Thursday, January 17, 2013

Has Active Mitigation Worked?

When I first heard about the change to active mitigation I was worried about it and how it would work out.  For those that do not know what active mitigation is I will give an over simplified expansion. 

Old school: Gear for dodge, have 30% dodge all the time.  New school: Use a button that gives you 60% dodge on demand, but it is not always available.  Yes, there is a lot more to it, but that should give an example for the people that know nothing about it.

When I heard about this the immediate thought that passed through my head was that tanks in randoms would never use their active mitigation buttons and because of the lack of passive mitigation, the avoidance that is always there, they would get hit for a ton more.  I also felt that this would add a level of difficulty to tanking that would make it annoying to play for many or impossible to learn for some.

Everything I worried about turned out to be true but not one of those things was "the sky is falling" sort of bad I was expecting it could turn out to be.  At least for random content.  As I do not pug all that often and my guild tanks, which I am one of, all know how to play, the only representation I can say I have seen is from the LFR and LFD and I make my judgements based on that.

From my own tanking experience I am loving active mitigation and that is no surprise.  I knew I would.  I said I would.  I was looking forward to it.  It gives me the ability to choose my play style a great deal more when playing my tank and that is fantastic.

Now when I tank a dungeon I can base how I play on the group I am with.  If I am with a solid DPS crew, everyone over 100K, and a fairly capable healer, I do not need to worry one bit about using my active mitigation.  Perhaps a rare cooldown here or there but that is it.  I can chain pull until my heart is content.  Yesterday was the perfect example.  We did 4 heroics in 40 minutes.  As I said before, heroics are faster than scenarios. I find that kind of humorous being scenarios are supposed to be the super short things you can do faster than a heroic.  But that is another story all together.

It helped I was in a guild group where everyone could do over 140K and the healer was an excellent healer.  Heck, if she DPSed too we might have gotten it down to 9 minutes per run instead of 10.

See, that is the beauty of active mitigation.  My DPS, and as such, my aggro generation, was a lot higher because I did not have to worry about mitigation.  That old 60% dodge my druid used to have because it was passive and I needed it was now all allocated to DPS and aggro generation stats because I no longer needed to stack up stats for mitigation, I now had a slew of buttons for it.

When I run I see the group and what they are capable of at the beginning of the run.  I've had runs where I was using all my cooldowns all the time because things were going down too slow or the healer was new and/or woefully geared and there is nothing wrong with that, we all start somewhere.  I've had runs where I had to do a mix and match of a little extra DPS or a little active mitigation.  Tanking for me was no longer what it always had been.  Stand there and get beat on and hope not to die.  Sure, I always contributed by doing damage but that always felt more like it was bonus damage, now if feels like it is part of the group.

It is fun running scholo and challenging the DPS in my guild to beat me.  There are two rooms in there I can easily break 300K on, while still using my active mitigation, and it is fun to be able to do damage and avoid damage all at the same time thanks to having all my abilities at by beck and call.  Before the fun of a pull like that was, can I survive it.  Now the fun of a pull like that is, can I survive it and beat all the damage dealers while doing it.  Darn survival hunter did 520K DPS and beat me. :(

It turned tanking, for me at least, from a one trick pony into something that can be done on various different levels.  Work at full mitigation mode, full damage dealing mode, or a mix and match of both depending on need.  Tanking is really active now because you are always adjusting to the needs of the situation.  I am loving it.  So from a tanking perspective if I am the tank, yes, I believe active mitigation has worked.  I am enjoying tanking more than I ever have.

From a learning perspective I think it does make tanking a little more involved.  Check that, a lot more involved.  Avoiding damage by using abilities has become as important to a tank as using abilities to heal or deal damage are to healers and DPS.  No longer can they just get by letting the system handle their avoiding.  Not saying they could before in some content but for a majority anyone could put on tank gear and made sure they were gemmed and enchanted and reforged for avoidance and they would be good to go.  Not so any more because of active mitigation.

