Posted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:35 pm Post subject: Tanking Guide
How to be a Tail Tank.
Step 1: Roll Draenei Warrior, Paladin, or Death Knight.
Step 2: ????
Step 3: Profit!
Sorry, folks, may have gotten this a bit off. Apparently this is supposed to be about Bears and tanking. So, without further ado:
How to be a Tail Tank
If you're planning on being a druid for tanking, I applaud your conviction, but I would suggest being ready for, at times, a very rough ride. Despite Blizzard's intentions, tanking is not balanced and all the other tanking classes will have a more substantial set of tools with which to do it. That means you must be smarter, faster, better geared, and much more ferocious than the average tank. If you can do that, the keys to the tanking kingdowm might be shown to you. They won't be given to you, that's reserved for Paladins (bastards...).
But, seriously, tanking as a druid you will have the smallest toolbox. Most of the time, you won't notice it's lack, but when things go upside-down other classes can have an easier time of it.
Throughout this guide there is going to be some concepts that come back again and again, so I'll clear those up at the beginning. In terms of tanking there are three things to consider:
1. Effective Health (EH) - this is a measure, typically, of Time-to-Live assuming the worst case scenario - no heals, no dodges, no savage defense - just pure damage soaking. Effective health is a mix of totally passive mitigation (i.e. armor or resistances) and total health.
2. Avoidance/Mitigation (AM) - This is the combined average damage reduction from all sources - armor, dodge, savage defense, which affects the size of the hits, but not how many you can take.
3. Threat - Threat is a measure of attention your current target pays attention to you versus the other people hitting it. Tank specs all apply a certain amount of passive threat increase relative to damage so the amount of damage you do results in higher threat. This scaling is important so that tanks do not need to do as much damage as pure DPS classes. By using high threat abilities, and with the scaling of vengeance, a constant stream of threat is maintained and is typically measured in TPS - threat-per-second.
With the current raiding scenario (tier 11), we are finding that Effective Health, the favored paradigm in Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, is no longer as effective (for the most part) and that Avoidance/Mitigation is providing substantially better results. This is primarily due to Blizzard adjusting raid encounters to reduce the incoming damage per hit. No longer need we worry about dieing in two hits; with effective cooldown usage, tanks can survive a substantial period of time with limited healing. As such, this guide will base choices on AM rather than EH.
A note on threat: in this tier threat is functionally a non-issue past the first ten seconds (single-target, at any rate) of an ecounter. TPS for an effective ability rotation will be very high, and with Vengeance scaling it should be effectively impossible for typical DPS values to out-threat you, barring encounter mechanics, of course.
I suspect most people reading this already have a druid, so you're effectively locked into this choice already. And the most important thing to remember is that racial bonuses are just that, bonuses, and will not make or break your ability to effectively tank. The most important thing is for you to like your character - that's what makes you play.
For Alliance players, there are two choices: Night Elf and Worgen. For tanking, both classes offer useful racial abilities. Worgen have a bonus 1% chance to crit. Simply, this increases Savage Defense uptime by .5% and increases threat by 1%. Night Elves have a 2% reduced chance to be hit. With the current mechanics of tanking, that is of substantial benefit. From a purely mechanical stand-point (and from my totally biased view) Night Elves are the superior race.
For Horde players you can be either a Tauren or Troll. Neither provides substantial benefits, but the Tauren does receive extra health, which is nice. The haste from Berserking is not a useful benefit for bears. But Troll shapeshift forms look funky and awesome. Isn't that enough?
This is a full-on, rawr! bear tank spec. If you happen to end up in the position where you will not tank raids and greatly overgear content, there are a few points you could shift, but for most tanking uses, this is the spec you'll want to have.
How to Gear
Before talking about gear specifics, first a word about stats. As a bear your primary stats will be Armor, Agility, and Stamina. For secondary stats, you mostly want Dodge, Mastery, and Crit. You'll find that there are no items that have Agility and Dodge - Dodge is only found on Strength based pieces, which don't come in leather, only in the accesory slots. It may be worth using a Strength/Dodge item if it is substantially higher ilevel than what it replaces (359 over 318, certainly, maybe 359 over 346, depending on overall allocation. The reason for this is that Agility gives you AP (just like strength) but also gives you crit and dodge. For the most part, it isn't worth sacrificing that just to get Dodge Rating. Rather, you want to reforge your items to add Dodge, so that, ideally, all your items are Crit/Mastery/Dodge(reforged from Crit). That ends up being the best allocation.
For gear, your basic look will be to find items with higher ilevel, as they provide more armor, agility, and stamina (which are typically standardized across an item level tier), however items with gem slots may have differences in the stat values, so remember to include available gems when looking at an item. To maximize your potential, you would want to try for as many pieces with Crit and Mastery as the sceondary stats as they will provide more overall benefit than haste, hit, or expertise.
If you find yourself in a position where threat is an issue (or you need guaranteed interrupts, pre 4.1) you will want additional items to swap out the include hit (for interrupts) or expertise (for threat). Haste is not a stat worth pursuing.
