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Archive for May, 2010

Alts X 2

Because it is not possible to have too many alts, and because the rocket is too freaking cool, we have recruit-a-friend going right now. We had been planning to do it since the rocket announcement and were just waiting until after kid’s weeks. So now Approximate has a new two person flying mount and we are grinding up soon noobies in Singal Abstract Noun.
Profusion and Invariant (mk2) are the pair, a mage and a lock. The times I tried a mage they always felt too squishy in contrast to my hunter. Dying a lot gets old. It helps to have the levels fly past with the RAF bonuses though. Still, we did find out the hard way on Sunday that that this pair simply can’t AOE level mobs 3 levels higher. Our last leveling pairs have been bear/tree, pally/boomkin and warrior/priest so we got a bit spoiled. Still, we are finding the right pace for two glass cannons.
We just dinged 26 over lunch. The plan this time is to grind to 60 just about every class we don’t already have alts. It will probably take a second RAF pair (getting Analogue the rocket too) in order to get them all. But we do have it for 3 months so we might as well make the most of it.
Last time we did RAF was with our druid pair (Reversion and Analogue). That time we were too pumped druiding to go back and use RAF on any other pairs. This time we will do better and get the most out of it. I am still not sure which classes I will use level granting and which I will actually grind.
Fortunatly on the SAN server we had already leveled a few characters to between 7 and 14. That is not much, but by using gather professions and a good auction addon we already had 50 or 100 gold (not sure how much. She keeps the checkbook).
Getting all the new 60s to 80 will be a chore. We certainly will not do them all at once and we are sure to be more sick of the Outlands than ever before. At least the instances anyway. The warrior I most recently ran though there only actually did something like 26 quests in the whole place. That was without even running Slabs, Dark Portal, any of the tempest keep 5 mans or magister’s terrace.
It goes pretty fast if you don’t grind without rested. With multiple alts at 60 that should be easy.

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Reversion and I have decided we’re going to pug ICC every Friday night. We’ve started building a stable of friends who we’ve pugged previously, enjoyed working with, and asked. This week, though, we’d been online for an hour and only had one of our stable available. Meanwhile we’d pugged the weekly (Sarth; Reversion is delighting in single tanking that encounter although I’d like to try with dragons up sometime to get the achievement, most pugs don’t want to bother)

So we whispered a particularly likely-sounding group that was forming in Trade; the leader said he was screening gear because they were hoping to go 7 or 8 out of 12. I told him Rev and I were a pair, tank and heals, if he wanted us, and he did. We got our friend Dontyouwish the Hunter in too; he’s been our best addition to our ICC pug so far, topping meters and always ready to go with us.

Raid comp was suprisingly balanced, for having 3 hunters, 2 druids and 2 pallies; I was concerned that having only one technically melee dps (enhance shammy who would go resto when we needed it) might be a problem but then realized that since hunters count as physical DPS for Deathwhisper we had little to worry about. One thing I actually enjoy about pugged raids is that you work with what you can get, not perfect balance. The raid leader brought Runescrolls of Fortitude, we had to actually discuss which pally buffs to use on who (yay for druids arguing might vs wisdom!) and every fight, we stopped and discussed strategy first. I enjoyed seeing slightly different strategies on the first four fights that I thought I’d  learned cold. Mostly the difference was where we threw Heroism. This raid group was fond of throwing it right off the bat where a lot of raids I’ve been on wait for 30%, no matter what.

Very professional handling of the first wing. Half the raid was from a guild, the rest of us pugged in. Being Friday night, the beer started flowing and we started making mistakes after Saurfang. Actually on Saurfang someone in melee kept a beast in too long and we ended up with two marks going out, but we did one-shot him. And he dropped pants for me, so yay.

Festergut took three tries. One of the hunters managed to die right off the bat, there was Vile Gas in melee, we wiped. Most likely my fault for being slow to heal the hunter, but oh well, Mistakes Were Made. We did down him, and moved on to Rotface. There were  a number of people who hadn’t seen the fight at all, and it took two wipes to get the mechanics right. Reversion and I had downed him twice on 25 man, but never on 10 man, so dropping him was a triumph of a sort.

