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Thread: Cataclysm and Block

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    Cataclysm and Block

    The upcoming changes to block in Cataclysm have got me thinking about how they'll impact the game recently, and there are a few points I thought might be interesting to discuss.

    Just to recap, Blizzard is planning to change the Block stat in Cataclysm to mitigate a percentage of damage off an incoming attack, rather than a flat amount.

    Now at first blush, this seems like a great idea; as it is right now Block is practically useless in high-end raiding, and way overpowered in things like 5-man instances (Prot Paladins, I'm looking at you). This dichotomy is impossible to solve with Block in its current state, though fortunately it's not really a balance problem - heroics are pretty faceroll, and a Warrior/Paladin tank can avoid Block on their gear without any avoidance/mitigation penalties.

    Naturally Blizzard wants to change Block to make it an interesting stat for all involved, and Cataclysm is the perfect place to do it. While changing it to a percentage-based mechanic seems like a good change, the more I think about it, the more I see it causing all sorts of balance issues.

    Primarily, I'm concerned with two things: damage intake, and health stability. There are two ways Blizzard can balance these: Block tanks have identical avoidance to non-Block tanks (without factoring in Block), or Block tanks have less avoidance than non-Block tanks. Let's look at each of these in turn.

    Idential Avoidance
    Balancing things this way seems rather silly, all things considered. If a Warrior and his good friend the Death Knight both have the same avoidance levels, but the Warrior has Block, well, that Death Knight is getting benched. Not only will the Warrior take less damage overall (Block is damage reduction!), but he'll also have more stable health, due to Block evening things out a bit more.

    Different Avoidance
    So the obvious solution to the above problem is to make Block tanks just have less avoidance overall, right? Let's try making damage equal once you factor in block. So we have a Death Knight with 50% damage reduction post-DR, and a Warrior with 30% chance to block for 30% damage reduction. The Warrior should then have 44% damage reduction after DR and before Block to make things average out.

    But wait a minute. If both the Warrior and the DK take the same amount of damage overall, but the Warrior "avoids" damage in a more stable manner due to Block, then the Warrior is just going to be better. Having a 30% chance to take 30% less damage is easier to heal than having a 6% chance to take 100% less damage. Statistically speaking both will take the same damage, but the Warrior is going to take that damage much more steadily. You've basically got an artificial EH boost from a healer perspective.

    So from here, one solution would be to make Block tanks take more damage throughout the course of a fight than non-Block tanks. It's hard to call this one, but I think you'd see the non-Block tanks dominating Block tanks. Keep in mind that every fight has to be tankable by a non-Block tank. Your healers will be able to keep up a non-Block tank, and at that point then the tank that takes less damage is clearly superior.

    So working through all this, is it possible to attain a reasonable balance between Block/non-Block tanks in Cataclysm with a percentage based block stat? I don't know that it is. What do you think?
    Last edited by shiz98; 12-02-2009 at 10:14 PM.

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    Or you could give death knights a higher amount of passive mitigation through armor or frost presence. Or turn any of the knobs in any way blizzard wants. If a DK mitigates 6% more damage static, but a warrior blocks 30% of the damage 20% of the time, the resulting damage is equivalent. The warrior will be slightly spikier in that context, but not game-breakingly so.

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    If Warrior/Paladin mitigation = armor + block is even to Druid/Deathknight mitigation = higher Armor, no block this would lead to the problem, that Warriors and Paladins are at at significant disadvantage if they are stunned/attacked from behind.

    While this scenario does not occur too often it should still be noted.

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    It'll be interesting to see if it is subject to DR too and how much stat points it costs.

    If it's not subject to DR or the DR is fairly lenient, then an "unhittable" set could prove as something to aim for, as once it's reached you'd effectively garauntee you'd be taking 25% less damage from hits all of the time. Of course, this may result in being hit more often but in terms of the reducing spike potential it is pretty strong. I guess you could liken it to the TBC crush immune setup but with less RNG involved.

