There has been a lot of discussion around the overall changes for patch 1.3 - but of course being TankingTOR we're really only interested in what affects us directly as Tanks right? So with that in mind I'm going to take a look at the patch notes and give my opinion on things.
Before I get started I want to say that I do not believe that things are as bleak as I keep reading on the forums. The conversations seem to start with "Tanks are going to be useless in 1.3" and go downhill from there. Up to this point I've read some of the original posts to get an idea of what people are worried about and just stopped reading after that.
Unfortunately not all my tanks have been copied over, so until it goes live no one will really know how it completely affects them for sure - much of this will be from information I've gotten from other people and extrapolated with my own opinions.
(I'm just reading down the patch notes, these are not in any particular order)
Worth noting -> Reticles now appear green/red depending on if they are friendly or hostile, really looking forward to this.
|A real Tank's view of most fights|
In the end, good tanks will be good and didn't have an issue with threat. Bad tanks will be bad - and likely had issues. Running EC HM the other night this was pretty apparent to me after I was asked to switch back to Stormcaller to start the fight because our other tank couldn't snap up the aggro fast enough at the start.
Many of the complains I've seen have revolved around doing less damage. Which is true, they did lower the single target damage for some skill and upped the AOE damage ... which I think probably evens out in the end. For those of you "tanking" in warzones in DPS gear trying to do as much damage as possible in a tank spec this will hurt you more than the rest of us that understand tanking in Warzones does not equal doing the most damage.
If instead of trying to max your damage you are working on survivability, threat management and utility you'll likely find these changes as welcome as I do.
Blade/Sonic Barrier now scales with stats. Yay. I unfortunately didn't see that effect happening on the PTS when I was testing. My barrier was still only absorbing 960 damage in Rakata gear with the set bonus. I'm hoping it was an oversight and is actually working now.
I tested again today and I was getting 785 damage absorbed without the 20% set bonus boost. This is in 7/12 pieces of campaign gear. So however it does scale, it scales badly. Or it scales with stats that we don't use.
Single Saber Mastery - this change is one of the main ones flying around the forums discussing how the Defense spec will now become useless. I will admit, losing 6% of my damage off the top will suck. The real unfortunate thing is - there isn't anywhere better to put these points. For tanks, that means I'll be getting back the 3% Defense that I'm losing out in from Riposte.
Dust Storm/Quake: Cyclone slash now applies the accuracy debuff to targets. Which is cool, but unnecessary since you can keep it up just by using sweep/smash. Unless the plan was for you to use it on mob packs that die rapidly and you are on to new mobs before your cooldown is ready.
Hilt Strike/Backhand - Why do they keep at this skill? They lowered the damage, then lowered the damage, and now are lowering the damage. Are Guardians really that OP? I know each loss of damage has come with a decrease of focus cost - but TBH, I'd rather have it cost focus and do more damage than have it do less damage and cost no force. Does anyone struggle to get off a hilt strike during combat? If you're using it as an opener you're probably doing it wrong.
Guadian Slash/Crushing Blow - The single most controversial change that has everyone up in arms. Damage has been decreased, now instead of doing more damage when there are 5 stacks of armor reduction present it will hit two nearby enemies and apply 3 stacks of armor reduction to them. Also knocks down standard and weak enemies. The damage is "smart" (which is a new thing) and will not hit CC'd targets.
From my testing this means approximately a 500 point reduction is damage at 5 sunder stacks. This is made up for by the damage it does to secondary targets. The downside - is that on boss fights there aren't any secondary targets. So, in the end this will be a damage nerf for most boss encounters. For any and all trash pulls this will be a damage and threat increase.
Personally, for boss fights I don't need the added damage - I rely on my DPS to kill stuff. For trash pulls it'll be nice to have an AOE that does High Threat and spreads armor reduction stacks. Leap -> Smash -> Sunder -> Guardian Slash = 3 targets with 5 armor stacks and high threat.
I've run through some Flashpoints and done my usual thing on the test server. The loss in damage isn't that big of a deal. It doesn't prevent me from holding threat and actually makes many things easier when used properly. In PvP I'm going to miss the damage, but again that isn't my role in PvP (to kill stuff) - my role is actually buffed by being able to spread armor debuffs like the plague.