By this point, the beer debuff was getting bad. We moved to the Professor, and even more people admitted not knowing the fight, including me and Rev. The pugged in shaman took over and explained mechanics (in an excellent Australian accent. He’s on my “ICC pug stable” list now, for excellence in general and the accent didn’t hurt). We started, got to 20%, wiped. Came back, got into phase 2, wiped but thought things were going better. Attempt three – the excellent shaman dropped a cleansing totem, Reversion lost his Abom, couldn’t get power back in time, and we wiped.

Unfortunately that ended up being It for the night, since it was late, people were drunk and tired, and the other tank had a “Sorry, Guild Run” emergency. Still; personal progression! One of these days the Lich King will buy it.

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Dubious distinction

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This post is about the art of pulling and tanking more than one pack at a time. This topic is not basic tanking. Infact it should not be in a ‘Tanking 101′ topic. In fact I would rather new tanks did not even think about doing this… But… It is useful information. It is useful to know even if you don’t regularly do this. It is useful for when you start feeling your oats and wanting to pull faster and it is useful for dealing with unintended adds.

The art of the multi pull is not simple. A very good tank can make it appear easy but it is not. The things you must consider are new, different and you must consider them on TOP of the things you are concerned with in a single pull.

But first, why? Why do it? Many people will complain long and hard about ‘go go go’ tanks that are over eager and don’t know their limitations. What they are complaining about is a tank that does multi-pulls WRONG. There are a lot of ways to do it wrong. However despite the complaints it can be done right. When it is done right there are rarely complaints. And you will know the difference. When you do things right you will have DPSers in awe and healers asking you to join their guild. Seriously, I get it a lot after a pull in which I never pulled any group by itself and did bosses with adds deliberately.

When you do it wrong people will drop group without a word or after a short rant. They will drop half out part way through very unhappy. But most of all you will know you did it wrong because you will be obliterated so fast the Spirit healer will offer you a pity discount. You will wipe so many times the floors of all of Northrend will be squeaky clean, washed with your innards and polished with your mangled body as a rag. Get the picture? You groups will implode so fast you will rarely see the first boss.

Now that you know what is at stake I urge you to try this stuff with caution. Practice with healers you know and love. And buy them flowers in advance. (Analogue inserts: Hey! Where are MY flowers??) Proceed with caution.

Multi pulls versus chain pulling

The first thing to note is that there are two kinds of multi pulls. One is the chain pull. Chain pulling means going for the next group before the first group is down. The term can also mean simply pulling groups one after another very fast, but here I am using it to mean something else. Chain pulling I refer to is the art of waiting until you have plenty of aggro on one group, to the point where the DPS could basically kill them even if you DCed. At that point you go for the next group, dragging a mostly dead pack behind you.

The other version of a multi pull is a pure multiple. This is where you aggro two groups at once, or charge through one and attack the other. The difference is that both (or all) groups are at full health when they all come together in an impressive orgy of destruction. If all goes right you will be in the middle of it.

This post is about true multi pulls and not chain pulls. I might cover chain some other time. What I will say that in chain pull the limiting factor for a healer is mana conservation. In multi pull it is upfront burst healing or sustained max healing rate, depending on how fast your DPS burn things down. More on that later.

Before we get into the ‘how to’ there are some very important concepts I want to go over. These become critical to multi pulling. Understanding them is how multi pulling will make you a better tank, even if you don’t regularly DO it. – I started to put these concepts in this post but instead I decided to introduce them in a separate post. If you have not read it, go back and read that one now. I will wait… It will be more important for the second half of this on how to actually survive multi pulls.

While you are at it read all the Tanking 101 posts as well. If reading those does not make you go ‘yeah I knew that’ then you are not ready for multi pull tanking.

