Once More – Into The Breach
March 22, 2012 8 Comments
It has been a plain ridiculous amount of time since I last blogged, for which I have received plenty of well-deserved flak, but such is how matters worked out, and it was probably for the best anyways. Perhaps it would have been better if I had been a bit more persistent with the whole thing, but I simply haven’t been terribly enthused about anything WoW related (or MMO related at all, for that matter) in a while, and writing without any motivation beyond “because I should” is just horrid. On the other hand, when you have a topic which truly interests you, which gets your brain racing in a dozen different directions trying to speculate, math, or reason out the possibilities… well, in such a case, writing is easy. The hard part in such a scenario is not how to start, but when to stop, and when you find yourself in such a situation, you generally welcome it… as I do now.
What, may you ask, has finally given me this sudden impulse to ramble?
No, it wasn’t the press release from last week which detailed Blizzard’s ingenius plot to merge Farmville, Pokemon, Kung Fu Panda, and, of course, Warcraft, to concoct a product which could rival crack or nicotine in terms of addictability (which isn’t a word, but should be). For those who follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m actually pretty pleased with how Mists of Pandaria looks and I have few, if any, complaints. My largest concern isn’t that the expansion will be awesome, but rather that subsequent patches during the expansion’s life cycle may not live up to that initial joy. As I would argue was largely the case with Cataclysm, but that’s neither here nor there.
No, I wasn’t in the first wave of MoP beta, unfortunately, although such a thing is just a matter of time. I did do the Annual Pass immediately, in combination with my account being open since January 2005 (which is crazy to think about, but another topic for another time, perhaps), so I’m not too concerned this time around.
No, it wasn’t some shocking Death Knight revelation any of the actual beta testers (curse their souls; unconcerned I may be, but jealous and envious of those with access all the same!) discovered. DK wise, things appear pretty much as expected, from what I read, which isn’t shocking – we didn’t get any drastic changes (beyond the ones inherent with the talent reform), as most of our mechanics stayed roughly the same, and our new abilities are all pretty unambiguous in their effects, so no real surprises there. If you’re happy with your DK now, you’ll likely be even happier in MoP. We didn’t get anything likeable taken away/nerfed (in usability; numbers are rather pointless to consider at the moment), and got plenty of quality of life improvements, on top of some new toys to play with. Which isn’t to say I won’ t spend some time during beta talking about Death Knights – I almost certainly will – just that I see little to talk about as of yet, and thus will hold off till we see a bit more/things develop/I get beta access.
The reason for this entry?
Warlocks, of all things. Crazier still, it’s about the potential of Warlock tanks – beyond the rare gimmick encounter like Illidan. The very, very real potential.
First off, before one entertains this possibility (and subsequently sees how amazingly close to reality it amusingly is), it has to be determined: beyond the game letting you queue as it, what does it take for a class to be able to tank?
Personally, I would break it down into seven different, but essential aspects.
- Crit Immunity
- Mitigation/Damage Reduction
- Health Modifier
- Gear Scaling
I don’t believe it’s necessary to expound on what I mean by each of these (or why I view them as necessary to the basic WoW tank design). They’re all pretty self explanatory, and I assume most people would likely agree with what I have listed. Sure, some might combine some categories (threat and taunts, perhaps), but that doesn’t change the points themselves. You need all eight of these available to you in order to be able to viably tank. Missing one doesn’t mean you can’t tank a specific encounter – there are plenty of fights where taunt is never used or cooldowns are needless. But to be able to tank any current content available to you, to be able to be a main tank, to be able to reliably fill the “tank” role in your raid during progression… you want all seven. You need them.
And every single tanking spec has them… as, in beta, does Demonology.
- Crit Immunity? Metamorphosis – specifically, Nether Plating.
- Mitigation/Damage Reduction? Metamorphosis – specifically, Nether Plating in combination with Glyph of Demon Hunting. If anything, Warlocks would be far too strong in this area, but nothing that can’t be fixed with number tweaks.
- Health? Grimoire of Sacrifice.
- Taunts? Metamorphosis – specifically, Provocation and Soul Shatter, the latter in combination with Glyph of Demon Hunting.
