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Posts Tagged ‘tanking 101’

Feral druids have few options for ranged pulling. Assuming you are pulling in bear form you only have 2.

One is to use ‘Growl’ on the target. This is a poor idea. It does no real threat and it puts your only taunt on cooldown. It does have a 30 yard range though so if your other option is not ready and you really need to pull it works.

Your other option is Feral Faerie Fire.

When you get this:

Growl you get at lvl 10 along with bear form. You get Faerie Fire (feral) at level 18.

Range:

Growl: 30 yards

Faerie Fire (feral): 30 yard

Additional effects:

Faerie Fire does damage that is 1+0.15 times your attack power. At high level this is a nice little hit. In bear form it also does extra threat. These two effects make it a good ranged pull. Faerie Fire applies a 5 minute duration 5% armor debuff. It also prevents stealth for that time.

Growl causes a very very short forced attack effect (3 seconds) that is not exclusive.

Application:

Using either of these is very simply. You move to within 30 yards, target something, and fire. Then you wait for them to come at you.

Follow up:

The usual follow up is to wait for the targets to get close and then Swipe. If you don’t need to move the pack completely to where you start you might Charge when they get closer. If you used Faerie Fire you will have Growl in reserve if any of your party pulls one of the pack off you as the pull goes down.

Once the pack gets to you and contact is made then you need to do the usual follow ups of pointing the pack in the right direction and positioning yourself where you want to be.

Variations:

Variations include using Line of Sight by hiding around a corner. There is also the ‘hit and run’ which is done by pulling from range, running the other way, and then charging back. Many other variations are possible. The goal here is to move the pack away from a specific area or to position the pack exactly where you want it.

Other use of this ability:

Faerie Fire is a highly effective tool for keeping aggro at range. Firing it repeatedly at something that is not in melee range can be used to keep agro on something you can’t move toward.

Macros and combos:

You might macro a raid mark to it… I prefer mine to be on their own key binding. Since those are your only two ranged abilities there is not much comboing you can do other than variations with charge or growl.

Risks and drawbacks:

All risks of ranged pulls apply. Mainly these risks are that your DPS or heals will do something to ‘pull aggro’ before the pack gets into your melee range.

Other tricks:

Here is a great combo for keeping ranged casters on you if you can’t get them moved into the melee. You wait for the target to ‘pull off’ and then use Growl on it. Immediately after that you use Faerie Fire. The combination of the two means you are now the ‘top threat’ for that target and have a nice little bonus of threat above the next target on the list. This will usually keep the target on you until your cooldowns for Growl and Faerie Fire are complete. You can keep threat this way even if one of your DPS is attacking that target. This is not part of a ranged pull but it is a way you can deal with casters when one is left behind from a ranged pull

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Let them die!

You yank it you tank it!

Ever thought those? If you have done any decent amount of tanking then yeah, you have. Even if you did not give in to the temptation you probably wanted to. Every time you got some jerkwad not watching his threat and pulling you probably wanted to let them die. I have let more than a couple such people die. But that is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the OTHER times you let people pull aggro and die.

Look, you can’t hold all the aggro all the time. I know, I know a good tank tries. Yes. I said as much in other posts. And a really good tank has a shot at pulling that noble goal off. But sometimes you just can’t. Most non-tanks might not agree, most non-tanks probably have never tried to hold aggro when you get an accidental extra pack, a patrol from the rear and some trigger happy DPSers critting their butts off.

Triage

The art of putting your efforts where it is most needed even if it means letting something else slip. This concept applies a lot to healers. Often they have to decide where that critical heal is going and who needs it most. However, when it comes to tanking we get in the same boat. It is very often we have to decide which of two or more targets to taunt and which to throw AOES at. Which to target for some extra hits and which to let run away from us.

Some of you are saying ‘I don’t do that! I just round them all up!’ Ah, but you do. You decide which to round up first and which to wait a GCD for. Or which to wait on your taunt cooldown. You might round them all up EVENTUALLY.  But there are always going to be a few moments where something is not on you. Often that something is going to have a chance to take a swing at one of your party.

With healing triage you heal the people that need it the most AND are most critical to the over all team. Keep the tank up, keep yourself up, keep that really solid caster over there alive. Let the noob DK get smacked around for a while. It does not mean you are letting them die, though sometimes that happens.

Tanking triage works the same, even if we don’t usually think of it that way. Moment to moment, we the tanks, decide what threat moves to use and where. When things go to heck we are deciding on the fly what to taunt and what targets to use what moves on.

Like healing triage this is not something a new tank is likely to do. Like a new healer a new tank will simply throw around what aggro they can and play whack a mole with targets that pull off of them. As you get more experience you develop a system and a sense for what taunts and threats to use where.

Why we triage

The point of triage is that we don’t want to waste our efforts in places where they do no good. Taunting the add on that ret pally is less useful than taunting that add that is hitting the healer. Things like that. If we take the time to taunt off both, something else might pull off of us. Also if we taunt off the pally first the healer could die. A tank that is not actively deciding what triage to do might just simply taunt the first one he notices. In a really bad situation that could lead to a wipe.

Your Priorities

Healer

The top priority is always the healer. That person absolutely needs to not be getting hammered. You have to taunt off them as fast as you can… mostly. If more than one target is going after your healer it might be best use of your precious time to move the fight toward them and use some more AOE. Some of your more exotic ‘oh crap’ moves may need to be saved for the healer alone.