The Shadow/AssassinThis tank class was the hardest hit with nerfs through the new patch. To be fair, they were out performing both of the other tanking classes and this was a needed adjustment. There were some fights that I was able to easily solo on my Shadow that were impossible with almost any other character.
Project - new animation to bring it in line with shock. I'm actually dissappointed that the crying got this far and they changed the game to compensate. What did they do? They made the projectile appear right next to the target and smash into them at like light speed. If you blink, you will completely miss the animation. This was actually a disappointing change to me, since I particularly liked the other animation.
Healing from Combat Technique/Dark Charge lowered by 50%, armor bonus lowered to 115% (from 150%). Most people are quite up in arms about this particular change. TBH I think it's time that the self healing was lowered. The whole design of the shadow allowed them to get much more effectiveness out of the passive healing talent than was likely designed. Some fights became trivial with the self healing, allowing me to tackle harder challenges earlier on my Shadow than any other character.
The armor bonus isn't as big as it sounds. Looking at it it's 35%, but that's just 35% of the bonus. This actually equates to approximately a 4% armor decrease. So a 4% increase in damage taken - definitely not game breaking by any means.
Force Breach/Discharge - Now generates a high amount of threat. Awesome. The more skills that pump out more threat the better. This one is also an AOE which will boost AOE threat even further.
Kick/Spike now costs 20 force down from 30. This isn't a heavily used skill in PvE, but in PvP this will sure be handy.
Battle Readiness/Overcharge Saber - This skill has completely changed. Instead of decreasing the rate limit this skill now brings the passive healing back in line with where it is currently and increases the passive damage output. I'm not sure how I feel about this - will it be more or less effective?
Currently I use this on cooldown whenever I'm <85% health - so I guess my usage won't change since it's designed to do the same thing. Overall this is a healing loss with the new iteration (like 40% less), which I guess lines up with the overall reduction in healing to the skill.
Slow Time/Wither - No longer damage CC'd enemies, this will allow tanks to use this in the middle of pulls to hold aggro instead of only at the end, or when they can safely seperate bad guys. Best change of them all.
Harnessed Shadows/Darkness - Healing reduced from 12% to 8% of max health (2% instead of 3% per tick). Coupled with the reduction in healing from the passive tank stance this second reduction in healing is making for the large outcry. Personally I think Shadows have more active survivability than any of the other tanking classes. I don't see that these changes will make as big of a difference as people seem to think.
It's true that this was a change aimed at PvP that will affect PvE as well. I don't remember anyone saying "lets take a Shadow because of their self heals instead of this Guardian/Vanguard". In fact many healers I've talked to have said that they dislike shadows because they take more damage overall and often one or the other ends up overhealing (either the passive tanking talents or the healer himself).
The Vanguard/Powertech( I find it interesting with the changes to the skill tree that they weren't refunded their points - does anyone have Static Surge that doesn't have Storm? I wonder how they'll port that over ... or maybe they just didn't mention it?)
Superchanged Cell (Ion/Gas) - Now increases the DOT damage by 25% instead of the passive damage from Ion/Gas Cylinder. I think overall this will be a higher increase in DPS than previous. It actually feels like this is what it was supposed to do in the first place but they messed it up somewhere in the execution.
This also allows High Impact Bolt/Rail Shot to affect up to 4 additional targets with the Overload DoT. This damage is smart so won't affected CC'd targets and generates a high amount of threat. These last changes are totally awesome for tanking as a whole. I was just talking with someone the other day asking why Vanguards didn't get any high threat abilities.
Static Shield/Flame Shield - Critical Hit bonus % was cut in half, down to 8% per point from 15% per point. This will be quite a large decrease in damage. They might be lowering the damage here because we don't need it to maintain aggro as much now that we have an increased threat boost and HiB/RS now has high threat.
Static Surge/Flame Surge - They gutted the extra crit damage and instead increased our AOE damage and added a new mechanic. So this skill now makes the next two Explosive Surge/Flame Sweep free (1 free per point) and ups their damage by 6% per point.
Again I see this moving more toward an AOE snap threat aid. This will most often be used by a Tank charging into a fight (opener) then popping his AOE twice (for free) to snap aggro quickly from all nearby mobs. I actually can see this working out great. It's unfortunate that we lost ~20% damage on crit from our SS/RP, but (I'll say it again) damage isn't the role we are there to play. With the other changes to our skills we don't have to put out as much damage to maintain as much threat rating.