- Threat? Metamorphosis – presumably only with Glyph of Demon Hunting.
- Cooldowns? Unending Resolve, Twilight Ward, Dark Regeneration, and any of the tier three talents.
- Gear Scaling? Metamorphosis – specifically, Glyph of Demon Hunting.
“But wait”, you might say, “Metamorphosis is a cooldown! That’s like saying a Rogue can tank with evasion up! True, perhaps, but meaningless if they can’t do it 100% of the time!”
Wrong there on two accounts; first, that even if a Rogue could have evasion up at all times, they could tank (they miss several of the aforementioned criteria – most importantly threat/taunts), and second, that Metamorphosis is a cooldown – in MoP, it no longer is (the catch being you need Demonic Fury, Demonology’s new secondary resource, to use many Metamorphosis abilities… but even that is solved by the introduction of GoDH, which lets you sustain yourself limitlessly).
Now, the attentive amongst you may have noticed I left out Avoidance. This is the only area where Demonology lacks, and that is easily remedied with a simple passive/glyph/whatever which converts Haste Rating and Crit Rating to Parry Rating and Dodge Rating. An easy, elegant fix. Not only does it solve the lack of avoidance, it improves gear scaling (so you care about more than just mastery/hit/expertise) and would help tone down the spec’s damage (which, even with how GoDH affects mastery, could be a bit on the high side for a tank, at least in PvP). So simple, and I’m sure it’s something Blizzard has thought of – if that’s all that the spec ends up lacking, then it’s an easy matter to remedy.
And the fact of the matter is that, [i]yes[/i], that is all the spec lacks! It has everything covered, and by everything, I don’t just mean the essentials – it has interrupts, it has self-centered AoE, it has a gap closer, it has plenty of ranged abilities (but, to be clear, due to how GoDH affects Demonic Slash, you would need to be meleeing – or, at least, in melee range – most of the time, which is for the better. It would keep the spec balanced with that of other tanks), and so forth. It has unique (to the group of tank) mechanics with pets and with spells like Archimonde’s Vengeance. It could work.
Some have asked me why monks don’t interest me terribly, and it’s largely because there’s nothing all that special about them. Yes, they are a new class, and they have their unique attributes, but nothing totally out there. Nothing which just screams “you have to try this to believe it” or “no other class plays like this”. And, for the record, there’s nothing wrong with that. Monks are a very well designed class, simply not a revolutionary one. This is quite unlike Death Knights, who were something else at the beginning – in terms of raw power, yes, but more importantly in terms of mechanics. The first dual resource system (aside from energy and combo points, which was and, for the most part, still is quite simplistic), multiple specs that could tank, specs that could tank or dps, dps that could dual wield or use a 2 handers, pet or no pet depending on your preference, wild talents like Unholy Blight (never forget!), starting at level 55 with a unique beginner area, runeforging (which had more promise then than now), and so forth. Considering how explosive the introduction of DKs were, it’s likely for the best that Monks aren’t quite as overwhelming, and I see nothing wrong with those who choose to play one – merely explaining my lack of desire to do so.
Demonology Warlocks, on the other hand? [i]That[/i] is something crazy. Turning a pure into a hybrid, adding a role to a spec (the opposite has been done, sure, but not this)… it’s never been done. Yet the best part about it is that it fits! It makes sense. The tools are all there; it’s simply rearranging them, if you will, and fiddling around some numbers. This is on top of the fact that Demonology in general – tank or dps – seems to be getting a much improved rotation and general flow-of-combat.
I’ll cut myself off now, but do expect more on this subject (assuming Blizzard doesn’t pull a 180). If there was anything to truly get me back to my theorycrafting roots, it was this. If there was anything to get me to test like crazy in beta, it was this. If there is anything which will have me blogging and posting feedback each patch, it was this.
Yes, I am excited and, even if you have zero care as to how this experiment turns out, you should be to. Why? Because it shows Blizzard taking a risk, innovating (in a way)… particularly when they don’t actually have to. It says a lot, and gives me a tons of hope for how the rest of MoP turns out, this gem aside.
Not to mention the practical benefits of quicker LFR queues, less gear competition (if your co-tank is now a Warlock instead of another plate wearer), and so forth.