GC's latest blog, Active Mitigation Playstyle

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Right now it's tough for DK tanks because they're the only ones on anything resembling an active mitigation model. The one active mitigation guy is going to look like he's working harder than the passive mitigation guys because, in a lot of ways, he is. If all tanks had worked this way from the start, it would be the norm, and nobody would be worried about jumping onto that model.

We've already established that threat isn't making for very compelling encounter design, and removing it offers us the ability to get creative with some of the mechanics that we're using; both in encounter and class design. In a world with no threat management, and no active mitigation, that doesn't leave a lot for tanks to do though. We think that making tanking more active, and focusing that activity around mitigation (which feels immediately useful) will generate some very rewarding gameplay. We want the act of tanking to be engaging, interesting and fun. We think the path forward will offer more of that for all the tanking classes.

Also, I've seen a number of references to making tanking easier in this thread and elsewhere. "Easier" isn't really the goal. The goal is to discard a mechanic which we don't think is working particularly well anymore, and replace it with something more focused and interesting. Doing so should also have the effect of allowing tanks who aren't as geared still do their job when grouped with players who outgear (or even outlevel them a bit). They'll still be responsible for doing a good job, but their absolute ability to hold the attention of the boss won't be a factor; their ability to play well and mitigate damage will be.

We're aware of player concerns about Blood tanking, and we'll work to ensure that Blood tanking will continue to be viable and effective into the future. On that note, we're interested in addressing some of the concerns that have been expressed about the spec (potentially as soon as the next major patch), though we want to accomplish that goal without sacrificing what sets the spec apart and makes it interesting.


I'd like to just say thanks for a blue response, finally recognizing that blood death knights have "concerns" and that you're "interested in addressing" some of them as early as 4.3

I do however, want to highlight this piece:

Right now it's tough for DK tanks because they're the only ones on anything resembling an active mitigation model. The one active mitigation guy is going to look like he's working harder than the passive mitigation guys because, in a lot of ways, he is. If all tanks had worked this way from the start, it would be the norm, and nobody would be worried about jumping onto that model.


The reason it's tough for death knight tanks (in end-game content, death knights steamroll content they outgear), is because we have an effective health problem compared to block capped warrior / paladins and high armor druids. With the melee damage of the Firelands heroic bosses, it is very posssible for a death knight tank to be 3-shot. Warriors, paladins, and druids are in 4-5 shot range, which is a lot easier for healers to manage.

Certainly we do have to work harder, but the problem with the death knight's active mitigation model, is that its a "re-active" active mitigation model. Death Strike's heal and blood shield are based on the damage you take. You have to take full hits, and live through them to use it. In an enviorment where we can't take more then 2 melee hits in a row, death strike seriously falls short. With 8~ seconds between death strikes, consecutive melee hits leave us defenseless.

Even if you make it so that you can only block or savage defense absorb when you hit the button, death knights would still have it rough. Block and savage defesne (to a smaller degree) reduce damage "before" you take it, where as death strike has to take damage before it can react to it. Unless you can provide an enviorment where death knights are assured to live through at least 3 melee attacks, with no out side help, we'll always be in an extremely uncomfortable position.
First, my healing model gets changed, so I have to shelf my priest.

Now, the tanking model will probably get changed, so I have to shelf my bear tank.

Why won't you just let me enjoy tanking or healing? :'(
First, my healing model gets changed, so I have to shelf my priest.

Now, the tanking model will probably get changed, so I have to shelf my bear tank.

Why won't you just let me enjoy tanking or healing? :'(


They expect people to completely and utterly re-learn their character every expansion or so.

My GF, too, felt the healing pain when Cataclysm came out.

She doesn't even play her druid healer anymore.

I miss her..

Edit: Also, I was trying to learn Resto Shaman healing near the end of Wrath... I haven't even bothered trying in Cata. After every spell sucking up so much mana, I didn't really see the urge to try it.
I think people are taking it the wrong way. All the other tanks have their 'shield' like ability passively where as dks have to use abilities, admittedly they aren't in the greatest place right now but that isn't the point. Making the other tanks actually use abilities to get the most out of their block doesn't necessarily mean they will go to where blood dks are right now.

08/16/2011 07:25 PMPosted by Hirai
I haven't even bothered trying in Cata. After every spell sucking up so much mana, I didn't really see the urge to try it.