Disclaimer

This stuff is nasty. It can get you very very wiped and it can cause your group to drop or kick or both. If you want to get started doing it I recommend a guild group. Or starting small with just one add. Or both. No I don’t mean it is hard to tank a pat that aggros. While not easy that is not the difficulty level I am talking about. Pulling in an extra pack from nearby is not all that likely to get you booted. Mounting and riding through the next 3 packs before taking 4 on at once is likely to make your healer go ’WTF-bye’.

If you wipe after pushing it too hard I highly recommend you immediately apologize to your group and promise to throttle it back. This will go a long way to smoothing things over and give you more valuable practice. Whatever you do don’t blame anyone but yourself. If you wipe while pulling more than one group it is ALWAYS the tank’s fault. One of the tank’s jobs is to gauge how well the run is going and how good everyone is and set a workable pace. If you set a pace that is too fast it is ALWAYS your fault.

But… It IS possible to do this. It IS possible to do it well. And it IS possible to do it in such a way that your heals and DPS are elated or even in awe at the end of the run and not putting you on ignore.

Now on with the show.

How to

In this section I will talk about the mechanics of the pull but not how to survive it. Don’t read only this section and go try anything. I will cover surviving it next.

First let’s ignore your actual HP and talk about the hazards in just getting all the packs to come to you and stay on you. However hard it is for you to round up and keep aggro on normal packs, multi pulls make this vastly harder.

Effectively the ‘pull phase’ of the fight is extended to be several times longer than usual. The ‘pull’ part of the fight is from the first time any creature spots you and when you have them all rounded up and attacking you. This is the phase were it is most risky for things to pull of you. This is because you have very little threat on the targets and because some or all of the targets are outside your melee range, limiting your options for getting more threat. Once past the ‘pull’ phase all the targets are on you and you have ample opportunity to generate threat. In a standard pull it is possible to complete the ‘pull phase’ and have them all around you nice and close before the DPS really opens fire or before the healer has hit you with anything big. In a multi pull the chance of being able to do that go way way down. It is almost certain you will have to use a taunt as damage control during your pull. This means you want to save that and not use it in the opening stage, unless very early on, when you are sure to get it off cooldown by the time someone aggroes off you.

Line of sight pulls can also be very effective for multi pulls. You might line of sight one or more of the packs. It can be done by running through all packs and finding a place to hide or running through one pack, shooting a ranged attack at the next pack and then hiding between then. It can even be pulling them all back to the start by hiding around a corner there.

Risks

There are two big risks of multi pulls, one is the increased damage of having lots of things hitting you and the other is the extra chance of dropping aggro from having to manage more targets.

The main way to manage the second risk is to increase the first risk. The way is to move fast! Moving to round up extra groups group before the DPS engages is a great way to ensure they don’t have time to pull off you. Unfortunately this gets you farther from your healer and also take the healer off guard. I will talk more about that soon but keep in mind that it is a fine line to be JUST far enough ahead that the DPS does not pull off and not so far ahead that you are a fine smear on the floor before the healer knows you are gone. For this reason this sort of pull requires good cooldown use. I will go into this more in the second half, surviving the multi pull.

Because of these risks the pace of your pulls becomes absolutely critical. The same pull done with different timing, or rhythm can succeed or fail badly.

Planning

The first step in any pull is setting up and planning the pull. There are many places in the game where you simply can’t do a multi pull. It is too hard. The groups are too far apart. There is some sort of barrier or portal. There are lots of reasons some pulls just don’t work. Or they are just very hard to do. These are the ones you are likely to wipe on so be ready to “/p sry, my bad” on the way back to the instance.

So which are do-able? First of all not everything do-able is possible. I will get back to that later. Packs near each other are easy to round up. Packs with a nearby patrol you can get at the same time are also easy for multi pulls. With timing you can grab both with no additional effort. Tightly packed groups often require ranged pulls or LOS pulls to separate when you are doing normal tanking. These places can be turned into a multi pull simply by charging in.

There are three questions to ask.

1: Can I round all these guys up?

- The question is can you move between the groups and aggro them reasonably fast

2: Can I keep all these guys on me?

- This is asking if you can finish the pull without any DPS pulling off you and also if you can maintain agro with the multiple groups.

3: Does this pull actually speed things up?

