Circle of Tanking: Guest Post

July 25, 2011

When my co-tank read mine, he was compelled to put up his own answers. He doesn’t have a blog of his own, thus it goes up here. Take it away, Em.

1. What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?

Emming, druid, 0/32/9

2. What is your primary group tanking environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

Mostly 10-man raids and, when I feel the insane urge to grind out VP or just the insane in general, DF 5-man heroics. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a 25-man raid.

3. What is your favorite cooldown for your class and why?

I … really don’t have a lot of choices here. All specs being equal, Tranquility is my favourite because it’s just so powerful, but as tank I don’t get to use that. I’d have to go with Survival Instincts because there’s just something quite badass about being able to say, “Yeah, you. You’re hitting me for half of what you think you are now. Kay?”

4. What tanking CD do you use least for your class and why?

Most probably Frenzied Regeneration. Barkskin and Survival Instincts both provide a significant, “Stop the hurty now,” bonus instantly, whereas Frenzied Regeneration is best used when <30% health and in serious need of a healing boost. Of course, with lag, I usually end up hitting it and finding out the server refused to accept it. Bastard thing.

5. What do you feel is the biggest strength of your tanking class and why?

Oof… gonna have to go with two answers, entirely situational. I would say that it’s the sheer number of abilities available to druids as the most hybrid of the hybrid classes, but with most of those abilities being unavailable in bear form, that utility is seriously limited.

First answer: When the opportunity comes up, and I can safely shift out of bear form while my tank partner is handling the boss, or while an ability makes them stop dealing damage for a while, I can put out the best tank DPS out there by shifting to kitty form. When you’re fighting berserk timers or all your healers are down and you just need that last few percent, your tank suddenly doubling their DPS or more can make a huge difference.

Second answer: Physical damage. I love physical damage. As always I expect a nerf next patch, but right now if you want to mitigate physical damage bears are *it*. Huge amounts of armor, huge amounts of baked-in mitigation from talents, and huge amounts of dodge means I mitigate *at least* 80% of any incoming physical based damage. There’s only some fights where physical is the major share of the damage types going out, but where it is, a bear is what you want.

6. What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your class and why?

Again, gonna have to go with a multi-part answer because the weaknesses are entirely situational.

First answer: no ranged silence. None. At all. To a lesser degree, a severe lack of ranged abilities in general (discounting charges, Faerie Fire and Taunt are *it*). If I want a caster to move I either have to get over there and smack him up a bit first, LoS, or pray for someone else to Death Grip or silence him.

Second answer: Theoretically as a hybrid, bears have a lot of utility to offer. In actuality, you have the smallest toolbox of any of the tanking classes, due to your absolute need to always stay in bear form. No Tranq, no Rebirth unless you’re really good at finding a window, only three tanking CDs (only one of which has a short CD time), and very little ability to customise your spec/ability use/whatever to different situations; with few exceptions, a bear is a bear is a bear, and one will act pretty much exactly like the next.

7. In a raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best tanking assignment for you?

On single-tank fights with my current tank partner, my best assignment is to go to my DPS spec; I turn out the better DPS, and have less “ohcrap” buttons to hit. When it comes to two-tank fights, my weakness is add management; holding on to them I can do, but grabbing them in the first place is something I have severe difficulty with. On any fight with adds, I’m better off eating bossface.

8. What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with most and why?

No comment, as I’ve had very little experience with other classes in a raid environment.

9. What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with least and why?

See above.

10. What is your worst habit as a tank?

Impatience. Definitely. Or perhaps more accurately, arrogance. I tend to transition very quickly from, “Okay, no idea what’s going on here, so go carefully and pay attention to everything,” to, “Ah, this is in the bag. Let’s go! *Pull*”. I can get away with this a lot of the time because I know my group well and know what they can handle, but that doesn’t mean it’s a *good* habit, and sees me doing some seriously derpy things when with people I don’t know.

11. What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?

What’s any tank’s pet peeve? People who won’t SIT down and SHUT up and DO AS YOU’RE TOLD, BECAUSE I’M PULLING NOW, DAMNIT

13. What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?

Mostly, peer review and personal analysis. During a fight some part of my brain is filing things away and taking notes for me to go over later, and if I have any concerns about my performance, I ask the people around me; they have more experience and a different perspective to offer, and can quite often spot things I miss. As far as logs and such go, they’re not all that useful to me; I check my Damage Taken logs if things are going wrong or if it seems like the healers are stressed, but otehrwise bear priorities are just too simple and direct to analyse much.

14. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your tanking class?

That bears are weak/ineffectual because of our limited toolbox. We can do the job, and we can do the job *well*, but we have to remain aware of our limitations and work around them, while using our other abilities to compensate for the things we can’t do. A good bear does this automatically. A bad one doesn’t even know how.

