GC's latest blog, Active Mitigation Playstyle

General Discussion
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Back in the TBC days (and before), warriors had a similar style of mechanics with Shield Block that has to be pushed at all times and ESPECIALLY made sure to be active for certain abilities (Illidan's Shear ability comes to mind) or you could be crushed (paladins had to have mega gear and some luck to become uncrushable and druids flat out couldn't). It got changed because it ultimately was a button warriors just hit on CD because they had to and it wasn't fun...the same reason heroic strike/maul was changed...get rid of buttons we press for the sake of pressing them.

It's just messy overall...

Tanking should be a balance between survival and threat, period. The switch should be am I doing threat and taking damage or am I surviving and not doing alot of threat. Threat SHOULD matter as should survival. Tanks should be balanced around doing both. Just like healers have to balance between pouring out the heals and sticking to a more sustained/regen mode.
Blood tanking is broken? Hmm... not sure what to make of that; I've been blood tanking for the past 2 days. Should I see a doctor or something? Now I'm getting worried...


Personally, I don't see anything wrong with Blood tanking. The nature of the spec leaves a lot of potential for overachieving, for those players that want to improve.

You have accomplished absolutely nothing as a DK tank, and yet feel you are an authority on the matter?

Gosh, guys like you are the reason we can't have nice things.
08/16/2011 08:22 PMPosted by Jaxl
The cynicism and criticism in this topic is not only out of line, but completely unwarranted. Blizzard is beyond reproach when it comes to both gameplay and class balance, and the new refinements to the tanking role will once again prove this.

No one is above criticism, and cynicism comes from have to play broken character classes for months while blizzard fixes them. They are great no doubt but the forums are here for all comments good and bad and the hopes that someone out there may stumble upon and agree with us. Why do you think we now have the transmogrifier thingy. Find the million threads on this topic.
Blizzard buffs Paladin tanks in TBC.
Solves tank shortage? no

Blizzard makes AoE tanking easier in TBC.
Solves tank shortage? no

Blizzard adds a class that can tank: deathknights.
Solves tank shortage? no

Blizzard adds CTA to encourage LFD tanks.
Solves tank shortage? no

Blizzard makes tanking easier (GC's post).
Solves tank shortage? ??

I'm seeing a pattern here. So do you think Blizzard realizes tanking shortage is a community problem.

the community problem is people want to see big numbers with ZERO responsibility for the success the group
I think the general flow of the conversation has fallen off of track. You need to reconsider what Blizzard's intentions are with the changes that they made.

Tanks are fundamentally about survival and threat generation.

There is a prevailing problem within the community that there is a disproportionate amount of DPS and Healers versus the player base that is willing to tank. This issue has been discussed ad naseum. Consequently, the tolerance for poor or new tanks is incredibly unforgiving and creates a social barrier to entry for new tanks. Additionally, there are many who are not drawn to the class due to a general feeling of "not fun" - which they are perfectly entitled to. Blizzard has attempted to do many things to address the tank issue but the problem continues to persist.

So they are attacking the 2 issues with tanking at the root of the problem: Tanking is unforgiving and it's not an engaging experience as the other two roles.

Enter: Threat Increase.

The learning curve for tanking is infinitely more forgiving with the drastic changes made to passive threat generation. With the increase from 300% to 500% and the scaling of vengence, Blizzard has lessened the skill required to effectively hold aggro. This change was directed towards new tanks, not raid tanks. The most common complaint steming for this board is that a "Fail Tank" couldn't hold aggro. Now they can. This doesn't change the fact that most raid encounters threat is suspect in the first 10 seconds of any pull - that is a consequence of RNG avoidance. Very little change for the raider. What it does allow for is the fact the new 5-man tanks are able to effectively hold aggro without knowing all the necessary priorities and tricks that a more experienced tank would utilize. This shoud allow for more favorable PuGing and hopefully alleviate some of the burden that new tanks feel as they familiarize themselves with the role.

