Threat – Should It Matter?
June 9, 2010 23 Comments
When I speculated on merging some sort of threat reduction into the otherwise lackluster Icy Reach, to make up for the loss of Subversion and to make it closer (although still not equal) in value to other similar reach talents, some commenters pointed out the recent blue post in which GC states that talented threat reduction will be done away with in Cataclysm. Excellent. That’s all well and good, until this popped up:
He’s certainly right when he states that passive threat reduction talents are boring. Of course they are; they’re just like passive damage increase talents, except at least those talents, mundane as they may be, are visible in effect – you see the slightly larger numbers and always benefit from them; you can’t actually see when you’re producing slightly less threat (aside from opening up a threat meter), and you only benefit from it when it prevents you from pulling aggro. With that in mind, it’s utterly unsurprising that if they’re getting rid of passive damage talents, they’ll get rid of passive threat talents – all of the same arguments apply, and then some.
Thus, getting rid of threat reduction talents for dpsers and then balancing tank threat around that as appropriate? Good, very good.
But, unfortunately, Ghostcrawler went on to write, “Furthermore, we don’t want threat to just not matter,” and, with those words, he’s going down a very slippery slope. It makes little sense to cause threat to matter, but at the same time, remove one of the few avenues of managing threat (as faulty and distasteful as it may be)!
Think about it: You’re a Death Knight playing in the game and, suddenly, threat is actually a factor. You do what you, as a dpser, are supposed to do – max out your damage (while not dying and all that junk, of course!). You suddenly have you’re screen flash – you’re 5% threat away from pulling aggro off the tank.
What does Blizzard expect you to do, in such a scenario?
The fact is, all you can do is start underperforming; stop attacking, intentionally mangle your rotation, resort solely to white damage, etcetera. All you can do is start doing less; less than you previous were doing.
Is that the type of playing they want to promote, where you’re punished for performing your job optimally? Doubtful.
The fact is, you can’t have threat matter and yet not give every class a means by which to manipulate their threat (beyond the basic mechanics of dealing damage and healing health, of course). You just can’t; not without the above situation where you’re left utterly helpless.
Now, yes, I’m sure Blizzard is striving for that happy medium, where threat only matters if the tank is inept or the dpser is attacking the wrong target, but the rest of the time – where the tank and the dpser are both doing their respective jobs adequately – threat is a non-factor. That’s actually where things stand right now.
But, by removing threat reduction talents (and providing no compensation in their place), all you do is give solid dpsers who get stuck with lackluster tanks – via pugs, dungeon finder, or whatever – punishment for doing absolutely nothing wrong.
I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve had a tank in a 5 man yell at me for pulling aggro simply through damage. If the mobs in heroics were actually challenging, such that pulling aggro could actually kill me, I could grab Subversion and be safe. In Cata, where the mobs in heroics are supposed to be genuinly difficult, and where I won’t have Subversion as an option… what am I to do? Just be bad?
If you want threat to matter, then dpsers need a way to influence it beyond their damage, and if you don’t want it to be via passive means, which is an understandable desire, then you need to provide an active manner in which to do so.
Or, you know, just forget threat. Have it be a joke unless someone involved is afk or otherwise horrid. It wouldn’t be dumbing down the game, so much as it would be removing a near-invisible element which (usually) punishes the person doing their job, not the one who actually messed up.
Threat matters + DPS have active management of it -or- threat doesn’t matter. One or the other. You can’t do the seemingly currently line of “threat matters, but you as a dpser can’t do anything about it, haha!”.