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Posts with tag Tanks

What's going wrong with tanking in five player content?

Tanking is not always easy, mind you. But tanking can be an incredible amount of fun, and I hope that it'll make a real comeback in terms of popularity when Warlords of Draenor goes live. Right now, I feel like a few problems really keep tanking from being as universally popular as it could be.
  • Difficult to get starting gear - For most people, it's hard to get started as a tank. Gearing is an issue, because some tanks (DKs, warriors and paladins) need specific tanking gear, while even the leather tanks still generally use different stats to some degree, different enchants, different weapons for tanking than DPS or (especially) healing. This is a problem the gearing changes in Warlords should really help with.
  • Where can you learn it? - Tanking requires a different skill set from DPS or healing. While proving grounds exist, they don't really teach the most important part of being a tank - reacting to other players. It can be hard as a new tank to walk into a dungeon having never done it before. That leads into the third difficulty of picking up tanking.
  • Dungeons don't provide any sort of experience right now - With the wildly disparate gear levels on people running random dungeons, you can have a tank in 450 gear trying to hold aggro off of players in 580 gear. While it can be nice to be the tank in 580 gear, even you might have trouble when groups don't cooperate, run ahead of you, pull mobs half way across the zone, and generally simply refuse to act like any kind of groups at all. This is something I'm hoping the gear squish and ten levels will do away with - we'll all basically be on the same page when Warlords dungeons are being run.
While there are still a lot of places where tanking is both fun and rewarding - raiding (especially in a guild group, be it heroic, normal or flex), challenge modes, even in LFD or LFR if you get lucky - I do think it can be a lot to ask a new tank (whether or not she or he is a new player or just new to the role) to grow a thick skin fast enough to deal with the toxicity possible in the current random queue environment. Which is a real shame, because tanking is fun - it can be stressful, and oftentimes groups have an expectation of a tank doing the work of knowing how every fight works for them, but that's not always a negative.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Tanking and the future

One of the things I'm thinking about lately is how tanking is changing in Warlords of Draenor. In at least one major way, it's not changing - Active Mitigation established itself in Mists, based in part on DK tanking in Cataclysm, and it's going to be front and center in Warlords of Draenor. But right now, AM tanking heavily relies on four stats (depending on the tank class) and all four of those stats will be gone come Warlords, meaning that we're looking at a pretty significant change depending on the class. The remaining stat, mastery, is probably going up in value, and in addition, we'll have crit, haste, readiness and multistrike to consider. But stats aren't the whole of the game, and they're not the whole of the changes, either.

In addition to new stats, there are the abilities each tank will see affected by readiness to consider. There are also Draenor Perks for each tank spec, granted randomly as we level from 90 to 100. There are changes in what abilities exist, in what specs get them. Vengeance is gone, replaced with Resolve, buffing our self heals and absorbs. In short, while the basic idea remains the same - generate resources via attacks to spend on damage reduction in one fashion or another - how we go about it, how it interacts with us has so many changes that it's worth discussing in length. There's so much change coming in that I don't pretend I'll catch all of it, which is why we have comments, after all.

So what do I expect to see out of tanking coming 6.0? It should be noted, this discussion is based on the Warlords alpha patch notes and such datamining as I've looked over, and I freely admit I only tank on one class, so while these are general observations I may be missing key class specific factors.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Vengeance is now Resolve

This is one of the bigger changes (and one closest to my heart now that I'm tanking again) - Vengeance is gone in Warlords of Draenor, replaced with Resolve. Resolve is basically Vengeance minus the stacking buff to attack power, because of the way Vengeance interacted on certain fights. To put it into perspective, last night was my first night seriously tanking, and I was number four on total DPS - it would have been far higher had I not forgotten I was tanking for the first fight. At present, with Vengeance and tank AoE for purposes of picking up threat (plus, I admit, some fairly beefy Shield Slams once Vengeance stacks all the way up) you can see some ridiculous tank DPS, easily surpassing dedicated DPS players.

