MMO-Champion - Dev Watercooler -- Threat Level Midnight
Dev Watercooler -- Threat Level Midnight
Blizzard is going to make a couple of changes to threat, among other things:

  • Hotfix: The threat generated by classes in their tanking mode has been increased from three times damage done to five times damage done.
  • In an upcoming patch: Vengeance no longer ramps up slowly at the beginning of a fight. Instead, the first melee attack taken generates Vengeance equal to one third of the damage dealt by that attack. As Vengeance updates during the fight, it is always set to at least a third of the damage taken in the last two seconds. It still climbs from that point at the previous rate, still decays at the previous rate, and still cannot exceed the current maximum.

Read the entire blog post for more details and upcoming changes.
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Threat revisited

One of the fun things about working on an MMO is that the game design will evolve over time, and you have the opportunity to make changes to reflect those design shifts. (And yes, we know that it can sometimes evolve too quickly).

Back in December, I wrote a blog post about our vision for how threat should work. Since then, the game and the community have continued to progress and the designers have found ourselves changing our minds about the role of threat. Enough that we’re planning to apply a hotfix this week to change how threat works.

Why have threat?

Threat’s role, just so we’re all on the same page, is to make fights more interesting. Tanks spend a lot of effort staying alive, but they aren’t under immediate threat of death one-hundred percent of the time. Plus, their staying alive is also dependent on their healers and other external cooldowns. We have always been concerned that if threat was not a big part of tanking gameplay that tanks might get bored just waiting around until it was time to use a cooldown. Likewise, if DPS and healers had no risk of being attacked themselves then the sense of danger facing a powerful creature could erode. Furthermore, every character’s toolbox includes some cool survival and utility abilities and the game feels more shallow if those are exclusively used for PvP. It’s fun for a mage to Frost Nova an attacker and Blink away. It’s fun for a hunter to Feign Death. Yes your life would be a lot easier without threat mechanics, but our goal isn’t to make fights as easy as possible. Our job is to make fights fun. Having too much to manage might not be fun, but it’s also not fun to be bored.

That’s been our traditional argument for threat needing to matter. Here is the case against it:

Why not have threat?

Throttling


  • As I said in the previous blog post, it’s not fun to feel throttled. It’s not fun for the Feral druid to stop using special attacks in order to avoid pulling aggro. It’s fun to use Feint at the right time to avoid dying, but it’s not fun for Feint to be part of your rotational cooldown. We want you to spend most of your effort trying to overcome the dragon or elemental, not struggling against your own tank.

Tanks are busy


  • I’d also argue that our encounters aren’t really boring these days. We ask tanks to do a lot -- everything from picking up adds, to moving bosses around, to staying out of fires, to providing interrupts, in addition to the classic tank roles of staying alive and generating threat.

Threat stats aren’t fun


  • We put threat stats (hit and expertise for the most part) on tanking gear, because without those, tanks would be limited to choosing from among mastery, dodge, and parry. (In the current state of itemization, you are rarely choosing more Strength, Agility, Stamina, or armor.) Druids can’t parry, and even for the plate users, there is a tight relationship between dodge and parry, and even mastery for the warrior and paladin. That gets us dangerously close to the old model of stacking a single uber stat (like Stamina or defense), which makes gearing choices too simplistic for tanks. Did something drop? Okay, put it on. (Contrast this to a DPS caster who might want more or less hit or might favor haste over crit, etc.)

    We want threat stats to be interesting, but the reality is that they aren’t. Any decent tank will usually choose survivability stats over threat stats. Back in the day when taunts and interrupts could miss, you could argue hit was marginally useful. But in a world where hit is really just for generating threat, it isn’t very exciting and tanks get understandably emo when we put too much on their gear. (DKs are somewhat of an exception in a good way -- more on that in a sec.) We do see some players try and get excited about threat stats or even proud of their ability to generate threat, but overall we feel like threat stats are a trap, and it’s usually the case that improving your survivability will have a better net impact on your group’s progression.

