Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Threat Buffs Hot Patch

Seems like Ghostcrawler has been thinking about the same things I have been grumbling about for some time on this blog. There are two major components to the coming changes, and this is a huge topic as the initial post makes clear.

1. How does removing Threat as a factor affect fights?
2. How do you make Threat stats attractive to tanks?

And beneath all this is the question I keep asking - it might be efficient, but is it fun?

Spoiler Alert: I glyphed out of Glyph of Truth for the first time since it was introduced.

I spent three hours in Firelands last night, with the buffs, so I can talk about what tanking felt like. I was tanking with Death Knight with slightly less gear than me, but definitely Firelands capable, and we had a hunter for the occasional misdirect.

First, let's talk about building Threat.

There is a significant boost to threat generating abilities. Ghostcrawler says:

The threat generated by classes in their tanking mode has been increased from three times damage done to five times damage done

Straight up buff to threat-gen, fine, this is just a multiplier to existing threat, and by itself it provides an across the board quality of life increase. It makes snap agro easier, and threat a non-issue on single-target fights.

Vengeance no longer ramps up slowly at the beginning of a fight. Instead, the first melee attack taken generates Vengeance equal to one third of the damage dealt by that attack. As Vengeance updates during the fight, it is always set to at least a third of the damage taken in the last two seconds.

This is the game changer. What this is saying, is that one third of the sum total of damage taken in the most recent 2 second period is used to determine a minimum threshold for Vengeance - which means, two second in a fight, I should have a significant amount of threat already. Two seconds is the period of time it takes melee to get into boss range, or for casters to finish their first cast, or for DoTs to start racking up. It also means lucky streaks will not let you loose all your Vengeance stacks though they might decay still a bit.

In that time, you're also actually hitting the boss at least once or twice and building threat at a rate of five-times the output instead of three-times. Then you take a hit, maybe two, and suddenly your Vengeance bar is glowing and that red bar on Omen is as long as a tree's shadow at sunset (Wut?). On top of this are the documented changes for Vengeance to pass on absorbed damage from bubbles and now you don't have to grumble about Discipline priests in your raid.

When you're AoE pulling trash in heroics, this is going to make threat a complete non-issue. As long as you take the first hits from mobs, and land some kind of AoE on the adds, you should be fine.

This significantly improves a few things:
  • The ability to snap-agro adds mid-fight where DPS needs to put out heavy AoE with a single Hammer of the Righteous or Avenger's Shield
  • Initial agro on a boss - Paladins should be able to use the Divine Plea > Inquisition > Wings > Exorcism > Judgment > Avenger's Shield &> Crusader Strike opening for a huge lead now that all those abilities will generate much more threat
  • Enrage meters become less scary now that DPS don't have to wait for threat to establish, they can start nuking 3 to 5 seconds into the fight and the healers don't have to keep a twitchy finger on the Fury Warrior's raid frame
  • Lets classes without agro drop feel less throttled - when I'm on my Death Knights I'm always very careful about initial agro and don't get to ramp up till late in the fight, whereas on my Warlock and Paladin, I can immediately go all out as I have a Hand of Salvation or a Soul Shatter if the screen is glowing red
So, this is an overall raid quality-of-life improvement, but does it actually improve game play? In theory, having one less thing to be aware of is good, especially on fights where you're focusing on picking up a lot of adds (Rhyolith), or steering the adds in a direction (Bethtilac), or watching interrupts, (Maloriak) or moving out of fire (Shannox), or dealing with tons of positional issues (Alysrazor) or snap taunts (Baelroc) or whatever else it is you're doing (all of the above on Nefarian pre-nerf, and I think on Ragnaros as well, though I haven't seen that fight yet).

Could this change have been replaced by giving classes without threat dumps some way to drop it so that players are responsible for maintaining their own agro? Maybe. But I also know tanks who don't go into LFG because their agro issues are such that they can't hold agro on raid-geared DPS going all out one second into the pull and being blamed for not holding agro and getting kicked. This change, while at the top end or even the casually raiding end might seem like overkill, for the vast majority of LFG tanks, this will be a boon.

