I’m getting tired of repeating this over and over. Situational awareness, threat, and survival are all three pretty much equally important for a tank (depends on specific cases, but in general that’s the rule of thumb). All three aspects need to be mastered if you want to perform well. If you’re only sitting there and pulling off TPS and soaking all the damage, that’s fine, but without being able to react, you’re not as good a tank as you could be
Let me start off with some background information. My guild already cleared Naxx25 this week and I tagged along with my warrior, and the ID went pretty much flawlessly (picked up the Spore Loser and Can’t Get Enough achievements on the way). Not feeling like I had my fill, I decided, yesterday, to go with my warlock alt in once again.
Here’s the funny part. Whenever I raid with my warrior in our guild runs, I feel like the tanks are doing a great job. Whenever I raid with my warlock, I think the tanks are either not doing so well, or doing horribly. The explanation is obvious: each run includes different tanks.
When I entered the raid with my warlock, I took a quick peek at the different tanks we were going to be working with. Two protection warriors and a frost DK. Stamina looked fine on all three (DK was lacking a little, but still quite decent), overall the gear looked ok. I checked the specs of the two warriors, and they looked fine as well.
Boy, was I disappointed.
Here’s a list of what caused me to almost break down:
- You have cooldowns. Use them. If the boss is going to squish you like a bug, you panic and you use your panic button. If you have a panic button, use it. If you don’t have a panic button, minimize this window, log into WoW, type /m and start making one.
- AE tanking is, weirdly enough, the first indicator of how good you are. Not so much about how much TPS you can pull off, but rather, noticing that an add broke free of the grinder and is heading towards your clothies. Quick reaction time and a trigger finger on your taunt button are the key here. Likewise, noticing that something isn’t right and lighting up your cooldowns ALSO belongs to this. As you might have guessed from the previous point, I’ve been using a special OHCRAP macro for a while now that activates all my cooldowns at once (it saved my butt PLENTY of times, I can assure you that) and whenever something looks bad, I’d rather be safe than sorry.
That said, AE TPS *IS* important. Get that rotation in and don’t be sloppy! Charge/pull, thunderclap, take a few steps back, shockwave, start tabbing through all the mobs and applying shield slams + devastates, and as soon as the shockwave stun wears off, light up shield block. Keep thunderclap on cooldown, depending on the HP of the mob group keep shockwave for the next pull or on cooldown (it’s always nice to have shockwave at the beginning of the pull), and whenever you don’t use those two, you’re tabbing and devastating/shield slamming until the cows come home!
- Single target (boss) tanking. I’m taking more and more peeks into the DPS world since I’m getting more and more active with my alts, and let me tell you something, it’s not pretty. They *actively* advise people *NOT* to spec aggro reducing talents, because it’s a waste of talent points that could enhance their DPS. So you’re dealing with not only maximum DPS, you’re dealing with maximum TPS. Even my crappy warlock (fully following the advice of not speccing aggro reduction) was pulling off 3-4k TPS at some points during some boss encounters. I overaggroed both on Sapphiron and on Kel’Thuzad and died on both encounters because I couldn’t soul shatter fast enough. That’s not the problem though, the problem is that the tank couldn’t build up enough aggro. I have never, ever, ever lost those bosses, or any bosses for that matter, to a DPSer overaggroing, and our DPSers are very picky, they tell you if they can’t pump out maximum damage and they have to take a break. It already happened twice that I was not MTing Sapphiron and that the MT for the fight died during the last few % (on one occasion he charged in and was out of range for heals, on the other the healers were just sloppy) and I was right there to pick him up on both occasion, and Sapph died without a wipe. I’m not writing this to tell you how UBER ROXXOR I am, I’m telling you this because threat is important, accidents may happen, and you being focused on build up threat IN CASE something bad happens can mean the difference between going on to Kel’Thuzad with a happy raid or seeing other 24 gryphons/drakes/whatever slowly flying up into Naxx. Sapphiron is an easy case for this because you’re constantly getting rage due to the debuff, and it is important because (last I checked) he’s immune to taunt.