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I was recently running a UK run on my 69 (now 70) warrior. We had a frost mage in the group. He was speced to make just about everything he cast do a ‘nova’ type effect and freeze things in place. I mentioned he should avoid using nova. In response I got called some names. He kept saying that if I could hold aggro it did not matter and that nova was ‘what mages DO’. He also insisted that on his tank and his 7 levels 80s (yeah right) he had NEVER heard a tank ask for a mage to not use frost nova. If that is true (i doubt it) there is a serious lack of communication going on out there. I decided my next installment needs to be targeted at this particular gap.

This post is aimed specifically at Ranged DPS, though other roles may benefit from it.

As you all know tanks do threat to keep aggro. The more threat they do the more likely they are to hold the attention (aggro) of the pack in question. Tanks do threat to the pack in several ways. Primarily they hit them and get a chunk of aggro equal to their damage done times some multiplier depending on their spec and class. This threat is applied only to the target they are hitting . They also have some abilities which do melee hits on more than one target, usually 2. This means some of the other critters in the pack get threat applied to them also. All classes of tank also have various things that do AOE threat. These moves are have 8 yard radius for Pally and Bear, 20 yard radius (but less threat per second) and 30 or so for things like death and decay. There are a few other moves tanks use for AOE threat but these are the main ones (DK do more other things that don’t have a strict radius (honestly I don’t know a lot about DK moves)). This means that anything within that range of a tank is probably getting some threat. Outside of strict melee (point blank) and this aoe radius, tanks have very few ways to generate threat. There are a few, but compared to the damage that a hit from a ranged DPS, the other tricks don’t amount to anything. So this leaves taunts.

A taunt works a very specific way. It takes the top person on the threat list and gives the tank that much threat. Taunts also force the target to attack the tank. What does this mean to you the RDPS?

Let’s get to some situations you are likely to see. When a creature is in the melee around the tank you have to do 130% of the tank’s threat to get that critter to attack you. Below 130% and it will stay on the tank. Above 130% and you are now that thing’s worst enemy and it will do anything to come and get you. Once the creature turns to come get you the tank has a very tiny window to use a melee ability before that creature is out of melee range. Even if the tank IS able to hit it with a melee move they would have to do 40% more threat instantly to grab aggro back. This is the 30% you beat them by and then the 10% melee range threat buffer.

You see, while you have to do 130% to pull off a tank from caster range, it only takes 110% to pull off a tank in melee range. That is melee range to the creature, not to the tank. That is the melee range threat buffer.

So it would take 130% more threat for the tank to catch up with you and then 10% more for him to out threat you and reclaim aggro… and that is just that first instant. A moment later the critter has passed out of the tank’s melee range and is headed your way. Now to ‘out threat’ you the tank will have to hit it with 30% more threat than you (160% of where he was when you pulled off ago). Which pretty much means he has to taunt it. Either that or he has to run after the critter, and hit it enough times to make up all that threat.

For discussion’s sake let us say the critter gets all the way to you and then the tank taunts. Now that this moment the tank has the exactly same aggro as you. He also has the creatures attention. The creature will turn and head toward the tank. If you continue to attack that creature you will only have to do 10% more threat to pull it off the tank. And is taunt is on cooldown. Hence this is a very critical window when you must do something difficult and complicated. That thing that you must do is this: STOP SHOOTTING THAT ONE!!!

Have I fully explained why that is? Is it completely clear that the tank can’t do much more after he taunts and must rely on that creature coming back into his melee range? Well there is one thing.. Lets see what that looks like, shall we? Let us say that you keep shooting that one. Now you blow past that 10% and you are once again getting beat on by that critter. What are the tanks options. Keep in mind he already had to rotate his camera around, find where that guy ran too, select the moving target, and fire his taunt. A good tank can do all that pretty fast, but that ‘pretty fast’ is still a distraction from what he had been doing. While he was doing all that he was NOT continuing to apply threat moves to the targets around him. Now maybe it only took one, or two global cooldowns, not a big amount of time, but it still was a distraction.

Back to his options after you agro through his taunt.. Some tanks might have death grip, charge or another taunt (pallys have two ranged taunts). If he has to taunt again he is still back where he was a moment ago, relying on you to change targets. Even worse if he charges or runs over to get them off you the hard way he/she is risking all the other creatures he was tanking pulling off and attacking other party members. Every moment you are distracting the tank is a moment where the healer or another DPS might pulls something off.

