Thursday, 5 November 2009

Tanking Survey - now that's more like it!

In a response to Miss Medicinas healing survey, Koriel over at Whatisboom transformed the whole thing into a tanking questionaire. That's a lot more like me, to be honest. So here ... the whole thing from a proper front-line point of view:

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?
Koch, Warrior
Kochi, Druid
Annae, Paladin
An, Death Knight

What is your primary tanking environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Koch: Primarily 10 mans in a pretty static guild raidgroup. I know my partners-in.crime. 5 mans pop up occasionally and I actively try to avoid 25 man content.
Kochi: Currently 5 mans in guild and PUG groups and the occasional low tier 10 man. The gear does not permit more yet.
Annae: 5 man only so far and due to paladin being my least favourite tank not all that many at all.
An: 10 man raids on demand and the occasional 5 man to get the gear up to useful amounts.

What is your favourite tanking spell for your class and why?
Koch: Even though shockwave is getting very close due to the lovely AoE tanking so prevalent nowadays, I’ll still go with an old time classic: Shield Slam. Nothing more satisfying that trying to smash your opponents teeth in with a fridge door (and it is both high threat and high damage)
Kochi: Battle Res. I know it’s not technically a tanking spell, but this is what makes the druid class so incredibly useful. As a tank a swift stun (if possible), barkskin, battleres and switch back to bear can make a hell of a difference. Even better when you have a second tank to taunt off you, I suppose, but then I’d hope for a tree to do it for me.
Annae: Consecration. Unlike the deathknights weird AoE this one is always there when you need it. When one runs out, another one is ready. Catching things running towards healers? Consecrate. Making sure everything still hates you even though you get stunned occasionally? Consecrate. Need to arrange a wedding? Consecrate!
An: I’ll go with something entirely different here: Runes. All other tanking classes rely on taking damage to build suitable threat. No damage, no rage for druid and warrior, no damage, no heals, no mana for the paladin. As a deathknight we can put out decent threat even without getting beaten up, making the deathknight possibly an even better offtank than the druid. Just not as versatile.

What tanking spell do you use least for your class and why?
Koch: Shieldwall, hands down. I’m still clinging to the old ways of the 30 minute wall, which required you to be absolutely sure that nothing worse would happen in the next 30 minutes. I’m getting better, but I still use it too little.
Kochi: Faerie Fire. Again – I’m getting better. I used to view it mainly as a debuff (and a pretty bad one at that) until I realized the massive amounts of threat built into it. It’s now become part of my priority list, but I probably still use it too little and not informed enough.
Annae: Appropriate seals. I tend to stick to the same thing and not manage my seals enough. Some fights might be vastly easier with a different seal up. My excuse for the day? Solar flares! … I don’t get away with that, do I?
An: Empower Rune Weapon. Somehow a cooldown that would allow me to use my defensive cooldowns when I need them is great – but I don’t use it enough. Might have to move it to a bit more convenient spot on the keyboard.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your tanking class and why?
Koch: Spell interrupts and lockdowns – hands down. With the two interrupts of heroic throw and shield bash (both talented to be silences as well), the stuns of shockwave, concussion blow and sometimes revenge, the stuns from charge and intercept with a net gain of rage for intervening away and then charging back in are amazing. The mobility of warbringer is also something none of the other classes can match.
Kochi: Being a fully grown healer (well... with mana for three heals) and a decent dps class all rolled into one. A druid can really spot fill any role during the course of a fight. Their abilities seem to be perfect for filling the classical 10-man off-tank role. Some fights require only one tank? Switch to cat (and change some gear). One of your healers died? Pop a resurrection in mid-battle. Crazed mage running out of mana? Innervate and watch him do preventive damage reduction by superior firepower!
Annae: I’d at the moment say easy AoE threat. This is probably still true, however due to the gear differences my other tanks actually outperform me there quite easily. Of course being practically immortal due to self-heals is another lovely bonus. It’s always the paladins that bring out the first videos of “how to solo ….”, with druids only on a second place.
An: As mentioned above: The runic system. No damage required to be an efficient tank makes us better than any of the others when not getting directly beat up. The buffs to other group members can be nifty, so is the rather decent damage output compared to other tank classes especially in the early stages of tanking.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your tanking class and why?
Koch: As a gut feeling it’s currently survivability. It might be the druids I play with are just generally better, better geared or more lucky (all of which I would be envious of), but it feels like we get punched in the face a lot harder than others.
Kochi: Interrupts. I know my health is supposedly higher than the other tanks, but compared to the warrior my one interrupt once per minute is just totally bah. This becomes especially annoying during heroic fights without another reliable interrupt (say… ToC heroic with the healing shaman).
Annae: Threat generation. I am aware that this is a gear issue first and foremost – and I can do something about the spec to make it all better as well, but I feel that the other classes have an easier time holding bosses than me.
An: Currently it feels like survivability is an issue again. After a long time ultra-high for deathknights, nerfs have brought it down to a very very low. The 3.2.2 patch seems to have boosted our survivability again by a tiny bit.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best tanking assignment for you?

