I was approached this morning by a friend of mine that runs the druid healing blog, Rolling Hots. Sylly had this brilliant idea, to interview a bunch of different tanks from different classes and report on her findings. The goal of the project is to help healers better understand the issues that the different tanks have to deal with and as a result better adjust their healing to fit each class. So today I am posting her questions and my answers here on my blog. It is a bit unusual but I was impressed with project.
Thank you so much for your willingness to take the time to answer some
questions for me about tanking. I intend to use answers from each of you
for a series of posts on my blog intended to educate myself and my readers
about how it is that you do what you do, and how we might best be able to
help you to get it done.
Some quick instructions. If you are a blogger, there is a question where
you can put your blog information and I will be most happy to link back to
your site with your answers. If you play more than one tanking class,
please answer the questions twice, once for each tanking class. Answer
only the questions you are interested in responding to, although the more
answers the better! You will find the full list of questions below.
Please respond to this email with your numbered answers. Your generosity
with this project is very much appreciated!
1. Your name?
Belghast (Mark Temple)
2. Your blog information if you have one?
Tales of the Aggronaut (http://www.aggronaut.com)
3. What tanking class do you play?
Protection Warrior – I leveled from 1-80 as prot spec. Yes I am mental…
4. Can you give an overview of the tanking style and abilities of your
class? How do you get the job done? You can be as specific or general as
you’d like, but remember your audience is a bunch of healers, so basic is
Warriors are to tanking like priests are to healing. They tend to be the jack of all trades tank. In the past AOE tanking was a true challenge for the class, with our only real option spamming tab and sunder/devastate to hold aggro on multiple targets. The tail end of burning crusade and the 3.0 patch both redefined the class greatly giving us a good number of ways to hold aggro on multiple targets.
The true strength of a warrior is the large number of "oh shit" buttons we have. A good warrior keeps these in reserve and uses them to pad spikes in damage, and periods where healing drops out. A properly geared warrior tends to have a very predictable pattern of damage intake. There are several abilities we have to help the healers keep us vertical.
In our bag of tricks we have Last Stand which acts as a temporary increase in our hit point pool, giving us that extra bit of life to survive a barrage of attacks. The cool down is 3 minutes, but if glyphed you can shave it down to 2.
This acts as a heal over time giving us back 30% of our total health over the course of 10 seconds. This cool down is 3 minutes.
Shield Block used to be our bread and butter ability to lower our damage intake, but 3.0 saw this ability severely nerfed. This ability increases out block chance by 100% for 10 seconds. The dynamic used to be considerably different and it allowed us to keep it up at all times, but now it sits on a 1 minute cool down. Most warriors hold this in reserve as a minor "panic" button.
This is the king of the panic buttons. When used it reduces all damage taken by 60% for 12 seconds. This ability is by far our best way to curb incoming damage, but it also comes with the longest cool down of 5 minutes. If talented and glyphed however you can get a version of the ability that only reduces 40% of the incoming damage but is usable every 2 minutes.
While not an panic button, this is an ability warriors can use to lower incoming damage. It reduced the attack speed of mobs by 10%, and if talented by 20%. This greatly reduces the amount of incoming damage and if possible should be kept up at all times.
This ability reduces the attack power of mobs by 410. Along with thunderclap it is a good way to reduce the incoming damage the tank receives.
5. What are your class’s strengths in comparison to other tanking classes
in your opinion? Your weaknesses?
The lines between the tanking classes have been greatly marginalized, but there are a number of strengths the warrior has. Firstly we have the most panic buttons of any tanking class. If properly used this can give us a greater freedom to recover from situations where the damage is either sporadic or unpredictable. On top of this thunderclap and demoralizing shout give us a solid way to reduce the amount of incoming damage from mobs. Commanding Shout gives us a strong buff to increase the total hit points of the raid. Charge gives us a way to move from target to target in battle quickly. Intervene gives us a strong method of reducing the damage taken by a single target, and Vigilance causes one player in the raid to have their total aggro generation reduced.
The warrior is the jack of all trades. They have very solid single target aggro generation, and the ability if talented and glyphed correctly to have some formidable AOE tanking ability. I personally run dual protection talent specs in order to maximize this potential. One of my specializations is built to take advantage of all of the AOE tanking tricks we have. The other set of talents is designed to give me a 2 minute shield wall and last stand and all of the possible survival tricks I can get.
