Circle of Tanking: Guest Post

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.

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