The tanks all said wha?

From out of the blue yesterday came a new Dev Watercooler blog post from Ghostcrawler, where he revealed that Blizzard has decided tanks shouldn’t have to worry about generating enough threat to hold mob aggro against crazy DPS.

Specifically, tanks on the starter end of the gearing grind shouldn’t be crushed under the weight of trying to hold aggro against raid-geared DPS going balls-to-the-wall in a pick up group.

Ready? This isn’t some “we think it would be nice to someday…” announcement. The hotfix apparently went live today, August 16th, and right now all tanks in their tank mode will have their threat generated from damage boosted, going from 300% threat from damage to 500%. They’ve also ramped up the rapidity by which Vengeance builds in the first few seconds of a pull.


When the announcement went out yesterday, folks I talked to had a wide range of responses.

Among them were that this was the end of the game as we know it, tanks will no longer have to know how to do anything, skill is dead, everybody dance now or quit in disgust, blah blah blah.

Say what now?

I’ll admit, I thought that the days of there being anything tank-related for me to talk about here were gone, what with the high levels of knowledge and awareness I see among the players I run into every day, but I guess I was wrong.

Let’s talk about what this really means for you and me, mmm’kay?

Tank threat generation has been increased. Not just by a little, but by a metric shit-ton. Threat from tank damage has almost doubled. It’s close to TWO metric shit-tons now, and that’s a lot.

So, it’s all crimson blood spraying and rolling in the clover for tanks now, right? We run in, lay down a few quick swipes, then we can go stagger away from the keyboard looking for a Guinness while the DPS finishes the pull.


Well, maybe a teeny bit, but not really.

The big reason that it’s not going to work that way is that encounter design, even on trash pulls, has changed a lot over the years.

It used to be that the bread and butter, meat and potatoes pull (it’s lunch time, I’m hungry) was the tank runs in and hits the mob, the DPS burns it down. There would be minor variations on that theme, a few extra adds maybe, a healer or ranged spellcaster that wouldn’t come along for the ride, but that was pretty much it.

These days, just as GC points out, the design has changed.

Now, most fights in high level instances and raids have some kind of mobile component, a multi-mob component, and also what my wife Cassie refers to as a gimmick.

The mobile component is simply something to encourage people to move around. Tornados swooping in and out, rocks falling from the sky, mobs that start cleaving/flaying wildly, stomps that you have to jump to avoid being hit by, green or red shit to move out of, electrical fields to pull mobs out of, the list goes on and on.

A mobile component; Blizzard designing fights where the player needs to think about moving your ass instead of just standing and mindlessly pushing buttons in a fixed rotation.

The multi-mob component. This doesn’t just mean that there was more than one mob standing there.

This is where during the fight you need to be aware of the area around you, including behind you, because there may be roaming packs of adds wandering around, there may be adds that spawn periodically out of nowhere and come running in that the tank has to grab on the fly, there may be adds just like the old days that heal others or do evil debuffs and poisons that need to be killed first or locked down with interrupts, and there may even be adds like in Stonecore or Zul’Aman that, if not stopped, will run off and bring a LOT of friends to your fight.

And finally, the gimmicks. Ah, the gimmicks.

It seems like every encounter has some kind of thing that’s different. Bosses that will fixate on a target and charge them. Mobs that are frozen that need to be drug through fire, mobs that are on fire that will destroy you unless you hit a frozen mob first to get chilled out, mobs that will bubble and you have to go jump around flipping levers, all sorts of stuff.

Gimmick. It’s an unkind term for unique encounter mechanics, but it’s accurate.

Tank threat is buffed now. A lot.

So, how does this change the game?

It doesn’t. It simply smooths out the flow.

If adds come running in, the tank still has to tag them and do damage to them to generate threat. End of story. You will not suddenly, miraculously grab adds and hold them automagically without doing anything to make it happen.

You will not be able to charge in, blast up and tune out. You as the tank will still have to be mobile when necessary, be aware of your surroundings and actively grab adds and distribute damage/threat amongst them, and you will still have to handle the gimmicks of each encounter. 

What you can expect to change is that, if you are already doing everything you are supposed to, you will have a much stronger chance of holding aggro on all members of an AoE group, even if you are focusing on Skull, and the DPS are ignoring your marks to blow up whoever they want.

This change would normally encourage you to prioritize AoE threat generating abilities more. Since most AoE is on some kind of cooldown cycle now, you’re probably already using your AoE abilities whenever they’re up anyway, so, well, no big change there. Right?

It’s not like you can do Swipe spam, no matter how much you would have wanted to. But you can pop it every time it’s off cooldown, and expect it to have tastier results.

Likewise, for DPS players, this does not signal the death of Vanish/ Feign Death and Misdirection/Fan of Knives. Adds will still come in from wierd directions, and being able to send them off to the tank is always a good thing. Likewise, having an emergency “Get them the f&*(^ off of me” button never loses it’s value.


In conclusion…. I don’t know where the hell all the panic I saw came from, or the rage about dumbing down the game, but I for one welcome our new threat overlords, and invite them to come tank at the pug table.

My Warrior and Hunter alts will be sure to make you feel RIGHT at home.

Raise ’em right or rock and roll?

A Rogue, a Druid and a Priest walk into a bar.
The bartender asks them what they want.
The Rogue says, “Gimme some fresh leather gear, heavy on the agility and crit. I’m DPS.”
The Druid says, “I’ll have what he’s having. I’m a tank.”
The Priest says, “Gimme some rings, necklaces and trinkets heavy on intellect and spirit, I’m the healer.”
The Druid says, “I’ll have what he’s having. Sometimes I’m a healer.”
The bartender says, “Hey, who do you think you are, pal, a hunter?”
The Druid says, “No, that’s my alt. Hey, you got any BoE epics that I can need roll for him?”

I read somewhere that you’re supposed to open your speech with a joke. There you go.

I checked. It didn’t say it had to be a funny joke.

About this Priest thing.

I re-rolled a Priest, dear lord help me a gnome Priest, and went Discipline spec.

I dinged 15 yesterday, and immediately stopped questing. I went LFD as the healer, and leveled to 20 by the end of the night.

This may surprise you, but Priests don’t heal anything like Druids.

Bubble? BUBBLE?!?

Man, I’m a Druid tank, we were taught to hate and fear that bubble.

The bubble meant we no get hit in face. If we no get hit in face, we no get rage. If we no get rage we no hit bad guys. We no hit bad guys, we no get aggro.

We no hold aggro, and that dumb son of a bitch that bubbled us on the run in just died screaming “Tank? WTF?!?!”