However, with the drastic reduction in the threat requirements, it potentially leaves the role a bit stale in terms of the experienced and established tanks in the game and eventually the new tanks as well. With half of the fundamental skills required to be a dependable tank effectively marginalized, where does the "skill" of the tank lie to make an engaging and rewarding experience? Well by increasing the difficulty of the other half of the tanking equation: Survivability.

If there was no change in the subsequent survivability of the tank, a tank would essentially only pull, easily establish threat, and passively mitigate the damage done to them. The player would barely need to pay attention and much of the challenge of the class would be nullified. So Blizzard has stated to create an "active mitigation" model.

I'm not saying that that model will be a direct translation from the Blood DK. The particular issues of the Blood DK have also been discussed ad naseum. However that does not mean that they cannot craft an effective and active model that isn't inherently flawed. In fact, they have already begun to incrementally shift the paladin towards this type of model that doesn't directly mirror the Blood DK but is more "active" than it's previous incarnation.

Word of Glory was being far to over-utilized as being the mandatory HoPo "finisher" and thus removed the conscious decision of "choice". There wasn't a choice because Holy Power utility was greatest as a self heal and the protection paladin's exploited that. Often paladins are considered the "easiest" of the tanks because of their incredibly high level of passivity and lack of effective decisions. Mitigate by stacking mastery, stand and tank, finish out using Word of Glory. Our passive mitigation stacks quicker than any of the other tanks (2.25% shield block), and many of our debuffs are inherent in a damaging skill that we would use anyway (Judgement), and our increased survivability came from utilizing a skill we would anyway (10% increase to shield black through Holy Shield through WoG, SotR, etc). We were the epitome of passivity.

Blizzard though it best to nerf WoG to make the player make a more conscious decision to use their holy power instead of just spamming Word of Glory. However, the problem with just nerfing WoG, is that they didn't give us a viable option to replace it with. There needs to be a real honest choice at the end of 3 Holy Power as Shield of the Righteous didn't benefit as it was only a DPS increase and therefore a threat increase. (The choice doesn't exist yet but I suspect that it will come in a later patch.)

Blizzard made another small change from the passive Holy Shield that procs from a HoPo finisher to a conscious, and situational cooldown. This is another choice that the paladin can make instead of it happening just automatically.

What's the point: These are two small incremental changes that Blizzard has made to create a more "active" player in terms of mitigation and choice and it does not suffer from the inherent flaws of the Blood DK model. Now the paladin as an example has 2 short cooldown mitigators (Divine Protection, Holy Shield), 2 medium (GotAK, AD), 2 Long (Divine Shield, LoH). Additionally, there is always the holy power choice and resource management to increase effective health - (now a choice to increase mitigation would be excellent and real choice!). That makes for a better overall experience while making the role more accessible to the new player.
It gets clearer why threads regarding difficult issues take so freaking long to start getting to good discussion points... People tend not to like one thing you say in the middle of a boatload of other stuff, regardless of what can be taken as a good point. If someone states that *something* is "ok", it doesn't mean the overall problem doesn't exist, specially if the overall problem and possible other entry points into the situation ARE still being pointed - by the same dude, btw.

Well, I really do think the mechanic itself for Blood Tanks is nice. This is a matter of opinion. I like the overall concept but of course I can see the gaps such as the point where you need to get hit before your mitigation is actually worth something.

Before the changes that got the Blood tree to be the only one for tanking, when all 3 DK specs could actually tank, I was already a blood spec and the feeling from the change was that I lost something that was a part of how I did my job. It got harder. It got a bit weird. It was the passive portion of my tanking mechanic that was gone (some extra armor as I recall and perhaps the way DS worked back then with the talents that made it ALWAYS land a higher heal (i.e. = starting to take even more damage) and that was counterpointed by adding a shield mechanic that, as great as it seems when you read about it, does have the downside of being effective after the 1st or "1st few" hits... While the self-heal DS brought to the table was weaker.... And rune tap as well...