So you absolutely must change targets or that one you pulled had better be very very close to dead.

What else can you do during all this that would really annoy the tank? Frost nova. What did that do? Now you have a critter that is completely stuck and unable to run back to the tank. Even if the tank taunts the critter is stuck. Best case here is the tank taunts, and you change targets and the creature is safely back ‘on’ the tank even though it is stuck. But, the tank might not KNOW it is back on him. It is hard to tell when they are stuck over there. So it is still a source of distraction for your tank.

Here is the part that is worse. A creature stuck in place, able to hit things, but unable to reach the top target on its threat table, will attack anything it can reach. If you fail to move away from the nova the creature will still hit you, even after the tank taunts it ‘off’ you. Even if you DO move it can still hit anyone that was near you. Which might include a healer or another ranged DPS.

“Oh,” You say. “But they only have to move away too.” Sure. But do they notice? How many hits can a healer take? Is the healer too concerned with keeping the tank alive, or saving that rogue over there standing in the fire? She might not SEE the nova-ed thing next to her. A healer’s biggest enemy is tunnel vision on the health bars. It is quite often that a healer can see nothing else. The health bars are their whole world. Plus even if the healer DOES notice and moves away that movement might have interrupted a important cast that was going to save someone.

All of this about Frost Nova also goes for things like earth bind totem. It goes for any move that holds things in place but does not stop their attacks.  Those moves are only intended to keep things OFF you. In a party that is the tank’s job, not yours. And those moves interfere with the tank doing that job. It is not a wash or a nitpick to rail against that. Anything that you do to make the tanks job harder is endangering the whole party.

Just be cause you have a move does not mean it is a good idea to use it in instances.

One of the the tanks roles is to position the battle. They chose where the battle takes place and, if needed, they move the battle around (for example to avoid a patrol or to shift the boss off the fire). Anything that interferes with this must be used with caution or not at all. Typhoon and Thunderstorm are problems here too. They seriously disrupt the tanks ability to position and move the group and they blow things completely out of the tank’s AOE threat radius. While they are nifty and fun moves they have only a very VERY limited use in instances and should be avoided in most cases. THIS IS NOT TRIVIAL. The tank is not just whining and being a douche for complaining about it. These things make his/her job a lot harder. Just because a few tanks were overly nice and did not complain in the past does not mean most tanks are not annoyed by these moves. For example part of my warrior’s opening rotation is to align the pack into the cone in front of me and then use shockwave. It really hampers things, wastes a cooldown, and risks pulling stuff off me if someone typhoons at the start of a fight. This blows all of them out of my shockwave target area and ensures my next thunderclap will not hit them all.

Yes, most of the time using one of these will not wipe a group or even cause a big problem. That does not mean you should use them. And it does not meant a tank is being whiny to complain about you using them.

If all of this was too confusing click here.


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Did I get your attention? Well this is not exactly what I used to think of blogging but it is close. Sure I knew there was some good ones out there. Some people wrote guides… but that was not really blogging was it? And some people would do some good (IRL) news or investigative reporting. But a whole bunch of people whose hobby was to post their thoughts on the internet as if someone actually cared? And there were people that made a habit to actually read them? What a waste of time!

On the flip side I was active at posting on various forums…. Heh.

So a few months back my wife suggests a WOW blog. Since I am actually a pretty big egotist I figured it might be fun to grace the masses with my amazing wit and wisdom. Starting the blog and then networking on it completely changed my view on things. Oh, by that point I was more open minded about them anyway. But it was still eye opening. So what did I discover?

Blogs are a slow moving forum inhabited by people that can actually write and think (mostly)

And, depending on how you set up your blog-roll you can tailor your ‘forum’ to be personalized with only posters you think are interesting and have something to contribute. Sweet eh? Of course since you are reading this you already knew that.

So here we are a few months later with lots of content and a couple people that sometimes read things. I am not sure we don’t have too much content… so most people just run more than one blog to break up topics? We have three series and a comic series going… And I am thinking about more. So far there is a series on tanking I am having a lot of fun with. Not going to link it in-line, the links are on the right.–>

I still have several more Tank 101 posts planned and more that probably will spawn.
Analogue also has one on healing and we both have done some for the pairs leveling series (need more in that one).

