The following is an open letter to the pugging, tanking Death Knight of WoW.
You are playing a brand new class that is just chock full of excitement and fun.
You have a cool selection of powers and abilities. You can spec your class to be a melee DPS powerhouse, a fun and unique Ranged and Melee hybrid, or a simply awesome tank. You can race your mount at high speed over water, your taunt drags mobs to you like you were Skorpion in Mortal Combat, and you have a neat pet full of charm and personality… even if it does lack entirely in personal hygiene.
You rock, sir.
Revel in it, enjoy it, blast your emo-goth-badassedness to the heavens. Go buy every album out there by Marilyn Manson, and have “Just as dead, twice as nasty” tattooed on your forearm around a picture of a skull with roses clenched in it’s teeth. Flaming roses, of course.
Ain’t no shame when you’re feeling no pain.
Soloing as a Death knight is flat out awesome, ain’t it?
But let’s stop for a moment, and discuss this whole ‘group’ thing, shall we?
This, my dear friend, is an intervention.
I have a message to share with you. This message is not just from me; I personally spoke to every single person on YOUR server, and asked them what they thought first. And they all agreed with me, this needs to be said.
“Just because your class wears Plate armor and has a tanking Talent spec, does NOT mean that you are ready to tank the instance!”
I’m sorry. I hate to be the one to crush your hopes and dreams. I really am.
I don’t like this any more than you do.
I know you are drunk on feelings of near godlike power, but it’s time to clear the cobwebs and grasp a moment of clarity.
You know all those jokes about Huntards?
Do you remember how we lamented, many a moon ago, about how the Hunter class is so powerful while leveling solo, that it does nothing to force a player to learn the intricate capabilities the class has to offer? Do you remember when we professed sadness that so many Hunters knew nothing of kiting or chain trapping, simply because they never needed to learn those skills to survive solo, and that when they did join a group, they became labeled Huntards because they did not understand aggro management or how to control mobs with chain trapping, or how
to work with a tank? Do you remember any of that?
Well, the day of the Huntard is just about done, because there is a new sheriff in town… and he’s called a Death Knoob.
The Death Knoob is billy badass incarnate. He is more than powerful, he is godlike. He solos 8 or more mobs his own level at once, and is still at 60% health at the end of the fight. He takes on foes that make normal classes scream in horror… or at least pop a buff food first.
But there’s more to being a Death Knoob than just vast tracts of lan… power.
The Death Knoob knows he’s powerful, knows he is billy badass… and also knows that Death Knights wear plate, and are a tanking class. Like Paladins, right? Paladins are great tanks, right? Right. So, like, Death Knights can tank, right? *I* can tank, right?
And therein lies the birth of the Death Knoob.
**Being a tank requires more than just playing a Paladin, or a Druid, or a Warrior, or a Death Knight class.**
First, you have to be specced properly in your Talent Tree to survive.
Yes, yes I know you are wearing Plate armor. Yes, that is very impressive. Honest.
But let me help you understand a few of the basics.
A tank is someone that can do two things; piss off every mob around you SO BAD that they want to whack on you, and not your buddies. And, you have to be able to survive getting beat on.
Now, It’s great that you are wearing Plate. But armor only helps reduce… not remove, reduce… the physical damage you take from getting beat on. It doesn’t do squat against magic. And it doesn’t prevent a single one of those attacks from hitting you. In AD&D, the better your Armor Class, the harder it was for someone to hit you at all. That’s not how this works in WoW, my friend. DODGE and PARRY and BLOCK are how you prevent someone from hitting you at all… and Death Knoobs don’t carry Shields to Block with.
Yes, you are very powerful. Yes, each tree DOES have ways to improve your chances for survival. Frost is the one most aimed towards tanking, but I bet Blood or Unholy would work fine as well. But if you do not carefully choose the Talents in your tree to best maximize your survivability (in other words, taking Talents that get your health up, improve your Dodge or Parry, reduce magic or physical damage, or boost your armor or cause you to self-heal) then you are not being a tank; you’re being a squishie pretending to be a tank. A squishie in Plate, but a squishie nonetheless.
Let’s talk about that Plate, for a second.
Are you trying to talk your group into letting you tank, while you’re wearing your DPS gear? The gear you chose, a piece at a time, with an eye towards doing godlike damage?
How is it’s max armor? How’s it’s Defense Rating? Are there tons of Stamina dripping off those pieces? How about some Parry Rating? Or Agility for some of that tasty Dodge that keeps you from getting hit?
Or is it, perhaps, all Strength and Hit Rating and Expertise, and some, oh yeah, Stamina thrown in on top like a cookie.
That’s not tanking gear. That’s leveling gear. Ain’t the same, my friend. Ain’t the same.
You need to plan a talent spec optimized for tanking, and you need to have at least SOMETHING for gear to do the best you can to stay alive. High Health, Defense Rating, Agility, Parry, Dodge.
If you do not do these things, you may survive, yes. Yes, you probably will. You’re still billy badass, after all.
But the healer you are grouped with is having to seriously bust his butt to keep you alive. His focus is on you… and he has very little margin for error if you let some mobs get through. Or get stunned. Or Die. Or if someone else pulls aggro on any mob away from you.
