Tanking for Dummies

Avoidance vs Threat: Gearing for your group
February 13, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Gear, Raiding | Tags: , , ,


There is surely a wide variety of opinion on the Avoidance vs Threat issue. If you aren’t familiar with these words as a tank, let me assure you that they are the basis for a great deal of tanking jargon.  If you were seated with a bunch of tanks, having a drink, it would be perfectly expect for them to ask “So %T, Avoidance or Threat?” As if this innocent question were simply a question about underwear choice.

Oh no.  This is about destiny.  It is about gear choice.  It’s about saying “So, whose side are you on?  Are you competing for my gear?  Or the Tauren’s?”

In short, when it comes to avoidance, it’s about stacking things like dodge, parry, and defense; when it comes to threat, it’s about stacking things like hit and expertise.  But really this is about two dueling philosophies.

A recent World of Matticus post really brought out the balancing act we must play as Tanks when I noted two quotations that are (from the Tank’s Point of View) completely contradictory:

“[Tanks need] To survive an insane amount of damage.”

“There ain’t a problem in the world that can’t be solved without more DPS.”

Taken to the extreme, either one of these solidly places you in the realm of either Avoidance or Threat.  Either you’re going to be gearing for one of these or the other.  To wit, if I choose to gear for avoidance I make the healer’s job easier by taking less damage.  On the other hand, if I choose to gear for threat, I make the DPS’ job easier by allowing them to push their damage even higher (and in theory make the healer’s job easier by killing stuff faster).

I’ve heard that it is the tank’s job to set the pace for the raid.  But trust me, this is not a choice you want to make in a vacuum.  You really need to dress for the occasion, if you will pardon the metaphor.  Or at least pick the right party to go too.  It really depends on if you’re shopping for a raid group, or already in one:

Agressive = Threat ; Tactical = Avoidance

Agressive = Threat ; Tactical = Avoidance

Determining your raid’s style can be as easy as asking, but for those who might balk at the terms: Aggressive, in this case refers to a raid environment where DPS is pushed to the limit and healers and tanks are always stepping on each other’s toes trying to be the one to land that next heal/tank that mob; Tactical, by contrast, refers to a raid in which healers conserve every last drop of mana and DPS are very threat conscious.  A Threat Tank compliments an Aggressive Raid group, keeping the DPS from getting wasted and giving the healers something to do.  An Avoidance tank will work well with a Tactical group by allowing for peak mana efficiency and working with a cautious DPS.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a tank often has to deal with the loot that drops for them.  I honestly have every intention of developing two seperate sets of gear so I can adjust on the fly, but we need to set priorities, especially when it comes to purchaises with emblems, gemming and enchanting, and the like.  I, myself, did a guest post at World of Snarkcraft that summarizes some of the choices you will make going down one of these paths, albeit aimed at identifying these differences from a healing perspective.  Rest assured, however, that if you spend enough time reading the blogs of other tanks, you will be seeing both sides of this debate often enough.


2 Comments so far
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I tend to tweak my gear depending on what issues I am having most recently. So have been struggling with threat on some fights and am tending towards a more threat based set at the moment.

If you ask them, healers will always say that they prefer mitigation but tbh avoidance is more fun with its strings of parry parry dodge block dodge etc.

Comment by spinks

@Spinks – It’s a funny thing. Healers in Axiom are more often to complain (particularly on raid trash) that they are bored because the tanks aren’t taking enough damage. Late in TBC at the “farming BT” stage they even got the tanks special pants to wear (furry loincloths with +40 stamina armor kits on them) so they would take more damage.

Personally, I also swap out gear depending on the needs of the raid, but the only fight where I really stack avoidance thus far is the Patchwerk fight when I’m the Heroic Strike tank.

Comment by Tarsus

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