We don’t need a more complex UI


  • We have threatened for years (see what I did there?) to build in some kind of threat tracking tool into WoW. But is that really good for the game? Do we really need yet another UI element for players to look at instead of looking at the actual game world? We know many raiders in particular use third-party threat mods today, but that has really been borne out of necessity rather than a sense that watching threat is super compelling gameplay. (When we say “super compelling gameplay” you can mentally replace that with “fun.”)

Dungeon Finder


  • I know this bullet will be a point made by players critical of this change, but I would feel remiss in not bringing it up. We want it to be a positive experience when Dungeon Finder matches experienced players with newer players. The skill and gear of the former can help make up for that of the latter. Who better to teach you boss mechanics than players who have done the fights before? Even better, the gear of a veteran tank can make up for the less powerful gear of a beginning healer (which doesn’t necessarily mean a noob -- it could be the alt of a very experienced raider).

    However, this system fails and often spectacularly so when it’s the tank who is the undergeared player. Even if a competent healer can keep the undergeared tank alive, the fully raid-geared DPS spec is going to constantly be on the verge of pulling threat. That’s not an issue of skill. It’s just numbers. It’s also not a problem that is easy to overcome for either the overgeared DPS or the undergeared tank -- it’s just not a lot of fun for anyone.


So now what?

Given all of that, and watching how tanking has unfolded in Cataclysm, we’ve gotten over the concept that threat needs to be a major part of PvE gameplay. We have therefore decided to buff tank threat generation in a hotfix this week to where it’s generally not a major consideration. We expect the community to gradually stop using threat-tracking mods as players realize they don’t need them.

It’s an important distinction that the concept of “aggro” will still exist. If a DPS spec attacks an add the second it shows up, then the creature is going to come at her. However, if a tank gets an attack or two on a target, then the target should stick to the tank. Worrying about who has the creature’s attention should generally only be a concern at the start of a fight or when additional creatures join the battle. Worrying about a warrior or DK (the classes with nearly non-existent threat dumps) creeping up on tank threat after several minutes will almost certainly not be an issue any longer. (And if it is, we’ll have to make further adjustments.)

We like abilities like Misdirect. It’s fun as a hunter to help the tank control targets. We are less enamored of Cower, which is just an ability used often to suppress threat. We like that the mage might have to use Ice Block, Frost Nova, or even Mirror Image to avoid danger. We don’t like the mage having to worry about constantly creeping up on the tank’s threat levels. The notion of aggro (who the target is attacking) is a keeper. The notion of threat races (who is about to pull aggro) is going to be downplayed from here on out.

Upcoming changes

Here are the specific changes you’re likely to see:


  • Hotfix: The threat generated by classes in their tanking mode has been increased from three times damage done to five times damage done.
  • In an upcoming patch: Vengeance no longer ramps up slowly at the beginning of a fight. Instead, the first melee attack taken generates Vengeance equal to one third of the damage dealt by that attack. As Vengeance updates during the fight, it is always set to at least a third of the damage taken in the last two seconds. It still climbs from that point at the previous rate, still decays at the previous rate, and still cannot exceed the current maximum.

Long-term changes

You could argue that once threat is very easy to manage that a warrior tank could just go AFK. In reality, given today’s boss encounters, an AFK warrior would end up standing in the wrong place, missing a tank transition, or otherwise do something or fail to do something that wipes the party or raid.

That said, we ultimately don’t want tanking to be just standing there soaking boss hits and we would like to have more stats on gear that tanks care about. To solve those challenges, we want to shift more tank mitigation to require active management. We’ll still give all the tanks emergency cooldowns like Shield Wall and Survival Instincts. However, we want to move the shorter cooldowns like Shield Block, Holy Shield and Savage Defense so that they work more like Death Strike. Blood DKs have a lot of control over the survivability they get from Death Strike, but as part of that gameplay, they have to actually hit their target. The other three tanks will get similar active defense mechanics. This doesn’t mean everyone needs to use the DK model of self-healing, but they can use the DK model of managing resources to maximize survivability.

