Pertinent questions on early survival

Had a nice writer send in a couple questions that I thought would be worth sharing the answers on, so here we go;

“Stratus” of the Darkspear wrote in saying;

My son convinced me (in wisdom beyond his years) to be a bear tank a couple of months ago.  I thought to myself, “I’m actually going to have to know these encounters now.”  So, now my main spec is level 80 bear tank.  Fun, fun.  But so much to learn.

1) On Ony 10 – I just run thru Ony and drag her to the back and turn around fight – no problem.  Have done this 6 or so times.  On Ony 25 – you cannot do this.  You die after about 2 hits to the back.  Talk about shocked.  A little background – I use my mouse to move my bear.  I did not grow up with laptop games.  I grew up with arcade games – lol.  So – using the keys to move and strafe and all that – really pretty foreign and not comfortable to me.  So – my question is.  Can’t I just run thru Ony and immediately turn around as Ony turns around and then back up that way?? (Using my keyboard here of course)  These are 25 man raids and I hate to be the one to screw it up right off the bat.

2)  Have finally figured out how to tank Halls of Reflection to where I have at least a 50% success rate.  This dungeon is mob dependant.  Can’t control mobs – you won’t complete dungeon period.  Your blog back in 2007 (tanking mobs) once again opened up my eyes.  Wrath, moonfire?? I never saw anybody do that or read about it but that is brilliant.  Anyway – my question here is – do you have plans on updating that blog in the near future??  Would love to read it.  Without the benefit of learning tanking as I leveled up – I am having to learn very quickly.  Players get a little “testy” when level 80 tanks can’t seem to do the job.

Someone mentioned in that blog commments from 2007,  “good tanks are hard to find”…I wanna be that good tank and I am counting on your blog to be a big part of that process.

Have a super day.

To address question 2 first… I’m glad that someone has already noticed I added that ancient post on Bear Tanking Multiple Mobs on the sidebar… and got something out of it.

I have this tendency to never look back at what I’ve written, I move forward. This is why my sidebar is kinda messed up, and why some things never get updated. I’m looking ahead to writing the next post or doing the next thing, not looking back at something already done.

However, in thinking over topics that would be of help to new tanks, or players for that matter, one of the subjects that I keep returning to is aggro and threat. What it is, how you get it, how you hold it, how you lose it.

I recalled writing what I thought, at the time, was a pretty decent overview of how the actual mechanics of threat in a party, broken down for each party member, worked. Healer threat, DPS, tank… all together in one example.

So instead of writing it all from scratch, I went looking… and found it from when I posted it in 2007. I read it, and marveled at how much had changed since it was written, in terms of Bear tanking strategies.

But the core of party threat generation discussion was still pretty good, and I decided, instead of rewriting it, that it would be fun to add it to the sidebar… with a little (2007) next to the name.

A fun look back at the craziness of years gone by… and hopefully, an appreciation for what we’ve got now.  A reminder that the name of the game is not competing to be a better tank than the other classes, but to enjoy being a good tank for our own groups, and an acknowledgement that Blizzard has done a good job of adding to and changing up our skill set since the old days.

Perhaps also, to serve as a reminder to the new generation that, you know… you might not want to bitch too loudly about having difficulty tanking with the tools we’ve got now, because in the old days, Bear tanks had to Swipe uphill… in the snow… both ways.

And it was a colder snow, and a higher hill than the snow and hills you get these days.

I hope that, for those that take the time to read that post, it has thrills, chills, amusement, nostalgia, and maybe for some a tip or two.

Now, about question #1 – initial squishiness.

You posit a situation where your goal is to intercept and develop threat on a boss that WILL follow you when you move, that is located in the middle of a large chamber, that has a knockback attack, and that does a great deal of damage.

There are several points to moving to the far wall behind Onyxia.

In the first ‘pull’, Onyxia is in ground phase 1.  Her abilities consist of a frontal Cleave, a frontal Flame Breath attack, a frontal cone Wing Buffet that does unmitigated physical damage and knocks you back, and a rear Tail Swipe knockback.

When you initially pull Ony, what you are looking to do is, as fast as possible, get her head faced away from the raid. Because everyone, including healers, is charging in behind you, and Ony is big, the most direct route to this is to run through her so that she changes facing, looking away from the raid instantly.

You do not want to Charge when doing this in most cases, because the healers will be hard pressed to have reach on you… they are not moving directly behind you, they are angling to the side, so as not to be within the arc effect of Tail Swipe.

The only rush in moving Ony around is to get her head away from the raid. You do NOT have to run to the back wall. All you have to do is get through the mid point on Ony’s hit box. Once she turns, you can turn around, and waddle backwards until your butt is at the wall. Your being stationary means she will advance and become stationary, and melee DPS can hit her in the flank without worrying about front cone AoE effects or rear Tail Swipes.

