Twisted Nether and the Focus target macros

I said I’d write it up on the Twisted Nether blogcast, so here we go. 

Two macros that use the Focus mechanic to select a target that you can attack WITHOUT having it selected as your current target, and attack that Focus with Lacerate or Swipe. 


(Don’t panic, a text version of them is in the commets below for copy/pasting. Just copy/paste to Notepad first to clear formatting, since sometimes hidden html makes it from a website straight to the WoW macro section). 

World of Warcraft allows you to set what is called a ‘Focus’.

What a Focus is, is a target you save into memory. After you save that target as a Focus, you can go on about your business, targeting other things, attacking other things, it doesn’t matter. You will continue to have that original target saved as a Focus.

What this let’s you do is write a macro that streamlines the process of making a selected target your Focus, and then when you have targeted something else and are viciously fighting it, you can throw attacks in the direction of your Focus without ever changing who you are currently targeted on.

That’s the key thing; your macro let’s you send a specific attack against a pre-selected enemy other than your current target.

What these macros do, exactly, is as follows;

1) Show the tooltip for the selected ability. When you create the macro, you will need to choose the ‘question mark’ icon for the picture, it will change to the picture of your ability once you move the whole thing to your toolbar.

2) It will clear your saved Focus IF and ONLY IF certain conditions are met;

If you are holding down the Alt key when you activate the macro, your Focus will be cleared. Use this if you accidentally targeted and made your Focus the wrong enemy by mistake. You need to use this because the thing you made your Focus, if it was by mistake, will remain alive and so the macro won’t clear it on it’s own.

If your previous Focus target dies, then the next time you activate this macro, it will clear the previous Focus from memory automatically.

If you make a friend your Focus, for whatever reason, then the next time you try and activate this attack macro it will see your Focus is a friend and will clear it.

If your previous target fades away/despawns while you are doing other things, then it no longer counts as dead. If the Focus has despawned and no longer exists, the Focus is cleared for other uses.

3) The macro now will set your current selected target as the active Focus, SO LONG AS YOU DON’T CURRENTLY HAVE A FOCUS SET UP.

This means the macro is a fire and forget attack on your Focus. You target something, activate the macro the first time, and it sees you don’t currently have a Focus, so it sets your currently active target as the Focus and tries to perform your programmed ‘cast’ action.

If you happen to be out of range of that activity, then you will set the active Focus, but no cast action actually occurs that time. Every time after that, until one of the /clearfocus conditions are met, when you activate the macro it will try to apply your selected cast action. 

It does this whether or not you are in range for whatever ability is supposed to be activated later. From then on, so long as that enemy is alive, it is your Focus. Just remember, if you need to clear your Focus target while it’s still alive so you can select a new Focus to attack, hold down the Alt key when you trigger the macro. 

4) The actual workhorse part of the macro. If you have an active Focus, and it is in range or otherwise fulfills the requirements of the ability you place here, you will cast that attack on the Focus.

The core mechanics of the Focus macros I listed above work great for many different abilities. For example, it is the foundation of the Shackle macro I use on my Priest.

In this particular case, you can use these two macros as ‘X’ target threat generators to help spread your threat generating attacks around.

The idea is, say you have three (or more) targets, but you only need to be tanking two. And it’s close quarters, and you’re afraid your Swipe will break an Ice Trap or a Sheep.

You have a ‘Skull’ target that you will be concentrating on applying the majority of your threat to. I assume you will be attacking the Skull with your Mangle, most of your Lacerates, Feral Faerie Fire, Maul, all that jazz. The Skull is the target your fellow party members are attempting to burn down first, so you want to apply the most threat here.

However, the ‘X’ is the target that your party will try to burn down NEXT. And in the heat of battle it is common for your party to simply redirect the full force of their damage on the ‘X’, all at once. You want to be attacking that sucker and building up pre-emptive threat. And you dno’t want to use Swipe indiscriminately.

With the Lacerate Focus macro, if you set your Focus to the ‘X’, which you can do well out of range just to make sure your Focus is set to your target well before you engage them, then you can select and pull Skull as your main target, and use your Lacerate Focus macro to lacerate the ‘X’ when you choose, precisely. No tabbing or mouse clicking. 

