Thoughts on the Tanking Changes

There were some hotfixed in changes to Tanking yesterday. The big switch is a massive increase to the threat generation for Tanks to the point where the it is very difficult for a dps to pull threat of the tank now.

At least that is what the patch said. In practice it is mostly true too. I really like this change.

To test the change (and because it was one of my wow nights) I ran two instances last night, the first as dps and the second as tank. Both were the new Troll 5 mans, and both had me teamed with players who were in comparable gear (363+ ilevel).

As dps – I was still having threat issues.

On the surface it was much better, I was not pulling threat straight of the tank after three hits, but I still found major issues when I was lucky enough to get a string of crits on a single target pull. My suspicion is that (a) the tank in the group was not concentrating, (b) he still needed time for the threat to build on the target, and (c) I am a threat whore.

I guess this is the way of it for Frost DKs, and I can adjust playstyle accordingly. I will continue to hold off initially and will concentrate on the peripheral needs in the fight, just in case something goes wrong early. We also had an Elemental Shaman and Balance Druid who were keeping up with me on single target damage, and I think we all pulled off the tank at different points over the run. Overall it was a great run with no complete wipes.

To make the point very clearly – I usually die in every 5 man I do due to threat, sometimes 3-4 times, and last night I didn’t die once in that run due to threat. I dies due to no healing in the DragonHawk phase, but meh – the healer was busy keeping himself and the tank alive and its my job to die

As Tank – I still had threat issues, but tanking was so much better.

Previously I felt like Tanking was like herding cats. You had little to no ability to control where the mobs were going, and your own team’s dysfunction was a major driver in the frustration.This change has made the threat issues on packs much better, and the threat issues I saw in single target basically resolved. Only the most powerful and stupid dps would pull threat from my Death Knight now that I maintain a set based upon maintaining threat and staying alive in equal ratio.

However there were still issues – basically due to bloody stupid actions by the dps players, or situations where threat is not so much of an issue and the dps is meant to just burn through the trash mobs – the large waves of non-elite birds for example. You just burn them and for the most part the tank will do what they can to assist somebody in trouble.

This change is not an excuse for dps to go back to being idiots, and just hammering away regardless of the fight. Dps still need to think before they click.

So what is being solved here? Why is this better?

It was a pain to manage a tank’s Threat stats, Survivability stats (in two forms of mitigation and health stacking), and also then have the Tank responsible for a set of encounter based functions like taunts, interrupts and use of special abilities at strategic times. Fundementally Tanking is a hard job and most people do not like it.

A tank is also doubly burdened with the marking and instructions to the group, and I’ve seen many players join a random 5 man as the Dungeon Guide, but prove to be useless leaders with no real clue.

Taking threat out of the list of issues is a huge boon for 5 man dungeons and will probably do more to increase the player pool in the queues that the goodie bag did. Based upon my experience above I will be tanking more, probably all the time now. I am sure that some players will say that it is a hurtful change in some manner, but I like this adjustment.

Make note too that all the other jobs are still needed. Crowd control is still required, strategies must be followed, leadership is needed, and players can still wipe the group with bland stupidity; but the adjustment so that at threat is almost a non-issue is enough to get me to Tank again.

It has been a long break since I tanked in Wrath, but I’m in for another go now.

By way of refs and implications Tobold has written an outstanding blog post about what it means and why the choice may have been made.

PuG Warlock advice on Threat

warlock-creepy-close-up

Would you take advice from this Warlock?

If a tank pulls, starts with an low AoE ability on all mobs (like Blood Boil) then how can a Warlock pull threat without casting a spell? I though it would take at least a damage spell to pull threat, and waiting is a zero threat ability.

Or should all pulls in a standard 5 man be high threat AoE? What about doing multi-pack pulls?

In a 5 man should the dps wait for threat, or just go?

Ardana from Calestraz suggested that I did not “have threat” when I used Blood Boil while running through one pack, then planted a DnD on the second pack.  It seems to me that the Warlock did not wait for threat to be well established.

Even when they had aggro and I taunted, the Warlock and the other dps just kept on killing.

Warlock might have been right that I did not initiate a high threat cycle to allow him to dps straight away… I’d add to that and say that while the pull might have been less than ideal for a small pack, the concept of watching, thinking, and acting accordingly is beyond most 5 man players.

TL;DR = I hate pugs.

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Tank Tool – Need more Threat Per Sec?

mortigen-tank80How do you evaluate a Tank’s performance in raids? How do you know what abilities are generating threat for you by fight, or if you should prioritise one type of hit/strike more than another? I know I could read and take the words of the forums as gospel, but that is operating on hearsay rather than proof. And when tanking I think knowing something is working is better than assuming it is working.

A stats tracker for Threat Per Second (tps) is damn mandatory for tanking, and a god send for me.

Post raid analysis is where I do most of my planning for upgrades and shifts in style. I know I’m arriving late in the process in terms of Tank review resources, and this might be common knowledge amongst the Masters and Slayers*, but hey a little education can go a long way. When I last tried my hand at Tanking in tBC I had the time and tolerance of guild-folks to work out what was a good approach was, which powers were mandatory, and what tanking style to use. Back in the day I was a Paladin tank, so many of the AoE abilities were so strong that real threat generation was only a big limitation when the dps were well geared and unloaded straight away, or the fights changed dynamics quickly mid-fight.

Now that my Death Knight is tanking more, I am almost at a loss for which abilities and what style to use. Charge like a Warrior or Bear? LOS + Consecrate like a Pally?