- Just hitting two packs at once is not always speeding things up. If the other one was an optional pack then it isn’t. If the fight with all the packs is long and nasty it was may have been faster to do them separately. Also if it took longer to round them all up and get the fight started than it takes to just kill the first group you are wasting time.

Starting

If you have two packs near each other the start can be simple. You simply move in on one while throwing a ranged move at the other. Very straight forward usually. Try to use the ranged move on the group that is farther away. Also try to set up the pull so your camera can see all packs at once. This can mean going around one group until you can see the other group past them and then moving in. Alternately as you move in on the first group you can be rotating your camera to follow a group off to one side. It helps to be facing the second group as they come at you.

Here the tank is flanking one and then attacking though it.

Here the tank moves right into one and then rotates and ranged aggros the other.

Running between the two groups and aggroing both from there also works well, but requires more camera movement after the pull starts. It is still a good way to do it because both groups have a short distance to go to get inside your melee and AOE ranges.

A good example of this type of pull is the second pack of UK. You have 7-9 guys all around two anvils on either side of the hall. Careful pulls can make this into 3 or more pulls, some with only one dude getting pulled. A multi pull can pull all of them at once from between the anvils or just in front of that point. Stopping slightly short of directly between them puts the packs closer to your camera view area and you don’t have to pan as far to see them all.

There are two ways to do it. You can move to one and ranged aggro the other…

or you can ranged aggro both.

Of course if they are close enough you can do the whole pull with just your mere presence and save the ranged attack for any stragglers.

Run Through

The pull is all about getting all targets into your melee. The longer it takes to do that the more risk there is of DPS or heals pulling them off you. This is why the second method of multi pulls is harder. This method is to run THOUGH or past a pack and continue on to the next pack.

The risk here is that you are leaving your DPS and heals close to the pack while you run farther on. Hopefully the DPS knows to keep following you until you stop before engaging. If they don’t you might tell them to do it at that the start of the run. If they are smart or experienced with ‘gogogo’ tankers then they might clue in on this on their own.

An example of the ‘run through’ pull would be all the ‘guy with a wolf’ packs that patrol up and down the stairs in UK and UP. You can run through one of those and then up to the top of a flight and pull the pack of 4 up there. The group you are running through is fairly weak so adding it to the group at the top of the stairs is a fairly straight forward multi pull if the patrol is near the top of the steps. If the patrol is on the landing or farther down then it is a long way to drag them up to the next group. If the patrol is near but bottom they can be done multi-style with the group at the bottom of the steps. This is using the technique of moving to first group (bottom of steps pack) and use a ranged attack on the second group (patrolling guy with wolf).

Another example of a run through pull would be doing the first two groups of DTK together. You run through the first two guys and then attack the next group (This is risky because the first two guys in the first group don’t spawn at the same time).

There are a lot of reasons why run through pulls can be nasty and painful. First of all you can get hit by the first pack. Also your DPS and heals will see a normal pull and have no clue what you are doing until you are well past the group. This makes it VERY easy for them to pull off you simply by starting the fight before you want them to. You could take the time to explain what you are doing to them… but by the time you are sure they understand you have blown all speed advantage from the multi pull. It can easily take longer to get the concepts across to everyone than it would take to kill both groups the old fashion way. So what to do?

There are actually several ways to do a run though and some of them help with the problem of getting too far ahead. One is to move just far enough past the group to aggro the next one and then turn back and round up any aggro you have dropped. This is a good way but only works on groups that are fairly close together. That is basically the choice you have with a run through pull. Do you run to the next group and fight where they are or do you bring them to meet the first group and fight there.

Here is a tank stopping short, using a ranged move and then turning back to the first group.

They say no plan survives contact with the enemy. It is almost certain the DPS and heals aggroing something will force you to shift and move. But, you have to start with a plan! Even a vague one is better than nothing. Just charging in is a great way to get killed. It can be as simple as “I am going to run into this pack, fire one thunderclap as I go by and then charge that group over there.” That is enough of a plan. At least provided you are wise enough to remember that the next step will be to AOE the second group and then look back to see if the first group is coming to you. That is the opening of a Multi pull, but the ‘pull phase’ is not really over until that second group gets to you and you have them all in melee.

