Thursday, May 28, 2009

[General] The future of block part 2 - short term fixes

Part one is here and establishes some of the rules and goals.

Let's first go with the short term fix for paladins and warriors gaining some traction. This is similar in thinking to Savage Defense; we know that an overhaul is in order and things aren't working right, but we assume they're not going to radically change two specs, multiple stat weighings, gear choices, mechanics, etc all in a content patch. Savage Defense is on the level of the kind of change we can expect: a minor mechanic change combined with an alteration of existing talents and skills to balance it out.

Here's the list again of the issues:
  1. Block as a static mitigation fails against hard-hitting mobs. We knew that already.
  2. Block as a scaling mitigation fails against soft-hitting mobs. Savage Defense was a great tool for upcoming druid tanks in heroics precisely because it mitigates so much more damage against heroic-level attacks. Expect this to stay fairly similar to what it is now, because most tanks don't go to raids right off; they tank in normal and heroic content first.
  3. HP on the steady tanks should be lower than HP on the spiky tanks. This right now is a big deal and is very problematic. Druids are arguably the least spiky tank thanks to the higher armor and SD, and they also have the most HP of any tank. Clearly the less spiky tanks should have less HP, which would put paladins and warriors as the high HP tanks and druids as the low HP tank. That may be unacceptable flavor wise for druids.
  4. Magic mitigation on the high-HP tanks needs to be less than the low-HP tanks. Because if you can't block at all and armor doesn't help, everyone takes the same damage - which means raw HP is key. We saw this with druids in Sarth3D. I don't think they want this again.
  5. SD is in an odd state. I don't know what they'll do with SD. It has a high uptime but is similarly ineffective against hard hits as block. I expect two things to happen: SD to be dramatically improved and the HP of a druid to scale dramatically worse. The alternative is a reversion of SD and making druids and DKs the 'nonshield' tanks and paladins and warriors the 'shield' tanks. I'd actually like this, even though I like SD; it would mean that (similar to healers) tanks would have something of niches again. It would necessitate actually having some ability that scaled with DPS gear.
  6. Avoidance on all tanks should be roughly similar. This is already largely the case (within a few % depending on build) so I don't see it as an issue. And avoidance stacking is not nearly the problem it was in TBC.
  7. Blocking tanks must not be able to get 100% block uptime. This represents another drastic change to basically every single tank. Now why is this necessary? Because if you balance around the idea that half of the time, another class will take 10% more and half of the time they'll take 10% less, if you can skew that so that 100% of the time they'll take 10% less...that won't be balanced. Paladins mechanics will be completely changed (and likely to something near the warrior model with shield block). This means gear with block rating needs to be carefully looked at. It may mean that block% will have to have diminishing returns like avoidance does.
  8. Block value must be completely redone. This seems obvious. At the same time, you can't have this scale too amazingly well. You might not want it at all or want it to be gamed at all; being able to dramatically influence your scaling mitigation is a pretty powerful ability. You run the risk of block value being like a TBC druid's armor stat, where anything without it is essentially pointless. And then there's the scaling BV with strength.
  9. Threat stats will have to be looked at as well. Both paladins and warriors scale their threat with strength and block value, and have many mechanics built around these two values and how they interact. If they are changed dramatically, these things will have to be revised as well.

So what could they do? Let's take a look at a current protection warrior - Xav of Premonition. He's on the well-geared side currently, which is why I wanted to look at him since this change will likely affect people going forward from 3.2 at the earliest. He currently has 29k armor but has geared away from block - 12% block chance and 1400 block value after buffs. That's going to be on the low end, but it's not unreasonable anyway. Even if you have a warrior who stacks block, they're going to be on the order of 2000-2500 BV anyway.

By comparison, I personally have 33k armor. And that's all the time. Plus I have savage defense, which (when it goes off) blocks for more on a hit than the warrior, though the warrior has shield block and critical block to play with.

Remember, our goal is to get the warrior to the point where when they block, they take less damage than the DK or in theory a druid (I'll get to that point in a bit). But when they don't block, they take more damage. How to accomplish that?

Well, for starters as it stands now without any modifications they'll take more damage when not blocking anyway. Let's stick with that. That's easy.

So when they block, how about something like this:

Whenever you block an attack the attack's damage is reduced by your block value. In addition, your armor is increased by twice the amount of your block value for that attack.
That's it. Not very difficult, is it?

Now, Xav would have 32k armor, roughly, from any blocks he made. That's not good enough - but he's gone as far away as possible from getting any block rating or value. Plus, he has critical blocks that he can use, and he has shield block which gives him essentially 35k armor and 3k absorbsion for a 10-second duration. It's not quite barkskin, but it's getting much closer; he's increased his armor by almost 25%.

If this didn't prove to be good enough, having a 3x multiplier would likely be fine. Heck, a 4k multiplier might not be too horrible.

