I am not ready for a real post yet, but I’m working on it.
See, the first thing is, there are bugs we still have to contend with. As was noted, Skull Bash ain’t working right, for one thing. It’s hard to make any kind of definitive statement when things are NOT at a live and ready state.
Who would figure that when it went live, it still wouldn’t be ready to write about.
Going along with that is the fact they’ve already announced an upcoming change to Swipe. It’s currently got a 6 second cooldown and 30 Rage cost, so using it up front for initial aggro takes some planning. Like, popping Enrage, letting Rage build up and the 10% damage taken increased buff fall off, THEN Feral Charge and Swipe.
More steps, but doable, right? And with our Talents, Swipe on multiple mobs should give us back some fast Rage to keep going with single target threat. Hit one mob with Feral Faerie Fire, tab to a second for Mangle, tab a third and hit Maul if you’ve got enough Rage, and then settle in on your main marked kill target.
Should work, right?
But they already plan on changing it to a cheaper cost… 15 Rage. Hey, makes it easier to use early, so that’s good. Isn’t it?
Well, to be fair they’re also cutting it’s damage and threat generation by 50%. AND the 6 second cooldown stays the same.
That’s, frankly, gonna bite.
I can see why they would go that way… they want us to be able to stay ahead of Healer threat on groups, but ONLY Healer threat. They want DPS to have to pay attention, focus on specific targets as part of the team, and suffer the consequences for sloppy play. Sloppy in this case meaning hitting any other target besides the one the Tank is focusing the majority of their attention on.
This is NOT the end of the world. But it can sure feel like it.
Obviously, those of us that’ve been doing this for a while remember quite clearly the days of Burning Crusade. We didn’t have Swipe then, we didn’t have Berserk and a 3 target Mangle, and we managed. We got by.
Boy, was my blog popular. Why? ‘Cause all I talked about was tanking lots of mobs without AoE threat generation. lol. Go figure.
See, we could do it, but it took work, and it took the willing assistance of our friends amongst the DPS to perform crowd control on marked mobs, watch their threat levels on individual mobs with Omen, attack only the designated targets in the designated order, and to not break crowd control once applied.
The key difference here, of course, is that the Burning Crusade content was tuned for crowd control and single target threat generation, and the times when we fought groups we had 3 to 4 mobs, rarely 5, and everyone was used to that.
Wrath of the Lich King not only introduced the AoE threat generation all tanks had asked for, but it had also introduced upper level content that was designed with large scale threat generation in mind.
Instead of 3 or 4 mob groups, we got 5+. Lots of group encounters, situations where little guys go running willy-nilly everywhere.
Your very first trip into Utgardt Keep gave you an idea of what was to come.
The challenge became how to pull everyone close together to get them in range of your AoE. Silencing ranged casters or pulling them with Death Grip became the new “I wish I had that” tank envy ability.
Me, I loved, and STILL love, being able to bop back and forth from mob to mob with Feral Charge to apply threat on whoever needs it but ain’t coming. It was our own thang, and I liked it that way. I still like the concept of Skull Bash, and my only gripe is I think they made it expensive for us to use with a reduced range because of it’s awesomeness in PvP. Which, I don’t do. But hey, we take what we get.
Now, we’re back to Burning Crusade basics. We’ve still got new modern doodads like AoE Swipe, but it’s been drastically reduced in effectiveness and availability.
But we still have the Wrath of the Lich King design.
I don’t have an immediate answer for you on how to make this work until Cataclysm. I did want you to know I’m working on it. I’m going to do my best to test things out, and try to come up with an updated guide. Probably after the Raid from the Heart.
Short term, now more than ever I think Tidy Plates and Threat Plates are a must-have set of addons for Bear Tanks (available from Curse). Knowing exactly who you are losing aggro on at any given time is the key to knowing who to target in what priority to apply Growl, Mangle, Feral Faerie Fire or Maul to. Or use Challenging Roar, which I see getting more and more valuable now.
In the meantime, until I can do some in-game testing with the live build and get some better modern day tactics described incorporating our current spells and Talents, I invite you to refresh yourself on the basics with Threat mechanics and the concepts of tanking multiple targets without AoE threat generation by reading this ancient post of mine from 2007 concerning exactly that;
It’s very, very old, but threat mechanics themselves haven’t changed. Rage generation has.
If we could do it back then without Threat Plates or Swipe or Glyphed Maul, by damn we can figure it out now.
I can tell you right up front what the most valuable ingredient is going to be; playing with people that know how to play old school style, instead of being rock star AoE hit whatever they like balls to the wall DPS meter demons.
I cannot WAIT to tank my first LFG random. It’s going to be so much FUN!