I have to admit, while I don’t agree with the changes to threat, I’m very much looking forward to Active Mitigation. I sincerely hope that it will be an interesting and engaging model. However, I find myself concerned that there are a number of potential pitfalls that I haven’t seen addressed yet.
Gear Scaling: What does it do for Active Mitigation
First of all, I’m concerned about the way that Active Mitigation might scale with gear. Will we find ourselves phoning it in on farmnights, because we no longer have to work for our survival? If Active Mitigation involves interesting choices about using abilities, and gear scaling removes the situations that generate those choices, we’ll find ourselves with a system that scales poorly as a given tier ages.
You might make the argument that healers have always run into that problem, and it’s true – but it’s easier to let one of six healers play an offspec to keep the other healers alert than it is to get one of two tanks into an offspec, most of the time. There isn’t enough granularity in the role to simply trade out tanks for DPS (by character or by respeccing) in order to keep the challenge level high.
Which means there’s a good chance that tanks will end up challenging themselves and their healers primarily by… taking off their pants. Just like the good old days. I’m concerned that Active Mitigation is yet another reverse scaling mechanic for tanks – only in this case it won’t be that gearing up makes it harder to do our jobs, but that gearing up makes it boring and trivial to do our jobs. In some ways, that’s what gear is for, sure – but as we geared up for survival, we always had another aspect to focus on – continuing to keep threat from the ever scaling DPS. Without that element, I’m concerned that tank gameplay will become stale as tiers wear on.
RDF through 25man Heroics: Where is the tuning point?
I’m also interested in knowing more about the tuning points for Active Mitigation, and how it will work across the many different tiers of tanking – from normal 5-mans to 25man hardmodes, and everything in between. If the mechanic is going to be successful, it has to matter in 5-mans – it should probably matter even with a well geared healer, so that it’s possible to “be carried”, but not so much that you can be carried while AFK.
The system also needs to provide some level of challenge to the end-game raiders tackling hardmode content. We need a system that will not simply have all mistakes covered off by good healing and gear – and a system that becomes more challenging as the content becomes more challenging. That means decision-making, and not a static “mitigation rotation”. That sounds amazing to me, and I certainly look forward to hearing how such a system is going to scale across the levels of content.
Is there too much Tank/Healer Synergy Now?
Tanks and healers have always had a lot of interaction and synergy in their gameplay. A tank’s job has always been to “survive”, but what that really means is to “be healable”. A tank has always had to gear and play in such a way as to maximize the healer’s opportunity to keep them alive. It’s never been a one-way game. With Active Mitigation, it’s going to be even more co-operative.
The flip side is that it’s going to become a lot easier for a healer to carry a tank, or a tank to carry a healer, I think – to the point that it might almost become difficult to sort out which of the two is “good” and which is “bad”, without extremely detailed log analysis. Maybe, maybe not – but I’m concerned that there’s so much co-operation with a healer team in the job of tanking, given an Active Mitigation Model, that the role of the tank becomes extremely diluted.
We don’t have a second aspect to the role anymore – survival will be the be all and end-all during progression, and during farm, and the single dimension involved in that concerns me a lot. It’s nice to have a co-operative relationship with the healers, but I’m not sure I want to be a symbiote.
There are a lot of unanswered questions. I’ve only touched on a couple that concern me. I do have high hopes for Active Mitigation, I think it’s potentially a very interesting paradigm for tanking. But I really hope that it’s done well, because there is a corresponding danger here that the role of tank becomes a lot less fun. I really hope that Blizzard has thought this through, and considered all of the issues they’re going to have to face in getting this off the ground.