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Posts with tag tanking

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Let's get everyone tanking

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.

Now for whatever reason, I've been tanking lately, usually due to a connection issue or what have you. It's one of those confluences of my gear's being just good enough and my no longer being burned out on the role. While I still define myself as a DPS warrior and raid with that as my main spec, I was surprised to find tanking wasn't that hard to pick back up. In fact, it may be a little too easy.

I hesitate to make this statement because, in part, I know I'm not a typical player. I main tanked for years. I tanked in vanilla, in The Burning Crusade, in Wrath, and for the opening of Cataclysm. I was the undergeared tank trying to do heroics in greens when the expansion came out. I was the guy tanking heroic LK. I've tanked in all sorts of situations and gear and specs. I tanked when TC only hit four mobs and did not work in Defensive Stance. What I'm saying is, I've been tanking for so long there's almost no way for me to evaluate how difficult tanking is for other players. I have years of muscle memory. I've kited. I've done adds; I've done bosses. I've picked up murlocs and traded adds on Yogg.

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

5 ways to keep your DPS players happy in 5-man heroics

OK, you can't pretend you didn't see this one coming after the healing and tanking editions. As I may have mentioned, I have less DPS experience than tanking and healing, but from that time in Azeroth, I have gathered that there are things everyone can do to make their DPSers happy bunnies rather than melancholy murlocs. Actually, being a murloc would be pretty cool. One of my GMs does an awesome murloc impression.

So, tanks and healers, and other DPSers, how can you keep your DPS buddies happy?

1. Mark your targets. Tanks, or whoever is experienced, or whoever is taking on that role in the dungeon, mark your targets. Telepathy is not a standard talent in any tree, and while sure, it's possible to click the tank and then use an assist macro, you can easily keybind or add a button to your action bars that marks your target with a skull, a cross, a moon and so on.

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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

The Light and How to Swing It: What happened to encounters that were interesting to tank?

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 24 other people, obsessing over his hair (a blood elf racial!), and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

Cataclysm has been a fairly, er, cataclysmic expansion when it comes to the status quo of tanking. For starters, threat was decimated with the introduction of Vengeance and nigh removed from the game with the recent buffs to threat generation. Likewise, variability in the number of tanks a fight required seemingly died along with Halfus Wyrmbreaker. And, perhaps most troubling of all, the profession of tanking has generally been made less and less interesting as far as encounter design is concerned.

What makes a fight "interesting"?

If you think back to some of the fights in previous tiers, the most interesting ones were always the most demanding ones -- the ones that required you to juggle multiple balls over the course of the encounter. These balls could be one of many mechanics. To name just a few:
  • Picking up adds that are dynamically joining the fight
  • Shepherding adds to a specific location
  • Hitting cooldowns to counter a near-death attack
  • Moving out of hazards constantly
  • Taunt swapping boss on a debuff
  • Combating the threat output of buffed DPS
And countless other tropes that I've neglected to list.

Reading any of these, you can think of a number of mechanics that Blizzard has constantly repeated that encompass them. It's a fairly limited bag of tricks, and Blizzard has done a bang-up job mixing and matching a handful of them and compiling the resulting smorgasbord into some of the fights we have known and loved.

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

5 ways to keep your tank happy in 5-man heroics

I recently wrote a similar post about how to keep your healers happy -- now I don't want it to sound like I'm hating on you tanks. See how this is a nice, predictable series? Can you guess what's coming next? I just need to think of another three ways to keep your DPSers happy in 5-man heroics -- but don't worry, I'll run some more heroics and I'll get there.

My first and still allegedly main character is a paladin tank, and I've run a few dungeons in my time. There are some simple things everyone can do to make sure their tank is a happy meaty meat shield rather than a disgruntled defender.

5. Watch your aggro. Remember this from the "How to keep your healer happy" post? Yeah, much as that helps your healer, it also helps your tank. Playing as a paladin, I have one of the easiest AoE tanking rotations out there -- but still, if a DPSer front-loads all their damage into something that isn't my primary target before I've had one GCD to hit the darn thing, even with the new aggro buff, it may well be after you. As a paladin, I can pre-bubble you with Hand of Salvation to decrease the likelihood of this happening or even a Hand of Protection on a caster (or on a melee player to troll them). I also have an arsenal of taunts. However, other tanking classes don't have it so easy -- just give the tank a moment to gain aggro, then attack the thing that they're attacking.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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

5 ways to keep your healer happy in 5-man heroics

While much of Azeroth has been busy engineering the repeated demise of the big Dee-Dubya, many of us are still running 5-man dungeons. Maybe it's for valor points, maybe it's to hit the ilevel required to take a pop at that dragon, or maybe it's while frantically levelling another character to 85. With every 5-man instance comes a healer, and you really ought to be showing your healer some love.

