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. VanishO2's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ognomad View Post
    Why do you guys cry so much! Waaaaaaaaaaaa! If you don't like the way blizz is handling the game quit.
    "cry so much" gave you real-id party free instead of premium.

    So go figure.
  1. Cloudwolfe's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by MestHoop View Post
    Most tanks jumped for joy whenever someone would propose these types of changes.
    Then most tanks are terrible and have no idea how to play or enjoy their role being dumbed down so much that anyone with a keyboard can play as well as them where threat is concerned.
  1. Rilch's Avatar
    Feels like made for bringing more tanks for LFD instead of helping with raids lol.
  1. Alvarez's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by nnelson54 View Post
    It made people pay attention to what they were doing. ...
    This is what makes me feel uncomfortable with this change. It's only going to mean people in random dungeons paying even less attention than they do already (which isn't much).

    I don't want tanking to be made easier just because people are so obsessed by their recount read-out that they have to charge in whirlwinding/arcane-blasting as soon as my Avenger's Shield has left my hand and not even reached it's target.

    I would rather have the opposite happen, so that players benefit from showing a little appreciation/understanding of the mechanics of the game, and learn to function as a team to get the job done. Sometimes I want to pull the mobs to me. Sometimes I might even want to LoS them around a corner. Crazy I know! ...

    ... My worry is that this is just going to increase the number of runs where the dps charge around like toddlers tanked up with Sunny-D pulling everything they like because it's now easy for the tank to get aggro. I don't really want to play that sort of game, but sadly because 5-mans are now solely for mindlessly zerging through as quickly as possible just to get your Valor Points, I can see why this change might be considered "a good thing" for some...
  1. Korru's Avatar
    At least tanking will be less stressful/annoying
  1. AutomaticBadger's Avatar
    I like the changes. My Warrior can actually do some proper DPS now without pulling agro instantly. That and I might go back to Paladin tanking depending on how everything turns out. Threat was never really a problem as you either had it all or none, with the pull being the hardest 30 seconds of the fight, so this change really changes nothing.

    I really hope we don't move the DK tanking model though. Maybe make it a more viable option to WoG tank or to actually give us a chance to swap between the 2, WoG and SotR
  1. konda12345's Avatar
    when will the hotfix go live?
  1. Sephiracle's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by feigning View Post
    So, the change affects you, since you are good, obviously, and helps some bad players for the first ten seconds of a fight. Are you seriously arrogant enough to say that this makes the game "ezmode" and is catering to bad players? It doesn't affect you. At all. Unless, of course, you are a bad player.
    I quit a few months ago. I just find the hilarity in giving WLK Icy Touch threat to all classes suddenly makes the game better. It fails to punish players performing badly which in turn hurts a greater portion of the game population. You encourage bad players to fulfill roles they can't handle and then you dumb down portions of the game to compensate. You had DK's back in WLK needing snap threat, they made the change to Icy Touch. Dk's then used just Icy Touch to hold threat and did little else.

    People fall into the routine that threat is easy and is irrelevant, then months down the road they rethink the tanking model. Threat matters a little bit more and you get the frustration that you have now from the bads.
  1. Etou's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Vook View Post
    Wait, people were having threat issues? Wat. I mean, the only threat issues I know of are bear tanks with AoE, and warriors with snap AoE to a lesser extent.
    Bear AoE threat at 85 has always been fine. AoE Mitigation used to be a problem, but that's largely fixed. This change will make Warriors who are just starting out (ilvl 330 - 350) a lot easier. I have a warrior alt that I don't get the opportunity to gear as well as it could be, and when I run into a ilvl 372+ dps, keeping aggro is almost impossible. I have to sacrifice a lot of my damage mitigation to hold aggro. Lately, I've had to reforge to hit/exp and away from mitigation stats to hold aggro against these guys. I assume a lot of them are farming Chaos orbs.

    On my bear this was never a problem, so I won't see an issue with this at all. I think this is an excellent change especially considering the tank shortage. Gearing a new tank with people running around in FL gear is painful right now, with the elitist tards such as those on full display here doing nothing but making the process that much harder.
  1. Nosferato's Avatar
    hmm this will also make prot pvp tanks more op towards other melee ,like rogues who can dispell the enrage and then a sec later its back to what it where hitting just as hard
  1. NeVeRLiFt's Avatar
    When will crowd control matter? Not the under geared tanks trying to use it... I mean serious full geared out parties in heroics should not just be able to zerg. Fixing threat is nice but at the same time they're just opening the door even wider for people to zerg heroics which is not always fun.
  1. Xuvial's Avatar
    Cool post Ghostcrawler, any word on PvP balance issues? *silence*
  1. Zasz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by lettucehate View Post
    Everyone says that this was un-needed, and there were other things they could have been focusing on. What ARE those other things? Rather than just come here and say "ZOMG THREATZ EWER FINE, IM GOING TO BE SOOOO BORED NOW," tell us what YOU would fix.

