My name is Theck, and I’m an Engineer.
I feel like that admission belongs in a support group for underprivileged tanks. Because admitting that you’re a tank with Engineering is tantamount to admitting that you’re willfully giving up effectiveness. By forgoing a more “useful” profession like Blacksmithing or Jewelcrafting, I’m giving up 120 Stamina (or 80 mastery) compared to other tanks.
This is irritating on several levels. First and foremost, the game has been moving away from the design where one or two professions are “correct” for each role, and the rest are significantly sub-optimal. Since Wrath, most professions give at least the standard tanking stamina bonus (120 STA in Cataclysm). Mining, Inscription, and Enchanting provide only the stamina option, while Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, and Alchemy all give the player a choice between several stat boosting options (including stamina). While a leatherworker’s draconic embossment is equivalent to a 120-stamina advantage in itemization points, the lack of a competing Cata-era stamina option gives them a whopping 155-stamina bonus, because other professions are stuck with the 40-stamina or 50 dodge rating. Herbalism, Skinning, Tailoring, and Engineering are all left out in the cold though.
Worse yet, the balance changes every patch. Leatherworking vaulted to the forefront of the Stamina race in early Cataclysm, perplexing tanks everywhere. While it makes some sense for a feral druid tank to be a leatherworker, it’s far less common for a plate tanking class to do so. With epic gems being released in 4.3, but other professions not getting compensating increases in their stat boosts, Blacksmithing has jumped up to a 150-stamina benefit, making Leatherworking/Blacksmithing the most favorable tanking professions in a tier of content where the majority of dangerous damage is unavoidable.
Frankly, this strikes me as absurd. This sort of paradigm has no place in a game as mature as WoW, where leveling a new profession becomes more and more expensive with each expansion. Professions are a long-term choice for most players, and part of their character’s identity. If min/maxing constraints encourage them to swap professions every other patch, the choice of profession becomes a lot less meaningful. Instead of choosing a profession based on what feels right for that character, it becomes a simple analytical problem – “which profession gives me the most X?”
I think it’s fair to say that there’s a fundamental disconnect between the way players choose professions and the way professions are currently designed. Most players, when they roll their first character, do not pick professions based on stat bonuses. They might choose for thematic reasons, like Mining and Blacksmithing on a plate user, or Skinning and Leatherworking on a leather wearer. Or they may choose based on a character concept, like a tauren paladin that chooses herbalism because of an affinity for nature. But the important point here is that the choice is generally a personal, thematic choice, rather than one based on what the profession gives at max level. It’s only us old-timers who are jaded enough to roll a character and think, “what should this character have to maximize its potential for raids.”
With that in mind, I think that professions should be primarily thematic choices. There’s really no thematic argument that justifies Engineering (or Herbalists and Skinners, for that matter) being at a stamina disadvantage. At least with Tailoring, the lack of a bonus makes some thematic sense, as there are no cloth-wearing tanking specs. But any tank can make use of the herbs and leathers from the gathering professions, and anybody can take advantage of the “fun” perks of engineering. Thus, the stat bonuses they provide should be more or less equivalent for all roles. It’s fine for one or two to provide more versatility than the others – for example, the choice between 120 stamina and 80 mastery – but none should be as plainly inferior as Engineering is for tanking.
Perhaps most annoying is that this exact inequity was recognized and corrected for DPS specs. In the beginning of Cataclysm, the Synapse Springs tinker only granted Intellect, leaving Strength- and Agility-using engineers without a stat bonus. As you can imagine, this led to a significant amount of complaining by die-hard Engineering fans. In patch 4.0.6, the tinker was updated to boost the highest of the three primary stats, and the duration reduced to give a time-averaged bonus of 80 stats, on-par with almost every other profession (again, with the exception of Herbalism and Skinning). For the moment, we’ll ignore the fact that on-demand DPS stats are generally stronger than passive stats, making the Engineering tinker strictly superior in most encounters.
However, the point remains that this inequity was recognized. Blizzard understands that it’s not reasonable for one profession to trail others so significantly when it’s a matter of DPS. So why is it fair for tanks? How difficult would it be to add a 120-stamina tinker (or, for that matter, similar benefits for Herbalists and Skinners)?
Now, at this point you may be asking yourself why I’ve been ignoring the other tinkers Engineering gets. Certainly they must serve as compensation for the lack of stats, right? Well, no. The belt tinkers (Nitro Boosts and Grounded Plasma Shield) both have a chance to fail in spectacular ways, most of which nearly guarantee your demise and a wasted attempt. That sort of gambling isn’t acceptable in raiding, where every attempt matters. That goes doubly for tanks, because we strive for stability and regularity above all else. The tank that wastes an attempt because they became susceptible to critical strikes is the tank that gets benched for a Jewelcrafter or Blacksmith.
And the Quickflip Deflection Plates are, in a word, pathetic. It’s ~2% extra mitigation while it’s active, but only against melee attacks. My healers aren’t going to act any differently during that period because they won’t be able to tell that it’s active. In fact, that 2% really is noise to them, because boss swings fluctuate by at least that much. A measly 2% isn’t likely to save me on a burst all by itself, so it might as well not even be there. It just turns a few extra points of healing into overheal. I don’t think I’ve died very often in cases where that cooldown would have saved me (<1k overkill?). And worse yet, it shares a 15-second cooldown with Mirror of Broken Images and other survival cooldowns, making it unsafe to use or unusable during many of the dangerous situations where you’d actually want it.
So despite all of the things I’ve said about how to “properly” use Holy Shield and how macroing it to CS is the sign of a bad tank, guess what I do with the engineering tinker?
Macro it to Divine Protection.
In fact, I recently noticed that I had forgotten to apply the tinker to my T13 gloves. So I went through the majority of normal and heroic Dragon Soul progression without even having the tinker. And nobody noticed, least of all me. The fact that it has so little impact that it’s utterly forgettable as a profession perk should be enough to convince anyone that it’s completely worthless.
Now, if Blizzard were to buff the tinker to make it competitive, we might have a different story. If it gave ~4k armor on use, which would be comparable to what the other professions get in Stamina once you time-average the armor EH, then it might be worth keeping bound separately. It’d basically be giving engineers a second armor potion. That’s the dangerous part about short-term cooldown-like effects: too weak and they get ignored, like it does now; too strong and suddenly every tank has to pick up Engineering. I’d really rather see a static ~1k armor tinker (similar to what we had in Wrath, in fact) to bring Engi more in-line with other professions in terms of EH without making it too powerful.
But in the end, Stamina always ends up being king for tanks. So why not just give us a 120 Stamina tinker and call it a day? Or, better yet, keep the tinkers as fun but ultimately failure-prone gimmicks for soloing, but make use of the Cogwheel idea – Cogwheels could be Engineering-specific gems which go in any slot but are limited to 2-3 equipped at any time. There’s a lot of potential for Engineering to be interesting and relevant past T11, it’s just not being realized by the profession design team.
So as a die-hard engineer, I have to ask: Why must engineers be relegated to being second-class tanks?