Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

The Light and How to Swing It: A not-so-hasty retreat

Matt Walsh

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

Ghostcrawler created panicked ripples in the tankadin community when he unexpectedly declared on the forums that he had "plans to try and lower the value of haste relative to dodge and parry." I'm sure you, as I, have read over these quotes multiple times, so I won't repeat them all in full for the sake of not wasting the humble electrons shooting through your computer.

Nonetheless, the key takeaway is that he feels the main problem is paladin tanks are prioritizing haste, which wasn't supposed to be a major tanking stat, over dodge and parry. (More on that in a bit.) He foresees that a fix might have to involve a nerf to Shield of the Righteous, the primary beneficiary of our haste; though this would be accompanied by some kind of buff to keep our survivability level.

Likewise, GC is concerned with protection paladins taking haste plate out of the mouths of those specs it was designed for -- DPS death knights and paladins among them -- and thus causing unnecessary friction in a group. And, of course, he's worried that protection paladins might turn their nose at good tanking gear with dodge and parry stats, considering them garbage. (Again, we'll revisit this.)

Thankfully, the crab recognizes that above all, having haste as a tank is fun, and he claims he wants to preserve that. Which is great. So, let's look at this whole crazy mess, and figure out where we are and where this might leave us.

Why haste is awesome

Protection paladins benefiting from haste is really a very recent phenomenon, only having emerged from the inclusion of the Sanctity of Battle passive to the protection spec back in the Mists of Pandaria beta. This was argued for a long time by leading tankadins, in order to allow us to benefit from haste-buffing effects like Bloodlust (et al.) and various encounter buffs like Nozdormu's Presence on Madness of Deathwing. Other tanks would gain resources and thus survivability from these effects, but we would not. (Ironically, in the current expansion, warriors were thrown off the haste turnip truck. They now occupy our old, wanting position.)

So, it was a great thing that we were given Sanctity of Battle in Mists, though, like everything Blizzard does in this game it birthed unintended consequences. Sims done by Theck showed early on that haste was a serious contender for a good damage smoothing stat, on par with mastery, because it allowed us to generate resources more quickly, leading to Shield of the Righteous being used more frequently.

What made it eventually take the cake was that, in addition to benefiting resource generation, haste also markedly increased our DPS. Once hit and expertise are capped, every percent of haste we acquired was an additional percent of DPS. That is a very awesome kind of double-dip. This is also why, in the eyes of many protection paladins, haste takes the cake over mastery.

That could easily be the biggest problem in the designers' minds, that we're benefiting from haste in a way that other tanks are not. The other tank classes are GCD-locked and thus don't see the same equation of a percent of haste equaling a percent of DPS. Only we are, thanks again to Sanctity of Battle.

So what can Blizzard do?

The easiest, and most rash, move they could make is to remove Sanctity of Battle from our repertoire, which would outright eliminate haste from consideration for us. But that would completely obsolete every piece of haste gear we've accumulated since the opening of Pandaria and waste every elder charm and valor point that we've spent to build up that stockpile. It would really suck. Thankfully, this does not seem to be the path they are going to take.

Ghostcrawler mentioned nerfing the base damage reduction granted by a Shield of the Righteous. Because this would hurt both haste-stacking tanks and tanks that focus on other stats, they'd have to pair that with a passive damage reduction buff of some kind from our specialization. Though, that probably wouldn't do much to lessen the value of haste (especially vis a vis avoidance, which seems to be their goal) unless it was a decent nerf. If anything, it would just bring mastery back to the forefront for survivability.

In a perfect world, if the designers were really interested in making us like avoidance more, they'd leave haste alone and do something about how bland and awful avoidance is.

The problem with dodge and parry

Ghostcrawler has conveyed a lot of concern about how poorly regarded avoidance stats are, and while he considers this a bad thing, I personally think he should take it as a compliment as to how wildly successful the designers have been with active mitigation. Haste and mastery are our king survivability stats because they benefit smoothing, which derives from the intelligent use of our active mitigation abilities. And as it stands right now, smoothing is the best way to guarantee your survival in a tough situation.

Let's also be honest here, dodge and parry sucking is a not a new phenomenon. The only reason we cared about it last expansion was that it counted, anemically, towards block cap. And even then, every tank worth their salt would reforge away from avoidance and into mastery. The last time dodge and parry were serious contenders for stat prioritization was back in TBC.

Over the successive expansions since then, the rating scaling for avoidance stats have been nerfed over and over, and more severely each time. Combine that with this expansion's introduction of a new tanking paradigm where we are supposed to be an active participant in our survivability, and Blizzard is surprised that a stat that allows us to sparingly, randomly, and passively avoid a hit is on the back burner?

Truthfully, there is no real value to avoidance right now for protection paladins because there's no incentive for having much of it. Healer mana isn't really a concern, so what real value is there to not taking a hit? Likewise, we're gone from the days of tanks being two-shottable, so even if you take a large hit from a boss, you can easily recover. Lastly, with avoidance scaling so low, you can't stack the kind of avoidance chances that would really make any sort of difference in survivability.

If Blizzard is serious about making dodge and parry more attractive, they need to give it some kind of active mitigation hook for protection paladins. For example, whenever you avoid an attack, you proc the ability to get a holy power generation attack off -- sort of like Revenge. In his post on this same topic, Theck has some awesome suggestions for how to make avoidance more attractive as a tanking stat. My favorite is changing Grand Crusader to proc from a dodge or parry. The key is that any of these changes would go a long, long way to making avoidance more than just a dump stat.

In the end, we all knew this day would come. Let's be honest with ourselves, here. Tankadins valuing haste felt broken from the beginning, and it was a great ride while it lasted (and may continue to be a satisfactory ride in the future). I think Blizzard was secretly hoping that this gearing paradigm would go unnoticed, but clearly too many of you caught on. So now something must be done. Whatever they eventually choose, I just hope Blizzard is gentle, and leaves haste as an OK stat -- because it would be a damn shame to lose an aspect of our gearing that has thus far been so very fun.

The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to combat the Sha in the strange new land of Pandaria. Try out the new control gearing strategy, learn how to make the most of the new active mitigation system on your tankadin, and check out how to deck out your fresh 90 tank to get ready for any raids!

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr