Vengeance, With A Vengeance

The developers have been hinting that a major info dump is coming soon™, and that probably includes some more detail about how Vengeance will work in Warlords of Draenor. If you’re a long-time reader of the blog, you probably know that we’ve been pretty hard on Vengeance several times in the past. But with a new expansion, there’s new hope for an implementation that actually works well.

The Good

One of the things we do know about the new version of Vengeance is that it won’t affect our DPS output. They’re finally severing the connection between damage intake and damage output. After years of complaining about the pitfalls and frustrations of that mechanic, I’m considering this a moral victory.

More importantly, it means that for the first time in a long time I’m really enthusiastic about Vengeance. If you recall, most of the objections that Meloree and I have made about Vengeance over the years have centered around the damage output component. We’ve pointed out the backwards logic of encouraging tanks to take more damage to increase their DPS, the huge discrepancy between damage output in solo play and raids, the feeling of uselessness while off-tanking, the frustration of having little to no control over your DPS output (and thus no way to properly evaluate it), and the way it encourages cheesy tricks like one-tanking and /sit-tanking to game the mechanic. All of that is going away, hopefully for good.

This change is probably the one thing I’m looking forward to most in Warlords. Partly out of a feeling of vindication, but mostly just because of functionality. I can’t wait to put out respectable damage in solo and small group content without having to switch to Retribution.

Lessons To Be Learned

Blizzard frequently talks about how they iterate on mechanics, applying the lessons they learn from previous incarnations to improve new versions. I think that severing the DPS connection is obviously one of those cases. But I don’t think that’s all that the devs can stand to learn from the 5.x implementation of Vengeance.

To illustrate that thought, I want to show you an excerpt from one my my recent heroic Thok logs. In particular, I want to consider a period in the last phase of the encounter immediately after I taunt Thok.

Here’s the attack power graph for that section of the fight:

Attack Power plot for a portion of the 25H Thok encounter.

Attack Power plot for a portion of the 25H Thok encounter.

I start at 300k after taunting and rise to over 600k at the peak. This is pretty normal for the last few bosses of the tier, though of course earlier bosses don’t hit as hard. But remember, I have around 40k-50k attack power out of combat. That means that as much as 90% of my DPS is coming from Vengeance, rather than my gear, and thus not directly under my control.

But the part that’s really eye-opening is the healing graphs. Let’s switch to the healing view and filter the log for Eternal Flame. As a point of nomenclature, I use “Word of Glory” to refer to the base heal and “Eternal Flame” to refer to the heal-over-time (HoT) portion to keep them straight. The log, of course, uses the same name for both. But nonetheless, let’s look at the plot of healing done per second:

HPS output of Eternal Flame during a portion of the 25H Thok encounter.

HPS output of Eternal Flame during a portion of the 25H Thok encounter.

This plot, which includes overhealing, suggests that I’m producing about 150k-250k HPS just with Eternal Flame.  And those two spikes are the Word of Glory heals, which are obviously really huge. Let’s see exactly how huge:

Event view for Eternal Flame for this portion of the 25H Thok encounter.

Event view for Eternal Flame for this portion of the 25H Thok encounter.

The base Word of Glory heals are 1M (at ~400k Veng) and 1.5M (over 600k Veng) when I refresh Eternal Flame. The Eternal Flame ticks generated by those casts are ~260k and ~400k, respectively, occurring every ~1.8 seconds.

Note that I have a little over 1 million hit points. That means the base WoG heal is basically a Lay on Hands, limited only by Bastion of Glory ramp-up time. It also means that the HoT, which is providing 140k-220k HPS all by itself, is capable of healing me to full every four to six seconds at high Vengeance.

And that’s just Eternal Flame. If you filter the log for Seal of Insight you’ll see that it is also healing for 100k-140k per tick, producing another 100k-200k HPS. Combined, these two effects heal for ~250k to 420k every second. That means I’m essentially healing to full every 2-4 seconds just from these two passive sources.

You might note that I’m including overhealing here, but if you’ve read any of my survivability posts over the last year or so you should already realize that it’s a mistake to immediately discount overhealing. Because that overhealing isn’t overhealing when you’re in a dangerous situation, like during a damage spike. The fact that it overheals when you’re safe is irrelevant if it saves your ass when your ass actually needs saving.

It also has implications beyond just spikes. With enough avoidance and mitigation, I’m producing enough healing to keep myself alive without healers against this boss. This is an effect we’ve seen in Simulationcraft and discussed before. But it’s also happening in-game, on fights like Thok and Siegecrafter Blackfuse. On more than one attempt, I’ve been able to tank each of these bosses for well over a minute after everyone else had died, just with my own self-healing. Other paladins I’ve talked to have been able to do the same (one even boasts a 3-minute solo on Thok until he hit enrage).

Playing The Blame Game

Now, as far as I can tell, other classes aren’t capable of this degree of self-sufficiency. So it’s not clear that this problem is all Vengeance’s fault. But it’s definitely one of several contributing factors. And it underlies one of the lessons we can learn from 5.x Vengeance: I think it is far too generous.

See, Vengeance increases with the boss’s raw damage throughout an expansion, and even within a tier. So on early bosses you might only have 200k Vengeance, while later bosses will give you upwards of 500k. And of course, those later bosses do more damage than the earlier bosses do – which is why they give more Vengeance in the first place.

But as the expansion goes on, your mitigation and avoidance keep increasing. So while the 500k Vengeance boss gives you twice as much Vengeance as a 250k boss, your gear upgrades between the time you first encounter those bosses mean that you have more mitigation and avoidance. So you don’t actually take twice as much damage from that later boss, because you’re avoiding and mitigating more of it.

In addition, our self-healing grows rather generously with attack power thanks to Eternal Flame, Bastion of Glory, and Seal of Insight. So those later bosses are giving us (say) twice as much attack power, and thus roughly twice as much healing througput, without dishing out twice as much damage taken.

