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New changes to tanking cooldowns coming for Cataclysm


Blue poster Nethaera informed us today about a number changes coming to tanking cooldowns in Cataclysm (specifically, patch 4.0.3a). It seems an imbalance occurs in the current build when tanks stack mastery, leading to astronomical values of block.

For now, specifics are only available for paladin, druid and warrior tanks. The post hints that cooldown changes for druid and death knight tanks will be coming later, once developers can get a better handle on the complexities of the classes' abilities.

When asked for comment and analysis, Fox Van Allen's orc Grunk posited, "Me Grunk! Grunk fear change! Grunk smash!" Sadly, Grunk lacks the mental clarity to process the full meaning of all these forthcoming changes because as a warrior, Grunk does not stack intellect (and takes repeated physical blows to the head). If he did, the changes would be meaningless to him, as he'd have followed his dream and become an architect rather than becoming Orgrimmar's No. 3-ranked skull cleaver.

In lieu of expert testimony from Grunk, we have the full blue post just after the break.

First, the post from Nethaera discussing changes to paladin and warrior tanks:

Upcoming Tanking Changes
As the release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm draws near, we continue to fine-tune various class abilities. Based on feedback and our own testing, we're in the process of assessing and amending tanking cooldowns -- at level 85 in particular. Some of these abilities, like druid Savage Defense and death knight self healing, are particularly difficult to model, so further testing will be necessary before there is sufficient information to base adjustments on.

In the case of paladins and warriors, we have recognized that it is possible for block chance to get too high too quickly and cause a situation where stacked mastery and the warrior Shield Block ability behave strangely. Since that's a scenario we want to avoid, we're making some changes regarding how block chance is handled for each of these classes:

Paladins - Holy Shield will be changed to increase block value by 10% (40% total) instead of increasing block chance by 15%. Since this will cause Mastery to become more valuable, the amount of block granted by Mastery will be reduced to 2.25% block chance per point of Mastery, down from 3%.

Warriors - At level 85, the value of Shield Block decreases as block value generated by Mastery increases. To remedy this, we will convert overflow of block + avoidance that exceeds 100% into critical block chance instead. Along with that change, Shield Block will be reduced to +25% block chance (down from +100%), but this will still yield a net buff for most warriors. Also in response to this change, the amount of block and critical block provided by Mastery will be equalized. Finally, Mastery will now grant 1.5% block chance per point.

Shortly after the above post went live, fellow blue poster Zarhym expanded more on the changes to paladin and warriors, while also adding in information about druid changes:

Upcoming Tanking Changes
Here are some additional details based on the questions and feedback we're seeing:
  • The new warrior Mastery is 1.5% block and 1.5% critical block per point of mastery.
  • Shield Block will spill over into critical block if any portion of the 25% would have been wasted because your block + dodge + parry is so high already. If you are somehow always over 100% (which will be pretty hard now), you only get the critical block when Shield Block is up. The intent is to make sure Shield Block isn't wasted, not to make sure you have mastery coming out your ears (or any other orifice in the facial region).
  • Shield Block is not intended to be a magic damage cooldown (neither is Blood Shield, which also is physical damage only). We don't want to duplicate the exact same ability on every tank when we can avoid it. Bosses generally don't spam out a lot of magic damage on short cooldowns. On the other hand, Shield Block has a much higher up-time than Barkskin. We still believe the Cataclysm raiding environment is going to be a lot less centered around tanks dying to spike damage than players currently experience at level 80. Mitigating a lot of damage to save healer mana can be very valuable in Cataclysm.
  • Savage Defense is massively overpowered on beta and has been dealt with accordingly. Many of the reports of beta raid bosses two-shotting tanks were because that was how much damage the bosses needed to do in order to challenge Feral tanks. With less damage absorbed, the boss damage can be adjusted downwards. We've reduced the multiplier for attack power on the absorption effect (from 65% to 35%, still modified by mastery) and it no longer procs from periodic critical hits.
  • Paladin tanks are not intended to go cap block as fast as they can. It's fine if you want to do that, but we don't treat it as "the new defense cap" and we don't balance paladins assuming they have a 100% block chance. That is something the community identified as being not only possible, but likely, and one of the reasons we changed the way block works for paladins.
  • These changes are all slated for patch 4.0.3a when the shattering of Azeroth takes place, and are not currently implemented on live realms. Some of them may be active in the beta test – the Savage Defense change for example was applied via a hotfix to the beta realms recently.

There's a little bit more information available on the official forums about the rationale behind the changes if you're starved for more information. Otherwise, for more on the upcoming changes for paladin, druid and warrior tanks, be sure to stay tuned to Gregg Reece's paladin column, The Light and How to Swing It, Allison Robert's column on bear druids, Shifting Perspectives and Matt Rossi's warrior column, The Care and Feeding of Warriors.

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.

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