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Posts with tag tanks

Why am I suddenly so popular?


Right now I have two level 80 tank/DPS hybrid toons in epic gear. Now, when I leveled my Warrior to 80, and for the first few months, it seemed like everyone and his or her mother was a tank. There were Druid tanks everywhere, every Paladin and DK was a tank, and of course there were plenty of Warrior tanks to be had. There were so many tanks, in fact, that I figured that after my months of service to my BC guild, I could take a vacation and be DPS for a while on my Warrior. Sure, it ended up requiring me to learn a whole new set of skills, but I got to be the Titan's Grip DPS Warrior I'd longed to be ever since I saw my wife romper stomp her way through Diablo II.

Fast forward a few months. Ulduar is more or less on farm, the new Argent Tournament raid and five man are in effect, and I've leveled and geared out a DK for both DPS and tanking. Based on my experience as a Warrior I wasn't expecting to have many opportunities to tank. Instead, not only is the DK in crazy demand for tanking, I'm constantly being asked to tank on the Warrior as well! Since I like tanking, it's not a major concern, but what confuses me is, where did all those Warrior, Druid, DK and Paladin tanks from launch go?

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

Which class gets invited as what?


Veritable Avarice, a new blog on moneymaking in WoW, took a break from financial discussion and looked at class representation in tank, DPS, and healing roles by filtering and comparing data available from WoW Popular. Spec population was then checked against class population data available from Warcraft Realm's census and three live realms. Data differences, according to VA, weren't statistically relevant, and he/she is pretty sure that the numbers are at least a ballpark representation of which class is most likely to be filling a particular role within a group.

I play a Druid, so that's really what I feel comfortable commenting on here. While I can't speak to the ultimate accuracy of the numbers, I do a lot of pugging and have to admit that VA's data seems pretty close to what I've seen on my own server. The tank numbers are also consistent with a few things Ghostcrawler's mentioned recently concerning the overwhelming population advantage still held by Warrior tanks, although I wonder whether the Feral statistics are somewhat inflated here by the overlap between Bear and Cat specs. Feral tanks have all but vanished from 5-mans on my server, and it's not uncommon for me to get comments from healers that I'm the first Bear they've healed in months. Less surprising is the representation advantage held by Druid healers. Trees are insanely good in Ulduar, and between this, the rise of the Death Knight, and the de-suckaging of the Protection Warrior spec, that probably accounts for the gradual disappearance of the Bear. Also thought-provoking is just how few Druids hold a share of the DPS pie.

I'd love to hear from members of other classes on the data and how closely it dovetails into their own experience. There's a quick note for Warrior players (or anyone interested in the DPS graph) past the cut, as there's a small mistake on the relevant graph.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Classes

The Queue: Dragon Slave!


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW.com team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Allison Robert, erroneously described by Alex Ziebart as "universally adored" on this site (whisper the phrase "I hate Tauren cat form" in Turtlehead's direction and run) is your hostess today.

Mmmm...my favorite kind of Queue, the kind with a tank question. Actually, there were two good tank questions from the previous Queue, but the one asked by Gatorforest is something I'd like to address in a separate article. Additionally, two of the questions you'll see here wound up requiring fairly involved answers, so there are a few more questions I'd like to take a crack at sometime later this weekend if I get the time.

And because it's Friday:

Charlie asks...

How many Queue columns does it take for one to finally reach the front of the line?


The readers or the writers? I don't know about the former, but for us, it depends on the outcome of the previous day's in-staff gladiatorial match. Much like Mary Sues in the now-classic Pirate Monkey comic, THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE. Actually, I'm just using this as an excuse to quote the following:

Professor Flitwick: Wait, she said she's both Dumbledore's and Snape's daughter. How is that possible?

Dumbledore: Ehh, remember that Christmas party where we all got really drunk?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Features, Guides, The Queue

Phat Loot Phriday: Last Laugh


This is probably my favorite name for an item in the game.

Name: Last Laugh (Wowhead, Thottbot, Armory)
Type: Epic One-hand Axe
Damage/Speed: 192-357 / 1.60 (171.6 DPS)
Attributes:
  • +37 Strength, +73 Stamina. Interesting -- I don't know if I've ever seen a weapon where the attribute numbers are reversed like that. Probably not done intentionally, but it's an interesting little quirk.

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Filed under: Paladin, Warrior, Items, Odds and ends, Humor, Raiding, Phat Loot Phriday, Death Knight

The woes of Block

In a discussion of tanking mechanics on the forums, Ghostcrawler made a long and in depth post about various subjects that helped consolidate one of the real problems with block and block value in Wrath of the Lich King. Not only is blocking something that only two of the four tanking classes do, but it's a pretty lackluster stat for boss tanking.

