Thursday, March 17, 2011

Warrior tanking thoughts | Before the raid

Warriors are the quintessential tanks in the World of Warcraft. We have no gimmicks, have no special OMG abilities, in fact, we have almost nothing except our swords and shields to help us fend off attacks. We don't heal ourselves like the Paladins, we don't spread diseases like the Death Knights, and we DEFINITELY don't transform into furry woodland creatures like the Druids. With our role as being very basic, it would make sense that we were over-utilized and could be seen all throughout Azeroth in annoyingly high numbers. It is my experience though, that this is not the case. Warrior tanks are an alarmingly small percentage of the active raiding tanks to be found cutting their teeth against such foes as Nefarion and Cho'gall in today's end-game encounters. In fact, in my own guild, of the 9 active tanks we have as their main toons main spec, only two of us are warriors. When you increase that to include alts, only 8 warrior tanks emerge.

In this article, I am going to try and explain just how I go about fulfilling my role as a warrior tank, from talents and glyphs to enchants, macros, add-ons (for raiding) and anything else i feel is pertinent to what I use in my role as the lone warrior tank for our raid slot.

Getting Yourself Ready
Things to take care of BEFORE the fight

Mind Set
Tanks in general need to have a different mindset then any other role in order to do their jobs properly. As a healer or DPSer, you avoid taking hits and stay away from the bosses face; if things don't go right, retreat is your number one priority if the boss can be reset). Tanks do not have either luxury. As a tank, you need to stand toe-to-toe with the big bad boss and keep him mad so his focus stays on you. You need to be prepared to take a lot of hits, and have a health pool sizable enough to be able to rebound with attacks of your own vice just falling over dead. If the call is made to run out, you need to be ready to hold the boss (or bosses in multi-boss fights) so that the rest of the raid can escape.

There are several things to gather before you can have a productive night raiding as a tank. These include flasks, food, potions, and gold.

Flasks
Stam flasks are the flasks of choice for today's serious raiding tanks (though I believe in a pinch Druid tanks can use the agility flasks). For cataclysm content, this means the Flask of Steelskin. If money is tight (we'll talk about money later) the Flask of Stoneblood can also be used. I cannot stress the importance of flasks--extra heath is extremely important to help keep you alive by increasing the number of hits you are able to take.
    Food
    Buff food is important to help bolster your numbers for your primary stat (for us stamina), and any number of secondary stats. There is buff food that adds to your hit, to your expertise, to your dodge, your parry, etc. These foods are good to have if you fall slightly below your cap for the particular stat--just realize that only one buff food can be active at a time (meaning you cannot eat both the hit and expertise buff food expecting to boost both stats). If you don't know what you need, or are at the caps for all your stats, then usually in a serious raid some type of feast will be dropped that will serve as your buff food (also good for those tanks tight on cash who don't want to pay for food and don't have the cooking skill required to cook their own).

    Potions
    Potions are another useful item to carry with you, but are not a requirement. I will usually carry a few health pots with me, as well as some Earthen Potions for when I know I am going to take a BIG hit (like Rohash when he comes out of his special attack phase). Just remember with pots, that you can only use ONE PER FIGHT. If you use a health pot early on, you are locked out from any other pots until the next fight. USE THEM WELL.

    Gold
    Gold is also required. As a tank, repairs will need to be made frequently--and it will not be cheap. After a three hour raid (if it was a bad night) I know I can look forward to spending at least 300-400 gold on repairs over the course of the night.

    Your Talent Spec
    A good spec is undoubtedly the cornerstone of a good tank. While gear is important and consumables are nice, your spec can make or break your success as a tank. This is the current spec I am using. There are many like it, but this one is mine. It has been a while since I have discussed my spec, I will go over some of the highlights.

    Protection Tree
    Blood and Thunder: Two Points into this talent applied Rend to all targets that I hit with my Thunderclap. This is a huge boon to a warriors limited AoE tanking ability, allowing us to hold on to multiple targets with less difficulty (as long as the DPS are attacking the correct target). A good practical application is the Maloriak fight, with all the adds that spawn. Get around the three as they spawn, apply Rend to one and Thunder Clap -- now you have all three. Follow it up with a Shockwave and these guys aren't going anywhere.

    Shield Mastery: Three points into this talent is good for reducing cooldowns on our shield abilities. The cooldown reduction of THREE MINUTES to Shield Wall (one of our OMG I'm GONNA DIE) abilities makes this very worthwhile. In addition, the decreased cooldown of Shield Block means it can be used more often in a fight, increasing the damage of Shield Slam whenever they are used in conjunction.

    Gag Order: Though Gag Order will be changing in 4.1, it is still viable for the silence it applies to Heroic Throw. This is a useful tool to pull caster trash to you at the onset of an engagement, allowing the other casters to be CC'ed without the fear of you accidentally breaking CC because you are tanking mobs too close to CC'ed targets. (reminds me of that line from Good Morning, Vietnam, "Seeing as the VP is such a VIP, shouldn't we keep the PC on the QT. If it leaks to the VC he could end up an MIA; then we'd all get put on KP.")

    Last Stand: This is an ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT for any warrior tanks. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Even when 4.1 hits and Rallying Cry (Grants all party and raid members within 30 yards of the warrior 20% of their maximum life for 10 seconds. After the effect expires, the health is lost) coming in 4.1 that shares a cooldown with Last Stand, this is still an important ability based on the simple fact that it will grant the tank more life for a longer period of time.

