Threat Needs to Matter
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
A tank’s job is to protect the group. A big part of that is controlling the enemy. A big part of controlling the enemy is staying alive. Tanks have a lot of tools to stay alive, and mastering those is a major component of learning to play a tank. On the other hand, some of these tools are on long cooldowns, and on some encounters they are intended for use at specific moments in the fight. Furthermore, staying alive isn’t the sole responsibility of the tank, because there will always be one or more healers present whose job it is to keep the tank alive. As such, staying alive can’t be the only thing tanks have to focus on.

So, let’s back up a moment to controlling the enemy. “Control” includes things like positioning the boss, or doing specific things at specific times, such as swapping with an off tank. It also includes making sure the boss doesn’t attack anyone else. That’s where threat generation comes into play.

If threat generation is too easy then the entire risk of the encounter drops. Newsflash: we don’t actually want encounters to be easy. We want encounters to be fun, and for most players, that includes both rewards and risks.

We want tanks to care about the buttons they hit instead of just relying on auto-attacking to control their target. We don’t necessarily want very complicated tank DPS rotations, because as I mentioned above, tanks do have other things to keep track of. But we want their combat abilities to be engaging. Good tanks should be those who control, survive, and generate sufficient threat.

On the other hand, when threat is too hard to maintain, it can be exasperating. Tanks get understandably frustrated when the game is asking them to do something but not giving them the tools to do it. The non-tanks in the group also become frustrated, because they feel throttled. It’s one thing when overcoming the boss is challenging. It feels worse when you know that another player is standing in your way, keeping you from achieving your top performance.

We don’t usually want DPS classes to have to stop attacking in order to keep from generating too much threat. We do want players to pay attention. We don’t think it’s too much to ask for DPS and healers to wait a couple of GCDs for the tank to get the enemy under control -- we’re not asking for five stacks of Sunder Armor these days. What we really mean by proper threat management is knowing things like when it’s time to go all out, when it’s appropriate to use a threat-reducing cooldown, and most importantly, which is the right target to be attacking. I’m not trying to bash pugs here, but I am amazed at how often a nuker will pick a random target instead of the one being tanked, then blame the tank for not holding aggro (and then blame the healer when they die). In short, if threat is too easy, the game is boring. If threat is too difficult, the game is frustrating.

How then do you guys (and the developers!) know when threat is a problem? Here are some handy guidelines.

-- If a tank is trying to generate threat on a single target, and it runs off to kill a DPS class, that’s a problem.

-- If a tank is trying to generate area threat on a group, and the tanked things are running off to kill healers, that’s a problem.

-- If Vengeance falling off causes the tank to lose threat, that’s a problem.

These problems can have a couple of causes. It could be a problem we caused, meaning that even an expertly-played tank has low threat generation because our numbers are undertuned. Or it could be that only an expertly-played tank can generate threat because you’re asked to manage too many abilities. Or it could be that Vengeance is the only thing allowing you to generate enough threat because the size of the buff is masking low threat generation from your abilities. It could also be a problem you need to fix on your end: if someone is nuking or cleaving a random target on a group pull instead of assisting the tank, that’s not the tank’s fault.

Now, there are things we don’t like about threat as a mechanic. It’s fairly gamey as game mechanics go and we think there are probably better ways to communicate it to players. There are some mods that do a very credible job given the limited information we provide, but overall we’d like to present threat better since we’re asking you to take it seriously in the PvE game.

-Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft and the skipper of a very nice ship where they serve cute sandwiches with the crust removed. And gin.
This article was originally published in forum thread: Threat Needs to Matter started by Boubouille View original post
Comments 67 Comments
  1. Prag's Avatar
    Looking forward to the nerfs... Erm, the buffs I mean... Wait...

    I really liked GC's last Blog post about Tanking and Vengeance. This one, though, could be the most unclear thing I've read in some time.

    Playing a Tank though, it definitely feels easier (threat) than it should be.
  1. Nodata's Avatar
    Threat has never been in a better place than right now. Not so sure why he posts about it. Maybe a lot of inexperienced players complaining about it?
  1. Dragonshardz's Avatar
    Oh God... not again. Its been too early since the 7 days free trial. No... NOOOO! I must resist! Muust... resist... aaaaaaaaa!
  1. choji7's Avatar
    What I find ridiculous is they expect threat to be an intricate part of gameplay and they give us nothing work with it. Oh, yay we have a needle and a little percentage number by the enemy portrait, that tells me so much! I know that an easy fix is to just use omen threat meters and I do, but I know hundreds of players who play this game with no addons what so ever. Dealing with paladin after paladin after countless paladin that didn't have pally power and would let like 1/4 to 1/2 of the raid go without blessings because he had no addons. I've met some really good players that don't believe in addons too(one of them was able to get to a 2300 rating with no addons. I salute him). Its a player choice and they can't just assume we all use addons and have omen as one of those addons. The in game threat indicator is really piss poor and really doesn't tell us much. I didn't mind back in vanilla wow because the standard blizzard ui was very bare and they had a lot of work to do and the treat meters back then were actually pretty good and accurate. I didn't mind back in BC because again, the standard ui was very bare and they had other stuff to do (though I really hated the times when omen and the other threat meters broke from patches and they wouldn't get fixed for weeks). I didn't mind in wotlk because threat wasn't an issue. Now in cata they have added a lot to the standard interface and they really have no excuse. They need to add a detailed threat watcher to the standard interface if they really want threat to be an incredibly important factor in PvE.
  1. Communion's Avatar
    This seems like a precursor to a threat nerf. Even when I'm self-healing with all my holy power, I'm double the threat of the nearest DPS -- and close to triple the threat of the next closest DPS when I SotR. And I'm hardly well geared (average worn iLevel of 334 or something, and I can't get a weapon to drop in a dungeon for the life of me). I'm guessing that's not intended.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see a serious nerf to Vengeance soon. I think GC is just preparing us for disappointment.
  1. toddiuszho's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackass View Post
    Wrong. Using your D&D example, healers and other squishies were positioned at the back of the party so there was a reduced chance they take damage. The concept being that the high HP classes took the brunt of the damage. The 3 roles in WoW are fine.
    Clerics had d8s for hit dice, wore the 2nd best armor category, wielded melee weapons, and could even use shields. So not only were they anything BUT squishy, but they couldn't hit anything in not on the front lines.

    Of course, warriors are supposed to take more hits. But that doesn't mean a mage should take NO hits. And that's all WoW is made of -- any non-tank can be 2-shotted, even 1-shotted by a boss. What's so bad about 50% of the boss' swings hitting the tanks and the other 50% spread out amongst the other raid members? Why is it all or nothing, all the time?

    Threat is stupid. No intelligent combatant behaves that way. We should expect more from our gaming experience.
  1. Freecandy's Avatar
    Cool story bro

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