15. What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new tanks of your class to learn?

Multi-target handling. We have precious few abilities to handle more than one target, and especially at lower levels you have to constantly be watching and get on top of developing threat situations with your single-target abilities and a lot of target switching.

16. So, how about that whole vengeance mechanic, eh?

I honestly don’t notice it much. I guess it contributes something in that it makes my mastery shields stronger, and increase my threat, but by the time it builds up to significant levels the pull has already either gone well or gone bad.

17. Stamina, Combat Table Coverage, or total Damage Reduction?

Total damage reduction. Stacking stamina, no-one seriously does that anymore, and bears are incapable of combat table coverage due to how the class works, so that leaves us with mitigating damage any way we can; most of that comes through talents and baked-in bonuses like the bear form armor buff.

18. What tanking class do you feel you understand least?

I’d have to go with Death Knights simply because I haven’t actually had any experience with them at all; at least I’ve played with my pally and warrior in low levels.

19. What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in tanking?

If I had to pick one addon that I absolutely, positively couldn’t do without, it would have to be Tidy Plates/Threat Plates. A threat meter is good, but largely academic if I’m doing my job right. Bartender is a UI godsend, but if I had to, I could function without it. VuhDo is very useful informationally, but essentially only useful to tell me who’s got aggro or if my healer’s dead. But TP/TP tells me exactly which mob has started to ignore me, and where they’re going, and lets me get them back fast.

As macros go, the only one I really use significantly ties together my feral Berserk with my racial Berserking.

20. Do you strive primarily for balance between your tanking stats (stam, mastery, avoidance), or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

Bear stats are very simple. For gemming, stack agi (and grab a socket bonus if it’s more than 20 stamina or agi). For reforging, you want dodge; it’s the only tank stat that’s actually useful to us. The only real question is what stat you reforge, and in order of what you want to get rid of most, that’s Haste, Crit and then Mastery. No math, no balancing, just get your dodge and go home to have a pizza.


Circle of Tanking

July 13, 2011

Because I actually have some free time I feel like writing about WoW in, and because I wasn’t active when the first one went around. Nabbing from lonomonkey, because that’s where I saw it first and bloggers that update every two months don’t tend to get tagged in these things.

1. What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?

Jujutan, paladin, 0/31/10.

2. What is your primary group tanking environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

10-man raids. I’ve never played at all in a 25-man as a tank, I do as few 5 mans as I can get away with unless it’s “drunken fun with guildies” ballpit time, and the less said about me and PvP, the better.

3. What is your favorite cooldown for your class and why?

RRRRRAAAAAAIIIIIDWAAAAALL. Divine Guardian fits very nicely into my desire to feel like a physical barrier between the raid and the pain. Hand of Protection also falls into this niche; these two cooldowns are the reason I will probably never follow through on my musings to switch my main to my warrior or DK. No matter how much more fun I find the tanking mechanics on those two, I can never give up being able to save my healer with a bubble.

4. What tanking CD do you use least for your class and why?

As a broad rule I’m *always* looking for an unlit cooldown, but I’d say Lay On Hands. The only time it generally occurs to me to use it is as part of a planned rotation in a painful burn phase; my muscle memory “ohgod don’t die” button is Ardent Defender. I really should use Guardian of Ancient Kings more for the same basic reasons, too. My favorites are the short-term cooldowns I can rotate to create an overall mitigation effect.

5. What do you feel is the biggest strength of your tanking class and why?

The fact that we have many of the tools a healer does, since many paladin healing tools are baseline and we don’t have to tank shapeshifted like bears do. Word of Glory (that can be used on anyone, not just me!), holy radiance, hand of protection… it shames me that it didn’t occur to me until just now that I can bind Hand of Sacrifice into my VuhDo settings and help out my co-tank with that and divine protection when he has Beth’tilac… seriously though, our toolbox is awesomesauce with kittens on top.

6. What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your class and why?

We are notso hotso on snap threat without hitting a couple of cooldowns, and for the first time since I started playing a protection paladin I feel kinda weak on AoE threat compared to some of the other tanking classes. Granted this could just be me; my build and gearing and glyphing grabs all the survivability I can get and only makes concessions to threat with what’s left over. Vengeance means only the first 15 seconds of a boss pull really matter, but those 15 seconds can get too interesting for my taste at times. Seriously though, protection paladins are in a very strong place right now and have been for awhile.

Now, if you asked me what I thought the worst aspects of the class were rather than our weaknesses… our rotation is still boring as hell even if it is better than it was in Wrath. Our mastery is the most boring thing ever to bore compared to the other three tank masteries, and it appears it gives Ghostcrawler heartburn in the bargain. There isn’t a ton of variation in valid talent builds; for the most part we have good talents and bad ones. We do get some wiggle room in whether to tune for threat or survivability, but we don’t have as much functional and stylistic choice as warriors and death knights get.