Just, once your enemies get within range, direct your first Mangle and Lacerate to Skull just like normal, hit the Lacerate Focus macro to slam ‘X’ with a Lacerate, hit Mangle again on your still-targeted Skull, etc etc.

As you fight, back away from the Crowd Controlled mobs, so you free up Swipe as an option. Begin to throw Swipe in there, as well. But you will find that you can get some solid threat on both your main and secondary target by adding the lacerate Focus macro to Swiping, and when the Skull finally goes down, your party has plenty of room to let it all out on ‘X’ right from the start.

The Swipe Focus macro comes into play if you are going to be tanking four or more targets, such as in a larger than normal non-elite AOE group.

If you have decided not to use Barkskin-Hurricane to AoE a group, then you can set your Focus as the far left mob of the group, choose the far right mob as your main target, and when you pull, chances are fairly good that you will have Swipe on your main target hitting three mobs on the right, and your Swipe Focus macro hitting three mobs on the left. With, assuming you don’t have more than 6 targets, good overlap.

Doing this takes the ‘seat of your pants’ decision making ability out of the picture to a large extent if you get into the habit of doing this all the time. And that is something I don’t recommend. This is absolutely NOT ‘end-game raiding’ kind of tactics.

When you are just starting out, though, having a means to make damn sure you are applying solid threat to your top two targets without tab-targeting or hunting through tightly packed mob nameplates looking for the one you want next can be a big help.

At higher level gear, you will find that Swipe itself, which has a chance to Crit every hit mob, will do very high threat, almost replacing Lacerate entirely. Also, with more powerful DPS as they gear up, fights will become very short as you scramble to apply enough threat as the Skull drops in three seconds, followed by the ‘X’ 2 seconds later.

Because of the way things become so fast paced later on, I prefer seat of the butt improvisation at this point, reacting to changing situations on the fly. Someone gets feared into a group and brings 4 more adds? A macro ain’t gonna help you pick up those mobs and get them locked down.

You’re going to have to be able to improvise, use your Growl, change targets fast and throw Lacerates and Swipes everywhere, use your Challenging Roar to get the group to start hitting you and begin taking Thorns damage, and everything else in your repertoir to grab aggro and hold on tight.

But when you are grouping up in an instance, and you have the luxury of lining up your Marks ahead of time (and if you are assigning target marks, do yourself a favor and download the Quickmarks addon), then a couple Focus macros can help you spread your threat out over two mobs with precision, and help you spread the Swiping love in alrger fights.

I invite all the rest of you tanks out there to suggest your own entry-level 70 tanking techniques to precisely apply Threat. I’m sure there are plenty of wizardry out there to draw on!

Remember, we’re talking here about techniques that a brand new, possibly undergeared level 70 bear tank can use to grab and hold threat on your secondary targets. Simplify! 

9 thoughts on “Twisted Nether and the Focus target macros

  1. another idea i had was to use Barkskin, and Hurricane … but my concern is the timing. they only last 10 seconds, and i think i might need more. the 1min CD isnt a problem, because you get a break in between hatchers.


  2. good posts, and helpful for MOST heroic encounters. though one encounter that i am looking to come up with a solution for it WONT help.

    we are doing ZA Bear-mount runs regularly … we have 8 mounts so far, and plan on getting one for every member of the 25 man raid team.

    so here is the problem … on the Dragonhawk boss, when the eggs hatch, we hatch one entire side at the same time. so that means about 8-10 dragonhawks flying straight for our healers (due to healing agro). the Pally tanks just use consecrate, and no problem … we round them up and AoE them down, rinse and repeat. i REALLY believe that a Druid tank should be able to do it as well.

    so here is what i would like help with, and something i think would help many druid tanks. a macro that targets the mob with the most health, and swipes.

    i’m picturing something like:

    /tar mob>health
    /cast swipe

    i would probably throw in a lacerate on my own … but essentially for the Dragonhawk fight i would just point my bear nose down the bridge to the nest, and begin mashing my macro button with the occasional swipe and mangle. then as the bombs go away i would back over to the boss while continuing to mash … then tell the Locks to seed up the boss and we should be good.


  3. Very nice BBB! As a young tanky-bear I’m all up for learning ways to maintain threat on multiple targets. I use focus all the time on my hunter for MD assignments in raiding. Makes it very easy to throw up an emergency MD on my assigned tank if things start going wrong – a caster pulling aggro on Hydross and him likely to switch forms due to their position is a good example. I never thought about using focus for my druid though, thank you!


