Tanking for Dummies

…in which Tarsus does Deep Wounds.
March 25, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis, Raiding, Stupid Tanking | Tags: , , ,

warrior_deepwoundsLast week was a good one for humble pie, or at least for listening to good advice.  Namely, I’m talking about Veneretio pointing out my obvious hypocrisy in regards to spec – namely that my stated intention was to have a high threat build and yet I did not appear to have Deep Wounds or Improved Revenge.

Not that he could have known at the time, but Deep Wounds and I have a long a strained relationship.  I cut my raiding teeth in Molten Core, where crowd control was an essential part of many of the boss fights.  Deep Wounds was, at that time, essential to getting Impale (a substantial chunk of DPS, even today) and so most every DPS warrior had it.  With Whirlwind also being an essential part of the DPS Warrior rotation, this would often lead to broken crowd control… with a DoT on it.

Needless to say, this caused many wipes and I was in fact happy when Wrath came out that it was possible to get Impale without Deep Wounds.  This was an irrational reaction, like fear of spiders.  Even before 3.0, crowd control was fading into disuse, so don’t ask me why it took me so long to actually try this thing that has been rolling around in the tank community for months.  There wasn’t a reason.  We haven’t used crowd control since Wrath hit, so who am I trying to fool?  That’s why it’s called “for Dummies” folks.  No one ever learned anything by being smart.

Anyway, my results were, shall we say, interesting.

I went from this to this.  The short of it is that I gave up Puncture, Improved Bloodrage, and some points in Shield Specialization and Cruelty to get Deep Wounds, Avoidance, and Improved Revenge.

Deep Wounds

I should stress that I didn’t doubt that Deep Wounds boosted threat.  And indeed it boosted it approximately 200 TPS.  Now, this is a fairly abstract number extracted after the fact.  Let me put it into a bit more of a practical picture.  Normally our suicidal DPS mages have issues with pulling agro on trash.  Usually, what saves them is a combination of Consecrate and quick taunting (I would like to think that I’m the fastest on the taunt button here).  This run, there wasn’t a problem.  Trash died it’s AoE deaths without much of any incident.  It made it less exciting, but it also made the trash feel cleaner.


Not surprisingly, I took less damage for the raid than previous attempts  given that I dodged approximately 5% more often.  This worked very much as expected.

Improved Revenge

I will admit I was expecting something more out of Improved Revenge.  I definitely gained threat from it I was using it less often because it was up less often.  That’s probably a good place to start with discussion the trade offs, because the loss of block was noticeable.

Shield Specialization

I think the lack of Shield Spec hurt the build that I used, at least somewhat.  The reason why took me a bit to figure out but it comes down to the cascading effects of block, namely Damage Shield, Revenge (and the associated Glyph of Revenge).  I actually lost threat from my free Heroic Strikes and Damage Shield that cut into the gains I made.  3% extra block isn’t a lot in terms of damage reduction, but there was also a drop of approximately 3% threat gained from Heroic Strike and Damage shield.

Improved Bloodrage & Puncture

I’ll lay down the simple truth here, missing these from my build made no discernible difference in performance.  They were effectively 4 wasted points in my previous build that were there more by habit than by anything else.  I was never low enough on rage that I noticed it and parsing the post raid numbers shows that I’m not missing anything.


The result of my tests were consistent with the prevailing wisdom that Deep Wounds increases your threat and that it is very noticeable in AoE situations where it will proc off of Damage Shield, Thunderclap, and Shockwave.  Avoidance and Improved Revenge performed as expected, but the loss of some of Shield Specialization felt like it cut into the effect of the build overall.

The Future

Where I am going from here is probably up for more testing.  I liked what I saw of Deep Wounds so I am probably going to keep it, but I would like to play around with moving more points back into Shield Specialization, some of which I can possibly get out of Cruelty, but the remaining I will need to tweak with other abilities in the Protection tree.  I may end up comming back to this build in the future, or I may encorporate what I have learned into a dual-spec.  Even though I have been mostly learning towards a DPS spec as my secondary spec, this has been definately giving me some food for thought as to whether I really want to go double prot.  Also, I haven’t been following the changes to Deep Wounds on the PTR, but I will have to now – the ability had too much utility for me and what I’m providing to my raid to drop it.  Substantual changes might make that cost/benefit equation change.


