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:
- Block as a static mitigation fails against hard-hitting mobs. We knew that already.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Can stack to 3 charges
- Increases armor by 100% of AP when active
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.