Tanking for Dummies

Ulduar Journal: General “Just use a DK tank.”
June 5, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis, Raiding, Rants | Tags: , , , ,

So much trash.

That is the first thing that I got from what we did on Vezax.  There is 7 pulls, Three of which are Mini-bosses of about the same level of difficulty as the Ancients in Freya’s area.  They don’t drop Emblem’s though, and that’s okay.  The ones that should drop the emblems are the 4 other pulls of NINE.  Did I mention there is only eight raid markers?  It was a good thing that I’m currently messing around with a dual-prot spec, so I could avoid accidentally dotting the sheep.  Not that this mattered much since the Death Knights did this anyway.  My god that first pull was so much death.  Especially one one of the rogue type mobs decided it would shadow step back to the start of the instance and start ganking healers when we tried to graveyard zerg it.

It works a bit better when your crowd control is working, but it still takes forever to clear, nearly an hour in our case.  As for Vezax himself…

What.  The.  Fuck.

General Vezax is the perfect explanation of the origin of my little rant from last Friday.   Every 60 seconds or so, Vezax has his quaint Surge of Darkness ability, which needless to say will Pwn your ass unless you’re booking it the hell away or using a cooldown.  Oh, and he’s one of the few bosses in Ulduar that seems to be immune to taunt.  What is a cooldown that could possibly save your butt that is on a 60 second cooldown?  That wouldn’t be… Icebound Fortitude?  Why yes it would!

Does any other tanking class have an ability that works that well, even with glyphs talent points?  Fuck no.

Why might this be a problem?  Well, let’s take a look at his other abilities.

Searing Flames – Massive AoE damage  that also reduces armor by 75%  Must be interrupted.  Did I mention that it must be interrupted?

Shadow Crash – Massive AoE Damage Mortar.  You can avoid it by running away from where it will land.  Preferentially targets players at range.

Mark of The Faceless – Mark on a player that siphons health from them and everyone around them and heal’s Vezax.  Don’t stand near this person.

Aura of Despair – Prevents mana regen, forcing healers and mana based DPS to stand in the Saronite Vapors, which gives the impression that it is supposed to be the hard part of the fight.

So, looking at this, it should be fairly obvious that Melee DPS is pretty kick ass during this fight.  They’re unaffected by Aura of Despair and Shadow Crash, and they can handle interrupts.  The only thing that might make this fight bad for them is, I don’t know, moving the fuck around so they can get gibed by Shadow Crash or debuffed by Saronite Vapors and be out of range for interrupting Searing Flames.

Let me summarize this simply.  If you want to make your life easier on General Vezax, just use a fucking Death Knight tank. If you want to hate life and wonder why you can’t have a lifesaving cooldown on a minute timer as well, tank it as a Warrior.

So here’s my question for the Blizzard Developers.  Where is my “if you want to have no headache use a Warrior to Tank this” boss?  Can I have a boss that has some uber ability that does, I don’t know, 700 damage every millisecond for ten seconds every 30 seconds so Shield Block can be the envy of every tank on Azeroth?  How about a boss that hits hard enough at 10% that the difference between 60 and 40 percent means something?  I mean, sure Auriaya is handy to have the tank interrupt Sentinel Blast… but why not just have a warrior off-tank a cat and then dedicate themselves to interrupting the rest of the time?  It’s not like you need 3 tanks for the Feral Defenders.

Someone needs to own up to the fact that there’s no “Just use a Warrior” fight.  Until that time, I’m going to continue to be on this like a cow with 31 Intellect and my bull-shit detector on full alert.

Cow.  Bull-shit.  Get it?

/rim shot


19 Comments so far
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Name of the game? Improved Disciplines, Glyphs and External Cooldowns.

Min • CD

1) Shield Wall + Crab
2) ExternalCD1 + LS + Crab
3) Shield Wall + Crab
4) ExternalCD2 + LS + Crab
5) Shield Wall + Crab
6) ExternalCD3 + LS + Crab

You have Enraged Regen ready too to help where needed.