Soft DPS… sometimes

Many soft DPS are either fast with their ‘oh crap’ moves or they are dead. Mages are the big example here. They actually have a lot of moves for saving their own lives. Based on my experience they don’t remember they have half of them and they are usually to slow with the ones they DO remember.

Soft DPS are important to save… except they are probably dead by the time you need to save them. So if you can’t get them in time, cut your losses and let them go. No reason to waste a taunt cooldown taunting a critter that has already finished off your friend in the pointy hat.

Bosses

You have to keep the boss on you. Really.

Adds… sometimes

Most of the time adds have no real threat built up yet so you don’t need a whole taunt to get them to come to you. Still it is better to get some of them on you any way you can.

Adds are usually in a pack. And adds are usually going after someone that is not you (at first). Which means someone is about to bet blasted. So you need to soften that blow as fast as you can. Taunting one of the adds as they come at you is a good way to do it. So is getting closer and throwing AOE. Whatever you can do. This is more important than taunting off of people that just are doing too much threat.  Why? Threat pullers are usually pulling one target. And they usually do it often enough that the healer and the person doing it are ready for it. The healer may NOT be ready for the mage in the back to get omnomnomed by a whole pack of tiny velociraptors.

Adds happen. Dealing with them fast and effectively is the mark of a good tank. When adds happen is when a weak tank/group wipes. So the faster and more effetely you can deal with the changing situation the better. You want to round up those things so fast and tie up their threat so tight that most of the party does not even realize you got any adds.

When NOT to taunt off.

A big challenge in tanking is to not get tunnel vision. If you panic when you see a target pull off you then you stand a very good chance of losing threat on another target. Focusing on that first one caused you to miss a threat move or two and not keep building up your aggro on everyone else. So it is important to know when NOT to worry too much about a target ignoring you.

Taunt off of other dps…. Rarely.

I mean really, why bother? Melee DPS are mostly plate wearers and rogues. Plate can take a few hits and if a rogue can’t dump their own aggro they aren’t worth your taunt cooldown anyway.

And hey, the more threat that DPSer builds up before you taunt the more threat you will have after you taunt.

Hunters, just about never taunt off them. Seriously, feign death and misdirect? What the heck else can anyone need?

Don’t throw threat moves to save someone if there is a higher priority issue. Don’t taunt off that melee DPS if you have not sewed up that pack of adds with enough AOE yet. Early in a fight AOE is more important than taunting. Let me say that again…

EARLY IN A FIGHT AOE THREAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TAUNTING

If someone pulls off you early and you stop some AOE to get that target back you are highly likely to lose someone else. Don’t do that.

I will get back to that in a second…

What moves to use when

Moves like Intervene, deathgrip and that one that taunts three targets that pallies get. Maybe you save those for the healer and maybe you don’t. It depends on how often you need them and what the chances of getting adds is.

It depends on your play style as well and what your personal strengths are. You don’t want to save a move for saving the healer if you never can remember where you put that obscure hotkey. If you can’t hit it fast and easy then it is not the right move to pick when saving a high criticality target. A lesser move fast is better than an uber move too late. You need to get to know your more obscure options and try them out BEFORE you need them. If you are not use to using something then it will let you down when you need it.

Some ‘oh crap’ type moves need macros to use them most effectively. Even if you don’t use macros for much consider using them for a few critical things as needed. In another post someday I will cover ‘oh crap’ moves and when to use them. Your main categories are these.

-AOE threat

-Focused threat (might be more than one target still)

-Taunts

-‘Other’ oh crap moves.

Here are your top priorities as the fight changes…

1) Opening instant of the fight:

->Get some small amount of threat on EVERY target.

2) First few seconds of the fight

->Build up a lot of threat on the target or targets your party is focusing on.

->Build up some AOE threat on every target

3) Middle and late stages of the fight

->stabilize any situation that developed early on.

->round up targets that pull off you

->watch for adds

4) End of battle

->stop runners

->check on your healer

->plan your next move

Notice how your focus and priority changes. Also that phase three one ‘->stabilize any situation that developed early on’ is a big area. It might be that your health is going down to fast, or that someone is off in a corner soloing something. It could be a lot of things. But you can’t get distracted by those until you have done the ground work early in the fight. By the time targets are half dead you could almost stop tanking entirely and the fight will end favorably. It is those critical first few seconds your agro generation has to be a high priority. It still matters later. But later, if you drop threat on a target or two, it is unlikely to cause a wipe. If you do that early on it is quite likely to cause a wipe.

Order of business in the triage world.

Stabilize the patient

The party is your patient. If you have to amputate (let someone die) to keep the whole body alive, do it. The first thing to do is to stabilize the situation. What I said about getting to a pack of adds fast? That was stabilizing the situation. Taunting off someone is the same. It is that initial minimum thing you need to do for things to stop being ‘bad’. Even if for just a moment. This can take many forms. Lots of ‘oh crap’ moves are good for stabilizing different situations. AOE force attack moves are great for buying you a few seconds of stability. Antimagic shell is a bit of a stabilizing move, if the issue you have is magic related. Shockwave’s area effect stun is a nice little stabilizing move if timed right.