If you are waddling backwards towards the wall, and she does Wing Buffet, all that she accomplishes besides damage is to move you to where you want to be faster. 🙂

In looking at your Armory gear, you’ve got a pretty darn outstanding set of tanking gear. Obviously, the movement impairing trinket and the Expertise gems aren’t contributing directly to tanking survivability, but the sum total of your gear is so good that it really isn’t an issue. No worries at all on that score.

If you move directly to Ony, flip 180° and waddle backwards, that should take care of the insta-gib issue.

Now, to add that extra cushion, there are always a few things you can do.

First, trigger Barkskin when you reach Ony. That will provide a very solid damage reduction. You don’t have the 4 piece Tier bonus on reduced cooldown, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is giving your healers a chance to get stationary so they can use their full repertoire of heals.

Working along with that is triggering Survival Instincts when you reach Ony, so that your max health pumps up for a short time, giving you more of a cushion to eat damage until healers are ready.

You won’t want to trigger Frenzied Regeneration, because the Healers only need a few seconds, and while it’s up you’ll have your Rage bleeding away. In the very first two or three seconds of the pull, you want to be establishing rockstar aggro, not sitting there Rage starved, waiting to be hit or do the hitting to get more back.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of suggestions, but since you state you are successfully tanking Heroic HoR 50% of the time BEFORE today’s nerf, I have to say that this should be more than enough to see you through.

And on the subject of Heroic Halls of Reflection… I was working on a post. Then, today, out of nowhere as far as I was concerned, they nerfed the ghost waves in HoR. I’m gonna have to check my notes, as Riff would say. 🙂

I’m sure you already know about Line of Sighting them into one of the boss alcoves, and also know that the biggest key to each wave is having your group hide in the corner, and YOUR being ready to pound out instant AoE threat to overcome the inevitable Healer aggro since the healer is glowing like a sun trying to top everyone off while you hide there. And the second biggest is communicating beforehand a simple CC strategy, so that, say, the Hunter knows to toss a ranged Ice Arrow at the most distant mob, and YOU know he’s gonna do it so you don’t work at getting within it’s range to aggro it.

Anyway, thank you for the very nice letter, Stratus, and thank you for the kind words. Take care, and enjoy today’s patch!

15 thoughts on “Pertinent questions on early survival

  1. I’m looking on the sidebar for the post on using wrath/starfire to tank multiple mobs. I’m not seeing anything. Probably cause i’m blind or stupid 🙂 help me out and link to it please BBB!


  2. Hey all. I am that old school guy who used joysticks and red fire buttons of the past. Remember Atari?? Anyway – first thanks to BBB for answering my question on a post. How cool. Second – thanks to all of you for your advice. I suspected – big sigh – I am going to need to get skilled using keys to move, at least in certain situations. I am already working on that. Won’t be easy – but nothing worth doing is easy – right? Likely it will be a combination or certain situations I use the keys to move. I was thinking of binding the movement keys to the numberpad keys. This way – my left hand can do the abilities and right hand can move the toon. Thoughts??

    Also – my opinion – I wish they had not nerfed Heroic HoR. I loved (and still do) doing that dungeon. You had to have a good (smart) group of DPS, a heads up healer and definitely a good tank – otherwise it’s a wipe. But once you achieved – good feeling. Loved Steele’s comment of 5 manning Nax. I feel Blizzard is caving a little too quickly to things that are “hard”.

    Doing 25 Ony tonight. Have an idea of how to do the intial pull that would work well for me and my style. Thanks to all and have a great day. BTW – I’ll be looking for you Jey.


  3. there are a lot more things… pumping out backward skills while jumping forward… using addons for nice tooltips (no i wasnt referring to the standard wow tooltip, i hope your not using it…)… milimeter-precise movement (when you use the mouse for movement of course you actually move with the keyboard wasd, but you can readjust the angle of sight / your toon with holding a mouse button or not – full and fast control. important when your tanking at the wall and want to readjust your sight or when your doing some LoS’ing. of course all of your important abilities are on numbers.. but what about the not-so-important abilities? what about clicking away wrong buffs if someone screws up? what about strafing? What about targeting in the first room of Gundrak for example? I insist on playing FPS style, i mean why did they invent the mouse if not for exactly this kind of playing. joystick would suck more!


  4. Traditionally in WoW “Keyboard Turners” are considered bad players. I don’t like to think that way though. I think the most important thing here isn’t if you use your mouse or keyboard to move around, it’s if you do whatever you do effective enough to be a good tank. One thing I’d like to mention is the importance of strafe. As stated, you can not strafe with your mouse. Unless you reset your key bindings Q and E are your strafe left and strafe right buttons. Regardless of how you move around 95% of the time, to be a good tank you must master the ability to strafe quickly to get out void zones/fire/green stuff on the floor quickly, yet still (as far as the game dynamics are concerned) be facing the boss.