However, this made questing as a tank better.  Tanks learn to use their cooldowns while questing to keep themselves alive so it becomes more habit for them.  Even more so then in the past.  In the past those cooldowns were oh shit buttons, the help I am about to die buttons, the only use them for the big hit buttons.  Now with active mitigation and the fact there are so many available for all tanks and many are on short cooldowns they become part of the every day for a person out in the world questing as a tank.  They learn to use them on their own because it is worth using them.  It is no longer something you save until you need it, you use it before you need it so you will never need it.

While there will still be people, many I am sure, that will have issues grasping it, active mitigation is much more user friendly to learn because it is something you do, not something that is just there.  So yes, tanking is a lot more involved now which makes it more complex than it had been but those cooldowns are more useful which makes them part of the every day game play for players now meaning they are more likely to learn what they are used for.  So in this case, yes, active mitigation has worked.

How about teaching new players to tank?  How about knowing how to tank but not having any tanking gear?  Thanks to active mitigation anyone can become a tank now, if a person knows how to rotate cooldowns and what they do.

You could be in 100% DPS gear.  A few lessons and some easy content like a heroic or two and I can turn any damage dealer into a tank.  They might need a tank weapon and a shield if they are a shield tank but they can tank as good as anyone else in all DPS gear now.  At least for content like a heroic.  All thanks to active mitigation. 

Where it used to be a tank with tank gear would have 50%-60% passive mitigation, even when first stepping into a random, now they might only have 15%-20%.  So before, losing 60% hurt a ton and that is why you really needed tanking gear to tank but now losing 20% is not so bad, as long as you keep that active mitigation rolling and control your pulls.  It gives tanks more chances to get geared because if you are using some DPS pieces it isn't really going to kill you like it could have before.

That means, as I see it, active mitigation has made it easier for someone to step into tanking, to make that transition.  They do not need to completely assemble a new set of gear, just switch specs and read up on it and you should be fine.  So in this case, active mitigation has worked.

About the only issue I have with active mitigation thus far is as a healer.  Anyone that has healed a random and had a tank go from 100% to 0 in less then the time it takes to cast a flash heal will tell you that many tanks completely ignore their active mitigation.  One little button could make it easy as sin, you could stay near 100% all the time with some heals and one cooldown but without it you are dead in less than 2 seconds.

It has happened to me twice while healing a random so far this expansion and I am sure it has happened to people that heal more often that I dozens of times.  Tank pulls an entire room, I start to cast my heal, they are dead before the heal comes off.  Come on people, you do not even need to use a big cooldown, anything would have kept you alive.

Looking for raid is a place where you can really notice the tanks from the tank wannabe that can't even be bothered to read their abilities or figure out what active mitigation means.  You do not even need to be a healer to notice it.  You can tell just watching life bars which tanks are really tanks.  Wow oh wow I wonder why so many people that are not tanks queue as tanks for the LFR when the wait time for a tank is insane.

So as a healer I do not like active mitigation.  Before active mitigation I used to have a saying about DKs.  DK tanks are easy to read if they are good or bad.  I can tell on the first pull how the entire run will be based on how much damage the tank takes. 

Being DKs were the only ones that used active mitigation for the most part back then it was easy to tell.  It used to be when I saw a DK tank I would watch that first pull and then decide on if this was going to be one of "those" runs or not.  Now it is every tank.  Before achievement mitigation I could heal any tank, no problem.  As long as they had tank gear on, there would be enough passive mitigation that even if they did not know how to use any cooldowns it was no big deal. 

Unless you have an OP group, like my guild group was, you can not get away with a tank never using any cooldowns.  If you happened to be a fresh healer starting out, just hit 90, and you have a crew of damage dealers that can not even top 30K, the fights will go on for a long time and if the tank does not use any active mitigation it is wipe city.  That is just the way it is.  No way around that. 

Even with my OP group for that content, I still used barkskin on those pulls.  I still popped a FR if I took a damage spike.  I still made sure to use my dodge trinket and dodge cooldown.  So even when I say I did it without cooldowns, I don't mean without without.  I just mean without concentrating on them outside of the first few seconds of the pull when they were still needed.  So even when doing it with all the right parts, the tanks still need to use their active mitigation and as a healer you will notice instantly if they do not.  There just is not enough passive mitigation to get by any more. 

