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
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?