    As for the cost, at the moment block is still stupidly expensive because compared to dodge you only get roughly 2.5x as much % chance. This is made even worse by the fact that you also need blockrating and/or strength to scale up the amount of damage you actual block. This always reselts in the same situation where block is strong at lower levels but you can't get enough rating, then at high level you can be come unhittable but the amount blocked is pitiful. The new block will already scale better because you won't need BV, but i'm not sure how much rating the new block chance will work out at. it certainly shouldnt be lower than 2.5x dodge but if it was 4x dodge (to equal there overall average DR per point) it would be overpowered because you could easily stack it to unhittable without making an sacrifices along the way.
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    Or you could give death knights a higher amount of passive mitigation through armor or frost presence. Or turn any of the knobs in any way blizzard wants. If a DK mitigates 6% more damage static, but a warrior blocks 30% of the damage 20% of the time, the resulting damage is equivalent. The warrior will be slightly spikier in that context, but not game-breakingly so.
    I think it would be fairly game-breaking as a mechanic. You have two ways to accomplish this:

    Blanket 6% reduction in damage (via something like Frost Presence).
    6% damage reduction from armor.

    Now in either case, you've just gained significant EH. The Warrior has avoidance, while the Death Knight has EH. Interestingly enough, the DK also has the same damage reduction as the Warrior. So we end up with one class having significantly spikier damage with nothing to offset that.

    Also consider that Block only works on basic melee attacks. If the DK has 6% damage reduction, then they'll have an advantage in spell damage, abilities like Gormok's Impale, and also damage reduction on special attacks like cleave. Block won't do any good on any of these.

    If the DK has 6% damage reduction via armor, then they still have an advantage in that they'll take less damage from unavoidable melee attacks.

    If it's not subject to DR or the DR is fairly lenient, then an "unhittable" set could prove as something to aim for, as once it's reached you'd effectively garauntee you'd be taking 25% less damage from hits all of the time.
    I would think it would have to be on DR - block is becoming what is essentially a superior form of avoidance, and if you can stack it without DR then I think you'll see tanking balance getting out of hand, assuming there's lots of block itemized gear available.

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    From what I gather by reading the above posts. This thread has gone from a block change to a DK gaining the ability for block.

    I am curious to see what they will do with block in the upcoming release as well. But on the topic of DKs getting block, or something similar, the only fair way that I can tell would be to allow them to utilize a shield.

    If they gain block without comprimising a two hand or dual wielded weapon then they will gain the same damage reduction without the loss in overall DPS and threat generation. Thus making them the better choice of tank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiz98 View Post
    I think it would be fairly game-breaking as a mechanic. You have two ways to accomplish this:

    Blanket 6% reduction in damage (via something like Frost Presence).
    6% damage reduction from armor.

    Now in either case, you've just gained significant EH. The Warrior has avoidance, while the Death Knight has EH. Interestingly enough, the DK also has the same damage reduction as the Warrior. So we end up with one class having significantly spikier damage with nothing to offset that.

    Also consider that Block only works on basic melee attacks. If the DK has 6% damage reduction, then they'll have an advantage in spell damage, abilities like Gormok's Impale, and also damage reduction on special attacks like cleave. Block won't do any good on any of these.

    If the DK has 6% damage reduction via armor, then they still have an advantage in that they'll take less damage from unavoidable melee attacks.


    I would think it would have to be on DR - block is becoming what is essentially a superior form of avoidance, and if you can stack it without DR then I think you'll see tanking balance getting out of hand, assuming there's lots of block itemized gear available.

    At what point is spikier damage "significantly spikier damage?" I just don't think that the difference is significant enough to make a warrior or paladin harder to heal in that context. If they are, there are ways of compensating that, like increasing the chance to block, so that the warrior takes less damage, but on a slightly spikier basis.

    The point is that the difference doesn't look huge to me, and if it is, there are so many knobs and levers and pulleys Blizzard can play with to make this balanced that it shouldn't be hard to balance within reasonable deltas. It doesn't seem like we can really make a call at this point.

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    The point is that the difference doesn't look huge to me, and if it is, there are so many knobs and levers and pulleys Blizzard can play with to make this balanced that it shouldn't be hard to balance within reasonable deltas.
    Yeah, they definitely have a bunch of options, but I guess I'm not convinced any of them are valid .

    I just don't think that the difference is significant enough to make a warrior or paladin harder to heal in that context.
    Definitely a valid viewpoint, and it's what the whole Block problem will come down to, really. It may be that we have to agree to disagree, due to having different stances on the importance. Let me ask some questions before we get to that point though:

    Do you have multiple tanking sets?
    If so, how much of a difference is there stats-wise between your EH and avoidance sets?
    How big of an impact does switching from the EH set to the avoidance set make, and vice-versa?
    How do you feel the difference between EH and avoidance sets compares to the difference between block/non-block?

