Yesterdays post asking ‘whether DKs are being benched’ appears to have two root causes:
- tank class mechanics which make a given tank the preference on certain categories of encounter
- encounter design which requires a raid comp of usually two tanks but sometimes three.
Encounters which favour one tank over another
DKs did have their time in the limelight with Sarth3D, where the (now defunct) Unholy-Vot3W spec reigned supreme. That spec has been ‘balanced’ away to obscure memory, so it doesn’t work anymore, but looked a bit like this.
Block-tanks have theirs on Anub.
I’d forgotten about Vezax, but Honors hadn’t and nor had Ghostcrawler.
There’s a game design issue here, and the questions include:
- whether Blizzard equitably balance the encounters across a whole raid for all tank types
- that implies they have a responsibility of some sort to be equitable, which is in itself a question. They used to bias towards Warrior MTs, and admitted so (finally), which I think was a design mistake. They have now said they want reasonable balance.
- the question is really whether any random combination of tanks can tank their raid through an entire zone successfully, and (perhaps excepting some hard-modes) the answer is yes (albeit maybe it’s harder, but there’s nothing wrong with ‘harder’)
- whether the tanks are balanced reasonably between one another regardless of the encounter types
- if you were to put tanks into a vacuum, you’d say all the classes are reasonably balanced compared to one another. You cannot say a small variation between them equates to a failure of balancing, one needs to have some flexibility in the threshold used to assess ‘balance’
Overall, I think Blizzard do a good job on those issues, but like any subjective measure, everyone will have an opinion.
I wrote a few months ago about the ratio of tank to the other raiders, and how it changes drastically from 10-man to 25-man raids.
The ratio required of tanks to others:
- In 5-mans, you need one tank (1:4 ratio).
- In 10-mans you need two (1:4 ratio again).
- In 25-mans, you need three (1:7.3 ratio), but mostly you need two tanks (1:11.5 ratio).
These ratios are a function of the encounter design, specifically how many locus’ of control you need: (1) the boss (2) his adds (3) only required if the encounter has bonus spawns or adds that require control, like the Guardians in Kel’Thuzad.
If Blizzard always required three tanks, and rarely only two tanks, by designing encounters with mechanics that demanded it so, you would have a ratio for 25-mans which is closer to 10-mans, which has a few benefits.
Currently in 3.22 (I’m not sure about ICC 3.3 yet), it’s two tanks.
Cataclysm does present Blizzard with an opportunity to change their encounter design philosophy to have three tanks as the default.
If three tanks were generally required, there would be a lower probability of a tank, who loves tanking, being forced into a different playstyle.
Issues around this include:
- whether encounters can be designed to satisfy Blizzard’s game design goals and also require three tanks, yet also scale down to 10-mans without inordinate levels of studio rework
- whether they could abandon 10-man raids and change them to 15-mans, so you’d have 5/ 15/25 comps
- whether they’d abandon 25-mans and go down to 15s, so you’d have 5/10/15s. (They’ve apparently already said no about this, that 25s are here in Cataclysm too)
- whether Blizzard should care about the ratio issue at all.
I’d love to hear from any MMO commentators, and have contacted a few to see if this is interesting. Regardless, I have some further reading on related topics from these kinds of clever chaps.
- Tobold on unheroic raids
- Spinks on the unveiling self-nerfing raids of Icecrown
- Sirlin on balancing MMO games
- Terrible Idea on balancing strategy
- Wolfshead on class balance