Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
New design philosophy on specialized classes?

WoWInsider has a very interesting post up on Blizzard's design of warriors. According to the author "Warriors are generally number two in everything, making them the best all purpose generalist tanks in the game". Oh great, as if more specialized classes weren't already disadvantaged enough with their lack of versatility compared to hybrid classes. Now Blizzard splits up tanking into several subcategories (AoE tanking, single boss tanking, etc.) and makes warriors not the best in any of these categories? Probably next step is to make priests the worst healers in the game, maybe using the spirit nerf. I'm suddenly dreading patch 3.1.
So the specialists are the hybrids now?


Why on earth would anyone roll anything besides a druid?
Does anyone actually prejudice against different healers / tanks? When I run naxx25 I take our Prot Warrior MT and whatever two offtanks are online promptly for raid. Same for healers, I take whichever 6 are online and eager. The only time I look for a particular class is when I realize I'm up to four of one healer and probably need some variety.

Priests are still one of the strongest healers in the game and will continue to be so after the spirit / 5 second non-casting nerf.
In my case because I like be mage. I dont like hunters, warriors, druids, I hate pally and warlocks. Mage is maybe the worst class in Wow (and human-mage a very bad combination), but I like it anyway. If suddenly mage is eliminated in patch 3.1 I´ll stop playing Wow. As simple as that.
Tobold, the comment on Blizz's design philosophy came from Matthew Rossi of WI, not from Ghostcrawler or any Blizzard dev. It didn't even come from a Blizz CM or employee. It's simply the musing of a WoW Insider author and is by no means the philosophy by which the class dev team is crafting the classes.

Bottom line: Matthew Rossi is not a dev. At no point in Ghostcrawler's post did he say that warriors are designed to be the tanking jack-of-all-trades. That intimation was purely Rossi's creation.
I think calling warriors #2 in everything is a bit generous really. They certainly aren't #2 in terms of dps or threat (nearer #3 or 4), and that's what stings because it's easier to handle being the worst at something if you are the best at something else.

It's not really an issue right now (although I could wish that our paladin would just SHUT UP for once about how superior he is) but I don't think any one tank should fall behind, that's not really the idea behind 'bring the player not the class.'

Still a fun class and totally capable of tanking most things in the game bar some gimmick encounters.
Echoing Josh, another point: Matthew Rossi is a giant tool who has very little idea of other tanking classes, high-level raiding encounters or particularly how to tank well as a warrior. He's possibly the worst writer on WoWInsider. Please don't take his views as gospel, or even remotely correct.
Your fear about Priests has already come true. Like Warriors, they are second best in everything. It's very frustrating to someone like me who rolled a Priest in WoW 1.x to be the best healer in the game. The tradeoff is I made sacrifices in gear and versatility. I don't know why anyone would roll anything but a Druid now. I mean why not? You're as good as any specialty class and can play 4 different roles.
Dual Speccing will make the general trend towards favoring Hybrids only stronger. Ghostcrawler started out with good intentions, and as usual, the results are not actually what people wanted.
As someone with a variety of toons, my first reaction to that WoWInsider article was to write an angry comment complaining about how stupid it was. Then I read the comments, and there were 6 or 8 people who'd already made those points.

Yes, warriors are the second-best tanks, let's look at how:

1) Last Stand is clearly a ripoff of Survival Instincts from Feral.
2) Enraged Regeneration is a ripoff of Frenzied Regneration.
3) Shield Wall is clearly a ripoff of Barkskin and the 5 minute cooldown is clearly intended as a punishment for bad, bad warriors.
4) Blocking, Critical Block, and Shield Block are a poor substitute for the extra armor of bear form.
5) Thunderclap doesn't have the clear focus of a frontal cone and the 6 sec cooldown is extra punishment. Shockwave robs the tanking of rage due to incoming damage by stunning mobs in that frontal cone.

Clearly, Warriors are second-tier to Druids on AoE and handling non-magical damage (including elemental damage).

