Tanking in Wrath of the Lich king
There have been a few posts regarding tanking in Wrath of the Lich King.
Threads have popped up in several class forums that seem to be converging on a few of the same issues.
1) Our goal in Lich King is for all 4 tanking classes to be viable.
2) We would like for tanking to be a little more fun. I'm going to leave this vague on purpose, but it is definitely a concern.
3) In 5-player instances, most warriors, druids, paladins and death knights should be effective tanks. The healing specs may have a harder time than the dps specs. Arms wariors, Fury warriors, Ret paladins, Ferals and most DKs should do fine.
4) In 5-player heroics, the expectation is that the tank has a heavy investment in tanking talents and appropriate gear. Arms warriors might have trouble tanking a heroic unless they overgear the instance.
5) For raids, we want all 4 tank classes to be viable. If your group has e.g. a Prot paladin and Feral druid as main tanks with appropriate gear and reasonable skill, you should be good to go.
6) This is a shift in philosophy for us. Previously, we sometimes tried to steer Ferals as being better off tanks than main tanks. We also expected specific classes to appear in the raid. Our new assumption is that you might have any of the 4 tanking classes as a tank. We are trying to achieve as much parity as we can among the 4 tanks without making them too similar. If nearly all guilds want the same class as their MT, we've failed.
7) This is a big one: the game isn't finished. We aren't spending too much effort yet to make sure mitigation, threat and tools are similar across the 4 classes at level 80 in blue or purple gear. Likewise, your talent trees and core abilities aren't finished. Tanking (and PvP) need to have a lot of other pieces of the game in place before we can really get the numbers right. It's fine (useful even) to point out when you feel a particular ability, talent, class or build is too good or not good enough. But please don't infer the work in progress as a reflection of our intent. If we end up changing our minds or if things don't work out, it will be posted here.
8) There are a lot of changes in Lich King that change tanking and raiding in general. I won't list them all out here, but keep in mind things like itemization changes, widespread raid buffs, consumables, UI changes, etc. Just keep them in mind. We're not in Tempest Keep anymore.(source)
If druids had gigantic health pools but lower mitigation and avoidance than a warrior, that would be tanking flavor. It would mean you heal the bears a little different -- they might drain more mana, but the damage would be more predictable. In really long fights, the warrior might have an advantage. In a fight where a boss hit quickly for less damage per hit, the warrior might have an advantage. In fights with periods of really big damage, the druid might have an advantage. In magic fights where armor was less of a factor, the druid might have an advantage. This is just an example. Our overriding concern is making sure the tanks have the tools, threat and mitigation they need to tank. A secondary concern is making sure they don't feel too similar. (source)
As far as a PvP- snare ability goes, we are going to try something like removing the cooldown and root from Chains of Ice. It will drop the target's movement to zero, and the target will regain 5% movement speed per sec for 20 sec (10 in PvP). It's a physical debuff that cannot be dispelled and isn't subject to diminishing returns. Let us know how it goes. If it's too spammy now, we can put a cooldown back on it. (source)
At the moment, the only difference between Plague Strike and Scourge Strike is the damage. Both can remove hots. Scourge Strike's damage appears lower than it is because it hits for Shadow damage and thus ignores armor. (source)
We're not done with Ferals. The builds you get are often a week or more behind ours, and that assumes that a designer actually went in and made changes. It's impossible for us to balance the threat and mitigation of the 4 tanking classes until we can take a look at the level 80 characters, wearing raid-level gear, and fighting a raid-level encounter. None of that content is done yet.
I said above that I think the old design of "You can't ever be a MT, but you get to be a terrific OT" feels dated. But in order to be a MT as good as a paladin or warrior, you can't also dps as well as a Fury warrior with the same spec. I don't think anyone is asking for that, but realistically the only way to address is it with talents. (And before someone asks, if you like the OT role, you can still do that too.)
I'm fine bouncing between druid, warrior, paladin and death knight forums posting "You will be able to MT Ulduar without gimping your raid" every few days if that's what it takes. (source)
Those statements aren't mutually exclusive. A druid can be a better MT on some fights and a warrior a better MT on some fights without the fight being impossible for the other class. I can't promise that each raid will have an equal number of fights that benefits one tank over the other, and ultimately it shouldn't really matter. If your guild has a bear and prot paladin as your 2 MTs for LK raiding, you are good to go. At no point will you stop and say, "Gee if we only had a warrior MT, we would have beaten that boss by now."
The comments on "niche" are more to address concerns that the 4 classes have to be carbon copies of each other. Warriors, like other tank classes, are worried that with all of the changes, their role will somehow be eliminated. I am trying to reassure you all that that is not the case. I think we can have say druids have larger stamina pools and warriors have more mitigation without making one of them the tank that 90% of raids run with. (source)
The plan is for for Battle Shout to go raid wide. A lot of buffs will be going raid wide. (source)
We think we can make the Prot tree more fun. Without talents like Defiance, there are already a few less mandatory talents, and we think we can make even more interesting choices. We definitely can improve Prot dps, so that it doesn't feel so painful to go do dailies or run a 5-man in a dps role. (source)