Monday, January 28, 2013

Ghostcrawler's Hasty Decisions

We have news from the PTR about Patch 5.2 and storm clouds of worry and concern are gathering over the land of the Tankadins.
Paladin - For Protection, we do have plans to try and lower the value of haste relative to dodge and parry. We don't want to make haste terrible for paladins, but we agree that it's odd for it to be better than more traditional tank stats. It might require a nerf to Shield of the Righteous to do this, but our goal is not to nerf survivability overall. We just wanted to provide you some context if you see odd changes to tanking abilities.

Yes, my friends, that is none other than GC uttering the N word. A little further on in the thread, GC is asked to explain his reasoning.

Again in the words of the Crab.

The game just isn't currently designed to support it. It creates potential problems such as:  - A Prot paladin competing with a Frost DK or Ret paladin over gear, meaning there isn't enough DPS plate to go around. - A Prot paladin considering a tier set with dodge and parry on it to be "garbage" because it doesn't stack all haste. - A Prot paladin looking at a Ret 2pc set bonus that she normally wouldn't touch because now the stats aren't that bad either. In a world where tanking plate didn't exist or every loot system used the personal LFR one or 100% efficient reforging then it might work. We understand that having a lot of haste feels fun and visceral and is more dependable than dodge and parry. We'll try to come up with a solution that keeps that in mind. 
Later he thread he further clarifies

We knew haste would be attractive to Protection when we gave them Sanctity of Battle, which only Retribution had previously. That's why we gave them Sanctity of Battle. Even if you have a tanking set with no haste, there are haste buffs in the game. We wanted all the tanks to benefit somewhat from what were traditionally DPS stats, since part of the active mitigation design was to make tanks care more about hitting things with sword (and claws). It only gets to be a problem, as I said previously, if dodge and parry (which are going to be on some gear) are perceived as pointless. (They aren't pointless, but that's really beside the point at this stage.) We aren't going to reitemize every plate piece in the game to remove dodge and parry. We also don't want to nerf haste for paladins, because it is fun, and for the most part working as intended. We don't have a solution yet that we're willing to share, but that's the intent. 

 GC was asked on Twitter what this change meant for active mitigation.

We think active mitigation is more fun. Just need to decide what to do about dodge and parry long term. 

He was also asked how they missed this in Beta.

@Ghostcrawler no offense, but you guys knew about Haste and Prot Paladins since well before live.
Re: @Zackfig At the time we thought it was an undergeared problem because dodge doesn't matter when failing a dodge kills you. Re: @Zackfig We still sort of suspect that's the problem but it's become such a mantra that it's worth changing anyway. 

The first important takeaway is they haven’t announced any actual changes yet. GC just wants to give us some context if we see some really weird changes coming to the PTR - which we certainly will. This is a classic 'softening the blow' strategy. In the highly unlikely event GC reads this blog, I would just want to say thank you for the heads up.

Why Tankadins LOVE Haste

Now let’s look at why Tankadin’s love haste so much, and what possible solutions there could be. Much of what I am going to share here comes from the Patch 5.2 discussion thread on Maintankadin (you didn’t think I figured all this out on my own did you?) I especially need to recognize posters Klaudandus, Sagara, Fetzie, and Theck for their contributions.

Stat priorities can change from expansion to expansion. We rely on the theorycrafters, led by math wizard Theck, to help figure out what our stat priorities needed to be in MoP for us to be as effective tanks as we could.

The math ( led to the adoption of the Control gearing strategy. The strategy looks to maximize the uptime the Shield of the Righteous by making sure that none of your Holy Power generators ever miss. While this strategy leads to taking more damage over the entire course of the fight, it leads to far fewer spikes, and since spikes are what kill tanks, ultimately it leads to fewer tank deaths, and since tank death generally equals a wipe, it leads to less wipes.

The strategy says to get to the Hit cap and Hard Expertise cap (15%). After that, the advice was to go either Mastery or Haste. Haste and Mastery pretty much tied for effectiveness. Mastery is held back a bit because it is less effective in the double roll system (where a block is a separate roll).

