Tanking for Dummies

Wipe Blame: The Tank List
October 30, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Humor, Lists, Stupid Tanking | Tags: , ,

Allow me to rise to Amber’s challenge to match her “Blame Table“.  Just for tanks.

Or, perhaps, I should simply call it my list of “why every wipe is secretly the tank’s fault.”

1st Cause of the Wipe: Tank lost agro

Reasons why this is the tank’s fault:

  • The tank forgot to get back into Defensive Stance/Frost Presence, etc.
  • The tank is in their DPS spec.
  • The tank is dead (this, contrary to some rumors, always causes agro wipe).
  • The tank’s claw-like appendage sometimes called a hand has finally dropped off due to excessive heroic strike spam.

2nd Cause of Wipe: Tank is dead

Reasons why this is the tanks fault:

  • Forgot to use the right cooldown.
  • Used the right cooldown, but a the wrong time.
  • Used the right cooldown, at the right time, but was fighting Gormok the Impaler.
  • Attempted to start a land war in Asia.

3rd Cause of Wipe: Ignoring the tank to 1-shot squishes

Reason why this is the tank’s fault:

  • Didn’t open with shield slam.
  • There is no hit gear in ToC.
  • Tank is dead.
  • Prudery is no excuse for not humping the boss before it becomes active.

4th cause of Wipe: Healer is dead

Reasons why this is the tank’s fault:

  • The only thing between the healer and death is the tank.
  • The only thing between the tank and death is the healer.
  • We live in fear of the healer mafia.

5th cause of Wipe: The adds are killing everyone

Reasons why this is the tank’s fault:

  • Didn’t play a Paladin.
  • Didn’t play a Death Knight.
  • Didn’t Vigilance the Mage.
  • The tank is dead.

6th cause of Wipe: DPS is too low

Reasons this is the tank’s fault:

  • Not enough threat.
  • Didn’t Vigilance the Mage.
  • Tank is Dead.
  • Didn’t swap to Berserker stance and start execute spam.

7th Cause of Wipe: Ignorance

Reasons why this is the tank’s fault:

  • Assumed everyone had read the strat/watched the video on TankSpot/remembered to keep up to date on their Tanking for Dummies feed.
  • Missed the tanking assignments because they were tabbed out playing browser games.
  • “Close your eyes and think of England” is not a sufficient strat summary.

Don’t despair my fellow Tanks, just remember –  even if it is always your fault it’s not like anyone else can take the hits and maintain a stunning 31 Intellect.  That’s what we call job security.


Race Change for Tanking
October 28, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis, Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

First off thanks to those who send their good wishes.  To those of you who asked: No, it isn’t swine flu.

However, for those of you who have been paying attention, the Race Change service is now available.  Meaning that between this and the Faction Change you can swap your warrior tank to any other race in the game (well, except Blood Elves, but who wants them anyway?).

Why would you want to switch races?  Well, let’s be straight here – you want to be the best tank you can be so you want to seek out every advantage you can get.  There are different advantages that race options can give you.  Let me parse them for you:


  • Orc – You have Blood Fury which will increase your threat and Axe Specialization that will increase your expertise with Axes.  The former can be a nice boost, but the latter is gimped by the parsity of tanking axes.  Boo.
  • Tauren – More health from Endurance and an AoE stun on a 2 minute cooldown with War Stomp.  The former sounds better than it is in actuality, but I cannot even begin to say how useful the latter has been over the years.
  • Troll – Berserking is a nice boost to threat, though given it’s dependence on your health it can feel a little gimped on a tank since you’re not wanting to go too low on that.  Other than that, there isn’t that much here… outside of pure mojo.  You have to respect the mojo.
  • Undead – Will of the Forsaken used to be the great grand-daddy of tanking racials, but with the advent of access to Berserker Rage in Defensive stance, this is (at best) a good back-up in case you hit the button at the wrong time.  Cannibalize can also be very useful under the right circumstances, but again, you’ll rarely have the opportunity to use it.


  • Dwarf – Stoneform is one of those abilities that you think you won’t use until you discover just how often things hit you with debuffs.  The ability to remove bleed effects is also Godly, as the only other abilities to do so also drop you off the threat table.  Mace Specialization, however, is gimped due to the parsity of tanking maces.
  • Gnome – While I have seen some great uses for Escape Artist, this is mostly to help in situations for anyone, not specifically for tanks.  Tiny Hijinks aside, you’re not going to find much more use in your tanking repertoire for gnome racials.
  • Human – Every Man for Himself is probably the most powerful racial in the game right now, so it bears noting that it works for most things that you would want.  It’s effectively a PvP trinket that doesn’t take up an item slot.  If that were not enough to think that Blizzard has it in the bag for Humans, they also get Sword Specialization – which is pretty awesome considering that the vast majority of tanking weapons or swords.
  • Night Elf – Quickness deserves a special mention here because bosses do not get expertise or hit.  This means that your Night Elf tank is going to just have better baseline avoidance – not to shabby.  Shadowmeld can also be useful when it comes to tank transfers, keeping you from accidently overtaking your friend who just taunted off you.
  • Draenei – Heroic Presence is a great boost to threat.  It’s always on, and it works for everything you might equip.  It’s also no great surprise that Gift of the Naru is good for tanking, especially in smaller groups where the mobs don’t hit quite as hard.

That pretty much covers it.  So am I going to switch?

Heck no.

Tauren, forever.  For the Horde!

Sick Day
October 26, 2009, 7:37 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

My apologies dear readers, but there will be no post today. I’m sick like a dog.

If I am feeling better tomorrow I will try and get a post up. If not, see you Wednesday!