  • Block as a mechanic is somewhere between avoidance and mitigation. Ideally it removes a fair amount of damage (vs. all damage) reasonably often (vs. rarely). If block is up 100% of the time it just becomes armor that you improve through a different stat. We have let block chances creep up frankly because the amount blocked is pretty trivial when bosses are hitting for 40% of your health pool every swing. If this still strikes you as too RNG, imagine abilities like Shield Block and Holy Shield that could guarantee 100% chance to block for a short period of time.
  • We don't think block is cutting it as a mechanic, but the direction we are likely to take it is probably more of a change than you are considering.
The problem with block (which is really two mechanics in one, block rating which determines how often you block, and block value, which determines how much damage you subtract from a hit when you block it) is that for trash, it's inflated due to the block chance creeping upwards that GC mentions above. But for boss fights where a boss can either hit you physically for far, far more than you could ever block or hits you with massive magical damage that block does nothing at all against (well, unless you're a warrior in Tier 8 with the four piece set bonus) block has simply fallen behind the curve.

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

BBB's tips for a new tank

Starting to tank is scary. During BC I leveled from 40 through 69 as a Balance Druid, and then discovered that a tank couldn't be pugged for love or money once you hit the later portion of Outland on my realm. I'd picked up some feral gear along the way and decided to give tanking a shot, but then spent my first afternoon in the trenches being a nervous wreck after losing aggro to impatient DPS, aggroing extra mobs by charging into pulls instead of LOSing them, and taking a ridiculous amount of damage. The feeling of being constantly judged by your group members isn't a pleasant sensation, but more maddening was the knowledge that certain things beyond your control -- mob stuns, lazy or trigger-happy DPS, an inattentive healer, or something as simple as a missed Mangle -- could make you look worse than you actually were.

That's why I like a recent blog post by our own Big Bear Butt on "Tips for the New Tank," which addresses not only that but also a number of pitfalls to which new tanks are prone. I particularly agree with his assertion that you should never start a boss event assuming that everyone in the group is on the same page, because someone who's not sure what they're doing can and often will cause issues for you without realizing it. It's a great guide for a new tank that gives a nod to the "feeling judged" syndrome mentioned here, and with so many players returning to their tanking trees or trying Death Knights in Wrath, I recommend it for anyone interested in the job.

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

Tips for raiding faster

I am definitely an advocate of the fast instance or raid -- when I played a tank, I pulled pulled pulled (according to the healer's mana, of course), and even now, mostly as a Hunter, I still get impatient. When the healer's mana is full and the tank is not /afk, I sometimes just throw a Misdirect up and go. That's probably why I really liked Naissa's tips for speedy raiding -- she lays out a few really practical things you can do to get your raid moving faster, from only marking skull and X when necessary to only worrying about the healer's mana. It's not the end of the world if the Mage or Hunter has to drink for a second after the pull. While you should always get back to full before a boss pull (and as she says, that's a perfect time to break down the basics, only the basics, of the fight), usually as long as you've got the tank and healer ready, a quick pull will give you time for aggro to settle down as well.

I don't completely agree with her DPS meter remarks -- I do think that beating the raid is much more important than trying to win the DPS meters, but as a DPS player, I like viewing the meters as good feedback on where I should be. If I'm super low in the meters, it's time to look at my gear and rotations and try to figure out why so I can get better, and I think it's valuable for DPS, as long as they can keep their attention on the raid, to do the same thing.

But all of the other tips are great, and in general, "pull pull pull" should be the order of the day. Some groups are better at rolling through content than others, obviously, but as long as you've got a solid tank and healer in play who know the instance and know how to handle what comes, most raids and groups can move through the content pretty quickly.

Filed under: Hunter, Priest, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Bosses, Classes

Observations from running a Naxx-25 PuG


I'm very "up" on PuGs. I started my career as a PuG tank and met a lot of great players that way, many of whom I still raid with today. I've always been a stout supporter of throwing caution to the wind and joining LFG for an afternoon to see where it'll take you; it's been my experience that random players on your realm can and often will surprise you.

Once you master the art of the 5-person PuG, the ultimate risk is a raid PuG. One-shot the instance, or spend the night wiping? You won't know until you try.