Get some gear and heal. It gets a lot better and in fact our guild healers can effectively spam their spells the same as they could in Wrath.
I agree with the OP on most of his points, especially where he mentions the part about tanks disappearing if significant changes are made to make tanking across the other three classes as "fun" as Death Knight tanking.

I honestly can't believe it has taken Blizzard this long to this "realization" about threat, but I sense an even bigger nerf coming when the developers realize that something else needs fixing to counter the changes now being made.
I think people are taking it the wrong way. All the other tanks have their 'shield' like ability passively where as dks have to use abilities, admittedly they aren't in the greatest place right now but that isn't the point. Making the other tanks actually use abilities to get the most out of their block doesn't necessarily mean they will go to where blood dks are right now.

I haven't even bothered trying in Cata. After every spell sucking up so much mana, I didn't really see the urge to try it.


Get some gear and heal. It gets a lot better and in fact our guild healers can effectively spam their spells the same as they could in Wrath.


Therein lies the problem: In Wrath, I found that starting a new healer from scratch (that is, zero JP and nothing but crafted/AH bought gear) was absolutely painful. It didn't help that I got Forge of Souls nonstop. I could do H-UP at the time, but it was iffy. The tank had to be good and DPS had to get out of the fire and not lick windows. But... Forge of Souls, with more than 1 other mana user? Absolutely impossible because of Bronjahm's overpowered overly-discriminating attack that does 80% damage to everyone who has a large mana pool every 6-8 seconds. I couldn't handle that much damage.

I'd be starting from scratch, with next-to-zero JP, with nothing but AH-bought gear... and seeing how some dungeons are VERY touchy.... I don't think I've got the energy to try it. Maybe next expansion when they make up their minds whether they want Spam or Triage healing, but not when they got some half-and-half system where they don't even seem to have made up their minds where they wanna go with it yet. Or, maybe, if I get my 2 tanks geared to the max with JP, and have nothing else to do, I might fiddle with it as a side-project or something. Maybe.
It's a mixed bag and a lot of what I wanted to say has already been said but I'll just leave you with this:

There's a saying, "A dead DPS'er does no damage." Well, now I've got another, "A dead tank can't hold threat." Up the multiplier all you want, 500% times zero is still zero.
It's a mixed bag and a lot of what I wanted to say has already been said but I'll just leave you with this:

There's a saying, "A dead DPS'er does no damage." Well, now I've got another, "A dead tank can't hold threat." Up the multiplier all you want, 500% times zero is still zero.


Well, let's hope that they understand that Blood DK does not work very well in high-end raiding content, and make some changes to make it work.

The idea of making a tank more actively mitigate his damage is good and all, but not when it is causing tanks to drop dead when he gets any sort of latency or anything.

Blizz needs to understand that we will get Latency (look at their Devout Harbinger blunders), or that sometimes we have to look away from the screen because of things happening around us RL. We are not robots hooked up to our computers. We need a little breathing room. Surely this can be accomplished without removing the fun part?
08/16/2011 07:50 PMPosted by Hirai
Therein lies the problem: In Wrath, I found that starting a new healer from scratch (that is, zero JP and nothing but crafted/AH bought gear) was absolutely painful. It didn't help that I got Forge of Souls nonstop. I could do H-UP at the time, but it was iffy. The tank had to be good and DPS had to get out of the fire and not lick windows. But... Forge of Souls, with more than 1 other mana user? Absolutely impossible because of Bronjahm's overpowered overly-discriminating attack that does 80% damage to everyone who has a large mana pool every 6-8 seconds. I couldn't handle that much damage.

Heh, I remember starting a shaman healer at the end of Wrath too (I was getting a bit tired of Priest and Druid healing). I always got Halls of Reflection even when I had the minimum gear for it.

Those were some fun dungeon runs. Chain heal was pretty sweet because people bunched up in that one corner.
08/16/2011 07:56 PMPosted by Illiyah
Therein lies the problem: In Wrath, I found that starting a new healer from scratch (that is, zero JP and nothing but crafted/AH bought gear) was absolutely painful. It didn't help that I got Forge of Souls nonstop. I could do H-UP at the time, but it was iffy. The tank had to be good and DPS had to get out of the fire and not lick windows. But... Forge of Souls, with more than 1 other mana user? Absolutely impossible because of Bronjahm's overpowered overly-discriminating attack that does 80% damage to everyone who has a large mana pool every 6-8 seconds. I couldn't handle that much damage.

