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Tanking Core Tools A: Basic Threat and Survival

July 13, 2010

Basic Survival
– Outcome: this one is obvious. No tank should take substantially more damage than any other. If one is obviously more survivable then many people will play that to make progression easier.

– At times, Blizzard has allowed some tanks to be better at certain types of survival (e.g. block tanks better at trash, bears better vs. physical in Burning Crusade, Death Knights being better at magic mitigation). In my opinion this should not be the case. All tanks should be equally survivable (if well played) vs. single-target, aoe, physical and magical damage.

– One area where flavour could be retained is difficulty. It might be possible for each to have an area which they survive easily and an area where they need to be skilled. So a Death Knight might have to keep runes on cooldown to be on par with warriors against physical damage but automatically ignore a portion of magical damage which warriors have to work to mitigate. Even here I think I prefer consistency however.

– The key tools that a tank has in this category are:
* Armour – Bears traditionally have more of this than others. This was nerfed a lot and I am not sure exactly where is stands. Other than that, all tanks are roughly the same.

* Health – Bears have the most, Blood Death Knights second most. Others roughly the same/
* Dodge – Bears have the most, others roughly the same.
* Parry – Warriors, Paladins and Death Knights have this. Death Knights probably have the most due to forceful deflection.

* Block – Warriors and Paladins have this. Bears have a bastardised weaker version based on offensive stats.
Blizzard attempts to balance a tank so that when all of these are added together, they sum to the same amount of survival. The trouble is of course that different tools are useful for different fights and so having different levels of each means a different tank will be strongest for different fights. Mimiron for example is a great fight for a Death Knight as they can get by without external cooldowns. Heroic Anub’arak required a block tank for the adds.

– The fact that different classes have different weightings for stats makes things even more tricky. Frankly, I think they should be homogenised except for specific changes made by skills and talents.

– I have this vision of a giant screen somewhere in the world where developers can move sliders and see survival rates going up and down. Sadly, I suspect no such tool exists.

Basic Threat (aoe and single-target)
– again, this is obvious. Once a boss is on farm a tank which is noticeably better at threat will be used to allow the raid to be finished quicker. A tank that is better are aoe threat will be used against trash (and possibly then relegated against the boss). Bad idea, don’t go there.
– How you do this can be flavoured (and is). Only the actual threat output matters.
– I’ve discussed this for each class before and won’t go into it again. Suffice it to say that while this is secondary to survival in progression fights, it is absolutely vital both to non-progression encounters and also to any where tank swapping is a mechanic. I’ve recently been having serious problems not over-aggroing another guild tank. I can solve them only by either stopping all dps abilities or by swapping presences. This is not good.

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