adjustments to spell casting for these specs. It also means that we have the option to add some melee abilities when it feels right (example: mage spell-enchanted weapon strike).

2a) Cast-time spells
  • Tanks are supposed to get hit. Casters aren't. This is why we have spell pushback.
  • Tank threat is expected to be relatively steady and predictable. Many spell interrupts are melee range, and we're going to be close range all the time.
  • Tanks are highly mobile and content is designed around this. Casters often need to limit their movement to stand still and cast.

Some possible solutions:
  • Spell pushback immunity for all casts. We don't want to punish you for getting hit. You're supposed to get hit.
  • Interruption immunity. No tank has interruptable attacks. I don't think interruption is something we want to keep to make caster tanks feel different. It would just be frustrating.
  • Able to move while casting (permanent Spiritwalker's Grace). Either for all spells or just for the core rotation stuff. Could be interesting to require standing still for more infrequently used spells.


2b) Attack range
Tanks are always in melee range because their enemy wants to hit them with melee attacks. Spells have long ranges because they have a cast time, and because the casters are intended to avoid getting hit. A 30-40yd attack range for basic attacks would probably make picking up adds too easy and give caster tanks the ability to maintain threat and full mitigation too easily from outside melee range.

A 12-15yd range seems appropriate for cast-time spells: you need to be up close, but long enough to prevent cast times from becoming frustrating. The standard 8yd melee range would be fine for instant spells.


2c) Resource system (mana)
Mana as a resource could be quite interesting, and very different from paladin tanks. As an example:
  • Basic spell rotation 1: low mitigation, moderate mana regeneration
  • Basic spell rotation 2: moderate mitigation, low mana consumption
  • Cooldowns: high mitigation, low or moderate mana consumption
  • Spammable emergency spells: high mitigation, high mana consumption (think self flash heal in terms of mana usage)

There are other ways to approach mana as a resource, including adding a secondary resource like holy power or shadow orbs. I trust that the developers can come up with something fun and interesting.


3) Itemization
  • Finally someone else to use spell plate!
  • Spirit -> Dodge conversion (similar to Spirit -> Hit that hybrid DPS casters had).
  • Haste, Crit, and Mastery are all potentially interesting mitigation stats. Tank mitigation is more closely tied to offensive strikes for all tanks now, and a good chunk of caster tanks' attacks would have a cast time, which makes even Haste a cool stat for these specs.
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90 Pandaren Priest
16845
4) Examples
4a) Battlemage/Spellbreaker

Class: Mage

Description: Skilled in both the arcane arts and physical combat, Battlemages are not only able to slow, weaken, absorb and deflect enemy attacks or spells, but also to disintegrate, freeze, and incinerate their foes with close-range spells and magically-infused weapon strikes.

Mitigation style: Wards and shields to absorb attacks and spells. Instant magic-infused weapon strikes (possibly a proc or skill to let you attach a cast-time spell to the instant strike - i.e. fireball on hit) and temporary shield enchantments that proc debuffs, absorbs, or healing effects.

Weapons: Shield, 1H Sword, Dagger, Wand(?)(melee-range-only wand?)

Aesthetic: Shield, plate Helm/Shoulder, plate Breastplate with cloth robe beneath. The spellbreaker from Warcraft 3 is an excellent starting point for a visual design: http://images.wikia.com/wowwiki/images/e/e6/Spellbreaker.jpg

4b) Battle Cleric

Class: Priest

Description: Smite your foes and bolster your defenses and those of your allies using barriers and shields infused with holy magic.

Mitigation style: Holy shields and barriers to absorb and reduce damage. Some active health recovery via healing spells (think DK death strike). Possibly a self-Atonement style effect for holy damage.

Weapons: Staff, 1H Mace, Dagger, Wand, Off-hand Frill (would not use weapon strikes, so wand range not really an issue)

Aesthetic: Plate Gauntlets/Helm/Shoulder, plate Breastplate with cloth robe beneath. Ankhs/holy styled ornamentation on plate pieces.
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90 Blood Elf Warrior
4850
I'm all for new tank classes/specs.
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80 Draenei Shaman
550
09/08/2012 10:51 AMPosted by Faliz
I'm all for new tank classes/specs.