Many players been saying stuff like adding a mechanic as when DKs start tanking, "something" builds up buffs of 1 or 2% health + healing taken until like 50-100%, and lasts till the combat status fades... Not sure about you but I found that *not that bad* as a concept of a mitigation system, specially if you take into account the way the DK shield works today already.

DS heals the tank for minimum of 7% health up to 20% of the damage the DK took in the face within the past 5 seconds... Well, why not apply that 1/2% buff to healing as the DK takes that damage? Sure, 20% extra healing ain't necessarely going to save the day in heroic modes where everything seems to be going to hell, it has to be... hum.. "tested", but there is a good chance that it can make a difference...

Another similar suggestion was to add such a heal taken buff to the DK's mastery, making it passively increase overall heals incoming AND the shield the DK is going to put up once lots of damage start to sink in.

If the mechanic of the Blood Tank is how Blizzard intended it to be, but undertunned for heroic modes, give it a little "jolt" to go a longer way, but without changing the fact that DK tanks do get hit harder, they do have to actively manage everything they have in order to keep avoidance, mitigation, threat and damage reduction up when needed.

I tried to state before that I believe in the mechanics itself but don't think there isn't anything to be changed or made better....

There's always room to improve, but I think blizzard is already "confused enough" driving through the thick cloud of freaky ideas that is stuck all around them... The clearer we can make it as to what we think can be an entry point to get to the root of the problem and maybe solve it, the better.
Don't try saying Blood DK's have it worse than bears.
That's just a serious slap in our face.
Hate on the shield tanks all you want, but leave our already grimped fat furry behinds alone... you keep Blade Barrier up, we spam our 2 CD's (Frenzied Regen & Survival instincts) and have to keep Demoralizing Roar up to live. Even then, we're still getting hit harder than other tanks, seeing as we're STILL rolling off one mitigation which STILL barely makes 40% and no armor from agility..even with the 16% stam boost, we even fall up short there too.

Try-too-hard and inferior...Blizzard just doesn't like us non-shield using meat shields.
Sad panda mode.

You don't have Barkskin? You don't have Nature's Grasp? You don't have Feral Faerie Fire to reduce their armor and make them easier to kill? You didn't even take Infected Wounds either. I hope someone in your group always applies that.

I'll still pull aggro on half a dozen trash pulls every run though =(
Honestly, Blood dk tanking is fine, provided you have the gear/itemization to make it work for you. I don't know why people think we need to be 'fixed'.

We use deathstrike for mitigation, this requires up to be hit, just like other tanks, since it's mitigation and healing both scale with the damage taken for the last 5 seconds. If you roll rotation correctly, then you should be alternating between deathstrike and heartstrike so that shield a doesn't gimp shield b. This requires us to be hit and expertise capped so we have the ability to actually get our mitigation when we need it rather than 1-3 seconds later. Make sure you have over 20 mastery so our selfheal and mitigation are both beast since we need them to be.

When you actually have to worry about threat spam rune strike. If you know there's a spike incoming you pop cooldowns in sequence or all at once depending on the fight. Don't be afraid to sub out a blood rune to use rune tap (especially when glyphed) if it's off cool down as this helps you and the healers.

If done right DK tanks are amazing surviviors, to the point that 1 Dk tank can solo tank a boss like the Omnitron Defense System in BWD (before firelands released and made it even easier). I know, because I've done it. Don't rag on Blood DKs being "broken" as we have it no where near as bad as Druids. We just need a specific stlye and gear to play that is very different from that of warriors and paladins. Don't hold us in the same play model as either and expect us to hold up, because we won't.