To give a more quantitative bent to that thought, consider the ratio of self-healing done to damage taken:

$$ R = \frac{{\rm SH}}{\text{DT}} \propto \frac{{\rm AP}}{(1-A)(1-M)\text{RD}} \propto \frac{k{\rm RD}}{(1-A)(1-M)\text{RD}}$$

Self-healing ${\rm SH}$ is proportional to attack power, which is proportional to some constant $k$ times the boss’s raw damage $\text{RD}$. Our damage taken is also proportional to the boss’s raw damage, but with additional factors $(1-A)$ and $(1-M)$ to account for our avoidance $A$ and average mitigation $M$ (I’m lumping armor, Shield of the Righteous, and blocking all together here).

Note that if this ratio is below one, then we take more damage than we can heal up. But if it goes above one, we’re healing for more damage than we take. In other words, a ratio of $R=1$ is the self-sufficiency limit, above which we can take care of ourselves (at least up until the boss is capable of one-shotting us).

It should be pretty clear what happens over the course of an expansion. As the expansion goes on, $A$ and $M$ increase,  $(1-A)$ and $(1-M)$ decrease, and the ratio gets larger. At the beginning of an expansion, we may be able to heal for 30% to 50% of our damage taken at best. But by the end of the expansion, when we’re pushing ~75% Shield of the Righteous uptime, ~35% avoidance, ~35% block, and 60% mitigation from armor, we’re able to push this ratio significantly above one. Which is why we can solo-tank Thok or Siegecrafter until their stacking debuff effects let them one-shot us.

Again, to illustrate that thought, let’s look at my damage taken for this same period:

Damage taken for the same period of the 25H Thok encounter.

Damage taken for the same period of the 25H Thok encounter.

If you total that up, you get about 12.6 million damage during this 54-second period, or about 233k damage taken per second. Now look at the healing table:

Self-healing from all sources for the same portion of the 25H Thok encounter.

Self-healing from all sources for the same portion of the 25H Thok encounter.

Even if we only consider Seal of Insight and the HoT portion of Eternal Flame, that’s 17.1 million healing. So from passive sources alone, our ratio is $R=1.36$. In other words, I’m passively healing for 36% more damage than we’re actually taking. And that’s ignoring the set bonus and my two Word of Glory casts, which would bring the total up to 21.1 million healing and a ratio of $R=1.67$.

The point in all of this is that our self-healing scales far too well with attack power, and thus with Vengeance.  As we get more “tanky” with more gear, we actually get more Vengeance than we need to compensate for our damage intake. As a tank, I think this is a problem because I don’t believe that tanks should ever be self-sufficient. The bulk of our healing should come from external sources to keep the tank–healer leg of the tank-healer-DPS interaction trinity alive. It’s one thing to have a lot of control over your survivability (which we do, thanks to active mitigation). It’s another thing entirely to be able to be your own healer when other classes can’t.

I don’t think the developers are ignorant of this fact, either. To compensate, the developers have reduced the conversion percent $(k)$ several times over the course of the expansion to attempt to account for this effect, but it simply hasn’t been effective enough. Or at least, not for us. I think they’ve probably kept all of the other tanks in line with these reductions, but somehow we slipped through the cracks (more on that in a bit).

There are some ways to ensure this doesn’t happen, or at least to prevent the need to change $k$ several times per expansion. The issue here is that the ratio of $k/(1-A)(1-M)$ grows as $A$ and $M$ grow. So the logical solution is to let $k$ vary the same way. The simplest way to do that is to use actual damage taken to determine Vengeance rather than raw damage. That introduces a factor of $(1-A)(1-M)$ in the numerator, which automatically corrects for variations.

Note that I argued strongly against doing this in the past, which may seem inconsistent. But the earlier versions of Vengeance gave us extra damage output for taking more damage. We’ve definitely seen antics this expansion that legitimized that concern. But if that’s no longer possible then we don’t have to worry about tanks feeling encouraged to stand in the fire to produce more DPS. As long as the damage-taken-to-Vengeance conversion is sane (i.e. even remotely balanced), we’ll get less self-healing back than the extra damage we take, so there wouldn’t be an advantage to taking more damage.

But while simple, this solution has its problems. For one thing, it would be awful for avoidance tanks, because it would make Vengeance really spiky. It would penalize you for avoiding attacks, which is bad if avoided attacks are something we should ostensibly be happy about. And while it may not matter as much once dodge and parry ratings don’t show up on gear, it’s still an odd quirk we’d like to avoid. Worse yet, it punishes you for using your active mitigation, which we definitely want to avoid.

An alternative that causes fewer issues is to keep the current Vengeance implementation, but use “estimated post-mitigation damage” rather than raw damage. And what I mean by that is that we define $k$ to be $k=(1-A)(1-M){\rm RD}$. In other words, every attack you receive gives you Vengeance whether you avoid it or not, just like it does now, but the amount of vengeance is artificially reduced based on your character sheet avoidance and mitigation.

This is tricky, insofar as it still has the negative interaction with avoidance, but it’s a weaker and more smoothed-out effect. To make it work, they would probably also have to exclude active mitigation sources from $M$, which means it would be primarily armor, spec-based mitigation, and possibly blocking. Excluding active mitigation means there would still be some creep in the ratio over the course of the expansion, but a judicious choice of $k$ would ensure that it keeps the ratio at sensible levels.

Maybe the simplest version is to just keep Vengeance as it is (minus the damage component, obviously), but slash $k$ significantly enough to keep the ratio low even in the highest-Vengeance cases. This also weakens Vengeance a lot, but that may not be a bad thing. Before Vengeance existed, there was a real sense of fear tanking a harder-hitting boss because your defenses didn’t immediately scale up to meet it. A weaker version of Vengeance would bring some of that feeling back. The downside, of course, is that WoG might lose ground compared to SotR in that system, making one or the other the better choice on a boss-to-boss basis.

But rather than dwell to long on ways to “fix” Vengeance, especially in the absence of information about how it will be calculated in WoD, I want to take this discussion in a different direction. For a moment, let’s look at the big picture. What if we’re the only class having these odd scaling issues. In fact, this isn’t much of a “what if” because I think this is actually the case. So if the problem is us, then maybe the solution isn’t to tweak Vengeance, but to tweak us. But how?