The solution being implemented here is to overall increase tank DPS without an unreliable mechanic like Vengeance adding different attack power depending on how much damage the tank takes. This also removes the temptation for tanks to deliberately take more damage in order to get Vengeance stacked up faster. So Vengeance is gone, and Resolve is implemented. How does it work?
  • Resolve improves self-healing and absorbs done by the tank to the tank (so no, it won't buff priest bubbles) based on the damage taken (ignoring avoidance and mitigation, same as Vengeance now) within the last 10 seconds, and your Stamina. This means stuff like Death Strike, Shield Barrier, things of that nature. If you cast a heal on someone else, Resolve won't buff it.
  • Each tank class' tanking mastery will now add 12% attack power, and the amount of attack power will scale with mastery as well. This is in addition to current affects, not replacing it - your tanking mastery will do what you're used to it doing, it'll just also do more.
  • Brewmaster monks will no longer deal less damage. That 15% damage penalty? Gone.
The goal here is for tanking damage to remain meaningful without overshadowing dedicated DPS players, something I feel is profoundly fair. Whether or not it works out for all classes we'll see when we get a chance to test it out, but the basic principle is sound - with tanks now using crit and haste (and the new stats Readiness and Multistrike as well - see Blood Craze here for just one potential use of Multistrike for tanks) we're in a situation where tanking DPS will likely go up just because they're wearing the exact same gear as DPS players. The age of Vengeance's unpredictable scaling probably needed to end.

The section of the patch notes detailing the change is, as always, behind the jump.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Monk, Warlords of Draenor

The coming tank squish?

When Wrath launched in 2008, the last thing I ever expected to see was a decline in the number of druid tanks. We'd just come off a successful expansion of not being Innervate bots, and I thought we'd capitalize on a new set of talents and skills in Wrath to hold our own against the brand-new death knight. Not so: The population of feral (now guardian) druids went into freefall and has never really recovered, and at the time, protection paladins took a hit too.

My best guess remains that the popularity of the death knight and the protection warrior in early Wrath pushed a lot of druids and paladins out of tanking. We had more role options than they did, so respeccing to melee, heals, or ranged DPS was a better option than getting yourself or others benched. There were other things going on that probably didn't help much, but at the end of the day it was a numbers game that the bear and paladin simply lost. It was a vivid lesson that design decisions that don't necessarily have much to do with your class or role can wind up having a serious impact on them anyway.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Patch 5.4 PTR: Vengeance changes

Patch 54 PTR Vengeance changes
If you're a tank in World of Warcraft you know what Vengeance is. Originally intended to allow tanks to keep up with increased DPS from improved gear with DPS stats on it while accumulating tanking gear that generally lacked those stats, it's turned into a means for tanking players to do chart topping DPS on some pulls (especially AoE ones with multiple tanked mobs). There's been a lot of discussion about what might happen with Vengeance in patch 5.4, and now we have our first look at what Blizzard is contemplating for the tanking specialization.
Rygarius - 5.4 PTR Patch Notes - August 2

Vengeance has received several changes.
  • Vengeance now grants Attack Power equal to 1.5% of the damage taken, down from 1.8% (The tooltip said 2% but it was actually 1.8%).
  • Tanks no longer receive Vengeance from many persistent area damage effects (standing in the fire) or from missed attacks (dodging and parrying an attack will continue to work as it has before).
  • There are now diminishing returns on Vengeance gains while tanking multiple targets. Each additional target grants progressively less Vengeance.


These changes are almost certainly aimed at reducing the very high DPS that we can see on trash pulls and boss fights with a great many streaming adds (such as Tortos' bats or the packs before Iron Qon) especially as we head into the final tier of gear for Mists of Pandaria, which would inflate these numbers even more. Raids that use tanks with the highest DPS tanks will probably feel these changes the most. As always, this is the PTR, so if you have an opinion on these changes getting on the test servers and testing them out is useful so you can give proper feedback.

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria

The Light and How to Swing It: The problem with tanks

The Light and How to Swing It The problem with tanks SAT
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

Last Thursday, Ghostcrawler tweeted something which caused a bit of a stir within the tanking community. In it he revealed that the devs were looking at some strict caps for Vengeance levels (30% of health for 10s, 50% for 25s) that would prevent tanks from using Vengeance to pursue unintended things like solo tanking a two-tank raid boss or standing in fire to stack really obscene amounts of attack power.

Now, this isn't another column about the virtues or not of Vengeance. That's a pretty mutilated horse at this point, and from the looks of it, the mechanic is not going anywhere any time soon. However, the brief rekindling of the Vengeance debate did once again shine some light on what is a continuing problem in WoW: what should tanks be allowed to do (in terms of damage output) and what can be done to keep players from parlaying excessive survivability into unintended advantages?

What do you do when one third (arguably two-thirds, a lot of this can apply to healers as well) of your players' roles revolves around the mitigation and prevention of damage, and the primary means you have of creating barriers or challenges for players is the threat of character death?