Death Strike consumes resources to help the tank survive. We toyed at one point with the paladin Holy Shield being a Holy Power consumer and we think we could do so again. Heck we could make Word of Glory the thing you’re supposed to do with Holy Power, so long as we balanced all tanks around that idea and didn’t feel it infringed too much on the DK mechanic. We could make Shield Block cost rage, and change Protection warrior rage income such that they had to manage rage, the way Fury and Arms warriors now must do. If tanks generated more rage from doing damage and less from taking damage, then hitting a target becomes very important, but for mitigation, not threat management reasons. This is a bigger change than it seems though. We don’t want a model where the Prot warrior ignores Shield Slam, Devastate and Revenge (since threat isn’t a big deal) in order to bank all rage for Shield Block (because survival is). Imagine a rage model where you always had enough rage for your core rotational abilities (they could be cheap or even generate rage), so that you could funnel most of your rage into Shield Block when survival mattered and Heroic Strike when it did not. Redesigning Savage Defense to make it a rage sink is an even bigger change, but we think there is an opportunity there to make the rotation more interesting for druids (and all tanks really). Their rotation would help them achieve the goal that usually matters the most to tanks: living.

This is the kind of design for which we’re really going to need a lot of feedback once it hits. We can implement and verify empirically how much threat a tank generates, but it’s hard for us to replicate the experience of all of the various raiding groups and dungeon parties out there. We invite you to try out the immediate and eventually the long-term changes when they are available and let us know how they feel. Do you miss the threat game? Are you bored when tanking now? Conversely, with the changes, is tanking more fun for you? Does this new implementation of Vengeance feel better? Some systems design calls we can make just by processing numbers, and some are more squishy and involve a lot gut checks and wishy-washy “but how does it FEEL?” language. Messing with this kind of thing is definitely somewhere in the middle.


Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft, and lead eater at the dinner table.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Dev Watercooler -- Threat Level Midnight started by Boubouille View original post
Comments 302 Comments
  1. gdahgsfhs's Avatar
    Now if only they could fix the whiney, doomsayer, cynical, self-righteous, selfish, annoying, ignorant, anti-social "community" !
  1. jayremy's Avatar
    Why do I think this change is an Amazing Idea?

    Well for months, maybe treading years now I have been talking about this, so many times in pasts posts; so here is the reasoning:

    -Tanks don't worry about threat, why should they? A stupid simple transparent number that you obligatorily have to keep track off isn't fun. -What is fun for tanks then? Panning to see how the field of play is going for party members, pick up loose adds, focusing more on when to use mitigation spells (they are tanks, their job is to MITIGATE damage) because a great tank will tank minimal damage using his skill, not stats. Also if surviving isn't an issue worry just then about unloading and positioning.

    -Shifting the focus from threat being the challenge of tanking to mitigation being the main challenge seems way more appropriate for a role that is put in place to TAKE LESS damage than other players/roles in the groups. Instead of trying to perfect (sometimes illogical) rotations for threat (blood and thunder for warriors comes to mind), rotations can be made to be about mitigating large portions of damage.