I used to run Hyjal PuG's in late Burning Crusade and got to be the person in charge of arranging healers on Anetheron, explaining where to die on Azgalor, and uttering a hollow laugh at suggestions on whether or not Archimonde was in the cards (answer: hell no). I wasn't around for my guild's Naxx run one of these past weeks, and a few guildies were interested in gearing up their alts, so we thought -- PuG a 25-man Naxx? Why not?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Features, Humor, Raiding, Bosses, Classes

GC: If you're OOM, tell your guildies to get out of the fire

Ghostcrawler did battle with the forumites this weekend, and the topic of discussion was the recent mana changes. Players are saying that the changes (including the BoW and Mana Spring change last week) are basically forcing them to bring more healers along to larger raids, and GC in return expounds on the raid balance that Blizzard is aiming for lately. Interestingly, it's not the 5 healers / 5 tanks / 15 DPS that you might think it would be -- Ghostcrawler says that if they aimed for that makeup, bringing more healers would often make the fights inconsequential.

He goes on to say that the way the fights are designed, you aren't supposed to run out of mana, as long as you're dodging the AoE and are geared up correctly. Making mistakes in gameplay digs into your mana reserves, and so when Blizzard nerfs mana regen, they aren't just trying to make things harder, they're trying to take away that extra breathing room that you get around errors. They don't want healers just healing through damage -- they want people trying to avoid it in the first place.

And, if guildies won't get out of the fire, and your healers keep running out of mana because of it, it's time to weed out the ranks a bit. Finally, GC adds what we've heard before: those looking for a tough battle in Ulduar likely won't find it right away -- the instance is designed to be only a little harder than Naxx. But the hard modes are where the difficulty will really ramp up. If short, says GC, if you don't have enough mana on the easy modes, it's not Blizzard's design: it's the way you and your guildies are geared and playing.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Classes

Breakfast Topic: Blizzard's patch 3.1 goals

The blues have been very open lately about the direction that Blizz is taking and the goals that they're trying to achieve. Three, in particular, come to mind when considering patch 3.1 and its effect on tanks and healers in particular:
  1. Bring the player, not the class.
  2. Healing should be more interactive and interesting.
  3. The tanks need to be on par in order to satisfy #1, in terms of performance and stats, yet they do not want to further homogenize the classes.
Obviously, Blizzard has not finished making the 3.1 changes, but we can already see the ways in which they are tackling these goals. Druid healing is getting a controversial overhaul, tanks are having their health and armor adjusted, and some tank talents even seem to be creeping across the board. This leaves some bears, for example, feeling like fuzzy, big-butt warriors.

How are you feeling so far about the direction Blizzard is taking your main character? Even if it isn't perfect yet, are you excited about what you think your class will look like, or are you worried about your favorite spec/role?

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Classes

Shifting Perspectives: Tanks, "Wrath," and crushing blows


Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we examine the roots of the uproar over the proposed Heart of the Wild nerf, and also ask ourselves if it wouldn't just be easier to reroll a Death Knight and have done with it.

"Why would you title the column this way?" you ask, as you reach for your "Please fire _______ from WoW Insider" form letter. "Crushing blows are out of the game, dipwad."

Well, yes. The crushing blow is technically out of the game, but another and worse mechanic has taken its place.

In this article I'm going to try to explain the source of "shield tank" frustration over health pools -- and why they are correct to see it as a problem -- and the Druid tank's unhappiness over the nerfing of Heart of the Wild -- and why Druids are also correct to see it as a problem.

Why the crushing blow was important

One of the biggest differences between pre-Wrath and Wrath tanking is the absence of the crushing blow. If you're unfamiliar with the term, then as a very simple explanation: any given raid boss had a 15% chance per melee hit to perform a 150% damage attack, which was also known as the crushing blow. It was typically a big damage spike and could lead to a wipe on progression content, with healers struggling to compensate in the small window of time before the boss' next attack landed. Burst damage is very unwelcome as it's often the greatest contributing factor to tank death. This is why reaching crit immunity is still so important to all tanks, and why the ability to avoid or absorb crushing blows was a fundamental part of pre-Wrath tanking mechanics.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Features, Raiding, Bosses, Classes, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

Shifting Perspectives: Gearing your Feral (bear) Druid at 80

Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we take a look at gearing your lolbaretank for the rigors of standing in front of raid bosses and screaming, "Is that the best you've got?"

EDIT: This article has been updated for patch 3.3 and Icecrown content. Please click here to see a guide to gearing a bear druid as of May 2010.

My main spends most of her time tanking, so I have a little more experience with the gear on this list as opposed to others. Dan O'Halloran will be writing a guide to gearing a Cat Druid next week, and with that we'll be rounding up pre-raid gear for all 4 specs.

