Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Back Foot Of Defence, The Fist For Offence.



With new and old players alike looking for a change in progress and looking for new challenges to conquer, many players including myself switched to tanking and have enjoyed the experience ever since that initial change. I see a lot of people asking, what class is best to Tank with, what makes a tank better than a good Tank and what are the basic qualities of a Tank. In todays post I will cover some aspects briefly of the Tank roll, what to expect and hopefully give new players a peace of mind when jumping into the deep end. 

Basic aspects of tanking

People ask this in a number of ways, but Ideally they have played a while as a DPS/Healer and want a change. The tank in theory is the pushing force of the group. Depending on how your healer can handle your pulling speeds and efficiency in instances to not over pull groups of mobs you're generally in control of the pace. Knowing so, you have to understand the concepts of over pulling and managing aggro. 

Over pulling is aggroing a large amount of adds (more than necessary) and is a common reason why a tank has wiped the group. Knowing your limitations and having trust in your healer will make pulls a lot smoother. Use obstacles such as walls, pillars and doors to LOS (Line Of Sight) the mobs, this will force them to stop casting (if they were) and trace you down. This can also be a great way to manage your aggro on large groups.

Having them in a group, will effectively boost your output of your cleave, As a brewmaster the conjunction between Breath Of Fire and Keg Smash will hold a solid amount of aggro, meaning your dps can push that little harder in dps. Maintaining a group of mobs to remain stacked up is a good sign of your Capabilities as a tank and will forever be you go to tactic for casters and such.

Group those bad boys moar!
These reasonings may seem daunting to a new Tank, But what appeals to us, is the control you have over the fights, the dps can't do their job if the boss is jolting all over the place, the healers can't heal if you move to far away, so knowing your limitations, controlling each situation will always make you a better tank.

I hear tank swapping being used a lot, how do I tank swap with confidence?

Managing aggro will also affect how you perform on a boss. Knowing your effectiveness in a fight is key, so if you are starting a fight( Pre pot/use potion for dps/threat boost), use abilities that generate a lot of threat (will say which in the spell toolbar) In my case, Keg smash.

Its not that much needed in five man heroics/normals but if you're interested in raiding or wanting to know more, knowing how tank swaps work will help drastically.

Use of strong abilities on a boss that requires tank swapping

A basic example would be: 
Main tank receives 3 stacks of (random debuff name here)
This is the time you tank off him, Use taunt, use a large threat generating ability, Self heal (if available)
Once you receive the 3 stacks and his has worn off, he will taunt the boss off you, slow down on the dps, use some self heals, think about your position and if you should move closer to the tank or away and continue this cycle.

As mentioned, this is in raids were a lot of generic fights require tank swaps at all times,
So the same applies on tank swaps as if you was starting the encounter. Once you taunt the boss, drop some big damaging abilities and you shall be on your way with dancing with the Boss.

Quick tip: Have your tanking partner set to focus, doing so you are always aware of the debuff count he/she is receiving indicating you when to taunt. To do this follow these steps: (Right click on Tanks name plate > drop down box will appear > Select "Set To Focus") and there you have it, your tank now has your devoted attention. /hug.

Other traits of a good tank:
- Knowing when your healer needs mana, Ask for mana breaks. No healing mana = no heals = a slow death.. Or fast if you ignore the previous section. :P /cheer.
- Watch out for patrolling mobs. You will sometimes see some creatures to call over for you to beat down, but they may have some buddies so be careful, if you see a sequenced patrolling, what for them to pass, taunt over the mobs you were originally going for, pull them away from the patrols wandering around and you should be golden.
- Defensive cooldowns are there to use when things get rough, use them in a logical manner. If you use them when you feel like it, You never know, this one boss really wants you dead and your defensive is on cooldown, say goodbye to what could've saved you, don't play dumb.
- Be prepared, a sleepy orc or gnome, depending on your faction may walk to far ahead and pull some really aggravated mobs, be ready to grab them with some damaging abilities and a taunt if needed to protect your clumsy Allies.    

The verdict

Tanking in my opinion is the only way I will be playing this game for the rest of my days. I enjoy the key rolls, I enjoy taking responsibility for the lively hood of my pals and I like controlling the fights so to speak. With some basic knowledge of your class, understanding the key things to be aware of which you could get flamed for in instances (I.E aggro, over pulling, tank swapping) learning these will make you a better player and I hope this post helped answer some common questions and unearthed some basic conceptions of a tank.

So raise your shield in defiance, your weapon in glory... or.. if you're a tea drinking monk/tree hugging bear, Have fun and stay strong!

Netherix.