Tanking for Dummies

Rotface is one ugly fight
January 18, 2010, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Raiding, Strategy, Stupid Tanking | Tags: ,

We have been wiping on Rotface enough that I feel like I have a pretty good idea of the way this fight is supposed to work.  I will say, however, that I don’t feel like we’re particularly any closer to beating him because of it.  Let me tell you, tank boys and girls, Rotface is one ugly bastard.

In this drama, I play the tank with the easier job – actually tanking Rotface.  Now, he can melee pretty hard, but mainly My job is to keep him in the middle of the room, and play monkey in the middle with him and the DPS.  By that, I mean that when he sprays, the DPS runs behind him, and right before he goes back to melee I step in front of him.  It keeps the DPS up by making them move only the once.

The harder job in this fight goes to a Paladin tank, kiting the big slime around the room.  There are several reasons for this:  First and most importantly is it gives the kiting tank control of dispelling Mutated Infection.  Second, Paladins have quite good ranged threat capacity. And Third, should it be necessary, the Paladin can use Blessing of Freedom to run through the green slime pools without be slowed down.

We have this execution down really well, we on the tank team.  Yet, despite this, the following problems occur:

  • A shaman (generally) pulls healing threat on the small slime that spawns right after Mutated Infection is dispelled, resulting in a small slime in the raid.  Supposedly, this is impossible, but I’ve seen it often enough to know that this is not really true.
  • Same as above, but as the result of the mutated infection victim dying.
  • During the Unstable Ooze Explosion, we run out too early, spreading the explosion way too far and killing people.
  • Same as above, but too late and getting people with lag killed.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we can execute this dance of death repeatedly without incident very very often.  However, the major block for us right now is the fact that each time the dance gets a little faster (and hence, the above conditions happen more often) and eventually it nails us.

And here is the clincher after a fashion:

In the weeks and months after all twelve encounters are unlocked, additional attempts against the final four boss encounters become available. This represents the Ashen Verdict growing more powerful and gaining a stronger foothold in Icecrown Citadel. To further help raids, Varian Wrynn and Garrosh Hellscream will begin to provide assistance by inspiring the armies attacking Icecrown Citadel. This is represented as an additional zone wide spell effect applied to all players that will increase their hit points, damage dealt, and healing done. This effect will also increase in effectiveness over time. Players may opt out of the spell’s effect if they so wish.(Source)

We have a limited time to do this with our pride as raiders intact.  Now, my understanding is that this won’t start up until after the Lich King is available – but if we’re stuck trying to get to Putricide until after that buff goes off – it is going to hurt.


Happy (Belated) New Year, with Deathbringer Saurfang!
January 4, 2010, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Raiding, Strategy | Tags: ,

Been a while, hasn’t it dear readers?

Last we left, Icecrown Citadel had all but just been breached.  And tomorrow, tomorrow, TOMORROW, the Upper Spire will be revealed at last.

But all that would be for naught should you be unable to conquer Deathbringer Saurfang.  It’s no surprise to anyone he’s one bad dude.  He is, after all, the son of the most bad dude (and who can blame him for not wanting to kill his own son, even in undeath?).  And, well, it’s not every day that you get a chance to step up to the plate and help your friendly High Overlord.

The key to this fight is all about reducing the amount of Blood Points he gets.  He gets them every time someone is hit by a special ability.  Axiom has downed him once so far, so I have a good sense of what works and a very good sense of what doesn’t.

So, for the record, the following does work:

  • Using an off tank (a Paladin or Death Knight would be good, if you have a spare) to kite the Blood Beasts and reduce the chance that people will get hit by them.
  • Spreading out the ranged DPS and Healers using a range finder in a boss mod (almost essential in 25 man). This avoids too many points from Blood Nova.
  • Using Hunter Traps to slow the progress of the Blood Beasts.  Cone of Cold can function as well.
  • Go into every taunt (as the two tanks on the boss) assuming that you are going to be resisted and readying your back-ups – just like on Gormok.

