The Complete Tank Transformation – Classic to WoD Walkthrough!

tank

Welcome everyone, I’m making this article specifically for two reasons. The first of the two is because a lot of people I speak with make comments such as “Man I can’t believe how much tanking has changed” and its inevitably returned with “Has it really changed that much?” The second person is who this article is for, as after that conversation progresses even further, its obvious a LOT of people don’t have clarity on this topic.

The second of the two reasons, is because I’m frankly getting sick of people complain about tanking changes on the WoD beta. You guys simply don’t understand the change, which is fine, and I’m sure this one article won’t change that, but at least its off my mind. So let’s begin.

Classic -

First thing to recognize about classic is that there were three specs that could even tank for any reason whatsoever. Protection Warrior, Protection Paladin, and Feral Druid. The issue however, is that only Protection Warrior had a taunt, so as a Paladin you could only ever tank something that would never need to be taunted (ie nothing.) Feral had a different issue, that being a lack of agility gear that was relevant. Pretty much all leather gear had weapon specialization on it, or things of that nature (the stat that eventually became expertise.)

Model: tank
In general, the model can be summed up by one word – Threat.

You can tell that Blizzard wanted there to be more to it then that already, by giving them an ability like Shield Block, but it was simply too infrequent and not enough in a pseudo triage healing model. Shield Wall was also a 1 hour CD originally, but became 30 minutes at some point through out classic!

For five mans, your job was to lead the group, mark for CC, and threat what you could. You CC mobs mostly because its impossible to keep threat on them, but in classic it was also very dangerous to tank many, because dodge, block, and parry (combat table coverage) are not what they are today. It was very very common to take unmitigated swings.

Burning Crusade -

In TBC, they gave Paladins and druids real taunts, and real gear options to tank from level 70 normals all the way through sunwell. Each tank had its ups and downs, but many people still considered a warrior to be the only option for a raid tank, because the others still lacked definite cds and debuffs.
Its at this point that people first start recognizing the important of Thunderclap, Demo Shout, Disarm, and Shield Block.

Model: Even more surely a threat based model, especially outside of raids. tank

In classic, there was very little to worry about in the way of 4-6 mob packs that weren’t just AOE trash, but TBC introduced this type of pull in a lot of its 5 mans. Historically, people remember these as a true challenge, but it lied at the heart of the tanking model, not the mechanical design. The tank simply could NOT get threat on them all unless they were a paladin with high spell power.

Towards the end of TBC we start seeing the new model surface, likely by accident.

Wrath of the Lich King -

Wrath saw the introduction (finally) of rotational defensive CDs. Divine Protection was the biggest one; the spell changed from a weaker hard bubble to a 2 minute 20 percent damage reduction and we never looked back.

Shield Block, shield wall, and last stand all became useable in rotation, and the birth of Combat Table Coverage caps (CTC) was born. With defensive stats readily selectable from gear options, the game had come a LONG way, maybe not even intentionally.

Model: 50 percent threat, 50 percent survival. tank

Honestly, I struggle to believe they wanted this to go this direction this quickly, but once people saw how easy Wrath five mans were, there was no turning back. But once again, you need to understand WHY this was the case. We went from 5-7 mob packs in TBC that simply COULD not be pulled without some dedicated CC. It literally was not possible to threat them all. In wrath, these 5-7 mob packs were just more heavy damage then a 3-4 mob pack. Every tank had a viable AOE, and with the introduction of DKs, we see the first real overpowered AoE to join a tank arsenal since Paladins got sorted out in Howling Blast. Frost DK tanks simply had no concerns with threat, and thus the model was shattered.

A warrior still had to battle, but Thunderclap’s threat was dramatically increased, so if you just charged in, tclapped, and then tabbed and cleaved, you would have no concerns either. The dawn of the new age has begun!

