There’s a crab in the watercooler

In case you missed out on the excitement the other day, there was a hotfix to threat and an explanation from GC in the Watercooler. I would recommend reading the watercooler post, it was informative and insightful to current development mindset. It’s not every day you get to see the thought process of the designer go, “hey, maybe this isn’t working like we want it to so we’ll change it.”

Here’s the pearl causing all the irritation:

Threat generation for all tanks has been increased to 500%, up from 300%. This applies to warriors in Defensive Stance, death knights in Blood Presence, druids in Bear Form, and paladins with Righteous Fury.

There’s also a tidbit about Vengeance in the patch notes, but no one seemed to be upset by that change, with most agreeing it was a needed buff to help with initial threat gain. That leaves us with an overall buff to tank threat.

And… the watercooler post makes mention of modeling other tanking classes after the DK system of active management.

Cue the end of the world in 3… 2… 1…

Responses are falling into basic categories:


My completely empirical study showed that this response was most likely to be posted by mid-geared pure DPS classes. (And by completely empirical, I mean I exhaustively researched the responses. And by exhaustively researched I mean scanned about two dozen pages and got bored reading the same shit over and over again.)

A subset of responders actually posted from tanking classes (with tanking specs!) but seemed to be higher geared and better progressed.


Usually tanks posting; some seem to genuinely like the risk of playing ping pong with mobs and others have very well trained DPS at their beck and call. Most probably stopped reading early in the post and didn’t get to the part where it is explained that this is a temporary fix to be replaced by new tanking models.


It seems that a decent chunk of individuals either swore off tanking, usually due to overgeared DPS in ZA/ZG being dicks, or were scared off of rolling a tank, usually due to overgeared DPS in ZA/ZG being dicks. Hmmm… trend? Personally, this makes tanking more appealing to me. I’m completely terrified of all the taunting and positioning, and other magical stuff that a tank has to do. This gives me one less thing to be on the front burner. (They aren’t removing threat, just making it less of an issue. Less of an issue does not a non-issue make.)


A portion fails the reading comprehension test, but at least they made it to the bottom of the article. No where does it say that the planned changes for tanking will make all tanking classes mimic DK tanks. They are looking at different ways of managing resources (instead of threat) but will not make each class a DK clone. First they complain that tanking was already easy and they want the challenge, but when you rename the challenge from “threat” to “something else, maybe more to do with resource management, kinda like we already do with DKs” they get their panties all in a twist. Remember, when you see the phrase “work more like” it means they are using that ability as an example or a base model to start from, not a carbon copy template for creating an ability that differs only in name and icon.

The devs looked at the traditional role of threat in an encounter (giving something to the tank to do) and decided that maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what tanks should be worrying about in a fight.

Per GC, the change is being made for the following reasons:

Throttling – DPS very slow, and by slow I mean FUCKING SLOW! Somewhere along the line (probably in Wrath) it was decided that waiting for 3 sunders was, well, boring. A quote I saw somewhere said something to the effect of, if you have a game with a weapon that is a dinosaur with a lazer mounted on its head and you aren’t supposed to use it, the encounter design is fundamentally flawed. Likewise, if the game gives you 2-10 buttons to blow shit up and you’re expected to sit on your hands for the first half of an encounter, pushing zero of your shiny button… someone’s not having fun and the mechanics are flawed. DPS has become highly competitive and many encounters have strict enrage timers or other mechanics that require shit be blown up NOW, not after a 5-10 second ramp up of threat.

Gear disparity is a huge issue here as well. I don’t run very many random dungeons… any more. Even as a healer, I would see tanks in the process of getting geared up get steamrolled on threat by moderately or decently geared DPS. This situation has only worsened as newer tanks are hitting end game and getting crushed by raid-geared DPS cruising through randoms to cap their valor for the week or get orbs. I don’t want to pin the problem entirely on gear, but there are limits to what a player can do within the confines of the stats of their current gearset. There are finite limits a given set of gear can produce, even with a very skilled player behind the keyboard and we have hit a point where the lower end of possible DPS threat from good-to-great geared DPS is far exceeding the mid-to-high threat potential of a newer tank.

There are also people that don’t quite *get* how to tank and haven’t mastered the skills associated with proper cooldown usage, positioning, etc. The more often they get their faces smashed in by overzealous DPS, the less inclination and opportunity they have to learn how to do it right.

And I will admit a big portion of the problem is the DPS community. Whether impatient, ignorant, bored, or trying to make up for a small penis size, a lot of threat issues could be mitigated through proper cooldown usage or… again, by sitting around for half the fight… and we’re right back to having no fun. So tanks can’t have fun because they are being yelled at for not producing enough threat and DPS can’t have fun because they can’t push any buttons, and the healers aren’t having fun because they’re being blamed for people dying.