    Personally, I think the difference between EH and avoidance stats is fairly significant, to the point where I'd go so far as to swap out tanks in order to get different stat balances (e.g. Tank 1 is geared for EH, Tank 2 is geared for avoidance, and I'd pick one or the other depending on the fight). I also think that the changes to block will result in a difference between blocking classes and non-blocking classes is comparatively more significant than EH/avoidance set differences.

  9. #9
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    2 things can happen:
    They make block good and have to compensate the non block tanks.
    non block tanks cry about not having that 'imba' block
    block tanks cry about not having that 'imba' compensate

    They don't make block good and don't have to compensate the non block tanks.
    non block tanks will still cry about not having that block
    block tanks cry about blizz still not having fixed block


    regardless no one will be happy, even if tanks prove to be balanced as the grass is always greener at the other side.


    also if they manage on what they told and make tanking less about EH and surviving those big hits and more about DR and taking as less dmg as possible to not oom your healers. being at an EH disadvantage (within reason ofc) shouldn't really matter and if at that point DR comes from avoidance or flat damage reduction from armour (armour get's my vote as a static % from talent would fail at scaling and make it to strong at start of expansion and to weak at end of expansion) is less relevant. so in my opinion trying to form a judgement about a change without looking at the content it will perform in is quite foolish.

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    As I think Reev was trying to point out, there are a LOT more features in the balance of survival tools for the different classes than just Block and Avoidance, or even Block, Avoidance, and Armor.

    And what he said is true. A MAJOR part of this idea (changing block to a % of hit instead of a static amount) is making it much easier to balance in those terms.

    You said in your original post, this is a fix for the inherent flaw in static value blocking: where you set the balance on Block Value makes it too powerful in some situations and underwhelming in others. And the practical upshot is that Against bosses you'll be thrilled to see 6k blocks, but then when you block the little swarmers you'll never see full-blocks again (sparing an ability that pops your Block % to 100%, I could imagine that being a redesign of Shield Block).

    Anyway, this was discussed quite some time ago, so here's the link for your consideration. Bear in mind this was written right before they dialed up the amount of block value on gear:
    http://www.tankspot.com/forums/f14/5...ing-block.html
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    Hah, I actually was really surprised no one had discussed this in the past. The search feature failed me, or I failed the search feature

    What my concern is for percentage based block can be summed up rather concisely: Block lies somewhere between Avoidance and Effective Health, and I can't see there being a close balance tanks with or without block unless they too have a defensive ability somewhere between avoidance and EH.

    And what I'm curious to see in Cataclysm is how this plays out. Right now block is balanced because it's pretty much irrelevant (we won't talk about Anub add tanking, or similar, since those are edge cases). This won't be the case in Cataclysm. In the end, any of the tools Blizzard can use to balance defensive ratings on tanks will boil down to EH or Avoidance (unless they add new and interesting abilities such as Savage Defense). As I said out earlier, I don't see how you can get a balanced result by only swapping around those two stats, though I may just be misinterpreting things.

    In the end, it's all a matter of "balanced enough" - the mathematics don't have to match up exactly. I just find the mechanics behind balancing the new block to be fascinating.

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    The way that I think Blizzard wanted tanking to work (since the introduction of the Death Knight) is to have Druids and Death Knights make up for that missing avoidance stat with armor or health.

    Cataclysm is going to make Block into more of a mitigation stat rather than an avoidance one which will probably be balanced out by giving Druids and Death Knights the extra armor.

    Also, consider what Ghostcrawler recently said about HP in Cataclysm, that it is going to be significantly higher. Odds are the same will work for armor value as well and considering that Druids and Death Knights both have a way to increase their armor by a % it will probably scale to the point where they have a lot more armor than Warriors and Paladins.

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    Adjustment, because I'm a stickler:
    1.) Block is not avoidance, at all
    2.) People seem to forget that Druids have a block mechanism (Savage Defense)


    People reference "balance" as if it were a simple metric to simply match each tank to. Simply put, if you have more than 2 binary elements on the same line, you do not have a single, simple point of balance.

    Actual tank performance is the ultimate metric by which Blizzard decides if the classes are playing significantly close enough for what matters. They've made that clear.

    If you want to make a case for their being an imbalance, that's fine, but hand-waving about it will not help your cause, only data, illustration, and supported examples.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horacio View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satorri View Post
    2.) People seem to forget that Druids have a block mechanism (Savage Defense)
    While this is semi true the druid "block" mechanics work quite different than the classic shield tank block mechanic.

