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#1 - 2011/06/14 02:06:00 PM
A: Death knights are a somewhat different style of tank compared to the others. They take significantly more damage than other tanks, but then heal/shield that extra damage back instead (and sometimes more). Due to taking more damage, and that damage coming in spikes, they’re also the most likely to die to unexpected burst (such as when they don’t have runes up to Death Strike, have no cooldowns available, and fail to dodge or parry a few attacks in a row. They also have more personal impact on their own survivability and mitigation than any other tank, by tying much of their performance to Death Strike (and especially optimally timing their Death Strikes). So in the hands of a really skilled player, they can do some amazing things, but not usually much better than the other tanks. We’d actually like to head more in that direction with the other tanks (making them tie more of their defensive performance to their ability usage), in the future.

Taken verbatim from "Ask the Devs" Tanking.

So read the underline portions in sequence... Death Knights take more spike damage, are held more responsible for dealing with that spike damage, and assuming they DO deal with it, are not usually much better than any other tank?

Maintaining of course, that other tanks have less of a responsibility for mitigating damage, and evidently, take significantly less damage (inference based on this Dev affirmation of the DK's "somewhat differant style").

So essentially, they take spikier damage, are affirmed to have to play harder, are at a higher risk of dying, and don't really do better than any other tank?

Where in this does the DK "Style" seem balanced?

Additionally, there is the tidbit about optimally timing Death Strikes. Was shield stacking not introduced as a "fix" to this?

Ultimately, my question is; when maintaining the affirmations made by the Devs regarding the Death Knight tank style, where are Death Knights compensated for the extra skill and risk associated with their class' tank spec?

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#34 - 2011/06/15 09:20:00 PM
DKs have a lot of control over their survivability. While the other tank classes spend a lot of button clicks on generating threat, DKs can regularly hit Death Strike, which heals them. This puts a very powerful tool in the hands of the player. Played well, you can mitigate a lot of incoming damage and even choose when it is important to mitigate that damage. But you also have the possibility of playing poorly. It probably isn’t the kind of play style that is going to appeal to everyone.

You can look at the recent discussion about the paladin Holy Shield as a microcosm of this debate. Some players wanted more control over their survivability, and the new Holy Shield provides that. But it is more work to control an active button and there is a larger penalty for doing it badly. Death Strike is like Holy Shield on steroids in this regard. There are good and bad times to use Holy Shield. There are definitely good and bad times to use Death Strike. We see some DKs attempting to hit Death Strike as much as they possibly can, and then getting frustrated when they can’t squeeze more Death Strikes into the rotation. What they are perhaps missing is that the timing of when they Death Strike is very important. Used optimally, it’s a powerful reactive tool.

One thing we have discussed is giving players more control over whether they make this decision (trading higher risk for higher return) or not. In many driving games for example you have the choice of an automatic or manual transmission. Many players choose the automatic, suspecting that they are probably not going to be as fast as a player who is awesome at managing their clutch, but it means they never have to mess with the clutch and can still win plenty of races. On the other hand, imagine that the player who plays the manual perfectly is performing at 100% and the player who performs the manual poorly is performing at 25%. Choosing an automatic transmission for 75% performance may be perfectly acceptable. You give up a little theoretical performance in return for having less going on. Tanking can often have a lot going on. Maybe there is a talent choice that lets DKs have a more powerful Death Strike in return for weaker passive mitigation. Some players would take that talent, and some might only take it for some encounters.

Related, we understand that some DKs don’t like having to make the decision about whether to Death Strike or whether to apply tanking debuffs. That’s really the tension that’s supposed to be at the heart of any resource system -- I have a limited allotment of X, so at this moment do I want to use X on this one ability or on a separate ability? Again, a possible solution is to put the choice of which play style to use in the hands of the player. We could offer a talent or glyph (or something) that lowers the cooldown of Outbreak for instance, without turning Blood DKs into a spec that can play optimally by pushing nothing but Death Strike. It’s something we’ll consider.

Community Manager
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#91 - 2011/06/15 11:25:00 PM
(Assuming Blood is the manual transmission, and the other three classes are automatic)

Amazing DKs aren't 25% better than Amazing Paladins/Warriors/Druids, so what is the point of a system that is incredibly punishing and only slightly rewarding?

The 25%, 75% and 100% percentiles weren’t meant to be taken literally. If a DK feels like he or she has to work much harder than other tanks to achieve about the same amount of survivability, then that feels bad (and to be fair, we had this exact problem with paladin tanks being too easy to play well in the previous expansion). On the other hand, if a DK played well completely trumps all other tanks, then the very best guilds for whom the skill cap isn’t an issue, will just use DK tanks. We see a pretty good spread of DK tanks among both great raiding guilds and all raiding guilds for that matter, so we don’t think the numbers are so far off that groups are either flocking to or avoiding DK tanks.