Monday, January 25, 2010

AE and the Paladin, the Nerfbat cometh?

GC has been posting on the forums, mostly about the needed buff to Protection Warriors sustained damage, but he's also touched on the AE aspect of tanking. Let's break down what the Crab has communicated.

"There are differences in how tanks generate AE threat, and therefore damage. Warriors are jealous of the DK and especially paladin persistent area-based damage, and the others are jealous of the warrior's burst AE threat on incoming adds. Druids are jealous of anyone with more than one button. :("

Let me stop right here and comment. Other tanks really seem to overestimate Consecrate. The spell isn't the be all and end all of AE Tanking that other tanks think it is. It is actually a fairly weak spell and won't hold aggro against other tanks AE. Because it ticks like a DoT, Thunderclap and Shockwave can pull off it due to their ‘snap’ aggro nature. I’ve personally seen Blood Boil, and DnD pull off of Consecrate. Although talking with my Blood DK co-Tank, we both seem to think the other one has the leg up on threat during an AE pull. I haven’t tanked enough with a Druid to see how it interacts with Swipe.

But comparing Consecrate alone to the AE toolkit of other tanks isn’t really fair. Tanks blame Consecrate, but its really the entire AE toolset of Paladins that they envy.

Paladins have an amazing array of AE tools of which Consecrate is only a part. Think about it. Nearly every spell in our rotation has some sort of AE component. Hammer of the Righteous, Seal of Command (Cleave), Seal of Vengeance/Corruption (when combined with Hammer of Righteous), Holy Shield and Holy Wrath all have an AE. When the whole arsenal is brought to bear, Paladins can produce excellent AE threat and damage.

"So, yes, one way of handling this is to give every tank a burst AE attack like Thunderclap, a sustained AE attack like Consecrate, and a mass taunt like Challenging Shout just for good measure. That's the kind of thing we are really reluctant to do though because it just works against the justification for having 4 tanking classes when they all perform the same way including using the same kind of tools. Now, on the other hand no tank should be horribly gimped in any of those situations, and except for rare exceptions they really aren't. We're mostly talking quality of life issues here. "

I'd love to have something like Challenging Shout. I’d love a snap AE aggro tool like Thunderclap, although in IceCrown, Holy Wrath does a very nice job of creating that snap AE aggro.

But GC is right here. If you give everyone the exact same toolkit there really isn't much point to having different classes. The important distinction is that one Tank isn’t horribly gimped, and GC concludes that they really aren't.

"Long-term, the paladin manner of generating AE damage and threat is probably too good, especially given how simple it is. "


Bells, whistles and alarms should go off in the head of every Paladin who reads this. If GC thinks our AE threat is too good, it's probably in line for a nerf. Hopefully, the 'long-term' he's talking about here is Cataclysm. /cross fingers

I hope the Development team keeps in mind that Paladin tanks can use Holy Wrath on virtually everything in IceCrown right now, but the spell has an 'Undead only' restriction which makes it useless most of the time. Also like Consecrate, Holy Wrath is a hungry little bugger. Holy wrath uses 20% base mana and consecration uses 22% base mana.

"To be honest, we have very mixed feelings on the whole AE tanking game. We brought the druid and warrior more in line with the paladin for fear of recreating the Shattered Halls / Mount Hyjal experience, where other tanks just weren't competitive."

Let's not forget that during the days that Mount Hyjal and Shattered Halls were relevant content, Warriors were far and away the best tank, and this was by design. "... in classic and BC because warriors were designed to be the best tank. When there were situations that other classes started to outstrip warriors, we took steps to make sure the warriors still came out on top."

Mount Hyjal was how a lot of Paladin Tanks got their Tanking spots. It's how I got my shot at T6 content. Paladins had to fight tooth and nail for their spots because we had such an uphill climb against preconceived notions from Vanilla that Paladins were healers only and the massive benefit you got from having a Warrior tank.

We touted our AE threat generation because it was really the only advantage we had. Our slogans back then were things like ‘When in doubt, round ‘em up and Consecrate’, ‘Who needs CC?’ and ‘CC stands for Constant Consecration’

We carved a niche out for ourselves as ‘the AE tank’. Warriors were better on single targets. Warriors took less damage, and got Uncrushable at the touch of a button. Warriors had better cooldowns. Shoot, Paladins didn’t HAVE a cooldown in those days.

But nobody could hold a pack of a dozen Ghouls off a Seed of Corruption spamming Warlock like a Paladin. And once enough high ilevel Badge gear was available that Paladins could meet the Effective Health minimums for a fight, we started getting some shots at bosses as well. Raid leaders started to think, 'gee, if the Paladin can hold threat so well on the trash, he can let our DPS go all out on the Boss as well'.