As far as gemming and enchanting, for the most part it's easy: put agility on every slot you can. That being said, there are caveats. If you feel the need to up your health, using Shifting (agi/stam) gems in blue slots is good to help boost health. The +75 stamina to chest enchant is more health than Peerless Stats (+20 to all stats) at the expense of Agility (and AP from Strength). For your cloak slot, the +250 armor is the best bet, and for gloves you want to go back to the BC era and use Glove Reinforcements. Helm/Shoulder enchants are best done using the tanking enchants (Stamina/Dodge). However, if you are well-above the EH requirements of the content you are tanking, the Agility based options may be worth considering.
What to do
So, by now you've got some gear on, and you've put some talent points in; you're sitting in bear form watching your rage bar diminish and a mob walk back and forth in the room in front of you. Now what? What button do I press? The pressure, the pressure, oh no, I can't handle it! Aaaahhhhh!
Or maybe that's just me.
Anyway, tanking as a bear is all about keeping somethings on cooldown and keeping some buffs up and keeping some debuffs up and managing your cooldowns.
Mano a Mano
If it's just you and the Big Bad (or the Big Bad's minion) you'll do things a little differently than against a group.
Faerie Fire (Feral) - Applies an armor debuff and generates threat. I suggest using this to pull as it will give you a positive threat value rather than simply putting you on its threat list (like face-pulling). Since it lasts so long, you won't typically need to reapply, except on longer boss encounters.
Mangle - Mangle is very imporant to tanking. So important, in fact, you want to hit it every cooldown. EVERY COOLDOWN.
Lacerate - Lacerate does decent threat on its own, and stacks to 3. It's important to always keep at least one application of it as Lacerate ticks proc Berserk!, refreshing the cooldown on Mangle. Since Mangle is the #1 thing to do, this is good.
Thrash - While Thrash is an AoE ability, the damage and resulting bleed are still worthwhile using in single target situations. Also, Mangle (sans Berserk!) and Thrash each have six-second cooldown, so fit nicely in a four global cooldown block.
Pulverize - Pulverize, by itself, is basically useless. But when you Pulverize a target that has Lacerate applied to it, the Lacerates are consumed and instead you gain a buff to crit%. You want to use this with a full three-stack of lacerate, to gain a 9% chance to crit: results in more threat and more Savage Defense uptime. Also, if you need to hit something and not leave a bleed effect, Pulverize has no cooldown, so can be used at any time.
Maul - Maul delivers a good hit, and a nice bit of threat, but is costly in terms of Rage. Maulis off the global cooldown, so can be used at any time, but you only want to use it in high rage situations. A good ballpark is only over 60 rage. It's key, though, that you always have rage to Mangle when it is available, and it's good to keep some open for Skull Bash if you need to interrupt.
So, without commentary, single target, pull with FF, then your aim is to Mangle every chance you can, keep at least one lacerate up (but it is your "filler" ability), keep the Pulverize buff up on yourself, Thrash every cooldown, Maul when you can.
We are sparta!
Now, when it is you against an army, things are a little different. Rather than pulling you first target with FFF, I'd suggest using Growl on the 2nd target, FF on the 3rd target, then switching to the 1st target to hit it with a Mangle. After that, the trick is to Thrash every cooldown, Swipe every cooldown, Mangle every cooldown, and fill the last GCD of that sequence with something useful, like lacerate or demoralizing roar, or something.
Just a quick note, right now, Swipe has a six-second cooldown. In 4.1 this is supposed to get chopped to 3 seconds. This isn't going to make-or-break tanking, but it will make aoe tanking a little bit easier.
As Bears we have three defensive cooldowns to keep in mind:
Barkskin - reduces damage taken by 12% for a few seconds. Since it only has a thirty second cooldown, this is one to use as often as you can. It's great at the start of a pull when the healer may not be on the ball for a second or two. But use it a lot.
Survival Instincts - As a 3minute cooldown, this isn't one to use as often as you can, but do find uses for it. After all, if you always hold it for emergencies, you're not benefiting the rest of the time.
Frenzied Regeneration - This has two distinctly different characters depending on whether you are using the glyph or not. If not, be sure to use it at high rage, and it is best used when healing on you will be lighter. If glyphed, use it when you will be getting a lot of heals to maximize the return (e.g. Magmaw's Mangle).
Then, honorarily, there is Demoralizing roar, which reduces the physical damage delt by enemies within a short range. This is good to keep up as it will reduce the damage you take.
Oh, and Power Word: Shield doesn't stop you from getting rage, in case anyone thought it still did.
Prior to level 36, bears don't have Swipe, so tanking is super-incredibly hard. What I will suggest to you is mark targets and yell at people to actually follow them. To pull, the best bet is to hit target 3 with starfire, while that is castine, switch to target 2 and cast Moonfire as soon as you can. Now that you have their attention, shift to bear and hit enrage, then mangle target 1. If there are multiple targets, start tabbing and be ready to growl. It can be helpful to Glyph Maul as soon as you can, as the second hit, even at 50% reduction, helps a lot. _________________ [Image blocked due to inappropriate content]
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