Don't take this too seriously, but I'm curious what people think about introducing a serious magic tanking role. There have been fights in the past that required a dedicated magic tank (king mulgaur encounter comes to mind), but it's never been something that has taken off. I understand that in terms of logistics and design this would probably never happen, but as a thought experiment, what do you think good ideas would be for this? like what classes, abilities, talents, etc?
That was part of the original design direction for tanking Death Knights actually, but it was too specialised. Blizzard's philosophy has shifted since then (really while DKs were still in development). While they are okay with some classes being a little better at particular things then others, they don't want any one really excelling to the point where people are benching other classes. And it's also probably not very fun for the magic tank to be only good at a very niche job and medicore or subpar for physical or mixed fights. It's probably better to homogenise classes overall and let DPS tanks return (either with existing classes like we did with Maulgar or Leotheras, or through the use of "vehicle" mobs) or just avoid those kinds of fights entirely.
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When it comes down to magic damage, all tanks are generally on par with each other. Warrior tanks take a passive 25% less magic damage, same with monks/druids. Warriors also have Shield Barrier (Absorb based on AP/Stamina), Spell reflect (where applicable). Monks have Glyphed Guard (10% extra absorb on Guard, absorbs only magic damage), diffuse magic (90% less magic damage taken, reflects all spells where applicable) and Zen Med (90% less damage taken, breaks on melee, not spells). Guardians don't have a particular anti-magic damage cooldown, but Frenzied Regen is a spammable self heal that also heals for quite a bit depending on vengeance.
DKs/Paladins dont have the same base magic reduction as the other 2 (10/15% compared to 25/25/25), but have more powerful CDs. (DKs have 45 second, up to 50% health in damage absorb that gives them extra resources, paladins have 1 min, 40% damage reduction via magic.). Both also incorporate powerful healing and numerous more CDs into reducing the effect of magic damage.
Finally, I will talk beta Locks. Beta locks, for high-magical damage fights, had a distinctive advantage over the other tanks. Thier mastery reduced ALL damage, rather then just melee. (Thus, they had around 15% damage mitigation baseline, plus mastery, which could go over 15% with high mastery stacking). Finally, they had the highest amount of health with Soul Link/Sacrifice, making them number one in terms of HP. Beta locks had an advantage over other tanks in terms of magic/dot damage, and generally would mitigate the same amount of damage over an entire fight compared to the other 5. However, on a pure physical damage fight (The closest that there is is Will of the Emporer) they would take slightly more damage then the other tanks, although it was fairly stable (They took more hits, but each hit hit for less compared to the other tanks, due to both being around 72% armor reduction, and the mitigation mastery)
During Early Wrath, Frost DKs were masters of magic tanking. What happened is that Frost DKs were mandatory for magical damage fights, and fairly powerful for any fight in which 20% of damage was magical (Which was an overwhelming number of fights). They were brought back in line a few patches later.
Thus, the way blizz has it is that ALL tanks have around the same amount of mitigation versus magical damage overall, but mitigate it in different ways. DKs are powerful for short, deadly blasts (Annihilate) that happen on a long interval, Warriors/Ferals are good for magicial mitigation that happens constantly (Lei-Shi), Monks are similar to DKs, and Paladins are in the middle.
Of the Hundreds of bosses in Azeroth, I could count on one hand (with fingers left over) the number that could be downed more easily with a magic tank. I just can't fathom the idea of something in paper armor being the meatshield. I understand locks can just about do it now, but honestly, I think that was a design flaw that Blizz will eventually retract, like Rep Tabards
No offense, but I just think paper tanks are a bad idea and not very necessary when we already have Warriors, Pallies, Druids, DKs, and Monks to tank with.