Overall, I'm a fan of this change so far - I've been super frustrated with my own ability to hold agro at times, as we're actively dropping threat stats for mitigation and DPS just ramps up higher and higher. It's not uncommon to see DPS hitting 20k+ numbers consistently now, and threat was sometimes getting wonky.

All that said - how was actually raiding with the buff last night?

Freaking awesome. The things I was able to worry about instead of agro: pulling efficiently, chain pulling trash because I didn't worry about adds scattering, being able to have DPS immediately go all out on fights without any consideration for threat right from the start (Baelroc, where the enrage meter is actually an issue), and we were finishing each fight at least 30 seconds faster than before.

The instance also just felt like it was more fun. Other than taunting stray adds, my tanking focused on speed and efficiency, not a harried tab-spam of madness to keep threat on everything. Back in ICC days, I used to keep a threat set where I was hit-capped and well past the expertise soft cap. I enjoyed my ability to put out threat that was competitive with the DPS and they didn't feel throttled.

Now, everyone can enjoy that - and it wasn't skill that made me do this, it was gearing, and a relatively obscure way of gearing to new tanks who don't pore over this stuff like I do. I don't think that's a bad thing. It will encourage new tanks to stick with tanking, as tanking is just plain more fun when threat isn't an issue.

I fully understand, appreciate, and empathize with tanks who feel this isn't good, and that the game is being simplified ("GG Blizz catering to casuals"). I'm not one of those tanks.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the other  half of this conversation - now that threat isn't an issue, why do tanks want Hit and Expertise?


  1. Mydin - FarstridersAugust 17, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Tonight I'll get my firelands tanking experience with the new threat. I have to be honest been reforging some of my gear for hit to make my overall tanking experience dungeon and raid trash more enjoyable. We'll see how that goes and if I can reforge that hit back off now....I hate having miss, dodge, miss, on my attacks in any regard, especially when iam trying to do a shield smack....I duno about you but missing attacks just annoys me...

  2. I've almost never tanked, but after this change I'm definitely going to start tanking PUG normals on my Pally. It seems to me, as a tanking noob, that this has impacts on not just gearing, but talents and glyphs, so many of which are for increasing damage so we can hold threat. But survivability is King now. Guarded by the Light is already standard, but we'll want to swap points to Eternal Glory as well now? You swapped out Glyph of Truth, which makes sense. I'd be considering Glyph of Word of Glory instead.

    And should we forget about Seal of Truth altogether, and run with Seal of Insight and its glyph?

  3. Mydin - there is nothing more annoying than a string of miss/dodge/parry/miss against a boss. I wrote about it earlier, but the whole idea of "hitting doesn't matter" is just absolutely atrocious to me.

    Lachlan - It depends on the content you're running, but for me, the Prime Glyphs for trash/heroics/farm raids are WoG/SotR/HotR and for progression or raid bosses where tank damage helps (Baelroc, Alysrazor) I'll swap HotR back to Truth for more damage. (I was averaging about 1.5k more damage with the Glyph than without on Baelroc)

    Seal of Insight is decent for leveling, dailies and such where you don't even want to think about incoming damage, especially as Ret. But I wouldn't really use it for raids, based on some numbers Theck has put out, SoI is not ideal for tanking despite the good-on-paper-ness of it.

    I should probably write about all this!

  4. Mydin - FarstridersAugust 18, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    What do you think is going to happen to hand of salvation?...a friend of mine suggested replacing it with hand is inspiration, giving a target a haste or flat % damage boost....seems a bit more fun now that reducing someones threat is rather pointless

  5. Last night, on Baelroc, I was using HoS when, for example my co-tank taunted off for Decimation blade, while I had wings and a strength potion for extra damage up because I didn't want to rip off of her accidentally with my vengeance stacked like mad as well and my abilities doing the same amount of threat.

    I think HoS has its place a utility among tanks when you have to juggle adds or bosses around, and it's a general utility ability, not a buff. None of the hands are out-right buffs - HoF is a snare remover, HoSacrifice transfers damage, HoP takes you out of the fight for a few seconds unless you're a healer... none of it is an outright buff to a stat.

    But maybe it could provide some added utility instead - maybe a speed boost like Stampede?