Of course, they'd still be the spiky tanks, so a warrior would need to get more HP. Blizzard is fond of giving 10% boosts. We'll go with that.

How does this fare with the 9 rules from before? It fixes 1,2,and 3 outright. 9 isn't an issue since BV isn't changing, nor is 8. 7 isn't that much of a concern since it's effectively impossible to get perfect uptime as it stands now. 4,5,and 6 don't apply.

Okay, that takes care of warriors. What about paladins? Paladins would require something of a nerf and a homogenization, possibly. The easiest solution is to turn holy shield into almost precisely the same thing as shield block.

But that's really inelegant. It also takes away from the very well-established ability of a paladin to deal nicely with many, many mobs via holy shield charges. Let's use one of our guild tanks - Vyre. A bit less geared than Xav, but still pretty decent overall. He has 28k armor and 1600 block value.

What I'd propose is making paladins the other 'steady' tank to complement DKs, and make druids the spiky tank. (again, I'll get to that in a bit). How do we do that? Well, we assume that they're going to have 100% uptime on their shield thanks to holy shield. If we need to, we can guarantee this by giving it even more charges. We only add their BV to their shield once, giving in this case around 30k armor. That sounds a bit low, and it might be - but it's something to balance out in the end. They'd not need any real changing; their armor would stay consistent around 30-32k, and their health is 'balanced'.

To go with the rules again, this is fine with 1,2 and 3, 7, 8, and 9. Magic mitigation might need to be addressed.

So above I said that I'd like to see druids be the other 'spiky' tank. And this isn't that hard to accomplish either, though it might be hard to do with all the other things that we'd like to fix floating around. The reason I'd like them to be spiky is simple: their HP. They already have huge HP multipliers, and HP has traditionally been a druid strength. Armor has as well, but you can't have both huge armor and huge HP in a world without crushing blows to counterbalance; something has to give. And I'm choosing to make it armor for now.

So the way to make a druid 'more' spiky is to reduce their armor yet again. In fact, let's just remove the sotf bonus completely. Insane! But that drops a druid to 26k armor. Yes, that's right - I want super spiky. Now they're the lowest-armor tank of the lot.

Then we supercharge SD. SD will get the following changes:
  1. 1. Can stack to 3 charges
  2. Increases armor by 100% of AP when active
So when SD is up, the armor (say on me) would go from 26k to 33k. And it would be up a fair amount of the time too. And here's the neat thing - polar gear and pvp gear becomes way less useful. With the huge armor multiplier reduced ilvl isn't as special. With the big bonus from AP going to armor, polar gear loses almost 500 armor by itself (and that ignores agility).

And if that's not enough, make it even mightier - 200% of AP. 39k armor when it's active! Suck on that! That's probably a bit high, but it's adjustable. It's another level to move. And with SD's relatively high uptime on single boss fights, it might be fine at 100% AP simply because it should be working so often.

This might require that druids get a health boost, but I doubt it. They're already doing pretty well on that end. It also might require something of an avoidance boost. Nothing drastic, but something close to a 5% improvement overall.

How does this meet the rules? 1,2, and 3 are still okay. 4 isn't addressed. 5 is the dramatic improvement. 6 might need to be improved. 7 through nine are fine.

Finally, DKs. DKs are the baseline model to work off of, since they have no shield mechanic. The only thing they would need to be balanced, I think, is a slight nerf to their HP. Since they're taking the least spiky damage of any of the tanks, they need less HP to counterbalance that.

I'll answer folks questions and comments here shortly.


St├ęphane said...

My opinion when reading that, is that Blizzard would do a great move by hiring you.

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

You completely leave out anyone who isn't in a raiding guild. With your solution, a druid would never tank again outside of a guild where they already have BIS gear for every slot.

It's bad enough I'm already forced to DPS because Pallies can't do anything but tank. Now you want me to DPS because my class can't tank.

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

Oh, and by the way, Healers HATE spiky tanks. With an absolute passion, so that's another reason druids would never get to tank under your regime.

Kalon said...

Stephane - thanks. :)

Grumpy - I'm actually confused how you think this wouldn't scale that well at the low end. It scales more with gear than the current model (both with ilvl and with AP), for things that hit softly a druid would be taking even less damage than they are now (both because SD stacks and because they'd get a really high uptime). In terms of low end gear this actually would give a bigger improvement than they have now...provided they're not going for polar gear. How do you figure they'd be so far left behind?

And yes, I know healers don't like spiky tanks. Yet druids did fine in TBC when they were very spiky tanks on anything with crushing blows. As I stated before, the alternative is to simply remove SD from druids entirely and make them the 'stable' tank, but that would require another nerf to health. Furthermore, we're not talking huge spikes here; the differentiation in damage should be fairly small compared to other tanks. Will it be there? Yes. Will it be on the order of a crushing blow? Nope.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty interesting.

