Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ding. Tank in crisis

I am going to start this off by saying that I have pulled mobs off of a tank.   Every single time that happened was 100% my fault not the fault of the tank.

My paladin hit 80 on Sunday night.  I would say that about 95% of my leveling was done in random dungeons.  It's nutty fast leveling and it gave me the chance to tank in front of mostly people just learning how to play their new classes.  It meant I had to watch to taunt, move things for people standing in gunk and in general figuring out how all the pretty buttons worked.

I hit 80 and  I ran a ton of regular ToC and FoS for gear upgrades and it all seemed to go decently.  No one complained, people actually stayed for more attempts with me tanking.  I was obviously not terribly fail and neither were they.  I like it when the dps pushes the threat meter and makes me work a little harder.  Lets me work on my taunt skill (I have it hotkeyed but I'll be the first to admit I'm still a slow reactor) and forces me to tweak my rotation to be more efficient. 

Now here's where it goes horribly wrong.  I enter some heroics and I'm in with DPS geared in ICC level gear.  One would assume these people not only know how to manage their threat but how to give an undergeared tank a break.  Well, you know what they say about assuming.  I could not maintain enough threat to keep mobs on me.  It happens I get that.  But hey you in the back, ice block, feign death, do something to dump your threat.  I shouldn't have to ask you to do this Mr T10 4 Piece bonus.

Here's a nifty plan, let me get aggro when I pull.  Sometimes my avengers shield misses a mob.  Sometimes life happens.  Whatever the reason please let me generate some hate on all the mobs.  Since we're on this topic, can you attempt to assist me?  Why must you always pull aggro from the mob I am not hitting.  I try to get threat on everything as fast as I can but help a girl out.  If it really is beneath you to assist me could you at least assist ranged goofball #2 so you both don't pull aggro on different mobs.  I tank to the best of my ability.  I stay ahead of most of the dps on most of the mobs.  If I'm not staying ahead of your mob its your fault, not mine.   Assist me, I know that the mob I am targeting isn't going anywhere till I die.

Oh here's news for you all.  Some bosses have aggro dumps.  Shocking I know.  That means if you hit the boss before I do, or it hit harder, its going to charge you.  

Here's a tiny lesson on how threat and aggro work, I'm stealing it from WHU because Frosthem explains it all brilliantly.  I'm changing it from the hunter perspective to all DPS.  Mostly ranged DPS since that's about 99% of my problem.  Yeah I'm lookin right at you.

Basic Threat

Doing damage is our base unit of Threat. 

1 damage = 1 Threat

So if you DPS the boss for 3,500 damage, you just did 3,500 threat. Now, your tank isn’t going to be doing as much damage as you, but that’s okay because they have abilities that generate extra threat in addition to the damage they deal.  So a tank may have done only 1,000 damage, but they might have 4,000 threat.

Pulling Aggro

Having more threat than the tank does not mean you’ll pull aggro. You need 10% more threat than the tank to pull aggro. So the tank can have 1,000 threat and you can have 1,050 threat and the mob is still on the tank.

Even better: if you’re out of melee range you need 30% more threat than the current target to pull aggro. This also means that the tank can have 1,000 threat and you have 1,200 threat but you don’t pull aggro. However, if you then stop shooting, but move closer to the mob and you can suddenly pull aggro, even if you have a DoT tick for just 1 point of damage.

“But Tanks Can Taunt” and Other Sundry Excuses

Yes, tanks can taunt to try to clean up your mess when you fail at your job. Basically at this point you’re relying on the tank to be better at his role than you are at yours. But even if he’s on the ball you may still have wiped the group because:
  • Taunt can be resisted! So the tank can taunt and fail to regain aggro.
  • Taunt has a cooldown. It could be on cooldown when you mess up – and some bosses dump threat and the tanks need to plan their taunt cooldowns for those moments.
  • If your tank is a hate-filled asshole like mine, he’ll make sure you die before he taunts.
I’ve heard a lot of other excuses for pulling aggro, and none of them are good. “I got a bunch of crits in a row!” “My FD was resisted!” “I didn’t do anything, I swear!” Sure, it happens to us all – but if the tank is standing and you pull aggro from him, it’s all your fault.

Back to My Own Voice

Last night's randoms issue left me with a bit of a crisis of faith in my tanking abilities.  But with the new day came some new research and some new perspective.  I will keep tanking and I will improve.  The big question is will you improve too my ranged DPS brethren.


  1. I think I'm spoiled in my tanking duties. I play with far too many people that actually know what they're doing.

    One of my lifesavers as a tank is the "color on aggro" options in my unit frames (ShadowedUF). As soon as I see a bar turn red that's not mine I find the mob that's not on me (either clicking or tabbing) and taunt it back. Over time I've gotten pretty good at finding the mobs quickly.

    As a Pally you have the extra bonus that you don't necessarily need to find the mob...just the person being targeted. Very easily macroed.

  2. Some people are much more concerned at topping the dps meters than they are having the team be successful. Unfortunately, I see that more often than not. The other thing is frankly, the girl issue. I'm of the opinion that alot of guys just don't like girls tanking. I don't understand it, but having been in groups with you, I've seen it over and over. Maybe it would make a good research study........... hmmm

  3. I have my taunts set up in healbot so I can mouse over taunt but I need to add a few more things to make it smoother to use.

    I didn't think about setting up the unit frames to color on aggro. I'll fix that when I can get in game.

    I say we make Shockti do the research study, will keep him out of trouble this summer.

  4. Lori said I would enjoy this post, she was right...lol

    I can't say I like the idea of a girl taking the beating while I stand there waving my hands in the air, but if that's her thing, who am I to argue?