Assess the situation

This happens in a nano second. If you are having trouble with assessing the problem might be that you are having situational awareness issues. I can’t cover those here so go read other posts :P

Part of assessing is measuring the situation against what you are personally capable of. Can you handle a pack of adds that big? What would have to happen in order for you to survive? Can you keep agro on those casters over there and still keep the big melee all under control? If you can’t handle the situation as it is, what would have to change about it for you to be able to handle it?

Prioritize

See above. You have to decide what area needs your attention the most and focus on that. If there is something you have to do to get things under control, do it. If there are things that are getting in the way of you getting control, stop doing those. Now is the time to do what you KNOW will win the fight. Don’t play threat tug-a-war with an over geared DPSer if you think something else about the fight is at risk.

Cut your losses

Let people die that are going to do. The most important thing in the world is that at the end of the fight one of your party with a rez spell is still standing. Everything else is optional. Sometimes this means you the tank have to die to buy time for the rest of the party. So be it. Your survival is optional. Failure is not optional so be certain that whatever you do, SOMEONE that can rez is alive at the end.

Usually this means you need to preserve yourself, the healer, and one decent DPS. As long as those live you can usually finish things. Sometimes you might be the last one standing or you might only be able to save the healer. Triage is about making the tough choices fast so that the whole survives.

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I have decided to do a few posts on specific fun and interesting pulling tricks. This is a personal favorite of mine.

Name: Hit and run

Use: Pulling a caster pack or mixed pack when no LOS is available and you need to move the pack toward the party.

Difficulty: High. The actual complexity of the pull is medium but the chance of the party letting you do it right is low.

Classes: Any. Works well with charging tanks but can be done with any tank.

How to: Move to the maximum range of your longest range move targeting the closest member of the pack. Fire. Turn IMMEDIATELY and run like heck directly away from the pack. If possible keep an eye over your shoulder on the pack itself. Keep running until the pack is roughly where you want to tank them. Turn around and move to engage the pack. At this time you may use a charge. If the pack is spread out you might want to charge one of the targets in the back (farthest from you). Move in, round them up, tank as normal.

About: This technique is great because it allows you to move a pack with casters closer to you. It allows you to do that WITHOUT a ranged silence move. This is good if you don’t have such a move, or can’t hit all caster targets with such a move. That makes it great for lower level tanks who don’t have a ranged silence yet. It is also good for any class that is not a tank such as AOE grinding mages. It is even good as a single target pull against casters when soloing on any class, not just tanks.

The point of running away is to interrupt the cast of the ranged attackers and to get out of their max range. This forces them to follow you until you turn and re-engage.

Basically any time you need to pull a caster to you, don’t have a ranged silence, and have room to run behind you, then this is a good pull to use.

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One of the most critical things, for a tank is confidence. Many people giving advice on tanking will mention it and all agree it is important. By why? Here is why…

The loop

An acronym somewhat common in military circles is OODA. It is an acronym for the process by which people decide things. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. These are the steps use to make a decision. You see some situation; you orient yourself in relationship to it, decide on a course of actions, and then execute that action. In combat situations they describe this as a loop. You start at Observe, run through it, and as soon as you get to act you are back at observer. You see what changes have taken place in the situation, you orient yourself to those changes, decide what to do next and then do that. In combat this all takes place at blazing speed with no actual pausing or deliberating. But those steps still exist and you still go through them as a cycle.

Getting inside

Years ago fighter pilots discovered that when two people go head to head it was not the person that made the BEST decisions that won the fight. It was the one that made the FASTEST decisions. If both combatants are using the loop you can visualize how as soon as the first person decides and acts she has changed the situation. The other person might be making a technically better choice. But they made it a split second too late. When the first person acted the situation changed. As the fight goes on the ‘better’ decider is falling farther and farther behind in each ‘loop’ around the OODA circle. They call this getting ‘inside’ the other person’s decisions making loop.

It is like a boxer keeping the other person off balance. The other boxer might have a really great left hook that is sure to cause a knockout, but if he is always off balance he can’t throw the punch.

These concepts apply to tanking, though not in precisely the same way. You, as the tank, are making decisions in this OODA loop. The Observing step applies to situational awareness, something I have talked about in the past. The Orient step has to do with both awareness and positioning. Deciding and acting must be quick smooth and confident. We don’t have time to be second guessing or rehashing mistakes. We have to start the loop again and react to the changing battle.

We are not going up against another human in single combat so we are not pitting our loop against another loop. We are, however, pitting it against the programmed actions and reactions of the packs we are tanking. These actions are fast paced but not all instant so there is a time factor. We still have to pit our decision making against the pace of the instance. Or, against ourselves if we are setting a ‘gogogo’ pace. The harder we push the faster we have to be reacting and deciding.

Tank vs Party

But wait! There is more! We ARE pitting our decision loop in head to head combat with others… those others are our own party. How much this is a ‘versus’ depends on how good they are at following your lead and how good they are at being good party players in general.