Most of the tank forums are, so long as they can be balanced out with the other tanking specs already present.

I'm seeing some hiccups with the ideas presented, but ideas are just ideas and balance will be balance.
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90 Night Elf Druid
CFT
10670
Completely the wrong time to be discussing this?
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80 Draenei Shaman
550
09/08/2012 11:31 AMPosted by Arielle
Completely the wrong time to be discussing this?


When is the right time to suggest ideas?
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90 Orc Hunter
5805
Inflating the pool of tank specs with a caster or two won't do anything to help the tank population, tanking isn't about flavor of spec it's about the role. Same with heals, both roles are typically held responsible for things going wrong, totally different then mashing 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 5, 5, 1, 2, 3 and mouth dribbling over recount. In MoP we will have 5 tank specs and 5 healer specs, aside from the fact Monks will be popular due to new class, that still won't impact the tank population once people get level cap and start farming heroic 5 mans like you think it will.
Edited by Ningos on 9/8/2012 11:48 AM PDT
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90 Orc Warrior
10110
The problem with ranged tanks, that I see, is that mobs don't stay at range. 90% of mobs in the game, including bosses, are going to cross the 40 yards between you and them, and start smashing the 'ranged tank' in the face.

Any "ranged tank" is only "ranged" for the opening 3-5 seconds of a fight. After that they become a "melee tank who uses their ranged abilities in melee range", which sort of defeats the whole purpose.
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90 Night Elf Druid
CFT
10670
09/08/2012 11:33 AMPosted by Loveshðck
Completely the wrong time to be discussing this?


When is the right time to suggest ideas?

When they're likely to get implemented? Such as near the end of an expansion cycle. Not the beginning of a new one.
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80 Draenei Shaman
550
When they're likely to get implemented? Such as near the end of an expansion cycle. Not the beginning of a new one.


Ideas can't be implemented or internally tested long before a new build is about to be released?

That actually sounds like the perfect time to suggest new ideas - to give Blizzard time to toy and test with it.
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90 Night Elf Druid
CFT
10670
09/08/2012 12:13 PMPosted by Loveshðck
That actually sounds like the perfect time to suggest new ideas - to give Blizzard time to toy and test with it.

I'd rather they fixed existing bugs and gave us non-buggy content to play.
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80 Draenei Shaman
550
09/08/2012 01:03 PMPosted by Arielle
That actually sounds like the perfect time to suggest new ideas - to give Blizzard time to toy and test with it.

I'd rather they fixed existing bugs and gave us non-buggy content to play.


Perhaps, but doing one does not necessarily take resources from the other.
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90 Pandaren Warrior
15740
09/08/2012 01:05 PMPosted by Loveshðck

I'd rather they fixed existing bugs and gave us non-buggy content to play.


Perhaps, but doing one does not necessarily take resources from the other.


Yes it does.

Pretty sure they've admitted they only have one team left on WoW (and the rest are on titan)
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Sometimes, for whatever reason, I level and play classes that can't tank. But I would tank on them if I could. In that sense, letting mages and locks tank would open up more tank-time for me.

It really seems like DA warlocks are almost done -- they have skills equivalent to an old-style tank; they just need an AM system to be comparable to a new-style tank. Having a Blood tank sort of AM would be very appropriate and work well, I think.
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1 Human Rogue
0
09/08/2012 02:42 PMPosted by Heartsings
It really seems like DA warlocks are almost done -- they have skills equivalent to an old-style tank; they just need an AM system to be comparable to a new-style tank. Having a Blood tank sort of AM would be very appropriate and work well, I think.


To be honest IMO if they were given a fourth spec it would have to be melee (no more casts and much fewer long-range abilities - most abilities should be 10yd range at most, with a few 40yd pulling abilities).

It wouldn't be the other way around, that is, "caster tanks" made to accommodate theoretical new tank specs.
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90 Pandaren Priest
16845
The problem with ranged tanks, that I see, is that mobs don't stay at range. 90% of mobs in the game, including bosses, are going to cross the 40 yards between you and them, and start smashing the 'ranged tank' in the face.

