Welcome to part 3, we are near the end of the series but aren’t quite there yet. In this article I will be going over Tanking. Like every role in World of Warcraft, Tanks too are under constant scrutiny and ridicule. Theorycrafting and google searches abound about what tank is the best. I will try to answer that in this article but I must preface it and say, outside of the most hardcore of mythic raiding, each tank class is good. The different classes allow diverse styles and each have their own difficulties and skill caps. Where some classes are struggling, some the Public Test Realm is addressing and will hopefully be able to buff or tweak them enough to increase survivability.
- Tanks hold the boss or mobs attention through a mechanic called Threat. Threat is measured when an ability does damage to a boss. A tanks threat % per point of damage is 100s of times higher than a DPS. That being said, it is still possible for a DPS to get threat over a tank. For situations like this or during a swap mechanic, a Tank is also given a Taunt. Taunting a target forces that target to focus you and attack you and only you for several seconds, it will also place you at the top of the targets threat meter. It will be your job to keep yourself there or not.
- Current parses show Guardian Druid edging out into first place. Making them the most survivable spec right now. This is followed closely by Blood Death Knights, Protection Paladin, Protection Warrior, Vengeance Demon Hunter and lastly Brewmaster Monks.
What is each Tank the best at?
- Protection Warrior: MITIGATING!! Everything that comes at you, you parry it, block it, absorb it or dodge it. You don’t believe in magic to make you strong. Not the strongest at self healing, but who needs heals when you don’t actually ever get hurt!?
- Blood Death Knight: Healing, you wear plate but don’t believe in a shield, at least not a physical one. How can you swing that giant sword with a flimsy buckler strapped to your arm like that
warrior over there. You will cleave into your enemies and heal from the blood you spill. Often leaving healers wondering what to do with you around until a friendly dps makes sure to take a little too much damage in their adventures of “will it burn” (yes..yes every time. you will burn..)
- Protection Paladin: When doing everything a warrior does isn’t enough and you want to feel just a little like an avenger. You are a hybrid of tanks, you are good at healing, closing distance, mitigating damage and praying blizzard will one day make you not be quite so pink. (you are always gonna be pink though.)
- Vengeance Demon Hunter: Like a bat from hell you have arrived, channeling fel energy. You are squishy. Often having health dives that can make a healer think you are attached to a bungee cord. You are a fantastic healer but
- your own health bar is never smooth. You can fly..ok glide..ok maybe fall with style ? Wreathed in fel flame you are capable of much, but if you are not played wisely and carefully you will just be a floor tank.
- Guardian Druid: When having a shield is the easy way out, you can dodge that attack, because bears are renowned acrobats right? And when you don’t dodge that attack you are just a meat shield, soaking in damage like its nothing with that Impressive health pool. Strong Mitigation, large health pools and ability to regenerate yourself make you stand out, also for that dps that is playing “will it burn” you even come with a battle rez to get him back into the fight, we all know the Death Knight COULD do it, but he’s too busy healing himself to try.
- Brewmaster Monk: Equipped with a somewhat suggestive like of alcohol here you are, breaking kegs on people, rolling around and breathing fire when it suits you. You are in fact a martial arts master. Unique to Brewmaster is Staggering. A portion of damage they receive is constantly shifted into a Damage over Time effect that left unchecked can be quite substantial. Currently at the bottom of tank ability (but still very viable, I cannot say enough how much individual skill matters here).
You are a tank! what does that mean to you?
- A tank drives the group
- As a tank the job of driving the dungeon bus falls to you. Often if anyone else tries to take the lead the environment quickly reminds them exactly how inhospitable it really is for anyone that isn’t you. Try not to let this power go quite to your head like it seems to with so many
- You are MIGHTY, but few. Tanks are the smallest percentage of players. Towering 30 man groups are still tuned to only need 2 tanks, yes sometimes in a raid environment you can apply some “cheese” to simplify a mechanic and add a third tank but nothing is currently designed to ask for that.
- You get hit in the face. A lot. (no no, its a pro I swear).
- You are a shield for your team, even if you do not have a shield yourself (roughly half of you).
Tanking Dungeons versus Tanking Raids
I feel like in a Raid environment a tank has a bit more leeway, perhaps I should say “felt” like. I have since had a few experiences in Emerald Nightmare that make me think it may in fact be harder to “share the load”, if you will. I also must say Emerald Nightmare seems like it has been a fantastic raid for tanks, in almost every fight the Tanks on my team have to really get involved. In a Raid you and your other tank need to sync up, I am talking Pacific Rim style drifting. If you do not execute your taunts correctly, run the boss, adds or mechanics correctly you will die or severely injure or kill other raid members.
In Dungeons you are THE TANK. Often outside of challenge mode, Dungeons haven’t been considered hard at all once an expansion’s raiding comes out. Legion has a new take on this. First introducing Mythic Keystones which add health and damage to everything in a dungeon and at certain mythic+ levels adding random weekly modifiers to the mobs as well
Keystone Dungeons, for me, really put a Tank to the test. In many ways everyone but especially the tank. Everything is more, and now your on a timer. What was a trash mob pull is now scarier than a boss sometimes and you have to put a lot of thought into how you are going to move and execute everything to get it done.
Tips for better Tanking
- Communicate Intent
- Let the team know when you have activated a long cooldown mitigation, Overlapping a pair or more of cooldowns can sometimes be really detrimental to “chaining” them to have a constant reduction for a longer period of time. Even some dps have abilities they could contribute to this, do not be afraid to ask for them.
- Chain Stuns effectively
- In a dungeon setting most of the mobs will be able to be crowd controlled. If you execute stuns and interrupts well you will reduce the damage going out to you and your party significantly. This allows you to focus more on damage dealing abilities for a few moments instead of having to focus on survival
- Your own DPS is not trivial
- You won’t often beat a DPS, well you shouldn’t at least. Every bit of damage you deal is valuable, it reduces the length of time in a fight and will often increase your chance of success. Do not let this be your only focus, Surviving is still number one, do not neglect to use defensive abilities in the chase for more DPS.
- Make sure your healer has mana
- Before you go rambo and chain pull entire rooms, make sure the healer knows whats up. Be sure that the DPS won’t all go crazy and do all of their area of effect damage before you have enough threat to hold onto the mobs through it all. Also, make sure you stay in range of the healer and pause if you need to so that the healer can get some good and solid heals off on you before you continue.
- TAUNT and hold aggro
- they should be hitting you, no one else and as much as you can control it, make sure that happens.
In closing for part 3, Tanking is much more interactive than I have ever known it to be, to the point that it caused it’s fair share of hiccups on my own raid team as some mechanics became very unforgiving when a tank would make a mistake. I am glad that Blizzard has taken away so many “patchwerk” style fights and done so much to liven up this role. I know less about being a tank than I do about being a healer and especially so about being a DPS. It does seem to be much more rewarding now than in the past.
I will say it again, you are Mighty and you are the few. A good tank can be harder to find than anything else. Enjoy your instant queue times, don’t forget to bring a few of us DPS with you, we promise to be grateful!
You are welcome to follow this fledgling…Twitterer? @WoWMojoTips and ask me questions or let me know what you would like my next post to be about.
This article is Written by Mathew Zent – A guild leader and Leader of a Semi-Casual raid team.
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