The other day I was in a pug and a boomkin, well geared and a solid player, was mentioning how great they are at cycloning things before they get to the healer. I pointed out that doing that prevents the tank from taunting them back into the AOE threat zone. The response I got was something like ‘oh that is ok. I saved the healer.’ They missed my point that if the tank taunts an instant after you cyclone it is wasted. Or maybe they tried to death grip, judge fearie fire, or otherwise toss some threat at the wayward critter. The boomkin thinks they are being helpful and saving the day but in reality they quite well could be messing up the tank. Something similar happens if a mage frostnovas a pack off adds. Now you can’t’ get those into the threat zone quickly. These are not party wipers (usually) but they can throw a tank off stride, they force you to react to a changed situation. You reaction is yet another quick loop around the OODA cycle as you see what they did, and react to it. The slower your loops around the circle are the farther behind you get and the more you are at the mercy of your oh so helpful party. We have all been in one of those. Maybe it was a hunter that was on speed and tagging everything in sight. Or perhaps some DK gripping orcs around the Ramparts like crazy. And we have probably all seen the groups where our tank was just so slow to react they could not deal with anything.

Confidence

This is where ‘confidence’ comes in. What we mean when we say ‘confidence’ (with respect to tanking) is the ability to make a fast decision and act on it with no hesitation or pausing to rethink. Do we go left or right? Left! Go! Do we jump down? Weeeee. Do we pull the left ones or the right ones. *kapow*! Before the dps has time to ponder, second guess, get bored, or pull themselves the tank has already decided on a path and a plan and put that plan into effect.

Yes, in WOW it is possible for a tank to be extremely slow and deliberate. You can set up every pull with carful precision and deliberateness and try to make it so you never have to react quickly to anything. You can also mercilessly kick anyone that upsets the balance even a little. But that does not make you a better tank.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying carful pulls are a sign of a bad tank. I am also not saying that all good tanks set a high speed pace. NOT AT ALL.

A good tank decides quickly and acts confidently no matter what the paces is. There are always adds, or fears, or unexpected events to react to. A good tank should endeavor to learn fast and confident decision making to enhance their abilities. This does not always mean charging ahead. But if you are stopping for mana, you can say “mana!” or “30 second break” in chat and you can do it fast an confident without standing around for 20 seconds agonizing over if the healer has enough for another pull while the DPS wonders if you are DCed. Same thing with pulls. You don’t have to charge in fast, but you can’t just stand there for 1 minute while considering all the angles with the DPS thinking you are walking the dog. If you need a second, quickly and confidently say “give me a second”.

Aura of Confidence

Along with just deciding the fast you are projecting to your party the aura that you are confident and know what you are doing. Even when you don’t know, project it anyway. Even if you are asking for advice on a pull or asking to be reminded of what a boss does. Even asking for help can be done in a confident and timely manner. People can usually respect a brain fart and a quick ‘what does this guy do again?’ Those same people are unlikely to respect 2 minutes of ‘er, um’ and ‘let me check my notes’ before finally asking the same thing. The key is to make people think you know what you are doing. Not through lying but thorough an aura of confidence and competence. Even when you are admitting you have no clue you can do it in a way that shows them you are CONFIDENT you have no clue. Don’t lie about not knowing and blow their trust. Be honest but project confidence. As I said, even asking for advice can be done in a leadership fashion. Observe the following two methods.

A: “Ah, I have never tanked this one… does anyone know it? Anyone?” (someone else comments) “Er does that work? Are you sure? Anyone else have an idea?”

B: “Alright guys this boss is a new one to me. Does anyone have a good strat?” (insert comments) “Ok sounds good. We will do that. Lets go! Pulling in 10 seconds”

See the difference? How did each make you feel about the group and the likelihood of success?

Communication

Communicate clearly and unambiguously. Don’t make them go ‘what?’ If you handout advice, instructions, or strategies don’t make them have to figure out what you meant. They should not have to guess what bush you are beating around by the sound of the branches. Tell them what you mean. Tell them what you want them to do. Tell them clearly what YOU are going to do. You don’t have to be a jerk about things to be firm and clearly state what you mean.

 Tanking is a leadership role. Almost everything written about leadership applies to tanking in some way or another.

Final note on Pacing versus Decision Making

The pace you set and the speed you decide are not the same. Not the same but they are closely related. One of the reasons we are seeing so many overly fast tanks is that they can go fast. Not because they are any good, but because the over gearing and dumbing down of content has made it so that most tanks can just charge in, hammer their aoes and expect the fight to go well. They can set a fast pace because they have almost nothing to decide. The same goes for impatient DPS. They can act fast because they have nothing to think about of figure out beyond who to put an arrow in first or which one to beat on next. That takes no time or actual thinking so they can plow ahead at an unsustainable pace.

Each tank will have to find their own ways of slowing people down. I usually do it by setting pace that is either flat out insane, or simply setting one that is just fast enough to prevent boredom and the stupidity that follows. You may be finding people pushing you or making your tanking life miserable by doing dumb things. Keep in mind that if you push yourself a little harder things might actually get easier. Once you get your decision making loop ‘inside’ your dpsers, or set a pace just fast enough to not let them get bored, you will find the random stupidity starts to decrease and things get smoother and easier.

Finally, setting a slower more careful pace can be a crutch for slow deciding but that is not at all 1 to 1 correlation. Also that is not to be confused with running content with a sub optimal group just to add challenge. This slows things down by forcing more complicated and difficult decisions. It can be fun and rewarding.

Cataclysm…

It might be a nightmare at first. Forcing people to use CC (as they have said will happen more) means fights are going to be harder and more complicated. Tanks will have to do more than just AOE spam. Also healers are going to have to get better at triage instead of just ‘topping people off’. All this means instances runs may well be a rude awakening for many. Personally I am hoping for it. I am hoping it will blow away the current level of stagnation in randoms and get people think more and do more. I only hope that overgeared morons will not be able to steamroll their way to 85. I want to see them slam hard into the wall and learn to play again.