7. In a raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best tanking assignment for you?

I are main tank, put me on the boss, please. I’m not rigid about this, though; my co-tank and I trade MT and offtanking duties depending on our class strengths and weaknesses relative to the encounter. He’s a bear, so his strengths are not mine and vice versa.

8. What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with most and why?

I agree with lonomonkey from the other side- death knights complement my class amazingly well. Sorry to my bear bros that I’ve tanked with most often, especially given my DK partner was a bit of an ass, but mechanically speaking it’s true.

9. What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with least and why?

Is there any tank or healer answering this survey that’s not saying “another of my own class, diversity brings the best advantage?” I know I’m not going to disagree. Aside from the sheer mechanical reality that it’s best to have two toolboxes rather than an overlapping duplicate, it also keeps me from getting pointlessly competitive.

10. What is your worst habit as a tank?

I need to mind my own damn business. For pretty much all of Wrath and about the first half of tier 11, plus heroics, I got used to watching the whole party or raid as though I were a healer. The back half and all of Firelands I’ve experienced so far have forced me to dial my focus in more because I had none to spare, and it’s just freaking needless for the ground tank to be having anxiety attacks about the health pools of people on the web during Beth’tilac.

11. What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?

I’m a tank. Doesn’t that make me definitionally a control freak? Probably the easiest way is people failing to be psychic and realizing exactly where I mean to tank a pull and opening up/charging in before I have them where I want them. I HAVE ARRANGED THE MONSTERS JUST SO, DO NOT DISTURB MY FENG SHUI!

13. What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?

I analyze the healing taken logs in World of Logs a lot to evaluate what talents/strategies are working and what’s not, which is how I wound up as the only consistent Seal of Insight paladin tank I know of and came to love glyphed word of glory/filled-out-rule of law/guarded by the light. (I meant it when I said I put survivability way over threat.)

I’m lucky enough to have been healed by the same druid for about two years now, so I rely heavily on his input for how easy I am to heal or whether a change was meaningful or not. We both spend a lot of time tinkering and comparing results. Having the guy on my back be almost always the same guy also helps a lot when it comes to evaluating how spiky and bit the damage I’m taking is.

14. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your tanking class?

That we’re EZmode. After taking 3/4 of the tanking classes to 85 and one to around 50 I do think paladin tanking is the easiest to learn if you’re just learning how to tank period, but it takes just as much intelligence and work to play a protection paladin well as it does any of the other classes. If you don’t use the toolbox to its fullest extent, we can be squishy.

15. What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new tanks of your class to learn?

To realize that we’re not just pink warriors. There’s a ton we can do to help the healers and pallies that don’t do it are depressingly common. It’s a big toolbox and it takes time and experience to realize its full potential.

16. So, how about that whole vengeance mechanic, eh?

W/e. I guess it made hit and expertise meaningless to me but beyond that I don’t really care. I’d rather be spending my focus on living than fighting the DPS for threat over the bulk of the fight anyway.

17. Stamina, Combat Table Coverage, or total Damage Reduction?

CTC. I exist first to make healing me at all as unnecessary as I can, and second to make the damage I take very smooth. For a paladin, CTC is the most direct route to this goal. ARE there still any raiding tanks that stack stamina? “HI! I’M A MANA SPONGE!”

18. What tanking class do you feel you understand least?

Bears. Despite tanking WITH them more than any other class, I’ve actually PLAYED them the least. I mean haste on gear and crit as a survival stat lol wtf? It turns what I know about plate tanks on its ear.

19. What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in tanking?

I’m an addon addict. The ones I use specifically for tanking, specifically for this class: Hear Kitty to remove my need for a holy power display. Tidy Plates/Threat plates, because following a nameplate to a healer is a lot easier than following a cat-sized red mob on a red background when your camera is zoomed out to outer space. VuhDo, for my big library of helpful spells and to help me track debuffs and raid cooldowns. (Used to be Grid, but I lost my temper and patience after the last time a patch broke it and its many plugins.) These are the three I couldn’t live without, but I’ve also got Quartz, OmniCC, Power Auras, BigWigs AND DBM, Shadowed Unit Frames, and and and…

As for macros, I’ve got one to cast and cancel my bubble, and one to Captain America worshipping players during Cho’gall. That’s actually about it.

20. Do you strive primarily for balance between your tanking stats (stam, mastery, avoidance), or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

I try to stack mastery, but not as much as I theoretically could if I started reforging ALL my avoidance stats to it. I’m not close enough to being able to block-cap to make that valuable. Also it offends my sense of order.