Early Perceptions of Tank Squish

Recently there was a nerf to all tanks’ defensive power in Warlords beta. Celestalon has provided quite a bit of background for their reasoning, but the gist is that tanks have too much control over their own survival, to the point where we barely depend on healers to stay alive.

I know nerfs feel bad, but believe it or not this is a good thing, and will lead to more engaging gameplay for both ourselves and for our healers. It will lead to more interesting gearing decisions (since we will be threatened by more than just burst damage) and more social interaction.

On the beta, raid bosses had to absolutely smash tanks to pose a reasonable threat. We had so much control over survival that we could handle everything they threw at us, except for extreme burst. That’s not a fun way to start an expansion. Ideally, we want to worry about maintainability (total damage reduction) as well as smoothing. This way, we can have a bit more wiggle room in our active mitigation decisions because we won’t need to SMASH EXPEL HARM ASAP OR ELSE DEATH, etc.

Also, at a meta level, most tanks barely needed healer intervention to survive anything but these extreme hits. While it’s fun to be in complete control over your life, this is a multiplayer game and it’s important that we actually interact with our raid. (I know, I hate depending on people too, but it’s part of the deal when we signed up to play an MMO.)

Well, let’s get into how hard Brewmasters got hit:

  • Expel Harm healing amount reduced.
  • Fortifying Brew now lasts 15 sec, down from 20 sec.
  • Chi Wave now does 50% of AP damage or healing, down from 76%.
  • Shuffle/Blackout Kick now increases your parry chance by 10% (was 20%) and your Stagger amount by an additional 10% (was 20%) for 6 sec.
  • Guard now absorbs 900% of AP, down from 1133% of AP.
  • Stance of the Sturdy Ox now increases armor by 50% and reduces magic damage taken by 10%, rather than reducing damage taken by 25%.

Chi Wave
This reduction may bring it down to be in line with Zen Sphere and Chi Burst, though Zen Sphere was quite a bit weaker than Chi Wave so I’m not sure if they’re equal yet. This change makes the initial heal of Chi Wave was a little bit more than the final burst of Zen Sphere. On live, the initial heal of Chi Wave is about twice as much as Zen Sphere’s burst, so that’s a pretty big change. Zen Sphere’s HoT is still disappointing, but it wouldn’t be Zen Sphere without a disappointing HoT.

Halving the avoidance and stagger of Shuffle is actually sort of nice. Sure, our overall mitigation is reduced, but it also means we won’t depend on Shuffle quite so dearly. It won’t increase our survival by so much. Obviously it still needs to be active most of the time, but there won’t be such a huge difference between starting a fight with or without it.

Passive armor increase instead of damage reduction
The armor multiplier is significant because previously we were the lowest armor tanks by a large margin. We didn’t have a passive armor increase like everyone else (though it was compensated for by other things). That made the new tank stat Bonus Armor that much more powerful for us because each point was a bigger increase for us than other tanks. Bonus armor will still be a highly valued stat (and speaking from experience, bonus armor made a huge difference in proving grounds). But it won’t be quite so overpowered for us.

Reduced magic passive reduction hurts, but all tanks took a hit there so we have to remember to compare these changes relative to other tanks. Magic damage is our weak spot, though at least we have Soul Dance to help out.

How Did That Make you Feel?

Well, self healing and absorbs are going to feel a bit weaker. They already felt weaker than on live, simply because your max health is proportionally higher. They felt fine to me in proving ground testing, though. We’ll have to wait and see how they feel in a real raid setting. Resolve was also changed to make our heals depend on it more.

To assuage concerns, active mitigation still felt important. And of course, that remains the goal. Our decision making process won’t change, other than having to think about healers.