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.