13 Comments so far
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/facepalm, your original build didn’t include the dodge talent? Fail tank. Peroid.
No tank should EVER spec imp bloodrage.
Only points i spec into arms are the parry ones, TPS is and never should be a issue for a Warrior tank. If you really want that extra 200 TPS then ditch points in sheild Spec in Prot, but only do so if you are MT of a 25 team. In no other situation should you be outthreated.

Your point in Anger Management are is a waste, you should never be OOR unless u are constantly spamming HS on trash mobs with under 100k HP.

The charge talent points is another 2 wasted, (and yes i know you need to spec them to reach deep wounds etc.) Think about it, u gain 20 rage for charging then AT LEAST another 30-40 in the first few seconds of engaging a boss/trash pack. Like i said before, you should never be OOR.

You need to examine you build more and imo never spec deep wounds, if so you are fail tank my friend.

Comment by Chimmy

@ Chimmy – Trust me when I say that my raid team has very aggressive (reckless, etc) dps. It’s just part of our culture. To then end that “need as much threat as possible” also means “need as much rage as possible” That is where Improved Charge and Anger management come in. As for Improved Bloodrage… well that was definitely a mistake. As was the lack of anticipation, but my love/hate relationship with dodge is a future post waiting to happen ^_~.
Also, as a regular Add Tank, I would never drop Anger Management. Generating rage anytime you are in combat is awesome for fights like Sarth 3D or KZ where you go for any period of time where you are out of the main action. I love being able to throw down with a full rage bar on the Guardians of Icecrown, etc.
But seriously, “fail tank” because of deep wounds? Difference of opinion is one thing, but “fail?” You’re not going to win any hearts and minds with that attitude.

Comment by Tarsus

/facepalm, you only comment to insult someone putting work in a blog and only sharing is opinion? Fail commentator. Period.

Comment by Talanna

Since I am a casual tank and usually don’t have the time or inclination to do the in depth research, when it comes to figuring out what an established spec can do, Vene and TankingTips is my first place to check. When I finally got Omen to work I can say he’s definitely right about Deep Wounds and threat, and like you I need all the threat I can get.

We do have different scenarios though, I run in PUGs, where anything can happen. You just happen to have a guild that can drop crazy DPS.

Comment by James V

@James – For me, overcoming mental dispositions like that (which are backed up by previous experiential evidence) takes actual testing by me personally.
And yes, our dps does some crazy stuff. Our top 5 generally hover somewhere between 4-5k DPS depending on the raid/fight/composition.

Comment by Tarsus

I went to the Deep Wounds build even before I turned 80 off some theorycrafting I saw on the Blizzard forums, and I’m a believer. If you think Shield Spec is a problem, you can ditch your point in Cruelty to grab another point in Shield Spec. Other than the point in Anger Management (I have 2/5 Cruelty instead), our builds are identical.

Not only does it help on threat, you’ll find that it’ll boost your DPS too, which always helps. Typically on Naxx 25 runs as an offtank and occasional MT, Deep Wounds is between 6 and 9 percent of my total damage for the evening, depending on whether I’m lucky enough to be grouped with a feral druid for the extra crit.

Comment by Lewis

@Lewis – It’s only a feeling about Shield Spec, a feeling I need to test. RNG based mechanics are often very twitchy things, and there is obviously synergy involved (loosing 1% crit obviously also effects the damage gained from abilities that increase crit damage, like impale and imp. revenge).

Comment by Tarsus

> With Whirlwind also being an essential part of the DPS Warrior rotation,
> this would often lead to broken crowd control… with a DoT on it.