Tank Differences

Different tank classes and different play styles will have a big effect on how you do a multi pull. Pallys and DK are likely to want to pull the second group to them. Bears and warriors may want to charge back and forth between groups. I will not go into all the stuff each class can do because if you are even considering tanking this way you had better already be an expert in all your class can do.

I will noted that each tanking class can handle different levels of AOE threat and has different taunt options. For example number of critters a bear can round up and multi tank will not be equal to a warrior. And of course gear makes a huge difference.

Dealing with the fallout

People WILL pull off you when multi pulling. But if you are not already fast and clean with your taunts you should not be trying this anyway. So you should be able to round things back up. When you have run through a group to get to a second group and then you lose aggro on some of the first group it works just like adds. From a tactical standpoint you are in almost the same situation as if a patrol had hit your ranged/healer squad while you were pulling something. The big difference is that you KNOW it is going to happen and can be ready for it. As with an adds situation it is un forgiving so you have to be fast and taunt cleanly on the target you mean to taunt. Also you have to practice good Tanking Triage.

Tanking Triage

Tanking Triage is the art of taunting what you can and being ready to give up on what you can’t get threat on so you can focus on what you can. Lets say you run through a pack and pick up another. You get aggro on the second group and then see two of the first group are headed to your DPS/heals. Just now your mage opens with a blizzard on your head. You don’t want to leave the pack you are fighting because if you do the mage is SURE to aggro them all. So now you have to make a split second decision. Assuming you are not a pally with a three target taunt you can only taunt one of the dropped ones. So you hit the one you think is going for the healer and stay where you are, spamming AOEs and spreading threat around you. Maybe someone else will pick up the other one and maybe the healer will have to heal though one hitting him. Either way 8 seconds of the healer getting hit is usually better than you dropping aggro on the other 4-7 critters. Waiting that 8 seconds for your taunt MIGHT wipe you, but dropping aggro on 7 critters while you run after that one is much more likely to kill you. When you can’t get aggro on everything your goal is to get the most aggro on the most things for the longest possible time. With multi pull tanking every global cooldown is precious so don’t waste any.

Extra Disclaimer/Warning

Everything is your fault. No really. If you are pulling more than one pack deliberately there is NOTHING anyone can do that will make a wipe that is not YOUR fault. Why? Because you had the choice to do things the easy and safe way and chose not to. You can’t jump into the street and blame the blind old lady in the Cadillac for not swerving around you. And you can’t throw an knife at someone and blame them if they are not a good enough ninja to catch it.

But the good news is that if your skills and gear are good enough you can multiple almost any pull in any dungeon regardless of your group.

But don’t try this yet! Stay tuned for the ‘How to Survive Multi Pulls’ post. Coming Soon. In the mean time I will take no responsibility for any wipes you may experience.

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Raid Night

So it is Friday and that means raid time!
We don’t talk about our guild much but Analogue and I are in Meridan. It is the number one progression raiding guild on Ghostlands. We are not raiders though. We are ‘friend’ invites meaning we are friends of one of the raiders, a long time gaming friend of mine. So we don’t get in regular guild runs but we do get into alt runs sometimes. Also, as Analogue has mentioned we get in the GDKS 25 man runs when we can make it. Those are great.

But we are still left wanting more. So, off and on for the last few months we have been organizing our own pug/alt runs. We try hard to not step on any guild toes, mainly going on off nights for the progression groups and being sure to tell everyone it is just an alt run. We usually get somewhere around half guild or former guild in our pugs.

The last two times we have been making extra effort to turn this in to a more regular thing. We are starting to get people we know and have run with on a ‘invite first’ list as well as checking with them in advance to see if they will be on. With the ICC buff at 15% and climbing it is only a matter of time before even a pretty rough pug will have a shot at Arthas. We want that sooner rather than later.

