The Great Warlock Tank Debate

The Great Warlock Tank Debate:

You may recall me recently mentioning the revelation that warlocks could tank in the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta via the “glyph of demon hunting.” It caused a bigger stir than almost anything else from MoP, and warlocks everywhere dropped to their knees and thanked their dark gods that their prayers had finally been answered.

Not only did lock tanking work, it also turned out to be freakishly over-powered. Soloing Dragon Soul bosses over-powered. But hey, it’s the beta. Still plenty of time to balance.

But then, tragedy struck. After many days of rejoicing, Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street — WoW’s lead systems designer and the world’s least popular oceanographer — posted on the forums to say that warlocks are not intended to tank, and the glyph’s goal was to give them an “Oh, ****” CD in the event of tank death, similar to an arms warrior throwing on a shield and off-tanking. The fact that this almost never works has been mentioned by a few people pretty much everyone.

The glyph has now been updated to allow for something called threatening presence, a second version of metamorphasis that gives demonology warlocks a tank toolset at the cost of DPS much like the original glyph. However, to switch from metamorphasis to TP requires leaving meta and waiting ten seconds

Threatening presence is, to put it simply, fracked up beyond all belief. Reportedly, it’s still letting people main tank, the CD makes it completely useless for the intended “clutch tank” design, and the ability to swap between DPS and tank is exactly the kind of PvP-breaking shenanigans that made them split feral druids into two specs.

Cat durid is 4 fiteI haven’t followed a beta closely before. Do they always make this little sense?

So this has sparked a massive outcry among the fans. People are arguing, begging, and pleading for the original glyph to be brought back and for warlocks to be recognized as a tanking class, complete with the ability to queue as such in the Dungeon Finder. And I must admit, they make a good case.

Let’s break it down:

-Warlock tanks work. Most of the changes needed to make them viable have already been done. The guy who soloed Morchok proved that pretty well.

-Warlocks have always been the most tank-like caster and have been used as tanks in encounters with unusual mechanics, such as the Blood Council in Icecrown Citadel, for years. They even had a taunt and some other basic tanking tools back in Wrath.

The Blood Prince Council from Icecrown Citadel-One of Ghostrawler’s concerns is that he feels tank specs should have to use different gear from a DPS spec of the same class. But aside from the whole “bear druids say hi” argument, this can be easily fixed. Make the glyph convert spirit to dodge, and we’re golden.

-Warlock tanks are based entirely on mitigation, which is over-powered compared to other tanks. A simple solution is to nerf their mitigation and add an avoidance mechanic, like the aforementioned spirit = dodge.

-The current design of threatening presence will likely be extremely over-powered in PvP. The original glyph design would not be, because it forces someone to choose between DPS and tank before battle begins.

-Although exact numbers cannot be proven, it seems like most warlocks want the option to tank.

My take:

I think warlocks should be allowed to tank. But not for the same reasons as most. Tanking is not my favourite thing, and I’m lukewarm on the idea of tanking on my warlock.

But as someone with a passion for game design, I love the idea of a glyph to change roles. Aside from the fact that it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than the dull passive bonuses glyphs usually provide, this could be the ultimate solution to the pure versus hybrid debate.

You see, once upon a time, there was something called the “hybrid tax.” Classes with multiple roles were much less effective in those roles. But this mostly meant that hybrids were just brought along for buffs or gimmick fights and otherwise ignored, so Blizzard eventually made them as viable as pure classes.

But now we have a problem. Hybrids are much more versatile than pures, and lose nothing for being versatile, so what’s the advantage to being a pure? There isn’t one. A warlock is just a shadow priest who can’t heal, and a rogue is just a monk who can’t tank or heal.

A shadow priest showing off their shadow formTwo ideas are usually offered to solve this: fourth specs for all classes to add extra roles, or converting current pure specs to new roles. But the first is an insane design commitment — akin to making several new classes at once — and the second will just piss off people who play those specs now. I know I’d lose it if they went through with the idea of making combat rogues tanks.

The glyph offers a much more elegant solution. Warlocks could tank without losing a current spec or requiring entirely new abilities, flavour, and lore for a fourth spec. And if it works for them, it could work for other classes. The possibilities of glyphs like these are nearly endless: combat tanks, fire healers, shockadins, blood DPS, holy priest DPS, shaman tanks…

That’s why I want the original glyph of demon hunting back. It’s a beautifully elegant design with the potential to revolutionize the game.

I  have a much higher opinion of Ghostcrawler than most, but I think he dropped the ball here. Let the warlock experiment proceed, Greg. There’s so much to gain and so little to lose.

Edit: Oh, and I realize what the date is, but this isn’t an April Fools gag. Zergling Teaches Spelling is an April Fools gag.

4 thoughts on “The Great Warlock Tank Debate

  1. I like the idea of DPS classes having other potential roles, and your idea of via glyph is a good solution. When they redid pets and Beast Mastery could get extra talent points for pets and rare pets, I was really hoping that it would seal the deal for hunters being a tanking class, it would limit DPS from the hunter, but really beef up the pet so that it could do what was needed. I’m not sure how pet tanks would do now, but it doesn’t seem like they would be capable of actually tanking solo.

    Shaman tanks are a cool idea to bring back and a priest that was holy DPS would be awesome. I’m sure you could mix up lots of things and figure it out, a frost mage could probably bubble and play much like a disc priest.

    Warlock tanks…yes, I say they go for it, experiment with it, see how it works out. If nothing else it adds that many more tanks to the pool and lowers queues even more.

    • I actually disagree that it would lower queues. Tanking requires a special kind of mindset. There’s a reason most people don’t tank, and it has nothing to do with a lack of tank classes. We won’t see a significant uptake in the number of people tanking until the community becomes kinder to new tanks and less pressure is placed on the role. In other words, when flocks of pigs soar over the icefields of Hell.

      Doesn’t mean more tanks aren’t a good idea, though. It currently has the least variety of any role in the game, and more choices are always a good thing.

      • Well I like warlock class better than your typical sword and board classes. I would more likely play a tank class if given the option for something completely different than what is the current “norm”.

        But I do see your point there as well. People are pretty ruthless to new tanks…it’s a wonder some even continue to be tanks the way they do get treated. That is a shame.

      • I have no doubt that some people would begin tanking if warlock tanking were a thing. I just don’t think it’d be enough to make a significant impact on queue times.

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