Posts Tagged 'Tanking'

Are deathknight tanks broken for raids

My raiding guild went into the trial of the crusader last night and we had some problems getting the first encounter beat. Some of those problems arose when our warrior main tank kept getting disconnects. So we replaced him with a second deathknight tank.

One of our two deathknight tanks is using a dual wield build and the other one uses a twohand build for tanking the raid bosses. I think that both of our tanks know what they are doing but I cannot deny the fact that at some tries both went down, hard. Our dual wield tank at one time went down in the span of 0.4 seconds and checking the logs proved that he gets a lot of parries due to his build. And a lot of parries means, that the boss as a high chance to get what is called parry haste.

So I have to assume that the expertise rating of said tank is not nearly as high as it should be. Since our second tank also went down very quickly at times, that cannot be the only problem. For the healers, it seamed that they have to depend on their luck to keep our tanks alive. For me it seems that tanks with shields hava a far better damage mitigation than deathknights have at the moment. They get a lot of damage too, but it seems to be more manageable for the healers. And since paladins have a mechanic nowadays that saves them from death every two minutes it seems that at this moment they would be better tanks. Sure hope Blizzard looks at this and changes the mechanics so that deathknights make more viable tanks once again.

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Tanking with PUGs

PUGs are something that almostall players seem to run across at some point. And, if you are not a member of a guild that has at least a moderate amount of active players, a pick up group is something you will have to rely on to get yourself into an instance.

Since my deathknight turned 80 I tried to get through some of the heroic instances to improve my gear. And since I am guildless at this moment I had to get some random players together to get going. Now, it seems like I hade a little bit of luck since most groups that came together really went well but I had my share of wild folks and strangeness. Which is why I thought I might share a few thoughts about how to PUG as a tank.

Fist of all I thing that it really is necessary to know your own limitations while tanking. If there is an instance that is beyond your skill or current gear, do not try to tackle it with a random group. It will only lead to a tremendous repair bill and to frustration on your part and among the other members of the group. For me the Occulus is such an instance at this moment. I really hav no clue how the last boss fight works and before I try tanking that instance I am going to learn how the flying boss fight is going to work.

Before you start an instance make sure that the others have a basic understanding about what you are going to do. For example, if you are marking the targets, let the group know which target is to be hit first and so forth. Also make sure that the damage dealers give you the time you need to safely grab aggro. If things go real smooth with the first groups, then its time to speed things up a little bit but I think that it is important to get a feeling for the group first.

The start of an instance is also a good time to check the loot rules. If you have an enchanter it is important that only the enchanter rolls on the stuff noone needs so that shards can be created. And how or if those shards are devided should also be briefly discussed to avoid some discussions later on.

Also I found it helpful to give some pointers before every bossfight so that the others know what you are going to do and how the fight will be going. Some fights can be won in different ways and knowing which tactic is going to be used mostly helps to get through a fight more easily.

One thing I have made a habit out of is taking screenshots of the group composition if things really went well or if they really really went wrong. Since I am not that good with names I wanted to keep a reminder about which players I had fun grouping with and also about players I wanted to avoid. The friend list ia also a good tool for building a network of players to group with but I really like the screenshots. I also place a summary of the Recount window beside the portraits so I also have some basic information about damage done and dps if I want to check that as well.

I am sure that there are more tipps that should be here but that will have to do for now. So, good pug-ing everyone …

A minty fresh level 80 Death Knight

Alright. I have not written on my blog for some time because I have been busy with some things. Some had nothing to do with the game but one sure had. I have leveled a new death knight up to level 80. Now, naturally I had to think about what I wanted to accomplish with that character.

Since there is still a tank shortage on the realm I am playing on I already was forced to tank almost all instances I wanted to got to while I was leveling up. And because I do not really think that is going to change now that my dk is at the max level, I decided to make him a tank. But now there is that small issue of getting the right gear to be able to go and successfully tank the heroic dungeons. The most important stat obviously is the defence rating. A defence rating of 540 is necessary so that bosses that are three levels above you cannot hit you critically anymore. Now, 540 seems like a high value to reach but with some of the items that can be crafted and with a few runs through normal instances, that should not be a big problem.