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I already talked about multi-pulls. Chain pulls are different. Multi pulls involve pulling and downing multiple packs at the same time. Chain pulling, in a nutshell, is minimizing the time between pulls. This might be simply charging the next group as soon as one is down or it might mean actually leaving a pack mostly dead for the DPS to finish off while you head for the next group. So in chain pulls you are doing one pull at a time but doing them back to back. The challenges and issues of chain pulling are different from multi pulls.

You are only fighting one pack at a time so each fight involves less incoming damage for you the tank. This means they are in theory, easier to heal. But in fact the hardest thing about chain pulling is how hard it is on the healer, or more specifically, how hard it is on the healer’s mana pool. Because you are allowing no time for anyone to rest of drink the mana pool either has to be improbably huge, or the healer has to be extremely good at conserving it (possibly by being hugely geared), or you have to require almost no healing. The last way that a healer’s mana can survive a chain pulling run is by the DPS killing things very fast. Let’s look at each of those.

Healer mana pool

You, the tank, can’t actually effect how big the healers mana pool is, but you can monitor it and actually stop as needed. If you think you are good enough to run something at super speed then you can prove it by being good enough to pay attention to the healer’s mana. The level of mana at the end of a fight is the healers problem to deal with. The level of mana the healer has when the next fight starts is YOUR problem. Anyone that chain pulls and then complains when an OOM healer lets them die needs to respect from tanking and NEVER tank again. Seriously. Do us all a favor. Are they gone yet? Good. If you are still reading I am going to assume you are not a jerk or a moron and you want to actually be able to do fast chain pulling runs that don’t involve whining while running back from the graveyard. If this is the case you need to take a few steps.

I am talking about steps YOU the TANK have to take. Things the other roles have to do are different.

Own your healer’s mana pool

That is right. His/her mana is your problem. Treat it as such. If you panic the healer and they waste mana that is your mistake. If they forget to drink or are too scared to for fear you might run off, that is your problem.

Make it clear from the start it will be a fast run. Feel free to say it in /party. While you are at it tell the casters and healers that if they need mana to let you know. This will put them at ease about your frantic place and make them more likely to actually stop and drink when you pause and give them the chance. If you notice them getting low during the run, pause and suggest they drink. Monitor how much their mana goes down after each fight. This is useful information. If they have 1/3 of their total does that mean you can take on another group? It might.. after a few pulls you should KNOW because you should be paying attention. Their mana is your healing. Treat it with care.

Adjust your cooldown strategy

On the multi-pull runs I described you are using cooldowns first to survive big hits and only second as a way to save your healers mana. On a chain-pull run your cooldowns are there to save your healer’s mana. It is also good to keep one or two in reserve if you expect to chare out of your healers healing range. But, mostly your cooldowns should be used to make it so you don’t actually need to be healed at all. Even a poorly geared healer can keep you topped off is you are well equipped and using your cool downs effectively.

Also do all you can to reduce the AOE damage your party takes. Sure it is their fault if they stand in the fire, but you are hear for a fast run. A fast run requires they not die and the healer not go OOM keeping their fire standing butt alive. So shift bosses, stun casters, use your aoe debuffs and generally do all you can to reduce AOE damage. Also pop a cooldown of your own when AOE damage is happening. If the healer does not have to worry about you they can be more efficient with what they use to heal the DPSers.

Kill Fast

There is one thing that does the most to make fast runs fast as well as keep the mana of all involved from running out. That thing is mad crazy DPS. You need groups to die fast and hard. As a tank you can help. Round up groups nice and fast into tight packs and then hold them in place through all AOEs. Don’t drag the groups after you to get to the next group faster. This will only slow things down because your DPSers will not be able to AOE effectively.

There are tricks you can use if your group is doing such mad crazy DPS that you can’t actually hold agro. Learn those tricks and use them. One big one is to use your AOE forces attack with optimal timing. AOE stuns and slows are also effective. It does not matter if your DPS pulled agro if everything dies a half second later.

If anyone is doing something that is slowing things down, let them know. For example using typhoon and blowing things out of the AOE area. Let the boomkin know that that is actually slowing the run down. If you think they are too trigger happy to stop using it ask them to use it only at the tail end of a fight.

Multi pulling, chain pulling or a little of both

In many high speed runs these days you are likely to mix the back to back ‘chain pull’ with a true multi pull when you do more than one group at once. This works well but it is still important to understand the differences between them. Otherwise you will be moving at a brisk pace and then be surprised when you suddenly wipe due to an extra pack or two. The trick is to set a brisk pace but to still have it be a deliberate pace that you control. You have to know your limits. Push them but don’t ignore them.

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One of the tanks jobs is to control the battlespace. This means several things. It means you pick when and where the battle takes place. It also means you control or attempt to control where and how the battle moves and progresses.

The concept of controlling the battlespace comes from military parlance. The methods and reasons are completely different but the general concept is the same. By picking where and how the battle is fought you increase or decrease your chances of winning. Picking well can cause a battle to be ‘easy’ and picking poorly or not exerting control at all can cause the battle to be sloppy at best and a wipe at worst.