It is an interesting experience and has given me a lot more practice running raids. Because we are getting more ambitious we need to get more serious with planning and execution. Last week we screwed up our make-up and ended up with far to little R-DPS to down Saurfaung. It was kind of pathetic really but it happens. In retrospect we should have spotted that right away and swapped a melee for another ranged.

Hopefully this week we can down Dreamwalker again and be back to new fights.

Yes we are in the pre expansion wastelands but now is the time to reach for a goal that you could not previously do. It has been since Molten Core since I got in a top in raid when it was still progression content. Now, with all the changes blizzard has made almost anyone has a shot at the end game if they have willingness to do their homework and do some wrangling.

PS: We are still looking for a regular solid tank healer if anyone from Ghostlands is interested.

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Nightmare

Corporate Raider

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So Analogue’s gear has gotten good enough recently, especially with the Vestments of Spruce and Fir, that I felt comfortable speccing out of Celestial Focus and back to an 11/0/58 spec. After some deliberation I decided to put the new points into Improved Barkskin, Revitalize, and Living Seed.

Imp. Barkskin is to keep me alive longer on “new” content, ie fights I haven’t yet outgeared. I am trying hard to use Barkskin on myself to keep me alive and it’s been working great. Bonestorm? Barkskin. Predictable damage? Barkskin.

Living Seed… I do mostly 10 man raids. Sometimes I have to help heal the tanks. Or I’m keeping a Mark alive. Either way, I’m thinking it’s worth a shot.

And Revitalize… I just ran a heroic over lunch with Reversion, then looked at my logs. I barely noticed my missing haste in 5 man content and in 10 mans I hope to have some buffs to help make that up. And I’m seeing the Revitalize payoff already. Over the course of a single AN run, it regenerated 225 rage for Reversion – that’s over two full bars. And it did 15% of my mana-regen-from-effects according to Recount; the hunter’s Replenishment did 30%. If those numbers translate to 10 mans it’ll be just great. Sometimes our raid comps are take what we can get, and if I don’t have to bring someone along just for Replenishment, that might give us flexibility…

Anyone else have any luck here? Man, it feels good to get my fun points back. That haste nerf really hurt, and I am still getting over it.

PS -Keeva’s Resto Guide that she recently published is what I used to help me make my decisions; it was great to have everything laid out for me in a nice friendly format. It practically says “Don’t Panic” on the cover, it’s that good.

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Cooldowns are a more advanced tank topic. Use of them is something people get better at as they spend more time in the tanking roll.

What is a ‘cooldown’? A cooldown is something you activate to take less damage for a short period of time. It might be an ability, it might be a trinket, it might even be a potion. To be considered a ‘cooldown’ it must be something you deliberately activate that lasts a short period of time.
There are some other abilities people might activate and then deactivate, like a warrior changing stances, or a paladin changing seals, judgments, or aura. Those are NOT considered cooldowns and are not covered in this post. For information on such things go find some class specific information.

Examples of cool downs:

  • Corroded Skeleton Key: Use: absorbs 6400 damage. Last 10 seconds.
  • Survival Instincts: When Activated this ability temporarily grants you 30% of your maximum health for 20 seconds. After the effect is expires the health is lost.
  • Indestructible Potion: Use: Increases your armor by 3500 for two minutes.
  • Runic Healing Potion: Use Restores 2700 to 4500 health.

How are all these things alike? If you think like a tank they are all the same. By that I mean, if you are in a fight, and getting beat on by critters, and you use one of these things then after the ability or effect is gone you will have more hit points than you would have if you had not used the ability. Or, more specifically you are going to be LESS LOW on hit points.

Corroded Skeleton Key: 10 seconds later you are 6400 HP less low than you would have been. Survival Instincts: in 20 seconds, assuming you got beat on for are much as 30% of your health worth of damage, you will have 30% more health than you would have had. The ability raised your hit points 30%, then the creature beat on you and took those extra points, and then the effect faded and the fake points went away, but they were gone already due to damage and so you don’t notice a change. You might think, reading the text of it, that at the end of the time limit your health will DROP 30% no matter what. But this is not the case. Rather the ability, for all practice situations, works more like it just plain absorbed 30% of your health worth of incoming damage.