    Ideally with random numbers and assumptions off my head thrown in I would so a skilled and good tank, that knows the best way to mitigate appropriately and skillfully, will probably mitigate 10-25% more damage than a typical tank. I hope for more of an impact than just 10-25% but I think more tweaking to base tank mitigation and all end game content might need to be made to match it unfortunately.
  1. nuttan's Avatar
    intresting.
  1. Darkley's Avatar
    I have to say, firelands as it is, is boring as HELL as a tank, most if no all fights make me wans to /wrist and now you are giving me more threat so i need to do less... you SERIOUSLY need to get your heads on right because this is just what might make me stop tanking, with firelands, i might aswell just go in, aotu hit the boss, come back 10 mins later and ask "did we kill the boss?" If any paladin tank has threat issues, it it his/her damn fault, not how threat works now, stop fecking us over, ur making it more and more boring to tank, take way the extra threat and let us have something to actually du like BUILD THREAT.... Have not said this before but, Blizzard, your idea makers, are RETARDS, fire the dumb fucks and stop making this game a joke. On both 10 and 25 man i can keep agro on everything without this, so get it reverted, your just being idiots doing this. Feck no if i want free threat, i want atleast threat to be a challenge but now... nope... why be a tank then, nothing for us to do anymore other than click a CD here and there... If you cant focus on both mitigation and threat as a tank, stop being a tank, it means YOU SUCK DONKEY BALLS! Tanking is easier than ever.
  1. huldu's Avatar
    It's only in 5-man random dungeons that threat is/can be a problem. Especially during leveling process. It just makes it tedious to tank since DPS don't pay attention to anything. This could be a step in the right direction, it's hard to tell. The best case scenario is that tanking becomes enjoyable and that we'll see the impact on the queue time.
  1. chuck123's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by 4KhazModan View Post
    You're acting like it was hard to begin with. While threat has never really been an issue before, I'm afraid now it will just be faceroll. Maybe Blizzard doesn't get why people like tanking to begin with. It's more of a challenge than dps. Making it even easier is not the right way to recruit more tanks.
    Maybe for you tanking is more of a challenge, for others out there it ain't (matter of pov)
  1. Ausr's Avatar
    Looks interesting. Hopefully it'll allow more people to go "Oh tanking got a little easier, I'll try it."
  1. jayremy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Darkley View Post
    I have to say, firelands as it is, is boring as HELL as a tank, most if no all fights make me wans to /wrist and now you are giving me more threat so i need to do less... you SERIOUSLY need to get your heads on right because this is just what might make me stop tanking, with firelands, i might aswell just go in, aotu hit the boss, come back 10 mins later and ask "did we kill the boss?" If any paladin tank has threat issues, it it his/her damn fault, not how threat works now, stop fecking us over, ur making it more and more boring to tank, take way the extra threat and let us have something to actually du like BUILD THREAT.... Have not said this before but, Blizzard, your idea makers, are RETARDS, fire the dumb fucks and stop making this game a joke. On both 10 and 25 man i can keep agro on everything without this, so get it reverted, your just being idiots doing this. Feck no if i want free threat, i want atleast threat to be a challenge but now... nope... why be a tank then, nothing for us to do anymore other than click a CD here and there... If you cant focus on both mitigation and threat as a tank, stop being a tank, it means YOU SUCK DONKEY BALLS! Tanking is easier than ever.
    What Blizzard is alluding to, I am not 100% certain but more like 95% sure that tanks will NOT focus on threat as much anymore, INSTEAD they will focus on MITIGATION abilities and timing them along with the typical positioning stuff.


    So the main goal seems to be, instead of worrying about whether or not everything that needs to beating on you is, you will be worrying about timing your defensive abilities (hence the death strike mentioning on the post). Hopefully death strike style gameplay will be much larger of a role, this time it looks like it may be, for all tanks at that.

    You may say he mitigation is simple as is, but I am very certain it will be changes in the future to be more available - less CD controlled- and more about resources and appropriate timing.
  1. Darkley's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jayremy View Post
    What Blizzard is alluding to, I am not 100% certain but more like 95% sure that tanks will NOT focus on threat as much anymore, INSTEAD they will focus on MITIGATION abilities and timing them along with the typical positioning stuff.


    So the main goal seems to be, instead of worrying about whether or not everything that needs to beating on you is, you will be worrying about timing your defensive abilities (hence the death strike mentioning on the post). Hopefully death strike style gameplay will be much larger of a role, this time it looks like it may be, for all tanks at that.
    The problem is, with firelands being as easy for tanks as it is (its more a raid for dps and healers) we have more than enough time for both, if you take away one thing such as threat, why even bother? Mitigating damage is easy, building threat was the one real challenge
  1. jayremy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Darkley View Post
    The problem is, with firelands being as easy for tanks as it is (its more a raid for dps and healers) we have more than enough time for both, if you take away one thing such as threat, why even bother? Mitigating damage is easy, building threat was the one real challenge
    I edited my last post because I didn't clarify it, i'll mention again, here though. They may make mitigation more of an active role, which means based on player skill, and from its current form, "harder" as well, because now you can mess up, maybe there will be much more to actively pay attention to.