Years of training have taught me to sneer at bubbles.

To be a Bear Tank, you gotta be fast and you gotta like pain. You eat it like candy. The more I get hurt, the more dangerous I become. But you got to be durable, too. Real durable. Most ain’t. 

You want to bubble me? What do I look like, a Paladin? “Ack! My bubble popped, they can touch me with their gooey zombie hands, I just had a bath last week, run away, run away!”

Bear tanks do it in the buff.

Just sayin’.

While I’m kidding my fellow tanks, I’ll acknowledge the Warriors and Death Knights for keeping it real and getting down and dirty with us.

Warriors: “Look, last time they took a swing at me, I felt something get through. I’m telling you, bolt on another couple steel plates, and this time, weld some more damn razor fins on top. If they’re gonna hit me, I want ’em to suffer, damnit.”

Armorer: “But you’re already layered in 6 inches of steel with blades and spikes over everything but your asshole. If I add any more you’ll need a crane to get into combat.”

Warriors: “What? That’s unacceptable! I expect blades and spikes everywhere! Especially protecting me arse! Get weldin’!”

Death Knights: “… What do I care if they hit me? I’m already dead. If they cut off my fist, I’ll just choke them to death with it. Dirt? Slime? Have you SEEN what I clawed my way out of to get here? A little slime just adds color.”

I kid because I care. (bonus points if you know where that line came from, it’s one of my favorites.)

Back to the topic!

My Priest is specced Discipline, because Hedwig told me to. I wish I could say that I researched it, but I’d be lying.

I asked, “Which spec is the one that you think would be most fun to level as for pug healing?”

I was told Disc.

From what I understand as a Druid and Hunter aficionado, Priests what spec Disc can do this thing called Atonement Healing, which means that when you DPS the bad guys with Smite and Holy Fire, part of the damage you do heals the people around you in a completely uncontrolled fashion.

That sounds fascinating.

The more DPS I do, the more healing output I have? Really? God bless you, Blizz, you’ve given Healers a reason to obsess about damage meters too. That took skill.

Of course, from levels 15 through 20, I ain’t got Atonement yet. In fact, I only just got Holy Fire.

What I’ve got, are a damn expensive bubble, a Flash Heal fast big spendy heal, a piss poor long cast meager Heal, and a Renew instant cost HoT.

That’s enough for going on with.

First thing I noticed… son of a, really? REALLY? None of my caster cloth Heirlooms have Spirit on them? Really?

Way to encourage overpowered tanks and heals in the leveling pugs. /sarcasm.

No, by all means, let’s maximize DPS burst damage, we don’t need mana to keep idiots alive while they stand in the fire.

That’s okay. It’s better than being poked in the eye by a banana… or even a pointy stick.

I did, in sequence, Ragefire Chasm, Deadmines, Wailing Caverns and Shadowfang Keep.

In two of those, I zoned in at the first boss, to find the tank and DPS all looking at me, like I better not suck.

In each one, three of the other four people shared guilds. The tank was always one of the folks with two guildies.

I’ll give the tanks I saw credit. They tried. There were marks, there was an orderly progression, there was movement.

The rest of the DPS, on the other hand…

I’m gonna keep healing pugs. It’s certainly entertaining.

What I have to decide is how I’m going to handle the DPS players.

When DPS players attack whatever they feel like without paying any attention to aggro or the tank, what should I do?

When DPS players stand in bad stuff and their health plummets, what should I do?

It looks at first glance like there are two ways I could go with this.

I could try to teach the DPS the consequences of their actions, in the hopes that they will learn what not to do in a very darwinian way. It would also be an investment in the mental health of their future healers.

The mind I save could be my own.

All that I would have to do, is closely monitor the reasons the DPS take damage, and make a conscious decision to withhold my heals if I don’t approve of their behavior. 

The other way I could go would be to ignore what any of the rest do, keep my head down, and do everything in my power to keep everyone alive, starting with me, then the tank, and then everyone else in that order.

Now, if I just do my best to keep everyone alive and do my own job, I’ll be benefitting myself a ton.

I’ll be forced to learn how to heal as efficiently as possible, using the right heal with the right cost and cast time for the purpose at hand. I’d HAVE to, because I’d never know when the group would all decide to take a swim in lava for shits and grins.

I’d get smooth, short runs. If I keep everyone alive, then there would be less deaths, less downtime for run backs and rezzes, less QQ, less drama.

Overall, it would be a decent experience, and I would be as happy in the short term as possible.

In the long term, especially if most healers act like I do and try to heal everyone just to benefit themselves with smooth, drama free runs, then the players will never be forced to learn anything beyond “Blow all cooldowns, stand still going all out, move to next group. Rinse and repeat.”

That will lead to healers that might be trying to learn themselves getting treated like scum for not being overpowered and capable of handling idiots with the self-preservation instincts of a lemming and the life expentancy of a mayfly.

There is a fallacy at the heart of my dilemma. I’m sure you caught it, my friends.

I said there were two ways I could go… and that’s not true.

There is a third way… I could do my own job the best I can, but also watch the actions of other players, and offer unsolicited advice in a friendly, non-aggressive way if I have suggestions on how players could improve their teamwork.

The question really comes down to, is it any of my business how anyone else chooses to play their character?

And even if it is, where is it my responsibility to make other people play the way I think they should, and punish them if they don’t?

Are the lower level dungeons there for pure fun, anything goes, you pays your money the same as everyone else, you takes your chances on what you get?

Are the dungeons there as a proving ground, a place to learn how to play your class and role in a group environment?

Are they a little of column A, a little of column B?

If they’re just there for fun, even only partly for fun, then it’s none of my business how other people play.

I queued up as a healer, and nothing in the PUG checklist said, “You are signing up to heal this group, unless people in it do stuff you don’t like.”

There are no conditions placed on the other members. They signed up to pew pew or stab stab, or tankity tank, and I signed up to heal. I’d be flat out wrong to not heal.

Low level dungeons can be a great place for people to start learning how to play their class and role, but you don’t get all the abilities at the beginning that you do at max level. I think the current system was designed to introduce players slowly to the concept of the abilities and how they are used, giving us time to get the hang of what we’ve got before adding more.

If we can’t practise at low levels the way we’ll be playing at max, then it’s meant for fun as well.  

So, the way I see it, I can see people act like idiots, and I can blog about people acting like idiots, and I can put idiots on ignore if they do not play their characters in a group setting the way I would like them to.