Any "ranged tank" is only "ranged" for the opening 3-5 seconds of a fight. After that they become a "melee tank who uses their ranged abilities in melee range", which sort of defeats the whole purpose.
Well the original post didn't mention anything about 'ranged tanks', but rather 'caster tanks'. The thing we would keep is that you use spells with a cast time, but can cast while moving, and mana as a resource. This makes you feel like a caster, but your abilities still have short ranges and things get close and hit you (which I discussed in section 2b of the original post). The Arcane Warrior mage spec in Dragon Age 1 gives a basic example of how this can feel (just don't aura stack if you try it - it's overpowered and boring).
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90 Pandaren Priest
16845
09/08/2012 11:48 AMPosted by Ningos
Inflating the pool of tank specs with a caster or two won't do anything to help the tank population, tanking isn't about flavor of spec it's about the role. Same with heals, both roles are typically held responsible for things going wrong, totally different then mashing 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 5, 5, 1, 2, 3 and mouth dribbling over recount. In MoP we will have 5 tank specs and 5 healer specs, aside from the fact Monks will be popular due to new class, that still won't impact the tank population once people get level cap and start farming heroic 5 mans like you think it will.
People choose not to play tanks for a number of reasons. You're right, some people don't want to tank because they don't like to feel that they're responsible for leading groups, or they feel that they will be blamed for mistakes in pickup groups. But that's not true for everyone who chooses not to tank.

For example, lets say I like to play a DPS caster in raids. If I wanted to tank 5-man dungeons outside of raids, the ONLY class that has a ranged dps spec and a tanking spec is druid. What if I don't like druids? What if I'm alliance and I don't want to be a disgustingly ugly elf or furry (druid race choices are very limited)? What if my raid already has too many classes that want the Vanquisher set token? For anyone who doesn't tank for these reasons, it would increase the number of tanks.

All the current melee tanks also feel pretty similar in how they deal damage and generate threat: lots of instant 8yd range strikes. Having something that breaks away from that might be enough to attract a different audience and expand the pool of players interested in tanking.

25man raids also only use 2 tanks. If you break that raid down into 5-man groups, you're 3 tanks short. More classes capable of filling the tank role, should the players choose to collect the gear and learn to play it, is a nice thing to have.

It's also very useful to be able to fill more than 1 role as any class. Mages, warlocks, hunters and rogues in particular could really use another role, although this post doesn't address that issue for Hunters or Rogues. I think tank makes more sense than healer for mage/warlock. More classes simply having the ability to choose to tank, even if it's not their favorite spec, definitely does help even out queue times.
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90 Orc Warrior
7025
I wanna see an AM mechanic similar to purgatory on DKs. For example:

1.5 sec cooldown
<insert huge cost>
You enter your opponents minds splitting physical damage between yourself and spirit fragments by 50%, at the end of 6 secs you take all damage incurred by each spirit fragment. Each spirit fragments damage retention reduced by X% of any healing you take.

X% would be determined by mastery and would have a base of something reasonable like 25% and scale at 1% per mastery ( ~ 180 rating at 85). This would provide a based mitigation of 12.5% for 6 seconds assuming 0% overhealing, with the added benefit of massively reduced damage intake over it's duration. Possibly shorten duration to 4 secs to prevent as much spike at the end....
Edited by Binaryninja on 9/9/2012 4:00 AM PDT
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85 Gnome Warrior
7780
09/08/2012 11:59 AMPosted by Arielle


When is the right time to suggest ideas?

When they're likely to get implemented? Such as near the end of an expansion cycle. Not the beginning of a new one.


By the end of an expansion cycle the next expansion is already well past the creative phase and well into the actual programming phase. Sure there is still fluidity but all of the specs, roles, and basic design principles are already decided.

Starting now and continuing through the upcoming expansion is the best time to get ideas out there for Blizzard to ignore.
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1 Human Rogue
0
09/08/2012 08:34 PMPosted by Grumbul
For example, lets say I like to play a DPS caster in raids. If I wanted to tank 5-man dungeons outside of raids, the ONLY class that has a ranged dps spec and a tanking spec is druid.


That's actually a reason I gave toward warlock tanking at some point.

If you wanted to play any other combo of two roles (tank + healer, tank + melee, healer + either dps, or even melee + ranged) you would have at least two options which at least gives you a single choice in variety.
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