This is a third post in a series of topics dealing with tanking issues. These posts are the distillation of those discussions, and are presented here formally for the community to debate in a peer-review manner. While the first two such discussions were mainly warrior concerns, this one and future topics are more broad in their scope.
In this topic, we closely analyze something that every single player has, that tanks have the most of: health. Currently, all of the different tanking classes have highly varying levels of health when in a raid, while wearing gear with a similar purpose. Within, we will address the implications this has on balancing both now and for future content in the game.
To start with, we are going to lay out some basic numbers that tanks can achieve currently, with explanations of how we can predict what we will see in the future.
The gearsets you will see here are tanking sets that maximize health within reason - that is, nothing like "Polar Gear" or greens "of stamina". Stacking stamina is simply something that is common for progression, for various reasons. We will elaborate, but the short answer is to survive the worst-case scenario.
The values derived in these tables are averages of what to expect for tanks in similar gear. It is possible to obtain more, but isn't necessary to illustrate the point.
What you must understand for the scaling is that currently gear scales at 13% per tier - meaning every tier of gear ahead of the last, is 13% more powerful in terms of itemization points. This is already known and accepted by the community. The actual stat distribution spent on stamina could vary anywhere from 10-15%, because not every stat has to scale equally (although due to itemization formulas, usually they all go up some amount regardless), as long as the entirety of the item's rating value goes up 13%.
a) Gear will scale at a rate of 13% per tier
b) Gems will scale by a maximum of 25% by the end (30 vs. 24 for epic gems), this will appear in T9/T10
c) Enchants and Buffs won't scale at all
d) Average stats were taken from exceptionally-geared armory profiles with both Enchanting/LW/BS and Jewelcrafting (the best tanking professions)
E) The numbers given are merely here to serve as an example, and may not be 100% accurate, but we are confident they are close enough to serve as a decent approximation of the point being made.
Stamina Buffs: PW:F, MotW, Food
Commanding Shout: 2819 Health
Flask: 650 Health
Chest Enchant: 275 Health
Base Health: 7941
7941 + (Stamina * 1.06 * 1.1) * 10 + 2819 + 650 + 275
T7 T8 T9 T10
Items 1670 1887 2132 2409
Gems 299 299 374 374
Enchants 216 216 216 216
Buffs 307 307 307 307
Base 159 159 159 159
Total 2651 2868 3188 3465
Health 42596 45126 48857 52087
Base Health: 6754
6754 + (Stamina * 1.08 * 1.06 * 1.1) * 10 + 2819 + 650 + 275
T7 T8 T9 T10
Items 1562 1765 1994 2253
Gems 395 395 494 494
Enchants 232 232 232 232
Buffs 307 307 307 307
Base 143 143 143 143
Total 2639 2842 3170 3429
Health 43730 46287 50417 53679
CharDev Death Knight
Base Health: 7961
(7961 + (Stamina * 1.06 * 1.02 * 1.1) * 10 + 2819 + 650 + 275) * 1.1
T7 T8 T9 T10
Items 1559 1762 1991 2250
Gems 371 371 464 464
Enchants 154 154 154 154
Buffs 307 307 307 307
Base 160 160 160 160
Total 2551 2754 3076 3335
Health 46249 48905 53117 56506
Base Health: 7237
7237 + (Stamina * 1.06 * 1.2 * 1.25 * 1.1) * 10 + 2819 + 650 + 275
T7 T8 T9 T10
Items 1362 1539 1739 1965
Gems 383 383 479 479
Enchants 262 262 262 262
Buffs 307 307 307 307
Base 96 96 96 96
Total 2410 2587 2883 3109
Health 53132 56228 61405 65357
Now, people use tanks on mobs because they can take the hits. They're consistent. Tanks are simply easier to heal through a boss's hits than say a ret paladin or enhancement shaman. When it comes to progression, the same thought process applies - but it's amplified. Players are familiar with how boss mechanics tend to work, or have worked. Then there's the unfamiliar: new content, abilities that will deal loads of damage or come in intervals that players are not used to. And more often than not, encounters in new progression put serious pressure on the tanks.
Originally Posted by Tyds
This has been the pattern for nearly all content WoW has seen thus far, as soon as tanks "outgear" an instance and get all of the best gear that same zone drops, it becomes significantly easier. However, encounter designers tune the bosses so that they give the tank a challenge, and you need to gear and play appropriately to successfully tank (and survive) the boss.
Two types of scenarios emphasize the health issue:
1) High burst in progression content (example: Stun on Kalecgos, Corrosion on Felmyst, Confounding+Crushes on Twins).
In all of those examples, more health is the best way to improve your chances of survival. You're either forced to take a high amount of damage in a short period of time, or your chances of taking a high amount of damage increase drastically for some time.