Cataclysm -

I consider this the dim hours for Tanking. They were crossed up between what happened with the abandoned threat model, and what was emerging as an overpowered reduction model, giving way to the submodel of DPS. Cataclysm five mans were considered among the toughest, but entirely because of the incoming damage being overwhelming. CC was used to prevent a tank death, but as they settled into this model tanks started to realize that if they simply just went ham AOE, they could do more dps then the actual players…

Model: 10 percent threat, 70 percent Survival, 20 percent DPS. tank

Long story short, the availability of stats like Critical strike on Plate gear since the advent of the specialization perks make warrior tanks (and others) really consider ditching conventional tanking ideas and become another DPS. If they used their rotational CDs properly, the stats on their gear became nearly irrelevant, however a full ctc capped paladin would essentially need no healing, so it was up to the raid on which direction they wanted to go. Regardless, this solidified the death of threat tanking, and would usher in the brilliance that we see in Pandaria.

Mists of Pandaria –

This is how tanking should have always been. Threat was a fun mechanic, but felt clunky. You are the tank! Keeping yourself alive should be what its all about.

tankModel: Active Mitigation Survival and Vengeance DPS.

With the advent of Challenge Modes, we see this model in its purest form. Every tank has an AOE stun, and between 3-5 rotational CDs with Active Mitigation tied in. A tank who can keep his active mitigation up simply can not be killed, and this allows the spec and class to be pushed to its most extreme limits. When you pull the entire room of Scholomance and see 1.5 million DPS as a protection paladin with 960k vengeance and 300k ticking hots from your own spell, you know you have broken the video game.

The active mitigation is amazing, and so is the defensive benefit of Vengeance, but the dps aspect is simply cheesy, and was far too abused in raid encounters where a tank would be the top dps by a mile. Lesson learned, let’s move on. RIP vengeance

Warlords of Draenor -

With 6.0 comes Resolve, the child of the deceased Vengeance. It is essentially the same thing, but it only effects your self preservation, and doesn’t last nearly as long. Its very akin to the DK blood shield concept, but now for all tanks.

Model: Active Mitigation 100 percent.

tank

At least that’s how its shaping up. It has yet to be claimed how it will transpire, but the way I see it, its all about you now. There is no super hero complex where a tank with 1.5m attack power can trump 5 dps, and there is no need for silly gear choices. All secondary stats, even critical strike, give some offensive and defensive benefit, while Bonus Armor and the tertiary stats seem to be your main difference between sets.

The point of complaint is the reduction of Shield Wall type CDs from 12 seconds to 8 and a general nerf to active mitigation, but this seems neccessary to me. 12 seconds is a long time, despite it being a 3 minute CD, and hopefully wont hinder the model too much in the long run.

Metro’s Summary and Favorites -

In brief, it has come full circle. From a pure threat model to a pure survival model. It took 10 years, but I feel both have their merits. What did NOT strike me as fun was the in between years. Especially in Cataclysm, tanking just made no sense. It was basically frowned on to do something other then try to be the top DPS, and even in the one “challenging” 5 man heroics, a fury warrior was a more capable tank then a protection warrior.

My preference is the two extremes without question. Tanking MoP Challenge Modes is the most fun I’ve had in the game, and tanking Classic five mans (and TBC five mans to some degree) is just one notch lower. The threat model was simpler but still engaging. The MoP model is far more complex, but far more rewarding when you can negate the panic.

Even with the ability pruning in WoD, there is very little lost in the way of tanking. Looking forward to a new season of CMs and the culmination of 10 years of tanking work. Can’t wait!

Why Challenge Modes are the Best Content Ever!

CM checklist

There still seems to be some non-believers so I’d like to help put this in perspective for players that have yet to try them and put things in context. I’ll do what I can to cover all the available arguments and discuss everything surrounding them. We will start with bulleted reasons why Challenge Modes transcend a single type of content and enrich the entire game over all.

melting-desk-clock-1

Melting Clock shows Time Trial Appropriately.