    I personally like the changes. When I have threat, I'm having fun. When a Fury Warrior (my main is fury, off is prot, both specs are 370+) is popping all his CD's on the pull, getting salved, I'm getting MD'd, and he's still about to pull threat... I'm NOT having fun. The biggest issue is the lack of hit and expertise, and until they fix that whole issue with nearly all tanks, threat was going to be (and is still going to be) inconsistent. So, I welcome any threat changes they make.

    AND... If threat was the last bastion of hope you had in Blizzard and WoW, and you would SERIOUSLY quit over this, I would hate to be your employer.
    Its your own fault if you pop all CDs at the beginning of the fight knowing you will be close to pull or getting one-shot by the boss. And its your own fault aswell for using mastery sockets instead of something like hit. How much does a tank get from 20 mastery? How much from 20 or even 40 hit? Its not blizzards fault if you listen to the mainflow that tells you to go for full mastery and whine afterwards "I cant hit the boss, I wear full +370 and loose threat to a green arcane mage". Its possible to have at least 1-2% hit without looseing the same amount of mastery.
  1. Raim Surion's Avatar
    I do like that they are making efforts to draw players into tanking more, but I believe 3-5 times threat generation is a tad excessive. I think even 2 times would have been enough to breeze through a dungeon with a beginner tank.
  1. McFrotton's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by NeVeRLiFt View Post
    When will crowd control matter? Not the under geared tanks trying to use it... I mean serious full geared out parties in heroics should not just be able to zerg. Fixing threat is nice but at the same time they're just opening the door even wider for people to zerg heroics which is not always fun.
    Lol and many on forums complain that they want to zerg heroics that it was fun in LK becuz you could have a blast in a 15-25 minutes dungeon , I love it when its new and hard nerf over time with gear (and blizz nerf) is alright this makes it easier to gear up alt (lets be honest I dont want to grind on EVERY damn alt every damn dungeon)
  1. VanishO2's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by La View Post
    Long time tank, I approve. Anyone whining, you`re just a baby that whines about everything here, seriously. my tank alt is at an ilvl 353 or something, all gem, enchants, gear.. I can`t go into a ZG/ZA and with people doing 20k+dps, more on trash it`s pretty annoying that my most watched CD is my taunt. It`s not about "casual" it`s about something that is a problem for people in general, we`re not all bear druid crazy tank threat, and you`re just ignorant if you think "dur threat is already ez".
    Your (and "everyones") problem is as buff called "Luck of the Draw" on randoms.

    Ppl hardly have problems running randoms with ppl they know (a.k.a friend/guild groups) because they communicate to each other and they know that they're with the buff increasing their dps/threat.
  1. Etou's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by NeVeRLiFt View Post
    When will crowd control matter? Not the under geared tanks trying to use it... I mean serious full geared out parties in heroics should not just be able to zerg. Fixing threat is nice but at the same time they're just opening the door even wider for people to zerg heroics which is not always fun.
    Because CC is was about threat management, amirite? FFS, there are so many of these freaking moronic posts on this by supposed "elitists" it's mind boggling. Want to CC, then QQ about damage done being too low not threat.
  1. Zasz's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by VanishO2 View Post
    Your (and "everyones") problem is as buff called "Luck of the Draw" on randoms.

    Ppl hardly have problems running randoms with ppl they know (a.k.a friend/guild groups) because they communicate to each other and they know that they're with the buff increasing their dps/threat.
    Now guess because of who this change is coming...
  1. Zka's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by nnelson54 View Post
    It made people pay attention to what they were doing. It's just another example in the long line of Blizzard dumbing down WoW to the lowest common denominator. After the first 30 seconds of a fight there's nobody within half of my threat and my guild's DPS all hover between 25-28K. It's just a completely unnecessary change that makes the game more boring for people who weren't bad in exchange for making it easier for people who get a headache trying to think about more than one thing at a time.
    If that's the case you won't miss out on anything, right?
    Read the whole post: they do it because they want to shift your job as a tank towards active mitigation instead of the current model, where threat and mitigation both play a small role. (unless you're a dk because then you are already playing their future model) They want threat to play a very minor role and active mitigation play major.
    Sounds interesting to me.
    As a side effect, random low skill pug tanks will finally not suck as much on threat, but they will need more heals. Which is not a big issue imho.
  1. Syrith's Avatar
    TL;DR *Get me some 4.3 info asap bitches.

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