So from a healers standpoint, active mitigation has not worked.  Sure, when used it makes my life a dream but when not it is a nightmare.  From a healers perspective I would like to see constant mitigation passively because there are too many tanks out there that just do not know what active mitigation is.  However, I will be first to admit is not nearly as bad as I was expecting.  It does seem like the majority of tanks, at least the ones I have run into, have embraced the active mitigation model.

All in all I would have to say active mitigation has worked to make tanking fun.  But I am still not that impressed with it as a healer.

Do you think the active mitigation model has worked?


  1. Well I love it, and like you I said I would, and I do. I still don't like tanking pure pugs. I will never willingly click LFG/LFR on my own. So I'm actually quite popular with my guildies/friends as they know that if they say "do you want to run a dungeon?" then I will say yes, as I won't be sick of them as them asking is the only time I run them. It's not that I'm not capable of running them, I just don't enjoy them solo, some people just beggar belief with their behaviour.

    My new favourite thing to do is take my friends alts through dungeons. My friend, like me plays any class that can tank/heal as a tank or healer. He's been running his healers lately, and often doesn't have any/much healing gear, as he's been questing on a dps spec to get to 90. That's not a problem though because he doesn't have to heal me in dungeons. I take it as a personal challenge to come out of every heroic top of the dps meter, and top of the healing meter. So far, aside from a few raider dps in there for points, I've managed it most times. With just having to heal the dps from aoe damage, or saving the ones that stand in bad, having poor mana regen is never an issue. We just steam roll them, easy points, easy gear. None of the dps are likely to complain against a tank/healer duo, and it has to make their run easier.

    Though paladins are a bit like that now, one of my new raid healers was a bit upset last week. They'd checked their logs and overall (including all the wipes) I'd done about twice as much healing as them. Our hps was the same as well. Now of course healing meters tell absolutely nothing and I told them that. It's about effective healing and my healing was a lot of over healing. I swore that pallys would get a nerf from that, as it's been like that since the start. Our first Stone Guard kill, my hps was the same as the healers and I did the most healing in that encounter, again I did more overhealing but it's just stupid. What did blizz do though? They nerfed the aoe component which is sad, though necessary. I afked in Ulduar once and got knocked out of my vehicle, I pulled all the trash before Leviathan and the more I pulled, the more stable my health was, until I was healing for more damage than I was taking. It was the same with current content, pull more and survive better than if you pulled less. However, they increased the passive Seal of Insight trigger rate by 30%. So aoe got nerfed, single target got buffed, and it definitely didn't need that.

    Just proves that meters are slightly useless, if fun to play with. I don't think druids can do the same, not even death knights which used to be king of tank healing, can keep up with paladin healing. Have a go though, see whether you can come out of a dungeon top dps and top healer.

    Oh and to answer the question. I agree with. Yes if tanks know what they are doing, it actually makes tanks more powerful now, and it puts the player more in control of what happens. If they live or die, that's something they can have more impact on now. No I think it's bad for tanks that have no clue. I'm going LFR as ret now as I can't get anymore tank upgrades, it drives me crazy sometimes to see what the tanks are doing/not doing. I'm mentally screaming at them. I then try and remind myself they could be new, this could be their first attempt here etc. but honestly sometimes I just wish I'd queued as tank so I could just do it myself. I wish we could choose which spec we got gear for regardless of role.

    1. I really do not like queuing for the LFR solo as a tank. Firstly you never know who you will get paired with and for most players that are not tanks, if something goes wrong, they always blame the wrong tank.

      Like if I die from a debuff, I am the bad tank. Excuse me? How about the jerk not taunting off of me. That is why I do not queue for the solo.

      I still do as you do and only do randoms with at least 2 guild mates but I am beginning to warm up to the idea of doing it solo because I can probably solo any heroic out there. As long as someone does not do something to make us wipe, in many cases, they are all only they to make things quicker for me. I don't need them. Each new piece of gear I get is like adding armor to a tank, or it feels like it.