Externals that works:
Bubled HoS
Guardian Spirit

Pain Suppression is tricky since it last 8 seconds out of 10 of surge…

So you need total of 3 players that includes pala and/or priest.

Make sure you split interrupters to 2 groups with someone announcing 1 2 1 2 so that other group is waiting with cd ready to interrupt. Altho you can live trough one armor debuff it’s generally only thing that cause a wipe.

And that’s it… pretty much.

Back on war vs others – well I pretty much adore warrior tanking especially in Ulduar. What other classes need you can make up with your team mates… that’s team for anyway…

Comment by Mookey

I don’t think there’s ever going to be a ‘use a warrior and it’ll be way way easier’ fight again.

You sound really down though. Can the rest of the raid not help you with cooldowns? I know it’s more hassle that getting a DK but should still work?

Comment by spinks

Mimiron. Intervene out, charge in, Mimiron never moves in phase 1 or 4, mines never get thrown outside of a pretty little circle. Spell Reflect allows you to actually tank the head in phase three.

Because of the 45 second turnover on plasma blast, a death knight is at no more of an advantage cooldown wise than any other tank, unless your raid DPS is weak enough that you’re seeing more than 2 or 3.

So much of the mimiron fight is positioning that the warrior’s ability to move in and out almost instantly is a huge boon.

Comment by The Renaissance Man

Yeah, Mimiron is pretty amazingly warrior friendly, without getting to RoS “must reflect to beat enrage timer” or Illidan “must shield block to not get sheered” or Archimonde “must stance dance fear” levels.

And yeah, we got a DK tank. Added one to our roster for this fight specifically, to avoid headaches.

Comment by Yakra

@Mookey – Having external cooldowns means that you need to depend on the healer’s with them being alive. It was the same advantage to DKs tanking Sarth 3D. Though we did try an interesting combo last night where all the shaman dropped healing stream totem at the tank’s feet, that seemed to help.

@ Spinks – I’m more irritated than anything. Prior to joining Axiom I was the MT of a raid Alliance side (back when that meant something). I practically tanked every fight, so it seems like warriors have “fallen” a long way since then, mostly thanks to tailored encounter mechanics.

@ Renaissance Man – We often use a warrior as the last tank in rotation on Mimiron, specifically because that mobility in Phase 4 is pretty awesome. Because of Phase 1 though, I’d hardly call it a 1 tank fight. I like fights where you swap out (Thorim and Razorscale are good examples) and share the glory. We use a warlock on Phase 3 though.

@ Yakra – I think it’s mostly the “without getting to IBF on Vezax” levels that bug me. There’s just no fight where a DK needs to rely on external cooldowns that a warrior doesn’t.

Comment by Tarsus

Mimiron’s 3rd phase on 25 man is the section that requires an OT. In phase one, you can rotate external cooldowns. Shield Wall the first, Pain Supression or Guardian Spirit the second, Last Stand + Hand of Sacrifice the third. That will keep the tank alive. Phase two the tank shouldn’t take a whole lot of damage.

Phase three simply has too many adds for one tank to pick up in 25 man.

But with Auriaya and Mimiron, there’s two fights that warriors are premier for. As opposed to Paladins who are the best tank for one third of a boss fight in Ulduar. Steelbreaker.

Comment by The Renaissance Man

[…] still have a lot of the instance left but it’s hard not to feel a pang of sympathy for Tarsus who’s finding that some fights just are easier if you go with the optimal class balance (death […]

Pingback by Raid Update: When the going gets tough … « Welcome to Spinksville!

“Having external cooldowns means that you need to depend on the healer’s with them being alive”

Well by all means healers shouldn’t die on this fight. Much different then Sarth3D. Dunno, I’m playing improved disciplines build on this fight with improved demo shout and absolutely don’t have ANY problem stayin’ in da surge.
We ran
1 holy pala (2nd on rotation)
2x retri palas (4th and 6th in rotation)
1 holy priest (backup no1)
1 disc priest (backup no2)

As I said… Absolutely no problem. Your retri paladins cannot die due staying inside boss body, your healers can die if someone is close to green stuff when they go to replenish mana, but that’s all avoidable.

