Throughout it all, I’ve tried to remain positive in the wake of something I was originally sceptical about during the BlizzCon presentation.
So it’s worth pointing out early what’s changed between then and now, what’s differed in my mind about the latest incarnation of the Protection warrior and how my opinion has altered regarding what looked, at first, to be a massive retrograde step in playing a warrior tank. I’ve read many threads, drafted many blogs and held many discussions over an extended period of time, so I feel I’m now quite rounded in my view.
So, what’s changed?
Well, okay, not nothing. I originally thought that the new talent system was bad and that active mitigation was a flop. Since then, I’ve drawn the conclusion that they’re terrible. To go from the fast-paced threat gameplay I loved in WotLK, one with a sophisticated priority queue and slew of quirky utility talents that could change the face of an encounter, was always going to be… Jarring. To arrive at a slow-paced, static rotation with all gameplay choices shoehorned out is, quite frankly, compelling me to quit.
It’s here that I must make a warning:
If you’ve come here expecting a scientific and bias-free analysis of how Protection has developed, you’re unlikely to see that here. If you’re expecting a storm of QQ with no basis in reality, you’ll be equally disappointed. All I can promise is that I’m going to get this off my chest so that anyone asking why I’m so down with warriors right now will have an easy reference.
What’s the problem with active mitigation?
Ultimately, throughout WotLK and Cataclysm, warriors already HAD an active, engaging and enjoyable playstyle. Our threat rotation consisted primarily of Shield Slam, Revenge and Devastate for beginners, while Concussion Blow, Shockwave and Rend could be slotted in for those who were developing. Defensively, we had the maintenance debuffs of Demoralizing Shout and Thunderclap, but also had Spell Reflect, Shield Bash/Pummel, charge-interrupts, Intimidating Shout and a DPS debuff in Sunder Armor.
Much of this made its way to Cataclysm which, in my view, was a perfectly fun expansion for Protection warriors. There was no change to the general way warriors played and despite being a poor man’s paladin for much of Deathwing’s jaunt, we remained a blast to play and garnered envious looks from Prince Fancypants as he enviously watched us zip around at a pace he could only dream of.
There was an exception.
Almost every problem related to my current malaise with my warrior can be traced back to the introduction of this pointless, needless, self-licking lollipop of a mechanic that was introduced to solve a problem nobody actually had. Tanks were not routinely struggling with threat at the conclusion of Icecrown Citadel, and DPS toons had ways and means of helping their tanks out with clever and imaginative play. It’s common for players to cite the Blizzard-endorsed criticism of “threat dumps aren’t compelling, you just press them on cooldown” but, as with comedy, TIMING is everything.
Hiratha, an author on this blog, was a prime example. Streaming adds, or a bad pull that she noticed and I didn’t, would see her nuke the bejeezus out of what needed controlling, funnel it toward either myself or the other guild tank, plant them on top of said tank and then feign death. We planned around this in many an encounter and it formed a synergy between damage dealer and tank that’s all since been killed off, thanks to Vengeance.
What else did Vengeance “achieve”?
- - Made threat automatic for tanks.
- Ruined low-level dungeoneering.
- Contributed nothing to the ACTUAL problem with threat (on the pull).
- Needed PvP fixing thanks to tanks being too powerful.
- Utterly devalued hit and expertise.
- Destroyed threat as an encounter mechanic.
Remember the fun of Malygos P1 or Hodir’s hard mode and the mega-threat requirements? Forget them, you’ll never see their like again. Threat, something that every tank I knew enjoyed the gameplay value of, was taken away and a piece of what I loved most about this game was tossed on the pyre. The biggest embarrassment for Blizzard came when Ghostcrawler had to make a humiliating climbdown from his previous stance about threat needing to be a meaningful part of the game, and throw in the towel by buffing the crap out of Defensive Stance/Righteous Fury/Bear Form/Blood Presence.
Not only was threat removed as a meaningful part of the game, Vengeance was made wholly redundant.
The biggest indictment, of course, pertains to the utter devaluation of traditional threat stats. WotLK saw warriors routinely getting to at least the expertise soft cap, and sometimes more, because threat was one of their main contributions to the raid group. Positioning, control, interrupts and damage mitigation all played their part, but threat was a part of it too. Your attacks needed to land so that you could generate enough threat for your damage dealers to do their job, while also making your own contribution toward the Berserk timer.
With Vengeance still in the game, hit and expertise remained in the crapper. Essentially, Ghostcrawler posted again during 4.2 to say that, essentially, we needed another reason for hit and expertise to matter to tanks; and the most “fun” way of doing that was by making them a part of your defensive repertoire.
Genius. Let’s make taunts immune to resist, interrupts unable to miss and threat largely passive, just so that we can force a debate on how defence should be what tanks care about. Lo and behold, “active mitigation” was born and the tanking community, tentatively excited, wondered what that would entail (particularly given that death knights were heralded as the shiny, glittering, evolutionary standard) when the expansion after Cataclysm finally came around.
Then we end up at patch 5.0.4 and potentially the most resoundingly disappointing development in the history of tanking. Hit and expertise caps let you do little else other than block more or absorb more. Wonderful. Such depth. And not only was this particular development utterly underwhelming, it was doomed to fail from the very beginning because it doesn’t stand up to anything approaching logical scrutiny.
Either you make active mitigation a visceral part of defence and wholly chase away new players who’ll be overwhelmed by it, or you make its contribution small enough that undergeared or under-experienced tanks won’t feel so bad to their healers and those higher up the curve practically ignore it to contribute more damage.