Back to Basics

From the logs we’ve analyzed above, it’s clear that a large portion of the problem is the massive effect that Vengeance has on Seal of Insight and Eternal Flame. Sure, I think it’s overpowered to be able to fire off a 1-million-point WoG every 20 seconds – Lay on Hands has a 5+ minute cooldown for a reason, after all – but the bulk of our self-sufficiency comes from these two passive healing sources. So the question becomes “Which abilities should 6.0 Vengeance affect, and how?” To answer that, first let’s consider the purpose of Vengeance for a moment . Celestalon put it fairly succinctly during the twittergeddon following Friday’s blog post:

So that things like Shield Block and Shield Barrier can stay competitive with each other.

In other words, it exists to keep point-based active mitigation (Shield Barrier, Word of Glory) competitive with percent-based mitigation (Shield Block, Shield of the Righteous).

To illustrate why that’s an important goal, imagine that Vengeance didn’t exist in Mists of Pandaria. Let’s ignore Bastion of Glory for a moment and say WoG heals for about 30% of your health at a certain gear level. If you’re raiding in a 25-man, you’d almost never cast it, because Shield of the Righteous will mitigate that much damage or more from a single swing, let alone two. But in a 10-man, where the bosses don’t hit as hard, you could almost ignore Shield of the Righteous and chain-WoG yourself.

That disparity in gameplay isn’t ideal. It would be better if your class worked the same way regardless of setting. It’s more immersive if the question you ask yourself when choosing a finisher is “do I need a heal right now” rather than “are there more than X players in my raid.” And this concern isn’t going away in Warlords – in fact, it’s getting more ubiquitous since normal and heroic modes will be flexible.

Another way to phrase the purpose of Vengeance is that it’s there to make sure that active mitigation abilities have resource parity. If Shield of the Righteous and Word of Glory both cost 3 Holy Power, then they have to perform similarly. Not identically, of course – for good, solid, interesting gameplay there should be situations where you’d choose one or the other. But we can’t have one of them be so dominant that you can take the other one off of your bars either.

Bastion of Glory accomplishes this to some degree, because it introduces an interaction between the two, and subsequently a time factor. You can chain-cast Word of Glory, but it will be weak. It gets a lot stronger (and thus more efficient per Holy Power) if you cast a few SotRs first. This interaction inherently makes that choice interesting, and limits the usefulness of strong WoGs to one every 20 seconds or so without artificially adding a cooldown to the spell. It’s a really great design, all told.

But it doesn’t solve everything, because it doesn’t let Word of Glory scale with boss damage, and to compete with Shield of the Righteous for resources, it has to.

Hope Springs Eternal

However, Seal of Insight doesn’t compete for our Holy Power. It’s automatic – we don’t even cast it. There is never a situation where we choose between another Shield of the Righteous and Seal of Insight.

Eternal Flame is a slightly different beast. In concept, it doesn’t compete for Holy Power either because we get the same Word of Glory heal with or without the talent. The added bonus of Eternal Flame is the heal over time, which could be construed as an extra bonus. This is really only true if you have the T16 4-piece bonus though, which disconnects Eternal Flame maintenance from the Holy Power opportunity cost.

In practice, Eternal Flame’s HoT is so strong that without the set bonus, we’re really choosing between spending Holy Power on Shield of the Righteous and spending it on the Eternal Flame heal over time. It turns it into a choice between a Shield of the Righteous that shaves ~300k off of each boss attack for 3 seconds and an Eternal Flame that heals us for 300k every two seconds for 30 seconds. The latter is just far more efficient, and the ability to overlap them so powerful that it isn’t even much of a choice.  In some sense, Eternal Flame becomes our version of Inquisition, with the caveat that we’d rather refresh it at high Vengeance. The gigantic Word of Glory heal becomes a bit of an afterthought, and I think that’s a bit of a problem.

And the weird self-sufficiency effects in 5.4 are all “collateral damage” from Eternal Flame and Seal of Insight due to the direct Vengeance-to-AP conversion. Eternal Flame in particular gets a huge boost from Vengeance thanks to it’s collection of multiplicative modifiers, which makes it tough to keep other talents (Sacred Shield) competitive with EF over a large range of AP values.

The Last Bastion

Bastion of Glory is part of the problem too. Eternal Flame benefits from Bastion thanks to buffs back in 5.2 when Eternal Flame was far behind Sacred Shield in survivability. And while I advocated for those buffs at the time, in retrospect it was the wrong call. It definitely made Eternal Flame stronger for Protection (though at the time, still not strong enough to be competitive), but did it in the worst possible way. The difference between a 5-BoG EF and a 0-BoG EF is huge, roughly a factor of 3 or 4 depending on mastery levels. And since that factor ends up applying to our huge Vengeance accumulations, the multiplicative nature makes Eternal Flame ludicrously powerful if we can refresh it with 5 stacks and at high Vengeance.

It also introduces a number of annoying gameplay intricacies. For example, is it worth replacing a 5-BoG EF with a 3-BoG one? Your gut would say no, but in many cases (like after a taunt) it is. If you gained a lot of Vengeance, the 3-BoG EF would be significantly stronger. Likewise, sometimes it’s not worth replacing a 3-BoG EF with a 5-BoG EF if you’ve lost Vengeance or if the 3-BoG EF was cast under Bloodlust and/or Avenging Wrath. It’s complicated enough that nobody can do that math in their head on the fly, especially given the lack of any sort of Vengeance display in the base UI. So to take advantage of those nuances, a player needs equally-complex WeakAuras to simplify the problem down to a go/no-go decision they can use to make split-second decisions.

That last bit is what really pushes me into “this is a bad mechanic” territory. It’s not transparent. The UI doesn’t provide clear information about it. It’s not easy for an advanced player to understand, let alone a beginner. It adds a type of depth and complexity to tanking, for sure, but it does so by making the timing of the EF refresh very sensitive to three or four different factors that the player doesn’t have an easy way to monitor outside of add-ons.

