With the details of the next big content patch making its way to us in little spills and trickles, I’m sure that a lot of us perked up when they finally released information pertaining to the new set bonuses that we can expect to see on the tier gear that will be obtained from the upcoming raid instance.
While there may be minor variations due to the difference in class mechanics, at their heart, they’re all the same; namely, to grant a portion of a tank’s life-saving cooldown to his raid.
The protection paladin’s set bonus is the only one that doesn’t really fall into line with the rest, probably because they already have a cooldown devoted to protecting the raid and their set bonus is geared more towards boosting that already present ability but the other tanking classes all fall into roughly the same boat.
This sparks a lot of questions doesn’t it? A lot of tactical thinking has to be done when looking at the upcoming boss encounters for the raid. Given that once that 4pc is obtained, every tank will be able to provide a raid-wide cooldown that can help mitigate or heal the larger damage spikes, how should that ability be used so that it would be in the best interests of the raid?
Should that key tanking cooldown be saved for a big splash on the raid and have other classes (paladins and priests) save their cooldowns exclusively for the tank? Or should the tank still use his cooldowns as his own and look at the bonus benefits to the raid as exactly that, a bonus?
My opinion on the matter is fairly simple.
Given that it’s the 4pc bonus, not the 2pc, it’s obvious that a lot of the normal boss encounters won’t really be designed with having that convenience in mind and as such, you likely won’t run into a situation where that “raidwall” style cooldown is needed until the last bit of the instance where a tank could be expected to have completed his 4pc or in some of the heroic modes where bosses might gain a damage spike on the raid that will require such measures.
So until your raid group is nearing the final battle of the new tier or until you start beating your heads against the heroic modes, I wouldn’t sweat it too much and use your cooldowns as you need them.
While your priests and paladins (if you have them) can be relied upon to push cooldowns on you as needed, as a tank, there’s probably nobody keeping a closer eye on your health as you are and as such, in most cases, you will be the best judge of if and when to pop your big cooldowns to save your life and prevent a wipe.
While there may be situations where you try to make it easier for your raid and save that cooldown for just the right moment where it can do the most good or when more people will be able to take advantage of it, as a whole, I’d recommend just using your cooldowns the same way you always have until you reach the end of the normal instance or the start of the heroic where that extra mitigation on the raid could be the only thing standing between another wipe and a first kill.