1) Last Stand (30% health boost for 20s on 5min cooldown) is clearly inferior to Ardent Defender (30% damage reduction when under 35% health).
2) Shield Wall's 60% reduction doesn't make up for the fact that the 50% reduction on Divine Protection can be talented to a 4-minute cooldown from 5 minutes.
3) The damage boost from a fully-sundered target is nowhere near as good as the fact that the Holy damage from a paladin ignores armor.
4) Thunderclap loses too much threat from slowing the attack speeds of all affected targets every 6s compared with Consecrate. Furthermore, the attack speed reduction robs warriors of much-needed rage by reducing their damage intake.
5) Critical Block (30% chance of doubled block value), Shield Block (100% chance to block, doubled block value for 10s on a 40s cooldown), and Damage Shields (damage from blocks or hits reflects 10% of your block value to the target) are not as good as Holy Shield, which has a solid 211 damage all the time and ensures a normal block at a raid-geared level.

Clearly warriors are substantially worse than Paladins at single-target tanking, and also at AoE tanking.

I haven't played a Death Knight for long enough to draw comparisons here, but I'm sure that some of the comments on WoWInsider are equally off-base in this respect. One confusing factor for Death Knights is that there are at least 3-4 different tank specs, each of which has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, the DK tank in my guild uses a 25/5/41 build for tanking Sartharion, but he says that his threat is fairly bad while in that spec. (He has trouble staying ahead of the DPS for the 20s until Tenebron lands, even with Misdirects.)
The irony of warriors suddenly being a hybrid while every other tank is more specialized is the most delicious thing I have read in my WoW career, coming from a bear druid.

"Hey! HEY! Being good at everything sucks when you aren't the best at any one thing because people frequently decide who will go based on maximization! Man, being a hybrid sucks!"
The WoW Insider post is simply terrible journalism. He doesn't provide any maths or stats, it's just qq.

He seems to believe DKs make better single target boss tanks because they have cooldown abilities. DKs normally take damage but have the ability to pop a cooldown when they are expecting to spike. Except for Sartharion however you never know when you are going to spike on a raid boss. What will happen is that DKs either blow them whenever they light up or use them as a crappy version of shield wall. DKs are in fact the worse single target boss tanks, it's not possible to get more than about 25 talent points into mitigation talents and the lack of shield really hurts.

He seems to believe that having high life makes Bears better tanks. They have always had higher life, even at level 60 when no one used them to tank raids.

Warriors mitigate more damage than anyone else. When we start doing Ulduar you will see how important Warriors are.

Too many players like Matthew Rossi claim poor game balance when they have not put the work in to make their character effective. Bring the player not the class is very true for raid tanks. Sure, you might get assigned roles based on your classes strengths. For example on Sarth +3 we used 5 tanks, a Feral on Sarth, a Warrior on dragon 1 and 3 another Warrior on dragon 2 and elementals a Pally on whelps and a DK on whatever adds got loose. Those tanks got their spots because they have worked very hard on their gear, gems enchants and have good competence and situational awareness.

I challenge you to find a guild with the raid content cleared that doesn't have a Prot Warrior. Warriors are absolutely secure as tank choices, lazy whiney players however are no longer a shoo-in based on their class.
I challenge you to find a guild with the raid content cleared that doesn't have a Prot Warrior. Warriors are absolutely secure as tank choices, lazy whiney players however are no longer a shoo-in based on their class.

Trivially easy challenge. I cleared Naxx myself in a raid group where the two tanks were a druid and death knight. There are barely any warriors left in my guild, and they rarely are invited to raids.
"Trivially easy challenge. I cleared Naxx myself in a raid group where the two tanks were a druid and death knight. There are barely any warriors left in my guild, and they rarely are invited to raids."