Picking and Positioning the Battlespace

The first part of controlling the battle space is deciding where the battle happens. If the battle will involve movement this is picking where it starts. The shape of the ‘pull’ is the major determiner of where the battle starts.

First I want to comment on aggro range. The aggro range of a pack is actually the area of all of the members.

Here is a pack.

Here are the members of the pack.

And here are all their agro ranges.

But that is too much so we just combined them and approximate it as a circle.

From now on I will just use it like this.

Picking the battle ground

Now we bring in the tank.

Let’s take the most basic sort of pull. Move toward the enemy until they see you and attack. You can easily predict where this fight will start. Take agro range of the pack and divide it in half. Follow your line of movement from the edge of their agro range. Half roughly half the distance to them is where you will first get hit.

This is obvious but important. Here the tank moves in to the group. The group spots him and comes to meet him. Whether the tank meant to or not he has moved the fight.

The distance the group moved to meet the tank relocated where the fight was going to happen. It is only a small distance but it is a change.

As tank you should be aware of such small changes and what effect they might have on the fight. Now what if instead the tank had used a charge (bear or warrior).

Notice that the targets only moved from where they were over to the one the tank charged. Everyone KNOWS this stuff, right? Yes but it is critically important that the tank realize they, by choosing how to start the fight have chose to hold the fight at a specific place. A tank that just charges because it is ‘the way warriors start a fight’ is completely failing to see that there are other options. Fighting the fight where your charge target is standing might not be the best plan. Then again it might work just fine but you need to know you are making a decision about the fights location.

Here is another one.

This tank used a ranged move, a taunt, an attack, even death grip. It does not matter which in this case. We are just looking at the fight location. An this time the location is moved much farther. By simply using his favorite pull move the tank has decided to move the fight a long way.

Even if they did not intend to make such a decision, they did. One of the main uses for doing different kinds of pulls is to actively decide to hold the fight in different places.

There are a lot of reasons to chose to fight the fight some place different than where the pack is standing. Perhaps they fear and are close to something else. Maybe your rogue is planning to get behind them and the next group is awfully close. Moving the fight, even slightly, can give the rogue room to do optimal damage.

It is very important to understand that the way you chose to pull sets up the location and the shape of the space you will be fighting in.

Moving a fight

The act of pulling can do a certain amount to relocate the fight. To do more drastic ‘relocating’ you need to move the fight after that initial moment contact. Moving the fight after it starts is harder but still something you can do. Mainly you just do it by moving yourself and having the pack follow. The reasons for doing this are much like the other ones. Maybe you realized you should have pulled them back more. Or maybe you just spotted a patrol.

There are risks involved with this. One is that you might break LOS with the healer. Another is you might move out from under some nice AOEs and waste the DPSers time and energy to retarget. However, biggest risk is that while you are moving you will stop doing part or all of your threat rotation. This can cause you to drop agro on something. There are other risk too like getting a whirlwinding mob too close to a clothie.

Moving a fight is to be avoided for those reasons but is often necessary. As the tank you need to be ready and willing to move the fight when needed.

But there is something else you also need to be aware. That is the times you move the fight as a reaction. Those are the times you did NOT mean to move it. When someone pulls agro off you and you go chasing to get that agro back you are moving the fight. All the risks of moving the fight listed above and the others I didn’t all apply when the fight moves. It does not matter if you meant to move it or not.

So be aware of your actions and choices. As you start paying attention to choices you did not know you were making you may start to see that there are other options.

Orienting a fight

Orienting a fight is one of the things you do after a fight starts to position the targets or your party (or both) in the way you want them or need them to be positioned. This is usually done as a reaction to something the target pack or party are doing or in anticipation of something they will be doing.

Turn the boss around

The most common reorient move is to face the target away from the party. Many critters do some sort of aoe attack in front of them. This can be anything from chain lightening to poison sprays. If you even suspect a target is going to do something like that you should face them away from the group.

The simple way to do this is to move past the target and spin around.

I move and then they move and then I move and they move again! Stop them already!

This is a well known bug. Every time you adjust your position the target moves somewhere you don’t want them and you have to adjust again. This is because they are reacting as if, when you move, you are going to KEEP moving. They, for an instant think you are taking off running. So before the your game client can tell the server you have stopped moving, the critter moves to follow you. Because of internet lag this makes it look as if they are moving after you have already stopped. They really aren’t but an instant of lag makes it look that way.

Yes there IS a way to break this vicious cycle. Move sideways! Use your strafe keys and right click mouse drag to sidle around the target like a crab.

The target might step sideways to match you but you have still turned them away from the party. Because you are rotating the target as you go they don’t just jump past you and turn back around.

Turning things in the direction you want is the most comment way you reorient things. Other times you turn things is when you are simply repositioning them but don’t want to move too far in a certain direction. For example if you are moving a fight off the patch of poison or bad mojo but don’t want to drag the fight into the next pack. At times like that you might move them in a circular pattern or run past to drag them in some other direction.

Remember, while it is the DPS’s job to stay out of the fire it is your job to move the target to where they can attack it without being in the fire. You have to give them space to do their job.

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This will be a very basic introduction to raid tanking. Although a tank is often the raid leader this will not be about leading raids. The assumption here is that someone else is leading things and you are either main tanking or off tank.