But where the line is drawn, is where I can control my own actions. If I don’t like how people act, then I change my own behavior. I either don’t queue up, I choose only to queue with friends or players whose style I know, I queue but place people I don’t like on ignore so I don’t see them again, or I mention during the run, in a non-aggressive way, things I would ask players to do to help the run go smoothly, and offer guidance and suggestions to be helpful.

Regardless of what else I do, if I queue up, then I made a commitment to either play my role the best I can, or leave the group as an acknowledgement that I cannot handle the conditions and give the group a chance at a healer that can. 

It’s funny, isn’t it? It’s exactly the same as approaching runs as a tank, except the tank is expected and encouraged to lead, and part of leadership is establishing clear expectations for the team.

The healer is a more passive. You follow along, keep up, mana up, and try to keep everyone alive.

You are used to persevering through the tough places, to enduring in frustration but keeping your mouth shut and following the tanks lead.

I wonder how long I can go leveling as a quiet, dutiful healer before I crack?

Update: Thanks to Some Random Guy, who reminded me I didn’t finish this the way I intended. I need to clarify a little bit about the bubble mechanic. As Some Random Guy said, the bubbles were changed a while back so your rage generation will still continue even while bubbled. Also, rage generation mechanics in general were modified so more of your rage comes from damage you deal in comparison to damage received than it used to in the time I was talking about. So, the days of having to strip naked to get rage back while running through content you vastly outlevel are pretty much gone. I fully intended to mention this in the post, but got distracted by shinies. I failed at closing the circle. /sigh.

You made the Bear cry!

I had another post planned, but I just had to get this out first.

Last night, I ran a few Heroics. I’ve been enjoying them quite a lot lately, mostly because I’m running with full guild groups more often than not.

Even when we wipe repeatedly on silly stuff, nobody gets all cranky at someone else. People are more likely to own up to their own mistakes, and take the ribbing. It’s also a lot more satisfying when things go tits up and the team pulls out a win anyway. You know, one of those shared feelings of accomplishment that you will carry with you out of the instance, into the rest of the game where you’ll see those same people again.

I do feel sad that, for a game that is so strongly tied into building communities, the PUG system makes it so easy for people to wander anonymously from group to group without ever building a lasting connection with someone else.

Say what you will about the game and how it’s grown over the years, even with the insanely long wait times it was nice to run content with people you knew were from your server. Win or lose, good times or bad, you were meeting and getting to know other people you could run into on your server again, and it was always worth putting actions and behaviors to names.

If they were really nice (or good) they could go on your friends list, and if they were horrible, you could put them on ignore. And if you added a comment to their name, then when they did a paid name change to escape their well deserved reputation, you could track them!

Not that I ever did that. Ahem.

I got my own invite to the guild Legatum Ignavis during Burning Crusade based on my behavior in a pug group doing Escape from Durnholde Keep. The guild master happened to be in the run, and thought well enough of my behavior to offer me an invite. I don’t think my performance had anything to do with it; I think it was simply that I was unguilded, and I wasn’t an overt asshat. Legatum Ignavis was a guild of very nice people, and I was overjoyed to join.

It’s pretty hard for something like that to happen now. For better or worse, you have to learn different ways to meet someone than just running a pug with them and getting to know them by their works.

On the other hand….

There is a lot to be said for doing runs with people you’re never going to see again in your F^%ing life.

I ran some Heroics last night. 

One of those runs involved myself on my Hunter, Matheo on his MM Hunter, Asco tossing some Paladin heals, and two other pugged additions, both Druids. Bear tank, Kitty DPS.

I really didn’t pay them any mind at first. I was distracted by talking in vent. I spent my time talking, listening, and playing my Hunter. I wasn’t studying other players and judging them. I wasn’t watching the Bear tank to see how he was doing (or see if I could learn something nifty from how he handled the instance), and I wasn’t watching the Kitty DPS except to see that the Kitty was a cute pinkish-white color.

That changed fast.

The Bear tank was fine. He was just there for bidness, didn’t break out the mad tanking moves but he never had much trouble. How much of that was having two Hunters using Misdirect every time it was off cooldown in conjunction with Multi-Shot, I couldn’t tell you. I can say that even if he didn’t want aggro, he got it.

The Kitty Druid, on the other hand….

I sometimes see things that make me say “I ought to pull your Druid card”, but they’re mostly jokes. Everyone has a bad day, makes mistakes, does something silly, or just doesn’t know any better.

I’m saying, I’m pulling that Cats’ Druid card, ripping it up, and setting the pieces on fire. Then I’m gonna piss on the ashes.

Once I started watching, there were lots of other little things I picked up on, but this one scene should say it all.

One pull, multiple mobs. The Bear tank dies. Kitty DPS, two Hunters, two pets, Misdirects frost traps… we keep burning them down. We can do this, easy.

The Bear tank asks for a fast Brez.

The Kitty takes the time to type, “Can’t, I don’t have reagents.”

The Kitty, I will add, is dealing with the loss of the tank by DPSing the mobs while staying in Kitty form.

So. Much. Fail.

There was actually shouting going on in our vent channel. I about lost it, and Elo wasn’t far behind.

How the f^&k do you play your Druid to level 85, gear up far enough to enter heroic instances as a Feral, and never, ever bother to get the minor Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth?

There aren’t that many minor Glyphs to choose from! And if you just recently changed specs? The Glyphs last forever! You learn it once and use it whenever you want! There is NO EXCUSE for not having that Glyph!

Now, if for some strange reason you don’t know anyone in the entire game that can make you a Glyph, and you’re too cheap at level 85 to spend 40 gold on the damn thing… how do you not buy reagents, while at the same time KNOWING that your Rebirth requires them?

“But wait Bear”, I hear you cry, “Calm the heck down! Maybe they’ve used Rebirth SO MUCH that they just ran out of their stack of reagents, and forgot to buy some before queueing up!”

My answer to you for that one is, how the f*&^ do you play as Feral Kitty DPS, with all that the gear for Kitty entails, and then when the tank dies and it’s you and two hunters, you DON’T POP BEAR FORM TO CLOSE OUT THE PULL

How can you play a Druid, the class of flowing versatility, and yet be so rigid in your playstyle that you won’t even shift to save your own bear butt and the smaller butts of your party?

Please. Let this be a reminder to you. If you are going to play with others, make sure you’ve got at least the basics of your class understood.

Being fully prepared to Bear tank if you want to Kitty is NOT necessary! You don’t have to be in a mixed BearCat spec, you don’t have to be in tanking Glyphs, you don’t have to practise tanking at all.