    This is vastly important in Icecrown, but even before that. Maly must be moved around A LOT, and if you turn your back on him you are toast. KT in Naxx likes to drop insta death zones under you, and backing up won’t get you out quick enough most of the time. Every drake in OS drops zones that must be avoided. Even trash pulls in DTK drop void zones that need to be gotten out of quickly.

    Do things how ever you want to do them, because when planning time is over and finger twitch reaction time begins, it will be easier to do what ever you are used to. However you do it though, get used to strafing, a lot.

    The nerf to HOR was a fix that evened out they type of mobs that came out so you didn’t get too many of the same type that basically meant a group couldn’t clear unless they vastly overgeared the encounter.


  5. @Sarabian:

    Perhaps it is merely my FPS background, but I don’t understand how using the mouse to move gives you better control? Unless you have the buttons bound very differently, you can only go forward using the mouse, you cannot strafe – you cannot move in one direction while pointing your camera in another. Also, I find my mouse to be less exact for positioning than using my keys…

    Am I missing something?
    .-= Kaethir´s last blog ..Life’s Little Joys =-.


  6. I don’t have a bear tank (my druid is heals only right now), but I have a warrior and a paladin tank. I always move with my mouse and have been told by many that other than times like this when you want to move backwards, you ALWAYS move with the mouse for better control. All of my important abilities are on numbered buttons so I don’t have to worry about using the mouse for cooldowns (how do you use a mouse for cooldowns? The abilities cool down and it’s a visual thing with no intervention required.), mouseover-tooltips (I know those, no need to read them in the middle of a raid boss fight), finding a new target (I tab, thanks. Has worked brilliantly for 5 years now), zooming (I zoom out before going in and keep it that way the whole time – situational awareness!), and I delete addons that require me to clicky in the middle of a boss fight.

    For what it’s worth, I run in and backpedal to the wall on my guys.

    Not wanting to get into a debate on how to tank, but I had to say something. This is a discussion on raid tanking tactics, so here is my 255 pesos (2 cents).


  7. As a priest healer in Onyxia, I ALWAYS pop Guardian Spirit on Warrior/Bear tanks. Sometimes, I cheekily whisper this to them, and tell them to charge. PoM, GS and HoTs from the other (esp. druid) healers never fail. If there’s a priest in your raid, always ask for GS at the outset. Even where there is no charge, I find that it is consumed 15% of the time in PuGs, so I know that it prevented a wipe.


  8. Forgot my message to Stratus: LEARN IT NOW. no way youll be moving your toon with the mouse. NO WAY. middle finger goes to W/S, index finger to D, ring finger to A. The only thing youll have to learn now is moving your hand from the number bar (with those fingers on buttons 1-4) one row down to the moving buttons. When you have masterd moving and using skills with your left hand only youll notice quickly how nice it is to be able to look around oneself especially as a tank (situational awareness!) and have that right hand free for anything important like cooldowns, mouseover-tooltip, finding a new target, zooming, working with some addons… DONT go like “ah well im not used to it, feels alien”… your really crippling yourself playing like that. it takes a few days to learn this kind of input and i swear you wont regret it also for other kind of games you might play in the future.


  9. Had a way better tanking experience with LoS’ing in the middle, theres an obstacle too and you can make great use of it by circling around like in pvp arena.
    I dont have any rage-free aoe skills so i was always struggling for rage and threat in the corner. better to just wait in the middle and charge/bitchslap anything closing in. But woah nerf again… /sign Trazer this was the only somewhat challenging 5-man content left and now its gone. They should like limit Naxx to 5 man only (nerf where its needed because of 5 people (the riders come to mind)) and put some ilvl 245-251 gear there, THAT would be my taste, 5-manning a huge dungeon for a few hours, boy id love that.


  10. That makes sense – A fight we had to put some effort into, has to be nerfed ….
    Anywho – I am no longer tanking in the corners. I feel gimped in there, since it is impossible to get good camera-angles and actually figure out what I am hitting at. Besides I am sure there is a glitch in the graphics, that makes it possible for the healer to get hit by ranged (that could sound like a bad excuse, I know…)

    At the entrance the healer can still sidestep to do a little LOS’ing, the ranged can toss around their CC as they wish and I can run around like a headless chicken trying to whack all the mobs – but at least I can see which mobs that needs whacking. The key here is that I can see those damned mercenaries coming and mark them for an insta-death!


  11. Good post an another thing to keep in mind is that on Ony generally you don’t want to strafe after picking her up because you can have more ability to get threat while backing up but more importantly the healers tend to get outranged if you strafe on ony because you are going straight to the back and the are moving in a semi-circle around the boss.

    PS. I a horde feral tank on darkspear so if you see me on and want to ask a few questions just say hi. Character name is Jey.


  12. I would also like to thank you for all your tips, and advice. As I have posted before there isn’t much about druids, and certainly not much about bears. The Bradley guide simply states that Bears can never be main tanks, and should only be considered as off tanks or secondary tanks. I think we’ve come a long way already in proving that wrong. I look forward to learning and meeting the challenge of playing a Bear Tank.


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