    Likely you will see tanks getting their damage abilities coupled with a defensive effect as well, not all but some.

    This also means in the future if Blizzard goes steps further boss will have multiple mini enrages and burst moments, Blizzard could make it so you constantly gotta be hitting these defensive abilities to counter them.


    This is all in assumption, but seems very likely.
  1. Etna's Avatar
    So we are back to DaD/consacration/thunterclap and afk, really nice blizz like i was having threat problems from having has low hit/exp has I could possibly have to begin with
  1. Calamari's Avatar
    You are contradicting yourself:

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkley View Post
    I have to say, firelands as it is, is boring as HELL as a tank, most if no all fights make me wans to /wrist and now you are giving me more threat so i need to do less... you SERIOUSLY need to get your heads on right because this is just what might make me stop tanking, with firelands, i might aswell just go in, aotu hit the boss, come back 10 mins later and ask "did we kill the boss?"
    Quote Originally Posted by Darkley View Post
    Mitigating damage is easy, building threat was the one real challenge
    Prot paladins and warriors have too much passive mitigation, that is why damage mitigation on them is easy, our active mitigation is pretty much limited to using -dmg cooldowns on hard hitting abilities.

    As Jayremy pointed out, the next step after the threat buff is to shift away from automated passive defenses of shield tanks and bears (passive shield block/absorb + avoidance), and into a DK like playstyle where in addition to managing the -%dmg cooldowns, you must also learn to synchronise your active defenses (self heals/absorb shields in case of DKs) with the bosses attacks - instead of running a dps rotation routine 24/7.
  1. WowgGirly's Avatar
    I actually thought the only fun thing about tanking was having to try and keep aggro to make it a challenge... GUESSS NOT ANYMORE
  1. ashblond's Avatar
    This is actually a very interesting change.

    If you have read carefully GC's blog, their main concern is - what is defined to be "fun" for a tank?

    I agree with GC here, that threat is indeed a boring stats. If a tank sets up a rotation or uses his abilities just to maintain the highest threat, it is not fun.

    Blizzard's idea is to make Tanks' rotaion more focus on survival rather than threat generation.

    This doesn't mean to make tanking easier, which most people obviously misunderstood here, but to make tanks working harder and engaging more with their survival rather than threat generation. This can actually be fun. You have to admit that current DK tanking model is more fun and engaging than passive shield tanks or druids
  1. sylveriemoon's Avatar
    Blizzard should stop trying to make tanking "Interesting" since "Interesting" is a personal point of view. How about starting with balancing the 4 tanks please? Threat gen is perfectly fine if you maintain your rotation, defensive abilities are fine, cooldowns are fine, stop trying to drastically change something that doesn't need such changes in the first place.
  1. Angosia's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ashblond View Post
    This is actually a very interesting change.

    If you have read carefully GC's blog, their main concern is - what is defined to be "fun" for a tank?

    I agree with GC here, that threat is indeed a boring stats. If a tank sets up a rotation or uses his abilities just to maintain the highest threat, it is not fun.

    Blizzard's idea is to make Tanks' rotaion more focus on survival rather than threat generation.

    This doesn't mean to make tanking easier, which most people obviously misunderstood here, but to make tanks working harder and engaging more with their survival rather than threat generation. This can actually be fun. You have to admit that current DK tanking model is more fun and engaging than passive shield tanks or druids
    Indeed. Though, I think that DK and feral tanking models are quite similar - in that they both require the tank to hit the target to gain their mitigation. If anything, it makes me think they'll realign warriors and paladins to 'suffer' the same fate.

    I tend to agree this is a better choice overall (including the threat change). It tends to make more of the mitigation an active and useful choice rather than going "oh, well, dks or druids just suck because they don't have that". Interestingly, after looking at world of logs, Druid and DK tanks are outnumbered 2:1 by paladin and warrior tanks - presumably for the same reason. (I also overheard someone say the other night that they hate healing for DKs because they take too much damage {vs other tanks}.)