But DO take the time to shift into Bear form, arrange some abilities on your bar, and put on that bar your Mangle, Swipe, Growl, Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regeneration. If things go all wahooni shaped, at least know you’ve got a Bear form that immediately makes you as tough as a dedicated tank to fall back on, with self-healing and health buffing abilities RIGHT THERE to pop, and some threat generating abilities to give you a chance to pull crap off the healer.

You can still pull it out of the crapper. You could make the difference. It takes 15 seconds of thought and preparation.

Oh, and please… if you’re too cheap to buy a Glyph, bring some reagents, okay? For me? And have Rebirth on your bar somewhere?

You don’t really want to see a grown Bear cry, do you?

A Call to Bribe

To the point.

Blizzard has announced that they’re gonna try bribing people to get them to queue as tank in the “Looking For Dungeon” random people-matching tool.

They gussied it up to make it sound like DPS players may end up just as scarce some day and would see the bribes too. Call me cynical, but while I play a character in a virtual world, I like to think my common sense is still fixed in the real one.

It’s a Call to Tank. It’s possibly a Call to Heal. DPS are not, I say again my last NOT, going to see any bribes out of this.


I’m not gonna argue the potential effectiveness of their chosen motivational technique. I don’t have the figure(s) for it.

I could go on at length, as others have, and as The Daily Blink so evocatively depicted, by claiming that all this will do is bring more unqualified people to queue as tanks, increasing the crushing unhappiness of those trying to get a run.

I know that when I spend 40 minutes in a queue, I’m not thinking to myself, “Boy, I can’t wait to get a tank so we can go win.”

No, what I’m thinking is, “Boy, after waiting for 40 minutes for this to pop, I sure as heck hope this group doesn’t suck. I’ve already blown half my night.”

But I’m not gonna delve into that.

What I want to ask is, “Is that the best they could come up with for a bribe?”

Look, you want me to tank a random, and we’re talking a 100% random because to get the bribe you’re not allowed to queue with ANY friends, not even a healer you trust, then you better make it worth my while.

What’s that? You say the super short, almost non-existent delay tanks get should be bribe enough?

I agree. You’re right.

But it’s not, is it? If it was, Blizzard wouldn’t be making an attempt to add an additional incentive to get us to queue up.

So… everyone here heard the old joke?

Two guys are working on fixing a car. One turns to the other and asks, “Hey Joe, would you suck a guy’s dick for a billion dollars?”

The other guy thinks about it for a minute, and then says, “Yeah, sure. If someone offered me a billion dollars, you’re damn right I would.”

So the first guy asks, “Would you suck my dick for a dollar?”

Joe looks pissed and says, “Hell no! What do you think I am?”

And the first guy says, “We already established that, now we’re just haggling over the price.”

You may ask yourself, “Did he just call all tanks…?”

My answer to you is, no. No, I did not.


I can tell you one thing for sure and for certain. If Blizzard expects me to be a whore, the price you’re offering ain’t anywhere NEAR high enough for me.

I may have shocked quite a few of you by using the language I have.


I have never seen anything inherently wrong with shocking people, if it helps to get them seeing things from a different point of view. If you want your worldview coddled and wish to avoid anything that might harsh your mellow, then I suggest you leave the internet entirely. Or try to stick to websites that show nothing but cute cat videos, like I do.

I do not queue as a tank for LFD. Ever. I, personally, love tanking above all other group roles available in the game, and yet, I do not queue for randoms as a tank.


Because of the attitudes I encounter when I’ve tried. The behavior. The abuse.

I’ve talked about it plenty of times before. I’m not going to rehash that either, Rebecca did an outstanding job of it yesterday.

Mainly, I don’t queue because I got tired of being called fail if I put up a crowd control mark, fail if I paused so a healer could recover mana, and got sick and tired of arrogant DPS chain pulling the mobs FOR me if I kept to my own pace anywayc.

So. I stopped queueing up as a tank in LFD because of the abuse I was receiving. Chance at loot and Purples and points to buy loot were not more valuable to me than my self-respect.

Apparently, I am not the only one whose sense of self-respect is strong enough to refuse to put up with abuse.

Blizzard’s answer to this dilemma is to offer us better bribes. To up the offer. To raise the price the’re offering.

To haggle over price.

Okay, if that’s where you’re going with it, fine.

All I can do is ask myself, “What would it take to get me to put up with the abuse and start queueing again? Especially when I only get the rewards by running without a single friend for moral support?”

Would a non-combat pet do it?

Hell, no. And this is coming from an outspoken advocate of pet collecting. I’ve got a LOT of pets on my main, and I’m telling you, no. Not with the pets that they are suggesting they are offering.

Now, IF they added into the pool those pets that you CANNOT get except by spending money or having taken part in a previous promotion.. pets that you only got by buying a Collectors Edition, or through the Trading Card Game, or through the Winter Olympic PvP event, or by playing the game in other countries, or by personally attending a Blizzcon in France…

YES, that would be enough to encourage me to queue.

Yes, I know. I know exactly what that makes me. I never said I wasn’t, I just want to haggle over the price. :)

It’s the same with mounts. Sure, they’re offering a chance, a slight chance, for mounts… but they’re mounts that the exact same tanks have a chance to get by soloing the original instances, without deling with idiots.

But Blizzard has said up front that the mounts you WOULD want, the ones only obtainable in raids like Karazhan, The Eye, or the now-defunct troll raid aren’t included.

Well, geez. If the tank really wanted the mounts you’re offering, they would have gone soloing the dungeon already. Offering a rare chance to get it doesn’t help.

And just how long will someone stay interested if you make it a really rare drop? If they drop fast enough, again, incentive gone, I get my desired  mount, I stop queueing. Make it so it almost never drops, and much like the two handed epic BoA sword in Archeaology, after people try long enough, either they get it and quit, or they just quit.

Now, if you added ALL the potential mounts, and I mean ALL of them, both factions, every special faction, every instance and every raid, AND all the mounts you could only get from attending events or from the Trading Card Games…

YES, then I’d do it. It would be more exciting when you never knew if you’d see something actually special.  God forbid you get offered a reward someone would want.

Even then, I will only do it for as long as it takes to get the rewards I want, and then I’m gone.

So, just as Rebecca says, as it is now, it can only be a temporary measure, lasting only so long as it takes the tanks to get what they want, and then they vanish into the mists.

And if Blizzard tries to extend how long the increased quantity of tanks lasts by reducing the drop rate of the good stuff? Then they increase the chance the already tired and frustrated tanks will say “Screw that for being a suckers game” and quit anyway, and those same tanks will NOT be all that interested in trying again in the future if they ‘up the drop rate’ or something.

It’s a plan for a brief burst of increased tanking… by those who want what they’re offering, and I’m not one of them.

