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?


  • 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 301 Comments
  1. Sephiracle's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ashblond View Post
    If you read GC's post carefully, you will see the long-term goal is to shift tanks' focus from threat management to survival management.
    I recall just prior to cataclysm a long term goal for threat was for threat to matter and to decay if you slacked on keeping threat.
  1. Broxim's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Fillerbunny View Post
    So its pretty much one aoe spam fest from now on. Thnx bliz, making my rotations peachy.
    Not AoEing dungeons had absolutely nothing to do with tank threat and everything to do with lack of Healer Throughput.
  1. destero1's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Sephiracle View Post
    I recall just prior to cataclysm a long term goal for threat was for threat to matter and to decay if you slacked on keeping threat.
    Yeah, I remember those aims too. Yet I think that the mitigation mini-game is more suited for tanks than, for example, threat mini-game. Or even better, I'd like to have 'em both! (check for example warden class from LOTRO..)
  1. Wizler's Avatar
    The more I think about this, maybe I like it after all (even though my initial reaction was extremely negative). You will still be mashing mitigation buttons without having to worry so much about keeping threat. When I rolled a tank I enjoyed it but I also found it very stressful. Now it sounds a little less taxing without being easy. It does make me want to play my warrior again and try tanking again. It's been interesting to consider other peoples comments, especially long-time tanks who approve. But I do appreciate the diversity of all opinions.
  1. keLston's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by destero1 View Post
    Yeah, I remember those aims too. Yet I think that the mitigation mini-game is more suited for tanks than, for example, threat mini-game. Or even better, I'd like to have 'em both! (check for example warden class from LOTRO..)
    If the mitigation mini-game is what is the ultimate goal, then they're doing a piss poor job at it because the only tank that was modeled that way is Death Knights and they are unquestionably the worst tank in the end game with absolutely no fix in sight.

    So basically, with nothing on the table to fix this awful mitigation mini-game, they decided to that they would make every tank modeled that way?
  1. Cudy's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Etou View Post
    Exactly. If you look at how tanks gem/reforge/enchant anyway, this is what tanks really worry about. They don't want to worry about threat, they want just enough, or for DPS to cool it. Tanks can't get enough damage reduction, and Blizz is just tuning the game to how we actually want to play.
    I gear for just enough survivability then focus on damage. I'm probably an edge case, but I think the world would be a better place if more tanks were more like me.

    I mean really, that 1% avoidance you give up for 8% hit is more than made up for by tclap and demo shout not missing, and the boss dying that much faster.
  1. Malenurse's Avatar
    Damn it would be cool if they would make patch 4.3 realy stand out from other patches.. like introduce shitload of things ppl maybe dont even expect.
  1. pvrwizard'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.
    let me make sure I understand you here.

    after the first 30 seconds of a fight there is nobody within half of your threat.

    How does this change affect you? or make the game more boring for you?

    ---------- Post added 2011-08-17 at 07:30 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by melonhead View Post
    I'm glad you can play with the big boys now too.

    Just wondering... what did you think your role was before? And why were you losing focus on it?

    ---------- Post added 2011-08-16 at 10:04 PM ----------

    And good tanks will be bored to tears and stop tanking so that ultimately there will be fewer tanks. Engaging and rewarding (you get something when you succeed) gameplay is what players want.
    I thought good tanks already didn't have a threat problem... this changes what again for the good tanks?
  1. Judgejoebrwn's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Sephiracle View Post
    That comment successfully nullified any point you may have had in your rambling post. Giving all tank specs a 3-5x threat boost does nothing for those that can manage their tools effectively and only hand holds the bad players. We all know what happened to DK's when the Icy Touch change went live and this is effectively the same thing for all of them.

    I can see this change be beneficial if they make other tank classes have active mitigation, but there's been nothing but speculation on that front since the beginning of us discussing the problems that DK tanks have.
    I was referring to the "fun and exciting content" line, not the crap about threat gen. Way to completely miss that. And my post was well-spaced and punctuated. Can't make an accurate assessment of the quality of new content if you haven't done it.

    The DK's Icy Touch thing was an issue at the time because Blizzard wanted threat to matter AT THE TIME. They made a decision to buff ONE ability, which DK's began spamming because it was the most effective way to generate threat. That is night and day different than what they're doing here.

