Thursday, November 18, 2010

[4.0.3] The Homogenization of Druid Tanks & Tramp Stamps

Well, the homogenization of Druids continues, especially with the advent of patch 4.0.3a, for which the 4.0.3 patch this Tuesday has laid the ground work (as I understand it, these mechanics changes are not live in 4.0.3).  We are getting closer to a time when the differences between Tanks will be as subtle as what shape our tramp stamp (character skin) is...

Side note: You have to give Jagermeister credit for not putting on any pretense about its target market/applications

OK, maybe that is a bit of an overstatement, but Druids were distinctly different from other tanks in big ways.  Big Armor, Big Dodge, Big Health, Big...other stuff.  But the great homogenization that began long ago is continuing unabated.

The latest blue posts itemize some major ones.  This page summarizes many of the upcoming Tank changes. I will include one specific, direct quote of 4.0.3 changes that they planned:

Here are a few additional changes we are making which will be applied in patch 4.0.3a:
  • Guardian of Ancient Kings -- Damage reduction changed from 60% to 50%. Cooldown still 2 minutes (talented). Duration still 12 seconds.
  • Icebound Fortitude -- Damage reduction changed from 30% to 20% (or 60% to 50% talented). Cooldown still 2 minutes. Duration still 12 seconds.
  • Shield Wall -- Damage reduction changed from 40% to 50%. Cooldown still 2 minutes (talented). Duration still 12 seconds.
  • Glyph of Shield Wall -- Now buffs damage reduction by 10% (to 60%), but only adds 1 minute of cooldown.
  • Survival Instincts -- Damage reduction changed from 60% to 50%. Cooldown reduced from 5 minutes to 2 minutes. Duration still 12 seconds.
  • Bear Form -- Stamina bonus lowered from 20% to 10% and Heart of the Wild health bonus from 10% to 6%. Bear health should be close to plate tank health with this change.
  • Vigilance -- No longer reduces damage by 3%, but will still reset Taunt cooldown and provide Vengeance for the warrior.

And they also nerfed Savage Defense, but it sounds like it was a tweaking more than a nerf.  Savage Defense was overpowered on beta and nerfed because raid bosses were being jacked up to overcome it and that resulted in Raid Bosses two-shotting Tanks.  So they nerfed it; sounds reasonable.

Of course, the bombshell in there is the tiny statement, "Bear health should be close to plate tank health with this change."  My initial reaction is, blah.  We all enjoy having our classes being special and Druids were set apart from all Tanks because they had high Health (and in some patches, high Armor).  It was a signature characteristic of Druid Tanks.  Of course, we paid heavily for it in terms of taking a lot more damage, so Healer mana endurance might be an issue in content, but it always seemed manageable.

So, "boo" for more homogenization on those points.  But what about "yay" for homogenization?

Let's flip that coin over and look at the good things.  First, please recall some of the important mechanics that Druid Tanks have inherited from other Tank classes:
  • Savage Defense an inherited block-like mechanic
  • Barkskin, while not new, expanded its utility when it became usable in Bear Form, which some equated to a Warriors' Shield Block
  • Survival Instincts, which we inherited from the Warriors' Last Stand, but which is now almost identical to a Warrior's Shield Wall
  • Swipe, which we sort of inherited from a Warriors' Cleave; we used to be the only Tank without an AoE Tanking ability (unless you count Demoralizing Roar and Enrage; but if you did, you would be grossly overstating their Threat generating capabilities)
  • SKULL BASH, which we gained with 4.0, a real, honest-to-goodness, practical interrupt, on par with a Warrior's Shield Bash/Pummel in that we have variations of it for Bear and Cat; however, we do have to spend Talent Points to get it down to a practical cooldown
Many of those came from Warriors, so they too have become less unique (is there a Warrior somewhere writing a post just like this?).  That said, the analogy has always been Bear~Warrior and Cat~Rogue, so maybe it was just reparations. :)