What is this going to accomplish?

I honestly don’t know. I’d tend to think it will encourage anyone currently on the fence about trying tanking for the first time to give it a go, but it does nothing to address the rampant asshat issue, so, those same people will have the same chance of getting burnt out or frustrated and quitting anyway.

What I do know is that Blizzard may think I’m a whore, but I ain’t gonna blow ’em for what they’re offering. Up the ante first and then we’ll talk.

You can start by putting that Spectral Tiger Mount up in the rotation. That would be a good way to tell me you’re serious about wanting me to queue.

Beary dissatisfied with low level instances

Over the weekend, I leveled a new Worgen Druid in Eff the Ineffable, with the intention of maybe someday running some instances or… who knows?

From 1 to 23, it was a pretty smooth ride. I enjoyed the 100% completion of Darkshore quests, Skinning was as easy as I expected in that bear-and-cat saturated zone, and my Death Knight sugar-momma fed plenty of gold for equipment and training.

At level 23, I decided to see how the Druid stacked up as a low level instance tank.

Before I took this step, I checked my tools.

Solid gear – check. I bought from the AH, had a few nice quest rewards, and generally made sure that I had solid Stam/Agi gear with some hit rating and relatively high iLevels for the armor rating.

Skills – check. I had Enrage for instant rage generation, Mangle and Maul for single target threat, Growl for regaining threat from overzealous DPS, Demoralyzing Roar to help cut down on incoming damage and Skull Bash for those delicious spell interrupts.

What I didn’t have, of course, were Feral Charge, Feral Faerie Fire, or Swipe.

In fact, at level 23, two levels prior to Glyphs, I couldn’t help but notice that I had nothing to serve as AoE threat generation at all.

At least… I didn’t to a casual observer.

Time to bring out the tricks.

First, marking targets. Telling everyone who to focus on killing first will help cut down on most of the AoE threat issues. If I put my Skull (accessed by assigning Skull to F1, X to F2 for second kill priority) then the DPS should know who to focus on… and let me worry about the rest.

Second, overcoming healer aggro.

An experienced healer will know that they gain aggro from the amount they actually heal, WHEN it heals someone. That aggro is on a point for point basis, but divided amongst the number of mobs in the entire linked group. One point of healer aggro on a tank when the tank is fighting only one mob applies one full point on the mob, but that same point when the tank is fighting two mobs gets split up – 1/2 a point on mob one, 1/2 a point on mob two.

So how to compensate? The best way is for the healer to NOT cast any heals until they can clearly see the tank has aggroed everything. Even something as inherently weak as modern Swipe, in the hands of a tank, can overcome group healer aggro. That’s why healer aggro is divided in the first place. Healers get protected by the tank, DPS need to check their own six and be careful.

Without a Swipe, though, how does a healer keep from being swarmed by all the mobs in a four to six mob pull?

This is where Thorns and self-heal HoTs come into play for a Bear. You stand there in caster form, mark your primary kill target with Skull, cast Rejuvenation, Regrowth and Thorns on yourself, flip to Bear and run in.

Charging in, of course, would be preferred, but we ain’t got Feral Charge yet.

With the 12 second Rejuvenation, that HoT lasts long enough for Regrowth’s cast time to go off and still be viable for the 6 second Regrowth duration. Thorns has a 20 second duration, so it’s even better.

When you run in and tag that first mob, make darn sure you try to reach melee range of any casters. If not, well, thats what those HoTs on you that YOU cast are for; you’re generating your OWN healer aggro for yourself. 

Anyone in melee range, of course, will also be getting tagged by your Thorns and helping you out on AoE threat. Mangle and Maul as appropriate.

If I only had Swipe, Feral Charge and FFF! Ah, the joys of playing mob pinball. /sigh.

With these tools, plus Tidy Plates / Threat Plates, I figured this was totally doable.

Of course, there is one key ingredient that I had neglected to check.

Group willing to actually work with me for one f’ing second?

Um, nope.

Stockades. Seems simple, right?

I felt really, really bad for the healer. They seemed nice, they were polite, they stood up for me after we wiped on the first pull. But after the third time dying, I certainly didn’t blame them for leaving.

So, what was the problem?

The DPS, two Hunters and a Warrior, actually attacked while I was still running up. I hadn’t even gotten close enough to face pull and boom!

So mobs are on the three DPS and their pets, but not ALL the mobs of the group. I grabbed one of them, and started trying to get the rest, and the healer panicked, exacerbating the problem by frantically casting heals to try and keep all the DPS alive… bringing the remainder of the mobs down on her head.

We rezzed and ran in, and the healer, bless her soul, told the DPS to give me a chance to grab aggro before they opened up.

It didn’t matter. They never gave me more than a single GCD to do anything before opening up, and this inevitably resulted in mobs attacking DPS, healer trying to keep them alive, and then free mobs running for the healer.

With my wonderful system, if nobody ever actually attacks ME, then the self-cast HoTs and Thorns do exactly diddly and squat for threat generation. Nothing. So I got a chance to grab one mob before I got to watch the parade run right by me.

As I said, the healer was a trooper, but three wipes pretty much signaled that some people you just can’t teach. You can’t heal through stupid.

I was disgusted.

Sure, I know the tricks. But that doesn’t do me a damn bit of good if the rest of the group willingly choose to shut their brains off, ignore the plan, do what they want and then blame it on the tank if they pull aggro.

But what is more frustrating, is knowing that if I were playing a Warrior, I’d have Charge, Thunder Clap, and 2 points in Blood and Thunder to have nearly instant Rend DoT application on all targets in the group I just whacked.

I’m sorry, but I feel that this situation is pure bullshit. Maybe I’m missing something obvious, and if so I’m sorry for being stupid, but how is giving Warriors easy AoE threat abilities early on and Bears nothing a reasonable decision?

So, I’m not happy. I’m feeling a little pissy about it. I don’t mind having to squeeze out every ounce of usefulness from my tools to make something happen, I (like many of you) was a Bear tank in Burning Crusade when Bear tanks weren’t ‘cool’. I never saw it as cheating, I saw it as a challenge; make it work.

I guess the core problem I have is that there is a LFD tool, and I could take advantage of it… but the people in that channel seem to be getting trained by other tanking classes to just go all out balls out and not worry about their threat or target selection.

Without ez mode AoE threat abilities of my own at this level, that leaves me as the sucky ‘LRN2TANK’ dude.

And that SUCKS.

I guess the moral of the story is… only play with close friends that have a clue, wait until I’ve got some more tools, or re-roll Warrior, right?

About bloody time!