*whistles innocently*

Comment by Yuki

WoW Chimmy….you saying Deep Wounds makes a fail tank, in fact, makes you a fail tank. Best threat/dps warrior tank spec going atm.

Different strokes for different folks.

Comment by Darraxus

Interesting that you think you noticed less revenge usage moving points out of shield spec and into anticipation, you should have noticed more up time I think (5% dodge vs. 3% block).

I think one of the major conversations going on atm in the tanking community is the complete weakness of block relative to every other damage reduction ability (be it mitigation, CD’s or avoidance).

But back to my original point, you should be up 2% revenge (although I have it up 99% of the time outside of CD’s) rather than down 3%?

Also, you have again got an hypocrisy in spec if you give up cruelty (3% crit) for Shield Spec (3% chance of stopping ~1200 damage). IMO it’s not even close to an even trade off. Yes, 3% less damage shield is a little less threat (Recount reports damage shield as 5% of my damage total), so losing 5% of that by gaining dodge is a small loss, but there is no threat gain from damage shield by taking more shield spec (Critical Block will throw 30% of that 3% as double damage, about 1% more of that 5% is still less threat than 3% crit).

Crit % becomes more and more important as you scale with raid buffs, gear and proccing deep wounds is just the icing on the cake.

You also said it yourself that you’re a regular add tank, more important to do more threat to adds to stop the aggro monkeys mages from pulling while AOE’ing them down.

I guess what I’m saying is that I call a fallacy to your claim that sheild spec is a noticeable difference to your performance. I’ll grant that you’ve noticed a difference to your blocking, but I’ll suggest that difference is due to the noise made when you do block. Add in that 25% of the time you block 100% of attacks in any case, that 3% drops to 75% relevant uptime, 2.25% more blocks is a negligible number.

Cruelty will be more effective from a threat perspective.

p.s. Gratz on moving to Deep Wounds! It’s a great fun and great damage spec :-D

Comment by Ablimoth

@ Ablimoth – I had thought so too regarding Revenge, but it didn’t work out that way. At the moment I am going to be playing around with this spec a bit more, at least until I have a better sample (I haven’t done comparisons in Sarth of Maly yet), so it may have ended up being something of a fluke.

I don’t think I’m being hypocritical again at the moment as I’m in the midst of testing and tweaking. I may find that your instincts are more correct, but if I don’t test it myself it’s going to be eating me for a while.

Comment by Tarsus

@ Tarus- I’m glad you made the switch man. Deep wounds when coupled with LotP and Mangle is quite the threat and DPS increase for sure. I applaud the use of AM and Improved Charge in the build too as there really isn’t anything better to put points into than IC and AM is tons of free rage. I can’t count how many times I’ve just been one or two rage points short of an ability I wanted to use to try and save someone from a random add.

@ Chimmy- Not everything is so black and white. AM is a lot more useful than it appears up front and extra rage virtually never hurts. The only fights where I don’t find myself wanting extra rage are high movement fights like Grobbulus or super-high hitting fights like Pathwerk. Other than those two I rarely find myself with tons of rage to burn due to the combination of exreme HS spam and high avoidance/mitigation.

Comment by kittoes

There are quite a few inaccurate comments here, but I’ll leave them alone. Your build is great. Only thing I think you should really change is trade Anger Management for a point in Cruelty. 1 rage per 3 is a pretty pathetic talent even if it is only 1 point. Just think about it for a minute and you’ll agree. +1% crit isn’t huge either, but it is the better choice.

Now if you want to play around a bit, here are some other options for the DW spec:

1) You can lose vigilance to get a point back. I’v got a 15/5/51 without vig and it doesn’t make my job any harder. Only thing I miss is the taunt refresh.

2) I find rage starvation to be an issue sometimes when I run heroics (just for fun usually), so if you’re going back to hit those heroics to help out guildies etc. you can lose some points in anticipation and move them back into shield spec. Not a great idea for a raid MT, but for current content it’s not a big deal. Your deeps will go up slightly and more importantly you’ll generate more rage… especially on trash.

Comment by Dave

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