DK feels similar to a Paladin, except that the AoE grab abilities are using the same resources as the strikes, which means having a sixth sense on what runes are up when really helps. I love the fact that Death Knights can rush in, have a great AoE tool in DnD, and can grab mobs from many yards away to get them back in control. So to justify my tanking, I went looking for a TPS tool. And by golly I found something good:

http://rehfeld.us/wow/tps/ by Bagelbite

What makes this tool really damn swanky is that it parses data from WWS and creates a simple html report. You can see what abilities are doing what percentage, and what overall TPS you’re achieving.

How to:

  1. Generate a WWS report as normal. Get it hosted like you always do.
  2. In WWS click through to the fight, or full report you want to inspect.
  3. Select the tank you wish to review threat for, so that the abilities they used are listed instead of the default raid report.
  4. Copy the URL and paste it into the TPS generator
  5. All done! Read, consume, argue, rant, etc.

A basic bitch I had with WWS is that it does not show generated threat, but then its free so you can only complain a short while before its tired and pointless (kind of like develop it myelf or shut-up). With the combination of this tool along with Wow Web Stats the threat analysis is pretty solid.

The Tankspot folks and resources rock, especially Bagelbite who created it. Here is a sample pic:

threat-report-sampleNow onward to tanking some runs, to reduce the noob quotient. If WWS would pay / gift Bagelbite and add his report into the tabs of WWS, that would be just peachy.

What else do folks use for TPS and Tank performance? What else is out there?

* off-topic: In an effort to change what M&S means from what Gevlon had popularised.

Threat Machine

In a tradition started by some very devoted bloggers out there, here is my spoof on a song ala Warcraft. I chose to butcher James Brown’s Sex Machine (YouTube of the original). And folks, believe me when I say I’m saving you from a recorded version; as my singing voice is terrible.

Its a pretty simple song with a lot of repetition, so safe from total discordant destruction at my hands. I’m sorry James.

Threat Machine

Guildies, I’m ready to step up and do my thing (yeah go ahead!)
I wanta get into it, man, you know (go ahead!)
Like a, like a threat machine, man, (yeah go ahead!)
Movin’ and doin’ it, you know
Can I mark ’em up? (Go ahead)

One, two, three, four!

Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Keeping it mean, (step on up), like a threat machine, (step on up)

Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Keeping it mean, (step on up), like a threat machine, (step on up)

Step up, (step on up)
Keeping it mean, (step on up), like a threat machine, (step on up)

Wait a minute!
Do some harm, then holy-storrm
Keeping it mean like a threat machine
You got to have the healing the meters will warn
Bring em together, right on, right on.

Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)

Hah!

Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)

You said, you said I had the,
You said the healing,
You said the healing I had to get
You make me the greaver its like roulette.
The way hurt em, it is the way it is,
I got mine ‘n’ don’t worry ’bout his

Step up, (step on up)
Keeping it mean, (step on up), like a threat machine, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)

Guildie! Should I take ’em to the edge?
(Go Ahead!)
Take ’em on to the edge!
(Take em to the edge!)
Should I take ’em to the edge?
(Yeah!)
Take ’em to the edge?
(Go Ahead!)
Hit me now!

Come on!

Keeping it mean, like a threat machine!
The way I like it is, is the way it is
I drop mine, (hit it!), he drop his

Keeping it mean, like a haten’ machine
Keeping it mean, like a haten’ machine
Keeping it mean

I wanna pull ’em now one more time now
(Go ahead!)
You pull ’em mobs like we did at the start fellas?
(Yeah!)
Pull ’em like we did at the start?
(Yeah!)
Hit it now!

Step on up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Step on up, (step on up)

Keeping it mean, (step on up), like a hate’n machine, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)

Haste, (step on up)
Keen’, (step on up)
Haste, (step on up)
Keen’, (step on up)

Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Keeping it mean, (step on up), like a threat machine, (step on up)

You gotta have the healing, (step on up)
The meters will warn, (step on up)

Bring ’em together, right on, right on
right on, right on, (right on, right on)
right on, right on, (right on, right on)
right on, right on, (right on, right on)

Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)

And then, shake your mana maker,
Shake your mana maker,
Shake your mana maker,
Shake your mana maker,
Shake your mana maker,
Shake your mana maker,
Shake your mana maker

Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)

Huh!

Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)
Step up, (step on up)

I wanna pull ’em one more time now, from the front
Can we pull em one more time
(One more time!)
One more time!
Let’s hit em and quit! (Go ahead!)
Can we hit em and quit? (Yeah!)
Can we hit em and quit? (Yeah!)
Can we hit em and quit? (Yeah!)
Hit it!

Cockroach, Tankadummy, and Huntard walk into a bar…

As a follow-up to his post, my response, and now BRK has put together a great explanation of how to combine a Hunter and a Paladin Tank with crowd control. My hats off folks; he used diagrams.

As an aside I went looking for Cockroach images and it seems that there is an Australian cockroach that makes all the others seem a tad piss-weak. The image here is of the Australian Rhinoceros Cockroach, which looks to be one mean son-of-a-bitch. As an Australian Pally Tank I will now adopt this proudly.

Back to BRK’s wisdom:

The bizarre thing is this: Tankadins who prefer to ignore CC and tankadins who don’t understand CC perform pulls in exactly the same manner. Isn’t that freaky?

Go read it. Its darn good.

Pally terms used so far: Cockroach, Tankadummy, Pallywhacker. LOL. Don’t forget Threatmachine (sung to James Brown’s Sex Machine), Rhino, Armadillo; and something I got called on a PuG a few days ago: Threat-Whore (not untrue).