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Tank Talk: The irresistible fight


Tank Talk is WoW Insider's raid-tanking column, promising you an exciting and educational look at the world of getting the stuffing thrashed out of you in a 10- or 25-man raid. The column will be rotated amongst Matthew Rossi (Warrior/Paladin), Adam Holisky (Warrior), Michael Gray (Paladin), and Allison Robert (Druid). Our aim is to use this column to debate and discuss class differences, raid-tanking strategies, tips, tricks, and news concerning all things meatshieldish.

Since Tank Talk began, we've gotten a few questions from people about raid fights that require tanks to use resist gear. With all of Burning Crusade's raid attunements now removed, and with lots of guilds testing the waters in Tier 5 and Tier 6 before Wrath hits, I figure now's as good a time as any to discuss what resist sets you're going to want if your guild is intent on progression. The resist gear issue is nowhere near as dire as it was in vanilla WoW (Molten Core, anyone?) and in general the raid as a whole rarely needs to worry.

Tanks are special. But you knew that already, didn't you?

This guide covers all of the existing 10-man and 25-man content in the game outside of Sunwell Plateau:

KARAZHAN


Not a problem. With the exception of Curator (some guilds on very early Kara runs used arcane resist for extra survivability versus the Astral Flare adds), there's no fight here where you'll benefit from resist gear of any type.

GRUUL'S LAIR

Another vacation! There are multiple nontraditional "tanks" on the High King Maulgar fight -- ranged DPS typically "tanks" Kiggler the Crazed, a high-stamina mage Spellsteals Krosh Firehand's damage-reduction buff and tanks him, and warlocks enslave Olm the Summoner's felhound adds and use those to tank him. The two or three real tanks on the fight will be occupied with tanking Blindeye the Seer (who hits like a wet noodle), "tanking" Olm just to keep him distracted while warlocks enslave new felhounds, and -- the big one -- tanking the High King himself. If you're the High King tank, you'll want a high-mitigation/high-avoidance gear set for this as he hits fairly hard for a Kara-geared tank.

Gruul's damage is entirely physical (ask your mages to cast Amplify Magic on the raid) so again, resist gear is a moot point.

SERPENTSHRINE CAVERN

Here we go. Tier 5 is where you'll really have to start worrying about building different resist sets.

Hydross the Unstable is the big one. It's not that unusual for guilds to skip him (if you stay to the extreme left of his platform and keep going, he won't aggro) and head straight to the easier Lurker Below. This used to give guilds and tanks a little more time to get their Hydross resist sets together -- or at least that's what everyone used to do before it was possible to clear trash all the way to Vashj. Hydross requires at least 3 to 4 tanks, one of whom must be capped (365) frost-resist, and one of whom must be capped (365) nature-resist. The other one or two tanks will be tanking the four adds that Hydross spawns each time he changes form, and they can use either a mixture of nature and frost resist gear or simply use high-stamina gear (after experimenting with the former, I found that a high-stam set was ultimately more useful).

A word of warning; the amount of time, money, and sheer hassle that goes into making a full frost- or nature-resist set for a tank is exorbitant. The fight was basically a pacing mechanism, as you couldn't do Vashj without killing Hydross. Now that that's no longer true, you may wish to skip Hydross entirely because he doesn't drop anything particularly compelling (badge gear is generally better) and you will not need a frost or nature-resist set for any other BC raid. Also, if your guild is heavily reliant on Druid tanks, you're out of luck; there is no epic frost or nature-resist leather in BC. You can put together usable Druid tanking sets if you get lucky with green or blue resist gear on the AH, but the stats are rarely as good as the ones on the epic plate resist gear available. In general, plan on using warriors or paladins as main tanks on the fight with your druids as off-tanks.

Having said that, if you're a raid completist like me or you're just stubborn as hell, start stockpiling materials for the sets as soon as you can. I started putting together a list of individual items needed, but frankly I can't do it any better than Wowwiki already has. Wowwiki's Hydross Resist Gear is basically the fight's gearing bible and gives an excellent run-down on exactly what you'll need in each slot. But to give you a shortcut at what you're looking at, let's assume for the moment that you'll use one or two offtanks with high-stamina rather than resist gear and you're just worried about two 365+ resist sets for your main Hydross tanks.

You will need the following:
Whew.

You sure you want to do all this rather than just head straight to Vashj?

