It begins! The alpha client is being delved by intrepid dataminers, each lowered down into the depths of the code in rickety buckets, armed with a pickaxe and a headlamp, so that they can chip away at obfuscation and return with gold nuggets of much anticipated information. This is easily one of the most exciting points in the expansion cycle because the possibilities seem so endless. So far the spell changes and talents have been revealed for Protection Paladins, though not yet the artifact weapon talents. Even without a deeper look at the preliminary benefits attached to our artifact sword and board, there is still a whole lode of information that we can pore over. Let’s jump right in and see what’s in store for us so far.
What changes we are receiving though will have repercussions for how our beloved spec plays and how we will be tanking with our characters in the next expansion. Some of these repercussions are good, some are concerning. It’s a little too early to begin worrying, considering nothing is finalized yet. However, a good tank is always prepared for whatever can be thrown at them, and this is nothing different.
We’ve been here before. The long content drought where you find yourself raiding the same fights and the same bosses over and over again. It’s slightly more bearable if the encounters are particularly interesting, but that really hasn’t been the pattern this expansion. What’s a tank to do when you find yourself repeating the same old dances moves? Is it possible to shake things up so you can slog through another dozen months of the same raid content without going completely off your rocker?
A little more than four years ago–where does the time go?–Ghostcrawler posted a Dev Watercooler that would change tanking forever. In “Threat Level Midnight”, Ghostcrawler outlined what would come to be known as active mitigation, promising to “shift more tank mitigation to require active management.” We’ve been tanking under this new regime for the length of an entire olympiad now. It’s been tweaked and improved a few times from class to class as the expansions passed, and now the question is: was this new system an upgrade? Is tanking more fun now with active mitigation than it was before, and are there improvements that still could be made?
Blizzard makes it sound like Legion is going to feature a real push at redesigning the specs to make them more fun and to better capture the class fantasy of each. This is a very excellent thing, and very long overdue. While Protection Paladins are in an ok place, they could be so much better. Our spell effects could be better looking and more impactful, our abilities could have more of a “pow” to them, and our rotation could be tweaked to make it more fun to execute. It’s time for the traditional pre-expansion wishlist – let’s plunk ourselves down on Great-father Winter’s lap and see what we can dream up.
Like hiking a serious mountain, we’ve now breached the alpine zone and have the peak in sight. And much like how the air thins out at this point in the climb, so does the quantity of Orcs we have to suffer. Archimonde awaits just over the crest, but first we must throw down his vanguard: Zakuun, the torturer of Grommash Hellscream; Xhul’horac, a malevolent being from the void; and the reanimated vengeance of Mannoroth, who is essentially the Washington Generals of the Burning Legion.
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