Tanking in Mists of Pandaria - A Wish List
With so much changing in the game when the next expansion, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, launches sometime next year it is time to daydream about what ifs.
There have been a huge number of changes in the game over the years and many huge changes have already been announced for Mists of Pandaria, like the brand new talent system. Therefore I feel it is safe to assume that much of what we know about the game will get redone as well. The aspect that I am most interested in is Tanking, since it was adjusted in Patch 4.3 but Blizzard has already stated that it was only an adjustment, not the final state.
For what it is worth, thank god they said that, because the patch 4.3 turned tanking into a joke. Threat is so simple to keep that it is almost laughable. Tanking should require some skill and attention to play, and in the current 4.3 environment it doesn’t, which to me is a huge step backwards for the game.
So, let's look at what would make up Messiah's Mists of Pandaria Tanking Wish List...
Less Cool Downs and More Player Involvement
Lately a lot of the fight mechanics seem to be about using your cooldown at the right time than about tanks doing interesting things. I would much rather have the game more about position, movement, and timing, than the current click your cooldowns in rotation A, B, C.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the priority based rotations that are in the game now rather than the old hard coded rotations that you had to get exactly right. The priority based rotations allow for some variation and some player ability to filter into the game knowing when to use what, however the cooldowns seem to be too much of a mechanic than they should be.
To me the tank cooldowns should only be used in “oh crap” moments where a healer miss stepped, or you got out of line of sight, or let someone get behind you, etc. They should not be a forced part of a fight. In new fights you would expect to use more of them that fights you are used to, but you should never be forced to use one in a fight.
I would love to see fights that allowed you to out maneuver the enemy, worry about positioning, or movement timing, or some other mechanic rather than worry about keeping my cooldown for the 2, 4, and 6 minute mark in a fight.
More Tank In-equity
Yeah I know this goes against Blizzards current philosophy about all players being even, but screw it, they are dead wrong. I just don’t understand the idea that all classes need to be the same and even. Some should be better than others in certain situations. For example Rouges should out DPS all other melee but die to AOE around bosses easily, Mages should out DPS all other casters but die if someone looks at them funny, etc. This should apply to tanks the same way.
I would love for some tanks to be better at some fights than others. For example this whole argument about Druids and Death Knights not having block, who cares. Make Death Knights the go to anti-caster tank again, make Druid tanks the health pool tank that tanks the biggest hits, make Warriors and Paladins the tanks that can do general duty, or better yet find someway to separate their functionality again. Maybe make Paladins the AOE tank again and Warriors the go do all purpose tank.
Other than appeasing the PVP crowd with so called class equity, and honestly in PVP it’s even more broken that PVE, why worry about balance so much. Maybe this is a rant for another time, so I will leave it for now, but really this obsession with everyone being equal must go, and Tanks may be the place to start.
Something Completely Different for Monk Tanks
This one is one of the big vague generalization type statements and wishes. I really hope for something completely new and different from the Monk Tanks. Something as completely different and out there as the Riftstalker Rogue class from Rift. For those not familiar with the game or class the Riftstalker is a Rogue based tank that uses leather armour but gains powerful shields around it by teleporting around to different targets. Each time you teleport to a new target you gain a new shield that stops incoming damage.
By doing this they allowed the class to still play like a DPS rogue slipping in and out of shadows, backstabbing enemies from behind, and sneaking away, they just did it in a way that also allows them to tank. Think of it like a Discipline priest that gained a powerful shield every time it cast smite and you wouldn’t be far off. The class had about 5 or 6 different teleports that each were on 45 second cooldowns and each provided a shield.
Was it a perfect system, no, not by a long stretch, but it was something so different and interesting that many players gave it a shot. Many players that hated normal tanking also chose to tank as a Riftstalker simply because it was so different.
This is what I hope for from Monk tanks. Something so far out there, strange, wacky, and wonderful that it grabs players attention and makes them want to try it. Even if it doesn’t work perfectly in all situations, it is better than yet another cookie cutter class.
A Return to the Skill Game
Here is another wide open one. How exactly do we return to a skill-based tanking game, I cannot say with 100% accuracy. There are some things that could be done to help it get there though.
For example Blizzard could roll back the 5x threat that was implemented in patch 4.3. This would force tanks to actually work at threat a bit more that they now currently do. I would push it back even more than the old 3x, maybe down to 2.5x or 2x. I know DPS would scream that they then cannot go flat out, but isn’t that kind of the point? Remember way back in Molten Core where a tank needed a 10 second head start, and when DPS had to be careful and not use anything and everything they wanted. They had to pace themselves around movement breaks and threat surges. The game was a lot more interesting then and the difference between a good tank and a bad tank was very easily spotted and appreciated by skilled DPS.
Another change that could be made is to reduce the amount of AOE threat that is generated. Again way back in vanilla WoW tanks had to work to get threat on multiple targets, it wasn’t easy. If someone attacked a wrong target it was off and running at them. Now AOE from tanks pretty much locks everything on them that is near by and there is little need or desire to target swap to ensure agro lock. This has led to DPS picking whatever they want and not single targeting enemies down, even when one is marked with a skull many times it is the last one to die. In raids obviously it is a bit better than that because it is all guild members (I don’t count raid finder as a raid), but in 5 player heroics if the marked enemy dies first I am generally shocked. If tanks had to work at threat on different targets it is a much bigger challenge for them and therefore a whole lot more fun. It would also force DPS to learn target priority again, which is a good thing.
As you can see, this one is a bit of this and a bit of that all tied up into something to separate the good players from the bad. There should be a huge difference in the play of a character from someone who knows and understands the class and the game and someone who doesn’t. Right now that difference is probably around the 20% mark, I’d like to see it back to at least 100% difference and potentially even much more.