Friday, January 29, 2010

Prot on Prot Hate

Today my buddy Rhidach was talking about the abuse being thrown Paladins way both in game on the Forums. It’s even infiltrated once great sites like Tankspot. It has made meaningful discussion nearly impossible on the Official Forum, not that it was an easy task even before this. Anything from Paladins is immediately troll fodder.

I don't know what it is about these two classes; we're like a couple of brothers. There never seems to be as much emotion when a Warrior talks about a Druid, or a Deathknight, as when he is discussing the Paladin. Maybe it's because we share gear, I don't know. The people behind those Warriors and Paladins, especially those players who choose to go deep Prot, are more alike than they realize. The only dynamic I've seen close to this is Warlocks and Mages. Those guys fight like cats and dogs as well.

My personal favorite is the Warrior who has a Level 80 Paladin, DK and/or Druid as well and claims he’s unbiased in regards to class because he plays all three. I have an 80 Druid and Warrior. I play all three. Having a Level 80 Warrior helps me understand some of their issues better, but in no way does it make me class neutral.

Warrior Tanks have issues. They have underused utility, and their DPS is lower than other tanks when tanking. They also have some 'quality of life' issues like Heroic Strike and the way Rage works. But on the core issues of Tank Survivability and Threat Generation, Warriors still have parity with all other tanks.

The DPS while tanking issue didn’t exist prior to 3.3. I can’t recall a Tanking guide every talking about the need to do as much DPS as possible. In fact, I remember one guide for Fury Warriors going Tank that specifically told them to ignore their DPS. What mattered was threat, and that was correct.

What has really highlighted the DPS issue is Festergut, who is a DPS race and has been something of a roadblock for some guilds. At a certain level, the difference between guilds comes down more to quality of the players of their DPS players. Guilds with better DPS players will clear more content faster. Some guilds, which are just on the edge of having the DPS to down Festergut, are frustrated and their Warrior Tanks are worried that they might be holding them back. Some went so far as to make a case that the DPS difference was the difference between a wipe and a kill. It's never a good feeling to think that because you want to play your favorite class in your desired role, that you might be holding back the efforts of 9 or 24 other people.

However, the Devs didn't buy it. Yes, Tank DPS was relevant, they said, but it wasn' t the difference between a kill and wipe. The Devs felt that raid could get more Raid DPS by the improvement of their DPS Class, rather than more DPS from the Tank. When their concerns fell on seemingly deaf ears, many Warriors got very upset. Their anger was directed mainly at Paladins.

Warriors have raised the concern they will be benched due to their low DPS. Yet, the Developers have not seen this mass migration away from Warriors happening. Even when Warriors hammered on Paladins and Druids supposed huge advantage in EH, Guilds didn’t change. Why would they change now, when they haven’t changed in the past?

Warriors make the valid argument that it is balance issue when the raid has to work harder because they have a Warrior tank versus a Paladin or Druid. Paladins have faced what Warriors are going through before. We required external cooldowns for things like Sarth3D, Vezzax, and Firefighter where Warriors did not. Back then Warriors told us it wasn’t a big issue because you don't solo the raid boss. It was the powers of the entire raid that are brought to bear against the Boss. That’s what matters. Now suddenly, that argument doesn’t hold water anymore. It’s funny how that has changed.

By Tankspot’s own data, it’s Druids who have the lead on DPS in every fight analyzed. Druids also have more EH than Paladins, yet it is the Paladin who the Warriors attack again and again. (DKs are difficult to parse because their specs can be both Tank and DPS.) Is it really just because we share gear, or is there more to it?

How quickly they forget their past dominance. They were the go to Tank for 4 years. Encounter design was used to prop them up and make sure they stayed in the premier position. They were even exempted for the Hybrid tax. Of course, past dominance must feel like something of a hollow victory for them.

Now, they just can’t stand the idea of Paladins being on top for even 4 weeks. And let’s not forget Warriors are receiving a buff to their main attack next patch to help their DPS. I don’t know Warriors well enough to comment on how much this will help.I hope it helps their DPS issue, while not unbalancing single target TPS.

I'm not against Warriors getting buffs they need, especially to an area I don't consider core to the Tanks job. It is also completely irrelevant to the Devs what I think. They aren't asking me for my opinion on Tank balance issues, and they don't need my permission to buff or nerf a class as they see fit.

I just get the impression that some of these guys won't be happy until we're back in the tBC model of Warriors being the best tank, and by a good margin. If that is what they ultimately want, I think they are going to continue to be frustrated.

Now I’m going to conclude this piece with a controversial conspiracy theory. Like most conspiracy theories there's not a shred of truth to it, but it's interesting to think about nonetheless.

The rational among you may wish to stop reading at this point.

First off a little history lesson:

About halfway through Wrath, the Dev Team told us that during Burning Crusade they were making sure Warriors were the best tank. From Ghostcrawler himself we have we made no attempt to balance the tank classes” and “When there were situations that other classes started to outstrip warriors, we took steps to make sure the warriors still came out on top”

Of course, this isn’t what the Dev Team was communicating during Burning Crusade as Paladins fought for acceptance as Tanks. What they told the community during that time was "we don't want to (or want the players to) find some rigid hierarchy by which classes are measured in their tanking potential to the third decimal point"

I'm not sure how you could call one class being on top anything but a 'rigid hierarchy', but I digress.

I remember that post well because it gave hope and encouragement to a lot of struggling Paladin tanks, and it gave Blizzard another 3 to 6 months of subscriptions from those Paladin tanks as they waited to be 'fixed', a fix that wouldn’t truly come until the next Expansion, Wrath.

Now what does that have to do with the current issues with Warriors?

One of the design points of Wrath was 4 viable tank classes. How can you tell if that’s been achieved? Certainly design goals met would be a big part of the annual review for your design team. Perhaps some middle manager set a goal for tank representation across the classes. Whether or not the Dev Team hit the benchmark would impact their annual review. Somewhere along the way Blizzard started to ‘check their work’ by looking at representation of Tank classes for Raids and hard modes. What they found was that overwhelmingly people were still using Warriors. Ghostcrawler himself stated the number of Paladins Tanks testing ICC on the PTR was 'imperceptibly low'.

How in the world do you get the community to diversify its choice of Tanks?You have to prove to the community they are really strong tanks. You have to put them on top.

Of course, you can’t tell the community that’s what you are doing. You have to continue paying lip service to balance much as they did in Burning Crusade.

Am I crazy? Off my rocker? That’s entirely possible. No, check that, it's probable!

But I tell you what. If somewhere halfway through Cataclysm, once it’s doesn’t matter anymore, they ‘come clean’ like they did about Burning Crusade in Wrath, remember this post!

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