In addition to these changes, there was much expounding on the tanking design philosophy, which we will cover after that jump I hear so much about. Being a tank (and thus kind of slow mentally, according to Fox ... man, see if anyone taunts for him in Cataclysm dungeons), I need to go over these things in detail.
First off, these changes (except for the Vigilance one) all seem aimed at standardizing various tanks' "OMFG HE'S CHARGING HIS LAZORS" buttons. Everything lasts about 12 seconds, takes 2 minutes to cool down and cuts incoming damage by 50 percent. The Shield Wall glyph will allow warriors to increase that damage reduction by an additional 10 percent, but it will also increase the cooldown for 1 minute. This basically reduces the damage absorbed for everyone but warriors, who ended up with their baseline 40 percent increased -- but if I were a druid, I would be thrilled with the reduction in the Survival Instincts cooldown. A 10 percent damage reduction lost but being able to use it more than twice as often? Yes, please.
The Vigilance change makes an ability that threatened to become nearly mandatory for using on an off tank in a raid into one you'll still try and use on an off tank -- but he or she won't care, because that damage reduction benefit is gone, gone, gone. I'm starting to wonder if I'll even bother with Vigilance in my tanking build in Cataclysm.
Meanwhile, the Bear Form/Heart of the WIld changes are a pretty hefty nerf. They may be necessary to balance bears against plate tanks, but I can't imagine that any druids out there will be happy with them. Still, if all four tanks end up more or less interchangeable for the content, it means less being forced to sit for "supposedly optimal tanking class of the month," which will ultimately be a good thing. I still don't expect any druid tanks to be happy about it; I know I wouldn't be. Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) talks more about why this was necessary in a later post quoted below.
Finally, GC went on at length about what the tanking design for Cataclysm is and how it differs or departs from Wrath of the Lich King (which I have got to stop misspelling as Wrath of the Licking). Take us away, GC.
So basically, all the changes so far are aimed at helping move us toward a design that does not rely on Mimiron-style, massive damage that forces your tanks and healers to get absolutely everything right, or watch as tanks die, then the raid dies. While as a tank, I've grown used to this kind of design (à la Soul Reaper), I can't say I'll miss it very much. And I do look forward to heroics that are slightly less grueling to tank and raid groups that care less what class you tank with than whether or not you know how to generate threat and help your healers keep you alive.
We will see how it all ultimately shakes out, of course. If the changes to Bear Form and Heart of the WIld end up balancing tank health and the cooldown changes make their survivability more even, we could be entering a pretty positive phase for tanking. At any rate, we're probably entering the phase of tanking where no one taunts off of Fox until he apologizes, which should be fun for us all.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it; nothing will be the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion (available Dec. 7, 2010), from brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.