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Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

Tanks, healers, and a daily problem

Tanks, healers, and a daily problem
As someone who plays a guardian/restoration druid, I've had mixed feelings about Blizzard's move to the "dailies model." Of course, you don't need to be playing a tank or healer to feel that way -- it would appear that everyone on the planet has mixed feelings about the seemingly-endless march of Mists of Pandaria dailies -- but there's an special agony to them if you don't have a battle-ready DPS spec. Beefy mob health pools make killing anything as a healer last the approximate length of the Roman Empire, and because quest mobs rarely hit hard enough to make Vengeance a threat, tanks don't fare much better. I will grant that grinding Golden Lotus to revered did give me the opportunity to finish Gone With the Wind after all these years. (Spoiler alert: The North wins the Civil War.)

Now, dual-specs exist for just this reason -- i.e., so you don't have to quest on specs that are really designed for group play -- and I could avoid this problem if I really wanted, but here's the thing: I really like being a tank/healer. Whatever it takes to be a truly competitive DPS, I just don't have it, and I will tank or heal 5-mans and raids, happy as a clam, and hopefully contributing to a lower dungeon queue. By contrast, dailies leave me trying to collect every quest mob in sight to get enough Vengeance to AOE them down efficiently, but it feels really inconsiderate to do this while other players are trying to get the same mobs. And other players are always after them, because everyone's on the same rep grinds. Every day is like being trapped in the starting zone of a new expansion, and I honestly don't know if I have it in me to do this all over again on my alts (who are -- surprise, surprise -- tanks and healers).

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Dungeons and you - a guide to basic etiquette

Dungeons and you  a guide to basic etiquette
I am generally a tank, and therefore when I run heroics I tank them. This is not always the case. If I want DPS gear, I queue as DPS because it's only fair to perform the role you intend to gear up. This results in me ending up switching to tank after a previous tank has left, or the group has wiped a few times, about half the time I sign up to DPS. This is intensely frustrating to me, because I don't like having to switch and end up seeing the gear I came for, and signed up for, going to someone else because I'm tanking. I also don't like tanking after waiting in a queue for twenty minutes.

Therefore, this is a basics guide to dungeon running that covers a few things all groups should know, because I'm seeing a lot of groups that don't seem to know them. Five man dungeons are all about personal responsibility in the Mists of Pandaria era - you need to help keep yourself alive by making smart decisions.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Tanking Temple of the Jade Serpent

Tanking Temple of the Jade Serpent
While working on the warrior column this week, I realized I could give you guys a general guide to tanking the various Mists of Pandaria leveling dungeons, so here we go. The dungeons this time out are pretty fun and varied, and not particularly onerous to tank through.

First up is the Temple of the Jade Serpent. It's a lovely dungeon, with just enough bosses and trash to take up about 30 to 40 minutes of your time. What I like most about the temple is how the trash is all linked very specifically to the events of the temple's corruption. Which is totally our fault, by the way. Oops. Sorry, August Celestials. It's up to us to free Yu'lon's temple from the Sha.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria

Healers need something like the raid dummies

Healers need something like the raid dummies
If you didn't know by now, there will be a new raid dummy setup in Mists of Pandaria's latest beta build. They will be located in Shattrath and are designed to mimic a raid boss. They will have 50 million health, can be killed, respawn quickly and are set up in such a way that they won't interfere with other people's tests. They will not turn to face you, so you can practice DPSing from behind, and will give a full suite of raid buffs for the duration of your combat with the dummy.

The idea behind this new marvelous tool is to make it so players can get a better idea of their actual numbers in terms of damage output under the optimal conditions. It's a way to really bring simcrafting back into the game instead of solely through a spread sheet, adding a layer of practical application.

It's a fantastic idea, something that I think should have been around for a long while. While I agree something like this is fantastic for DPSers, lets not leave out the other player types as well. Something like this could be absolutely amazing for healers, something that I know would be most welcome.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

How I learned to love tanking again

Image
So yeah, I'm tanking again. There are a few reasons for this. Reason #1 is my experiences testing prot in the Mists of Pandaria beta. Quite frankly, I think it's going to be much easier to level to 90 as a tanking warrior, what with the spec working quite well on the beta at the moment. Since I expect us to be doing so by August at the latest, I wanted to get a jump on things.

Another reason is simple necessity. We needed a tank; I happen to be capable of doing the job and doing it well. Even back when threat was harder than it is now, I always knew I was a respectable tank. I pay attention to my positioning, I know how to use my cooldowns, and I've got a lot of experience with the role. When my guild found itself short a tank, it seemed like the right thing to do. It's just plain easier to recruit a DPSer and have someone established doing the tanking.