Tanks are busy – GC is right. Current fights have a lot of things to watch out for and they are now required to provide a decent amount of damage. They are more than just meat shields. It has already been proven that tanks can have an interesting role in an encounter and not have threat come in to play – Alysrazor. The chick imprints on the tank and will remain glued to him regardless of how much (if any) help he gets from outside DPS. But there are cleaves in the center of the room to avoid, brushfire, sometimes assisting with a Fieroblast, and worms to find to appease the angry baby bird. Oh, and try not to die during all that. Threat plays zero role in that portion of the fight and the tanks (and their healers) are the busiest people on the floor. To me, this shows that when the constraint of designing an encounter with the potential for threat throttling is removed, the developers can come up with some creative and exciting fights.

Threat stats aren’t fun – I’m not a tank so I can’t speak from a pure-tanking perspective, but stats aren’t really much fun to anyone. Bigger numbers are better and there is a bit of joy to be found when balancing a perfect hit cap, but they aren’t fun. Having threat stats on gear just to make gear more interesting just perpetuates threat being boring. Here’s a boring toy with boring attachments to get for it. Be sure to ask mom before ordering!

We don’t need a more complex UI – Now here I have to disagree, but anyone that’s seen my UI will understand. I like data and pretty colored bars and Omen fulfills that need splendidly. As a healer, Omen will probably always come in handy for pinch situations if the tank and his uberthreat ever die or are removed from combat. Overall, they would prefer we watch the combat instead of staring at pretty bars to decide if we can risk popping a DPS CD or if we should continue to sit on our hands. That’s only fair. Technically speaking, we pay to play WoW, not watch pretty bars.

Dungeon Finder – A monster of their own making perhaps, but it still beats sitting around in Dal spamming LFG for hours. For people on odd time schedules or lacking guild participation, or just want to run that one last random of the night, the DF is an incredible tool. Its pitfalls and strengths are numerous enough for a post of their own, but it should suffice to say that the DF is here to stay. They WANT a mix of experienced and less experienced players to be thrown together. It works when the tank is geared and the DPS is equally or less geared, but it does not work if the tank is undergeared or new. People complain about how bad the tanks are in randoms and then they complain when those same tanks are given a buff to negate much of what the symptom was (the disease often being the dick DPS).

Let’s look at whom this temporary change affects:

Experienced and geared tanks with experienced and geared raid members – Won’t matter one iota of shit. They were already doing just fine. Now they might have a little more wiggle room to burn through farm content faster, earn achievements a bit easier, and not waste progression attempts to a bad string of positive numbers from the DPS and negative numbers for the tank.

Experienced and undergeared tanks with experienced and geared raid members – Won’t experience gear-dependent throttling. A truly skilled tank can overcome quite a bit, but there are finite limits.

Experienced and geared tanks with un-experienced and/or undergeared raid members – Won’t make a difference. They were able to fend off the noobs on the meters without trying before and will continue to do so.

Any un-experienced tank with experienced and/or geared raid members – Gives more cushion for learning, a little more forgiving of the fuckups. Lets tanks cut their teeth without costly wipes and accusations.

Any un-experienced tank with un-experienced and/or undergeared raid members – This is going to be a hot mess anyway. One less thing to worry about when trying to remember if standing in the fire gives a haste or crit buff. I can never remember, so just best to stand in it.

Encounter/gear/class designers – By making threat less of an issue (still not a non-issue) the developers can look at things in a completely new way and focus on bring more fun and less number crunching to the game. With the upcoming changes to tank design, maybe they can come up with really creative ways to make tanking engaging while still allowing great players to shine without penalizing the mediocre or learning players to death.

Ultimately, it’s too early to be throwing around cries of this being the best/worst thing to ever happen in the game. It was a bold move on their part to acknowledge that the threat mechanic may not be needed to keep tanks busy and they think they can do better. I think this may be an even larger impact to the game than the tree redesigns. We lived through that and we will live through this. Or it will fail miserably and we’ll all actually go outside and get some sunshine.


2 comments on “There’s a crab in the watercooler

  1. My paladin is mainly a healer, but I do use her prot OS sometimes if I’m really in a hurry, if my guild doesn’t need a healer, or if I want one of those exciting sacks of mysteries. But I never much enjoyed tanking, for the simple reason that I suck at it. I never could figure out what I was doing wrong, but I could never hold aggro on anything.

    But yesterday I did a random, and with the hotfix, suddenly I can tank. And with my taunts not being spammed every time they’re on CD, I actually enjoy it. I could relax and enjoy the run.

    I feel like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix–it’s like someone at Blizzard hit a button, and suddenly I know kung fu. I know that it’s all an illusion, and in reality I still suck, but it’s nice to be able to tank without being a burden to my group now.

    And besides, I always thought threat was a boring mechanic. I’d rather worry about positioning, active mitigation, or fight mechanics–the parts of tanking I actually enjoy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s