    And if Blizzard specifically states they want to shift the focus of tanking to active mitigation from threat generation, there's nothing to really speculate except exactly what those changes will be. It WILL happen, just have to wait and see when and what changes they make.

  1. eliteranger's Avatar
    There are several different good/not-so-good points about this new change. 1st off it seems like a bit unnecessary to make a change this big when they could have just given Warriors, Dk's, and maybe druids a threat drop. "Ventriloquist Shout: The warrior throws his voice and drops some damn threat."

    On the other hand, I don't know how much of you people QQing about how tanking was already sooooooo easy has actually done the new Firelands stuff: on herioc...but it's definitely the most challenging/innovative content they have had in the last several years. The idea of generating rage on a prot warrior to increase mitigation sounds like a damn good idea to me. Not as "press 1 button or die" like a Blood Dk, but definitely something that helps separate the good players from the bad ones.

    I like the idea of cd management and actual tank rotations. Prior to this in end-game heroic content it was be the best tank on server or die horribly every fight. Balancing the need for threat AND mitigation definitely needed to happen and hopefully the changes at high-end progression won't be effected tremendously.

    Of course the idea of not spending 2 hours in a ZG or ZA is very appealing. More of a "how well can you mitigate the incoming damage" and not so much "you better hold threat on the 25 mobs or the whole group dies instantly." This makes the learning curve (which is what dungeons are partially made for ---- and of course some upgrades) less sharp. It's a min/maxing of mitigation to make it easier on healers instead of a "press all your buttons at the right time while doing 10 other things." The idea of how good at mitigation to help your healer which helps the entire group (mana management, cds, cast times on who taking a lot of damage) will make experiences much more enjoyable in my opinion.

    In reality none of us can make accurate assumptions until it has been well tested and everyone has experienced it for themselves on multiple levels (LFG, raid, pug, etc).
  1. Fur Play's Avatar
    Erm, all you people who are saying threat was fine before. Let's be honest, it wasn't. Vengeance is a stupid mechanic, especially on taunt swaps when the original tank has a shedload of threat and the new taunting tank has none cause he hasn't been bashed in the face by the boss for X amount of time.

    Arcane Mages, or any other class that can do insane burst will rip a boss/mob off a tank immediately if Vengeance hasn't stacked to a suitable level to maintain threat.

    Stop QQing that this change wasn't needed, it was. Mobs and bosses are supposed to be hitting the tank, plain and simple. If Blizzard want to implement a change to make sure this is always the case, then good, it's about time.

    Most DPS I have ever come across do not give a s**t about threat, they just have Recount/Skada the size of their screen and plough through their rotation regardless, then have the audacity to blame the tank for not holding aggro.

    This change is because of DPS bads, not tanking bads. Most DPS players think they're elite because of the numbers they pump, however if the target is attacking them, they can take 50% or all of the blame for not watching their aggro. I'm not saying there's no bad tanks, but I am saying there are a LOT of bad DPS who just don't care and will happily blame the tank/healer, then ragequit thinking they're awesome.

    Good job Blizzard, this change was certainly needed and I completely favour tanks having a survival rotation in the future rather than worrying about what the retarded Arcane Mage is attacking. Tanks should be worrying about staying alive, and in return, keeping the group alive, because generally that's a tanks job anyway, regardless of the mechanic in place with threat. Mindless DPS just makes tanking harder for tanks, hopefully now that problem will disappear.
  1. keLston's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Lebonj View Post
    Erm, all you people who are saying threat was fine before. Let's be honest, it wasn't.
    Yes, it was.

    Why are we trying to balance things around the lowest common denominator and 5 man faceroll pointless content? A 5 man is an inconvenience, it shouldn't be the measuring stick by which all things should be balanced around. Unfortunately, apparently this is what it is being balanced around and dumbed down for morons who can't figure out what the hit cap is or that hunters don't use expertise and still try to dual wield tank as a Death Knight and then complain that threat is a problem.

    Then these droolcuppers have the audacity to blame PvPers and hardcore raiders for ruining the game.

    These people will still be idiots even if you gave them a 1000% threat modifier because now they won't be able to figure out when to press their shield block button which is what makes makes Blood DK tanks so difficult and unfun. But don't worry, apparently, this is the better model.
  1. Fur Play's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by keLston View Post
    Yes, it was.
    Mate, you are talking out of your @rse.