MEANWHILE, IN THE REST OF SERPENTSHRINE

The Lurker Below, Morogrim Tidewalker, Fathom-Lord Karathress, and Lady Vashj do not require any resist gear. All of them have some form of magic damage, but nothing sufficiently destructive that you'd want to want to switch out of proper tanking gear. Whichever tank you've got on Morogrim should probably be the tank who takes Tidalvess (the Shaman add) on the Karathress fight due to the insane melee damage done by both.

Leotheras the Blind is an odd duck. He's a two-tank encounter: one should be a traditional tank (we used a paladin, as Avenger's Shield is very good for picking Leo up after a phase change), and the other should be a warlock with high fire resistance who'll tank Leo through demon form while he's hurling Chaos Blast (paladins, druids, and warriors CAN tank demon form with fire resistance gear, but it's less advisable due to likelihood of Chaos Blast's AoE damage wrecking your melee DPS). I'll be going over fire resistance gear shortly, so just scroll on down. Otherwise, if you're one of the real (ahem) tanking classes, this won't be a resist fight for you unless you don't have a warlock. Actually, if you're one of the real tanking classes and Leo is a progression fight for your guild, odds are good you won't be in the raid at all. Enjoy the bench!

TEMPEST KEEP -- OR, WHY TO START BUILDING YOUR FIRE RESIST SET WHILE YOUR GUILD IS WORKING ON LOOT REAVER

High Astromancer Solarian
used to require a full raid in arcane resist, but thankfully they got rid of that. Void Reaver isn't a resist fight but rather an aggro-control one; wear your threat-set.

Al'ar is quite an interesting fight and still among my favorites. A great deal of fire damage occurs during this fight, but most of it is either incidental or avoidable. As such, the two or three tanks on Al'ar herself will want to stick with regular tanking gear. The one person who will benefit from some amount of fire resistance will be the tank or tanks who collect the Embers of Al'ar (wee phoenixes!) who spawn as Al'ar moves from platform to platform in Phase 1 and after Meteors in Phase 2.

Individually the adds don't pose much threat (they have a fairly weak melee attack), but they explode for a tremendous amount of fire damage upon death and do typically have to be killed under most Al'ar strategies. It's theoretically possible to kill Al'ar without killing any of her adds if your raid DPS is very high, but the amount of damage done to the add tank -- and the 3% health loss suffered by Al'ar each time an add dies -- generally makes it worthwhile to put ranged DPS on the adds and melee DPS on Al'ar herself. Having to survive each Ember's explosion and knockback is what makes fire resist gear useful, and if you're any kind of serious raid tank in BC 25-man content from Tier 5 on up, here's what you'll eventually need to get (if not for this fight, than for others):

Leather:

Inferno Hardened Boots: 36 stamina, 45 fire resistance. Available for 20 Badges of Justice from G'eras in Shattrath (the "old" badge vendor).

Inferno Hardened Chestguard: 54 stamina, 60 fire resistance. As above, 30 badges.

Inferno Hardened Gloves: 52 stamina, 40 fire resistance. 20 badges.

Inferno Hardened Leggings: 69 stamina, 55 fire resistance. 30 badges.

Plate:

Inferno Tempered Boots: 36 stamina, 45 fire resistance. Available for 20 badges from G'eras.

Inferno Tempered Chestguard: 54 stamina, 60 fire resistance. 30 badges.

Inferno Tempered Gauntlets: 52 stamina, 40 fire resistance. 20 badges.

Inferno Tempered Leggings: 69 stamina, 55 fire resistance. 30 badges.

All of the epic fire resistance sets available from G'eras will run you 100 Badges of Justice (plus whatever amount of gold it will cost on your server to enchant the set -- and yes, if you're tanking, you DEFINITELY need to enchant it!) and provide you with an even 200 fire resistance. 200 FR is enough to get you through tanking the Al'ar adds, but let's assume for the sake of argument that you need to be capped at 365 fire resistance. That situation is certainly going to happen before you get much farther into 25-man raid content.

Your goal as a tank is to get to 295 unbuffed resistance. A shaman's resistance totem or a paladin's aura will cover the last 70 points of whatever else you'll need for raid content (barring shadow, which a priest's Prayer of Shadow Protection will cover).

Ring:

If your guild is working on Al'ar then you've probably got the gear to manage Trials of the Naaru, which is the old Tempest Keep key questline started by A'dal. You'll need to finish quests in heroic Arcatraz, heroic Shattered Halls, and heroic Steamvault/Shadow Labyrinth. Afterward you'll be tasked with killing Magtheridon, for which you will be rewarded both 24g60s and the invaluable Phoenix-fire Band, which gives you 34 stamina and 30 fire resistance. There's really no replacement for this ring. Harass your raid leader until he/she agrees to do Magtheridon. Next?