Before you do anything else go get a raid boss addon, like Deadly Boss Mods. You can’t tank a real raid without one so don’t even consider it. You can probably tank most of the weekly raids without it… but go get it anyway.

First off…

Know the Fight!

This is totally critical. You must know what to expect. If you have done it as a DPS or healer don’t assume you know what you need to do. There are mechanics bosses do that no one but the tanks cares about so don’t think you know the fight if you have not tanked it. Go watch a video, read a guide or just plain ask lots of questions. Better yet, do all three. If you are not 110% clear on what you need to do, ask again. This is not a pug where asking questions is cause for mocking and kicking. Let me say that again…

RAIDS ARE NOT PUGS

Don’t assume you can just be mute and stumble though it and things will go well. That will not happen. There are things you need to know and there is communication that needs to take place. The standard social conventions of a 5man to NOT apply to a raid. If you don’t know something you are expected to ask. If you don’t ask and your ignorance causes a wipe you can expect the group will kick you out the door with their epic boots.

Basic Raid tank concepts.

There are a lot of different encounters with a variety of mechanics. You will learn those over time. But there are a few concepts you 100% must understand or you will fail and fail hard. These are widely used in boss fights and therefore must be well understood.

Cleave

When someone says a boss cleaves this means there is some move or moves that hit more than one target. It usually hits two targets. The way to deal with this is to have all tanks stand in front of the target and everyone else stand behind. THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL! This must be done. Many bosses can one-shot tanks if another tank is not standing next to him. This is because if only one target is in front of the boss the whole cleave damage hits that target. If there are two the cleave is split between them and both live. These fights are DESIGNED to require two tanks. The main thing people will tell you to do when cleave is in the picture is…

Stack on X

Or skull or star or whatever. When you are instructed to stack on a particular raid mark that does not mean be within shouting distance or to be sort of kind of near them. It means gets so close to their butt that it is illegal in 23 states. It means super glue your hip to theirs. Sometimes stacking is temporary until a phase is past or an effect goes off. When this is the case you need to stack FAST when it is time to stack and unstack when the time for it is over. Anytime someone talks about stacking in a raid it is IMPORTANT and you need to do it when they say to do it and not do it when they say to move away. It is not a suggestion, hint or gentle recommendation. It is an ORDER. You are expected to follow it or leave the raid. If you can’t handle that concept go back to pugs and give bloggers more fail-pug stories to write about.

Taunt swapping.

This is a very critical tanking concept. The way you will hear it will be something like ‘taunt on 3 stacks’ or ‘taunt when you get the mark’. Here is why. In many fights there are mechanics where the boss absolutely has to switch his aggro between the tanks at critical moments. There are a lot of reasons for it. Sometimes it is a debuff that reduces that tank’s healing received or sometimes it is a mark that gives the boss power. The why does not matter. What matters are these following steps…

Know when you are suppose to taunt.

Be clear on just what mark or debuff it is and how many stacks you taunt on. Don’t rely on the other tank to tell you in vent. KNOW YOUR JOB. If you wait for the vent command it might be too late. If someone has to tell you ‘taunt now’ in vent there is an unspoken ‘you slacker moron’ on the end of ‘taunt now’. Know when to taunt and do it before they tell you to.

Do NOT taunt ANY other time.

Don’t taunt when you already have aggro. That causes taunt immunity and is a waste of a GCD. Don’t taunt when it is not your turn. That can literally wipe the raid. That is right. Your taunt button can be a one button ‘kill everyone’ key in some fights. Be careful with it!

That is the short short version of starting in on raid tanking. There is a lot more to it. But, if you can’t handle the concepts of taunt swapping, stacking on the other tank, and following orders you should just save 9 or 24 other people the repair costs and stay away. There are lots of other things to learn so be willing to look things up and learn fights. Be ready to try different tactics and not just do something because you saw it done that way one time. There are a lot of other good raid tanking resources out there so go find them. This was intended to simply be basic transition information for someone who has never done any sort of multi tank fight.

If you don’t know, ask.

People are far less having to give an explanation than they are by wiping. And trust me, you NEED the explanation. These are not fights you can just get through on luck and instinct. They are tricks and traps that you need to respond to. So ask as many questions as you need to. Don’t worry about looking dumb. Worry about getting kicked if you don’t speak up and everyone figures out you don’t know the fight when they are dead on the floor. People are more forgiving of learning tanks if you TELL them you are learning in advance.

Other raid tips…

Expect to wipe.

Wipes happen. Wipes can happen many times. This is not a 5 man where if you die to a boss 2 or 4 times you drop group and don’t look back. Raiding is a whole different dynamic. You might die to a boss many times before downing him. But as a raider you should be ready to go the distance. You should be ready to buff back up, learn from your mistakes and try again.

Speaking of mistakes…

Take criticism.

If you can’t handle having someone tell you just how dumb you are then you should not raid. Think of such people as drill instructors. They are getting in your face and cutting you down to size so that you straighten up, follow the leader’s orders, and get the job done. They don’t do it for you to cry, shout, argue, or drop group and spend all evening bad mouthing them in /trade. If you messed up face up to it, take your licks and your verbal abuse and learn from it. Sometimes it is not pretty. There is very little room for error in a raid fight so raiders can’t afford to let repeated mistakes go unanswered. They might say mean and unfair things. Downing the boss is worth it! Learning from your mistakes and becoming a better player is worth it. Thank them for their help, ask what you can do different and be willing to learn. Do that and you will find you get a lot more invites and a generally better attitude from your leaders. If you try to argue with them or just storm out of the group in a huff, don’t expect them to have sympathy. They worked hard and learned from their mistakes to get as good as they are. So they don’t have a lot of patience for people that are not also willing to work hard and learn from mistakes.