Icecrown Cidadel is Comming
October 23, 2009, 7:35 am
Filed under: Gear, Lists, News, Raiding | Tags: , , , , ,

This is no great surprise if you have been paying attention.  But for those of you who haven’t, let me point you at some linkage:

No loot yet to parse and list for you, but you know it’s coming.

October 21, 2009, 8:49 am
Filed under: News | Tags: ,

I’m on Twitter.

Or more specifically, I’ve been on Twitter, but I’m no longer behind a firewall that keeps me from tweeting.

Hard Mode Trial of the Crusader is Hard, pt 3

Gormok has fallen.  The only update I’m going to specifically add to my original post on the matter was I have discovered that Last Stand is pretty much as effective as Shield Wall, and lets you save Shield Wall for more important things. However, having done it now dozens of times, I’m confident about the strategy I put forward otherwise.  It gets the Impaler down in a timely manner.

Acidmaw and Dreadscale are another matter.

Our strategy has one Tank always on Acidmaw, and two on Dreadscale.  DPS, regardless, focuses on Acidmaw.  When Dreadscale is mobile, the two tanks swap off, with whichever tank that has Burning Bile moving to clense the Paralytic Toxin.  When Dreadscale is stationary, it is the responsibility of whichever player(s) get Burning bile to free the Acidmaw tank.  If the Acidmaw tank becomes paralyzed, using a Guardian Spirit, Penance, or other healer cooldown may be necessary.  When Acidmaw dies, Tanks swap out tanking the enraged Dreadscale using Shield Wall, and DPS focuses down the worm.

Things we need to do better to make this strategy work:

  • DPS performance needs to be 100%.  Needless to say, Trial of the Grand Crusader puts a real focus on individual performance.  This is our biggest issue.
  • Ranged DPS and Healers need to spread out more when Dreadscale is stationary.
  • Whomever gets Burning Bile needs to be on their toes.
  • DPS with Paralytic Toxin need to keep DPS on and not move.
  • Tanks need to be better about using some cooldowns (Enraged Regeneration, Shield Block, Potions, etc) if their healers become paralyzed.

Simply put we cannot get Dreadscale down before the presence of Icehowl destroys us (generally his via his frost breath).  DPS is insufficient mostly because people die, hence the need to spread out more, but we’ve lost just as many attempts because tanks die either because their healers bite it, or because the healers are paralyzed.

I’ll keep updating this series when breakthroughs occur.  Just remember, tanks who are in the same boat as me: it’s supposed to be this hard.  The problems are not because of tank ability favoritism (e.g. Vezax), no tank is going to be better at this than another.  Keep your individual performance high, and encourage the same in your other raid members, and we’ll all be talking about Jarraxas next.

Thoughts on Loosing Block
October 19, 2009, 12:57 pm
Filed under: Analysis | Tags: , , , , ,

Tanks are loosing quite a few stats in Cataclysm, replaced by “Mastery.”  It has been confirmed or implied that we won’t be seeing defense on gear anymore, or hit and expertise, or even dodge and parry.  I, for one, won’t miss too much the vagueness and obfuscation that such stats can bring to the tanking process, but I do think that there’s some important questions to be asked about the fate of Warrior tanks given the demise of a certain key stat: Block Value.

It’s easy to forget just how many prot abilities figure in to that one little stat so let me remind you.  Shield Slam’s bonus damage is figured off of your Block Value.  Shield Block’s effectiveness is, needless to say, directly linked to how much you block.  Damage Shield’s damage is a percentage of your block value.  And, of course, the damage blocked when you block is determined by that number.

Come the next expansion, however, block value is gone as a stat, period.  When you block the damage mitigated will be percentile based, which is good in my opinion.  However, it begs the question of what will be the fate of these other linked abilities.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that damage and threat would be greatly reduced if nothing is changed.  But what possibly should take it’s place?

Shield Slam to me seems fairly straightforward, the block value can be made up by increasing the contribution of Strength to the damage.  Seeing as there is already a certain amount of double-dipping going on (since Strength also contributes to Block Value), finding the right co-efficient would keep things very similar to the way things are now.

Shield Block and Damage Shield are a lot more tricky.

Damage Shield, for one, has always struck me as kind of stop-gap for Warrior threat.  It helps with our AoE threat, but now that it is loosing the ability to proc anything (most notably Deep Wounds) it seems to me to be increasingly extraneous.  Worse yet, it penalizes warriors for having high avoidance.  Now, avoidance is going to likely be pretty standardized come expansion time, but I think many headaches could be avoided if the talent was dropped entirely and a flat boost given to Thunder Clap and Shockwave to boost Warrior AoE threat.

Shield Block’s issue is more one of repetition.  We do not know what mechanism is going to determine the amount of damage reduced by blocking, but unchanged Shield Block’s mechanic looks very similar to another Warrior ability, namely Shield Wall.  The primary difference, in this case, is Shield Wall works for all damage, and Shield Block, presumably, works for only physical damage.  Were it not for the tendency of the need for cooldowns and physical damage being so often related (I can think of one fight where large hits of magic damage were the problem worth mitigating, that being Sarth 3D), I think this would be fine.  However, since that is the tendency, I can feel the nerf-bat hanging Damocles-like over us waiting for a chance to strike.  In the interest then of avoiding this sort of duplication, allow me to recommend to Blizzard an alternative use for Shield Block, or the cooldown that would normally occupy it’s slot:

Give us real magic damage mitigation cooldown.

I don’t care if you have to throw Spell Reflect to the dogs to do it, it’s useless anyway.  By contrast, something that has the effectiveness of, say Anti-Magic Shell would get used all the time.  I can’t help but feel that trading, say, two cooldowns of questionable utility for one of great utility would be a fair trade.

But that’s just me.