On Episode 34 and Episode 35 of TankCast, Arielle and I talked about the latest blue post on tanking. The post goes over Blizzard’s goals for tanking and healing in Legion. The primary focus is making tanks easier to approach, improving active mitigation, and including healers in the tank survival equation. The whole post is below if you haven’t read it yet.
In the latest Legion Alpha build, tanks and healers will notice significant changes to the tuning on many of their defensive abilities. These may appear to be “nerfs” at first glance, but are actually part of a widespread adjustment to improve overall tank (and tank healer) gameplay, that includes reducing the strength/frequency of defensive cooldowns, and adjusting creature tuning to compensate.
Over the course of Warlords of Draenor, tanks have been mostly self-sufficient, providing the vast majority of their own survival, with only minor direct assistance required from healers. Encounter design has unfortunately reinforced this, focusing tank damage into more and more bursty moments in an attempt to challenge tanks. This has made long-cooldown defensive ability usage more and more important, while also further trivializing direct healing requirements.
For Legion, we want to return the overall tank gameplay to a more stable environment. In that, we have laid out some specific goals that we aim to hit:
- Tanks will require more direct healing. This will also improve on healer gameplay, as it’s more engaging when there’s a mixture of the types of healing that need to be used on any single encounter.
- Active Mitigation abilities for tanks (such as Shield Block or Death Strike) should feel rewarding, allowing an experienced tank to meaningfully reduce damage taken.
- Healers should care about the time and mana required to heal tanks, so that taking less damage as a tank is considered valuable.
- Tanks and healers’ long-cooldown defensive abilities (such as Barkskin or Shield Wall) should feel like a valuable resource. These abilities should be strong, but not necessarily available for every danger during a specific encounter.
- Tanks should have much more survivability than a non-tank. However, they don’t necessarily need to be extremely more sturdy. If the difference in ‘tankiness’ between tanks and non-tanks becomes too much of a gap, we then risk having situations such that if any one add gets loose, it’s likely to instantly kill any poor healer or damage dealer they hit–as the damage that these creatures deal would need to be exponentially higher to offset the sturdiness of the tank. This also brings a risk that tanks would opt to ignore enemy abilities that are designed to be dangerous to non-tanks, just taking those relatively minor blows rather than trying to avoid them as intended.
- In raid encounters, tanks should spend more time tanking, and less time waiting for their turn to tank.
- Tanks should be able to handle solo content quite effectively. They need to do less damage than dedicated damage dealers, but that difference can be moderate. It doesn’t have to be a massive difference.
Looking at these goals, we’ve made the following changes for tanking in Legion. We hope that these explanations will help you understand the bigger picture, in that these should be viewed as an overall improvement to the style of tank gameplay, rather than nerfs.
- In order to ensure that tanks require direct healing from healers, we’re increasing the amount of damage that makes it past a tank’s mitigation. This will include reducing or removing passive defensive abilities, along with the below changes.
- We’re toning down how frequently you’re able to use Active Mitigation abilities. This change will generally affect the length of their cooldowns, and not necessarily the strength of the ability. We believe these abilities are important to tank survival; but, when the uptime on these abilities gets too high, skill in knowing when to use them strategically matters less.
EDIT: Passive healing from healers (such as Beacon of Light) will be toned down, and other tank heals adjusted to compensate.
- There are many long-cooldown defensive abilities that will be able to be used less frequently, and, in some cases, these abilities may be weaker. Many of these abilities are currently either too numerous or usable too frequently, resulting in a strong cooldown for almost every threatening moment of every encounter.
- Encounter design will be adjusted to account for these changes. Overwhelming burst damage will be toned down, in favor of more steady and consistent damage on tanks.
- The damage of creatures that are intended to be tanked in group content will be reduced overall, in order to ensure that tanks can still perform their role just as well as before.
- Damage output by tanks will be increased, and their scaling with gear will be improved. This is being done so that tanks can stay in-line with damage dealers as a group gears up together.
Please note that many of these changes are preliminary, and we’ll be tweaking our changes based on testing and feedback. We’ll continue making adjustments as the Alpha moves along, until classes are in a more balanced state, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts throughout this process.