So, with all of that, what makes us different from other Tanks?
  • Self healing...sort of.  DKs have about as much and both Warriors and Paladins have some mechanisms for self-heals, albeit not ongoing abilities
  • High mobility - the gap is shrinking on this, since other tanks have ways to escape snares/immobilization or reduce the duration significantly (and passively); still, being able to shift out of snares/immobilization is nice
  • Countering Polymorph - Hmm, well, they nerfed our blanket immunity, leaving us with just the ability to shift out of it, which replaces the use of another ability and risks the possibility of being caught in caster form; of course, for a Tank, this has generally been virtually useless, as bosses do not typically Polymorph a Tank
  • Greater hybridization of Tank and DPS roles - I think this is still true, especially with the departure of Armor Penetration combined with the re-re-ascendance of Agility for Ferals
  • Nature's Grasp - as you may recall, this became usable in Bear Form (I *think* that WotLK change, not sure).  This is rarely useful, but when it is useful, it can be pretty cool, e.g., pinning adds at the end of Heroic Lady Deathwhisper
  • Faerie Fire is more potent, but now is exactly like Sunder Armor and thus does not add anything new; that said, major armor debuffs are really good, so it is nice to have one more Tank type insuring that we have it
  • Mangle's bleed damage bonus is nice and synergistic with your own damage as well as Warrior Tanks and some DPS; Feral DPS and Arms Warriors can also provide this
  • Mark of the Wild is pretty weak in terms of being unique, since all Paladins and Druids can provide the same buff; that said, changing it to match Blessing of Kings makes it pretty cool
  • Leader of the Pack is cool, but can be provided by Fury Warriors and Feral DPS as well; this is also where we get our self-heal (too bad it no longer provides healing to others)
I am sure I forgot something, but you get the point.  Tanks are becoming more similar in general terms.  This is bad for feeling special/different, but good for overall fight balancing and raid composition.  In a sense, we are taking an aesthetic hit for the team, and I think it is worth it.


Kammler said...

I'm not sure I'm a fan of Tank = Tank = Tank. I liked the differences from the standpoint of how it nuanced game play. A Shaman/Bear/Rogue/Warlock/Warrior (heals, tank, dps x 3) group played differently than a Priest/DK/Shaman/Kitty/Pally group (same heals/tank/dps x 3).

The mechanics were different and the expectation that the group had to react differently and work together differently seemed like a decent trade off. You had to know your class and the other classes too--otherwise you wouldn't know the healer's limits or the tanks specific needs.

If all tanks are equal in ability the class differentiation seems meaningless now. Why should I level more than one tank? No real reason to any more.

If my bear tank can handle more damage than the pally tank, I may have more time to heal that new rogue dps who keeps standing in the fire, for example.

I guess we will see how it plays out but I liked not only the choices within talent trees (also made fairly mindless now) but also the trades between classes--leather wearing bears with high dodge were fun for one reason and plate wearing pallys with def cap were a different play, fun in a different way.

Not to mention I could run the same dungeon several times on different toons to get different drops. Now, once I get my bear tank gear I don't need to go back. Or I have to queue my pally as a dps instead of tank and wait a decade to get in.

So, I have to say, meh.

Skindancer said...

Trust me, I hear you. However, my experience leading raids and a guild give me a different perspective, which makes me appreciate the benefits of standardization. So, I am cautiously optimistic that the price we pay is worth it the overall benefits to our fellow players.

Anonymous said...

Building on what Skindancer has said, making the tanks significantly different presents problems for raid composition. Typically a raid only brings two, maybe three tanks. If you didn't bring the right kind of tank for a particular fight, the raid group has really hurt itself. I am told that a DK tank, because of the various cooldowns, was almost necessary to do OS 3D prior to Ulduar and the class changes in 3.1. Differentiation among class/spec matters less for dps simply because there are more of them among which to spread the abilities, so the raid is less likely to be without key abilities.