  4. Here are a few advanced strategies that I haven’t seen anyone talk about or use. As with most advanced strategies these are situational. I have more strats, but I’ll save those for another day.

    Advanced Tanking Strategies
    Blackhawk Healer Down – So you’ve got your group in a pickle and the healer is down. What can you do? The Blackhawk Healer Down trick. Hopefully, there are only one or two mobs out of crowd control measures. The first mob is most likely attacking you; the other (possibly broken sheep or fear) just “1shotted” your healer and is going for its next victim. This is pretty common scenario; so let’s assume that’s the case. Deal with the first mob by Bashing him, this gives you four seconds of freedom. Next use Cyclone on the second mob, then with your last second or two of Bash on the first mob, cast Rebirth on your healer and switch back to Bear Form. Follow up with Frenzied Regeneration to fix the life you lost during your maneuvering, and to give the healer a chance to catch up on healing. Be sure to reacquire agro from that second mob before it happens again!

    The Finger Four – You’re the baddest mofo tank ever but it’s hard for you to hold agro on more than four mobs. But it can be done, and without Hurricane. Why not use Hurricane you say? Well, because once the initial agro is lost on that mob from your Hurricane, it will go for someone else in the group. Perfect example – There’s a pull in Heroic Slave Pens (very easy Heroic btw) near the end of the instance that has one Soothsayer (ie: dominate person), one caster, and two Champions (ie: fear). Normally I run the whole instance without or very little crowd control. When we get to this pull it becomes a problem if you Hurricane the group. Soothsayer will dominate your healer or caster, and the two Champions will fear you away and most likely switch targets from you, to one of your casters. So to fix this, before we pull said targets, inform your group not to unleash until they see the first Lacerate on the Soothsayer. Next, stand as far away as possible to cast Cyclone on the Champion (set him as your focus), but still not in agro range of the group. Then cast Regrowth on yourself and Rejuvenation. The first target, the Soothsayer, will be Starfired. While the Starfire cast is in progress, switch to the second target, the focused Champion. As soon as Starfire goes off, cast Cyclone on the Champion. Then switch targets to the third target while slowly falling back; Moonfire that target. It doesn’t matter who gets selected; as you’re going to Moonfire every target but the Cycloned Champion. Switch to the final target, at this point the first one should be on you but don’t panic; Moonfire that final target and then switch to Bear Form. Frenzied Regeneration to fix the life you lost, and to help the healer catch up. Switch to the Cycloned (you did set it as focus right?) Champion and cast Fairy Fire on him. Now all four mobs are on you and even if you get feared by the first Champion the dots from the Moonfires, and your Rejuvenation/Regrowth spells will ensure that the enemies will stay on you. Lacerate the Soothsayer and let your team unleash all h3ll.

    The Barely Counterspell – Bear Form has a Counterspell. I can hear it now “What the %@#% are you smoking?” It’s true though. Let’s go through another example. Heroic Slave Pens there are a few mobs named “Technician something” and that mob cast an AOE similar to the Warlocks AOE (for the life of me I’m forgetting the name of that spell). You can Bash the enemy mob, but Bash is your “Healer Saver” if taunt gets resisted or whatever. We don’t want to waste Bash needlessly! Instead turn 180* away from the mob and run away. Yep I said it, run away. The caster will not move during his cast; eventually you’ll be at a range were you’ll be able to CHAAARRRGEEEE!!! Charge provides a one second interrupt which will stop all spell casts.


  5. See, I did the picture followed by the cooment because my damn blog screws up that somehow, with the right justified brackets. I don’t know why, just another thing that screws up my blog, just like my pictures refuse to allow me any control over formatting.


  6. And the text versions for your copy/paste…

    #showtooltip Lacerate
    /clearfocus [modifier:alt][target=focus,dead][target=focus,help][target=focus,noexists]
    /focus [target=focus,noexists]
    /cast [target=focus]Lacerate

    #showtooltip Swipe
    /clearfocus [modifier:alt][target=focus,dead][target=focus,help][target=focus,noexists]
    /focus [target=focus,noexists]
    /cast [target=focus]Swipe


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