According to MMO Champion’s latest patch 4.1 update:

  • x Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6.

  • What else can I say? Except about bloody time!

    No, wait, there is ONE other thing I could say…

    Why the hell are obviously needed things like Swipes’ cooldown being reduced left as something to go live at some future date, but they can completely jerk Priest healers around on a whim every other day on hotfixes?

    Never mind, happy Bear is happy that of my two AoE abilities, Thrash and Swipe, one of ’em might be useable against trigger happy DPS in pugs a touch more often. (No I don’t call Maul an AoE any more, lol)

    Just you wait, though… next update on the PTR will be a 50% reduction in Swipe damage output. Just sayin’.

    Oh, and Death Knights… grats on your new Rebirth!

    Tanking with Style!

    I’ve run some of the new instances in Cataclysm, and along the way I’ve seen a lot of really good tanking out there. It’s exciting the way the tanks I’ve found in random pugs are taking the content seriously and using some pretty solid movement, positioning and spell balance abilities in their play.

    What is this ‘communication’ you speak of?

    One thing I noticed in the pugs was that, while the tanks were individually skilled, and DPS players and healers played their roles well, each person played as individuals, without much in the way of teamwork or communication.

    The only points where communication came into play was for a brief pause to ensure each player understood the strategy for the next boss encounter.

    In a random pug, this is a fairly common story. But it shouldn’t be, and I’ll explain why I feel that way before getting into specifics.

    In each pug, I had a different tank. Each tank controlled group pulls in a different way. There are two different core styles of  group tanking, and each tank used one of those styles, with personal variations, without telling the rest of the group what to expect.

    The DPS players in these runs played with their own expectations of how the tank would be pulling, but in some of the cases, it was clear that what they expected, and what the tank was actually doing, were not the same thing.

    That right there is where communication should come into play.

    I’ll get into a more comprehensive breakdown of the two core styles of group tanking in a minute, I want to nail down why this is important first.

    When the DPS players are unsure of what the tank is going to do next, or how the tank is handling the pulls, the single greatest effect is to instill confusion in the group during the transition from target to target.

    I noticed some DPS players were trying to follow the tank’s lead and always stay on whichever mob the tank currently had targeted. This caused problems when the tank used a style that involved frequent switching of targets to apply threat evenly amongst an entire group using direct theat spells.

    I also noticed that some DPS players were picking a mob and sticking with it during the entire course of each pull until that mob was dead. These players had higher overall DPS during the run due to being able to fully engage a DPS rotation on a single mob, but sometimes the DPS player picked the first mob the tank targeted in the pull and stayed there while the tank had moved on to another mob, and did not continue generating sufficient threat to hold aggro in the face of determined DPS. Also sometimes, but much rarer, the DPS player just picked something at random regardless of the actions of the tank, and fired away until the mob died. This caused problems when the tank wasn’t applying enough threat to that particular mob, which would happen pretty frequently.

    My opinion is, if the tank took the time at the beginning of a run to explain how they would handle group pulls, and what their expectation of the rest of the group would be, then the likelihood of the group overall to succeed would improve.

    Here is an example. If you do not communicate what you intend to do, the assumption for most DPS players will be, without a way to read the tank’s mind, to believe that whichever mob the tank is currently targeting is the mob having the most threat generated upon it. 

    The logic flow is simple – DPS players can generate damage up to the limits imposed on them by the tank’s threat output. If they go over, intentionally or not, they pull the attention of the mob away from the tank.

    In a group of four mobs, the one the tank is focusing his attention on tends to have the highest threat generated if the tank remains on that target and uses Direct Threat spells, and thus is the mob the DPS has the best chance of dealing massive damage to without pulling it’s attention off the tank.

    If you, as the tank, intend to spread your threat amongst the mobs equally, and thus will not be focusing on and building threat more on one mob than any other, and you do not tell your group that’s what your plan is, then the other players will not know who they’re supposed to kill at any given moment. They’ll have to guess, based on direct observation.

    “Is it this one? That’s the one the tank grabbed first. Okay, shooting, shooting, OOPS! Tank’s on someone else now. But this one is still over half health. Do I switch to his new target or stay? I don’t want to go over and pull, I’d better switch. Damn, now he’s moved on to a different one!”

    This level of confusion results in reduced effectiveness at it’s best, and pulled aggro and an unhappy healer at it’s worst.

    Why this is mostly directed at the tank

    As the tank, you are going to be pulling or charging into mobs, either mobs you’ve personally selected or at the direction of a raid leader. 

    Once you have engaged the group, how you generate your threat amongst those mobs is all in your paws.

    Your threat generation is very important to the team. Every single member will be counting on you to hold threat on the mobs to prevent healer aggro, and to build sufficient threat to allow the DPS players in the group to perform their tasks to the best of their own abilities.

    You are the one that the rest of the group takes their cue from. Everyone watches you to see where to focus their attention next.

    As the tank, even if you are not the one directing or leading the raid, you ARE the one choosing how you will prioritize threat generation. 

    As there is more than one valid way to generate and prioritize group threat, communicating to your team exactly how you intend to control the group of enemies will allow everyone to anticipate your actions, prepare themselves for the fight, understand their own responsibilities and help the entire team work together. 

    Tanks lead from the front, no matter who sets the overall goal.

    Laying a little groundwork on the terms

    For the rest of the discussion, I’m going to talk about threat using two terms, direct threat and AoE threat.

    Direct Threat is when you use a spell or ability that must be targeted on a specific mob, and when the majority of generated threat from that spell or ability is applied to that one targeted mob. Splash damage from a direct threat spell tends to affect other mobs less severely than the primary target. 

    AoE Threat is when you use a spell or ability whose function is to generate threat amongst a group of mobs equally. The AoE may take the form of a circle targeted on a position on the ground, a cone in the direction the tank faces, or an area centered on the tank himself, and the threat may come from a persistent Damage Over Time effect, a single pulse or burst, or a combination of them both.

    Got it? Let’s go.

    Our tanking style is based on our intended goals

    There is a reason we try to study how to generate threat, and look for ways to improve our style and technique.

    It’s all about controlling what we can.

    We don’t have any control over the rules of the game, the basic stats, the cooldowns, the spell effects, or the actions of the mobs.

    What we can control is what gear we choose to seek out and equip, and how we play our own character using the tools provided.

    Gear lists and stat prioritization are all about learning how the core rules work, and making sure we are personally seeking out and equipping the best gear we can, reforging the stats that are most important, enchanting and gemming most efficiently, and basically becoming as powerful as the rules of the game will allow us to be. It’s all about timing, stats, offense and defense, and can be mathematically calculated.