Huh? warriors rarely invited to raids? What kind of guild do yo have??! We raid with another guild, and our regular tanking roster has two prot warriors, one DK, two druids and one tankadin (me). Whoever is available, tanks, be it heroic raid or not.
Priests are viewed quite like warriors in the devs fotm design intentions : we have a tremendous amount of tools that we can draw into, but for each role there is a better alternative.
- Raw HPS throughput on single target : paladins are better
- HoT (short term fire and forget) healing : druids
- Direct raid healing : shammies
The only thing a priest is the best at is preemptive damage mitigation through shields (and only for disc priests) and that's a pretty small niche.
The thing is : it's all right, we don't *need* to be the best at anything, yes for the 2% of guilds that *do* min-max at that level (meaning their player pool with equal gear/skill allows them to really choose) it matters. Do we, as a community, care about those 2% ? Yes because they are the ones with exposures on news sites. Are they statistically significant and relevant (in terms of being selected in raid) to the overwhelming majority ? I don't think so.
Personally I'm in a rather successful guild (Sarth3D done end of january), we don't sit players out based on specific fights (except when clearly in front of a wall, and that happens maybe once every two months), in that respect being second best at everything (as long as the difference between top of the line and priest is not too great) is actually a good thing, it puts oil in the wheel...
On the subject of warrior tanks themselves, this is anecdotic data : our MT is a warrior, we have another prot warrior and a DK as OTs, another feral druid, DK and two warriors are primarily DPS but can tank in tanking-heavy fights, we have no prot paladin and never had one (except one casual member)... We never had a fight where we said "man we really need *insert class here* to tank that", that's including Sarth3D where it would have taken our feral tank two profession changes and a complete regemming to achieve the level of HP required for no-cooldown management of breath, clearly more than we are willing to sink in a boss fight.
As a healer, which tank do you prefer healing?
As a tank, which healer do you prefer healing you?

My thoughts grew large, so are here
That actually doesn't sound bad. Priest already are "I can heal everything but I'm not the best at anything". So making warriors "I can tank anything but I'm not the best at anything" seems like a good thing.

Besides, both warriors and priests are HYBRIDS, not pure classes. Certainly if I look at where our DPS warrior/Shadow priests lands on the damage meters. There is really no reason why a warrior should be a better tank/dps combination then for example a death knight.

If the differences are big enough to be perceived they are big enough to change behaviors. Just how many warrior tans did you run Heroic Shattered Halls with?

@Carra: Why? Going from tanking warrior to DPS warrior requires a whole new spec, gear, gems and glyphs. At least personally it would take me a month to put together a solid DPS set and learn how to play DPS. I have no option to do reasonable DPS at the touch of a button when not tanking.

Generally: Yes being best at something is a real problem right now. Considering that 10 raid tanks have a 40% unemployment rate in 25 raids and that Blizzard has added a very popular tanking class (on Silver Hand the most popular classes, at about 15% of the 80s, are 1) paladins 2) death knights (beat by like 7)).

Very few boss fights require more than 2 tanks as is, not having a place to shine in 25 mans does put warriors at a real disadvantage. Combine not being best in a number of classes, the vast increase in supply and the very tight market, your chances of raid tanking at the top of the game, as a prot warrior, are worse than for the other tanking classes.

Those of you who are saying that we have prot tanks: how many of them are new hires and how many have come into their roles since there were a real number of 80s (particularly 80 DKs)? How many of them tanked for you since 1.0, or BC?

There are a lot of prot warrior raid tanks out there but they are legacy spots and roles.

Then add to that that non-tanking prot warriors do squat for damage (much like prot pallies) and that we get worse as tanks as we gear up (rage starvation--must like an overgeared prot pallies mana starvation) and we come in as 2nd best tanks with design flaws.

Does it suck? Well I tanked on my warrior since MC and love tanking. I have strongly considered respeccing DPS just so I could find a slot in a 25 man as tanks slots are few, often filled by the most reliable raids and are often raid leads (I know I am for my 10 man).

The situation is not analogous to priests as healers are needed in just about the same proportion for 10 and 25 mans. Healer slots don't become substantially scarcer for jumping to 25 man.
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