And in the process, it removes depth and complexity of timing the Word of Glory heal based on your health or expected damage. So I’m not sure it’s really adding that much depth overall, it’s just shifting it from being aware of the boss, your health, and combat to being aware of three arbitrary indicator dials (Vengeance, Haste, and BoG stacks).

If anything, I’d actually call that a loss. Because it actively dissuades players from using Word of Glory the way it was meant to be used – to react to damage spikes. Now, if you have to use your emergency heal, but you don’t have five Bastion stacks, you’re sacrificing even more long-term survivability to use your emergency heal. You’re actually penalized for using your emergency heal as an emergency heal!

In retrospect, I’m sorry I suggested that fix (though of course it’s not clear my suggestion had anything to do with it being implemented). Because I think it would have been more aptly solved with a simpler one: the “100% more healing when self-cast” solution, or equivalently, just increasing the size of the AP coefficient for protection. While bland, it produces all of the desired effects. It can be tuned such that the spell remains competitive with Sacred Shield, but without the huge swings in power with Bastion of Glory stacks and without subverting the design of Word of Glory.

A Limited Time Only Flame

So how do the developers “fix” all of these problems?

First of all, I think that Vengeance should only affect Word of Glory. It can be balanced such that spending HP on Word of Glory should heal for more than is mitigated from a single attack by SotR.  It should probably be tweaked such that a 5-BoG WoG heals for a little more than SotR would mitigate off of two attacks, but a 0-BoG WoG is close to the single-attack SotR value so that it’s useful no matter how many BoG stacks you have. That’s just a matter of fitting numbers, and keeps WoG an interesting choice over a large variety of content levels. And for clarity, that choice is “Do I need a heal right now to survive the next boss attack, or would I rather put up SotR to increase smoothness over the next two attacks?”

With none of our other healing abilities (Eternal Flame, Seal of Insight, and Sacred Shield) receiving a benefit from Vengeance, the balance of those abilities could be tuned much more finely. The drawback is that they wouldn’t adapt to boss damage, but if the attack power coefficients are chosen appropriately they should remain useful over several tiers of content. Since the spells won’t vary with Vengeance those AP coefficients can be made large enough to keep the skills significant without risking them being overpowered against certain bosses.

And finally, I think the Bastion of Glory interaction with Eternal Flame should be dropped. It has all sorts of unfortunate side effects, and it will be easier to balance Eternal Flame and Sacred Shield when one of them isn’t capable of fluctuating in strength so significantly. Paring both skills down to a single AP coefficient each means they can control the two effects well enough to make them truly competitive, because it will be a simple question of “do you want to absorb X every 6 seconds or heal for Y every 3 seconds,” where X and Y depend only on spellpower and can be independently tuned.

That’s really what I want to see this week, to be honest. While I’m excited to find out about the mechanics of the new version of Vengeance, the details are less important to me than these bigger issues with Eternal Flame, Sacred Shield, and Seal of Insight. I’d really like to see these passive effects toned down to be reasonable, and the only way that will happen is if they aren’t astronomically different in magnitude when they’re buffed by Vengeance, or in Eternal Flame’s case, Bastion of Glory.

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29 Responses to Vengeance, With A Vengeance

  1. Lakh says:

    Re: Now, as far as I can tell, other classes aren’t capable of this degree of self-sufficiency.

    Check out unglyphed frenzied regeneration from a bear. It’s not just us.

    On my raid’s initial h-thok kill (10s admittedly), my bear co-tank & I duo’d the last ~8%, with her nearly matching my HPS. The weakness of the bear is that, like a DK, they need to be actively casting it rather than being able to just fire it off once every ~thirty seconds.

    Due to the incoming-damage-taken approach of death strike, it’s also effectively “vengeance” based – it might not be actual vengeance, but it is getting its power from exactly the same source.

    Now I don’t disagree with your basic point that tank self-healing, at the extreme end, has got thoroughly out of hand. I just think this is actually a problem that the majority of tank classes are encountering, rather than paladins being an outlier.

    It leads to the question tho – would it be so bad if we had a world where healers just raid heal? WoW’s probably not the game for that, but it makes me wonder…

    • Lakh says:

      In fact with Dream of Cenarius, a bear tank can get free vengeance boosted raid healing (procs on crit, so 60%+ on a geared bear, and scales with ap). All while they’re spending their rage on themselves…

      My understanding is that GCD availability can get distinctly problematic at that point tho.

    • Thels says:

      Ain’t Death Strike based on actual damage taken, post mitigation, instead of pre-mitigation?

      Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Death Strike would work off Vengeance, since that’s exactly what Vengeance is for, to scale abilities like Shield Barrier and Word of Glory. Death Strike falls in that line as well.

    • Blizzhoof says:

      Yea, Paladins are not better than Bears, Monks, or Warriors when it comes to survivability. I don’t want to be nerfed because Theck thinks we heal too much. Our base damage reduction is lower, our AM has a shorter duration, and our healthpool is lower than Bears or Monks. The self-healing, as ridiculous as it looks in a vacuum is important to keep us viable.

      • Theck says:

        None of that makes a very compelling argument unless backed up by numbers. For example, “our AM has a shorter duration” is a complete garbage point – sure, it’s 3 seconds. We also can have it up 75% of the time, it’s guaranteed mitigation, and so on. And as far as I can tell, our health pool is not significantly lower than a Bear or Monk’s. Certainly not by enough of a margin that we’re justified having significantly more self-healing.

        We’re probably pretty balanced at the low-Vengeance end of the spectrum, i.e. in normal modes (and probably in 10-heroic). I’m pretty sure that we’re not properly balanced at the upper end though because of the overly generous scaling of EF.

        • blizzhoof says:

          The only “garbage point” is the one you just made about the high uptime. If you’d done any serious progression raiding you’d know that there are pretty small windows that we can die in. Having a huge uptime on ShoR is nice, but it isn’t essential. However, having a 3-second AM is pretty detrimental against Rook’s Vengeful Strikes, Korven’s Vicious Assault, Ra-den’s inconsistent Fatal Strike timings, and in a few other situations.