Haste gives you an added benefit that Mastery doesn't  Haste increases your DPS, and in a world with Vengeance, tanks do some decent DPS. It’s enough that Haste became the go-to stat (after caps) especially for Heroic Mode raiders. Haste also allows us (at specific breakpoints) to get extra ticks from Sacred Shield.

Huzzah! The developers accomplished their goal. Haste is a desirable tank stat. The problem is it’s too desirable. Tankadins like it better than the traditional tank stats of dodge and parry, so much so that a piece of gear with only dodge and parry (like Bracers of Six Oxen) is consider ‘garbage’. Diminishing Returns are so strong on avoidance (dodge and parry)  that even at low rating levels that the amount of avoidance you get per point simply isn't worth it.

Tanks really haven’t been a fan of avoidance for about 3 expansion. Once upon a time, back in the olden days of 2009 tanks debated (quite fiercely, if I remember) about Avoidance versus Effective Health. The Avoidance tank would take less damage overall (what is now called TDR or Total Damage Reduction). The Effective Health tank would take more damage over the course of the entire fight, however; he would take smoother and more predictable damage. As long as you didn't run your healers OOM (out of mana) and become the so called Mana sponge, you were easier to heal and had a better chance of surviving the encounter (which, in the final analysis is really what tanks WANT to do).

Possible Solutions? 

Again major kudos to the posters over at Maintankadin who have suggested a couple of possible solutions. Short term, the best place to reduce the value of Haste would be Sanctity of Battle (SoB), but the community didn't think that is what the Developers will choose to do. SoB was made available to Tankadins to give them a defensive benefit from Haste. The developers just didn't see that it would be such a huge benefit as to overshadow traditional tanking stats like Mastery, Dodge, and Parry.

I think we will see quite a bit of experimenting because the Developers have to be careful. By changing our gearing strategy, you are changing the gear we want. This isn’t just a simple regem / reforge / heywheredidallmygoldgo. This is replacing several pieces of gear. Gear that might have been upgraded with Valor points. Yikes! Tread carefully, dear Crab.

If the Developers want Tankadins to value Avoidance, it needs to serve a niche. The niche it fills right now is TDR (total damage reduction). If tanks were mainly concerned with TDR, that would work. But right now its simply filling a niche no one cares about sort of like a hockey game on the night of the Super Bowl.

Assuming they don’t want to simply nerf SoB, Avoidance could become more desirable by adding it to an active mechanic. Something along the line of Revenge. Grand Crusader would fit the bill well. It hits three targets like Revenge and it’s already a proc. Simply make Grand Crusader proc off a dodge or parry. This would also help Tankadins AoE threat which seems a bit lackluster especially next to my Monk co-Tank.

There's another, longer term solution (and one I suggested back in 2009), but as this post is already too long, I will detail that tomorrow.


Aimli said...

"Tanks really haven’t been a fan of avoidance for about 3 expansion"
Although I didn't raid in Cata, from what I remember of the gearing guides, avoidance and mastery were king in Cata, no-one gemmed/enchanted for EH. This is why they changed block to be a separate roll because the gearing strategy was mastery and avoidance to block cap and then stam/hit/exp. Now I could be wrong and haven't tried to find old threads with these details but thought it was relevant.

Ted A. said...


I forgot that I kind of took a break from tanking during Cataclysm to play my Hunter.

What do you think drove tanks to Mastery and Avoidance during Cata?

Sol said...

I think during Cata, because it was possible to reach the cap, people reached the cap. Mastery stacking was the main thing, Parry and Dodge people tried to keep at the same level and Hit and Expertise were unwanted stats, often reforged to avoidence as they were commonly paired with mastery. Because cap was possible, people gemmed and enchanted to try to reach it (if not already there). Reforging was a nightmare endured after every upgrade.

In MoP of course, the cap by design is impossible to reach. Hit and Expertise have become relevant. Passive avoidance has been devalued this expansion, so Stamina wins out.

Oh, Ted, could you put a white background underneath bluespeak next time? I found it a little awkward to read with your blog background colour.

Ted A. said...

Will do Sol.