Latest Blue Talks Druid Tanks: Not So Homo(genized)!

Posted by in Feral

Seemingly just after I finished having a discussion with Lycentia about why I think Protector of the Pack needs improvement, MMO-Champion sees fit to give us this most informative blue post:

Protector of the Pack limitation mechanic – not very fun, what was the thinking behind this and can the limitation be removed?

I’ve avoided this debate for a long time because it seems to really, really upset people that they can’t do something they really, really want to do in a very niche case. Bear isn’t designed to be something you run around solo to kill things in, and even if you want to do so anyway, your damage reduction shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s designed as a tanking talent and “solo tanking” is sort of nonsensical. Bear itself works fine without it, and in fact you can even tank just fine without it as long as you aren’t doing progression raiding. (If it affected your dps or something, I’d be a lot more convinced.)

In this case, I’m going to have to beg to differ. Blizzard has made the case long and hard that tanking classes need to be streamlined and homogenized. They gave us some great new abilities, boosted our tanking DPS to nothing short of ridiculous, and even removed that pesky limiter on Swipe—and we saw Warriors and Paladins receive similar cross-class treatment. Here, I don’t think the argument is “Oh, I want to solo tank the world!” but rather “Why do I get a damage reduction penalty when I don’t have a full group, and why aren’t Warriors and Paladins penalized in the same fashion?”

Admittedly, it’s a fairly silly argument when you’re considering progression raiding, because under those circumstances, you will always have a full group. But when you remove a Warrior, Paladin, or Death Knight from a raid group or a party, all of their mitigation effects still work as per normal. If Bears are supposed to have the same functionality as a Warrior, Paladin, or Death Knight (as Blizzard has heatedly alluded to in the past), then one might assume that we should still retain our damage reduction abilities when we’re not in a group—just like them.

Let’s take a look at Lycentia and I, similarly geared in terms of item level, post 3.0.2. For kicks, we’ve been going and four-manning various Heroic dungeons and AOE tanking entire rooms of mobs. Let’s use Shattered Halls as an example. When he’s played his Warrior and I’ve healed him on my Paladin, his health bar barely moves. He gathers up a room, Thunderclaps to his heart’s content, and moves on. When I’m tanking, I gather up my mobs, wedge myself in a corner so as to have them all in my 180 Swipe range, and take a metric fuckton of damage by comparison (using Barkskin and all our other wonderful little “Oh shit!” buttons). Is this a “niche” tanking role and an exception to the rule? I suppose.

But even Lycentia, who normally listens with one ear closed when I complain about the differences between Druids and other tanking classes, thinks it’s a stupid liability:

“Clearly, I would be flipping my shit if I had the same penalty applied to me, BUT YOU’RE A BEAR, DON’T YOU HAVE A PACK YOU ROLL WITH?”

Let’s get real, folks. Bears aren’t even pack animals. The proper group terminology for a company of bears is actually a “sloth.” To be honest, I much preferred the Disney-fied “Mother Bear” placeholder, because at least it made a little more sense. Regardless, tanking elites or boss-level mobs with a less than optimal group obviously isn’t something Blizzard specifically plans for—I get it. But if you are going to use less than 5 people, whether for a group quest or a Heroic dungeon, why not just take any other tank and spare the healer some grief?

Looking to the Protection tree for Warriors, I have a hard time finding any talent as singularly important for tanking as PotP is for Druids. The closest equivalents, perhaps, are “Toughness” and “Anticipation.” Combined, Rank 5 of Toughness and Anticipation increase armor value from items by 10%, reduce the duration fo all movement slowing effects by 30%, and increase your Dodge chance by 5%. Even losing those two talents aren’t as potentially dire as losing 3% flat out damage reduction per party member (and by flat out, I mean that it applies to both physical and magical damage). What about Improved Defensive Stance? That’s a little closer: “While in Defensive Stance all spell damage is reduced by 6% and when you Block, Parry or Dodge an attack you have a 100% chance to become Enraged, increasing melee damage caused by 10% for 12 sec.” That’s a little closer, but again, it’s only 6% (and only spell damage) versus a potential 12%—and those wily Warriors still have Block and Parry as well.

It’s a simple fix. Afford us the same benefit the rest of the tanking corp has, and remove the pointless party limitation—we still have to sink the points in it to be effective tanks anyway.