Not being able to contribute to this thread is a little bit upsetting, as there are numerous strong points raised and many that should potentially see attention here. The thread is about AoE tanking (mainly the warrior concerns with it) and how it compares regarding the four tank classes).
A little perspective should be added before I move into the more philosophical side of this argument. Essentially, this is what has gone on throughout the current expansion:
1) AoE tanking has become the rule as opposed to the exception, with crowd control an essentially dying art.
2) Warrior AoE tanking has been significantly increased in power and ease when compared to both vanilla and The Burning Crusade.
3) Warrior AoE tanking has been perfectly viable for all content throughout Wrath of the Lich King.
4) Warrior AoE tanking has been worse than the other three tank classes throughout Wrath of the Lich King.
The goals for Cataclysm are, for the most part, compelling with regard to AoE tanking and damage output. In the main, they look like this:
1) AoE tanking is going to be phased out considerably by making tank deaths a very real possibility.
2) AoE damage is going to be hauled back so that single-targeting becomes more attractive.
3) Most classes (notably NOT warriors) will have a form of applicable crowd control so groups without a mage won't be hampered (The Burning Crusade).
The problem is that while Blizzard are saying one thing, they appear to be doing another. The implication is that although Blizzard wants less AoE tanking going on, they are buffing paladins, druids and death knights in that regard while nerfing warriors (Cleave on the GCD is an AoE tanking nerf). This is a clear contradiction to the notion of less AoE tanking because it's making three tanks better at it.
Or is it?
Ghostcrawler has said numerous times that the danger in AoE tanking everything is that the tank will risk dying. He's also said that while threat should matter, group members shouldn't be continually held back by lower threat on the part of the guy up front. The argument also doesn't take into account the lowered throughput of AoE spells that we're likely to see in Cataclysm. In short, the changes are consistent with the design philosophy and there is no contradiction in filling the AoE gaps that the developers see (namely; druids have only one button, while DK's/paladins can struggle with "tick time"). Warriors have neither problem from a design perspective so, naturally, will see little in the way of change because there is no gap that needs filled. Thunderclap will still be fine for snap threat and Shockwave will still do enough damage to maintain threat on multiple-mob pulls.
So, the problem doesn't actually exist?
Well, yes - there is still a problem. Throughout Wrath of the Lich King warrior shortcomings have not been offset by strengths elsewhere. The common argument for traditionally low warrior effective health was that they had the best cooldowns. This is no longer true. The common argument for traditionally low warrior DPS was the added utility of a Protection warrior. This is no longer true. The common argument for traditionally poor warrior raid buffs has been the diversity of them. This is no longer true. The common argument for traditionally poor AoE abilities was very strong single-target abilities. This is no longer true.
In short, warriors have had no real chance to shine throughout Wrath of the Lich King. Even the Protection warrior signature talent, Warbringer, was the subject of a debilitating nerf due to its use in a PvP setting.
The argument, then, is essentially summed up by the assertion that warriors have been the weakest AoE tank throughout this expansion and are going to be weakened further moving forward, while the other tanks are being strengthened. This, obviously, is a worrying trend to witness if you're a warrior player.
You're saying warrior AoE abilities aren't good enough?
No. I tend to agree with the developers in that warrior AoE threat generation has been perfectly fine during this expansion. Certainly, I've never had any significant problems while doing it that being another class would solve. Yes, the other tanks do it better and with far less effort; but this doesn't mean warriors are holding back their raids. Certainly, I'm neither a hardcore player nor a know-it-all expert so I have to assume that your average warrior player has found little difficulty AoE tanking when he hasn't been with a group/raid group made up of bad DPS players. But that's not the problem. The problem is that, comparatively speaking, it looks as though warriors are going to end up further behind in the traditional "off tank" role, forcing them into the "main tank" role that the developers are determined to see more classes occupy more often. In short, the two directions are dovetailing and it's warriors that are going to suffer for it.
Ghostcrawler sums up the three arguments that are getting mixed in together:
1) Paladins tank better than warriors.
2) Warriors need another tool for AoE tanking.
3) AoE tanking is generally too difficult.
The problem is, Ghostcrawler doesn't realise that the three points are linked in the minds of many players due to the inevitable drawing of comparisons. Individually, of course, you can see the response.
Paladins tank better than warriors but don't necessarily have the same utility while doing so.
Warriors can AoE tank acceptably, therefore, do not need another tool for AoE tanking.
AoE tanking can't be too difficult, because raids with warriors are not being held back by it.
Then you join them up.
Currently, paladins are better tanks than warriors; both in a single target and multi-target setting. This point is exaggerated by the comparative ease that comes with playing a paladin. The developers have admitted that, particularly on AoE, paladins are too good. Yet, we see a buff in that regard as opposed to an expected nerf. This is what leads into point number two, because warriors WILL need another AoE tool in order to compete with the buffs that the other three tanks are going to see. The alternative is to have warriors noticeably better in the main tank role, but that's something the developers are fervently against. Finally, point three rumbles in more clearly because it is simply odd that warriors should be expected to work for their threat while the other classes need not.
While I generally like the direction of AoE tanking touted for Cataclysm and there are no glaring contradictions in the overall model, I am worried about the inconsistency of the message regarding the comparative power of the tanks involved. If warriors are not going to be a necessarily good choice as a main tank, their chances of inclusion are further hampered if they are comfortably the worst at the offtanking job. No, warrior AoE tanking is neither too hard or too weak for it to be viable, but it makes little sense to make it harder for the class the weakest at it, while not providing a raid leader a definitive reason for the warrior inclusion elsewhere.
Raids will want to stack the odds in their favour.
It's looking like excluding warriors will be the best way of doing that, from a tanking perspective.
These are worrying times and a small discussion has been started on the WoW Europe tanking forums.