By contrast, the following we found to not work:

  • Frost Nova.  Tell your Mages to remove it from their bars.  The Blood Beasts will absolutely turn and nail anyone in range if they get stuck.  Getting them stuck in range of our Melee DPS made for very large blood point counts.
  • Relying on a boss mod to announce Mark of Blood on the tank.  Turn on Target of Target and watch your buddy’s portrait like a hawk.  It’s the only way to be sure. (and it’s not like you need to move much in this fight anyway)
  • Blowing cooldowns to max DPS before the First Mark of the Fallen Champion.  Yes, it gets a lot harder once that thing is up.  You need it a lot more once Frenzy hits, trust me on this.
  • Having more than three Marks of the Fallen Champion out before Frenzy is almost certainly going to result in failure.
  • Standing around like a post after the Blood Beasts phase and not moving back to your previous spot (see Blood Nova).
  • Stacking Avoidance.  He gets Blood Points when mark of the Fallen Champion is out, whether he hits you or not.

Also, for the record, these are the number of things we’ve observed that give him Blood Points:

  • Damage taken done by Blood Nova
  • Damage taken done by Blood Beasts
  • Damage taken done by Mark of the Fallen Champion
  • Damage done by Blood Boil
  • Healing done by Mark of Blood

The one thing we haven’t tried thus far is letting the recipient of the First Mark die.  I’ve heard this strategy a lot.  Frankly, I totally understand why this would work, but as a strategy it sucks because there are certain people (such as healers or tanks) that you can’t let die – so it blows to need to wipe your raid just so you can have it land on the right person.  I mean, in our raid comp, that’s almost a one in three chance.  Not my idea of a good time.

The funny thing is, in terms of strategy, Deathbringer Saurfang is very straightforward on paper.  You avoid blood points to delay getting Mark of the Fallen Champion as long as possible using the points I’ve mentioned above.  When he Frenzies, start DPSing like mad and don’t let the Marked people die.  The difficulty comes in the execution, and given that you can waste a lot of time (very long intro to the boss fight, can be difficult to tell when to wipe) the number of attempts you get on a given night is limited.  A little stupidity early on in the fight can have serious repercussions at the end, so this is not the fight to slack off on.  However, this isn’t Heroic Northrend Beasts, the thing that kills you isn’t a bad roll on the RNG.  What is needed is simply good execution, if you can get that, you’ll be dancing in the Fleshwerks in no time.

Wrangle-em Cowtank: Lady Deathwhisper 25-man Strategy
December 18, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Raiding, Strategy | Tags: , ,

While it is still fresh in my mind, I want to go a bit more in depth with my description of killing Lady Deathwhisper – more so than I did on Wednesday.  Of the fights available, Lady D is probably the most technical from a tanking perspective, so it wouldn’t hurt to touch on the strategy that Axiom used to take her down.

The important elements of this fight are as follows:

  • Appropriate division of Melee/Ranged DPS.
  • Focused DPS
  • Effective Crowd Control.
  • Quick mob recognition.

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I <3 High Overlord Saurfang
December 16, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Raiding, Strategy, Stupid Tanking | Tags: , , , ,

Last night was the best night of raiding since 3.2 came out.

It didn’t start out seeming like it was going to be the win that it turned out to be.  We had some trouble with Lady Deathwhisper on Thursday, and we were coming at her again with an off-spec tank and only 5 healers.  But with some changes in strategy (using crowd control on the mobs closest to Lady Deathwhisper when they spawn, and keeping 3 shadow priests on the boss through the whole of phase 1), we brought her down the second time we made it to phase 2.

Which means we got to do the gunship battle.


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Using the Mocking Blow Zone
November 9, 2009, 12:07 pm
Filed under: Strategy | Tags: ,




Oh Blue, sometimes you say the craziest Things.

“I agree with the notion that there is less of a use for Mocking Blow in the toolbox these days where tanks generally maintain enough threat, at least relative to the ‘Wait for five Sunders’ days.”

