Thursday, June 11, 2009

On Shaman Tanking

Recently I found this neat Q&A between Ghostcrawler and the development team at Blizzard. One of the things that stood out to me was the comment on Shaman tanking, which got me thinkin':

"Once upon a time there was a potential tanking role for shamans as well, but we have pretty much phased that out."

I knew it was a longshot that they'd ever return to the idea of Shaman tanks, but it's still a little disappointing to hear. I understand class balance (and spec balance, since Enhancement is really the only practical place for these talents to go) is always a challenge, but I think some tweaks could really go a long way to making this a reality:
  • Stoneskin Totem could increase mail armor to plate-levels and also dramatically increase a Shaman's overall threat
  • Frost Shock could have it's threat increased and a talented effect to "force the target to attack the caster," for use as a single-target taunt
  • Magma Totem (specially talented or glyphed) could be used for establishing AoE threat, like Consecration
  • Rockbiter Weapon could add defense rating, similar to the DK's Rune of Stonesking Gargoyle
  • Additionally, since there's no defense rating on hunter mail, some talent would be needed to convert existing gear into tanking gear (perhaps converting Agility into Defense)
  • In order to make the use of a shield required, add a new type of imbue: Stone Barrier, which dramatically increases stamina (and maybe defense, too) when applied to the Shaman's shield. This shield imbue idea could be extended to Elemental and Restoration as well, with something like Air Barrier (haste), Molten Barrier (spellpower) or Ice Barrier (mp5 with a slowing effect, like Frost Armor).
Of course there's also the issue of PvP balance, as the ideas have the potential of making Enhancement OP in battlegrounds and arena, but maybe buffing survivability isn't such a bad idea? :)


Skraps said...

I turned in my sword and board a long time ago, but this shaman tanking thing is intriguing. Especially the concept of certain totems acting as stances or presences. Maybe if this happened I would dual spec healing/tank.

Rhabella said...

Forget the shield idea, though great...shaman could have been the dual weild tanks.

As a pally, I am always saddened at just how little tanking maces there are, it would have been nice if between the Hammer of Quiet Mourning and Ulduar, there were more tanking maces, and if shaman had not been phased from tanking, it would have been a logical choice weapon wise.

Remember that druids become crit immune through talents, so that could have been an easy option as well.

Talents that give additional dodge from agility over the base or even a modifier for parry like the DK's have from some stat like intel and call it "mental quickness," oh wait...

Great post BTW!

theMiks said...

Preface by me never being a tank.

I've looked into this for a couple of months, trying to figure out how to get the tank ratings up.

Gear would have to be PvP gear as a base to get your 5.6% crit hit reduction from resilience instead of defense rating, they subsidise the rest with tank trinkets, rings, etc and enchants and gems. These can provide defense rating and additional parry and dodge. Don't know if you'd be able to reach the caps, though.

Then you get to worry about cast rotations. Frost shock for single target taunt, and chainlightning (with maelstrom weapon). The rotation would have to be similar to warriors and druids. Probably best as single target tanks. The AOE thing is a hard thing to overcome.

Savin (Nay) Wangtal said...

As cool as tanking Shaman would be, I'm against it. It's just too much to balance. At least as the main tank anyway.
I like your idea with using the totem. It would be nice if Shaman can actually do some form of kite/tank CC. Sure, it's a horribly small niche, but I think it would give enough of a flavor for Shaman, as well as playing into giving shaman more ways to peel themselves from DPS in PvP.

The Q&A had me pretty psyched up though. I really like their direction with totems. I love totems--they are by far my favorite mechanics in WoW. I love it so much that I wished there is actually a talent tree devoted to using totems. But I'll settle for this.

Stormsong said...

Well, I'm currently leveling a project of mine, a Shaman tank, and I've set my goal to become a viable tank while overcoming all the obstacles that the lack of taunt, mail/leather gear without def rating and so on put in my way. I'm also making a blog about it so feel free to drop by and check my progress!

Anonymous said...

I've been doing some math and such.

Overall, a shaman wouldn't be able to dual-wield tank. First off because we'd be relying on avoidance (much like a druid) and then would lose a severe amount of damage mitigation from our armor that the shield provides, whereas DKs get that armor from Frost Presence and Druids get it from Dire Bear Form.

Secondly, we'd have to gear much like a druid would and go for avoidance/stamina while getting tanking trinkets, jewelry, cloak, shield and weapon.

We also have the fact that PvP gear no longer benefits outside of PvP scenarios like it used to in BC. Resilience has no effect outside of BGs/arenas anymore. I've tested it, and was critable while having the proper crit reduction chance of 5.6%.

Basically, we'd have to put a shield on, and the tanking items we're able to use, and then gear with enhancement gear while speccing something like 15/56/0, with emphasis on damage avoidance and shocks.

And then on top of that, we'd have to gem for almost solid avoidance (dodge, since we don't have parry if we're not dual-wielding) and enchant for stamina.

Lastly, we have the issue of threat. While we know that Frost Shock is our main threat building ability, it has an unfortunate cooldown. So we then have to try and pump out as much dps as possible to "hopefully" out threat other classes.

Basically, it is a feasible theory, but with quite a few kinks. Our biggest issue would have to be threat, because I stood in the middle of a cleave from a raid boss and was hardly hit. Overall, we need approximately 45% dodge minimum, and about 40k health minimum. Both of these being unbuffed (if dodge is buffable?).

Great idea for all of us to have, and I'm working it out in game right now to fix issues with it. Hopefully I'll be able to stay in my resto spec and just put out some backup heals, dps, and share part of the damage that the tanks receive in our raids.

Could make the runs a lot easier overall?