Bad, bad tank!

When Mythic announced they are changing guard to require a shield in 1.4, most of the tanks understandably went apeshit. The change has later been pulled, but thinking about it still upsets many players. Having two tanks myself and quite a bit of experience with them, I’ve been giving this problem some thought. It may be a bit late, but with Mythic announcing that they intend to have a look at this at a later date, I feel it’s still very relevant.

The Problem: In situations where excessive survivability isn’t needed a S&B (Sword and Board, Shield and Blade) tank has nothing to offer their group that a two-handed dps tank couldn’t. This usually occurs in small-scale combat (scenarios, roaming with a small group) which seems to be the direction the game is heading. A change to the viability of a S&B tank in those situations is warranted.

Mythic’s Solution: Punish two-handed tanks that have adapted to the small-scale playstyle by equipping a greatweapon and gearing for damage by taking away the most important tool they can offer their group, guard. While this will force the tanks to equip a shield even for small-scale it isn’t the most sensible of solutions. What happened to the unofficial motto of Mythic’s C&C team: buff the underpowered instead of nerfing the overpowered? Key word here is punishment, when it should be incentive.

Alternate Solution 1: Incentivise S&B tanks by giving them something two-handed tanks don’t have. First, take a look at the CC tanks have and make sure it’s evenly distributed. Then give them a tactic that increases the duration/effect of their CC when wearing a shield by 50%, possibly replacing one of the less used tactics in the tanking mastery tree. This would mean that a stagger from a S&B tank would last 15 seconds, a knockback would send the target flying 50% further, a snare/root would last 15 sec, a knockdown would last 50% longer… This would make a tank equipping this tactic a CC powerhouse, while not punishing two-handed tanks for going for damage.

Alternate Solution 2: The tactic would make all tank CC (after the balancing of tank crowd control across the board) incur 50% shorter immunity timers if used when wearing a shield. This would mean that if the tank uses a knockdown on a target that lasts 3 seconds, the target would only get 15 sec of Unstoppable immunity, instead of the usual 30 sec.

Alternate Solution 3: Tie the strongest CC in the game, AoE staggers, to the shield and give them to all tanks. There is no reason for a CC that strong to be exclusive to one career, especially if that career already has several other things going for them. While this may be seen as a nerf to KotBS/Chosen, it’s an overall buff of tanks, as I’m sure the aforementioned careers would rather lose the ability to stagger with a greatweapon than to lose the ability to guard with a greatweapon.

Plenty of other possible and sensible solutions have been posted by players and bloggers. It shouldn’t be hard to pick a suitable one and fix the problem without pissing off most of the tank playerbase. The key thing that will help any attempt to balance two-handed and S&B tanks is balancing all CC and taking a long hard look at the power of each tank career when playing two-handed and S&B. Supposedly Mythic will be doing this in the near future.

Ignored Problem: In situations where excessive survivability is the prefered playstyle for tanks two-handed tanks are useless. And while the sentiment of “tanks should be tanks” usually holds true, the way tanks (especially certain ones) are designed in WAR makes it obvious that they need to be viable, in order to justify damage trees and their ability to wear greatweapons. Currently there is nothing to justify dropping survivability for a tank in large-scale battles (with the possible exception of Arcing Swing for the KotBS, which is more a case of stupid design decisions and realm balance).

Pigeon-holing into certain specs is quite a big problem in WAR. Making different tank playstyles viable in most situations would be a big step forward. But again, the key word is incentivising, not punishing.

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9 thoughts on “Bad, bad tank!

  1. Those would be good alternatives, but personally I would support incentivising in a different way:

    Greatly improve Guard when S&B. Examples could include increasing guard range to 60 ft (30 ft is ridiculously small), tactics allowing the tank to transfer more of the damage to themselves, or even allowing the tank to apply some their defenses BEFORE the attack hits the target.

    • I was thinking along those lines too, the tank could soak up some of the CC, or share it with the target (for example both get staggered, half the stagger duration goes to the tank so he’s stagger duration is 150% and the guardee is only staggered for 50%). But that would potentially be too powerful and/or hard to code.

  2. I think part of the problem is that guard in general is a very powerful ability (not over-powered, just powerful). It is also an archetype defining ability, as so many tanks have pointed out, so removing it from a 2h tank is seen in a very harsh light. However because of the way tanks have been designed to allow speccing for damage, the combination of the guard and dmg output of a dps tank is arguable overpowered. While I like the ideas above, they don’t address that fact.