In my next post I will go over some of the starting gear and where to get it.

Tanking DK in Azjol Nerub

Recently I was asked to tank Azjol’Nerub with my death knight. At level 76 I have about 20k armor and a defence rating of 477 so, even with my limited tanking experience as a death knight I thought it should not be a problem to get in there and hold aggro.

I am not really sure how the other dk tanks do it but since I am specced frost I tried to pull with my icy touch, leaving the death grip ability open to be used on casters when they do not run to me or if they decide to go after the healer.

Next was scourge strike to apply the second desease and pestilence to spread those two out to the other mobs that are beeing pulled. And now, to build some aggro on all of the mobs I used the howling blast. With frost feaver active I usually see about 2k damage on all of the mobs and usually that is enough of a head start to last me during the fight.

Personally I had a small rune problem with that rotation because I had to wait a bit until I could lay down death and decay since my runes were on cooldown. But what I did wrong here was that I should have layed down death and decay before the pull and that is an easy change that I can keep in mind when going into the next instance as a tank.

One other thing was that I was not really sure about my cooldowns for some of my abilities. Runic weapon, the ghoul, extra armor and the twenty percent damage reduction are all abilities that really can help and if you are aware of their cooldowns, they do not nescessarily have to be spared for the boss fights.

I learned some small things from this tanking encounter.

1. Know the instance

It really helps to know the instance you are tanking. Not only does it speed up the pace you can go through it but when you know when to expect more damage from mobs you can time your own cooldowns properly. And it can not hurt to know when certain mobs to special things.

2. Mark the targets

Even if your group will do a whole lot of aoe damage I found it really helpful to use the marks that the standard ui provides. For example we always mark the target that will be downed with a skull, the second one with the cross and so forth. We also have some symbols assigned for crowd control abilities so that the classes responsible for that know when to sheep, shackle or stun.

3. Talk

For me, it usually helps to ask some questions before the action starts. For example if everyone in the group has a basic understanding of how the instance works. Sometimes, players do have only limited time so making clear how fast you want to go through the instance can be helpful. You might think that this is not the job of the tank per se but keep in mind that the tank usualy sets the pace and that the tank has to react if one of the other players pulls a group because he is in a rush …

A run with two deathknights

As I am still leveling my priest to 80 I am doing quite a lot of instance runs at the moment. Some where with pickup groups and some with members of my guild. Yesterday we ran the Halls of Stone with a frost specced Deathknight tank another Deathknight who was unholy spedded as a damage dealer.

I have previously complained a bit about some of the deathknight tanks I have grouped with in the past but the only complaint that I might have this time was that healing this time was … well … a bit boring since there was not that much to do for me.

The tank layed down death and decay and then used her death grip to pull. Sometimes when there was more than one caster in the group the other deathknight also used his death grip to pull that on into the aoe as well. Since he is wearing plate and can interrupt casters, that was no problem as well.

Despite the fact that this was more a guild run I would say the difference to some of the other runs was that our tank knew what she was doing and had taken the time to assemble a decent gearset for tanking. She was not at the 540 defence cap but close enough so that the damage was mitigated very well.

To me, that proves the point that Deathknights can be very good tanks if the player puts in the effort to make it so. And with the armor pieces that can be crafted it is not that hard to get started. Sure, if you want to tank heroics and have to get over the defence cap, that takes more effort but since tanks are still in high demand I would say that it is more than worth it.

Dual speccing

Wowinsider reported about some changes with the dual spec feature that is coming with patch 3.1. Apparently players can use it starting at level 40 and there will be no need to have a reagent. In the previous incarnation it was said that you would have to have an item crafted by an inscriber but that seems to have been dropped. Now you only have to cast something which will take about five seconds and after that your talents, glyphs and action bars will have changed. And so you will be able to change your specc in the middle of an instance or raid.