    Of course there will still be bad tanks, I did say that, I'm just saying this will help level out a problem that MIGHT be the reason there are so few tanks in the dungeon finder.

    It's not gonna make a difference to raiders because tanks will always have top threat on the boss anyway, 5 mans are the problem and I think this is why this change is being implemented. If you're gonna have a random tool like that, there needs to be a level playing field where the tank doesn't feel disabled due to trigger happy dps who just wanna pewpewpew through an instance as fast as possible. I've said it to people before, most dps just see tanks in the LFD tool as their ticket into an instance, as soon as they're inside, the tank is irrelevant, they will just be morons.

    Some of us like to play the game, and dungeons, how they're intended to be played. If I want to run through something as fast possible, I'll play Sonic the Hedgehog.

    I play a healer main spec, but I do like to tank on the side. It's not a L2P issue, threat has sucked for a long time. Burst dps classes are a nightmare.
  1. Ragnar-Kon's Avatar
    Having tanked in WoW since vanilla... am a concerned player.First impression: "I, as a tank, WANT to be concerned about my threat. Why do they keep on insisting on making the game easier?! It is exactly what I hated about WotLK!"But, after some thought, and reading Ghostcrawler's blog again, I decided to calm down and wait to see what it turns out to be like. I may end up hating it, I may end up loving it, but I won't know until I try.
  1. Tullkas's Avatar
    They should hotfix movement trough walls cause obstacles are not casual friendly.
  1. Seldirion's Avatar
    I heard the patch 5.0 will introduce autopilot mode when you double-click a quest so you don't have to find the way yourself.
    Even better, if you have problems completing a quest and keep dying, you can automatically complete it with the press of a button.
    You only need to die three times first.
    The same thing will happen to difficult raid encounters. If you wipe more than three times, you will get help from NPCs.
    All you need to do is res, run back and buff up the raid while the NPCs down the boss.

    Why have challenging encounters when you can have casual and trivial instead?

  1. keLston's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Lebonj View Post
    Mate, you are talking out of your @rse.

    Of course there will still be bad tanks, I did say that, I'm just saying this will help level out a problem that MIGHT be the reason there are so few tanks in the dungeon finder.
    Am I? A 5000% threat modifier isn't what makes people want to suddenly get back into the RDF as a tank. You're an absolute moron if you believe a threat modifier and moving to Blood DK button mashing is what makes people suddenly go HEY I WANNA RDF AS A TANK NAO.

    If you're a tank of any ability, you're in a guild. If you're in a guild, you have an at least 8 to 1 ratio of DPS to tank. Why would you queue solo as a tank with no guarantee of what random people you would get when you could just random with anyone in your guild? Because you might have a 0.1% chance to get a mount? Who gives a shit?

    Did you really just say you want to spend as long as possible in a 5 man dungeon that you've done 1000 times before for no reason? Why? Because there is cool roleplay in them? Right. That's some unadulterated bullshit.
  1. butterknives's Avatar
    Ugh, I wrote a longer post but it lost all formatting so I'll just say this:
    A good change. Not the one I would have preferred as a tank but good nonetheless. People should stop caring how easy the game is for other people. Go kill ragnaros heroic and stop whining.
  1. Treebody's Avatar
    Has this come into affect yet?
  1. belinos's Avatar
    As someone who tanks on all four tanking classes at 85, happens to love tanking (even with the Cata growing pains), and has an average iLevel of 355 with none higher than 359, I have to say, I'm disappointed in this change. One of the funniest part of tanking was having to actually pay attention to save someone's ass if they got over-zealous or to catch the group of adds running in, or even dealing with struggling to keep aggro with that BA DK, hunter, or mage who were threat magnets in randoms. While I'm not going to outright condemn this change and call it the end of the world, I will simply say I find it disappointing. Besides the tanking aspect, I also DPS and heal (I've an 85 of every class in 344+ gear), now I have a greater chance of getting a bad tank because they don't know their class. The plus side to that is perhaps now even with a bad tank I can finish randoms on my DPS and healers without washing out because there's a fail tank. Hmm... I guess I'll wait and see and reserve judgment a few nights.

Site Navigation