Before you say Pah! I don't need to do anything to keep my healer happy -- I massively outgear all the 5-man content the game has to offer. This advice is worthless!, spare a thought for those who don't. The new healer who wants to get a look at some Hour of Twilight. The player with bags overflowing with PvP gear to cheat the ilevel requirement. The fresh 85s who are facing these dungeons for the first time. They need this advice, and if you're running with them, you could consider reading it too. And if you think it's not your responsibility to help your healer out now and then, remember: You don't do any DPS when you're dead.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Crowd control basics by class

So, crowd control. Contrary to the name, it isn't really a good way of controlling crowds; rather, it's a great way to control the size of the crowd of mobs mercilessly attacking your tank. Crowd control in this post means abilities that can be applied prior to a pull. We'll get to abilites like Psychic Scream, warriors' Intimidating Shout and Shadowfury a bit later, but they're not our primary concern right now. There are some situations, particularly in the Rise of the Zandalari dungeons where pre-pull CC isn't possible (such as the adds on the way to Nalorakk in Zul'Aman) where you'll need to CC on the fly, but this is rarely the case.

Not all classes have crowd control abilities of the type we're talking about here. Warriors and death knights have a few stuns, fears and Hungering Cold, all of which can be put to excellent use but aren't really crowd control in this sense as they can't be cast prior to the pull.

So which classes have these pre-pull crowd control abilities, and what are they?

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20 observations from a leveling tank

My main is a druid tank and healer, but on occasion, I've returned to two low-level warrior alts and braved leveling in the Dungeon Finder. Most leveling groups are a bit like the proverbial little girl with pigtails: When they're good, they're very, very good ... and when they're bad, they're horrid.

The following is a list of somewhat random observations I have collected after several expansions' worth of tanking for low-level groups.

1. Don't take shortcuts on trash packs. The time you save sneaking past one of them will be eliminated by the time you'll lose when someone blunders into them and dies.

2. Someone will almost always blunder into them and die.

3. Despite common complaints on the forums, the vast majority of players are actually really nice people who are perfectly willing to tolerate mistakes and the learning curve. The actual occurrence of true, unforgivable jackasses seems to be about one per five groups, although this depends on when you're queuing.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Addon Spotlight: More information from Visual Combat Table

Each week, WoW Insider's Mathew McCurley brings you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience: the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your addons folder will never be the same.

Tanking used to be inaccessible because of the numbers game -- mitigation numbers that were hidden away in the great unknown. Players had to rely on the stalwart parsers and number crunchers over at EJ, Tankspot, Maintankadin, and all sorts of websites in order to inform the community about these magic numbers on defensive stats to let a tank do his job. Nowadays, hit and miss numbers are easily displayed for players, and defense as a statistic to worry about is gone forever.

That all being said, the tanking game is still a numbers game, but this time it is more nuanced with the introduction of mastery and the ability to mitigate most damage a tank takes. You've seen numbers being thrown around and you may or may not know what they mean. Well, Visual Combat Table (VCT) is here to make sense of those numbers for you. Tanking is soon to become another hot commodity role to fill in the upcoming Raid Finder, so arming new tanks with mitigation knowledge is always a good thing.

My introduction to VCT started with an email from its creator letting me know about its existence and the role he felt the addon played in the tanking community as a whole. While reading his email, I thought back to my first few weeks of tanking in Cataclysm and realized that for all of the information the game was showing and telling me there still was a great deal that I was struggling with. I wanted more information, and sifting through forum threads wasn't giving me a quick enough answer.

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Filed under: Add-Ons, AddOn Spotlight

Addon Spotlight: Raiding essentials for tanks

Each week, WoW Insider's Mathew McCurley brings you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience: the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your addons folder will never be the same.

With the Raid Finder tool hitting the PTR in the very near future (potentially even right now, depending on what happens between the days betweeen this publishes), new players will be ushered into a new era of raiding. With the new, more forgiving raid difficulty setting, players who might have never been part of the raiding game will get their chance to see endgame content first hand. We want you all to be prepared here at the Addon Spotlight. Today's installment of the column is all about getting tanks in tip-top interface shape for their new adventures in patch 4.3.

Addons essential for tanking, like the other two roles, have greatly lowered in number over the years, as Blizzard has made the entire WoW experience more streamlined and user-friendly. Old paradigms like threat and mitigation have substantially changed over the course of the game's life and now are much more straightforward affairs for the average player. Addons can still help increase the user-friendly nature of the game and give you an extra edge in making your raiding experience an enjoyable one.