    I disagree with removing guard entirely from 2h tanks, but I would agree with reducing the guards effectiveness with a 2h (a la 25% dmg abs). Or, you could argue that guarding someone takes a certain level of ‘concentration’, and the tank’s damage output is reduced by X% when guarding another person. I would also support a buff to the guard capabilities of s/b tanks such as an ability that allowed them to take 100% of the damage of their guarded friend for a period of time, but not allow them to attack (or something like that). All of the CC ideas above fall in to this category for me.

    I like giving incentive to s/b tanks, but I think it will be ignoring the problem unless some penalty is given to 2h tanks, and that penalty should be to guard and not their effectiveness in general.

    • I just can’t understand the argument of “2h tanks do uber damage and can guard and are therefore overpowered”, because:
      a) The damage of an equally geared and played dps and dps tank will never be the same. DPS tanks are never able to output the burst and sustained damage of a dps career and don’t have much survivability over them in a dps setup (there is no way to go all out damage and retain survivability as a tank, you basically become a mdps).
      b) The argument can be turned around. You see, a 2h tank is useless in a wb vs wb largescale fight since they will melt faster than a mdps (mdps will be guarded, a dps tank won’t be). In that situation a survivability/hp regen tank will be overpowered, since they are freaking impossible to kill, can seriously mess up your backlines (staggers, roots, AoE snares, debuffs, AoE knockdowns/knockbacks), buff their allies AND guard the BW annihilating your frontline.

      To me it just looks as if the players coming out with that argument have been killed by dps tanks in assist trains and fail to see that an equally geared dps would annihilate them even faster.

      That’s why the outline of the problem wasn’t “dps tanks are overpowered and need to be nerfed” but rather “S&B tanks aren’t viable in small scale” and from there arises the second problem of “2h tanks aren’t viable in large-scale”. Simply because I believe the first argument just isn’t valid.

      If you have a problem with a support career doing good damage then I suggest we have a look at dps healers that can do respectable damage (as much as a dps tank or more) AND heal/rez/support, which is in my opinion as cruical to gameplay as guard is. In my opinion if you support the first argument of 2h tanks are overpowered you consequentially support the dps healers are overpowere argument and are a member of the “dps can dps, healers heal and tanks tank” group. If not it all crumbles down because of contradiction.

      Sorry if I come across a bit hostile but illogical arguments and band-wagon nerf calls. :)

      PS: Almost forgot; the effectiveness of a 2h tank IS being able to guard while doing support damage. Take away guard and there’s no reason for such a specialisation for a tank to exist bar grinding (maybe not even that, S&B tanks can AoE grind), since they can be replaced with a dps class.

      • Actually that’s a good point, and I’d like to clarify. It isn’t necessarily that a dps tank with guard are themselves over powered (because all your comments about a mdps vs dps tank are valid), and my random idea about nerfing damage while guarding is just that, totally random and I attribute it to a late night and alcohol. I think what I was trying to get at is that the guard ability in and of itself is powerful, and I think the biggest problem is that it removes the penalty for the person being guarded. Combine that with the dps from a damage spec tank, and the combo of the two is what is ‘overpowered’, not the dps tank in and of itself. That’s why I like the idea of a different damage split (i.e. 75/25) for a 2h guard. That’s also why I support a buff for s/b tanks tied in some way with CC or improved mitigation. My problem is the glass cannon that gets all of their trade-offs completely nullified when guarded by another ‘dps’ specced player.

  3. I have almost always went with a S&B. I know it hinders me in some respects but I, aesthetically, feel it is more appropriate and that is a large part of the Warhammer universe to me. It would be nice to benefit from my shield a bit more.

    I also am fond of “Hold The Line!” even though I seem to be the only one.

    I do not blame people for going straight out damage though, what with the mass amount of recognition the game gives to meat shields. /sarcasm

    • A lot of people don’t use it, but some of the tanks I run with DO use it, and let me tell you… it’s ridiculous when doing a fighting withdrawal for better terrain positioning. That BY ITSELF can greatly lessen the burden on the healers.

      Or, for instance, hit Hold the Line when leading the melee train into their back lines, or after that BW in the back? yeah.

      It’s a ridiculous ability, and more people should use it.

  4. The easiest solution I can think of is buffing guard for S&B tanks. I would like to see a simple damage split change. Tanks using a shield would take 10% less of the damage being shared with their guarded partner and the partner takes an additional 10% less.

    So, the tank takes only 40% of their guarded target’s damage. The guarded individual takes 40% incoming damage.

    If that causes certain imbalances I’m sure a more reasonable % could be calculated.

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