Indestructible Potion: Same as the others, if you are getting hit on for 2 minutes then you end with more HP if you use this potion than you would end with if you don’t.

Healing potions are the only ones on this list that give you actual permanent HP… but since you are getting beat on you don’t keep the hit points anyway. So they work the same; if you drink a healing potion during a fight you finish the battle with more HP than if you don’t drink one.

Because each cooldown, and there are other kinds of them, work differently, there are some rare situations where you might prefer to use one over another. For the purposes of this post I am going to simply refer to them as big ones and little ones. Big ones have longer cool downs and do more damage mitigation and small ones are smaller in both damage absorbed and time between uses.

Cooldown Use Strategies

Kicking yourself

There are several ways you can use your cooldowns. The first is to use them to kick yourself after a wipe. This is a standard tactic used by newer tanks. The way it works is you get into trouble, die, and then while running back you suddenly remember that if you had used barkskin or shield wall or whatever, you might have lived. This tactic is a good way of reminding yourself how much you suck as a tank but it does not actually help you. I recommend moving on to a more advanced strategy.

Use on pulls

Sometimes people just pop them as they start a pull. This has a number of benefits.

The beginning of the fight is where you are taking the most damage. So this makes sense as a time to pop cooldowns . Hopefully by the time the effects of it have worn off you will have downed one or more of the pack and you will be taking less damage. If your healer is narcoleptic you give them a chance to get back into the game. If you have gotten too far in front of your healer you likewise buy them some time. In some cases there are other benefits. For example a warrior using a shield spike and popping ‘shield block’ at the start of a fight can use it to generate extra AOE threat early in the fight.

The drawback of popping cooldowns early is that you might mislead the healer into thinking they don’t need to heal you much. This might result in catching them off guard when the cooldowns wear off.

The flip side of this is that if the healer KNOWS you are popping cooldowns can avoid the healing the fight for the first few critical moments until you have rounded up the whole pack. This is a powerful tactic that is available to tanks and healers that have very good communication.

When you are taking a lot of damage

This is an obvious tactic. Your bar is going down fast so you pop something.

When you know you are going to take a big hit

This is an advanced version of the last tactic. This is where you know the fight well enough to see the damage coming and you pop things in advance. This sort of skill level makes a good tanking appear invulnerable to his/her healer. It is also a critically useful skill for raid encounters.

When everyone ELSE is taking big hits

So your whole party is getting AOEed or something. Now would be a great time for the healer to NOT have to worry about you. So you pop some and buy them some time to heal everyone else up.

The healer is stunned, feared, frozen, flying through the air, or otherwise indisposed

It should be obvious why this is a good time for you to not need as much healing. As a good tank this is also something you can see coming in advance and even use the cooldown preemptively.

When you get adds

This is just like ‘when you know you are going to take a big hit’. More things are there beating on you then what the healer expected. By popping cooldowns at the right time you can tank, for a while, more than the healer has a prayer of healing.

When the healer dies

Again this should be obvious. I have finished many a fight when the healer has been dirt napping for several seconds or much longer. Using cooldowns can make you last a long time. If you have many cooldowns you might want to space out using them so you stretch their effects. If you pop 5 at once chances are they will wear off before they finish absorbing all the damage they could have.

Right after you say ‘gogogo’

For some reason this phrase can lessen your incoming heals. Also the phrase is usually followed by taking extran damage. So, it might be a good time to make up the difference with some cooldowns.

Any time you are using deliberate multi-pull tactics

Hi, my name is Reversion and I am a multi-pull addict (Hi Rev). It has been less than a day since my last multi-pull. I have tanked just about every heroic 5 5man boss with at least one extra pack there. The only way to get good at multi pulls and do them ‘right’ is to get very good with your cooldowns.

When someone epeen waver just said something about healthpools

It is so fun to hear them say ‘holy cr**p! How do you get 70k Hp?’

