Tanking for Dummies


Nerf News (or, in case you missed it)
January 13, 2010, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Advice for Non Tanks, Analysis, News | Tags: , , ,

Ghostcrawler

It should be noted that we have been warned about some potential in-coming nerfs to Protection Warriors.  You may read certain choice responses here, here, and here (reply #385).  In case you missed the information involved , allow me to get you up to date (from oldest to newest):

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Stating the obvious: There is still a tank shortage
December 14, 2009, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Analysis | Tags: , ,

Ah.  New LFG Tool.  Your praises have been sung by many.  I have, myself seen the beauty of it’s well designed features.  The obvious rewards, both potential and actualized.  I could go on…

But I am a tank.

See, it has been brought to my attention that there are certain discrepancies in demographics, which, shall we say, make the LFG tool less than useful for certain other group roles.  Like, say, everyone else.

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The Plan for Looting Icecrown Citadel (Thus far)
December 11, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis, Gear, Raiding | Tags: , , , , ,

First off, I’m not going to go into the 5-man lootables.  In case you missed it, Kadomi did a super job covering that stuff already.

What I am going to do is talk about Raid and Emblem loot (or at least what we know about it thus far).  I’m not going to worry about “Heroic” versions of these items either. You’re not going to see them until, well, I guess February or March anyway.

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Preventing “The Claw” – Binding Heroic Strike to Mousewheel
November 30, 2009, 11:57 am
Filed under: Analysis, How To | Tags: , , ,

I make a lot of jokes about Warrior tanks crippling themselves trying to max out their Heroic Strike usage.  In the parlance, I refer to the ravages of carpal tunnel as “The Claw” (pronounced like ‘da crah!’), that feeling after raid like you cannot move your hand because your fingers hurt from jamming that Heroic Strike key for 4 hours.

I can’t help but feel I’ve been a little flippant about this whole thing.  So to make it up to everyone, I’m going to give you all a brief primer on setting up the best temporary solution to give your left hand a break: Bind your Heroic Strike Key to the Mousewheel.

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Patch 3.2.x Raiding Sucks Your Will to Live
November 18, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis, Raiding | Tags: , , ,

I’ve been doing some thinking about ToC and ToGC, namely in the context of raider burnout and turn-over. I should say first though that this post is dedicated to my fellow Axiom Prot-Warrior Armann who stopped tanking recently because Heroic Strike spam gave him a serious medical condition (carpal tunnel aka “The Claw”).  His transfer to our DPS team (you can play a Death Knight with one hand, apparently) got me thinking about this.  We can pour a “40” on his shield later.  Get better soon man.

On topic, however, I’ve seen a lot of signs showing the stress of raiding is taking its toll.  Or boredom taking its toll.  I think either way you would be hard to find that many people “enthused” about the content of the current raid instance.  Some people I am sure would tell you this is because Trial of the Crusader is too easy, while others would say it is because Trial of the Grand Crusader is too hard.  I am of a slightly different opinion, which is that (as a whole) it’s too short.

I’ll start by acknowledging that I think that both the prior statements are true – ToC is too easy and ToGC is too hard, but realistically speaking I don’t think that either is to blame for the sense of malaise that I can feel in raiding right now.  The reason for that is because this whole raiding business (actually, MMOs as a whole, but that’s getting way off my point) is a social experience.  The thing that really keeps us going is not so much the experience of the content itself, but rather the experience as it is with other people.

At this point in the game (late content patch) I think most raiders are either farming for loot (ToC) or wiping trying to do things the hard way (ToGC).  Generally, we wipe for hours and hours on Heroic Northrend Beasts (not even any trash to clear to break the monotony!), whereas we’re spending maybe and hour in ToC getting upgrades and generally goofing off.  The stress to de-stress ratio is way skewed, and that is a function of the fact that the Crusader’s Coliseum is way too short.  In Ulduar (which was super long, of course) there was a definite progression of difficulty and, well, trash to fill up the extra time (And give you a break after wiping for several hours).  There were also choices of what to work on instead of being highly linear.  Hell, Molten Core was less linear than Crusader’s Coliseum, and it’s practically a model of the genre.

Sure, you might say, why don’t you just do ToC?  I think the answer can be found in the different kind of malaise we saw with at the end of content patch 3.0.x.  Just farming is as brain killing as just wiping.  I think most raiders want to be challenged (or else why would we throw ourselves at the same fight for four hours?), even if we do need to stagger it with an easier fight or trash just for our sanity.

All that brings me to the point, namely that we’re drooping (nay, dropping) because ToC and ToGC together are a 1-2 punch that practically drains your brain by design.  If it feels like 3.3 can’t hit soon enough; if your raid members are dropping faster than tanks on Gormok the Impaler; or if your tired of logging on once a week to farm for an hour then maybe this is why.

As a related note, if you are looking for a good gift for your favorite tank this holiday season, remember their heroic strike finger – a little BenGay goes a long way.



Ze Tank Survey
November 6, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Advice for Non Tanks, Analysis | Tags: , , ,

This survey is courtesy of Dämmerung of The Children of Wrath fame.  It is itself spawned from the mind of Miss Medicina or so I am lead to believe.  If you’re new to Warrior tanking, or looking to get more into it, it does say a lot about the advantages and limitations of the art.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?
Tarsus of Scarlet Crusade server is my Protection Warrior.  At the moment, I’m using the cookie cutter 15/3/53 build stolen shamelessly from Tankingtips.com

What is your usual tanking environment?
I do almost exclusively 25-man raiding with Axiom.  I do run the occasional 10-man and every 5-man into the ground when they first come out.