Shield:

If you're a shield-using tank, the Fel Barrier is a drop off Nexus-Prince Shaffar in heroic Mana-Tombs, which is worth another 30 stamina, 22 fire resistance, and not incidentally, 22 shadow resistance. In general you can get away without using this, but it's not a bad option and may come in handy if you're a soak-tank on Mother Shahraz.

Neck:

Another option that's available to all tanks is the Pendant of Frozen Flame, made by jewelcrafters, or the Amulet of the Torn-heart, one of the rewards available at the end of the very long Cipher of Damnation questline in Shadowmoon Valley. Pendant gives you 18 stamina and 30 FR; Amulet gives you 30 stamina and 24 FR. Either is serviceable in the neck slot and you will need one of the two. I use Amulet myself.

Worst-case scenario -- you're a Druid tank without access to a shield, all of your server's jewelcrafters hate you, and nobody is putting any number of green or blue fire resistance items on the AH. You are now at 252 fire resistance. If all else fails and a better cloak doesn't go up on the AH, nab yourself 5 costume scraps from Wyrmcult mobs in Blade's Edge and go buy a Wyrmcultist's Cloak from the provisioner located inside the cave in the northernmost region of the zone. Slap Enchant Cloak - Greater Fire Resistance on it. Voila! Another 39 FR!

Our total is now 291 FR. All you have to do to reach the soft cap of 295 get some PvP shoulders or a helm and slap Inscription of Endurance on the shoulders (+7 resist to all schools of magic, available at Honored with the Violet Eye) or a Glyph of Fire Warding on the helm (+20 FR, available at Honored with Thrallmar/Honor Hold).

There you go. You don't need to be capped to tank Al'ar's adds, and even without an aura or totem, that will tide you over nicely.

THE END OF THE TIER 5 ROAD

We also know this as Kael'thas, who is still very much worth your time even though he's no longer necessary as a keying requirement for various goodies in Tier 6. This is a tank-intensive fight. You'll need a warlock or two to handle Grand Astromancer Capernian in phase 1, your hunters have to worry about the Netherstrand Longbow in phase 2, and you'll need at least 3 traditional tanks to handle the rest of the encounter, one of whom should be wearing at least 150-200 FR. The FR tank will have to handle the Phoenix spawns in phases 4 and 5. With everything else that's going on in the raid at that point, you want to be as easy to heal as possible, while still retaining enough mitigation and avoidance to be equally easy to heal while tanking adds in phase 2. The FR tank is probably best put to work in phase 2 tanking the Phaseshift Bulwark (which doesn't do a lot of damage) and the Warp Slicer (which does more damage, but is still manageable as it typically dies before the shield).

ZUL'AMAN: TROLLS-A-PLENTY

Some amount of FR may be helpful to the dragonhawk-add tank on Jan'Alai, but it's not necessary. Use 3 or 4 pieces of the epic set and you should be fine. If you outgear the encounter, I wouldn't bother.

Shadow resistance is helpful on the Hex Lord Malacrass fight due to the increasing damage done by his Spirit Bolts, but that's probably more for the raid than the tank/s. The offtank picking up the adds should probably use some; the main tank will probably want to use one or two pieces if any, depending on the type of damage you can realistically expect from Hex Lord. If you have a rogue, paladin, or warrior in the raid, then the odds are very good that you'll absorb a lot of melee damage if/when Malacrass "steals" their abilities, so use your best judgment. If your raid is learning the fight or your DPS is mediocre, using some shadow resist is probably a good idea. If you all know the fight and your DPS is good, it's probably not worth it. More on shadow resist once we get to Mother Shahraz.

MOUNT HYJAL: WOOT TRASH

Mount Hyjal is largely another vacation from resist gear on the tanks' part. Rage Winterchill doesn't require any resist gear on anyone's part and used to be Blizzard's present for finishing Vashj and Kael.

Anetheron doesn't require any resist gear on the main tank's part, but you'll need one or two offtanks around to snatch the infernals that he summons on random raid members. Some guilds simply tank these away from the main action and burn Anetheron down; others kill them immediately. Generally speaking, 150-200 FR on the offtanks is helpful as there's a better-than-average chance that the fight's mechanics will put some of the offtanks' healers out of commission temporarily (and Murphy's Law dictates that it'll happen on the night you forgot your FR set). Anetheron is otherwise fairly easy. Put a dash on your raiding notepad to mark the 3,586,437th kill that he fails to drop Pillar of Ferocity.

