Experience Points: Heroic Failures part 1… Tanks

22 01 2010

What we have here is a failure to communicate.

The implementation of patch 3.3 brought with it the Looking For Dungeon (LFD) feature. Precisely 12.7s after that came the implementation of the cross-realm twat. No longer were ranting, inconsiderate idiots isolated to their own realm (or forums… or blog). The ease with which LFD allows us, particularly altoholics, to gear up our toons means that those who don’t use the LFD system miss out on the arms race. Maybe you’ve used them on the way up, but if you are new to 80, these heroics can be a daunting place, full of bile and vitriol. If you are a tank or healer, prepare for special treatment.

This is the first part of a triplet post about how to learn from these negative experiences. Kanye tells us that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. If you can develop a thick skin against the fascists, you will come out of it more equipped to fulfill vital roles for your raiding groups and guilds.


Let’s consider the ideal 5-man PuG:

  • Group: all appropriate buffs given; tank set as focus for DPS to assist; each player knows the instance and the class abilities well; class utilities are considered, with relevant actions when needed should the unexpected happen (CC, threat reduction, etc.) or to assist the tank during tricky pulls; debuffs removed (anyone remember that Warlocks can use Decursive?); everybody’s position reduces party damage and accidental pulls
  • Tank: threat generation on multiple mobs is maximised; pace appropriate for capacity of group; situational awareness allows pro-active interceptions when things go awry
  • DPS: threat is managed to less than pulling levels; optimum dps per mana/energy is delivered
  • Healer: healing and damage prevention is almost prescient

Now, have a look at the opposite, the nadir PuG:

  • The tank runs off and begins to chain pull the instance before the crash of the buffs has finished or the dual-spec healer has finished switching specs…
  • The DPS runs off and begins to chain pull the instance before the crash of the buffs has finished or the dual-spec healer has finished switching specs…
  • The Healer runs off and begins to …
  • /p is full of rudeness, intolerance, impatience and elitism…

In reality, most PuGs fit on the spectrum between these two extremes (though I remember the ones closer to the nadir, but that may just be selective memory). How can we enhance our own gameplay so as to turn these negative experiences into something that can benefit your future groupings.


The Pull: As a starting heroic, you are likely to get Utgarde Keep. Once the first pair of mobs are down, there is a set of potentially tricky pulls that can bring mobs raining down on your party members:

  • Mark the mobs – at the very least it gives you some practice, those who will follow kills orders have their trained routines triggered, and it may even prompt a gracious piece of help about which ones should be the first targets
  • Range and Line of Sight – understand the ranges of your abilities, how you can use chained abilities to build threat as the mobs progress towards you, and then what’s your quickest way of building AoE threat on multiple mobs.

Taunts: You must learn where your taunts are. Be comfortable with the taunts that pull single targets as well as those that intercept mobs on an ally. You should also understand how taunts work, when they can miss, and what they do with threat. Not all taunts are created equal.

Threat increase: Never become comfortable and relaxed with rotations. As a new tank, I’m hoping you’ve done a bit of research, found websites discussing tanking ‘rotations’. Stay on top of current thinking. Beyond that, make sure that you have the right self-buffs (Righteous Defense, the correct stances and presences, etc.). Also, on multiple target situations, think about spreading the love. Don’t wait until skull is dead before moving onto cross if your threat lead is large enough to switch early. Make sure other classes are using Misdirect effects… it all helps.

Threat reduction: Vigilance is useful just to help you get that little advantage over the top dps. Use whatever tricks your class has to increase that gap between you and them.

Stuns: There’s a group with a ranged caster that you just can’t pull into the group. If there’s no mage with Counterspell, what else can you do? Think about mobility, but look at how you can take it out of the fight for a few seconds. If DPS really want their own playthings, give them that one to drop.

Damage Reduction/Health Increase: Long cooldown life-savers. Know where they are. Using them wisely takes time, but you need to be using them.

DPS: If all else fails, and tanking just isn’t working right yet, see if DPS is an option. Sure, it won’t change the opinions of the sub-humans out there, but it will allow you to look at what’s going on from a different viewpoint. Maybe you can get some tips along the way, watching other tanks. If they’re over-geared, it may not be that useful, but at least the emblems will keep flowing, you’ll get some upgrades from bosses, and in time, you may feel you can step back into the furnace that is the PuG.

Do not forget the other resources you have; look at gemming and enchants, make sure you have hit the minimum requirements to start these runs, but most of all, ask around. Guildies should be more than happy to help, even those Friends you’ve added along the way. In time, you can become the one overgeared for the instance. And you can break the cycle…

Disclaimer: I loathe PuGs. I love them more than I used to, but that’s brought on by the necessary evil that is gearing up multiple toons. I have come to tolerate them a bit more, and those special moments when our random fellows are genuinely supportive helps to temper the anger brought on by anti-socials.




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