- Gear normalized.

There is a reason this is the top of this list. When you play with normalized gear, you are forced to play the game at an equatable level to everyone else doing so. This means you can not hide behind gear or set bonuses. You can never out-gear these. You have to understand your class, and how to play it, otherwise it will be very noticeable.
Because of this, this not only challenges you, but will help you grow immensely better. A friend of ours who we did Challenge Modes with started off completely clueless doing like 30k single target. After a few sessions, we worked with him, helped him learn how to play his class and spec better, and taught him not only about position and rotation, but also about utility. By the end of the 9/9 he was easily our best dps in the group that had all consisted of first-timers, and took that knowledge outside the runs as well. Now he is always one of the top DPS in and Flex raid we bring him to, despite only being 520~ ilvl.

- 5 Man content.

To clarify, 25 man heroic progression is still my one true love, but five man content offers a much more interesting dynamic that makes things a lot more engaging. When you are doing 5 man content, you expect the trash to be as difficult as the bosses, and need to thing about how to play, when to use CDs, and when to use what utility. In raids, nine out of ten boss encounters don’t require DPS to actually use their utility spells like Binding Shot, or Leg Sweep. However, in 5 man content, being able to fully function as a spec rather than just as a turret DPS, is so much more useful.
To go even further, having to actually worry about buffs and debuffs is also very interesting for me. For example, a hunter knowing what pet they need can make or break the time, as well as a warrior using Shattering Throw at the right time. In raids, its easy, because its a 10 minute encounter where you blood lust and use all your CDs at the start to minimize DPS drop-off. In CM, however, you need to calculate your usage, because if things aren’t used at the right time, they are entirely wasted.

- Time Trial.

I’ll cover this again in the “con” section, but for now you should understand this is what makes them fun. I once believed that the slow and steady CC-then-pull BC method was far superior, but once I tried these I realize where I was mistake. You see, they aren’t any different! Going back to BC, no one wanted to wait anyway, and once you had done the five mans a few times, even the tank didn’t want to wait. Having that prepared feel was fun, but it was mostly because of how Healer mana worked, and how AOE threat was handled that slowed things down – things that aren’t actually fun mechanics.
Now, in CM you are forced to move at a brisk pace if you want to get the best time, but either way if you are still learning, you can take your time and practice. You already want to move at this elevated pace anyway, so instead of messing around with hard CCs, its now on the group to use AOE stuns, something that wasn’t even in the game back 7 years ago. This is MUCH more engaging than the previous method, because if done wrong you will know immediately, but doing right requires communication and understanding of class abilities around the table. Not just “Sheep moon.”

- Leaderboard.

This goes hand-in-hand with Time Trial, but has its own separate section for a reason. I’m not one to choose to play this as a main content, but if you did, there is tremendous room for expansion. It should be obvious if you have ever seen people complete it in under 10 minutes, let alone those that can do it in under 5. Some people even challenge themselves and do it with 3-4 people, and still beat times easily. That’s what this is all about. Its an extra level of challenge that wasn’t present in previous five man iterations, and really encourages group play above pugging so as to constantly improve. Especially since the improvement is measured in seconds across the world!
TBC five mans were well done, but once you completed them and got what you wanted, there were very few people considering ways they could do them extremely fast or even challenging themselves to do them with less players so as to carry someone.

- Alt Friendly.

Because they only require 463 gear, this is one of my favorite cases for the “best content ever” award. I have done them now on ten separate toons, and must say its always an enjoyable experience. I only actually use the gear set on 3-4 of the toons I have, so don’t think I’m just about vanity. The main thrill is learning what your class and spec can bring to the run and maximizing every second. For example, after tanking on Paladin, Monk, and DK, going to Warrior was quite exciting, as I was able to coordinate Skull Banner and Shattering throw with our heavy-hitter’s burst to make them do even more insane numbers! Another great example is when I did DPS, I played a Mage first. I realized how OP having to not worry about Invis pots for skips was, and decided to get engineering on any other toon to assure potion usage. A final example is realizing how important aspect of the pack was when doing my hunter. Knowing when to use abilities like this changes everything, and really helps you learn a lot more about your class and the game in general.