          If you think that a 75% uptime is such a big deal, then you care way too much about TDR. If you think TDR is so important, then maybe you should have been advocating a dodge/parry build this expansion. I know you’re not that ignorant. So stop acting like you are.

          I am actually a little amazed that you think Paladins are “not properly balanced at the upper end.” Warriors and Monks dominate right now. Druids also seem incapable of dying even when played poorly (our Druid has 75% physical damage reduction from armor, over 1.3 million health, 25% magic damage reduction, and over 65% crit in raid). Your ignorance of how strong the other tanks shows.

          • Theck says:

            I’m quite aware that there are small windows we can die in. Good paladins bank and stack SotR to cover those. Rook’s Vengeful Strikes were *never* dangerous, even week one of heroics. Many of us were using the intellect legendary cloak on that fight for add damage because surviving Rook was trivial. Do you really want to use one of the easiest bosses in the tier as an example of how weak our AM is?

            Similarly, Korven’s Vicious Assault is fairly trivial with proper strategy. You don’t need to be taking those Vicious Assault attacks while stunned in the first place….

            Ra-Den I’ll give you, though again, you can get through that fairly safely by banking to 5 so that you’re ready in case he delays.

            I’m not sure it’s logical to accuse the person who came up with the only existing tank smoothness metric of “caring way too much about TDR.” 75% uptime is not just a TDR issue – it’s also relevant to being able to cover all of those short windows you’re talking about, and/or making sure that few (if any) of them exist in the first place. I’m glad that you decided it was worth turning that TDR strawman into an ad hominem attack though…

            Yes, Paladins are clearly trash at progression raiding. Which is why Treckie switched from his paladin to… oh wait, no he didn’t. And Absalom… oh, wait, nope, he played his paladin too. Slootbag swapped to his warrior for DPS, so that’s not even a valid case of our survivability lacking.

            So, three of the top five guilds in the world used a paladin tank for progression. How does that suggest we’re weak again?

  2. Balkoth says:

    “If you gained a lot of Vengeance, the 3-BoG EF would be significantly stronger. Likewise, sometimes it’s not worth replacing a 3-BoG EF with a 5-BoG EF if you’ve lost Vengeance or if the 3-BoG EF was cast under Bloodlust and/or Avenging Wrath.”

    Are you aware that they’re changing all Hot/DoT/etc effects to always dynamically update rather than snapshot? Meaning the EF would heal for less when you’re at less vengeance and it’ll start ticking slower when Bloodlust fades. Should fix that problem, at least.

    • Theck says:

      Yes, the DoT snapshotting changes solve a lot of that weirdness. Presumably they would have to continue snapshotting Bastion though.

  3. Lintilla says:

    “The point in all of this is that our self-healing scales far too well with attack power, and thus with Vengeance.”

    Also worth mentioning is the degree to which it scales with both haste (SoI gets more procs, more WoG casts and/or more BoG stacks when we do cast WoG, more EF uptime, EF ticks themselves, SS bubbles) and mastery (more effective BoG stacks).

    The coefficient between damage taken and damage healed changes via increased avoidance/mitigation, but I suspect it changes even more based on increased healing throughput from haste/mastery.

    • Theck says:

      Yeah, I sort of glossed over that, because EF and SoI act differently there. Haste increases the proc rate of both, of course, but mastery only affects EF. Either way, those are significant factors too. One advantage of not having Bastion of Glory affect EF is that it eliminates that mastery connection.

  4. Zothor says:

    I’m surprised, because I rarely find myself significantly disagreeing with your conclusions, but it’s not your analysis I’m disagreeing with — it’s your preferences. If by “what I want to see this week” you meant “… about Vengeance,” then, sure. But what I really want to see continues to be some quality of life parity with other tanks on the AOE/trash/snap threat front, as well as on the ease of gearing front. It’s ridiculous how much more fun my Warrior tank is right now, since I can just stack dodge and parry out the wazoo, max my TDR to make life simple while undergeared, AND boost my DPS and rage gen through the roof because of all the crit I’m getting out of those same exact stats. Meanwhile Thunderclap hits like a truck, double-charge + leap means I’m basically the Predator in that I’m everywhere at once and the bringer of death, and the only thing I lack compared to my paladin seems to be a convenient emergency heal, which I rarely even need because instead of having to take the hit and heal myself back up, I can just barrier it pre-emptively.

    I am not concerned with nerfs to paladin’s self-sustainability while facetanking a boss at the moment… I’m concerned with the class being competitive enough that it’s still fun to tank with someone else, instead of lamenting the fact that ALL of your threat plates are red.

    • Theck says:

      I was talking specifically about Vengeance. Obviously there are lots of other tweaks I’d like to see made to our class in other areas too.

  5. Keres says:

    I have personally considered Paladins high self-sufficiency almost a natural part of the toolkit considering how low our damage output is, at low vengeance levels. It is a trade off, high utility + high self-sufficiency balanced against low personal damage. Granted though I do agree that excessive self-sufficiency can break the connection between healers and tanks.

    I’m curious how they will balance that with the damage adjustment to vengeance.

    Question: what level of self-sufficiency would you prefer to see from tanks in general following a normal rotation?

    100%+ is what you are arguing against (with your 167% as evidence).

    • Theck says:

      As a ballpark figure? Probably 20%-30% at most, at least through passive effects like EF and SoI. Being able to keep yourself alive with WoG in a clutch moment is fine, but if you’re producing 50%+ of your own healing through passive sources, that seems excessive.

      • Keres says:

        So then enough to survive, say, 10-15 seconds (5-7 attacks) without a healer, under non-special boss attacks?

        Obviously under a special boss attack you would expect to need some outside support. :)

        • Theck says:

          Ideally less than that under normal circumstances. Maybe 6 seconds completely on your own The thought being that if the boss can kill you in ~3-4 unavoided attacks (4.5 seconds), you could stretch that out to maybe 4-5 attacks (6-7.5 seconds). I’m ignoring WoG here, since that’s not something you could use frequently to pull that off.