They are looking as using our model as the basis of changing warriors and pallies. We'll still be self healers, but all tanks will be the active tanks we are compared to the passive tanks pallies and warriors are now. If we were that broken, we wouldn't be getting used as a benchkmark.
08/18/2011 01:49 PMPosted by Bloodgrave
Honestly, Blood dk tanking is fine, provided you have the gear/itemization to make it work for you. I don't know why people think we need to be 'fixed'.

How many more dk's who have no FL bosses down will continue to opine that blood dk tanking is "fine"?

Yes, it's been said time and again that blood dk tanks are fine, even OP, for 5-man content, for T11 content, even for the majority of FL 10N content. Blood dk tanking is also fine for ICC and all the BC content as well... Where it breaks is in FL 25N, FL 10H, and FL 25H when the dk tank is always 2-3 shots away from death.

Hit cap and exp cap costs 1562 rating points. This means you have to sacrifice both avoidance and mastery to get it, and even after you do this, bosses will parry 1 out of every 13 of your death strikes. To maximize self-heals and blood shield, you need to time your death strikes for AFTER you get hit HARD, which means you are now 1 shot away from death. This is a "death strike moment." You also need a solid mastery number, which you won't have if you've regemmed/reforged 1562 points to cap both hit and exp, unless you've already farmed all the best 378+ gear available.

If you don't land the death strike in that moment, you will die, and it's not your fault. It's all RNG RNG RNG at that point.
To maximize self-heals and blood shield, you need to time your death strikes for AFTER you get hit HARD, which means you are now 1 shot away from death. This is a "death strike moment." You also need a solid mastery number, which you won't have if you've regemmed/reforged 1562 points to cap both hit and exp, unless you've already farmed all the best 378+ gear available.

If you don't land the death strike in that moment, you will die, and it's not your fault. It's all RNG RNG RNG at that point.

Precisely the point where the possible changes to "make it better" need to be thought with care, and maybe... Just MAYBE, for once, blizzard could come up with a system that can actually make DKs more resillient or get the mechanics of the class to be able to scale properly with the difficult at hand, without having to nerf it all down to the point where it shouldn't exist anymore due to PVP aspects of the game.

Sure it seems hard as hell to make an hability work in X way against players and in P way agains mobs and bosses and everything else that isn't PVP, but isn't that the point of PVP having specific gear and specific talents and specific stats?

It's something supposed to work differently and as long as every change is made through the road of "not getting near anything that could change pvp", our options (well, their options) are limited as to what can be done...

Earlier up there I've posted some crazy ideas a couple of friends started babling on gchat and you know what? As long as Blizz could separate the way things are triggered and the way specific habilities work against or in response to players OR pvE enemies, even ideas such as those could be viable after some (a lot of) tweaking...

After all, it would be kinda dumb to expect a mechanic that buffs up heal recieved and total health from a player once he gets into combat, or gets hit, or uses some self-heal tool to apply to PvP combat, since that would make it absurd to go up against such a class... But PvE-wise, a passive/active mechanic with those effects could help a great freaking LOT when the class is supposed to tank and has "no" passive mitigation to make up for the very larger ammount of damage he takes.
I feel for my DK tank cousins. I stoped playing my DK as a tank when Cata came out primarily for the reason that I didn't like the active tanking situation Blizzard had designed. They should have stayed with the more passive Frost Tanking tree if they wanted all the tanks to be reasonably similar in performance.

I must say I am slightly worried about the future of tanking in general. What happens if we don't want an active mitigation setup. I am actively mitigating the damage that other people would take if I was not taunting, turning the targets to face certain ways, moving targets away from people or areas, interupting, etc..

The way I see it, you gave DKs too much to do with not quite enough resources to compete with other tanks in the long game. I am not sure if something like this would fix the problem but I can't see that it would hurt. How about making Death Strike always buffer the DK for x% of the tanks hit points, based on mastery, reguardless if the attack actually strikes the target. Heck use some multiple of the DKs base hit points so they don't end up stacking stam.