You might check out my armory to see gear setup in general, I just switch to few expertise pieces and it’s ok.

Comment by Mookey

I had a very similar conversation with my boyfriend the other day. A feral druid, he cringes everytime someone in the raid suggests that we “cooldown tank” General Vezax, and someone else replies that only a Death Knight can successfully do it. Our warrior is even more frustrated, since the druid at least has the advantage of feline run speed for kite phases (since — lacking a DK — we kite Vezax during Surges rather than tank him).

We do use a warrior tank for Mimiron P1, with an external cooldown rotation to keep him alive during plasma surges. He also tanks Mimiron’s head in P4, using spell reflect to great effect.

A warrior is the hands down best tank for Malygos, again due to spell reflect (when it’s improved, anyway; ours dual specs for utility).

(By the way, if anything I’ve said doesn’t make sense, it’s because I don’t actually speak tank. This is just what I think I’ve managed to glean from hanging out in the tank group in raids — a holdover from the bygone days when I was the ‘lock on imp duty. :))

Comment by Elleiras

I actually think the problem is less “warriors don’t have enough cooldowns” as it is “content seems to have been designed to not allow warrior cooldowns to be used well.”

If Shield Block is supposed to be the warrior “press X to not die” button for big heavy hits, it suffers the weakness of not being applicable to situations where the big heavy hit is spell damage rather than physical. Similarly, if Spell Reflect is the warrior’s primary defense against spell attacks, it suffers the weakness of not being actually useable against most spell damage attacks.

The simplest remedy, then, is to rather than mucking with Shield Wall or adding a new cooldown, to add a mechanic allowing one or both of these abilities to mitigate big spell attacks. My inclination is to say this should be Spell Reflect; imagine changing it to reduce spell damage while the buff is up (so that it either mitigates the entirety of a reflected spell, or reduces the damage of magic that it can’t reflect). This, to me, seems like the most elegant solution to the problem of warriors not having a good way to handle frequent, mass-damage spell attacks.

Of course, I still don’t really think turning tanking into a series of Quick Time Events is good design, but Blizzard hasn’t been consulting me for game design tips, for some reason :D

Comment by Yuki

@ Mookey – If you have enough external cooldowns, any tank can tank anything in a perfect world. I still hold that depending on someone else for that is adding complexity, thus increasing chance of death.

@ Renaissance Man – We use a warlock for the Plasma balls, and a tank (usually me) for the bombs, another for the assault bots and another for the trash (usually a Pally or a DK).
A warrior is handy for interrupts on Auriaya (though I’ve found that having a warrior off-tank do it is better, since you need off tanks anyway). Mimiron is great with a warrior tank in phase 4, phase 1 just doesn’t seem difficult enough to worry about since the Taunt/Cooldown strategy works well for us anyway.

@ Elleiras – Imp Spell Reflect on Maly phase 2 is great. You need Multiple tanks for the Lords anyway though, so it’s more like “if you have a warrior off tank, get them to use Imp Spell Reflect” and it works just as well.

@ Yuki – Sounds good to me.

Comment by Tarsus

The whole it’s easier to have an off tank do it is 1) deflecting the issue, and 2) not true. It might be easier for the warrior, but not for the raid. On mimiron, you need two people to use abilites to survive the plasma blast. Taunts can miss, or be resisted, Pain Supression, Guardian Spirit, or the paladin Sacrifice spells cannot. You can use a warlock on the head and have to devote healer resources to healing him, or you could have a warrior play pong and take no damage. And if you’ve got a skilled warrior, he could tank the head and the FLII at the same time in phase four becuase Spell Reflect is off the GCD. Having a tank actually eating the bombs is counter productive, have a boomkin or DK or Frost mage snare them, and have the ranged DPS nuke it down quickly. Mimiron is really the warrior’s chance to shine.

And Auriaya, the Sentry tanks are actually more likely to die than the Auriaya tank. Having one of those sentinal blasts go uninterrupted because the interuppter was instagibbed by rend flesh is a real kick in the teeth, much easier to simply have the tank who’s most likely to survive the first phase be capable of preventing a wipe without requiring outside assistance.

