Active Mitigation – The locus of all our hopes

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.

Final Words

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.

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8 Responses to Active Mitigation – The locus of all our hopes

  1. it will be impossible to balance anything around 346 5 mans and ilevel 400+ heroic raids. The best we can hope for is something that works at appropriate gear levels for the content that gear was designed for.

    • Meloree says:

      Well, yes. But in theory it should also be effective and important across the level of difficulty of the content being delivered as well. Active Mitigation won’t be any improvement on threat if it doesn’t actually engage new tanks in their jobs – if it’s possible to be completely carried by healers, without intervention from the tank.

      • The only way to fix that is to rescale health pools and mitigation and return to the BC/WotLK model when a loose melee mob could easily one shot anything not wearing plate. Otherwise, come patch 4.3, we’re going back to the model where raid geared ret paladins were tanking five mans because healers can keep them up through the damage. You would have to make tanks who weren’t running a tight rotation squishier than mages are naturally. And then they’dhave totune the other classes down to be even more fragile than the tank.

        I don’t think that that’s something blizzard is willing to do, especially with the potential rammifications it would have on ressurecting heavy burst comps in PvP.

        Ultimately, content is going to be outgeared. It’s designed to become irrelevant once outgeared. The phenomenon that has raiders trudging through 5 mans and previous tiers of raids is a design flaw that exists completely seperately from that of active mitigation.

  2. PopeJamal says:

    Just an observation: People are already “phoning it in” on farm nights, hence the adjective “farm”.

    • Meloree says:

      I suggest you spend a couple of days on a working farm and figure out just how hard they normally work. Phoning it n isn’t related to the adjective “farm”. 😛

      However, to take your point: Tanks don’t normally have that option, and neither do healers. DPS often don’t *take* the option to phone it in, because they love epeening their parses against the last week’s parses. Good raid leaders try and keep things interesting for everyone, to keep everyone as motivated as possible. But there exists the possibility with the new system that tanks will have real and attainable performance caps. That’s a problem. In an era where healer composition is already primarily dictated by raid damage, and the tanks are almost an afterthought in a healing plan (Baleroc excepted), I’m unlikely to be able to “play better” enough to save my guild a healer. I’m, instead, going to have an ever-decreasing performance cap, to the point that I’ll be able to AFK content at some point.

      Or such is the very real risk.

  3. PopeJamal says:

    Now that I’ve read everything else:

    I really don’t see that it’s going to be much different:

    Old – Gearing for survival is the most important thing
    New – Gearing for survival is the most important thing

    Farm Status
    Old – Gear however you want (within reason obviously) because it doesn’t matter
    New – Gear however you want (within reason obviously) because it doesn’t matter

    And from a healer perspective:
    Old – “Oh crap, the tank made a mistake. Let me see if I can compensate for it on the healing side.”
    New – “Oh crap, the tank made a mistake. Let me see if I can compensate for it on the healing side.”

    Sure, the details will be different, but overall it’s the same story.

    • Meloree says:

      Potentially. There aren’t enough details to say what’s “going to” happen. All I’m saying is that the change brings with it some risks, and I’d really like to either see them talked about explicitly, or see enough detail on the new system to satisfy myself that my fears are unfounded.

      And the way you’ve summarized “farm status” indicates a huge huge problem – one that really does need to be addressed.

  4. Zinn says:

    Regarding the healer/tank synergy, I definitely see your point, on the other hand I’ve never had more fun healing than when I really feel like a teamwork with a tank is really working. A good example is Beth’tilac hc which I recently did. I was assigned to heal the upstairs tank, and I loved how we managed to time our cooldowns and communicate perfectly to make the experience much smoother. This isn’t limited to healing a tank of course, whenever I feel like good communication and teamwork results in an easier time healing I am happy. You really get the feeling that you’ve managed with your task, and doing it with a fellow guildie only makes it more fun imo.