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Filed under: Add-Ons, AddOn Spotlight

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

Is it time to kill tanking?

Please note I said "tanking" and not "tanks." If you know a tank, give him or her a hug. He or she isn't clad in cold metal or an angry bear that will tear off your face because of you; it's those pesky mobs.

The tanking system has long been somewhat problematic in World of Warcraft. While it scales to some degree, from 5-man dungeons to 10-man raids, the scaling falls apart when we get to 25-man raiding, which currently demands about the same amount of tanking as 10-man. You can get through most of Firelands with two tanks, no matter your raid size. Majordomo Staghelm only requires one tank, again, no matter your raid size. This means that the scaling from five to 10 works, but as soon as you go from 10 to 25, instead of needing 2.5 times more tanks, you need no more tanks.

The other problem is simply that there already aren't enough tanks for every 5-man group. When the Call to Arms feature was announced for the Dungeon Finder tool, it was created out of the simple fact that we're not seeing the distribution we'd expect in the playerbase. In order for the Dungeon Finder to work without significant group queues, we would need 20% of the people queuing up to be tanks (1 in 5 = 20%). This is not the case.

People simply don't want the perceived group responsibility of tanking. It's why changes were made to CC mechanics that allow groups to CC on the fly without pulling. It's why Call to Arms exists. And yet, despite both of these changes, tanking was still so unattractive to players that threat itself needed to be redesigned. All of this work to try and get people to tank. Maybe the problem isn't the players here, though. Maybe it's the role.

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

Lichborne: What the patch 4.3 tank changes may mean for death knights

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.

So by now, I'm sure everyone is aware of the huge tanking changes recently announced by Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street. Of course, there are the immediate threat increases, but the really interesting part regards their plans for patch 4.3. They're planning to put all four tanks on active mitigation models, similar to what death knights have currently with Death Strike, which is primarily the focus of today's column.

There's been an uproar from many corners with this announcement, with many tanks declaring that if they wanted to tank like a death knight, they would have rolled one. Funnily enough, many death knights who rolled the class to tank back when they could do it as frost or unholy, or back before Death Strike spam, might protest that they never wanted to tank this way either -- but that's not the point. The point to make here is that active mitigation won't put the other three tanks in the same dire straits as we are, per se. While there are arguments to be made for and against active mitigation in general, active mitigation isn't our only problem, if it's a problem at all. Our problem, among other things, is that we're reactively mitigating.

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Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

The new tanking threat paradigm and you

If you're wondering what all the fuss about Ghostcrawler's latest dev watercooler post is about, well, you should probably go read it. Some of these changes have already gone live on the realms, while others won't until the next patch. The basic gist is as follows:
  1. Threat generated by tanks has been increased from 300% of damage dealt to 500%. What this means in practice is if your tank is doing 5k DPS, you'd need to do over 25k DPS to pull threat off of him or her. (You need to do roughly 110% of tank threat to pull once he or she has aggro, so you'd actually need to do 27.5k DPS to pull off of a tank doing 5k DPS.) This change was hotfixed in, so if you're noticing your tank is suddenly doing a lot more threat per second, that's why.
  2. The way Vengeance stacks is going to be streamlined. Vengeance currently ramps up somewhat slowly. In the current model, every time you take damage as a tank, you gain 5% of the damage you take as attack power. So if you're hit for 20,000 damage, you gain 1,000 attack power. As you take more and more damage, this stacks up to a maximum of 10% of your health, so for a tank with 165,000 health, this caps at 16,500 attack power. In the new version, when a tank takes that 20,000 damage, he or she will gain one-third of the damage of the attack as attack power immediately, or 6,600 AP. This is more than six times as much attack power gained as in the current model. Vengeance will otherwise work the way it does now.
These two things combined by themselves mean that, except in cases where the DPS simply blows all their cooldowns immediately upon seeing the trash coming or as soon as they see the boss while the tank is sitting down to eat, threat will be almost trivial for a tank to gain and maintain. In addition to this revelation (which we are already starting to play with right now, as I experienced in a recent pickup Zul'Gurub instance), Ghostcrawler talks about how tanking will be redesigned to remain active with this new design philosophy.

This is really groundbreaking stuff, and it means that patch 4.3 will see the complete dismantling of the legacy of vanilla WoW tanking design. Once, gaining and keeping threat was the most important role of the tank, more important even that survival, and many endgame tanks were warriors 31/5/15 specced into Defiance in the protection tree to ensure threat. These changes can be seen as driving a final nail into that kind of tanking's coffin.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Death Knight

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