- Skips and Invis pots.

I know a lot of people don’t like the invis potion concept, but I find it a nice “mandatory” component to separate those who are serious about it from those who are not. They certainly can be done without the potion, but if you are taking it serious, then you are sold out to the concept of “every second matters” and will do whatever it takes to make that a reality.
Besides invis pots, there are other really clever skips you can employ in places like Mogu’shan Palace or Shadow Pan Monastery. I’ve never been much of a speed runner, but for those who are, I’d imagine all these skips are thanks to them. It must have been truly rewarding the first time people discovered things like this, or the barov bookcase skip.

THE CONS?

So we have talked a lot about whats great, but I of course recognize that there are some pretty serious drawbacks that hinder people’s fun-factor. Let’s discuss them as well.

- “Must have 25 sockets noob”

This alone is my biggest issue with CM. They normalize gear, but people still find ways to claim you “are in shit gear for this.” I promise you, gear does not matter. It is ALL about the strat. People do this with 3 players, so if you have 5 and they are all maximizing their DPS, and have enchants and gems were applied, you can get gold. Of course, if you are trying to get world first times, then maybe we have more to talk about. But for your average, run-of-the-mill player, this is a non-factor. Its really annoying to see constantly, and hurts an already thin CM community.
Luckily, in WoD they are removing gems from almost every piece of gear. This, on top of a sweep to make all secondary stats situationally the best for each spec should mean CMs are even more normalized, which is great news.

- No Real Rewards.

A massive issue for me, and likely others. I personally love doing them, and am happy to get the hundred some gold you receive and maybe some valor, but very few others will feel this way. There is absolutely zero incentive to ever do these more than once on a given toon, and I hope this changes. This is the single most reason there is such a thin community for it, and the only reason in my mind that I might still say BC five mans are in the discussion. If people don’t actually need things from something in this game, then very few people will try them. The less people that try them, the worse they are portrayed in the scope of the expansion, despite being astounding content. We have seen impressive images of weaponry with 6.0 CMs, so I’m hoping that those are random rewards, and not the replacement for the gear sets from 8/8 6.0.

- “I hate Time Trials.”

I feel you, but hear me out. I have a slight nervous condition that really makes me pressured in time based events as well. I first noticed it when playing Final Fantasy 8, in some flashback where you have to evacuate the town and win battles within a certain time frame. I believe it was also featured as the demo for the game. Regardless, I typically can not function under these conditions, but want to refer you to the first time this was discussed. They simply do NOT play like a time trial at all. Everything in the video game is always rushed anyway, so its just feels like a dungeon done at an elevated pace. Its virtually no stress on the individual to rush, so I never feel like I am in one. Even if you miss gold, you simply restart and do it again. Once you get past that notion, you will find you love them as much as I do.

- “Two ez rofl.”

Nazgrim, STILL Upset we Killed his Tank, but also upset CM is two ezrofl

Nazgrim, STILL Upset we Killed his Tank, but also upset CM is two ezrofl

A new complaint has begun to surface that I find hilarious and ironic, so I will discuss it here. Through out the expansion, more and more gem sockets have become available on gear, meaning you can choose the stats you need much easier. Also, over this long period of time, a lot of specs have received quite substantial buffs. A lot of the specs like Frost DK, Survival Hunter, and Elemental Shaman, which were always strong in 5 mans, but weak in raids, have become even stronger with percentage buffs. This causes those with half a brain to make statements like “they aren’t difficult.” I agree, the timer is really a non-factor when you have a god-mode group with 5 players who have done these 100+ times.
But going back to the first example of our friend learning as he went, this is almost never the case for people on their first time through. I promise you, it is still a very sizable challenge for anyone taking these as they are, and not spending months putting a “BIS” gear list together for something they will do one time.

