Monday, November 29, 2010

(Re)learn the new tanking style!

Hi, all. Welcome back. Hope you're all fully recovered from your tryptophan comas.

I'm not.

And for all of you who are visiting my site from outside the US, well...things should be returning to normal shortly.

I had a pretty good extended weekend, much of which was spent in-game finally taking a good look around the new world and getting excited about the changes. There's a lot I could write about, but I think I want to enter the week talking about something specifically Druid-y as opposed to just rehashing a bunch of the cool things I saw.

Because this game is always more interesting for me when I'm working towards a quantifiable goal, I decided to strap on my Gilneas Tabard and chain-run some heroics to get my rep up with them.

(As a guild we've made it a goal to unlock the United Nations Guild Achieve as quickly as possible.)

This is the first real solo-tanking I've done since 4.01 dropped and drastically changed the way tanks perform their job.

And by "drastically changed" I mean "back to what used to be familiar."

I think there are a lot of Bears out there that never tanked prior to Wrath. They don't remember the day when Swipe only hit 3 targets. And only targets in front of you.

Target switching is not a skill a lot of Bears have ever had to acquire.

I used Challening Roar more times on Friday night than I have during the rest of Wrath combined. I'm glad I kept it on my bar all this time or I would have probably forgotten about it.

I lost aggro. A lot. And I was running with smart, capable DPS (most of whom also played prior to Wrath and are probably drudging up some of those lost skills). I'm sure if I was playing with the stereotypical "Gogogo" AoE-tard things would have been much worse.

And that right there is what I think a lot of tanks are referring to when they say tanking post-4.01 has been hell.

In Wrath, the measure of a good tank was one that could blindly hold aggro. Prior to that (and going forward) the measure of a tank is going to be how well he manages and recovers aggro. (And the measure of a good DPS is going to be how high they can climb on the meters without pulling aggro.)

Now that Swipe is on a 6-second cooldown, we have to be smart with it. In Wrath a Bear could just charge into a group of mobs and start hitting Swipe. If the first one didn't hit all the enemies, it was okay. Within the next couple of GCDs, any lose mobs would run in range and you'd get them, too.

Doesn't work that way anymore. Now if you swipe and miss a mob, it's going to be on your healer before that 6 second cooldown is up.

In Wrath, if you pulled an extra pack of mobs, no big deal. Run your fuzzy butt into the middle of them, Swipe once or twice, and you've got them.

Now if you pull another pack of mobs, odds are it's going to happen when you still have about 4 seconds of cooldown left on Swipe. Not cool. But this is where Challenging Roar comes in. Learn it. Use it. Love it.

Challenging Roar gives you 6 seconds to hit all those stray mobs and get at least a token amount of threat on them. Hopefully enough that when CR wears off, you have aggro.

Get used to it now. This is not a skill you want to be learning how to use when running Cata dungeons. You want to be familiar with it ahead of time.

Omen has also become exponentially more valuable for tanks. I've been in the pre-planning stages of rebuilding my UI (another post later this week, I think) as was considering leaving this addon out. Not anymore.

In Wrath you could sit there with a pack of mobs, Swipe it for 10 seconds, then go make yourself a sandwich while it was burned down by the dps, never having to worry about losing threat.

Now you have to be a little more proactive. If you have significant threat on your main target (oh,'s half dead and I have orders of magnitude more threat than anyone else) start cycling through the others and keeping an eye on Omen. It won't be long until you find one that's a moment or two away from running off to beat on your group's Mage and then to your friendly healer from there.

If you tanked a lot pre-Wrath, it'll take a few runs for this skill to come back to you. If you haven''s going to take some time. Again, best to run some heroics now to start getting the hang of it, rather than waiting until you're running dungeons in Cata.

If you're looking for a place to learn how to pick up loose mobs without having DPS behind you that can just burn them down without your help, hit up Phase 1 of the Lich King encounter. Stand off to the side of the Lich King (rather than behind him, as I've seen some groups do) and pick up the adds that spawn. The ghouls are weak and aren't much of a threat to your raid. Odds are they'll get aggroed on healers right after they've spawned. Learn to pick them up quickly and cleanly. Usually Growl isn't enough. Your healer will out-aggro you before the ghoul reaches you. You'll have to throw a F3 right after the taunt to make sure the ghoul reaches you.

With the cooldowns on Growl and F3, you have to get used to doing this quickly. Needing a second try means you're falling behind for when more adds show up.

Additionally, you have to balance this with the Shambling Horrors that spawn. They are a definite threat to your raid group and need to be picked up immediately or they'll cause a wipe. So make sure your important abilities aren't on cooldown when one of those starts making its way into the raid.

These are the types of things that stood out the most for me. I'm sure once Cata rolls in (8 days!!!!) and we start hitting up the dungeons, more tips, tactics, and suggestions will spring to mind. But for now, work on these. They're going to be core to being able to do your job well in the future.


  1. Huh. I've never thought of Druid tanking being like that. I heard they made Swipe have a longer CD. But 6 seconds? Thats insane. My crusader strike doesnt even have that long of a CD. But yeah. My threat has been kinda iffy on Arg. Hand of Salv is a 2 (Or 3) Minute CD. Which means I need to save it for times like. On bosses etc..... I miss blessing of Salv now.

  2. To be fair, once we get Thrash at 81, we'll have 2 AoE abilities at our disposal, one of which causes a bleed for the duration of its cooldown. So that will help a lot. But the fact of the matter still stands that it's going to be harder and it's good to start focusing on those "oh crap" skills now.

  3. Even in 4.0.1 Swipe's damage modifier was a LOT higher. So the six second cool-down wasn't a big deal, because swipe was hitting so much harder. It was nice having 6 seconds to do something besides spamming your swipe button.

    In 4.0.3/a they reduced the damage of Swipe by a significant amount. So it hits for very little and it has a 6 second cool-down. Admittedly it was probably hitting for too much, and since we are getting Thrash at 81 it's probably fine the way it is now. Honestly I've enjoyed the challenge the past couple of days grinding Bilgewater (Goblins) rep to exalted.

  4. I did notice a little bit of a change between the two patches. I know I can solo Heroic Skadi anymore (although that has as much to do with the Thorns nerf as anything).

    But I've enjoyed the challenge, too. It nice to be kept on my toes again.