Since most of our series are guide oriented it seems lame, and pretentious, to spawn them off as their own blog. I would rather just have too many posts here.

So my newest idea is a series on wiping… Er, you know, in instances. I am not sure what I am going to call it yet. “Legends of the Fail” might be a bit much. “Why is my screen all black and white?” is probably too long (yeah I heard that in chat once). “The anatomy of a wipe” could be bad for the google search hits… So I am still not sure what to name it. It will be all about the ways a group dies. There are not as many as you might think.

Meanwhile I resolve to have more personal story posts. I keep finding myself saying to my wife ‘you should blog that’.

This post would be more suited for a bloggerversary but since we don’t have one of those anytime soon I just thought I would post it anyway. Thanks for clicking, we are not going anywhere for a while.

Oh, and the comics will keep coming. They are too much fun to do.

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That is what I heard after an AN run. So there was this hunter who was managing pull off me quite a lot. The worst was where he pulled the final boss off me just as he was about to cast pound. So it would turn towards the hunter and cast it right into a melee DPS. Now for all you DPS out there that think that is the tanks fault think again. We only can do so much threat, there is a limit. Beyond that there is only skillful use of taunts and forced attacks. And beyond that there is nothing. So when I am doing 1500 dps (my under geared new bear, not Reversion) and you are doing 3600, over half of which is crits, then sooner or later you will pull off me. And if you do it right before he starts channeling which makes him ignore taunts (or at least not turn around until the channel is over) then there is not a darn thing I can do about it.
I called the guy on it at the end saying he should MD and FD more. His response? “I only MD, learn to hold agro”. Of course he dropped group right after so he did not have time to learn more about his stupidity. There are two problems with that statement. The first is that MDing once at the start of a fight is not ‘using MD’. That is just sort of a nod in the general direction of MD when it comes to boss fights. Second if the tank is holding agro almost all the time, even if there is something more about agro he needs to learn, he is getting the job done. Which means it is up to the DPS to do their part after that. What you have to do is manage your threat. Just throwing MD at the start of a fight is no more managing your threat then just simply owning a savings account is managing your money. It is a necessary start but nothing more. If you don’t know how to manage your own threat beyond that, then you need to go learn. Maybe I will do a post on that some time. But for HUNTERS it is so stupid simple that the very idea of some hunter not doing it and then blaming the tank really burns me.
Step one: Macro MD
Write a macro that says this: /cast [target=focus] Misdirection
With this all you have to do at the start of an instance is focus the tank. Next go download Omen and use it. When you get high on the threat list, use MD again.If you are even close to pulling off the tank hit your FD. That is it. A level 80 hunter should never be telling a tank to hold threat, even one with tissue and bubble wrap for gear. Other class have their own versions of that.

There are a lot of bad tanks out there. But if you are not an expert in your classes threat reduction skills and you seem to get more bad tanks than you think is possible… maybe the answer is not in the tanks. I had to instruct a mage the other day that his mirror images don’t do EXTRA threat. He was avoiding using them. They actually split up your threat and are therefore it is a really nice ‘dump’ skill. Every class has stuff like that but it seems most people would rather blame the tank than play their own class well. This is akin to ramming other cars on the road when they cut you off. It is a lot better to accept that other people do that and if you want lower repair bills you learn to use the brakes.

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Dear Level 60 DK tank hopefuls:

Please open your talent book. Look at the rightmost talent on the first tier of each spec. (Blade Barrier, Toughness, and Anticipation). Do you have five point in each of these? Good, then you may continue to try to tank.

You don’t, because you’ve put all 51 points into Frost because you’ve heard that’s the tanking tree? Sorry, wrong answer! These talents are absolutely vital to surviving at low levels. Your healer will love you if you have them. If you don’t, then I hope you know how to get back from the GY.

Healers working through these levels, now you know what to look for too. Rightmost talent at the first level of each tree. 5 points. Feel free to tell them they’re doing it wrong if it’s not there.

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3-Manning Oculus

This just happened over lunch:

So Reversion and I get on our mains to run a quick instance over lunch. Instaqueue, as usual, and we get the Oculus loading screen. No problem, we actually like Oculus and the extra rewards are just icing on the cake.