    Perhaps this will resolve some of the parity between tanking classes and make dps somewhat more interesting. Spamming cower because one's afraid to pull aggro every time it is off cd is not fun in the slightest.
  1. Buu's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Coldrage View Post
    Now if only they could fix the whiney, doomsayer, cynical, self-righteous, selfish, annoying, ignorant, anti-social "community" !
    Probably they can. The Zandalari Dungeons differ vastly from the rest of the game. until heroic 80 dungeons the Damage Dealers could mouthbreath and DPS race each other, without big problems. In cata dungeons, they have to be more alert, but most of trash mobs are easy to mouthbreath if you're geared enough.
    In Zandalari Dungeons, Blizzard made a legitimate effort to damage dealer actions MATTER. They have to do more things than DPS race each other. It's not up to the tank and healer only to deal with packs. It's a really great preparation for raids.
    Thing is that most people still believing the old paradigm of DPS being easycake. Just rotate the highest damage skills and you're awesome. Well, you're NOT. You're a retard that make everything harder. Damage dealer have multiple roles. Disabling mobs, crowd control, relieve the tank from have to interrupt, control positioning. Blizzard gave multiple tools, that DPS are ignoring because they thing all they have to use is big numbers damage.

    What the developers have to do now is scream "Yo, retards, Damage dealers are not only about damage! Learn to play, because you're scaring the tanks and that 40 minutes wait in dungeon finder is all your fault. DEAL WITH IT, or keep crying. Your choice."

    P.S.: I can't remember when was the last time I pulled aggro from trash, and I had the boss more than 1 second on me (because a demo Lock that made my damage skyrocket with stacking buffs I had) on my hunter. So, yes, Tank losing Aggro is 90% chance of a lousy DPS, and this threat hotfix is not because blizzard lousy design, but because of DPS lousy play was punishing Tanks.
  1. Conzar's Avatar
    It's only an issue in 5 man dungeons with a low geared tank that you don't know from Adam. If you go into a dungeon with a guildie that is still gearing 350ish while your dps gear dropped from heroic FL bosses, you know not to be an idiot with your threat. With RFD groups, just link threat to the Luck Of The Draw buff. Only 4 specs can tank now (increase the effect/shorten cooldown for kitty's Cower), so those specs become exempt to the additional effect of "5% threat reduction per random in the group (stacks up to 3)". Make it 10% if it still doesn't prove to be enough. This blanket nerf for threat really isn't needed for raids, guild runs or anything where sensible players are involved.
  1. ashblond's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Calamari View Post
    You are contradicting yourself:





    Prot paladins and warriors have too much passive mitigation, that is why damage mitigation on them is easy, our active mitigation is pretty much limited to using -dmg cooldowns on hard hitting abilities.

    As Jayremy pointed out, the next step after the threat buff is to shift away from automated passive defenses of shield tanks and bears (passive shield block/absorb + avoidance), and into a DK like playstyle where in addition to managing the -%dmg cooldowns, you must also learn to synchronise your active defenses (self heals/absorb shields in case of DKs) with the bosses attacks - instead of running a dps rotation routine 24/7.
    Making tanks more engaged with their survival can be very interesting. But on the other hand, what worries me is the class homogenization.

    If they change the pally/warrior/druid tanking model to dk's active CD management model, blizzard has to redesign a lot of abilities to match dk's similar abilities, for balance issue, and inevitably results class homogenization.

    I still prefer each class has their uniqueness and different tanking style. But balance and homogenization is really a dilema.
  1. The Big Dog's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by 4KhazModan View Post
    You're acting like it was hard to begin with. While threat has never really been an issue before, I'm afraid now it will just be faceroll. Maybe Blizzard doesn't get why people like tanking to begin with. It's more of a challenge than dps. Making it even easier is not the right way to recruit more 'good' tanks.
    Fixed, any noob DPS could go tank just for a quick que.

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