As with our entry on pre-raid Restoration gear at 80 and our entry on pre-raid Balance gear at 80, this guide assumes that you do not presently have access to either 10-man or 25-man raids, and if I miss any piece that you've found helpful, please drop a comment and I'll make sure it gets added. I should also add that this gear set presumes you are gearing your bear tank with an eye toward main-tanking in raids and/or tanking the more difficult heroics. If you're mostly DPSing or off-tanking, please feel free to swap in more DPS-oriented pieces prioritizing +hit and +crit over +expertise, +dodge, and stamina. Before we get any further, some helpful links:
  • Toskk's Bear Tank Time-To-Live Method, allowing you to look at upgrades from the context of your present set of gear and calculate how long you can go without healing assuming different talents and items.
  • ThinkTank on pre-raid gear: While I don't think that Kalon's been able to update this for patch 3.0.8 yet and he weights items a little differently than I do, this is a terrific list. He'll also give you a much better sense of just how good PvP gear is right now (much to my everlasting annoyance concerning arena).
  • Rawr: Use it. Know it. Love it.

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Filed under: Druid, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Features, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives, Wrath of the Lich King

Ready Check: Guide to Naxxramas (Kel'Thuzad)


Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. Tonight, we finish off Naxxramas, check our watches, and ask, "What else is left to kill around here?"

Out of all the forum posts written concerning raid content back in Burning Crusade, I remain fondest of a guide to Tier 6 written by Gragnarth of Andorhal, who I assume must be a deeply cynical person by nature. Within you'll find expert tips on Illidan ("If YOU get demoned you say something to the effect hey I got demoned, and then hope that you are well liked"), Shade of Akama ("I play a fury warrior, and as a result i have no clue what the strategy for this boss is"), and Rage Winterchill ("Make sure you have at least 1 person bandaging the Main Tank every minute"). But the comment that seemed to get the most mileage was one concerning Illidari Council, which was colorfully described as "THE SUPER BOWL OF NOT STANDING IN THINGS!" This phrase subsequently entered the parlance of many a raiding guild, and I'm reminded of it whenever I look at AoE-intensive fights.

Kel'Thuzad isn't a fight with the kind of AoE damage you'll see on (for example) Malygos, but I rather like to think of him as being the Super Bowl of spreading out. For every time you've heard your raid leader howl at the raid to "Spread the ^*#% out!" before, you'll be hearing it five times more here, and with good reason.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Features, Raiding, Bosses, Guides, Wrath of the Lich King, Ready Check (Raiding), Achievements

Crowd Control to return in future instances

This opinion probably isn't shared by everyone, but I have to say: I miss crowd control in PvE. Nowadays, thanks to Death Knights or Blizzard or whoever you want to blame, instance runs are more or less zerg affairs -- everyone runs in on a cue, targets whatever the most dangerous mob is, and then lets the rest die off from the incidental damage thanks to their glyph-ed up, AoE abilities. But I long for a more civilized time when CC was used as a more elegant weapon, when a successful group was based on teamwork rather than gear, and when you needed a sheep, or a trap, or a banish, or all three, to make it through the instance.

Fortunately, crowd control isn't dead forever -- GC confirms that while Blizzard doesn't want every pull to take "months of planning" (and obviously they want you to bring the player, not the class, so requiring a Warlock or a Mage along isn't always the best policy), "there will be more CC in the future." Of course, whether that means raids only or future expansions, we have no idea. He does say that "Noxromulous" was made to be accessible, so you might think raids, but one instance players always mention in terms of 5-man difficulty is Magister's Terrace, and let's not forget that that one also came in a content patch.

Despite the bad rep that CC has gotten in PvP, it plays a significant role in the strategy of PvE, and lots of that interesting gameplay has really been lost lately. Hopefully in the future, we'll see Blizzard able to bring back sheep and traps in a way that will test groups without leaving anyone out.

Filed under: Hunter, Mage, Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Bosses

Lichborne: Gearing up to tank Naxxramas

Best Raid Group Ever.
Welcome to Lichborne, The weekly Death Knight column, where your host is recruiting only the most pro critters for his raiding team.

So by now, I'm sure many of you Death Knights have managed to follow our last tanking gear guide and have put together a pretty decent tank set that's gotten them through a few heroics, but now it's time for the next step: Getting ready to tank Naxxramas. You'll find that while a lot of your gear is probably "good enough," you'll still want to look for a few important upgrades to kick you up another notch so you can be at your best coming into Naxxramas to tank. Let's look at a few heroic upgrades that you can grab to be the best tank you can be heading into 10 man Naxxramas content.

Before we start, there's two things you should remember: One, I'm pretty much following the logic I laid down in the Death Knight statistics primer a few weeks back, so if you want to know why I picked a certain item, the answer is probably there, and two, whatever you do, remember to hit 540 defense skill. You'll need that to survive against the bosses.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Instances, Guides, Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

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