As soon as we get there, one guy drops, instantly. We move forward, Reversion re-queueing us, and then realize, halfway through the first fight, that one of the two remaining dps has “dc’d”. Yeah sure. We have to vote kick him. We get two more dps, one of whom instantly drops. Right about then is when I notice that the paladin, the one who has been there this whole time, is doing 400 dps and getting into fights really slowly. He also refuses to select a role, so we can’t get another guy to replace the most recently dropped one.

I ask him to please select a role. Nothing.I check his gear; mostly 200 blues, respectable gear that he should be able to get at least 1k dps out of, and since he’s used all of three abilities in his “rotation”, I am pretty sure he’s slacking. (Also; no Blessings, and no Aura up. After the instance I checked Recount; he used Crusader Strike and Consecration. That was it.) I point out that we could use the extra help  from another person since he’s not contributing much, this after three failed tries to get us re-queued, without him saying why he was declining the role check.

We get no response. Not a “yeah whatever”, not an “Ok”, not even a “Screw you guys”. Nothing. So I go to vote to kick him so that we can maybe get a full party – and it says we can’t remove any more players.

Oops. I guess the dc’d guy was our one kick of the instance. Argh. The mage – who came in after we kicked the dc’d guy – tries, and he can’t either. We continue on. The paladin shows up halfway through the first boss fight and promptly dies. Yes, I was not healing him; I was hoping he’d take a hint and leave. He didn’t. After the fight he released and came in and – did nothing.

No, the three of us got dragons, went on, cleared the instance, and this guy sat there at the dragon platform. He didn’t even get to roll on loot since he was too far away, but he sat there, silently, the whole time.

I don’t know if he got badges – there was no way for me to check. Maybe he did. Either way I thought it was an insanely spiteful waste of time. Guess he disagreed though.

Shoutout to Kazaratfh of Auchindoun, an awesome mage who performed flawless, put out great dps even though he “only” had a gearscore around 4800, didn’t pull off the tank, and stopped frost nova-ing when we asked.

(Quick recap: we had three different dps drop or ‘dc’ as soon as they saw it was Oculus, one guy refused to do anything, and one guy who worked his heart out. I think the Oculus problem is getting worse. Here’s to the half-hour deserter debuff.)

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The Addons We Need

(Warning: Written while sitting on the couch in extreme pain from throwing out my back. May not be very happy friendly lets-play-nice-children-esque)

GearScorePlus – when you mouse over a character you get a tooltip that shows how many incorrect gemming and enchanting choices they’ve made.  Will auto-initiate a kick vote for any DK with a spellpower enhancement. An extension, GearBusted, will warn me when a dpser zones into a dungeon with armor that’s below 50% repaired. I hate when the hunter dies (from pulling aggro) and then says “lol sword broke need to rep”.

OmenEnhanced: Puts up notices every time a player who is not the tank uses a taunt or threat-generating move (Ret pally using Hand of Reckoning because “it does damage”, hunter pet on growl even though “I already shut it off jerk”).

RecountTheFailRotation: Heck, I don’t know what abilities ought to make up a DK’s dps rundown, but my theory is that “Death and Decay (50%), Melee (45%) Heart Strike (4%)” isn’t right. How about a damage meter that shows me what they should have been doing?

DeadlyBossEasilyPredictedDamage: For healers only, mark the players who are about to be standing in the easily dodged fire/spikes/whatever so I can pre HOT/shield/whatever them.

RangeAlert: let me know when anyone is so far away from the fight that they’ll be aggroing the pat behind us while the rest of us are fighting (hunter and mages only)

AutoIgnoreIdiots: auto-add people to my ignore list before I get grouped with them. This includes any dps who is going to fuss about how they don’t want to be bothered going after extra bosses and anyone who has ever dinged 80, queued for H COS, and, while contributing less than 800 dps, asked more than once if we were going to make it in time for the drake. Or any dk who has thrown Army of the Dead on the Saurfang fight. (bad memories)

DontCursive: Clearly mark when people in your party have diseases, curses, poisons, or magic effects that you can remove. This is so you know to whine at the priest who is not removing curses, the druid who is not curing diseases, etc.

Any other suggestions?

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I am a jerk

Been reading some other blogs and I guess I am a jerk when I heal. I say ‘gogogo’. It is another way of telling the tank ‘Hi, I am in good shape. My mana is fine. Feel free to continue pulling.’