Heh, I remember starting a shaman healer at the end of Wrath too (I was getting a bit tired of Priest and Druid healing). I always got Halls of Reflection even when I had the minimum gear for it.

Those were some fun dungeon runs. Chain heal was pretty sweet because people bunched up in that one corner.


I never got HoR because I never turned the quest in. I knew that there was no way I could handle HoR because I was at that stage of being able to handle, though uncomfortably so, the "First Heroics". Unfortunately, Blizzard failed to add a quest that opens Forge of Souls. Had they done that, I might have actually become and stayed a Resto Shaman. But I gave up after getting FoS 5 times in a row one day. All but one were loaded with Mana users. I managed to get through FoS 1 time, and that was when the group was DK/Rogue/Bear/Warrior/Me. I was the only one taking damage from Bronjahm's attacks.
The idea of making a tank more actively mitigate his damage is good and all, but not when it is causing tanks to drop dead when he gets any sort of latency or anything.

Blizz needs to understand that we will get Latency (look at their Devout Harbinger blunders), or that sometimes we have to look away from the screen because of things happening around us RL. We are not robots hooked up to our computers. We need a little breathing room. Surely this can be accomplished without removing the fun part?


Yeah, I'm not against active mitigation in principle but the Blood DK playstyle is by all accounts too unforgiving. Remember back when Cataclysm was on it's way and Blizzard said, "More health for everyone so things are more forgiving." I don't think they applied that "more forgiving" part universally. From what I've heard, many DK tanks are looking at the WotLK "the tank can be globaled" problems if they're not perfect in every way.
The idea of making a tank more actively mitigate his damage is good and all, but not when it is causing tanks to drop dead when he gets any sort of latency or anything.

Blizz needs to understand that we will get Latency (look at their Devout Harbinger blunders), or that sometimes we have to look away from the screen because of things happening around us RL. We are not robots hooked up to our computers. We need a little breathing room. Surely this can be accomplished without removing the fun part?


Yeah, I'm not against active mitigation in principle but the Blood DK playstyle is by all accounts too unforgiving. Remember back when Cataclysm was on it's way and Blizzard said, "More health for everyone so things are more forgiving." I don't think they applied that "more forgiving" part universally. From what I've heard, many DK tanks are looking at the WotLK "the tank can be globaled" problems if they're not perfect in every way.


I've found that "More Health" thing means absolutely jack.

Oh, it does mean something -- it is MUCH harder for any non-healer to actually heal themselves.

Back in Wrath, you had 22k health and your heals did what, 9k-ish?

Fast-Forward.... you have 120k health, and your heals do 16k-ish.

Nice. I have ~5x health, but don't even do 2x healing?

Even with Crusade, with my 150k health, that 22k is a drop in the bucket. Unless, of course, you're a Prot Warrior, and then you go from half to full ZIP just like that. But you have to land a killing blow to do that.

Oh, and you still die in 2 hits flat unless you're a tank in endgame PvE. Just like you did in Wrath. That extra health really doesn't mean a heck of a lot, TBH.
08/16/2011 06:25 PMPosted by Daxxarri
Right now it's tough for DK tanks because they're the only ones on anything resembling an active mitigation model


"Heals you for X% of the damage taken in the last 5 seconds" sounds RE-Active.


1). Make life Miserable when the Tank is lower geared than his DPS groupmates (especially entry-level tanks),

2). Make the beginning of boss battles more difficult, and cause us to waste resources (instead of yanno, trying to save them till the end of the fight) to try and get the thing under control ASAP because of how Vengeance works,

3). Make LFD dungeons take longer when DPS has to throttle to avoid pulling threat,

4). Create more squabbling when elite DPS decide to refuse to throttle because of a weaker tank that is just starting out.

It is unnecessary drama and I never found it "fun". When the tank is capable of holding threat, nobody cares about threat. When the tank can't hold threat because of sheer numbers, then everybody hates it.


Concerning the first issue you've brought up, I can't speak for others on this forum, or for the silent majority for that matter. However, there have been times when I've been grouped with players who've massively out-geared me, and yet I've always pulled through. Now, the only problem in this first concern that could be taken seriously is the game being greatly difficult for newer players to this aspect of the game. Nevertheless, I don't think I need to mention that this game is not balanced around the person who's new to the experience, it's balanced around the player who knows what they're doing, given that they don't out-gear the content.