Our greatest weakness is that we often times have trouble with rage starvation. In order to use our abilities we need to get hit, and as we get better gear we are getting hit less often. This causes our total rage incoming to drop massively. While progression content will always give us the ability to keep a nearly full rage bar, as we move back into a tier below our gear or lower we start having issues holding aggro because we are quite literally starved for rage. My secondary spec has a few tricks to offset this problem, but for a warrior with a single protection spec geared towards progression content they will have trouble handling the lowered rage that older content gives us.
If your group is patient and gives the warrior plenty of time to acquire aggro then there is rarely an issue. However it is important to note as healers that on trash and older content it is important not to front load your heals too much. You can quickly overtake the warrior in aggro generation with your healing, especially if as a druid you drop all of your HoTs on the target at the same time. We ride a thin line between too much rage and none at all.
6. How would you characterize your own relationship with your healers
during game play?
I feel the warrior more than the other tanking classes has a symbiotic relationship with the healer. Our healers are our lifeline, and when our constant string of healing is broken we can only do so much to stay vertical. As a warrior, our panic button give us the ability to stay up through bad situations, and as a result we need to communicate regularly with our healing staff. When we use last stand it is important to let the healers know, because visually it will appear that the heals are no longer landing for as much health since we temporarily have our health increased. If we use shield wall, it lets the healers know they 12 seconds to catch up on healing and throw out any critical group heals.
Since we have so many gearing options available to us, we can tweak our gear to make ourselves fit the healing styles of the raid as a whole. Balancing mitigation and avoidance often times makes you easier to predicatively heal, and as a result more conducive for healing styles like that of the druid. However you can also stack avoidance for those fights where you know your health bar is going to ping pong anyways, making you the ideal candidate for a spam healer like a paladin or a disc priest. It is very important for the warrior to know what kind of healing he will be receiving so that he can adjust accordingly.
7. Under what circumstances should healers be paying special attention to
your class? When are you most vulnerable? (i.e. if a certain tanking
ability fails, during melee/spell damage spikes, etc.)
Warriors are weaker than most classes to incoming spell damage. There is only one talent that can really offer any sense of protection against spell damage, and the majority of boss attacks are immune to spell reflection. So this gives us a chink in our armor, and in scenarios where a large frontal breath is going to be a regular occurrence the healers are going to need to time heals at the beginning of the breath so they land and top back off the tank in preparation for the next big hit.
Movement is another weak phase for the warrior. If the warrior is not skilled in strafing and mob placement, he can easily expose his backside to the boss. Warrior avoidance and mitigation is a purely frontal ability, so when we need to turn our back to the boss we are losing the majority of our damage reduction. Stuns will also leave us vulnerable in much the same way. As a healer if the tank is running away from a mob, or stunned you should expect his damage to increase by as much as 60%.
8. What is your experience with being healed by Restoration Druids? Is
it a healing class that you enjoy working with? Why or why not?
The predictability of the way a warrior takes damage often makes it an opportune scenario for druid healing. The warrior needs a steady stream of healing, and druid hots are an ideal way to receive this. In the case where the warrior is the main tank, it is ideal to mix druid healing to cover a baseless of heals per second, with that of a disc priest of holy paladin to cover the spike damage intake. Druids are the perfect additive healer, in that they help to pad the incoming damage with a predictable stream of health.
9. Can you give one strong piece of advice for a healer in your group or
The key to warrior healing seems to be a steady stream of healing. On bosses like kologarn where we are taking hits for upwards of 20k health, it is very easy to get behind the curve when trying to reactively heal fights. However through the steady application of predictive heals, the warrior damage in take can be smoothed out so that you only occasionally have to throw a big heal to top off. Get to know your warriors, each one has a different play style and as a result a different pattern of damage. Each one however should be predictable. Encourage your warriors to tell you when they are using panic buttons, so that you can adjust accordingly.
10. How deep is your understanding of how different healing classes work?
Do you think it would help your game play if you knew more?
I’ve played a healadin and a resto druid, but in truth my greatest understanding of healing comes from being healed by various classes. When you are the main tank you can tell a difference in the way your health bar moves depending on who is healing you. I’ve always big a big fan of priest healing, so I tend to be biased in that direction. However with the 3.0 patch the resto ability to keep up with large hits was greatly increased, and as a result I enjoy being healed by a tree equally well. Paladin healing is still great for its pure spammy nature, but in general I prefer the more surgical healing style of a druid or a priest. Shaman seem generally ineffective as a single target main tank healer, so as a result we try and push them more into a role of group healing.
11. Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’m hoping some of the things I have said prove helpful to your readers. I think this is a great topic, and look forward to seeing the results.