      I have a feeling they will end up nerfing tanks a lot soon because it is actually making them too fun to play. As weird as that sounds.

    2. If I tank in LFR I queue with my tanking partner. Sometimes we even go on vent for kicks. It makes the queue time insane but it's a lot nicer. If I go ret now and my co-tank is still tanking I see the bad partners he has. Now I'm not amazing but I know where my taunt button is like you said. The 3rd boss in Terrace, with splash. My friend had 30 stacks once, he only lived because I put Hand of Sacrifice on him which unfortunately killed me. On the 1st boss in Terrace I was there solo as dps and both tanks attacked Protector Kaolon leaving the other two to attack the healers. I taunt, interrupted and dragged over both of them to where they were before they took notice (and aggro). Everytime I go when I'm not tanking now people try and aoe the 4th boss in HoF, no cc just aoe and they wonder why it takes a few attempts. It makes me want to
      Jump in tanking and do it properly which isn't nice of me, but it is frustrating sometimes.

      I really hope they don't change the model of tanking again. I loved tanking before or I thought I did, I really love this new model so much more. Only sad thing is they keep nerfing vengeance for old content, makes soloing take longer :(

  2. so, in a nutshell, even tanks have more buttons and cooldowns to worry about. :D

    No wonder why I am having druid kitty/bear trouble....

    1. I still have more buttons on my hunter than on my tank. But yes, tanks have an insane amount of buttons.

      This expansion is all about adding more buttons for most classes. Tanks are right behind hunters in that department followed by healing shaman. Even the easiest rotation in the game, arcane made got more buttons making it not the easiest. The only spec left with few buttons (PvE wise at least) is a rogue.

    2. this goes back to the posts a few weeks ago then on how the game actually has become more complicated - more buttons, crap on global cooldowns, etc, etc.

      Thanks Grumpy. Keep writing about everything!

  3. in one word - NO

    the reasons are multiple

    a) as tank I want to be able to focus on the environment; I don't care if I have only 2 buttons to press every so often; now I need to watch my own CDs and buffs far more
    b) it shifts blame to the healer - especially in PUGs; I've seen tanks go down in LFR very quickly, and I'm 100% convinced the tank made serious errors, but the blame ends with someone else
    c) the default UI at least for bears is HORRIBLE. You have to watch the boss frame on the left side, your own Savage Defense buff on top left and the abilities on the bottom
    d) I HATE HATE HATE vengeance; it's simply wrong to see a tank on top of DPS chart on a single boss fight.

    To be fair, a lot of my negative opinion is influenced by the loss of bearcatting

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

    1. Oh I miss my beat/cat, that was so much fun. The one thing I hate about Mists, it took it away :(

      Addons help, I know we're not supposed to rely on them but Savage Defense top right doesn't work for me either. Get TellMeWhen or something similar, OmniCC is all I've ever needed to racks CDs but your mileage may vary.

      I like that I have more to do than move around out of bad now. May I ask why you need to watch the environment so much? Awareness is a very good thing, it's up to tanks for example to steer the boss out of marching orders. I can still see that and hit keys. It is overwhelming at first, I moaned bitterly that prot pallys were broken, I thought I'd have to swap classes to contribute.

      That's LFR for you with the blame. If I do something wrong I hold my hand up. If I die then I never blame the healer as there was usually something more I should have done. We don't have blame in my guild group anyway. There's constructive comments but it's a learning curve for everyone a new boss, no point in making anyone feel bad.

      Ok ending with but topping dps is fun /whine. In a good group tanks can only top dps on stupidly large add pulls (and sometimes not even then). If the group isn't good then it's not vengeances fault the tank is top. I've had groups where I was top and the healer (disc priest) was second, that's a bad group.

    2. I don't miss bear/cat as much as you did but that is probably because I was never all that good at it.

      As a bear is my main tank at the moment I know exactly what you mean but I do not find it to be much of an issue. Admittedly I have not tanked anything I would consider very challenging, just normal mode raids, but I doubt any wipe we ever had was because I was not perfectly timing any cooldown. It is a lot to watch but I am liking it more than just standing there beating on stuff pressing a cooldown every 1 or 2 minutes based on one big move.