    Savage Defense is not a passive static damage reduction, but is gained by actively tanking Enemies and critting them. In practice this isnt too much off a difference, but the "block" buff works more like a self buffed power word: shield than a classic block.

    The 2 major differences are, that you can never gain a state where every incoming hit is blocked, because you would need an absurd crit rate and a very slow attacking enemy. Also savage defense works if you are attacked from behind for example if you are AE tanking.

    In Patch 3.1 even Deathknights had a mechanic similar to warrior shield block with unbreakable Armor being a flat damage reduction. To make the matter even more complicated it worked for magical and physical damage from any direction.

    In Cataclysm we might see a "block-like" mechanic for all tanks, or the reduction of the block we know to nothing more than a different kind of armor.

    Im really interested to see what will happen with savage defense when block is changed.

    So at the end of the day balancing all these different block mechanics is still a pain in the a...nkle.

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    Heh, yes Frost DK's had a block-esque ability that they took away. Whether or not they give us something like that back is a bit inconsequential.

    Bears' SD is not the same as shield block, it has its better aspects and it's not as good ones. Particularly, the fact that it cannot contribute towards pushing normal hits off the attack table, but it can always be applied and is not ever reduced in effectiveness by avoidance.

    I think the block elements are nice, but they've never been a terribly big deal for good or ill, excepting the instances where they've allowed the tanks to accomplish something other tanks cannot. In BC that was removing Crushing Blows from the attack table. Now? It's rarely such an issue.
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    I personally think the answer is to completely change what block means.

    in my view, block isnt a thing you do actively, it's a part of moving, fighting, doing the encounter.

    so something like this:

    Everyone has 40K armor.

    DK has frost presence, grants 10K armor.
    Druid has bear form, grants 10K armor.
    Warrior has a shield, grants 10K armor.
    Paladin has a shield, grants 10K armor.

    all tanks have the same armor.

    The shield becomes a flavor piece. it's used as the basis for several abilities, as an item containing stats, as a requirement for several "cool downs" (ie shield wall), or for certain talents etc etc... but the actual block mechanic goes away.

    All the tanks get teh same thing in the end, but different ways, with different "lore" aspects to it, the flavor for each class.

    Even as a stats item, it can be balanced with DK's using 2H weps, bears using Staves, all with stats equiv to a 1H/shield combo.

    In fact, almost everything becomes exactly as it is now, SBV could still be used to add damage to shield based attacks, no need for SBR anymore.

    EH is then back to STAM, Avoidance and Armor.

    The same should be done to each of those to, make them the same for each tank class, just make the "how" different, the flavor.

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    I don't see why. I actually like having a block mechanic. In the prospective design it is easier to balance, but keeps an added level of complexity to keep things interesting.

    If they took it away, you know exactly what would happen, everyone of the people who like to come out and complain would be crying a blue streak about how Blizz is further dumbing down the game.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satorri View Post
    I don't see why. I actually like having a block mechanic. In the prospective design it is easier to balance, but keeps an added level of complexity to keep things interesting.

    If they took it away, you know exactly what would happen, everyone of the people who like to come out and complain would be crying a blue streak about how Blizz is further dumbing down the game.

    Yeh i've always liked block, it makes things much more interesting and it makes me sad each time it fades into insignificance. I had amazing fun in TBC as a crush-immune tank, trying to balance out gear choices etc etc etc. It brought a whole new level of complexity to maximising your gear. Sadly that started to become pretty irrelevant in BT as only a few bosses could crush you (but again, it was awesome for them, no 14k hits from gorefiend thankyou).
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    As I see the current design intentions, the point in Cataclysm will be that bosses hit for less, but healers will heal for less as well, making that a more interesting healing design. At the same time, Block will increase in value as it is a flat amount (compared to every other damage reduction mechanic being relative), thus they could really play with the design, as long as they make sure it scales well from the start or we'll have a Deathwell Radiance reducing our block chance/value
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    I totally lost track of this thread. In response to Shiz's questions earlier:

    I do not have an avoidance set. I have a set I'm working to make my unhittable set for Anub adds, but for pretty much every other encounter, I use either my HP set, or my armor set. Between my HP and armor sets, honestly the difference in stats is not huge. I lose about 2k HP and I gain around 2.3k armor. I do this because I know it's the optimal setup for the fight. That said, I've never noticed a difference. My healers have never noticed a difference.

    The difference between my EH set and my (attempted) unhittable set is enormous in terms of stats, and the difference is noticeable to both me and my healers.

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