Assuming Savage Defense gets fixed, your suggestions sound good to me. One thing I'm not sure about is that according to Rawr I'm supposed to have an absorption rate of ~90%, so would I be spiky enough? It seems like your proposed SD changes could make it OP because we can approach 100% uptime/absorption rate pretty easily. At least, I think we can, am I wrong?

DaveP said...

Nice work, and certainly interesting reading.

Re spikey tanks: I think thats part of the fun: as GC explained a couple of time this week, many players suggest removing the RNG and panic moments from tank damage - when in fact they're what make the game fun. The panic moments are something healers enjoy - if they enjoy demonstrating skill, that is. Also, tanks are rarely chosen based on a healers personal feelings, in my experience. I always communicate with my healers - but its not how RLs, including myself, choose who will tank what. Many healers are reluctant to whine about "spikey" tanks or "mana sponge" tanks, because it makes them look incompetent. Also, a "spikey" tank doesnt necessarily change the healing spells a healer will choose to cast one tiny bit.

re the druid ideas: I suspect they wouldnt buff SD right now, though its a nice idea. I think they're too cautious to play with it, lest enterprising druids find ways to exploit it to OP effect.

Xarnen said...

This is a neat idea, but I really do think to get the most out of it would be to give a little more stamina back to bears. If SD became that much more important, we'd most certainly want to better balance our stats for hit, expertise, agility, and crit to better ensure and scale our SD procs (which also solves most threat issues), along with solid stamina to handle the spikes. I'd be very interested to see how well your proposed ideas scale from the top end geared hardcore raider, to guys like me who still keep their trusty gore-hired legguards to keep any semblance of hit rating along side a mish mash of naxx 10/25 gear, to the developing bear who is working on heroics.

Kalon said...

Anon1 - I admit, this is a worry of mine as well. SD already has almost 100% uptime in theory (in practice it's closer to 60-70%) but that's still much closer to a paladin's block rate than it is a warrior's. Then again, the net change in a druid gearing for SD would be...lower stamina, higher armor. Which is fine! In fact, that's a great counter. If you want to be the high HP, spiky tank, you can - gear for stam. If you want to be the steady tank, gear for SD (more crit, hit, expertise, AP) - but you'll have less health. I think that's a kind of neat side effect.

Xarnen - see above. :)

DaveP: I suspect strongly that they'll actually remove SD completely and nerf druids again so that their armor is lower.

All: with my pre-heroic gear list, a druid with these changes would go from 25k armor to 20k armor. They'd have 3k AP though, so they'd have a possible 23k armor boost. That is pretty reasonable, especially given that SD would perform better at that point than it did before. And that's without any buffs or heroic gear, much less Naxx-level gear. That's the bare (hah) minimum. I think I'll poke around with that and post about it specifically another day.

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

I don't see why you think SD would have really high uptime. It only procs when you crit and crit is pretty low for Bears that don't do 25 mans. I have 18.25% in my bear gear which all 80 epics except for my rings. It's not all 10 man BIS, but a lot of it is 3rd or 4th.

So, I don't see how you expect SD would be up most of the time, let alone stack.

Xarnen said...

Hmm this kind makes me think that situational gearing could be really useful in a lot of situations. If you take something like Emalon where the big damage spike is pretty predictable, you could conceivably get away with the spikier damage gear because you know to time things like barkskin and trinkets, whereas other fights with less predictable damage at lower scales go with the better SD to smoothe it out.

One other thing that kind of concerns about the current gear that is out there is all of the strength that comes with tanking jewelery. It might be nice to see the value of strength(beyond AP) have some more value for druids.

Hanzala said...

@ grumpy

I don't know how you're gearing your druid, but with the amount of agility on leather pieces and on weapons, you should easily be hitting 25% crit, before even jumping into bear form, even in only 10man gear.

Hell, I had more crit in bear form as a fresh 80.

Michael said...

interesting ideas, but I have to raise two points I don't like:

a) spikiness is already at the far side from being funny. When a raid wipes simply because you got killed faster then healer can REACT safely (hello Kara prince), it 's simply not fun anymore. Healers should not be forced (as it's currently the case) to spam every GCD just to keep the tank alive.

b) my main point against SD - if you can not attack the target (hello Sarth) you loose your mitigation - even more so with these ideas.

Rauxis, chosen of CAT

baseball said...

I echo hanzala's comments.

Kalon the changes in general seem great -- I think that buffing Savage Defense substantially at the cost of armor (and possibly stamina) is definitely where we'll see druids be adjusted for 3.2.

I'm not fulling buying your thoughts on Paladin changes though -- GC's mentioned already that paladins are due for another cooldown, and I think (along with Honor's hammer) that we'll find that in a reworking of holy shield -- a significantly buffed holy shield that is closer to the current icebound fortitude -- on a 1 minute cooldown.

