Saturday, 19 July 2008

A Taunting Future

Out of all the WotLK beta news surfacing right now there's one trend in the warrior changes that may be not so positive. I'm talking about the following:

From the beta patch notes:
  • Challenging Shout cooldown reduced to 3 minutes.
  • Mocking Blow now only has one rank and causes weapon damage, cooldown reduced to 1 min and can now be used in Defensive Stance.
From the new talent tree:
  • Vigilance: Focus your protective gaze on a friendly target, increasing their chance to dodge by 5%. In addition, any time they are hit by an attack your Taunt cooldown is refreshed. Lasts until cancelled. This effect can only be on one target at a time.
So what's the problem? Aren't these buffs? Won't they make tanking easier? Well, in the last question lies the problem: it may make it easy in the wrong way.

That be crazy talk, Aru

Bear with me here - this is a valid whine-session, honest.

The changes above mean that we'll have much more ability to taunt enemies in the future. With Challenging Shout, Mocking Blow and Taunt (with Vigilance), there's not many times we're going to be lacking a taunt to get aggro from a mob. The important point here is: we shouldn't need to taunt to get a mob's attention.

We're tanks, and we tank by generating threat. Our gear, our abilities, our cantankerous attitudes, almost everything we do as a tank is for this: get a mob's attention, keep it, survive it. Herein lies the challenge and the enjoyment of the role.

We tanks tank, and we like it that way.

But making taunts such an obviously powerful and prevailant ability suggests a worrying future: the shallow world of taunt-tanking. This means tanking by continually taunting mobs to hold aggro, rather than the usual (and fun) threat methods. After all, ability suggests opportunity - or worse, necessity. If Vigilance's "friendly target" includes ourselves, or it's cast on a tank buddy, then taunt will be almost always be available. With all these taunts available, it may be entirely possible to taunt-tank your way through instances. Hell, we might be able to tank a group without even swinging our sword.

Point is, we don't want to tank this way. It's boring, and it's not what tanking should be. Contrary to what our bashed-in, mishapen heads may visually suggest, we want tanking to be complicated. We don't want an easy way out, we don't want to use a hundred taunts in a run. We don't want tanking dumbed down.

Done whining yet?

As a matter of fact, no. There's another consequence to this, affecting one of the most important aspects of the game: dps control of aggro. The most talented dpsers are those that deal their buckets of carnage without ever pulling the mob off the tank. But in a future where taunts are so common? The teeth-clenchingly, hair-pullingoutedly words of "Why should I control aggro? Just taunt him" may become more prevalent. And the real worry is that the dpser here has a point - you can just taunt off, continually, and without much need for generating the most threat. Tanking suddenly becomes hellishly frustrating, or hellishly boring.

Aren't you exaggerating a little?

Yeah, no doubt I am. It's silly getting worked up about stuff like this just yet, when the expansion is still months away. These changes may just turn out as improved "oh crap" buttons, without much necessity to use them in 90% of tanking. Or they may just be a small help towards aoe tanking - sure, more a band-aid than the curing abilities we'd prefer, but better than nothing.

The worry of the trend remains, but let's spend our energies getting excited about all the good stuff heading our way instead. Shockwave? Hell yeah. Sword and Board? Oh my. Tattoos? *passes out*


70 TW said...

Good article and once again you raise some interesting questions. However I do not think that it will be a problem and if you don't mind I will write a counter post to this.

- 70 TW

Arudar said...

I don't mind at all - the fun of blogs are the differing opinions. I'll look forward to reading.

Lihan said...

really nice article, looking forward to see how it all plays out in the expansion. Looks like there are bigger changes ahead, than what we got from TBC :-)