On your second issue, one having to burn resources to quickly build threat at the beginning of an encounter is not an issue with the game itself. This is only necessary because there are those in your group who don't want to wait for the tank to build sufficient threat, which is a community issue. This, of course, is curable by having DPS use their threat-transfer abilities at the beginning of a fight, which helps to greatly increase the tank's own threat, reducing the need to burn resources to build a large amount of threat at the beginning of an encounter. Either this, or the DPS can shut-up and wait for a few seconds for the tank to build threat.

As for your third issue, if the DPS need to cut back on their output to prevent a wipe, then they need to do so. Players having to limit themselves so that they don't get wrecked isn't an issue with the game, it's an issue with players who want to grind their points as fast as possible; if players have a problem with doing things right then this issue is a community issue.

The fourth issue is a pointless one, as those who abuse other players because they're in the gear with the bigger numbers are not an issue concerning the game. Players with bigger e-peens who abuse other players are a problem that Blizzard cannot solve, as it is an issue with the community.

Now, just because you, a single person out of millions, don't find a particular aspect of the game to be fun, doesn't mean that the other couple of millions feel the same way. Playing the game right in no way causes "drama" unless the people playing the game don't like doing it right. If the tank can't play to his full ability, it's his fault, not the game's; likewise for DPS who feel they don't need a tank to hold threat off of them.
08/16/2011 02:13 PMPosted by Celivan
But it also touched on the Dev's interest in making the current Blood style of tanking (consuming resources for mitigation) into the "homogenization" for all tanks, by which they mean to have all tanks monitoring resources to maintain their survivability.


I fail to see how this is a bad thing. Tanking, at least from my perspective has always been about survivability. Your first job is to establish threat, then to position, and lastly to survive. A dead tank is useful to no one.

simply because it is entirely too hard to play correctly(Read: what dev's consider fun) while progressing through HM content. Blood DK's have vanished from this world, if you look at progressing guilds.


I don't think it's too hard to play correctly. The problem is that in order to survive as a DK tank effectively, you have to cap threat stats. Ideally in order to ensure you get that Blood Shield your DS needs to hit. And to be sure your DS hits each and every time means 8% melee hit and 26 expertise. And to make that Blood Shield worthwhile you need mastery. There just simply isn't enough room for stats on gear to make this all balance out. You can play a perfect priority but that one DS missing can spell the end of you in a fight... and that's what's too hard and not fun.

This playstyle, if transferred to all other tanks in some form or another, will inevitably lead to even less tanks roaming the LFD, Trade chat tanks selling Q's will be a thing of the past, and overall the tank population will go down.


How so? Pally mitigation has changed to be more active but they don't have to sacrifice mastery or avoidance for it which is probably why they QQ less about it. It's not like there are less pally tanks in LFD/Trade now because Holy Shield has to be clicked, and it won't be as long as it's easy to do and doesn't rely on unnecessary stats. (Can you tell I'm bitter about the way DS works?)

I agree with the populace that tanking has gotten "harder" this x-pac, and the Blood tree is the hardest of them all.


Agreed. The nonsense of DS is why I don't tank anymore. (Queue more bitterness)

If you homogenize the tank specs to be anywhere near similar to Blood in its current state, you will effectively make tanks a thing of the past, and the PvE segment of this game will be unreachable for even more of your customer base.


Here I have to actively disagree with you. Active mitigation isn't hard as long as it's done properly. Pally active mitigation, in my opinion, is done properly. DK is not, simply because it relies too much on RNG or having threat stats capped.
the issue isnt that blood tanking is broken or not on par due to relying on an active mitigation system. the issue is that you made a class that was designed in the beginning to be more difficult to play and are now trying to redesign it to make it more casual... ive ran with many dk tanks and ive done it myself quite a bit... if the class is played right by an experienced player there is no problem whatsoever. Its the simple fact that by making this game so casual friendly you are seeing unskilled players more and more often who simply are not playing properly and thats where the statistics are coming from... the cure is to stop dumbing down content. if someone is bad at a game then they are bad at a game... that doesnt mean you should change the game to suit bad play style... instead blizzard should be more focused on rewarding skilled players so that the casuals have something to work towards. in essence stop trying to just hand everything to people and be like "hey we know you suck but that's ok, well just make it easier for you so you can feel like you have some skill"
i foresee more Arms/fury warriors, dps Feral, frosk/unhoy DK, and ret paladins coming from this.
Right now it's tough for DK tanks because they're the only ones on anything resembling an active mitigation model.