Now it becomes an attack that DKs still have to "actively" use to protect themselves. They are going to want to use it as much as they can to keep that buffer refreshed, but they no longer have to devote extra stat points to keeping hit and expertise as high as they currently do. Their level of damage mitagation becomes much more predictable, similar to how other tanks currently work.

As with anything in our world, unpredictability is bad for business. When the stock market goes bouncing around, people freak out. When a DKs health gets all spikey, the DK and his or her healers freak out. Give the DKs a bit of stability and everyone gets a bit less crazy.
Blood tanking is broken? Hmm... not sure what to make of that; I've been blood tanking for the past 2 days. Should I see a doctor or something? Now I'm getting worried...


Personally, I don't see anything wrong with Blood tanking. The nature of the spec leaves a lot of potential for overachieving, for those players that want to improve.

However, I like the idea that misses/dodges/parries may not be an issue anymore. The consensus among tanks has been, for the majority of the expansion, that stacking mitigation out weighed any negatives that lack of threat stats would cause. Threat is a non-issue when vengeance kicks in anyways, and we have tricks/MD to deal with the opening, as well as a number of class-specific options for dealing with pre-vengeance threat. At this point, misses/dodges/parries seem like more of an annoyance than an acceptable trade-off.

I would love for tanking to focus solely on mitigation, and have mitigation be less passive.

Just a quick comment on your opening there, nobody argues that blood is anything less than awesome in 5-mans. The issue arises when you start raiding, and even then only is really obvious when you start doing hard modes, mainly due to spike damage. Therefore, threat changes aren't going to help balance the issue, we need either better passive mitigation or some other mechanic to balance us around the extreme endgame, without making us even more powerful in 5 mans and normals.
I'm just going to put my 2 cents in here. I think feedback on this from the player base is important for Blizzard. I've played a tank since BC. In BC I played a Prot Pally. Sure they were work and a little gimped at the time, but it was fun. When Wrath came out I fell in _love_ with my shiny new DK and started tanking on him (as Frost, I loved Frost tanking). Yes, I played Blood tank spec in 3.2x TotC like everyone else and thought the concept was a cool one. A tank who could self heal in a pinch was fun. I also dabbled with Blood tanking in ICC but mainly ran Frost because I enjoyed it better, and loved competitive stealing of trash aggro from my other tank buddies (we were a 25 man guild and still are. )

Anyway, to make a long story short - I really don't like DK tanking any more. Instead of having cool abilities that can make a tough spot a little easier on my healers -or- be able to save my own tail in a pinch, I _have_ to use what was once cool Blood tricks of the trade just to stay alive. Thats not fun. I also raid lead and let me tell you, watching my damage incoming so I can time my Death Strike while trying to figure out who to brez _and_ not stand in the fire or make sure the boss doesn't cleave the melee dps - not fun!

So I roll on a prot warrior now. I gave up my DK. Its a shame, I really like him. I have all sorts of cool cheezements, old gear etc. I tanked every raid boss in WotLK on him. Now, I dust him off if we need a melee dps in a pinch. But I don't tank on him. I'm not a big fan of ultimatums or threats and that sort of thing. But I really think that if Prot Warriors end up with a similar play style as DKs, well, I'll probably stop tanking. Tanking is enough work without that added responsibility. Thats just the truth as I see it. I'm not looking to start a flame war or anything like that.
08/16/2011 04:56 PMPosted by Aarschott
I'm seeing a pattern here. So do you think Blizzard realizes tanking shortage is a community problem.

Actually it's a player choice issue.

Some players just do not want to be the tank, no matter how hard or easy it is.
No matter what type of game mechanics it has.

They just do not like that playstyle, being the one to hold agro (on single or multiple mobs), kite the boss (when needed), pull aggro off of sloppy dps'ers who can't manage their own aggro, and all the other "duties" that are required of the tank.

And no number of rewards or mechanics styles will change that.

Lets face it, who doesn't like seeing big numbers going off and blowing stuff up?

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