Friday, October 30, 2009

Feeling a Chill....of the Throne!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, today we bring you a blast from the past. Put your hands together and give a big Honors Code welcome for the return of Sunwell Radiance!

Yes, after talking about how much the Developers hated having to use it and how they would be super careful to not let themselves get into this situation again...

For Icecrown Citadel, we are implementing a spell that will affect every enemy creature in the raid. The spell, called Chill of the Throne, will allow creatures to ignore 20% of the dodge chance of their melee targets. So if a raid's main tank had 30% dodge normally, in Icecrown Citadel they will effectively have 10%.

Why are we doing this?

The high levels of tank avoidance players have obtained is making the incoming damage a tank DOES take more "spiky" than is healthy for raiding. Ideally, tanks would be receiving a relatively constant stream of damage over time. This allows healers to better plan their healing strategy, broaden their spell options, and simply give more time to react. Tanks could use their cooldowns more reactively. Instead, the current situation is that if we make a hard hitting melee boss and a tank doesn't avoid two successive swings then the tank could very well be dead in that 1-2 second window. The use of reactive defensive abilities instead becomes a methodically planned affair, healers have to spam their largest heals just in case the huge damage spike happens.

We've been trying to do a fair amount to mitigate the effect of high tank avoidance on the encounter side of things during this expansion with faster melee swings, additional melee strikes, dual wielding, narrowing the normal variance of melee swing damage, and various other tricks. There's a limit to what we can do, however. So to give us a bit of breathing room we’ve implemented Chill of the Throne. Going forward past Icecrown Citadel, we have plans to keep tank avoidance from growing so high again.

Which is pretty much what they said when they implemented Sunwell Radiance. True to their word, they introduced harsh Diminishing Returns in Wrath of the Lich King.

Why didn't it work?

A tank needs a certain amount of defense to be uncrittable. Defense grants dodge, and parry in addition to lowering your chance to be critically hit. So you already have a nice head start on avoidance. Then you need some way to make Tank Plate gear attractive to Tanks but not to DPS. So you load it up with Defense, Parry, and Dodge.

Enter Hard modes. At the outset of Wrath, they were an experiment in the form of Sartharian 3 Drakes. Then they became a larger experiment in Uludar and a core mechanic in Crusaders Coliseum. These hard modes needed to give better gear than 'normal' modes and thus the mudflation of item levels went up much more each Tier of raiding than originally planned.

What do we know for sure?

We know the 20% is taken after Diminishing Returns. That basically doubly penalizes avoidance.

We know that the conversions aren't changing. Your trinket with x dodge rating is still giving you the same y% dodge.

What does it mean?
You are going to hear a lot of opinions, and some will be told to you with very authoritative voices.

Some will harken back to their Sunwell days and figure what happened then (Tanks still valued Avoidance and on some fights geared specifically for Avoidance) will happen now. But the game mechanics have changed drastically. Tanks have for more short duration cooldowns than they did in Sunwell and Healer Mana goes a lot further.

For the immediate future, I'm not going to change anything. By the time 3.3 actually arrives on servers, the theorycrafters will have come up with a good plan for all tanks. I tend to be a StamStacker anyway.

Now allow me to throw my Honorshammer's Prediction of the Patch 3.3 Live date. I'm going with November 17th. This is the first Tuesday after the mandatory merger for all WoW accounts.

So I advise you follow the various threads and blogs. Eventually a consensus will form.

Official Forums (go there at your own risk)
Tankspots thread:
ThinkTank (Druid)
Pwnwear (DK) :
Avenging Wrathy (Paladin):

So relax, and continue to enjoy 3.2. By the time 3.3 gets here, we'll know how to handle it.
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