No, it's tough because they take more damage under the expectation of healing it back, and die when damage is too high. Fix that part. The active part is fine (provided everyone plays by the same rules, which you seem to be doing). Just fix the spikey bit. Please.

I really dont care if we all need to hit with strike x to activate our flavourful mitigation. As long as it's all the same and one of us isn't the odd man out like we have now. Come on.


Yes, it is definitely the "heal back" mechanic that is seriously broken. Just like anything else ... preventing damage >>>> healing back damage.

At this point they've seemingly rejected all of our previous suggestions. Ignoring all of the counter-intuitive items, and old DPS talents, I'd say if we could just get DS setup such that it can't be parried when soft cap'd, boost the shield and remove the heal component (w/ Blood Talent) we can at least have respectable survival ability and that translates to viability for any tank.

As a flavor thing of "blood", they could just map the shadow priest healing effect onto Blood Tanks for all/most of the abilities. Make it red & bloody (one of the enchant effects from WotLK) and call it a day. It's a mechanic and code they already have in-game, and know what thresholds to balance it at. People don't stack shadow priests for the healing, after all. And how many tanks you gonna have in an encounter anyway? That would solve the blood flavoring if we must have healing. That or buff the worms or something.
08/16/2011 08:07 PMPosted by Darkinin
Concerning the first issue you've brought up, I can't speak for others on this forum, or for the silent majority for that matter. However, there have been times when I've been grouped with players who've massively out-geared me, and yet I've always pulled through. Now, the only problem in this first concern that could be taken seriously is the game being greatly difficult for newer players to this aspect of the game. Nevertheless, I don't think I need to mention that this game is not balanced around the person who's new to the experience, it's balanced around the player who knows what they're doing, given that they don't out-gear the content.


But yet, if you make the game absolutely horrible to the entry-level tank, the said entry-level tank is more likely to just quit and say "screw it", or, worse, get geared up by Qing as Heals or DPS, and then enter a Heroic with little tanking experience and end up getting called "fail" etc because he didn't have enough practice. You can't just ignore the fact you need to give people a smooth learning curve.

On your second issue, one having to burn resources to quickly build threat at the beginning of an encounter is not an issue with the game itself. This is only necessary because there are those in your group who don't want to wait for the tank to build sufficient threat, which is a community issue. This, of course, is curable by having DPS use their threat-transfer abilities at the beginning of a fight, which helps to greatly increase the tank's own threat, reducing the need to burn resources to build a large amount of threat at the beginning of an encounter. Either this, or the DPS can shut-up and wait for a few seconds for the tank to build threat.


This goes hand-in-hand with Throttling. Less DPS = more Time spent fighting the mob = More Healer Mana used = Less Likely to Win battle. All because of having to throttle your DPS from the get-go until Vengeance catches up. Not to mention, it makes Heroics take longer if people are doing less DPS on bosses during the first 10 seconds or so.

As for your third issue, if the DPS need to cut back on their output to prevent a wipe, then they need to do so. Players having to limit themselves so that they don't get wrecked isn't an issue with the game, it's an issue with players who want to grind their points as fast as possible; if players have a problem with doing things right then this issue is a community issue.


Any time you throttle DPS, you're making fights take longer. Nobody likes the 45min+ dungeon run. They rather see 25-30min.

The fourth issue is a pointless one, as those who abuse other players because they're in the gear with the bigger numbers are not an issue concerning the game. Players with bigger e-peens who abuse other players are a problem that Blizzard cannot solve, as it is an issue with the community.


Perhaps, but, the changes they propose, would HELP with it. A nice side-effect.

Now, just because you, a single person out of millions, don't find a particular aspect of the game to be fun, doesn't mean that the other couple of millions feel the same way. Playing the game right in no way causes "drama" unless the people playing the game don't like doing it right. If the tank can't play to his full ability, it's his fault, not the game's; likewise for DPS who feel they don't need a tank to hold threat off of them.


Who are you to deem how to play the game "right"? And me being "a single person out of millions"... what about some of the other people who've said "YAY!" to the Blog? Or what about the Devs themselves? They seem to think in similar terms as me. What about them? You're saying they're wrong too? Or are YOU the "Single person out of millions" who think that out-dated Threat mechanic is actually good for the game?

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