2) Magical attacks that armor/block do not mitigate
The best example for this is a standard dragon breath attack, Malygos, Sartharion. Simply, the tank must have enough health to live through the attack, or they die. Or, the tank is able to achieve certain levels of health that others cannot, so they will always live, while the other will always die.
This is where the first potential problem is. If an encounter is designed to stress a tank, which tank do they tune it for? The variance in maximum health and mitigation styles right now is large. If it is tuned to be difficult for a warrior and paladin, but possible, does that mean a death knight or druid, with their huge health pools, will have an easier time? Would a mechanic that requires artful play and timing by a paladin and warrior to survive, be comfortably soaked by the larger health pool of the other tanks, lending to a much easier encounter for some tanks rather than others?
Further, what if that mechanic is tuned on a razor's edge - and is a line that simply kills some tanks, as they have not enough health (or cooldowns). But other tanks are able to do it, because they have the potential to have much larger health pools. If they want it to pressure a Druid and Death Knight to the brink of potential death, how would a paladin or warrior even hold a candle to the other classes?
To counter a common point that is, "Well, Sartharion was admitted to be a potential problematic design" - or something. This one mechanic is simply an example that magnifies the problem. Any such damage, particularly magical, that is strong, and intended to be threatening to tanks in progress, will be hugely varied in threat to each individual tank. It doesn't have to be a 70k breath, it could be a 35k breath that nearly one shots every tank, but some of them are left with enough health to survive a melee swing afterwards, for example, whereas others would instantly die to the following swing.
The second active problem is magical damage. The only way to reduce magical damage taken is through "stance" reductions, and cooldown abilities. Because of this, the single biggest thing you can do to survive magical damage is to have more health, or use a cooldown to mitigate it if it's large burst.
There's a few possible ways to minimize the drastic differences in tanking classes in regards to health right now.
One way is a rather simple recalculation/redesign of talents. First developers would have to decide on a health value that is an acceptable level that all tanks can be within a few % of. If some classes are at ~43k right now, and others are at 53k, the variance is huge. Perhaps it would be easier to pull them all closer to the middle. In this case, the Death Knight value of 46k might be what they should tune for.
Lowering the paladin stamina % modifiers to be equal to warriors is something that can be easily done. Warriors and paladins share very similar itemization. Add in or modify a talent that simply grants paladins 1187 health (the difference in base hp between warriors and paladins), and now you have two equal plate classes with near-equal itemization design. Then you could boost the warrior's Vitality to say 8% - and keep the paladin's 8% (taking away Combat Expertise's bonus stamina), and you have two equally scaling tanks. Variation would be from minor itemization differences.
Druids would need to be pulled way down, a 25% multiplier on top of a 20% multiplier just creates enormous numbers, as seen. If druids need a large multiplier to get to the levels of plate tanking classes without scaling far past them, shifting in to bear form can simply increase health by a flat value (based on level), and then make the individual %'s smaller so they still scale faster, but don't end up over 10-15k ahead of the other tanks.
A small variance is acceptable - after all, different tanks lived through sunwell with some stacking stamina and others avoidance, but that was only a thousand or so HP back then, 5-10% of someone's health pool, max; not the 20-30% we're looking at now. Giving each tank a different means to reduce damage is a good thing. Ensuring that the baseline "effective health" (magical or physical) is relatively equal for each tank should be the goal. Some classes may have a slight edge in some situations vs others - but the variance should never be so much that one class has a clear, distinct advantage.
Another potential way to help equalize health, or at least "effective magical health", would be through cooldowns. Right now, Death Knights are the kings in the cooldown department, having enough to nearly Solo tank Sartharion with buffed breaths without external help. Other classes don't have many at all. They could add to each class short-cooldown abilities that reduce magical damage by percents that make up the differences in hp. Some suggested ideas would be to make Holy Shield and Shield Block (or Spell Reflect) reduce spell damage taken by a % while they're active.
Tank A has 50k HP and 5% magical mitigation
Passive 5%Tank B has 45k HP and 15% magical mitigation
Passive 5% + Activated 10%Magical Boss Nuke for 35k -
Hits Tank A for 66.5% of their health (33250 / 50000)
Hits Tank B for 66.1% of their health (29750 / 45000)Another possible option is for Block and block mechanics to work on magical damage, allowing for more "effective magical health" for paladins and warriors, without needing to make drastic shifts in numbers. Numbers and talents would have to be modified to account for this, but it would be a start.
Regardless of utilizing activated abilities to reduce magical damage or more passive magical mitigation by some classes, overall health should be brought more in line. Balancing tightly for tanks with such large variances possible would be equivalant to allowing outlier dps classes to sustain 25% more DPS than their peers, at no opportunity cost.
(The following people also contributed numbers, input, and discussion on this original topic: Ciderhelm, Dots, Jamor, Jayde, Hypatia, Liar/Tyds, Veneretio, Satrina)