    What cannot be mathematically calculated, and thus is frequently overlooked, is how to actually play our character using the tools provided.

    If Blizzard chooses to reduce the effectiveness of an ability, we have no control over that. If some of our gear is buffed, or nerfed, or removed entirely, all we can do is recompute the importance of stats and make new lists.

    What we do have control over is understanding how our abilities work, what situations or conditions they are most useful for, and using them to the best of our skill based on our intended goal for the fight. How to prioritize which abilities to use, based not on more powerful over less powerful, but more useful for one situation compared to another.

    Intent. How we pull and handle a group is going to depend on our intent. 

    The core styles of group threat

    There are as many styles for tanking a group of mobs as there are tanks out there, but there are two core group tanking philosophies most commonly in use today.

    Prioritized and Even Split.

    Prioritized is what I call it when the intent of the tank is to build as much threat as possible on one target to give the DPS a double rainbow opportunity to go all out. The general technique is to identify a first kill target that you will focus the majority of your Direct Threat against, with the expectation that all DPS players will be focusing on that one target to kill it first. AoE Threat abilities will be used to maintain anti-healer threat on the rest of the group, and no more.

    Split Evenly is what I call it when the intent of the tank is to try and spread the threat from all of your AoE Threat and Direct Threat abilities evenly across the entire group, to provide the DPS the ability to use AoE damage spells and target whoever they wish freely. 

    Prioritized group tanking style breaks down in the following way.

    The tank identifies a mob in the group that will be killed first. That mob is the first kill target.

    The tank targets the first kill target, and charges into or otherwise pulls the group.

    In the first few moments of the pull, the tank starts by dealing Direct Threat to the first kill target, immediately followed by AoE Threat to counteract healer threat amongst the remainder of the group of mobs.

    Over the course of the next several global cooldowns, the tank focuses all Direct Threat on the first kill target, while using just enough AoE Threat to maintain a respectable lead over the threat generated by the healer.

    At this time, it is the expectation that the DPS players are all focused solely on the first kill target. It is also expected that, because the tank is focusing his Direct Threat generating capabilities solely on the first kill target, that the DPS players are limiting themselves mostly to single target attacks rather than AoE, and if AoE is used, it is of the low-threat style.

    Once the tank judges for herself that she has generated sufficient threat on the first kill target to hold aggro for the remainder of the fight until the mob is dead, no matter HOW much threat the DPS players cause, the tank switches over to a second kill target.

    The tank begins using Direct Threat on the second target, and continues using AoE Threat as a secondary mission just to stay above the healer.

    The rest of the DPS rides the first priority kill target down until it dies before switching over. They do NOT follow the tank to the new target.

    By the time the first target dies, the tank will have built up sufficient advance threat on the second target that the DPS players will have a healthy cushion allowing them to go all out immediately.

    The rest of the encounter is, for the tank, about watching and preparing for emergencies. With the continued use of AoE Threat for the duration of the fight, there is rarely any need to mark a third target to prioritize. The DPS players can focus on and burn down whichever remaining targets they wish. If someone begins to accrue high threat, well, that is what Taunt is for, along with Tidy Plates/ Threat Plates for pinpoint threat accuracy.

    This style of tanking has several advantages. Every player knows who to be targeting at all times; whoever the tank has targeted first until it’s dead, then whoever the tank is on next. If the tank is practised in using them, this is the style that supports marking targets with Skulls and Stars and Green Nachos. Using these marks only improves the flow of the fight, because it ensures that every player remembers who the first priority kill target was supposed to be.

    By knowing exactly who you should be paying attention to, it allows the tank to devote the majority of her Direct Threat spells to one target, providing the highest level of threat possible. This allows the DPS the best opportunity to go ‘all out’ on a target with a full rotation, and still stay under the threat threshold.

    Confusion in the transition from one mob to another is HIGHLY reduced, and the chance that aggro will accidentally be pulled is minimized.

    Another advantage to this style, is that it’s excellent practise for incorporating marking targets for Crowd Control. Once a team is comfortable with the idea of using single target damage spells and marked kill targets, it’s a small step to suggest that a target be marked as the “last to die”, and be crowd controlled by one of the DPS players for the duration of the fight.

    There are drawbacks to this method, though.

    The first issue is, this style is very rigid. The tank directs who the DPS is to kill, and the DPS players are expected to obey. There is very little room for independant decision making. For some DPS players, it can feel as though the tank is having fun, and the DPS players are merely along for the ride, and are not trusted to innovate or unleash the full potential of their characters. This is actually a pretty telling argument, as most characters have a wide variety of tools available, and many players are keen to experiment and vary their methods of play to enliven a run.

    The second issue is, this style requires willing teamwork and coordination. If a player in the group decides they simply will not follow the marks or first kill target priority, then this style will result in a run that quickly degenerates into chaos. The tank is not focusing on building infinite threat on everyone; just the maximum possible on one mob. If a DPS player decides to go ‘off the mark’, they will easily blow past the tank’s threat on the secondary mobs and pull aggro.

    Take as an example a pull of a group of four mobs, where the Prioritized system is being used, but one DPS player decides to ‘do his own thing’.

    The tank marks a target with Skull as the first kill target, another with a Star, and leaves the last two untouched. The tank charges in, uses two instant cast Direct Threat spells on the Skull target, followed up with an AoE Threat spell, then a Direct Threat DoT, and another AoE Threat. From this point, healer aggro is counteracted, and some serious pounding on the Skull can begin for the next three global cooldowns.

    Dri$$t the Night Elf Hunter decides the unmarked mob with the bow tie is looking at him funny, and goes all out on it. He blows right past the tank’s meager threat on the mob, and it goes running after him.

    At this point, your average Dri$$t will panic, forget that he has Feign Death, and go nuts with even MORE DPS, in the hopes of killing the mob before it reaches him. If this fails, then he will begin running around the room screaming and wailing while the mob smashes him in the back, which, of course, means he’s not Parrying or Dodging.

    The healer will change focus from the tank to the DPS in trouble, and begin chain casting like crazy to keep him alive. Most healers will, anyway. The instinct to try and save a life is strong with healers. It’s a pride thing. “You’re not dying on my watch” and stuffs.

    The tank will stop attacking the Skull target in order to grab the loose mob, Taunt it, and get it back under control. Unfortunately, in such situations, the mob is frequently out of Taunt range, and the tank will have to go chasing the mob down first… leaving the group he was fighting to begin chasing the tank from behind… where, again, the tank has no Parry or Dodge chance. The tank thus takes accelerated damage. This happens because most tanks take their responsibility to hold aggro and protect the party very seriously, and like a hound can’t resist chasing that fox that he lost aggro on.