Usage Order

There are things to know about using cool downs. You need to be aware of which last a long time and which are short. You also want to pay some attention to how much they do for you. One way I help myself with this is be arraigning them in my F1-F12 bar in order of how strong they are or how often I use them. Knowing how each work to help you is important because if I pop Frenzied regeneration I will get rage starved. Also it has a distributed effect over time. This means popping it before a fight, or to buffer an incoming big hit is not a good plan. Using something like Icks Rotting Thumb would be better in those situations. On the other hand Frenzied regeneration is great if couple groups of adds just showed up and I am getting plenty of rage. Which you use when will depend on what cooldowns you have available. If you are not sure, feel free to ask.

Different tanks use them differently. I have never compared notes with any other tank about it but the ways I use them probably are different than others. Having played a healer a good bit I have a good ‘feel’ of when a fight is getting hard to heal. I tend to pop them then. This might be when half the party is standing is poison or when one of the DPS took a big hit. It just depends on the fight and on the healer.

Conclusion

As a tank once you get good at pulling, picking up and holding agro and taunting runners, you will find you have time to spare to consider your cooldown use. Learning some good tactics for using them is a great way to make you a better tank.

By the way, if you have a healer you partener who you can talk to easily in Vent or in person try discussing when and why you use cooldowns. Also try announcing when you pop them. This may help them adjust their healing tactics.

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Travel in style

CORPORATE RAIDER

Click here if you want to see the prototype of this comic that I sketched on on a napkin at Bufflo Wild Wings.

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Instances are a dance. They are a dance of destruction and death and hopefully a dance of life and success.

The tank leads. Leading is not about going at your own pace, it is about setting a pace your partners can keep up with. You don’t set the pace too slow or your partners get bored and either leaves or tries to lead. If your partners are more accomplished dancers you may have to push yourself hard to keep up with them while still leading. The tank may even have to lean on them a bit or ask one of them to lead for short periods of time.

Leading in a dance does not mean you are in control. It means you make the first move and you signal as much as you can to your partner so she can keep up. Ignoring your partner almost totally only works when you know they for certain can keep up. When you do know they know the tune and the steps then you can cut loose. But if not, you will quickly find yourself dancing alone. A good tank is a good dance partner no matter who his partner is. Fast, slow, waltzing or break dancing a good tank knows them all. Leading also means finding out how NOT to step on the toes of your partner. It also means being polite when your partner steps on yours… but not too polite unless you like sore toes.

The DPS and heals all follow. Following means reading your partner’s moves and matching, echoing or merely complimenting them. It also means pusing yourself when they are challenging you to keep up. If the lead partner is good they will set a pace you can handle even if it is a whirlwind. You might surprise yourself as you stretch to keep up. You might get burned if they prove to be a poor lead, but you will never know unless you step out and allow them to toss you in the air every now and then. It might be a frightening at first but better to embrace the challenge than to refuse to be led.

This analogy shows how BOTH sides have to adapt. You might have to read their intentions and follow. The lead has to communicate those intentions and be sure all partners can keep up.

The dance is never more smooth than when you partner with someone that really knows you and your style. My best partner is my wife. I have run with some great healers that were able to keep up, but when it comes to knowing my rhythm she is best. It certainly helps that she has crazy uber healing gear. However, even uber gear will not keep me alive when I pop cat form and dash two groups ahead and start AOEing the crud out of 4 packs at once.

In some ways though, a very good and very familiar partner will make us complacent. We stop trying to read every move and just fall on familiar patterns. An unfamiliar partner forces us to read and learn as we go.

Most of all we cannot refuse to dance. If our partner for a swing-dance drops and starts spinning around on their head we must be at lead willing to shrug and follow along as best we can. If you refuse to dance to all except one sort of music you will find yourself unhappy and short of partners. But when it comes to pugs don’t assume you will know the tune, the song, or even get a flat dance floor.

I wanted to toss this post out there as background before I get to my upcoming post about multi pulls and go-go-go tanking. It is important for a tank to keep in mind that even as he/she is setting a whirlwind pace their partners are still there and still being considered. How you consider them might be different but even the best geared tank can-not do things alone. (well maybe technically they can but that is a different topic)

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