And the harder the healer chain-casts, the brighter he glows on global threat meters, and the higher the chance that he WILL pull something away from you that will eat him, and cause yet another senseless wipe.
I know. I know. There, there. It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean it. It’s okay.
You get a good Talent spec, you build some decent crafted tanking Plate, it’ll be fine.
You see, spec and gear are only part of the problem, aren’t they?
Let’s say you CAN survive. You’ve specced pretty good, you’ve picked up the pieces you plan on using to tank, and gemmed or enchanted them appropriately. The healer will have some slack to ease off on healing you, and can pay attention to the party as a whole, spread the love around. Keep his head down, not attract quite so much attention from the mobs.
You **still** have to be prepared to piss off all the mobs. And keep them angry at YOU, all the time. We call it generating threat. And it takes more than doing straight DPS to piss a mob off right. You have to be able to generate more threat than the healers and casters and melee, and you have to have one target you dump most of it on, and apply some more to all the rest to keep their attention on you.
Because if you run in and piss just one guy off, and start beating on him real good to generate threat, but ignore all the others, your healer will start having to cast heals to save you… and if you haven’t done damage or caused threat to the rest of the mobs, they will ignore you and go kill your healer.
Likewise, if you are pounding on the Revenant, and the Hunter begins nailing holy hannah out of the Dingo that ate your baby, the Dingo is going to say “Oh, wait, WHAT?!?” and go charging after the Hunter.
It’s worse than bad. It’s embarrassing.
(My apologies to anyone named Hannah. And to dingoes. And to babies in general. Oh, and it’s a TV show reference. Bonus Bear points to the first person to name the show. Hint: It’s a show I loved. It’s off the air now. I own all the DVDs. I now return you to your previously scheduled rant.)
You **can** help prevent this. I will help you.
First, assume nothing.
Yes, you’re a high level player. Maybe you’ve never played a tank before you picked up your Death Knight, but by god you’ve raided a TON. That means nothing in a PUG. Assume the other people in the PUG bought their accounts on eBay just yesterday, and have never grouped before. If you are serious about tanking, than before you pull the very first mob, get it straight in the group who will mark targets, and what each will mean. Set a kill order, and stick to it. (Except in a furball. In that case, furball, free for all, scurry around, go to town, do your thing, pull them in, keep the healer alive, priority’s to survive.)
((sorry about that))
When you line up facing the mobs, you may have no idea what they will do, you may have never seen them before. Fine. Either look it up on www.wowwiki.com, or GUESS. Maybe decide to take down any mob that looks or has a name that sounds like they might be casters FIRST. Whatever you like to use as a plan. But mark things.
Tell everyone that either you will pull, or a Hunter will Misdirect onto you, or whatever, but you should be first, and no one else should start doing any damage until you have successfully begun whacking everything at least a little bit. Let you build up that threat first. If the Healer can let you go for a bit, have them do so. No sense having them build up global aggro early if you can take it.
You can take it now, right?
Mark one target as the one everyone tries to kill first. That will be the target YOU try to apply the most aggro to out of the starting gate. Then set a few more marks for the second and third kill targets. No one should be dealing damage on a target that YOU are not focusing your main attention on. The other mobs should only ever be getting hit by YOU to keep them off the healer.
If you have been applying threat as best you can to ALL mobs, and focusing on the kill target, then once the first three kill targets are down and dead, whatever is left that you have been pounding on all alone should pretty much be free targets for anyone. If you’ve done it right, it’s doubtful someone will pull aggro away from you at that stage of the game.
It’s hard to do in a PUG, but at least ASK if everyone has a threat meter. You will not, with the default settings, be able to see if someone is killing the wrong target, but you WILL be able to see if someone is passing you in threat on your main target… and you can warn them. “STOP IT!” is always a good message to pass along. Another is “You pull it, you tank it”. Best to use that one if you feel you’re doing the best you can already, and have all your little duckies in a row, naturally.
Omen CAN let you see a lot more than just the threat on your main target. That’s a topic for the advanced class, however. Let’s try and get rid of this ‘Death Knoob’ BS first, shall we?
The most important advice I can give you, is to take tanking serious.
You want to be the tank? That’s fine. But take the role serious. Prepare yourself, get some gear, learn a Talent spec appropriate for the job, practise with your friends in threat rotations and managing multi-mob aggro, download a threat meter like Omen, and wipe that ‘billy badass’ shit out of your head.
Groups are a team effort. Each part of the team must do their job. The tank’s job is to keep everything, and I mean every bad guy you can, on top of you and off the healer. And have enough health, armor, and survivabilty talents and options to give your healer a fair shot at keeping you alive until the DPS kills all the mobs.
Your biggest fear should NOT be your standings on the DPS meters. Your biggest worry should be “Will I get CCed, stunned, immobilized or rooted on this fight, and lose aggro? Will I be able to apply threat to all my mobs and keep them on me, without anyone else pulling first?”
The Death Knoobs are out there. In force. And they seem dead set on blowing the Huntard reputation right out of the water in record time.
Don’t let that Death Knoob I screenshot be you. You’ve been warned.