I also aggro other groups on occasion. I don’t do it if the tank is having trouble holding aggro. I don’t do it if I can’t HEAL through it, and I don’t do it if I expect the pack is going to two shot me. I just heal-tank them until the tank shows up. Yeah. I am challenging the tank and pushing him to be better. If they say anything about it, they usually say that. Or they say how hardcore the run is. Some tanks like a challenge. I don’t do it all the time. And if I mess up and wipe the group I apologize. I will even pass on a few rolls to give the rest a few more G for repairs.

I play tank and heals and dps in pretty equal amounts. I know there is a fine line between being a jerk and not. For example if I pull three groups on my bear, pop cooldowns so I am easy to heal and we AOE the crud out of them, nothing wrong with that. If I was a failtank and simply aggroed two groups and then cussed out the healer for letting me drop I would be a moron. I don’t do that. I do pull two, and often more. I think my record is 4, or two groups and a boss. Depends on the boss though. Still, it is usually my wife healing me so no one can complain. And If I screw up and get the group killed I say ‘sorry’ and I pull more sanely. This is not being a jerk. This is trying to get a run that is not insanely boring to a 5.4+K geared tank specced and gemmed for ICC. I don’t even need heals for any single pull in most instances. So why would it be rude to a healer if I pulled two?

If I am healing and pull a second group back to the tank, what is the issue? No really… if we don’t die, he had no trouble getting aggro, I had no trouble healing, and the dps was all good, what is the issue? If I did it when the tank was AFK or not ready then yeah, that would make me a jerk and I would deserve the boot. But if he is downing the last on in a group and another group comes over, no biggy. I play a tank, I know what groups to aggro and what groups to stay the heck away from.

Oh, I am more of a jerk than that, I also complain about DPS. Yup, I sure do. If I get in a run with some guy pulling 700 dps I say, ‘hey buddy, you should read some blogs or something because you should be able to do more.’ Is that jerky? Some people thinks so. Other people in the group will be all, ‘his gear is bad, lighten up.’ To everyone that thinks that, FYI, I can do 1200 DPS on my hunter naked with just a bow. That is right, in my undies. So don’t tell me that 700 DPS on a rogue with a mix of quest greens and blues is ok. It isn’t. If I let that rogue know (as I did Sunday night) that he should use some finishing moves on occasion because melee and fan of knives should not make up over half of his 700 dps I don’t think that is being a jerk. If everyone is too nice to ever tell him that that is unacceptable how will he ever know not to?

Take the dps warrior I ran with on Saturday. I had to tell him a couple times to stop using Heroic Strike. If someone can’t figure out what they are doing wrong on their own then someone HAS to tell them. I mean, I think it is pretty clear that if the guy doing 3 digits of damage keeps pulling aggro of a solid AOE tanker there must be SOMETHING not right.

But I am an even bigger jerk that just all that. Yeah I even check gear scores! *gasp* I know, total sociopath, right? Not just that but I will tell people that 1100 dps is NOT ok for 4k gear. I am nice about it though. I will suggest reading blogs and such. I will even add that doing that is how I get better when I think I should be getting more out of a class. Oddly, most people either say nothing or thank me. My wife and I use GS to judge people all the time. But not in a vacuum and not before the start of the run. Nope. We wait for a few pulls and compare GS to DPS and often even check their rotation with the recount logs.

Oh it gets worse. Sometimes I even link recount. Or dare to complain about their underranked spells.

I don’t kick often though. No, I usually just try to offer some advice. Gevlon (http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/), rip up my ‘jerk’ card and stamp ‘social’ on my forehead. Sometimes I do kick though. If someone is really lagging the dps meter, had gear that is way better than his performance, ignores the 9 down ranked abilities that rankwatch is spamming him about and only seem to use 3 abilities in the recount log… yeah those people are likely to see the boot. But we are pretty forgiving. If someone even tries to fix their down ranks and takes constructive criticism with a ‘ok, thanks. I will look into that.’ then they get a pass. Everyone was bad at some point. Show me a glimmer of willingness or ability to learn and you are in. Ask for real advice and I will give you an earful. Come across as genuinely in need of practice and gear and I will invite you on a few runs. And, if you are getting serious performance out of ‘been 80 for an hour’ gear then you will get thanks and praise.

Yeah I judge. But I don’t do it in a vacuum. Some people DO suck. Pretending they don’t will just mean we are stuck carrying them through Cata heroics a year from now, or a year after than when they finally catch back up.

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