We even came up with gimmicks like using a Paladin Tank healing a Warlock to control Morogrim Tidewalker's murlocs or using our mana based resource system to limit damage done by Reliquary of Souls in Phase 3.

But mostly Paladins were relegated to offtanking, adds and farm kills.

"What that has led to of course is the AE tank + AE style of damage for almost every pull. You need the tools to be able to tank legitimate adds fights (imagine lots of incoming mobs), but does that mean every pull needs to devolve into that? We'd like to see less AE overall, so buffing everyone's AE tools isn't going to be tops on our agenda. That does however mean that we really can't afford to have a "best AE tank", and while things are more fair there than they were in BC, they aren't fair enough."

‘aren’t fair enough’ is further indication that Paladins are in line for nerfs. I don’t like being nerfed, no one really does. I can only hope that they are thinking Cataclysm at this point and not a minor patch in the IceCrown cycle. GC’s modus operandi is to talk about the nerf for a while before revealing what the actual nerf is. This is his way of softening the blow so to speak.

As I pointed out above Paladins needed the 'best AE tank' during tBC. But today, Paladins are competitive tanks in every way. We simply don't need 'best AE tank' as our niche anymore. We can get our tanking spots based solely upon our ability as Tanks. Raid Leaders pick those tanks that “are available, confident, prepared, and understand what they're doing and know their weaknesses." - Ciderhelm, founder of Tankspot

But as far as the design challenge of not having every pull devolve into an AE situation, Rohan over at Blessing of Kings has some great ideas. I'll defer to his wisdom on this one.

Personally, I enjoyed the Crowd Control of tBC era heroics, but I wonder if players will be willing to go back to 45 minute to hour long heroic runs when sub 30 minutes have become the norm in Wrath.

Ultimately my fear is that the Developers will miss the mark and overnerf Paladin AE especially given the limited amount of PTR testing any minor patch receives. But until we have something concrete from the Dev team, I'm forced to take a wait and see approach.

I do wonder if a making it harder for Paladins to hold AoE will cause Paladin tanks to queue up less often as a Tank in LFD. Paladin Tanks are by most accounts one of the most popular tanks to see in LFD. If less queue up as Tanks it would make the queue problem even worse than it is today.


CyphirX said...

I already avoid queuing as a tank now because of rude folks in the group. I only see this causing more problems on my pally for the time or two that I do when I see DPS pulling stuff away.
If they hold it off until Cataclysm at least the pain will be masked a little bit.
I saw that post though and thought the same thing. I will give a fair point that there'll obviously be some envy on it, but I still get pigeon-holed into OT roles now and trash. I only get to MT when the other guy is out.
It seems that they just need to make everyone the same because no matter what, one will whine louder then the others and someone is going to get hosed.

Shayzani said...

Excellent summary of the paladin tank's plight in Burning Crusade.

I suppose its something to be a little proud of that the paladin community did such a good job selling Consecration's awesomeness back then that the idea still persists today when Consecration isn't nearly as impressive.

Karatheya said...

I will gladly go back to 45 minute heroics that require CC, if only because an instance that requires CC negates any calls to "gogogogogo".

"I can't just charge in, we'll all die, Mr. Impatient DPS."

"Oh, right. Carry On."

I can wish at least.

I'm not worried that this change is going to come in the 3.x series. When GC says "the Paladin manner" (as opposed to specific abilities), I read that as "mechanics" - and as others have mentioned recently I don't think that we're going to see mechanical changes this late in the cycle.

I think we'll see a few changes in our tanking style in 4.x. It wouldn't surprise me (though it would sadden me a bit) to see it mess with the 969 rotation, though we'll have to hope that Theck invokes his super Matlab powers to give us some guidance in the time after 4.x and before Cataclysm.

Archangel said...

I spotted the nerf incoming. But I don't understand it this time. I did understand when they wanted to balance some pvp issues. But I fail to see the reason for their concern on this occasion. All GC is saying is that our manner of generating aoe threat and damage is too good.…this time we are not overpowered, we are not the cause of some pvp imbalance, we are not doing to much damage or healing, we are not better than others, this time we are just generating threat and damage…to efficiently ?

Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing? Let me read it again: “manner of generating”…“too good”. In relation to what aspect of the game, this can be a negative thing ?

Inquisitor said...

I tanked a couple of heroics without touching consecrate at *all*, just to see if I could.

I could - but 5-pulls that spawn adds meant I actually needed to use the occasional taunt.

Crofe said...

First Honors, is that a different blue than you normally use? I can't read it unless I highlight it.

