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Tanking Core Tools B: Cooldowns

July 15, 2010

Survival Cooldowns
– Outcome: All tanks to have sufficient cooldowns to survive 1) fight mechanics and 2) a minimal amount of person error (e.g. on the part of healers).

– I keep wanting to assess these under basic survival but to be honest I think they need to be considered separately. Blizzard considered the idea of a cooldown tank when it created the Death Knight and decided against it. Even now, the Death Knight is spikier than other tanks and this is one reason why – it is assumed that DKs will be using cooldowns for a lot of the fight.

– Fight Mechanics: a lot of tanks cheered when they got proper cooldowns (I know my bear did). Then we found that in many fights these have to be saved and carefully timed for specific moments when you will die without one.

– Person error: I was going to call this Healer error but this is an unfair categorisation as often it really means Healer disconnects and anyway there are tank errors and dps errors too. However, there are times when for whatever reason you are not getting healed (the healer has disconnected, you have ranged the healer, the healer has been affected by a spell lock out, the healer’s cat is jumping on the keyboard, the healer has fallen asleep in front of the screen) or taking too much damage (turned your back to the dragon, enrage not dispelled, haste not purged/spellstolen) and have to reach into your bag and survive for long enough for them to get back on top of the job. This was a large part of the use of cooldowns in BC (when only warriors really had them) but has become very limited due to the fact that half the time cooldowns have been blown due to mechanics. This is of course deliberate on Blizzard’s part as they don’t actually want us to be able to survive without a healer as then the healers would feel useless (frankly I’d love healers to face redundancy but then I hate healing and a little bit of my soul withers every time my poor shaman has to do it).

– I see three different types of cooldown available:
* Short-term survival cooldowns of course that are permanently up so long as a proper rotation is maintained. Paladins have Holy Shield and Death Knights have Blade Barrier. Bears and Warriors do not have these.

* Medium term cooldowns: Those that are available every 1-2 minutes. They can either be rotated in a long mana intensive fight to assist healers or reserved for specific and regular fight mechanics. Death Knights probably have the most of these. Paladins probably have the most useful (Argent Defender), Bears have some useful and powerful ones but they are limited in nature (Frenzied Regeneration is most powerful in conjunction with Survival Instincts so the two are generally used together). Warriors have powerful ones if they are willing to use glyphs on them.

* Long-term cooldowns: These are 3 or more minutes in length. Army of the Dead is a good example, as is Lay on Hands (although the fact that it is locked out with forbearance is a stupid overreaction to perceived Paladin power and I hope will disappear in Cataclysm). Warriors and Bears no longer have these (Warriors because they glyph out of them).

– Of these, I’d suggest categorising them as follows.
* Short-term cooldowns are part of basic survival. Not using these at all times is failure (or masochism in the case of paladins who want more mana).

* Medium-term ones are either for fights which are generally healer intensive (where you rotate them) or those with mechanics that are immediately life-threatening.

* Long-term ones are for dealing with tank error (you blew a cooldown at the wrong time), healer error (and healer dc’s!), we don’t get many of them so errors can’t be ignored but enough that most fights can have at least one mistake that the tank can correct.

– Finally, I note that different types of cooldown have different methods and thus are used in different ways.
* Health Pool increase
* Damage Reduction
* Healing Received improvement
* Direct Healing
Survival Instincts (Health Pool increase) is useless for preserving a healer’s mana (unless coupled with glyphed Frenzied Regeneration (Healing Received improvement and Direct Healing) ) as it merely creates a larger health pool to heal through but is incredibly powerful against huge blows such as Soul Reaper or Sarth+3d dragon breath. Vampiric Blood is a Health Pool increase and a Healing Received improvement, so it can help healer mana. This means Vampiric Blood is more useful in a rotation than Survival Instincts but the latter is more likely to be kept for moments of crisis. Similarly Divine Protection, Barkskin and Icebound Fortitude (Damage Reduction) all assist healers as they simply mean that less damage gets through to be healed. Although this does improve flavour, I would argue that tanks should have consistency here so they can be equally able to do either (although they can certainly do this in different ways. Ideally, I think all tanks should have each type of cooldown (maybe with each then having an additional one or two that are individual (so Blood DK’s could get more direct healing cooldowns, Bears get more Health Pool increases, Warriors could get more Damage Reduction and Paladins more Healing Received improvements).

Threat Cooldowns:
– Outcome: All tanks should be able to put on a burst of threat where necessary.
– Basically, these are the same as dps cooldowns but are used at the beginning of a pull to get ahead of the dps, if you notice someone pushing ahead of you, or right after a tank swap to prevent accidents.

– All the classes have some form of threat cooldown and these generally give good flavour to the class. Dancing Rune Weapon is one of my favourite spells just because it changes depending on what weapon I am wielding (which changes frequently depending on whether I need more hit for a tank swap).

– Some are more effective than others (Berserk and Avenging Wrath being noticeably high threat tools).
– Warriors and Paladin’s have one additional threat tool that neither of the other tanks have: the ability to affect another persons threat. Vigilance and Hand of Sanctuary are both very effective tools for tanks that I would love to have some equivalent to. Not absolutely necessary but I think balancing these would be a good idea.

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