  6. Çapncrunch says:

    “That’s just a matter of fitting numbers, and keeps WoG an interesting choice over a large variety of content levels. And for clarity, that choice is “Do I need a heal right now to survive the next boss attack, or would I rather put up SotR to increase smoothness over the next two attacks?””

    I actually don’t agree with this, or at least not when taking EF. Because if you talent into EF then chances are it’ll still be irrelevant whether or not you *need* to heal yourself now or not, you’ll still want to keep EF at 100% uptime because that’ll undoubtedly be how EF is balanced against SS (and if EF isn’t strong enough to warrant always choosing to refresh it over SotR then you’d probably just be better off using SS so that you can actually get full use of the talent). So really all it would change is to remove the complexity involved in deciding when it’s worth it to overwrite EF early (it’ll never be worth it if EF is essentially static).

    So the talent choice wouldn’t just be a choice between “do you want to absorb X every 6 seconds or heal for Y every 3 seconds,” it would be “do you want to absorb X every 6 seconds AND have an emergency heal, or heal for Y every 3 seconds and not really be able to use your emergency heal for emergencies.”

    A part of me almost thinks that maybe EF itself is a poorly designed talent. Its very existence undermines the usage of WoG as a tactical/emergency heal. It seems like it would be better if EF was a separate ability instead of being attached to WoG. If EF was just it’s own ability, still cost holy power, had no upfront heal, just the hot, wasn’t affected by vengeance/BoG, then we’d be able to use it as a maintenance hot without interfering with WoG usage at all. And then like you said it’s just be a matter of balancing the numbers between EF and SS to account for the holy power cost and the fundamental difference between absorbs vs heals.

    However, while this would likely be the ideal solution for prot, it would probably not be so hot for holy or ret. Neither of them have an extra resource that makes WoG stronger by saving it, to conflict with EF uptime. They can cast EF back to back and the WoG portion will be just as strong both times. BoG seems to be the core issue, but as you said the interaction it creates between WoG and SotR is just so damn great it’d be sad to loose it. But as long as EF is attached to WoG we’ll always be choosing between EF and eWoG in addition to the other talents.

    Maybe if EF was turned into a glyph that replaced the upfront heal with a hot (glyph of long word?), making it a much clearer choice between emergency heal or hot (and in this case EF may be able to continue scaling with everything that WoG does, since we’re completely sacrificing our emergency heal for it). And then put some other new talent in its place?

    • Theck says:

      Not all complexity is good. In particular, I don’t think the complexity in trying to refresh EF at maximum Vengeance is interesting or engaging, it’s disconnecting. Though as Balkoth pointed out, that all goes away once HoT snapshotting goes away as well.

      I disagree about the talent being a trade of our reactive active mitigation (reactive mitigation?) for a large HoT. While it may look that way on paper, we never have to sacrifice WoG to keep EF up 100% of the time. Refreshing it when you’re at full health just to achieve 100% uptime isn’t increasing your survivability. That nets you a few ticks of the HoT while you’re still at full health, which is useless. If you’re at full health, you can always sit on WoG for a few seconds and let EF lapse, and then fire it off once you take damage. That’s actually a larger survivability increase than refreshing early just to achieve 100% uptime, because it nullifies damage more effectively.

      If it’s ever supposed to be a trade of the heal for a HoT, then it needs to work like the old Glyph of the Long Word does and literally remove the instant heal portion.

      EF being unaffected by BoG and all of these other factors would give you a lot more flexibility in that regard. It would mean that if we decide we need to WoG early to stay alive, we aren’t overwriting a strong HoT with a weak one.

      • Çapncrunch says:

        True, but there’s a big difference between letting EF lapse for a few seconds when we don’t need it, and only using it in emergencies. Every time we cast EF that isn’t an emergency we are weakening it for the next 20~30 seconds. So yes, we would still be sacrificing our emergency heal, maybe not the entire thing, but a good portion of it. While SS on the other hand can maintain 100% uptime without weakening WoG at all.

        I’m not arguing one bit about keeping the complexity due to snapshotting that requires a redlight/greenlight signal to know when to do it. I’d be more than happy to see that go. I was just saying that we still wouldn’t be able to fully treat WoG as an emergency heal when we have EF talented, because we’ll still be wasting BoG stacks to refresh a hot that doesn’t even benefit from them (again, not disagreeing with decoupling EF from BoG, just pointing out the conflict).

        EF and WoG just serve fundamentally different purposes for prot, so their being tied together is rather counter-intuitive for us. Sure it’s a choice between whether we want that hot up early, or if we want to save our stacks for a big hit, but I’m not sure that’s a good choice, especially since it’s a choice that isn’t shared with SS. That’s why I brought up the Long Word glyph, it would separate the choice between them from the talent choice (the downside being that they’d need a new talent to replace it, not to mention for them to figure out what to do with SH)

  7. Trystero says:

    Paladins are balanced around strong self-heals, passive or not. Latter-half 25H bosses hit me unmitigated for over 600k damage. Why would anyone even bother tanking on a paladin if EF ticked for something paltry like 80k or SS absorbed 70k against these bosses? Other tanks take less damage passively, have more health, and possess more reliable AM systems (notably Shield Block and Stagger). Considerably nerf our self-healing, and you destroy the spec. What’s the compensation?

    From a design standpoint, paladins are healers. Sometimes you wind up with absurd cases like solo’ing Siegecrafter 25H for a minute, but that’s an outlier case, just like a Brewmaster solo’ing 10H Stone Guard was back in ToT – or when a DK solo’ed Sha of Fear. The strength of a class leads it to doing things that may not have been “intended” or which seem “broken”: monks solo’ing Blood Rage (anyone can do it, but they do it effortlessly), paladins being able to kill the SC add in the middle of nowhere, Druids not needing to taunt swap on Council/Frost King thanks to SD, monks kiting anything, warriors using Shield Barrier to take 20+ stacks on Shamans…these are all outliers.

    • Theck says:

      That seems needlessly hyperbolic on several levels.