Second, I would love instances that required CC again ala the original BC instances. The "gogogo" mentality of Heroics today makes me angry. Even more so when I was leveling my Alt bear and had a shaman 4 levels higher than me who couldn't fathom things like Aggro Management and being *4 Levels* higher than the tank. It's worse in normals because things don't die in 20 seconds.

I mostly played a Hunter in BC and being able to effectively trap was empowering. It was literally a skill the player had to learn and was mostly gear independent. I am glad I stopped playing him, because it would sadden me to be in dungeons and not get to trap / kite mobs.

Honors Code said...


I used the wrong blue, but I fixed it now.

The return of chain trapping would bring a tear of happiness to my eye. I had the pleasure of seeing well done in our Shadow Labs and our early Kara runs. It was a thing of beauty to behold.


You've hit on something that's been in my mind but I haven't been able to pin down yet. What I'd like to see in Cata 5 mans is some penalty for DPS making a mistake, and something that can't be healed through.

Nuff said...

I have level 80 paladin, dk and warrior tanks. Here is how they actually stack up in an unbiased form...

Warriors suck. Even single target playing a warrior tank is a miserable experience. You have to pay so much attention to what buttons to press, what abilities have proced, how much rage you have that it is simply not fun. Aoe tanking? Forget about it...misery.

Dk tanking is much better, enough tools to keep agro in aoe situations off the healer...takes a little bit to set in and your abilities are very can't dump your mana pool but you also can't run out of mana. Requires some thought yet not too much pain and suffering.

Pally tanking is mindless, push these buttons in this order and all the mobs 1-n will stick to you. Really it should require a little thought/effort.

xor said...

"You've hit on something that's been in my mind but I haven't been able to pin down yet. What I'd like to see in Cata 5 mans is some penalty for DPS making a mistake, and something that can't be healed through."

I agree. The mechanics that "punish" stupid dps in the ICC heroics actually punish other people in the group (or the group as a whole). Bad dps is allowed to continue being bad with little or no consequence to themselves.

mirrored soul: continue to dps the boss and you will probably kill someone in your party (or at the very least make the healer's job much more difficult). I've seen healers that will let people kill themselves on this fight, and rightly so.

overlord's brand: continue to dps and you will kill your tank (again, passing the work on to the healer). This is especially bad when overlord's brand goes to the healer after a dps has been trying to kill the tank. Now all of the heals needed to get the tank back up is healing the boss, too.

Both of these are dps fail, but the dps is rarely the one that dies for it. They just scream at the healer and tell them 'moar heals!' or kick vote them out.

One particular H FOS stands out to me. A mage was unloading on one of the two-packs of skeletons (that have a spell reflect). They continued their rotation until they were dead. Spells were obviously bouncing back at their face. Everyone in the group saw it. I could see getting hit with a single reflect from latency, but continuing and eating that damage? Did they really think the healer was going to heal them through stupid? It took this kind of obvious cause and effect for the mage to realize they killed themselves and admit it to the group. When the cause is less obvious, at least in my experience, the finger goes straight to the healer for letting them die (even if they could have prevented it).

It seems to me Blizz has gone a step beyond "no CC" to "allow dps to be stupid and blame others". Getting dps to target switch or (God forbid) stop dps during certain boss abilities is next to impossible.

There should be more immediate penalties for playing badly, and it should be readily apparent who failed without reading through combat logs.

Sorry for the rant. These are just general RDF antics that I've encountered as a tank, healer, and dps. There are good groups and there are bad groups. The bad groups really stick out.


Honors Code said...


I have a Level 80 paladin, warrior, and Druid.

Warrior: Pretty much agree with you, and it's a big reason why the Warrior got shelved.

DK: Sorry, don't know jack about them.

Druid: Similar to my Paladin, not too many buttons to push. Maul over and over again gets old. This guy really needs a ranged silence like AS. Note: I haven't tanked with this guy since my mid 60s though.

Paladin: I wouldn't call it mindless. Passive might be a better word. Most all of our abilities are fire and forget. There is no arguing its easier. I'm curious what you would advocate changing to give it more thought/effort.

Nyss said...

I think GC hasn't picked on us in a while and just wants to stay in practice. He doesn't even know what he wants to do, he just wants to do something:)

Seriously, I hope this isn't being fueled by all of us running through UK in full T9 or better, but as I reread this, I realize that he has to be more professional than that. I'm not seeing any good coming from this. Something is gonna be taken away. We'll either get nothing in return, which could send us to the bottom of the tank-list, or we'll get something in return, further homogenizing the tanking classes.

I don't know anything about warriors, but a spell reflect sounds like a nice consolation... but there goes the diversity.

Thanks for a great blog!