    The healer sees the tanks’ health suddenly drop like a stone, the DPS player is dying, there’s running all over the place…. and since the tank is no longer on the Skull target, one of the DPS that were following the original game plan just got one sweet crit, and pulled aggro himself. Oh crap.

    It is usually at this point the healer has a nervous breakdown, and Dri$$t says, “Learn to tank, noob.”

    Does any of that sound familiar?

    No. Of course not.

    Split Evenly group tanking style breaks down like this.

    The tank does not mark a target. The tank instead selects one for other reasons, spellcaster perhaps, and charges in/pulls.

    The tank uses all AoE Threat abilities, uses one instant cast and one cooldown Direct Threat ability on the current target, and then switches to a different one.

    The tank uses more AoE Threat, and then applies two more Direct Threat abilities, trying to include DoTs if possible. Then the tank switches to different target #3 and continues the process. The whole idea is to use AoE Threat at all times when off cooldown, and fill in with Direct Threat on every mob in rotation evenly. Spread all the threat out like cheese on a cracker.

    The DPS players are given no direction as to which mob to attack. It is understood that each DPS player is on his or her own during this encounter.

    The tank is operating under a much different priority list. First, the healer must be protected. Second, the tank must survive to deal threat and stay as still as possible to give the DPS players a clear field of view, and third, the tank must be on overwatch during the entire battle, prepared to shift attention to any mob that shows signs of breaking free…. if necessary.

    This style is much more fluid, and puts more of the responsibility on skillful play and proper use of judgment on the DPS players.

    This style is where you will frequently see a tank stand back and not interfere if a DPS player decides to go all out on a mob that is close to death, to try and burn it down before it reaches them.

    The difference between doing that in this style as opposed to prioritization, is that in this one, the responsibility of NOT pulling threat is solidly on the DPS players. If they go over, that’s their ass. 

    In this style, it is expected that a DPS player knows how to watch their own aggro on a targeted mob, and if they are getting close to going past the tank, they will simply switch targets to one they haven’t blasted yet.

    The biggest advantage to this style is that it requires no teamwork or communication with the rest of the group at all. As long as everyone understands that all mobs will have threat spread evenly among them, and that it’s up to the DPS players to NOT go over the tank, then it doesn’t matter who attacks what when. Anyone can attack anything, and the tank’s main priorities are right up front; healer, then tank. 

    The second main advantage to this style is that it really does open up the DPS players to pulling all the tools out of their toolbox. If a hunter decides to use a Frost Trap, or kite a mob around, or send in their pet on one mob while attacking another, it’s no problem at all. DPS players are trusted to know what they are doing, and that if they get into trouble and just can’t drop aggro, to run TO the tank to get the mob pulled off, and to use threat reducing abilities if possessed.

    The main disadvantages is that the higher the individual DPS of the player, and the higher the health of the mobs, the harder it will be for the tank to generate enough threat spread out on all the mobs without having someone go over. It works best on groups of mobs with relatively low health that die quickly, so that even if a DPS player pulls, it’s a simple task to burn it down fast.

    Another disadvantage is that it does not train groups in how to incorporate Crowd Control skills, at a group level. Individuals may see their use of CC increase as they play with their food, but it does not train a player how not to break another players’ trap. This style also encourages DPS players to use low threat AoE damage spells more than direct damage, and that is a bad mix to have been practising when it’s time to worry about Crowd Control.

    With this style, as long as the tank focuses on AoE Threat and spreading Direct Threat out evenly, and watches the entire field of battle closely, then most group pulls will go very smoothly, with the additional frequent use of Intercepts, Charges and Taunts. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as playing in this fashion and succeeding can be just as exciting for the tank as for the DPS players.

    The last major disadvantage, of course, is that with the hijinks of the DPS players to consider, the healer is likely to have a very, very rough time if they don’t prioritize their heals and give DPS players a chance to pull themselves out of the weeds on their own.

    A Bit of Wrapup

    Both core styles work very well depending on the intent of the players using them. Many long time tanks don’t even think of these as the seperate styles they are; they blend both styles together to greater or lesser degree, depending entirely on the situation. Perhaps they mark one particular mob with a Skull because of the special attack or property it has, but go half and half on Direct Threat and AoE Threat, and switch to a Split Evenly style as soon as that mob is dead.

    The key thing about them, and blending them together, is that if your group has no idea why you are targeting the mob you are at any given time, they’re not going to know if they should go all out, or switch around, or follow your target on /assist, or anything else. This means that your groups aren’t playing to their full potential.

    So, please do me a favor. If you actually care about tanking a smooth run, then take the two minutes at the start to let the party know your intention.

    Macro a mini-speech if you like, or type a simple sentence, but do something to let them know, “Hey, I’m going to be spreading my threat around as evenly as I can, so attack whichever mob you want, but if you go over my threat and pull from me, you either better kill it yourself, feign it off or run it toward me to taunt.”

    Or, alternately, “I’m going to be marking Skull as the first to die, stay on it until it’s dead, don’t worry if I switch my target to Star halfway through, it’s cool. Kill Star second, and Mage, please sheep the Moon, and everyone leave Moon untouched for last.”

    A Last Word, or, Advanced Teamwork

    The way I have described Prioritization and Split Evenly may sound melodramatic, but that’s because I used the extreme examples of the styles. As I mentioned briefly, many players already use both, blended together smoothly.

    If you’re new to tanking, and these styles make sense but sound kind of boring, please keep in mind one thing; when you play with a team often, and get to know each other a little, everything loosens up and you all learn to trust each other.

    Being able to trust each other means that, even when using the Prioritization style, your DPS players change up who they attack based on how they flow through mob transitions.

    For example, you mark a Skull and a Star as first and second kill targets. All DPS players get on Skull to start, but once it is down to about 40% or less health and the tank has switched to Star, the melee DPS can feel comfortable switching over to Star and letting the ranged DPS burn Skull the rest of the way.

    Why would this make sense and make your players happy?

    It’s because the melee DPS players can use an extra two seconds to move over to and get properly behind the Star. During those two seconds, the ranged DPS can finish killing Skull, and then with a single click be already going to town on Star. No manuevering or physical repositioning necessary.

    Those are the kinds of things that a group of players comfortable with each other, and trusting each other, do all the time without worrying about it.

    But it all starts with clear communication of your intentions, and the understanding and cooperation of the rest of the team.

    And above all else, having a healer with nerves of solid chrome-plated steel.