      1) 600k seems perfectly reasonable unmitigated when you can have 75% uptime on SotR for 50%+ mitigation. Most hits you take will be around 300k, and if you can’t stagger SotR to make sure you don’t take back-to-back 600k hits then you’re doing something wrong.

      2) It doesn’t take very long to check a handful of logs and see that those same bosses hit other tanks for 600k as well. In fact, I just did this; it took five minutes. Every single tank spec gets hit for around 600k on that boss pre-mitigation. The variation between classes is not so significant to warrant us having that degree of self-healing.

      3) Regarding “more reliable AM systems,” I’m not sure I agree. A Warrior has a max of 66% Shield Block uptime (for 30% mitigation only), and can fit some Shield Barriers in-between if they have enough rage. A DK hardly has more reliable anything. Stagger is pretty reliable, I guess. Druids have a DODGE active mitigation for christ’s sake. How are any of those significantly less reliable than 75% uptime on a 50%+ mitigation buff that you can control?

      4) I don’t see how nerfing our passive self-healing would destroy the spec. You’re making the assumption that we are somehow reliant on that self-healing to survive, which is patently (and provably) false. We need it to survive if we don’t have external healers. But in the log I provided (as with many others), the vast majority of that healing ended up being overheal because I *do* have actual healers that are doing their job.

      In fact, I would argue that you could slash Seal of Insight and Eternal Flame by 75% TODAY, and apart from your healers having to be a little more on the ball you probably wouldn’t notice the difference. And the only reason they’d have to be on the ball is that you’d no longer have near-immunity levels of self-healing covering for their really big mistakes.

      5) I don’t think it’s fair to label this as an “outlier.” This isn’t just a case of odd class mechanics allowing us to cheese a single fight. It’s a consistent overproduction of self-healing caused by several multiplicative factors, and it’s making us very hard to kill on pretty much the entire second half of the tier. Several of your examples are cases of soloing past content (Stone Guard / Sha of Fear), which aren’t really relevant here; others are odd quirks that allow one class to have a minor advantage on a single fight (and even then, they still needed healers!).

      In other words, none of them are comparable to being able to self-sustain yourself for minutes on end against several current-tier raid bosses.

      6) It should be clear from the blog post that I’m talking about changes to Veneance/EF/SoI in 6.0. In other words, at a time when other changes can be made (if necessary) to compensate. It seems silly to assume that it gut the class to reduce self-healing when every class is getting a numbers rebalance anyway.

      I won’t refute that we’re balanced around strong self-healing. But that doesn’t prove your point at all. Magnitude matters. Would it be balanced if every Eternal Flame and Seal of Insight tick healed for 2 million? That’s “strong self-healing,” but it would be pretty clearly broken as hell. Likewise, it would be pretty broken in the other direction if they healed for only one hit point.

      Presumably there’s a range of values somewhere in the middle where things are “balanced.” What makes you so sure that healing for over 1/3 of your health with every Eternal Flame tick is it?

      • Trystero says:

        I agree: I overstated the case, and accept your beatdown. My reasoning was this: we’re balanced around self-heals and are at the moment middle of the pack tanks. Nerfing our self-heals therefore would widen the gulf between us and the superior classes (monks/warriors), and possibly make us worse than DKs/guardians. But it doesn’t appear to be the case that our self heals really do a whole hell of a lot to keep us alive. I also was surprised to see my warrior co-tank taking 700k+ unmitigated melee swings on 25H Thok, and a Guardian taking almost one million (I know they’re built around high stamina, but still). So for quite a while I’ve believed in a pretty egregious fallacy regarding damage intake.

        On the other hand, I do find it hard to believe that the effects of EF/SoI are so negligible that you feel we could slash them by 75% and barely notice. That’s a tremendous drop off. But I was wrong about what I wrote about in the preceding paragraph, so it’s very possible that I’d be wrong about this, too, since such a large portion of our heals are overheals.

        With all of that said, I still do think that we’re dealing with outlier scenarios. 99% of this game has nothing to do with Thok 25H and SC 25H – and being able to solo them for about a minute itself requires its own special set of events. If I were a game designer, and were to be persuaded that my system was fundamentally flawed, I’d need to see that it didn’t work MOST of the time, or at least a significant part of the time that it affected more than a handful of extreme situations. Yes, it’s weird that vengeance scaling allows paladins to heal themselves through raid-boss damage, but it’s so rare that it’s not even worth worrying about. One week I tanked 25H Nazgrim 10 seconds through Enrage, and that was weird. I’d not expect any changes to result from it, though.

        So, no, I wouldn’t say we’re very hard to kill in the second half of the tier due to these vengeance-driven heals. I’d say that we’re worse tanks than monks and warriors for most if not all of these bosses. 25H Thok hits hard, especially in conjunction with his screeches / breath weapons, so playing poorly against him means you’re dead. I’ve not tanked Siegecrafter 25H yet but I doubt he’s so easy that you just hit a 5 BoG EF and win. If I’m remembering correctly, it was that boss which prompted Slootbag to swap to his warrior (though that may have had to do with doing something else). Paragons from what I’ve heard from those who’ve tanked it is not paladin friendly. Garrosh I really know nothing about so I won’t comment.

        I mean maybe this is all semantic, with a differing idea of what qualifies as “very hard to kill.” I interpret it as requiring little or minimal effort from the player to survive. In my experiences with 25H, and we’re talking LATE in a tier, that does not feel like the case at all. I honestly don’t believe I died to Thok tanking in progression (although due to comp / roster reasons I wound up going Ret) but I did have to pay attention, stay focused, and play well. I couldn’t just ramp up BoG, taunt the boss, hit EF, and mindlessly spam SotR.

        Side-note: 75% SotR is not a realistic number to quote. I’ve only been able to attain an inflated number like that this tier when actively pursuing high SotR uptimes (sometimes reaching 80%+) on farm bosses with lots of adds (Sha, Galakras). In a real progression setting, this is infeasible, because the harder-hitting heroic bosses do not have any adds to boost GC procs, and because gaming of the 4P for additional procs is not recommended. From your own logs, most of your uptimes are under 70% (I say most, though I didn’t discover any over 70%), with some under 60%. Perhaps you meant uptime when “actively tanking” in which case I might agree anecdotally but even still 75% seems a little high. You are right though that paladin tanks should not take consecutive unmitigated melee swings; doing so is a staple of advanced tanking.

