On the flip side to yesterdays whinefest, there is a perception that I wanted to touch on briefly for one of our fellow tank classes; the Paladin.
As gear has increased, you see a lot more tanks running and pulling like crazy. And to go with it, I see quite a lot of folks upset about how tanks are doing things in runs.
This post is really for the non-tanks, more than anyone else.
Please remember my friends, not all tanks are created equal.
The mechanics of tank abilities actually vary a great deal.
For Bears and Warriors, we use Rage as the power source for our special abilities. We start our first fight with zero Rage (or what Enrage gives us, work with me here folks), and as we take damage or deal damage, our Rage meter fills up. The longer a fight runs, the MORE Rage we have to deal with things, not less.
For Warriors and Bears, we are endurance machines. Once we get started, we build up steam and can go on and on forever.
Yes, yes, Bears may start slow, but we can go all night long.
Death Knights have that Runic Power stuff, and it refills pretty quick.
But Paladins… Paladins use Mana.
Paladins start a fight at full force, all guns blazing. But the longer the fight goes, the limper they get.
One of the worst is if you’re overgeared for the Halls of Stone ‘Brann Bronzebeard’ chamber fight, as the mobs die too fast for Judgements to help much, and hit too lightly to really cause you to get heals and mana back. And it goes on and on and on….
My point is, for Warriors and Bears, we commonly leave a battle at full or near full Rage, and it decays slowly enough that we can pause for a few seconds to check mana and health levels of the party, dance a little dance, sing a little song, get down and funky, and still be great for the next pull.
We Bears can pop Enrage to stop Rage from decaying, we can Feral Faerie Fire non-elite mobs at a distance (like Skeletons in Culling of Strat) to stay in combat (Rage only begins to decay when out of combat), all sorts of stuff.
For Paladins, when they are using their abilities, their Mana is going down. And the Silencing shield throw in particular is a mana whore.
Now, Paladins have a couple choices on how to address this.
You could just sit down and drink after most pulls when you get low.
You can use Blessing of Wisdom, or Judge Wisdom instead of Light or whatever.
Or, you can go another route.
A Paladin has a Talent that lets their melee hits refresh the duration of Divine Plea. Divine Plea is an ability that gives MP/5, at the cost of reduced Healing.
If a Paladin tank pops Divine Plea at the start of a pull, then for as long as he’s whacking stuff, he’s getting mana back. If he’s also Judging Wisdom, then there is even more… but the mob has to live long enough to take some whacks to the head for the mana to get back.
Now, this goes along with another key way Paladin tanks get mana back.
Paladin tanks get mana returned to them when they get healed.
Let’s put these things together.
- With the way the gear you can get casually has improved so dramatically in comparison to the Heroics we run, a well geared Paladin tank takes far less damage than before in a Heroic 5 man.
- Less damage taken equals less healing received, and less healing equals less to no mana back.
- Abilities cost mana to use. Less mana back means less abilities available to generate threat and hold aggro.
- Long delays, or even delays of more than a few seconds between pulls means Divine Plea expires, and is on cooldown.
So, what will a smart, well geared Paladin do to adapt to the new situation, keeping their mechanics in mind?
A Paladin will seek to have as little time in between pulls as possible, and as many mobs on them at one time as possible, riding a ragged edge of danger.
A Paladin will want to take enough damage that heals will give back mana, but not so much damage that he’s in danger of dying and wiping the party. And the pulls will need to be frequent enough to keep Divine Plea going all the time.
So you get what we see a lot nowadays. A Paladin tank that pulls a group, establishes solid threat, and as soon as one or two of the first group are dead, run off to grab the next group, trusting in their thrown shield to Silence any casters in the next group and get them huddled close together and pull them back in.
You get continuous chain pulls.
A good Paladin tank will seem to ride a wave of chaos into the heart of the instance, chain pulling across the backs of dead mobs, and leaving the rest of the party to run like hell to keep up.
Now, if you know this going in, then you can be prepared to deal with it, especially on drinking whenever possible if you’re the healer.
As a Druid healer, I love going with a Pally tank, because my HoTs let the tank run ahead of me and still get heals, my Innervate keeps me moving in step if I get low on mana, and I can even Innervate the Paladin if things get out of sync for his mana recovery between pulls.
What I wanted to do was have this post to be my way of saying, when I’m talking about rockstar tanks, I’m not talking about anyone that rushes on ahead or pulls fast, or anything like that.
When I talk about a rockstar tank, I’m talking about one that does his own thing, without any consideration for working with the group as a member of a team.
A Paladin tank can chain pull and run ahead and do all the things he does, in an effort to perform his class well, and still watch the mana bars of the party, the health bars of the group, his own health level, and the aggro of the mobs around him (or her).
A Paladin tank can still mark kill orders to help provide the DPS, especially melee DPS, some guidance.
A Paladin tank can still watch his own health, and adjust his pace accordingly.
A Paladin tank can, in short, push when it’s all good, but remains aware of the status of the rest of the party, and works to make life easier on everyone. And if a mob goes after the healer, or there is chaos in the backfield, he is aware of it, and grabs it back. He’s not just focused solely on the next chain pull, oblivious to the world around him.
In most cases this does not require him to slow down in the slightest, except when the party really, really needs it.
In short, in my opinion, a rockstar tank isn’t necessarily one that moves fast, or pulls lots of things.
A rockstar tank is one that is in their own little world, doing their thing, oblivious to and without consideration for the rest of the team.
A rockstar tank just assumes the rest of the band will be there laying down the supporting music, and if they can’t keep up, they must suck.
Oh, and as a side note; I wonder how many tanks see how someone like the Paladin runs and chain pulls, and being ignorant of the mechanics involved, thinks that running that way is how every class should do it? I wonder, when you see a Warrior chain pull big groups of mobs and lose aggro on some of them, and things get crazy and people start dying, and then they blame the DPS for pulling, were they inspired by a Paladin tank, and just don’t understand we all do our bit in our own special ways?