What is your favorite encounter to tank, and why?
Auriaya with a Warrior tank can be fun because if you do it right it’s essentially a one cow show.  That said, probably my favorite encounter is Yogg-Saron provided the DPS aren’t being retarded.

What is your least favorite encounter to tank, and why?
Faction Champions is probably the least fun fight to tank as a warrior.  You get practically no rage as the opposing team rarely targets you, meaning you need to conserve what you have to make sure your interrupts are available.

What do you think is the biggest strength of your class, and why?
Currently, the strength of Warriors is in three areas, snap AoE threat (Thunderclap and Shockwave), fear cancellation (Berserker Rage), and spell interrupts (Shield Slam primarily, but also Concussive Blow, Shockwave, Heroic Throw w/talents, and Intimidating Shout).  Outside of that, we can tank most encounters provided we know in advance and can swap around talents and glyphs as needed.

What do you think is the biggest weakness of your class, and why?
In order to put out the same kind of threat as other tank classes, warriors need to reduce their hands to claw-like appendages of pure pain, due primarily to the need to constantly spam Heroic Strike.  Frenetic button pushing is a feature of most tanks, Warrior tanks are just by far the the worst for that feature.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel is the best tanking assignment for you?
Because warriors can essentially do any tanking assignment, we often are assigned to being “Off-tanks” in fights where such labels are applicable.  Outside of that, for me personally, I prefer those tanking assignments that require me to quickly pick up adds using my high-mobility abilities (such as Charge, Intercept, etc.)

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with the most?
Warriors and Paladins probably work the best together of any of the tanking classes.  Our snap AoE threat works well to control adds and bring them into a Paladin’s Consecrate, and our ability to break fear and interrupt spells make up for the obvious holes in the Paladin portfolio.  The ranged snap threat of Avenger’s Shield is also complements the weak ranged threat abilities of Warriors.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with the least?
Death Knights would almost certainly classify, as most of their abilities tend to fall under the “like a Warrior, but better” category.  This also means they offer little to diversify the abilities of the tank team when a Warrior is already present.

What is your worst habit as a tank?
I generally do not hit Shield Slam as much as I should.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?
People not reading strategies/watching videos, or otherwise using the resources of the internet before raid, thus necessitating long drawn out explanations and wasting time.

Do you feel your class/spec is balanced with respect to the other tanking classes?
I generally feel that there are always places the various tanking classes could be improved, but the one thing Warriors are still definitively lacking is sustained AoE threat.  While lack of snap threat in other classes can be compensated by holding off on AoE for a few, there’s very little in our repertoire available to increase sustained threat other than the old standby of tab targeting madly (see the above comment about claw-like appendages for problems with that).

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?
I use Omen to track on the spot threat stats and follow up afterward with the logs our guild takes of all raids.  Outside of that, using my own instincts and self-reflecting through blogging are the best tools I have.

What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have with your tanking class?
That Warriors are the best “Main-Tanks” probably ranks up there because of our legacy status as the only tank in Vanilla WoW.  In all honesty there is no more “Main Tank” and most raid teams are probably best off having one of every tank type available.

What do you think is the toughest thing for new players of your class to learn about tanking?
Use of Heroic Strike is probably the one thing that everyone trips up on.  There’s no tutorial that tells you “When your rage bar is full, hit this.”  In fact you would be forgiven for thinking Heroic Strike is something you’re supposed to use until you get Mortal Strike, Blood Thirst, or what have you.  Raid tanking, you practically cannot spam Heroic Strike enough.  If you hand doesn’t hurt at the end of the night, you’re probably doing it wrong.

If someone were to evaluate your tanking ability via tools like fraps, recount, and World of Logs, what tendencies would they notice?
Probably that I spend a lot of time adjusting and re-adjusting my position when tanking.  Anyone who has played a Tauren can tell you that our big models mean that mobs will dance around us using the patented NPC “walk through you and get behind you” maneuver.  Particularly if we have to move them during a fight (Twin Jormungar or Grobulus being good examples of that) that means we get hit from behind a lot more.  They might also notice an addiction to things like Savory Deviate Delight that help mitigate that problem.

Stamina or Avoidance, and why?
Stamina, stamina, stamina.  If Blizzard has taught us anything its that if you stack avoidance they will do their best to take it away from you.

Which tanking class do you understand the least?
Probably Bear.  They’re the only one of the tanking classes I haven’t messed around with even in the slightest.

What addons or macros do you currently use to aid you in tanking?
Deadly Boss Mods is essential to what I do, as is Omen and Item Rack.  Other than that, the add-ons I use are primary ways to manage data (Fortress) or keep my UI reasonably clean (Dominos).

Do you strive for a balance in tanking stats, or do you stack some higher than others, and why?
I definitely stack stamina when I get the chance, though given ToGC I haven’t had much choice.  Other than that, I try to keep my threat stats up as this is regularly my weakest area.



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:

Horde

  • 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.

Alliance

  • 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!