        • Theck says:

          The reason I say you could slash them by 75% is because in many of my logs about 75% of them are overhealing. In this scenario, with high damage intake, about 50% was overheal registered on my part, but note that this isn’t including all of the healing from the tank healers that becomes overheal when an EF tick snipes theirs.

          I don’t really agree with you about warriors and monks. I think we’re all perfectly capable of tanking the last few bosses. The problem, in my mind, is that our self-healing covers for healer’s (and our own) mistakes to a much larger degree than the other classes. If a warrior’s main healer stands in the fire and dies or has to move for an extended period of time, the warrior dies (one of my warrior friends that I’ve discussed this with has pointed out how irritating it was to be on the other side of this, knowing that he’d have survived if he was a paladin).

          As an aside, Slootbag didn’t switch to his warrior for survivability. He switched for DPS. Paladins are fine (arguably too strong) in the survivability department on those last bosses, but we’re apparently significantly behind in DPS this tier thanks to Riposte. And his raid group also didn’t have another warrior, so adding Skull Banner was a significant raid DPS increase (this is probably the bigger factor). It had little to nothing to do with survivability.

          I don’t think that it’s fair to call these cases outliers. Any boss that hits hard enough gives us these self-sustaining levels of healing. It’s not a quirk of the encounter mechanics on either of these bosses, it’s just that they hit hard, which is naturally going to happen as bosses get tougher. The fact that the last three bosses are what I’ve focused on doesn’t mean that the bosses before Thok aren’t also inflating our self-healing, they just give less obscene amounts.

          More to the point, the problem I’m outlining here isn’t that we need a nerf right now (though we could take one and still be perfectly fine). I’m pointing out that our passive self-healing scales far too well with attack power, particularly Eternal Flame. And it’s something I’d like to see rectified for next expansion, because I think self-sufficiency can cause a lot of problems (ex: guilds could be tempted to use a paladin tank so they can drop a healer for more DPS).

          And note that this situation is an unintended consequence of the way they buffed Eternal Flame. They buffed the spell significantly in 5.4 so it could compete with Sacred Shield, but in the process, they over-buffed it. Which ordinarily wouldn’t be a huge problem, but the Bastion of Glory modifier magnifies the effect. Again, that would normally be fine if we couldn’t generate 5 stacks of BoG quickly enough to keep 100% uptime – we’d have to choose between having 100% uptime or having lower uptime of a stronger EF.

          But the 4T16 set bonus makes it trivial to keep a 5-BoG EF rolling, so instead of having an average of a 2-3 BoG EF up at all times, we have a 5-BoG EF on us at all times. I think even a 3-BoG EF would probably be excessively good; 5 is really *too* good.

          One way to think of it is that the SP coefficient of Eternal Flame is too high given the additional bonuses of BoG and the 50% increase when self-cast. Remove the BoG interaction and buff the base spell a little and it’d be at a tolerable level – still very potent, and competitive with Sacred Shield, but not capable of self-sustenance.

          Note also that Sacred Shield, while strong, doesn’t make you self-sufficient. I think that’s the baseline that was balanced around, and EF just ended up being far more powerful than they expected given the set bonus.

          Finally: 75% SotR uptime is perfectly reasonable on pretty much any boss this tier. If you note, the log I linked has 77% uptime for this period of the fight (link below). Obviously the average for the entire Thok encounter will be lower because you spend a lot of time watching him chase people, but that doesn’t really count. The uptime that matters is the period when you’re tanking, and it should be very easy to maintain 70%+ uptime if you’re using Divine Purpose, EF, and the 4-piece bonus.

          If the boss turns and casts at other people a lot (Siegecrafter), then that might dip to 50%-60%, but you can also intelligently shift SotR uptime (i.e. don’t cast it while he’s not actively attacking you) to fill the periods where he *is* attacking you, giving you very high effective uptime.

          http://www.warcraftlogs.com/reports/BYd2VgqZH1xDaWrQ/#type=auras&source=8&fight=43&start=11983385&end=12036646

    • Theck says:

      Further counterpoint: look at Warcraft Logs’ rankings of Thok 25H tank HPS:
      http://www.warcraftlogs.com/rankings/5#metric=tankhps&boss=1599

      Note how many paladins and DKs show up in the top 100 compared to druids, warriors, or monks. Now consider that a DK’s self-healing *is* their active mitigation, so if they’re using it right they generate an obscene amount of HPS because they REALLY DO take that 600k damage and heal it back up.

      We take around 300k most (75%) of the time, yet we’re producing similar amounts of HPS. And note that this ranking is effective HPS, not including overheal. And nearly 75% of my own self-healing was overheal, while the number for a DK will be much, much lower; somewhere between ~45% or less for Death Strike and nearly 0% for Blood Shield.

      If you were able to show that list with overhealing included, I guarantee that ALL of the top 100 would be paladins.

  8. In MOP all tank self-healing is way too strong. No Tank–healer interaction this expansion. Self-healing + Smart heals do it.

    Tanks can get additional threat by standing on fire to allow their self-overhealing heal. Same as they did before to get additional vengeance.

    Paladin tank is not good compared with other tanks on 3+ adds treat, unless he stands on a fire!.

  9. Jackinthegreen says:

    Do you have any comments on how SotR also seems to snapshot and roll high mastery values? I’m guessing you’d like to do away with that as well since it’s needlessly complicated?

    • Theck says:

      There aren’t that many dynamic mastery effects to worry about, so I don’t really think it’s that complicated. At worst, we macro our mastery trinkets to Holy Avenger to get the most mileage out of that 30 seconds of uptime.

      But as far as I’m aware they’re changing the way snapshotting works for all buffs in WoD, so it’ll be going away regardless.

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