Friday, October 30, 2009

Learning by doing.

"Hello, Vanilla. Back again, huh?"
- Bill Hicks.

One of the things I hate about trying to get a PuG as a tank, is the question "What's your unbuffed HP?" - a question that's almost replaces "link achi plx" for stuff like VoA and Ony. what's my unbuffed HP... I can think of a million answers. "Right now? In threat gear? Effective health gear? Am I maintanking or offtanking? Adds or boss, AoE or single target? Does he hit like a wet noodle or the trans-Siberian express on acid?" And so on. And so forth.

I remember roughly a year and a half ago something called Sunwell Radiance. It was a spectacular thing, watching Blizzard create a single spell that made tanks completely de-rail their itemization targets created and built over the course of an entire expansion, re-defining tanking in it's entirety. It enforced a tanking challenge on a whole new basis than anything you'd learned over the course of the raid progress up to and including Black Temple. Widely criticized as a cop-out by Blizzard to fix bad itemization, it also recieved some praise for being an innovative way of both sorting the problem as well as upping the overall challenge of the raid. And if nothing else, at least this would learn Blizzard how to itemize tanking equipment, or so we all thought.

Then, a few days ago, a discussion concerning Blizzard's treatment of the healing classes emerged. Ghostcrawler was naturally fast on-scene with large bravado, stating (in short) "use your fucking toolbox." To which I agree, if there's one thing I've learned from tanking as a warrior, it's that having a 28-button actionbar is amazing fun when you fully master it. However. Last night, the following emergered, and we we right back in Sunwell again. Except this time it's not a question of mobs hitting you more often. Oh no. This time, they're fucking you. This time, they're fucking you hard and intense with a jackhammer.

Let's look at how losing 20% of my avoidance will affect my Warrior tank:

"Great, unlimited rage. Good thing I have two major and two minor cooldowns! BLOCK THAT!"

Let's look at how losing 20% of my avoidance will affect my Death Knight tank:

"...where did all my Rune Strikes go?"

To me, this signals two things: First, that I was right all along and implementing three versions of the same tier was a ridiculous and unbalanced idea. Gearwise, they nailed it with Ulduar: separate tiers for separate difficulties and off-set hardmode loot in separate ilvl-brackets between the two. Second, didn't they just tell healers to use their toolbox? Haven't Ghostcrawler spent this whole expansion saying "don't chooses tanks because of their class, all tanks should be equal"? And yet, what they implement is the Return Of The Warrior Main Tank, complete with The Healadin Of Holy Light. Is that really how we want things to be? I know a few resto shamans who're not particularily happy about this.

This is, of course, very black and white. Guilds will continue to use the healers they have, and tanks will continue to stack stamina to the point where it's close to ridiculous ("+8 dodge socket bonus? NOT WORTH IT!"). However, Blizzard clearly haven't done their homework on how to itemize tier loot, and this is again, just a cop-out to save their instance. And while I agree that a raid that looks this promising by all means should be saved - I want my challenge - I sincerely wonder what went through their minds when they made three out of five Death Knight tier 9 pieces have dodge/parry, one have dodge/hit and the last parry/hit. Where's the expertise? And more importantly, DIDN'T YOU LEARN ALREADY how these leves of avoidance impact the game?

I understand why Blizzard are giving us "Icewell Raciance", I sincerely do. I'm just hopelessly disappointed it came to this.

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