All: Unlike the healers, I think this question is not easily answered for a 25-man raid. My limited experience in that field seems to indicate it depends more on the specific fight, rather than the group size. Add tanking on a warrior is ideal on fights like Sartharion 3D due to mobility, whereas I’d rather have a warrior on bosses that need interrupting (like Jaraxxus in ToC).

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with most and why?
Koch: I think I most prefer a druid to partner with. This is due to long and successful relations with them, but I think the versatility is amazing.
Kochi: And same as above, I’d probably prefer a warrior. The spell interrupts balance out the greatest weakness of the druids and ensure the team works together very well.
Annae: I don’t have a strong preference and might actually say druid for the lowly reason of “they won’t steal my plate gear”.
An: I’d go with druid as well. Which just goes to show – I don’t tank as much with different people as I would like to.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with least and why?
All: I’m not a big fan of combining two of the same for the same task. There usually is some synergy (no matter how little) from bringing different classes to the task.

What is your worst habit as a tank?
All: Taunting too much, using “on-next-swing” abilities too little. The first has annoying implications with enemies getting taunt immune when you least need them to be and disturbs relations with the other tanks – of course they usually also need to be beat up to generate threat. The second is something fixable by better keyboard binds and a work in progress. I’m getting quite good on the druid and warrior, not so great with rune strike on the deathknight.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?
Koch: People pulling groups apart. Both thunderclap and shockwave have a rather annoyingly small area of effect if you want to use them effectively. This means I usually need to gather groups up before I can get a decent lead on AoE threat. A single misdirected target or early pull messes up the whole fine symmetry.
Kochi: Only one taunt. All other classes have more than one (well.. warriors technically only get one, but they have vigilance and thus have no excuse whatsoever for not always being able to perform). We’re not counting oh-shit-AoE-taunt buttons either. One taunt. It stinketh. And that means the pet peeve is obviously anyone pulling aggro off me.
Annae: The lack of appreciation of mana-breaks now and then. To frontload threat like a champion (of the light, no less!) I need to start with a full mana bar. People used to warriors sometimes don’t seem to grasp that concept.
An: Deathknights. No really. Deathknights who don’t know that Deathgrip is a real taunt, that it takes time to use a proper three global cooldowns to establish group aggro on groups less than four and ... and… Ah… Deathknights!

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other tanks?
I think all classes play alright at the moment. I personally like the warrior best, but they all have their strengths and weaknesses.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?
One tool I tend to use is player feedback. “Has Koch gone mad?” probably meant I did something unorthodox (*cough* and killed four people). Everything else is hard to quantify, except for spotting specific mistakes. All white swings instead of heroic strikes on patchwork again? Spam buttons better and with less fail.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?
Koch: People still occasionally think that warriors are by default the best boss-tanks. Not true in my experience.
Kochi: I occasionally get asked to do a battleres while being beaten up by three or four enemies. I know the cast time is short and I have a decent dodge score even in caster shape, but you seriously expect me to cast a spell, wearing kinky leather dresses while getting whipped? I can think of more fun in that situation.
Annae: I’ll withhold my opinion on the fact that I have not played with enough different players to get misconceptions stuffed in my face.
An: Deathknights can’t tank. They are clearly an overpowered DPS class only. They can squash bosses blindfolded while solving differential geometry questions and bouncing a rubber ball off the keyboard.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new tanks of your class to learn?
All: Situational awareness. I think this can be learnt, and all tanks need to develop a good grasp of it or end up pulling badly. It’s not as prevalent any more to have patrols meander through a whole room and corridor assembly – but it still helps massively not to block line of sight to your healers on the pull.

Effective Health or Avoidance and why?
I like both. Avoidance did shoot up to enormous amounts in Wrath of the LK anyway – for all classes. Effective health is something I actively gear for, but of course that again depends on the fight. I’d rather have my brewmaiden than a parry trinket out on a magic heavy fight. Apparently the current avoidance levels cause balance issues, however, so it seems to be almost required to get a LOT more health before Icecrown.

What tanking class do you feel you understand least?
Paladins, since I play them too little. I would throw in hunters, since I’ve seen one of my guildies do amazing things with a turtle (no, not that. Get your mind out of the gutter), but they don’t _really_ count, now do they?

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in tanking?
Still running xperl as unit frames addon. It keeps track of my focus target, target, raid debuffs etc. for me. I like tellmewhen – it reminds me of forgetting to put shouts up, about weapon procs or a greatness proc on the deathknight. I am a big fan of running tankwarnings because apparently healers like it when they know they can take care of everyone else for a bit.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your tanking stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
Balance seems to be the way to go. Diminished returns vaguely recommend using all avoidance stats there are. Health is always a great fallback for lack of luck and of course the threat stats have to be present.

And because I think this is entirely legal, I tag Chastity (Iustitia now?) from Righteous Orbs and Ciderhelm from Tankspot - because there's nothing wrong with shooting high *nodnod*, and he has the bestestest voice.

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