Since I do play a restoration druid as well as a protection paladin, I am excited about this new feature. There are times when I would not fit into a group for a heroic instance because we would have had two healers and soon I will be able to go along as a damage dealer. Sure, I will have to collect some gear and actually have to learn how to do damage as a druid but I will at least have the option. I however doubt that this feature will be the solution to the tank and healer shortage. There are plenty of viable healers and tanks available right now and being able to respec will not raise that number. The problem in my opinion is that some people just do not want to tank for various reasons.

1. Responsibility
As a tank you are the one person in the group who has the most responsibility. You set the pace and you decide which mob to take care of first. If there is crowd crontrol available, the tank usualy decides which mob will be controlled. And if something goes wrong and another group member manages to grab aggro the tank has to react quickly and get the situation back under control. Aside from that, the tank has to know his own class and know how to minimize the incoming damage while generating enough aggro so that the damage dealers can do their job as well. So, generally it is easier to play a damage dealer since you only have to know your class and most of the time are told what target to hit.

2. Equipment
Getting to a point where one can really tank heroics and raid instances takes some time. It is not that easy to hit that magic at which when you become uncrittable. It takes some planning to learn in which instance the next piece of gear dropps or which faction will yield the next gear improvement. Sure, that is basically the same for other classes as well but when I look at most of the people I have grouped with it does not seem like many players really do that.

3. Conflict
When you are the one who is supposed to be the one who is setting the pace and there is a problem within the group most players will look at the tank to be the one solving it. This is something that some player shirk away from.

Undoubtedly, the new feature is a very good one and maybe I am wrong in my accessement. It might very well be that the option to have a tanking spec will lead to people getting interesting in giving tanking a try. If that happens there might be a few new tanks and that really would be a relief.

Deathknight tanking

I am currently leveling a priest through Northend and since I am in a very small guild I did some instance runs with pick up groups.

On our server finding a tank for a pickup group is quite hard. There are just not that many tanks around. We had the same problem even though we had two paladins and a deathknight in the group. After some discussion the deathknight decided that he would try to give tanking Utgarde Keep a try. So a few minutes later he had respecced frost and we had easily found another damage dealer.

Well, I guess the player was a bit young and inexperienced but after loosing aggro with every group and very nearly dying a couple of times the deathknight randomly had a disconnect and did not come on again. Luckily for us, one of the paladins stepped up and respecced. With most gear from Karazhan that player was very easy to heal and the instance sailed by very smoothly.

Two days later I was invited into a group for Ahn’Kahet and suddenly the same Deathknight was invited into the group as a tank. I raised my eyebrows when he immediately apologized to another member of the group for having a disconnect earlier that day but I guess that is a story for another day …

To make a long story short, he tried to tank the instance at level 71 without really having defence gear and without much experience as a tank. Suffice to say that we could not get the first boss down. This time, the deathknight left the group but we were very lucky to find a warrior who did an excellent job at holding aggro.

Despite these two experiences I have to say that Deathknight can make very strong and very good tanks. The problem is not with the class but rather with the players who pick the class and do not really look into what has to be done to be able to tank. There are some talents that are very helpful for tanking and that really should be used to mitigate the incoming damage. And as a tank one should try to get a decent set of tanking gear. I am not saying that you have to be at the defence cap to be able to tank but as a tank one should at least try to get as close as possible to that magic number. It makes tanking easier and it really makes the healer’s job a lot more enjoyable.

Personally I do not think that the class will solve the problem with the tanking shortage. Sure, in theory every Deathknight has the potential to be a viable tank. But that does not make the player be suitable to be a tank. One problem is that in general, the tank is the one member of the group deciding the pace at which the group goes through the instance. He decides the order in which the mobs are taken down and mostly when and how to use crowd control. When a damage dealer or the healer grabbs aggro, the tank has to react and get the mob back under control. And last but not least he has to know the instance and the bosses. All in all, it is a position with more responsibility as the rest. It is easier to play a damage dealer where you basically can focus on your own skills and your own rotaion. So it is no suprise that most of the Deathknights on our server are played as damage dealers.


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