Cataclysm tanking and healing will be more strategic

Two comments from Ghostcrawler recently are clearly pointing at a design change which means we’ll have a more strategic playstyle for Cataclysm tanks and healers.

In Cataclysm:

  • relative to the damage input from bosses, tanks will have more stamina,
  • total avoidance will be lower by some degree, perhaps 30% rather than 50%.

The significance of this is exciting! It means healers will have time to choose slower heals. Your tank won’t die if you go for greater heal because you will have the time. Whether boss fights also become longer in duration is unclear, but that would be a nice change for the better; to feel more epic and to be consistent with a strategic gameplay.

In contrast, current content is more fast-twitch with healers opting for speam-heal strategies and spells, with assignments for overhealing so your tank doesn’t die from simply 3 unhealed hits in a row.

With lower avoidance, damage will not be so spiky either (because you’ll simply get hit a whole lot more often, rather than it being binary), which would be consistent with these less-twitchy boss fights I’m predicting.

Cataclysm likely then will have a tank surviving unhealed 5 or 6 hits, giving time for greater variety of healer choice.

What kinds of different boss mechanics might we see if the tank can go unhealed for longer? If the tank is running around with 70K health, will we see more elements of splitting the raid up (and having less healers on you for a time)? I wonder.

In any case, tanking and healing will be changing dramatically in Cataclysm, and for sure the two factors I mentioned are central design changes which will effect boss fights in intriguing ways.

Full quotes from GC are below.

I have bolded the key phrases below. Looks a bit ugly, I might reformat later.

Blizzard PosterGhostcrawler on Why not abandon high tank damage? (Source)

If we just chilled out tank damage,
then healing would be a lot easier. While I know it’s popular in
this forum to claim that we only want to make life hard for the
healers, I think in reality many of you would get bored or risk
losing your spot when the raid didn’t need as many healers.

A better answer, in our opinion, is to increase tank health and
have bosses hit hard but not as often. The end result would
hopefully be that it took several big heals to bring a tank back up
rather than a single Holy Light crit. Currently overhealing isn’t
particularly scary because mana is cheap and the risk of the tank
(or anyone dying) on a given GCD is very real.

If you currently put say 3 healers on the tank that isn’t because
it requires that much healing per second to keep the tank alive.
Instead, it’s because with 3 healers hopefully someone will be
always casting and can land a heal after big hit one but before big
hit two, which would kill the tank. If a few hots or shields get
stomped on along the way, oh well.

Ideally, you put 3 healers on the tank because it takes 3 big heals
to get the tank back up. If you don’t coordinate well or use a big
heal when a medium heal would do, then you’d risk too much
overhealing and ultimately running out of mana. You’d need to heal
smart as well as just healing fast and big, which is what the
current design really encourages.

I predict health pools of all players will go way up in Cataclysm
relative to player damage and healing. Everything (meaning PvP too)
would be slowed down just a little so that making the right choice
would sometimes trump making the fast choice.

I’ll also add that many players think 10-player raid healing is
currently more fun than in 25s because you are often splitting
duties with just one other person — ‘You heal the tank. I’ll heal
the raid.’ In 25s you get more of that whack-a-mole feeling where
you’re competing just as much with other players to heal someone
first and nothing feels very organized or efficient.

[ Post edited by

The second:

Blizzard PosterGhostcrawler on Why does Combustion have a 3 min cooldown? (Source)
Some stats can grow forever and yet the abilities they affect
generally behave the same way. Things like crit, haste, armor pen
and avoidance (generally the numbers that convert into a
percentage) start to get weird at very high numbers. We design
using the range of those values that make sense. To use an analogy,
if your thermometer only goes up to 105 F, that’s probably fine for
Michigan but lacking in Arizona. The range on the instrument was
designed for one range of numbers and might not work for

The problem in LK was we ended up growing the gear by more than we
Had we known that in hindsight, the rating conversions
would probably have been less favorable to begin with so that we’d
be talking about mages with 50 to 60% crit rates now instead of 70
to 80% crit rates.

The avoidance rates on tanks are probably more problematic than the
crit rates on dps specs — high avoidance led us to Sunwell
Radiance in the past. The alternative is that bosses have to hit so
hard that if you ever fail to avoid twice in a row, you wipe (or
the bosses are just very easy). Tanks should be avoiding at say 30%
not 50%.

Just remember all this if the ratings are even steeper in Cataclysm
and you see your crit rate drop with each new character level. The
alternative is that you get to 100% crit too quickly.

Formatting a bit funny, see my quotes being overlayed? :)

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3 comments to Cataclysm tanking and healing will be more strategic

  • Sasha

    As much as I hate to say this…
    With the new info regarding a single blood tank tree, it does make sense to make blood our primary tank tree. Specifically for the reasons you pointed out above. I just pray the goodies from my unholy tree (BS,AMZ) **cough** get transferred. AND while they are at it… more aoe threat because I found Unholy awesome as an OT.
    I would love to see more dynamic raids. Your right the only way we are ever going to get this movement is longer time between heals. I still want to punch something… Maybe my Resto Druid boyfriend since he will be loving the longer time between heals… Ill blame him for losing Unholy tanking… yes… and he will buy me a present… or he will face the couch…
    Logically it makes sense…
    Any DK tank will have to come to this conclusion regardless of your current spec preference. I am sure when Cataclysm does hit the shelves all sorts of sneaky tank moves will exist to enjoy and keep tanking fun and interesting.
    ~My 2 cents Canadian

  • Rios

    (Hee, 2 cents Canadian.) This is all very interesting… And I very much like the way it’s going.  Especially for DK tanks.   I’ve had to stifle annoyance when my 25-man (2 guild combo) tankadin tells me that because he took 5% less damage than me I should pull all my stam gems and gem for avoidance to keep up.  Worse, he was supported in that idea by a healer with a hate-on for healing DKs because the incoming damage is so spiky.  It’s ignorant, but it’s not uncommon. 
    Quote: “Also, why are you using a 2Her to tank?!”

    (Grrr. Blood tank.  Vampiric blood, rune tap, mark of blood, improved deathstrike… do these look like mitigation cooldowns/talents to you? YES, I’m going to take more damage, but I’m also going to get the health back faster.  Besides, I’m already 54% avoidance unbuffed… diminishing returns means I could lose several thousand health in stam gems and still only gain 1% avoidance.  Not to mention being a good 200 gearscore under the other tank.  There’s your 5%. …/Endrant.)

    Being more strategic might also help us foreigners here in Oz with PVP. 500ms here is considered pretty good, so removing some of the twitch factor would be nice to see.   

  • A best answer, in our judgement is to rise tank health and have bosses hit hard but not as often. The end result would probably be that it seized several big heals to bring a tank back up instead than a single Holy Light

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