“Active mitigation” is a resounding failure.
Threat was perfectly engaging gameplay that most tanks enjoyed, and we can assume it worked well during WotLK because there was never a shortage of them. Hit and expertise had value for tanks without the need for a completely worthless damage buff, and only paladins had a tanking system that could be considered largely passive. Even if we do consider all this to be fine, we still end up having to accept that ignoring hit and expertise caps for better stats (in our case mastery and parry) is going to have next to no effect on warriors that choose to simply bank rage for absorbs rather than actively try and micro-manage their rage.
And all thanks to Vengeance.
If I thought I could somehow kill it by stabbing its icon in my spellbook, I’d gladly cough up for a new monitor on the spot. Fun, engaging and meaningful gameplay all jettisoned for a stacking damage buff nobody needs.
Okay, you hate active mitigation… What’s the problem with the talents?
As is common with recent development (as in, since Ghostcrawler took over), the community is being sold a gram of salt and having debates forced in certain directions. Let me put this clearly:
The talent redesign is a disgrace.
If you’re a Protection warrior who tailored your talents to your raid group, you’ve had one of the best talent trees ever made, one littered with meaningful decisions, taken away from you and replaced with the most shallow, underwhelming and meaningless talent “system” any MMO has ever had the gall to present to its players. Alas, too many players have been sucked in by Blizzard-endorsed drivel about these now being “real choices” instead of cookie cutter builds, or how “debates mean the system is a success”.
Blizzard are telling you that you now have more choice, and that the system is a success. What they’re not telling you is that those choices are forced upon you, and that the bar for success has been set extraordinarily low.
Basically, if there is any debate about which talent is best on a tier, they’re calling it a success. And if you’re buying this claptrap, you’re being duped. My apologies.
Let me paint this clearly by use of an example. I’m going to list a number of talents, and I’d like you to ask yourself what they have in common.
2) Blood and Thunder.
3) Shield Specialization.
4) Gag Order.
5) Hold the Line.
6) Last Stand.
7) Concussion Blow.
8) Improved Revenge.
9) Impending Victory.
12) Heavy Repercussions.
14) Blood Craze.
16) Piercing Howl.
17) War Academy.
18) Field Dressing.
20) Second Wind.
21) Deep Wounds.
22) Drums of War.
In case you’re struggling, I’ll tell you.
They’re what we’ve just given up. They’re all optional, but situational. None are useless. They let you concentrate on a specific task. You can pick a limitless selection of them.
Now try comparing that to what you’ve just been given in 5.0.4 and you’ll see why this is the laziest piece of class design this game has ever had the bare-faced audacity to shovel at its players.
If I want to buff my movement, I get one talent choice. If I don’t want to buff my movement, I have to take the talent regardless.
If I want some self-healing, I get one talent. If I don’t want self-healing, I have to take the talent regardless.
I could go on.
And if I’m confronted with a talent tier that I’m flat-out not interested in (like, for example, the second because all three are pitifully weak), I’ll have to struggle to find which one is the least awful. Blizzard are calling this “success”. In what world is trying to figure out which talent is least offensive, then eventually giving up and picking one at random, a “success”?
In days gone by, I could take Second Wind, Field Dressing, Blood Craze and Impending Victory if I wanted self-healing. I could go for Drums of War and Gag Order if I was on interrupt duty. Maybe I was the utility man, so I’d pick up Vigilance, Piercing Howl and Safeguard.
The best part?
I could take combinations of these talents, depending on what my raid wanted.
Now, I have no choice other than to select between three dumbed-down meaningless talents that, in most cases, I don’t particularly want and be told by those lacking understanding that “these are real choices, not something you get off EJ”.
Sorry, but I didn’t get my spec from EJ. I got it from my raid group when presented with a problem and how we all, as a group, intended to solve it.
Please tell me you’re done now.
Not even remotely but, for this installation, I’m done. I’ve got it all off my chest. The fact we’re stuck with mechanics that don’t make sense or that we didn’t even come close to ridding ourselves of some of the needless action bar bloat we have are small potatoes, really. They’re the sticking plasters I hoped might be pulled off but, truthfully, don’t matter that much.
But active mitigation and the talent system redesign have really plumbed the depths for me, made worse by Blizzard apologists trying to tell everyone that everything’s better and that detractors just don’t know how they feel. Such arrogance is so far along the spectrum of delusion, I wouldn’t know where to start with it. But despite my class being designed into something I find boring, dull and emotionless, I totally accept why there are people that think active mitigation is great and that the new talent system is tip top.
This entire rant, this whole post, is entirely mired with how I feel, and shouldn’t be taken as some weird representation of the truth. It’s not. Equally, it’s not best to use any of the material as part of an argument that proves anything, other than it proving that the redesign isn’t a success for everyone and those that don’t like it aren’t merely bellyaching about a system they don’t understand.
I understand it perfectly.
And I hate it.
If you’re in the same boat, for any class, it’s perfectly okay to think so. It’s not that you don’t get it, it’s just that you weren’t sucked in by false promises that, yet again, this team failed to deliver on as far as you’re concerned. Hell, even the CM’s are mistaking the apathy of resigned acceptance for “people just taking more time to adjust to our improvements”. It’s more proof, if more were needed, that this team has no interest in feedback – only praise.
And while Protection warriors are probably stronger than they’ve ever been, and DPS warriors will do fine in raiding due to their powerful utility, nothing escapes the fact that my class has lost all of its enjoyment, and its identity.
I’ll play MoP because the content looks good.
Unfortunately, my vehicle to the content is ruined.
I just hope I can live with that.