Willingness to try hard and learn something WILL earn their respect. Remember, when you wipe they are mad about failing and they are taking that out on your. The way to get out of the line of fire is to not be the weak link. Let them vent and then try to learn something. Arguing or being stubborn is a waste of time. Raids are srs bizns to many people. In the event that they are jerks AND morons you can still be quite, learn what you can, and take that learning to a new raid group next time.

Raids are challenging and rewarding. Good luck and have fun.

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Like the previous Old Kingdom post I will do this completely from memory. Unlike the other post I will not do it ‘pull by pull’. This one will use more of the ‘yeeeehaaaa! Everyone diiiiies!!’ strategy of pulling.

Nexus is actually a bad one for multi pulls. It is bad because there are plenty of groups you can’t really move. I will cover those… a screw-it, no talky, gogogo

Pull 1: I need just enough time to pop thorns , GotW, bearform, enrage, and hopefully by now I am in range of the first pull. This one makes my bear cry. The reason is that there is just ONE target… AND it is far too far from any other group to do as a multi pull. I know, I have tried… it just is not worth it. (healer’s thoughts: oh noez it is one of THOSE tanks!)

Pull 2: With any luck the dog and guy spiral ramp patrol is near the bottom. This makes it easy to drag them into the first of the frozen guys. While you are at it grab a few more. (healer’s thoughts: that was not so bad.. where is he going? Oh ****!)

Pull 3: If you accidentally drop that first few frozen guys before you round up the next you will have to make up for it by pulling the boss with the group before or after or both. This is some of the nastiest multi pulling anywhere. Those archers are shooting multi shots at people; turn them around. The boss is whirlwinding; move him off your clothies. The clerics are healing; interrupt them. You healer is going into cardiac arrest; find your gnomish army knife. (healer thoughts: aaaiiiiieeeeee!!!! *urk*)

Pull 4: Finish off pulling the rest of the frozen guys and the next dog and guy ramp patrol. That is assuming you messed up and left any alive after your last ‘pull’. Now is a good time to check and see if your healer has dropped group. I have lost them about here at least once. If they have not dropped they are probably drinking and chanting ‘I can’t believe we are alive’. Make sure you get to the top of the ramp before he has time to type ‘wait’. (healer thought: waaaaiiit!)

Pull 5 Boss: These packs of 4 are great because they are all melee. Be certain to round up the first pack and then run for the next one. If the ramp patrol was at the top of the ramp you might want to only do that and the first pack. If so hang your head in shame. You can at least pull one pack with the boss and make up for your lameness. If you already got the pat charge for the second pack with the first and then pull the boss with those two packs. This boss is fun because you get to time your AOE hits while getting tossed around the room.  (Healer thought: O.O)

Pull 6: If the pat is at the top of the ramp you might have to do it by itself (/cry). (healer thought: We lived! wow… this is not so bad)

Pull 7: Make up for that lame pull by pulling through first platform and onto the second one. The first one has no rift, making this pull possible. You are probably going to drop the first caster though. Don’t worry too much. That one slow witted DPSer will probably solo it before noticing you are on the next platform fighting 7 guys. (healer thought: surely he can’t do anything too crazy here… where did the tank go?)

Pull 8: Jump off and kill the pack there. These guys are annoying to move around so just single pull them (/pout). But hey, with any luck the hunter’s pet will bring some more when it round around the long way.

Pull 9: You CAN pull this group up to the boss and do both. Having done it I don’t recommend it. Not because it is hard, but it usually slows down the boss fight. Plus you can’t move the rift so that is nasty. If you must you might consider getting the boss and dragging it back to the rift. Because you are insane to still be reading I will assume you did this and go right to the next.

Pull 10: Run though the pack below the platform and run up to the last one with a rift. That one you ran though has casters and so does the next one so this will be slightly tricky.

Pull 11-12: How far can you get before stopping to AOE them down? Those little saplings are annoying and the DPS insist on stumbling into random trees and dryads. With luck you can clear the ankle biter gauntlet with just two distinct fights. (healer thought: I had mana once. It was nice)

Pull 13: Of course you pull the last pack into the big elemental boss. Weeee! Ice makes a fun ride. The last time I did this we had two dps down and it sure was a long fight.

Pull 14: Run up the tunnel, jump down, engage, and drag that pack past the last Ancient. You can avoid him by hugging the wall. It saves a second or two. Make up for that cowardice by pulling a dragon patrol or two.

Pull 15: Naturally you are going to do the final dragon boss and the add near her at the same time (duh). Don’t let your healer’s whining or the out of breath panting of the DPS distract you from jumping up and down. That ice debuff still hurts.

Do all that right and your party will be in awe. Do it wrong and they will be blogging about your epic fail status.

Yes, I have done every one of these pulls. I did most of them yesterday.

Analogue says: please, please, for the love of God and all things holy, don’t listen to him, baby tanks! I think I need to stage an intervention here…

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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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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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