Thursday, August 18, 2011

Keeping Threat Stats Relevant For Tankadins

Can I ever stop talking about threat stats? I mean, seriously, even I'm getting tired of talking about threat stats, and yet Blizzard keeping throwing reasons at me to keep talking about threat stats.


So, last night's post was mostly a "where are we?" wrap up, today I'm going to try to see if we can make sense of what GC said, what he meant, and what it might mean for us as Paladins.

The pitch
We covered why Hit/Expertise are now pointless for threat. We explained that this leaves tanks to do all the other stuff tanks do (all tanks and most healers know we do a lot more than generate threat) and that this is a good thing. However, we're still left with tank gear with Hit and Expertise on it, and I don't imagine that will go away because it would absolutely and completely eliminate all choice for gearing - get what you get, reforge, enchant and gem as necessary for your choice of mitigation or mastery. And that would be horribly boring.

Besides, Blizzard has done well to make gear a bit more generic - Expertise and Mastery on that helm? Sure, it looks like DPS, but that's almost as good for a tank with that chunk of mastery. Overall, I think Blizzard should (and will) continue to make tank gear with hit/expertise on it.

But with threat a non-issue, why do we need these stats?
That's the rub, isn't it? And GC talks about it briefly in his article, and Matt Rossi went into a lot of detail in his article yesterday which you should read, but the big thought right now that I can see floating around is Active Mitigation.

Active Mitigation:
The word "Mitigation" there is a bit of a misnomer, but the phrase has stuck. Active Mitigation is basically the ability to reduce incoming damage somehow through offensive abilities. A very generic way to think of it would be that the more Expertise you have, the less the boss is able to hit you. Or something along those lines. But of course, a lateral translation like that is just more Dodge/Parry with another name.

Death Strike on the other hand is the text-book example of this. Death Knights have a very strong Mastery called Blood Shield which activates when they connect with a Death Strike. Death strike heals up 40% of the damage taken in the last 5 seconds, and then turns 50% of that damage into an absorb shield. That's active mitigation - and DKs are balanced around it. Good DKs know how to store runes, and when to use them so that they stay alive and are stable health wise rather than spiking damage and draining healers dry.

Their resource depletes and replenishes automatically, but connecting with strikes is important for them to self-heal and trigger Blood Shield. Thus, hit/expertise are good for them, in theory. Blood tanks (I don't raid tank on my DK so correct me here if I'm wrong) like Expertise and a bit of Hit, but don't go out of their way to hit caps. This solution seems to work - but only kind of. And it makes their decision easy - hit Death Strike. That's it. Which is kind of boring.

What about Tankadins?
We already have our own version of Death Strike - Word of Glory. It's dependent on Holy Power which we generate from melee hits, and the more we hit, the more HP we get, and the more WoGs we can cast on ourselves.

Except that WoG has a long cool-down and the amount of Crusader strikes you can get in during that cool-down are enough that even with low hit, you can still generate enough HP to cast it by the time it comes off cool-down.

On top of that, we have Divine Protection on a short cool-down that we can turn into either a small overall damage reduction or a big magical damage reduction pre-fight. We have Guardian of Ancient Kings, Lay on Hands on a very long cool-down, Holy Radiance for a bit of healing, and... Holy Shield.

None of the above abilities use Holy Power so we can be lazy about generating it, we can horde it, and always have it when we need it the most as long as WoG is off cooldown. That makes our "active mitigation" pretty much this:

while(BossHealth > 0)
    cast Crusader Strike
    if(HolyPower = 3 AND SelfHealth < 50%)
        Word of Glory

Word of Glory is Death Strike in reverse - we hit Crusader Strike to gain the resource and deplete it automatically to heal. And thanks to the length of the cool down, we don't really need the Hit/Expertise so we can afford the misses. We have it easy.

But what if Holy Shield consumed Holy Power and shared a cool-down with Word of Glory like Crusader Strike and Hammer of the Righteous?

You have a system where an actually sizable portion of your mitigation or self-heal, both of which you're balanced around, depend on your ability to generate the resource both need. And once you use one you can't use the other for a set period of time so you set out gathering more Holy Power.

And if both abilities had lowered cool-downs and lowered on-use affect so they stayed balanced overall? Now you do need to get those hits in and figure out what you're going to use it for.

You're actively mitigating and/or healing and making decisions on the fly.

You could turn Holy Shield into an aggressive anti-attack which goes off the hit-table.

Which is to say, you're attacking the incoming melee attack with your shield and need to "hit" with it. That would also make hit/expertise attractive, while contributing to active mitigation. Warriors have this, kind of, in Spell Reflect, except it just happens and doesn't depend on anything. With a shorter cool-down and reliable on hit, it could be an aggressive damage mitigation tool.

Do we need this kind of thing? I don't know. Tanking is going through a change, and the more we get towards 5.0 the more things seem to get more and more fluid - Blizzard is not afraid of slaughtering sacred cows.

I'm excited to see where it goes, and I do hope (and think) they will come up with ways to keep Hit/Expertise relevant for tanks. Because I like them and I'll miss my buddies if GC says I don't need them anymore. If you have any ideas for Active Mitigation, please leave comments, it would be fun to discuss them in a future post!

And lastly - because it always sounds so funny, it's not fun to miss. I've talked about it before. But missing is not fun. At the core of the thing, it's a game, I want to hit stuff, and see it take damage, not see because of some game mechanic. To the kid inside me killing dragons, that's not fun.

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