|Dev Watercooler -- Bloody Mitigation||August-31-2011 11:29 AM PDT (6 years ago)|
What Active Mitigation Actually Means, and the Future of the Blood Death Knight
We recently buffed tank threat significantly and suggested that we would fill in any potential lost gameplay with new gameplay. What I meant by that was that if tanks donâ€™t need to hit their buttons to generate threat, they may realize they donâ€™t need to hit most of their buttons at all, and just stand there waiting until the right time to Shield Wall. Going a GCD or two without using a combat ability is fine with us. Standing around much longer than that gets boring quickly.
Some Active Mitigation Models
Here are three different models for why hitting buttons can matter to tanks. It's easy to come up with alternative models, and none of these are perfect, nor are we ready to announce which is the one weâ€™re going to try first. But these ideas can get some discussions going.
This one really isn't active mitigation per se, but it is a way to make pushing buttons matter. We have berserk timers or other DPS checks on a lot of our encounters. Typically tank DPS isnâ€™t taken seriously on these fights, which is a little puzzling at first glance. Yes, the tank may not be able to match the Enhance shaman for damage done, but also consider that the Enhance shaman would absolutely love it if she could improve her DPS by a paltry 3K. That 3K may be enough to meet that DPS check. Note that Iâ€™m not talking about tanks being able to beat out skilled DPS players; I think most of us agree that would be a little bizarre. But that doesnâ€™t mean tank damage has to be a non-factor either. Sure, the Feral tank may be doing 16K DPS to the shamanâ€™s 30K, but 3K is 3K.
This is the model that several players in the community have predicted will be our approach, and the idea has some merit. Under this model, imagine that a warrior wants to hit Shield Slam because it makes his next Shield Block larger. Imagine Revenge procs a short parry buff. Devastate and Thunder Clap already have roles applying debuffs. This model we think could feel pretty intuitive. One downside is that each individual button might feel less impactful and make the experience less visceral. Shield Block feels awesome because when you push it, the damage numbers go way down, and you feel â€œsafeâ€ for the duration. If you replace one slice of that pie with Revenge and Shield Slam, then everything gets watered down. If the rotation is very simple, then it feels like passive mitigation; if not then itâ€™s a stressful juggling act. Another potential downside is that keeping up multiple buffs and debuffs can be tedious. Rather than it feeling like a bonus to get those procs, it can feel like a penalty whenever theyâ€™re not up. Even if you are hit and expertise capped, sometimes you have to move away from the boss to avoid a fire ring, or you need to leave to pick up an add. If you canâ€™t bank the mitigation benefit, then the risk is you feel like you donâ€™t really have control over your survivability.
This model lets you bank the benefits. Imagine you have to build up a resource to use on short-term cooldowns. We couldn't include the Shield Walls and their ilk here, because an "oh snap" button needs to be available immediately and not in the future once you've earned some resources. But weaker cooldowns such as Shield Block and Holy Shield could certainly work this way. Imagine the paladin tank needs Crusader Strike to land to generate Holy Power, and can then decide to spend that Holy Power on Holy Shield Block or Word of Glory. Neither of those would have a cooldown in this design, so more hits landing will always be better -- it's not just a matter of hitting enough to have 100% uptime. (You'd probably also need the ability to save Holy Power more than you can today so that there was less pressure to spend a cooldown as soon as it became available.)
Bloody Death Knights
The risk of talking about one particular spec in a blog is then everyone will wonder when BM hunters or Disc priests are going to get "their" blog. It's not going to work like that, but since I referenced the DK tanking style so much in the previous tanking blog, I feel like it's appropriate to go into a little more detail about what we don't like about DK tanking (and how weâ€™re going to fix it) so that all tanks have a better idea of what the future might hold for their own character.
One of the fundamental tensions in DK tanking is deciding whether to spend a rune on diseases (which offer necessary tanking debuffs) or save the rune for Death Strike. Our hope was that choosing how to spend the resources would be interesting. A rogue for example has to decide on whether to spend resources on Slice and Dice or Eviscerate (or a number of other things). In reality though, we donâ€™t think this decision has been a fun one. You feel cheated if you refresh diseases and then need to Death Strike a moment later, and you feel like a bad tank if you just neglect diseases. For 4.3, weâ€™re going to give Blood DKs a 30 second Outbreak, so they will never have to manually apply diseases to a single target. Yes, that can lead to even more Death Strikes but we think adding a fun alternative to Death Strike is not the kind of thing we can easily change for 4.3.
We originally designed this talent to encourage DKs to not sit on their runes, and it worked fine for that. However, the current model of Death Strike, which we also like, is that the timing of the Death Strike matters a great deal, encouraging you toâ€¦ you guessed itâ€¦ sit on your runes. Weâ€™re just going to change Blade Barrier to something more passive (and yes, temporarily more boring) for 4.3.
It sucks when Death Strike misses. "Stack hit and expertise" is an answer to that, but not one that's really viable or even fair given that other tanks will care even less about hit and expertise in the short term. Rather than making Death Strike always hit, weâ€™re going to let it always heal you, and proc Blood Shield, even when it misses. This kind of tweak may very well be an interim solution given that everything I said above was that we want tanks to care about hitting to drive their mitigation. But we donâ€™t think itâ€™s fair to penalize the DK for working the â€œnew wayâ€ while everyone else is still working the "old way," and it's too much of a change for 4.3 to apply the "new way" to the other three classes. In the long term, as in the Protadin example above, the rotation can't just be Death Strike, Death Strike, Death Strike... Death Strike.
This change is something weâ€™re exploring but may not pan out, so no claiming we "promised" this *cough*Abyssal Maw*cough*. Soâ€¦ CAVEAT: this may not come to pass. What weâ€™re considering doing with Bone Shield is have it mitigate damage spikes. DKs are prone to spikes more so than the other tanks, particularly the paladin and warrior who can "block cap" (I assume most of you know what that entails, if not, a helpful explanation if someone asks in the comments would be appreciated). Death Strike can theoretically handle the spikes, but if you miss (less of an issue with the above change) or time your DS poorly, you might take much higher damage than other tanks from a single hit. Our idea is that Bone Shield would expend a charge to dampen those spikes specifically. If a single attack did a huge percent of your total health, then some of that attack would be automatically lessened for the cost of a charge. Smaller hits wouldnâ€™t spend a charge.
This is an even longer-term change. Death Strike feeling reactive is fun, and one of the things we like about how the DK tanks. Death Striking after a big hit can heal you more than Death Striking before a big hit, so you should ideally pay attention to what the boss is doing instead of just mashing buttons as soon as the runes come up. When you heal a novice DK, you may just notice they take a lot of damage. When you get in sync with a talented DK, you come to know when they are going to Death Strike and recover from big hits. However, sometimes inevitably the tank is going to hit DS too soon and not have it available a second later. Our idea is to somehow turn Blood Shield into more of a pool that you actively try to build and maintain. A system where youâ€™re able to add to a pool of absorption would provide more granularity, which in turn would be more forgiving of errors or streaks of bad luck.
There you have it. When we're ready for the 4.3 PTR, youâ€™ll hopefully see some of these DK changes in place. The blog we wrote that dove into our thought process for the 4.2 patch notes ended up being the most positively received blog that the class team has ever done, so weâ€™ll definitely do one of those again for 4.3. As I mentioned, more active mitigation will probably wait for farther in the future. We might talk about how we decide on when a change is more appropriate for a hotfix, patch, or full expansion in the next developer blog. While it might be short on upcoming class changes, hopefully it will still prove interesting to some of you.