Even more hilarious is the fact that there is a leaderboard, yet people continue to say this. If they are so easy, then why not compete for sub tens, or even top 15 worlds? Didn’t think so.

- Melee suck by default.

The last true argument I can justify against them, and likely the greatest issue I have with them period. All the rest is non-sense compared to how bad Melee dps are in a world where mobs are constantly moving, and constantly dealing damage around them. Not only do more melee specs bring very little utility, but they usually scale poorly, and require a lot of standing still to compete. This simply will NEVER be the case in time trials like this.
Their answer to this, likely indirectly, is simply nerf cast-while-moving abilities for all ranged. This will help bring melee back into competition, but the more truer danger is the mechanics that are meant to be dealt with by the tank alone, also hitting melee. Couple this with a second melee, and you now have a group of three players that can die at a moments notice on some occasions.
I really hope to see some of these specs ironed out for a normalized item level, and pray they draw back the punishment of being in melee range. Its really a huge deterrent, and has become folk lore at this point. Most groups I pug with flat out refuse to run with two melee. They would rather not do them, which is ironic enough but, there are others out there who refuse to bring ANY. And I can’t say I blame them. Hunters, Warlocks, Mages, Shamans… these classes just reign surpreme compared to a poor ol rogue or ret paladin.

 

That’s everything though. If you have opinions you’d like to express, feel free to do so over at the attached stratics forum thread. Also, if you have a concern that stops you from doing CM please bring it up. I’d love to offer my experience and how to combat it.

Continue the discussion here:

CM Lore Discussing PvP in Warlords of Draenor!

CM post

Community Manager Lore stopped by a thread on the World of Warcraft forums that discussed what good changes will be coming to PvP in Warlords of Draenor. He gives us a lot of solid information that helps clear up any misunderstandings players may have and reassures us that WoD will be one hell of an expansion for the PvE and the PvP players!

 

He first goes on to talk about (Marked in blue) some of the features and changes that will be happening in Warlords of Draenor while reminding players that this is just what has currently been revealed and discussed and more will come as development continues.

CC Disarmament: there’s a lot fewer CC spells, especially instant and auto cast CCs, and more shared DRs among the ones that remain.
Health and scaling rebalance: means little to no Base Resilience or Battle Fatigue are needed, and classes that aren’t as reliant on gear to perform. Also does wonders for PvP class balance.
Ashran: our new open world PvP zone, which we’re not quite ready to share details on yet (but what I’ve seen so far looks awesome!)
Skirmishes: unrated Arenas that can be queued for either solo or in a group.
Spectator invites & Tournament gear: additional tools to allow tournament organizers to run high-quality tournaments without needing direct intervention from Blizzard.
Our new built-in Group Finder: much easier way to find party members for rated BGs or Arenas.

 

All of the current features sound great, CC is being toned down so that an arena match doesn’t consist of one person being unable to control their character for a prolonged period, making CC more of a tactical decision  instead of players just using it when it is available. Base Resilience is being scaled down as well meaning that the games gear, hp and damage is a lot more balanced in Warlords which is always great news. Ashran is going to be an ongoing PvP world zone unlike that of Tol Barad or Wintersgrasp the fight will never actually end and a player will be able to make a difference to the overall battle depending on their contribution! Skirmishes return, this is a feature players have wanted back for a long time and it allows you to queue into unrated Arenas with either a premade team to test out a certain comp etc or be matched with a random player just to practice and play for fun. The Spectator mode is one that has me very excited, I enjoy watching communities and fansites setup PvP tournaments but the game currently makes it very difficult to do, with the changes anyone would be able to setup a PvP tournament which will help the PvP community overall, so I can’t wait to taste this feature out in the WoD beta. Finally their will be a Group Finder for Arena and RBG’s, for those players who find it difficult to get an arena or RBG team can now queue for rated PvP and get matched with random players. Obviously not many of the more series players will use this feature but I feel its great for those who haven’t had the chance to do rated PvP due to not having experience in rated PvP.