Kaz'rogal and Azgalor don't require any resist gear on the tanks' part. Paladins who aren't tanking Kaz'rogal may want to use some shadow resist to boost their chances of resisting Mark of Kaz'rogal (otherwise, just bring plenty of mana pots or run the hell away from the raid if your mana pool is likely to hit 0). Other mana-users will want some amount of shadow resist for the same reason. Healers may want a bit of shadow resist on Azgalor to resist some of his silences. Offtanks will be occupied with tanking the doomguards that Azgalor spawns every 45 seconds during the encounter; the main tank will simply want to be careful and trinket (or stop attacking to prevent the chance of a dangerous parry) during Azgalor's AoE silence.

Archimonde, bless his filthy heart, doesn't require any resist gear and also can't crush, but bring your best mitigation/avoidance set anyway as he typically melees for 9-10K on a tank who's still gearing up in or for Black Temple. Doomfire is a major tank-killer during this encounter, so if any spawns on top of or around you (or just heads toward you; have someone call this out on vent), you'll want to rotate the big blue dude so you're not standing in it.

BLACK TEMPLE

The vast majority of Black Temple fights don't require a lick of resistance gear. Unfortunately, the ones that do are real doozies.

Consider yourself safe for Naj'entus, Supremus, Shade of Akama, Teron Gorefiend, Reliquary of Souls, Gurtogg Bloodboil, and Illidari Council. It's once you hit Mother Shahraz that things start to get interesting (OK, OK, you don't actually see Council until after Shahraz, but bear with me here).

Mother Shahraz is a fight where an unhealable amount of raid damage occurs unless the raid is completely outfitted in capped shadow resistance. The sole exceptions to these, weirdly enough, are the three tanks. Your main tank should wear his/her mitigation/avoidance set (with DPS kitted in shadow resist, threat is rarely an issue), and your offtanks can wear either full tank gear or a mixture of tank/SR gear (the latter is generally preferable). Off-tanking Mother Shahraz is quite possibly the easiest tanking assignment currently in the game. You stand in one spot. You absorb Saber Lash. That....is about it. I have a friend who off-tanks Mother and has been known to place his toon on top of the main tank, set himself to auto-attack, and AFK entirely for the duration of the fight.

The real kicker to constructing an epic set of shadow resist gear is that nearly all of it requires Hearts of Darkness, which are random drops from Black Temple trash mobs. Once again, Wowwiki has bested everything else I could have said about the subject, and you'll find their guide to epic shadow resist gear here. If you're the main tank on this fight, don't bother. If you're an offtank, you'll probably want to swap in at least Night's End and the Medallion of Karabor, which should give you a nice chunk of SR without sacrificing too much mitigation against Saber Lash. If there's a chance that you'll be DPSing or healing on this fight at any point in the future, you'll want to have a full epic SR set made to keep around just in case, as otherwise your life expectancy on the fight could be charitably described as "laughably short."

Illidan is the last fight of classic Tier 6 and requires four tanks: one traditional tank (either a Warrior or a Paladin, but they must be a shield-tank with Shield Block/Holy Shield), two offtanks in capped fire resistance, and a warlock tank in capped shadow resistance.

The warlock should be using his/her epic SR gear from the Mother Shahraz fight, and your two offtanks will need to be both uncrittable and FR-capped. Druids with two pieces of Gladiator gear (regardless of season) should be comfortably uncrittable with the 35-resilience two-piece bonus; Paladins and Warriors having difficulty staying above 490 defense in a full resist set will probably want to use something like Adamantine Figurine or Shadowmoon Insignia, or an Elixir of Ironskin if they're really desperate (although in general I would recommend using a Flask of Chromatic Wonder to enable you to sub out as many FR pieces as possible in favor of high-threat or high-stamina gear).

The defense cap isn't absolutely required, but tank damage during phase 2 (which is by far the most difficult part of the fight, when the FR offtanks will be keeping the Flames of Azzinoth occupied while maintaining a decent kite pace and dodging Illidan's Eye Blasts) has the potential to be extremely high. All of the Flames' melee damage is fire-based, so assuming you're FR-capped, even a critical hit shouldn't wreck you, but your healers will have more than enough to worry about during this phase without having to heal through an avoidable crit.

Have fun storming the castle!

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warlock, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Tank Talk

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