I’ll tell you what, I was disappointed in E3 this year. Maybe it’s me getting becoming more and more jaded at the games of tomorrow, or watching G4’s coverage of the event like everything presented is awesome without giving a thought that maybe, just maybe, they are just getting fed too much of the snake oil from the marketing department.

Or…. maybe all I got of the Warhammer 40k MMO was a minute long trailer and told to wait 2 months for more. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Anyways, disappointing conventions aside, let’s go over about Cataclysm for a bit. It’s been practically a year since it was formally announced and while we know more now that what we knew then, we still don’t know much at all. All of the info we have received is disjointed and until we have beta access and the NDA’s are lifted we can get solid information from the community where everything learned is put together, not picked apart separately.

Take for example my video on cataclysm druid tanking. I completely forgot that months earlier, they had announced some of the planned changes to the class itself, and that a new baseline ability called Thrash will be introduced. It’s an AOE that does damage and causes the targets to bleed for 6 seconds, with a 5 second cooldown on the ability. While that doesn’t change what I said about pulverize on single targets, we don’t know enough about thrash if it will be used in single target fights. Judging from the description, I think its focus is AOE only.

But let’s forget that right now. The big thing that was mentioned waaaaaaay back that I never got a chance to talk about was Vengeance. All tanks will be getting this ability in their chosen talent tree. What is Vengeance? It gives you an attack power buff every time your hit. When you are hit, take 5% of the damage you received, and add that to your attack power. Continue to do this until the vengeance buff equals 10% of your unbuffed (read: after gear) health. Its Blizzards way of giving them an easy setting to tweak that just affects tanks if they need to re-arrange tank dps/threat.

If you read into interviews and whatnot with Ghostcrawler, you will notice that the focus of the game has shifted from a short term, 3 year property to something that will last for quite some time, and that the original game was not made with consideration for the future in mind. When the developers want to balance something, they have to find a way to change what they want without rendering a specific class or spec useless for PVE or PVP. In my opinion, while they have made huge, HUGE strides since WoW was first released, they still fail at this. I’m not saying it’s easy, but looking at how many survival rogues or frost mages are successfully accomplishing Icecrown even at a casual, 10 man level compared to other specs for the given classes, I think the outcome of their current efforts are clear.

Talent masteries like Vengeance is a way to fix that. Every class and spec has a version of Vengeance that increases their raw damage that is specific only to that class and spec. If say, a mutilate rogue is too high on bosses compared to the combat and subtlety, they can dial down the melee damage passive increase in the assassin tree to make it even, without gimping the spec itself. Looks good in theory, we’ll see how it works in practice.

Now, when it comes to tanking, all tanks have 2 of the 3 passive abilities, with the third being unique. All tanks will share a damage reduction bonus as well as vengeance, which will serve as our attack power bonus. The 3rd, unique ability, from the looks of things, appears to deal with the block mechanic. I’ll explain.

First, let’s take the warrior, a tank that actually has a shield to protect his face from Bad Things. A warrior’s 3rd mastery talent is critical block chance. Now, blocking in of itself is getting redesigned to shave off 30% of the incoming attack, instead of a constant value, to make it more useful in boss fights. Critical block chance for a warrior gives him (or her, for you ladies out there) a chance that the block will absorb 60% of the damage. Good stuff. Extremely useful for a warrior to tank hard hitting bosses like Festergut, further solidifying the niche that a warrior tank always handles the big baddies.

A paladin, on the other hand, gets Block Amount, which increases the amount absorbed through normal blocking, but keeping with the current theme of the class, a paladin will block a lot more than say a warrior. If Holy shield doesn’t get a massive change to its block % increase, then you will still see paladins blocking 40% or more of their incoming attacks. This right now is something I am curious to see if they will let it stand, because outside of ICC, paladins are unhittable due to holy shield. If in Cataclysm this remains unchanged, what you are looking at is a tank that, if he doesn’t dodge, parry or is missed entirely, the attack is blocked. If it’s blocked, it’s at a minimum 30% damage reduction. That means EVERY attack that lands is 30% reduction, which is huge. It’s like having a mini divine shield up, permanently.

Then you have the non shield wearing classes, the druid and DK. Druids get Savage Defense, which increases their ability of the same name. This ability is a druid’s equivalent to block, and I would not be surprised if Savage defense gets buffed to 30% of the incoming attack, like block will be. Then comes the question, what will the mastery improve? Will it make it activate more often? Will it increase its damage absorbed, like how it will do it for a pally? We won’t know until more info is released.

Lastly, and least, is the Death Knight. Since blood is being redesigned as the tank tree, and DK’s don’t have a block mechanic currently, their mastery is Healing Absorption. From the description, every time you heal yourself (death strike, rune tap, etc), you gain the ability to absorb some incoming damage. I feel that this will be a DK’s version of block. Considering that currently a blood DK does at least 2 self heals in a 10 second span, I can see that this Healing Absorption will be around 30% or a little more. It also means that DK’s can very well be the only class that can actively choose when they want to block, or get a block like affect. All of that is speculation of course, as the DK is getting the most rework out of all the tank classes.

Seeing that I’m already at the end of my second page, I’m going to end this entry here so you’re not all bored to death, the very few of you who read this far. I’ll talk about what the future of tanking is starting to look like going off of the posts and impressions from blizzard’s staff in a few days.

References:
http://www.wow.com/2010/04/09/cataclysm-class-changes-druid/
http://www.wow.com/2010/04/08/cataclysm-class-changes-death-knight/
http://www.wow.com/2010/04/14/cataclysm-class-changes-paladin/
http://www.wow.com/2010/04/08/cataclysm-class-changes-warrior/

Advertisements