Recently Blizzard announced changes to how threat is going to be handled. The moment the post went up, the internet exploded. Now that the fanfare and the sky is falling references are done with for the most part we can look at what the change really did. What it did was downplay drastically a mechanic that was not fun for most tanks, and allow tanks to focus on more exciting techniques specific to their role.
In the post by Ghostcrawler, he comes right out and says, “Threat stats aren’t fun”. He is right they weren’t fun, they weren’t interesting or compelling. With the introduction of vengeance in Cataclysm, threat in raid settings really never mattered. The real problem came from 5 man dungeons where the DPS were geared to the nines, and the tank was fresh, you would have to constantly be watching those threat numbers on addons like Omen.
However was gaining threat and maintaining it really challenging and fun? I would say it wasn’t, as a tank half the time, I felt like I had to push my DPS as a tank to keep up on threat in some scenarios. If I am a tank I shouldn’t be worried about DPS’ing as hard as I can in order to stay up on threat, I should be concerned with survivability. As a DK tank, I have more fun trying to time my death strikes to be the most effective to improve my survivability. I also really enjoy the initial moments of grabbing the mob or boss and getting them into position. After that, I am more concerned with rotating my cooldowns to increase my survivability. Talking with several friends who are tanks they are all really excited by this change so they can focus more on positioning, survivability and boss mechanics than worrying about keeping up a solid DPS rotation to keep some arbitrary mathematical number higher than a DPS. That mechanic is just not fun, calculating threat values per ability, is just not compelling and doesn’t offer a challenge, except that it distracts you from survivability, which is one of the most important things a tank should be concerned with, and no I do not think this is dumbing down the tank role as many have said on the internet. I do feel this is focusing tanks on what they should be doing and that’s controlling a boss and survivability of themselves and the raid.
For me, I look at video games as a form of entertainment, as do most people. Having to perform math real time, or use a 3rd party addon to calculate threat statistics is not a challenge, its dull, its boring, it makes me not want to tank. Threat in classic WoW mattered, it was really the most important thing a tank had to do. With the changes in Cataclysm though, boss fights are more dynamic and threat is no longer a fun tank mechanic, managing the fight as a whole is. In a video game I look at something that has a challenge to overcome, then the question is, is overcoming that challenge fun? If it is, I enjoy it, if its not I do not. Pushing my tank’s DPS higher just to stay out ahead of a DPS, irregardless of Vengeance, was not a compelling challenge, and was for me, the least fun part of tanking an encounter.
Ghostcrawler also went on to say they want tanks to have more active management during encounters. This to me is an exciting design change for tanks. Death Knights have active management to an extent with using death strike at the right times, but not many other tanks have something like this, other than just hitting cooldowns. I am all for more active tank management abilities being added, now I do hope they aren’t homogenized, meaning all tanks get a death strike ability. I would like to see each ability to have its own flavor, this would differentiate each tank but make tanking more engaging, more so for non-DK tanks but even so, it makes me want to maybe respec my ret spec on my paladin to try out paladin tanking again, that is if they add these new abilities.
Overall though, removing what I consider a boring mechanic in threat generation and maintenance through some mathematical equation that requires a 3rd party mod to truly gauge is not fun. Fun is actively controlling your own destiny as a tank. Actively hitting survivability spells and abilities to keep you alive, helping your healers out. That is where I see the real skill, where the real challenge and ultimately fun are. I know I am not alone in thinking thus, but also know many tanks out there are sad to see threat essentially go away, what do you think?