I've asked before if it's time to kill tanking. Almost a year down the road from that question, here I am tanking again. I think what I'm learning is that, at present, it's fairly easy to tank decently and not very hard to tank well, but tanking itself is now split into two halves, and one of them is actually more difficult than it has ever been. It's easier to learn but not easier to master.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Random raid factors and the high cost of failure

Klepsakovic over at Troll Racials are Overpowered has a thought-provoking post asking how Blizzard's advancing raid model is affecting players and how they relate to each other. In particular, he zeroes in on a point that I think a lot of players sense but never really articulate: Not every player in a raid is going to be equally stressed by a fight, and when the stressed party or parties is randomly determined, things get ugly fast.

Compare this to encounters where the primary difficulty is role-specific or even player-specific. Good DPSers pushed their output to the limit on Patchwerk, healers learned to anticipate damage during Malygos' Vortex while one or two people got good at yanking sparks into the raid, and tanks grew experienced with fast pick-ups on Kael'thas. But the average raid group, even when experienced, probably tripped over and over again on encounters like Teron Gorefiend or Anub'arak. When you can't control who gets targeted by Shadow of Death or Anub'arak's spikes and when the randomness limits the experience that any one player can get ... Well, it's easy to see how certain fights acquire the nightmare moniker.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: How to tank for non-tanks

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

So maybe you don't tank or perhaps have never tanked. Maybe you're new to the game, maybe you just haven't tried it out yet, maybe you used to tank but then stopped for whatever reason and aren't feeling comfortable picking it back up. Whatever your situation, the tanking game in World of Warcraft is available to you as a warrior.

A lot of guides tend to focus on gearing and speccing your warrior to tank, glossing over what you actually do as a tank. What buttons are you hitting and when? Sometimes that's because it seems self evident, or because specific fights call for specific things. This guide is written from an absolutely basic perspective: It will tell you what to do and when to do it, assuming you've no experience at all as a tank. Therefore, this caveat: No guide can make up for practical experience, and you may well learn different ways to perform the role that conflict with this. And that's fine. Learning the role through doing will help teach you what's suited to you; this is just intended to get you started out on that road.

This guide also assumes you are level 85. At least for the first 60 or so levels, you have few enough abilities that there's really no confusion and if you level as a prot warrior, you'll pick this up anyway. This is intended for DPS warriors and PvPers who have never tanked but would like to, as well as old hands who haven't tanked in a while.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors

How could tanking design be changed?

Tanking is designed around holding threat and using abilities to stay alive. The current paradigm, wherein tanks work hard to passively gear themselves for predictable incoming damage in order to make healing them easier, has its drawbacks. Tanks usually ignore stats that contribute to threat generation (to a degree that baseline threat generation has repeatedly been increased, currently sitting at five times damage dealt by the tank), which has led to the discussion of active mitigation in the tank design of Mists of Pandaria. The goal is to make tanks desire threat generation stats such as hit and expertise by making them not just threat stats, but also to tie them into survivability.

By making threat gen stats also generate resources that are used to actively mitigate incoming damage, the goal is to make tanks want those stats, rather than simply aiming as close to complete coverage of the combat table as they can get, reducing incoming damage to something as reliable and easily anticipated by healers as possible. Tanks currently value dodge, parry, and their mastery stats well over any potential threat generation from hit and expertise.

Since we've already seen quite a bit of the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator, we know that design of the new tanking system is probably fairly well advanced. We also know that the monk, another tank/DPS/healing hybrid class, will be debuting with the expansion. Therefore, it's worthwhile to examine tanking changes that could be implemented, even to stretch our vision of tanking significantly past where it is now and most likely past where it will go in Mists.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Death Knight, Monk

Lichborne: Analyzing the proposed patch 4.3 death knight tanking changes

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done. This week's header image comes to us from everyone's favorite WoW Insider commenter, Orkchop.

So recently, Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street posted a new Dev Watercooler discussing the ins and outs of the new active mitigation tank philosophy. Since he dedicated a whole section to proposed death knight changes in patch 4.3, I figured it would be a good idea to take a look at the stuff and see what it does.

My preliminary verdict would be pretty simple: It's a pretty big help. It fixes or mitigates a lot of our quality of life issues, it makes a little less squishy, and it nullifies rune tetris nicely. I can't really disagree with the individual changes or the rationale behind them. That said, it doesn't completely solve our problems, and there are probably one or two more little things to be done before stuff looks really good. Let's take a look at the specifics.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

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