Comment by The Renaissance Man

I’ll certainly agree that needing fewer tanks on Mimiron would be good for the raid. But if you can tank the bottom and the top with spell reflect at the same time, you’re a better tank than me.

On Auriaya my experience is that if one of the sentry tanks dies it is a wipe anyway. It’s hardly an efficient way of doing it though so I can definitely see the benefit of doing it with fewer tanks. I will certainly give you that being able to avoid fear seems like the only toy left in the chest that is Warrior only.

Comment by Tarsus


Agree Targus. However check this out… same day as you posted this one – Paladins actually thinking that using external CDs are great fun beside normal actions.

Comment by Mookey

My understanding is that Paladin healing in a raid is otherwise is kinda boring. So I believe it.

I would happily leave them to it to… if I never had to hear a healer request we do a boss with a DK tank.

Comment by Tarsus

Honestly, this is why I’m currently tanking on a DK and not my warrior. 38k unbuffed life with IBF, Rune Tap, and AMS makes virtually any boss fight in Ulduar twice as easy on my healers than doing it on Kittoes. Fully buffed, RT ends up healing me instantly for around 15k+ every 30 seconds. Combine that with my already short cooldowns for both melee AND spell mitigation and no other tanking class can compete.

I think this is a bad thing because it makes DKs the only truly desirable tanks for end-game content but I’ll be honest, the style has made tanking a lot more fun. Having huge hits on short cooldowns and having several short cooldowns myself to deal with them makes it feel like I have a lot more responsibility and control for myself than say tanking on my warrior where I rely entirely on my group of healers to be exceptional. I think in an ideal world all tanks would be like DKs instead of DKs being brought down to the other tanks’ levels. The short cooldowns simply allow Blizzard more room for interesting mechanics to challenge tanks and healers alike that they simply couldn’t do if the cooldowns weren’t there. Right now though with only one tank being designed this way, the three others rightly feel left out.

Comment by kittoes

The first night we tried Vezax we used our usual strat for anything that looks mean (throw the dwarves, then if that fails, hurl a bear at it). CD rotations were difficult to manage, but then, we were also running around like idiots trying to learn the mechanics of the fight. Now the plan is to have the one DK on our roster respec for this fight. Unfortunately, that DK is a 2/3 night raider. Yeah, Vezax is going to be fun fun fun.

Comment by Dae

I Cooldown Tank Vezax as a warrior just fine. Keep Demo Shout up, Glyph and spec for 2 min shield wall and last stand. Pop Shield Wall for the first, and LS with trinkets and a HoS from a pally for the 2nd. Repeat. Easy Sauce.

Comment by Jaymo

I’m a warrior tank and could beat this boss. The setup is quite simple. Disc priest with pain suppression, ret pally with bubble sac, holy pally with bubble sac. We also used a third healer (druid) for the heal buff and help with some hots on the tank and help healing the healers that go in the vapors. This third healer is not necessary, but we found it useful. The warrior must have the improved disciplines talent plus glyphs for shield wall and last stand.
Since the SoD comes out every minute, I pop my shield wall right off the start. This helps the healers keep their mana early on.

On first SoD, I used LS + trinkets + enraged regeneration(3 mins CD). This combination sometimes make vezax attacks “immune” which makes it easy for healers.

On second SoD, The warrior tank uses shield wall + pain suppression.

On the next one, warrior pops LS + trinkets and have a pally use bubble sac.

On the next one, we got a shield wall + bubble sac going. Note that we save enraged regeneration for the next SoD.

On the next one (if Vezax is still not dead), we use LS + trinkets + enraged regeneration + pain suppression. This seems like overdoing it, but at this point some healers are almost out of mana and require more support. Note that LS + enraged regeneration makes the warrior receive “immune” damage. Vezax WILL die after this one.

With all these cooldowns, the warrior tank seemed easier to heal during the SoD than the rest of the fight!

It is not all the raid team that have a composition that includes 3 external cooldowns! Be creative. Find the best CD rotations and this is an easy fight.

Comment by Darky

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