    Warbringer: Allowing the warrior to charge, intercept and intervene all over the battlefield, as well as now heroic leap makes Protection Warriors the most mobile tanks on the battlefield.

    Devastate: This ability will not only apply your Sunder Armor to your target, but now also causes damage that increases with each application of Sunders you have on the target.

    Vigilance: Though severely nerfed in a recent patch (either 4.01 or 4.03, i don't really remember which) the usage of Vigilance remains a viable tool in the Protection Warrior Toolbox. The Vengeance proc will increase your threat, while the Taunt refresh is valuable in fights where taunts NEED to go out at a given time (Chimerron, Argaloth)
    Funny story time. Srixon and I were tanking Chimerron together last week during our early raid time slot. I was taking the double hits, and he was tanking him for everything else. I had set my Vigilance on him so my taunt would always be ready. A few attempts into it we kept noticing that I was taking a lot of damage (well, even more then should be expected) and was pulling off of Srixon without even trying to. When we talked it over and re-read my Vigilance tooltip, APPARENTLY my threat + my Vengeance + his damage = super unstoppable ultimate tank Goreblades. It got so bad that the time we won all i could do while i wasn't tanking him for the double hits was auto-attacking and applying sunders (not devastates, sunders). As frustrating as it was while we were wiping, it became that funny that in reality we were doing it to ourselves unwittingly just by the nature of how the tanking mechanics worked out.
    Field Dressing: This one is a fairly no brainer. Tanks take a lot of damage. This ability makes it easier for tanks to get healed. Questions?

    Again, those are the most important talents, but there are other talents that are very important to have also. If you feel that another should be discussed, feel free to leave a comment and I will address the deficiency.

    Glyphs
    Prime: Glyph of Shield Slam, Glyph of Revenge, Glyph of Devastate
    Major: Glyph of Shield Wall, Glyph of Long Charge, Glyph of Thunder Clap
    Minor: Glyph of Command, Glyph of Berserker Rage, Glyph of Intimidating Shout

    Most of these Glyphs are the only viable glyphs that can be used for tanking. The only exceptions really are the minor glyphs, which like many other classes, are just for customization and adding a personalized touch to your character.


    Macro's
    There is really only one macro that I want to put here. I have used this macro since i started seriously tanking in Ulduar and TOC, and it has yet to fail me.
    #showtooltip [ability name]
    /cast [ability name]
    /stop casting
    /cast Heroic Strike
    I know this macro is (apparently) very controversial, and some of the other warrior tanks out there do not like it. I, however, find it to add tremendously to my threat and keep the DPS that do not know how to control their threat from pulling off of me. This macro was taught to me by my mentor, Dethbane, and I will defend it with my dying breath.

    Gems
    If you would have asked me two days ago whatI thought the important gems were, I would have said Stamina, hit (until capped), and expertise (until capped). However, I wento www.askmrrobot.com and used the gear optimizer for enchants and gems, and it opened my eyes. Now if people ask me whats important, I tell them that it is mitigation (parry and dodge) mastery and stamina. The use of the combo gems (dodge + stam, mastery + stam, etc) is prevailant throughout my gear, allowing me to maximize my mitigation stats and increase my health pool as well.

    Enchants
    Some of these are no brainers, the Eternal Belt Buckle for my waist, the Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz (Exhalted with Therazane) for my shoulders, Charscale Leg Armor for my pants, and Arcanum of the Earthen Ring for my head. These are the basic ones that are very universal.
    After that, askmrrobot.com had me get several others. Enchant Cloak--Protection adds 250 armor to my cloak, Enchant Bracer - Dodge adding 50 to my dodge, Enchant Shield - Blocking adding 40 block.
    From there, i didn't follow the web sites suggestions exactly, basically because everything else it wanted required maelstrom crystals, and they are EXPENSIVE. So for my chest, though the suggested enchant is Enchant Chest - Greater Stamina, I went with Enchant Chest - Stamina which still gives me a stamina increase of 55. The suggested glove enchant is Enchant Gloves - Greater Mastery, but being frugal, i went with Enchant Gloves - Mastery, still adding 50 to my Mastery. For my boots, Mr. Robot suggested Lavawalker, but I went with Enchant Boots - Earthen Vitality to give me 30 to my stamina and increased movement speed. Finally, there is my weapon. Six mealstrom crystals is a lot for me right now, so instead of enchanting my sword with Windwalk, I went ahead and went with Mending.

    Reforging
    Reforging is going to vary depending on your gear. Basically, you want as much Parry, Dodge and Mastery as you can squeeze out of your equipment.

    Knowledge is Power
    Now that the basics have been convered, the last thing you need to do is look over boss strategies for the bosses you are expected to encounter on that nights raiding. To accomplish this, you can either read strategies, or you can go to tankspot and watch their videos. Either way (or both if that suits you) you prepare, be optimistic. If you think that you will only down Halfus and the twin dragons, review the Acendant Council too. If you think you will only get through Magmaw and the Omnitron Defence Robots, review Maloriak too. Nothing is more obvious that a tank that doesn't know what he is supposed to do.

    1 comment:

    Spo said...

    One of the options in Mr. Robot is to "Exclude expensive stuff" and if you checked that off, you wouldn't get any maelstrom crystals, and would likely get the same optimize options that you went with.