So this still leaves paladins at the bottom of the barrel -- I still think you'll see paladins balanced as the class with the best block (aoe trash tanking is as much their hallmark as high armor is a druid's). Allowing paladins to have armor scale with their Block value solves some of the spikiness while simultaneously giving you leeway in controll their actual block rating.

It also means you have a weird reacharound system where strength effectively gives paladins AP, BV, and armor, but maybe that's okay.

Anonymous said...

i dont know if this has been suggested before, but cannot the mechanic of spell reflect for warriors be improved in such a way to "Raise your shield, reflecting the next spell cast on you or reducing the next magical damage you take by X%. Lasts 5 sec." thots? gimis/akama

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

Helm of the Vast Legions
Amulet of Autopsy
Trollwoven Spaulders
Durable Nerubhide Cape
Hero's Dreamwalker Rainments
Dragonfriend Bracers
Gloves of Fast Reactions
Trollwoven Girdle
Hero's Dreamwalker Legguards
Footwraps of Vile Deciet

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

According to the Armory, that gives me 18.25% crit. Sharpened Claws will push that to 24.25%. So you can expect SD to not be up ~75% of the time.

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

I just realized that I'm leaving out Leader of the Pack. So, that will pushes my crit to ~32%. Still, I can't count on SD more than a third of the time.

And since my dodge is only 37.79%, I'm still expecting that I would get pounded fully a third of the time, under what Halon proposes...Given the health nerf, I'm down to 25k health...I don't think that's enough to be a "spiky" tank.

Torosso said...

UpTime on SD is not just related to crit chance on 1 attack.

It relates to boss swing timer, and possible chance to gain a crit in between boss attacks. With Maul, Mangle, Lacerate and Lacerate tick crits in between the bosses swing timer you have 3-4 chances to gain a crit to proc SD.

On top of that you also have avoidance that reduces the chance of consuming a charge on any given boss swing.

These to factor contribute to give a very high theoretical uptime of SD.

In practice it is lower dude to crit processing server lag.

Anonymous said...

Flavour speaking, as a druid, I can't help thinking that I'd rather be the high health spiky damage tank, rather that the opposite...even if realistically this is not really ideal for our healers. But fair enough, I am ready to become more spiky to conserve our trade mark which is high HP pools.

Kalon said...

Grumpy: according to Rawr your uptime is about 70%. It depends on the boss, and it is probably lower than that due to things like the server latency, but it's nowhere near 30%. Check out my earlier SD post; the fact is that you can't simply use crit% as a placeholder for uptime.

Anon (on flavor) that's the real issue. How do you make druids both the high HP AND the high armor tank? The only way you can is by doing something like crushing blows. Without crushing blows, there's no spike damage for a druid to actually take.

Well, unless you drastically reduce their avoidance. Which is a possibility, honestly.

Kalon said...

Xarnen - I long for the days when druids can situationally gear depending on the encounter, and it doesn't come down to 'max stam' or 'max threat'. This would be one step in that direction.

Michael - I agree, spikiness is pretty scary right now. But part of that is because of other factors, and I brought that up in the next post. The fact is this: as it stands right now the lowest HP tanks are also the spikiest. The highest HP tank is one of the least spiky. That's simply unfair, and it will produce tank imbalances.

If you make all tanks somewhat more spiky (with DKs and druids becoming much more spiky, paladins and warriors less spiky) you may be able to reduce boss damage to something a bit less insane. Right now, though, they've got to balance around the tougher tanks.

As to not attacking your target, that's so far been one fight. It's problematic, but it's problematic in the same way that silence is. As long as it's not a symptomatic design issue I'm not that worried about it.

Baseball - thanks. And Honor might be right - Holy shield could be turned into an uber version of shield block. But that still doesn't answer the fundamental issue right now, which is that block doesnt' scale and isn't relevant. It would just mean paladins have another cooldown. Adding armor to block is a really simple solution, mind you - but it's one that will work, and it'll work right away.

Anon(of spell reflect) - that'd be a lot like their 4pT8 bonus. And that's good - warriors should have another short-duration cooldown. But it won't help block be particularly relevant. Vezax doesn't care that you can block magical attacks. :)

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

Kalon - Rawr appears to be wrong. The last WWS I have shows SD with an uptime of just over 43%.

Kalon said...

I agree that Rawr is wrong, but WWS's version of uptime on SD doesn't actually work as a 'true' uptime, since (for example) when SD is down if you didn't get hit, it doesn't matter.

Basically the only way to figure out if it's useful is count how many hits you took, and of those how many were absorbed by SD to some degree. That's the 'true' uptime. If it's 43%, I'd imagine that you were facing multiple mobs at once.