Really now, you think there is “less of a use for Mocking Blow in the toolbox”? That must qualify as one of the great overstatements of the century.  There is no threat use for Mocking Blow.  It falls below Devastate on the priority rotation.

That is not to say, however, that Mocking Blow does not have a use.  It’s even a good use, albeit one that comes under the worst of circumstances.  Most tanks, by now, are accustomed to the “Tank Swap Fight;”  Gormok the Impaler is a good example, as is Thorim.  To put it simply, tanks need to taunt off either because of a debuff of some kind, or a very large hit on a cooldown that requires the use of something like Shield Wall.  In these circumstances, it is very important that the Taunt work.

Well, sometimes Taunt doesn’t work.

Welcome to the Mocking Blow Zone.

The Mocking Blow Zone is now the most important six seconds of your life.  What you do with those six seconds and when you use those six seconds can save you from a wipe.  The Mocking Blow Zone takes advantage of Expertise, something that seems increasingly in-abundance, unlike Taunt.  The Mocking Blow Zone is only temporary, however so you must use it wisely.

In the case of a fight like Thorim, where it is essential that you get him away from the Tank that has Unbalancing Strike as soon as possible, you will want to use Mocking Blow right away.  You can then follow it up with a Challenging Shout to get you to when your Taunt cooldown is up.  It is risky, because Taunt resistance can stack up, but because of the fight mechanics you can accept that risk.

In a fight like Gormok, you should wait.  The Impales are predictable.  They always come at the same intervals.  Wait to Mocking Blow him until the Mocking Blow Zone will overlap with the Impale.  That way, you preserve the longest amount of time you avoid using Taunt again, thus avoiding stacking the Taunt resistance.  You will have more than enough time (Impales every 15 seconds, Taunt resistance cooldown is 20 seconds) to be able to taunt before the next Impale.  Staying chilly and focused will save your bacon there.

It’s worth also mentioning that Mocking Blow can be handy if you need to get a mob’s attention while you’re silenced, but you will still need to Taunt after the Silence ends.

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.

Devistate is all better now
October 16, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Gear, Strategy, Talents | Tags: , , ,

I want to point more tanks over at Kadomi’s post from Tuesday concerning warrior ability use priority.  It is a great summation of the information gleaned from this TankSpot thread.  Make sure you read both the comments on Kadomi’s post and the responses to the thread, as there is significant dispute (which means time for real in game testing!)

In essence, this is all fall-out from this change in patch 3.2.0:

  • Devastate: Weapon damage and bonus per Sunder Armor on the target increased by 100%. This ability now requires a shield to be equipped.

This obviously shakes up some things I’ve been doing, making me revisit a few assumptions – and that’s good.  Needless to say, I need to put some serious thought into what to do to here.  In the interests of science then, let me share this slice of cow brain with you.  Maybe it will be helpful if you are doing your own tests.

  • I want to try Glyph of Devastate, but I like my current glyphs of Vigilance, Heroic Strike, and Blocking.  I feel like the logical choice for the swap out is Heroic Strike because I’m not precisely hurting on rage.  My role lead says I need to work on my leading threat in any case, so this is probably something I should look at anyway.
  • If it turns out to be true that Revenge is so much lower on the priority scale, should I take that one remaining point in Improved Revenge and put it somewhere else?  If so, where?  Cruelty?  Puncture?
  • I’m using a pretty fast weapon right now (1.6 Speed).  If Devastate lags behind now, is there a slower weapon currently in game that would change the equation.  I’m thinking the Burnished Quel’Serrar (2.0 Speed), but also potential future weapons in Icecrown.  What’s the slowest speed on a 1-hander… 2.8?

Thanks to Axiom switching over to World of Logs, I have a pretty good base-line of numbers to test against.  Heroic Northrend Beasts is still kicking our butts – so anything I can do to boost effectiveness my little part of helping on progression.

Any feed back from fellow tanks who have tested these changes in the field is, of course, appreciated.