 

Lore then goes on to talk about how current gear and stamina scales in MoP

Currently, in Mists, level 90 characters have a relatively high amount of base health, and a relatively low amount of base damage or healing on their abilities. As a result, your health from Stamina doesn’t increase as quickly as your damage or healing from Attack or Spell Power. To use some made up numbers for perspective, your gear might account for 80-90% of your damage, but only 40-50% of your health. That’s why, as the quality of your gear increases by hundreds of item levels over the course of an expansion, we see such a high swing in damage output compared to health pools.
For Warlords, we’re simplifying that by making health and spell effectiveness scale a lot more linearly. Base health is being lowered dramatically (and the effectiveness of Stamina increased) to the point that as damage or healing goes up, health pools go up alongside them. That lets us ensure that PvP game play at low gear vs high gear feels relatively similar.

On top of that, we’re increasing health pools in general — they’ll be much larger in comparison to the damage players are able to deal to each other than they are today. Resilience and Battle Fatigue were added because without them, an attack or heal would account for massive chunks of a player’s health bar. With higher health, that same spell doesn’t have as big of an impact.

Here he was asked about scaling WoD as currently in MoP we have seen huge jumps in damage and healing outputs as players advanced in gear. Currently our damage scaling is higher then our health pool is scaling which is why base resilience and battle fatigue were brought into place as a current fix without having to change the actual stats we are getting on gear. Although not perfect this solution has helped keep it in check for the most part although by what is said things will scale a lot smoother in WoD due to the overall stat squish!

(It’s worth noting that all of this is after the item squish, so it’s all relative. The actual numbers, including health pools, will end up much smaller compared to how things are today.)

That’s exactly what I meant when I said we’d be increasing the effectiveness of Stamina. You will get significantly more health per point. I don’t have the exact amount per point handy, but the jist of it is that the Stamina on your gear will be enough to increase your health pool at roughly the same rate that everything else increases your damage/healing output

Players then become concerned with how this will affect geared veteran characters and freshly dinged 100 characters as it could go both ways, the geared character completely overwhelms the fresh 100 due to the stat difference or the fresh 100 can put up a close fight against the veteran player.

Here are shades of grey here. Of course, someone who is fully kitted out in Conquest gear should have no issue taking out someone whose first action at level 100 was to queue for a battleground. Building up and improving your character is an important part of World of Warcraft gameplay, including in PvP, and we have no intention of changing that.

However, the player who immediately queues for a battleground at level 100 is probably pretty excited to get into PvP, and it’s heartbreaking to suddenly find out that you’re not just disadvantaged, you’re completely ineffective. The level 100 shouldn’t be on equal footing with players that have spent time and effort gearing up, but they also shouldn’t feel like they can’t contribute to their team’s success — and their teammates shouldn’t feel like they’re essentially down a player.

A fresh 100 should absolutely, categorically, 100% be completely aware that they’re going to need better gear to go toe to toe with the big cats, but they shouldn’t feel like litter in the meantime. Follow?

Lore explains that a new 100 character won’t feel completely useless and burden to their team by taking part in PvP which is how it currently feels in MoP if you have entered a BG on a low geared character you feel pretty helpless. While he does say that geared veteran character won’t feel they are on equal grounds with the fresh 100, they will beat them with ease unless they play badly or have no cooldowns while the fresh 100 has everything ready to go is the general vibe I get from Lore’s explanation!

Overall PvP in Warlords of Draenor feels like it has been given a lot more focus then in previous expansions which is great as WoW maybe arguably a PvE game, it still has a huge PvP community and I feel solid changes to PvP will be welcomed.