      You are right about healers getting the blame but remember it is healers getting the blame from bad players. Any good player will know in a heartbeat it is not the healers fault if the tank doesn't know how to play. As I mentioned in the post.

      I am liking it over all, except for when I am healing.

    3. @ Taitrina

      I've done the same on my Disc Priest. It is fun and sad at the same time. One on sha, the last boss in ToE, I was second in healing, when I did not throw out one direct heal, just mending and shield, and 11th on DPS. I DPSed the entire fight. Not sure what is sadder, the fact I was second in heals or 11th in damage done.

    4. I raided all LK as Bearcat, I was competitive in DPS (though almost never top), but saved 2 "first downs" by switching to bear at the right moment when our tanks went down (certainly one of my favorite moments "I'm down, it's a wipe, oh my god, heal Rauxis, heal Rauxis...." ^^)

      I'm aware of addons - I use a combination of IceHUD, BadKitty and MiniBars to keep everything together. I just argue if Blizz comes up with just a shitty design, they should make it working on a standard UI.

      Awareness - this is mostly in 5mans and trash. Now that I overgear 5mans no biggy, still I need to switch my brain from "area and graphics" to "bar and symbol" mode - I'm not able to keep track of both at the same time. During LK times I was able to watch the encounter and see people getting chained or mc'd and could steer the raid. It's not so much about moving the boss....

      And yes - it's bad players. I just blame Blizz for creating an environment that supports and encourages bad behavior. It's the idiocy that all bosses do is "damage". Bad play should punish most of all the bad player - not someone else.

      For instance I'm completely at a loss why Blizz does not use more often the mechanic "stand in bad, can't DPS" or "stand in bad, loose aggro" - instead it's always "stand in bad, blame healers".

      Rauxis, chosen of CAT

    5. Oh wow that's so awesome. That must be a great memory, getting kills like that. Yeah bear/cat was epic for that, but probably too OP so that's why they canned it. Such a shame though as it was such fun and was something no other class could do.

      I didn't mean to insinuate that you couldn't watch symbols and the environment, or that you didn't know about addons. I don't know you but I'm sure that if you read Grumpy, then you must be a pretty good player. He doesn't exactly pull his punches, makes me feel bad on numerous occasions about things I should be doing, that I'm not, if I want to do my best.

      Besides I can't talk, I watch my symbols, my cds and my healthbar too much I sometimes miss important things. Like I missed an exhale on Zor'lock one attempt last week, it killed our rogue. What's worse is he thought I'd done it on purpose, as I'd repeatedly asked him to stay further away from the boss. Zor'lock has such a big hitbox you can stand at range even as melee, and that does help with getting between players and the boss. Nope I wasn't teaching him a lesson I'd just lost my situational awareness, it was my fault and I refocused and paid a lot more attention after that.

      I certainly can't steer the raid and do my role at the same time. As a raid leader I sometimes need to announce things, or yell at people to spread or stack. I find that hard to do at the exact time when I need to, it's usually a second or two too late and that's bad. Though I then do get frustrated and grumble to myself that I shouldn't have to tell people when to spread/stack for certain mechanics. I solved that by promoting a dps for raid tactics, he explains things more coherently than I do and can multi-task to yell on vent, or mark adds on the fly, which I can't cope with while tanking. As I didn't raid tank until this expansion, I don't know if it's a problem of splitting yourself that step too far now, or if it was always that way for tanks.

      Sometimes I think they should introduce something where there is no healer to save you, where you have to save yourself and if you die then that's on you. They tried that with scenarios but I've queued for them and people don't. They yell at classes that can heal for not healing them. Or they just die and let you solo it and then yell for resses. I think all classes have some sort of healing/damage reduction capability now, so really there's no excuse. Maybe if blizz finally made something where there was no-one else but you, then maybe players would wake up that it was them and not the healer/tank all the time.