Category Archives: Tanking

Evaluating Feral Druid Tanks with World of Logs

This is another guest post by my guildmate Jaymz.  He wrote about how to evaluate feral kitties a little while ago, and now he’s taking a look at Bears. Rawr. My full guide on evaluating raiders (especially healers) with WoL can be found here.

Here are the things you should be looking for when evaluating Bear tanks.

Debuffs Applied

First things to look at is the player Details Page, under the Buffs Cast tab.

You need to know which buffs/debuffs the Bear is responsible for bringing. I’ll write this as if the Bear must bring all their own debuffs but I’ll do my best to describe those which can be brought by others to possibly maximize your raid.
Also be aware if the Bear is the main tank or the off-tank. If only one tank is needed for a phase of a fight, is it the Bear tanking or did the Bear become a Kitty for some extra DPS? If the Bear becomes a Cat, that will obviously cause some changes to happen in buff and debuff uptimes. I will write this as if the Bear is the main tank.

World of Logs - Feral bear debuffs cast

Faerie Fire
This should be cast early and stacked to three and should have close to 100% uptime (on boss/main target). It can be applied to multiple targets when necessary. It is on the spell hit table and Bears are not going to get spell hit cap for this one ability so some down time is okay, but not a lot. Some Bears will spec to apply all three stacks with one button, some won’t, it really depends on the other players in the raid. For example if there were a Feral Kitty in the raid, it would be beneficial for the Kitty to be the one to apply FF. This way the Bear could spec into another talent and use those GCDs for other (more damaging, higher threat) moves.

Mangle
This should have close to 100% uptime, it is a Bear’s 1# ability in terms of threat, damage, and overall utility. The only reason not to have high uptime is if another person like a Sub Rogue or Arms Warrior is also applying the debuff repeatedly. Feral Kitties shouldn’t interfere with this, since they should simply drop mangle from their rotation if there is a Bear in the raid.

Lacerate
This also should have high uptime, it is stacked to 3 and then spent on Pulverize (more on that later), its ticks allow Berserk to proc (also more on that later). This is a Bears filler ability.

Thrash
While this is an AoE bleed it hits hard enough that it should be used in single target rotation as well. It has a 6 second cooldown and the bleed lasts for 6 seconds so you might expect this to have extremely high uptime. However, there are other higher priority moves and procs that will cause uptime to be much lower. In my experience, somewhere between 40-60% uptime is a good number to look/shoot for. The higher the better, provided all other debuffs are maintained. Also if your Bear goes Cat, Thrash is Bear only, so that will drastically reduce Thrash uptime.

Demoralizing Roar
This should have high uptime but if you have a co-tank they too will bring this debuff in some form (Demo Shout, Vindication, Scarlet Fever). It can be applied from Warlock’s Curse of Weakness and some hunter pets also. Know your raid, Paladin tanks for example apply this without extra button presses, if your co-tank is a Paladin there is little need to use this if you are on the same target, but if you aren’t on the same target or if you are solo tanking, this falls on the Bear to keep it applied.

Infected Wounds
If specced into this, it will automatically apply and should have uptime equal to that spent attacking the target. This buff is brought by many other specs as well and is an excellent place to drop talent points if one of those other specs are in your raid. Frost and Blood DKs, Prot Paladins, and Prot Warriors all bring this debuff, as can DPS Shaman and some hunter pets. Again know your raid and work together to maximize your debuffs and minimize overlap.

Growl
Bear taunt, only matters if there is a mechanic that should be tank swapped for or you have DPS dying by pulling aggro.

If the Bear goes Cat at any point during the fight you might also see a new Mangle here along with other Kitty debuffs, refer to the Kitty evaluation guide for that information and cross-reference with the time your Bear was in Cat form under the Buffs section on this tab. That said, the most important one is Mangle and the two (Bear+Cat) combined should have as close as possible to 100% uptime, while keeping in mind the specifics listed above regarding Mangle.

Any other debuffs (Temporal Displacement, Exhaustion, Fiery Claws -2 T12-, etc.) are not controlled by the Bear.

Buffs Cast

Things like Leader of the Pack, Bear Form, Cat Form, Furor and Master Shapeshifter will usually only show up on World of Logs, if the Druid is changing forms during the encounter and can mostly be ignored, unless the druid is shifting more than they should be.

Feral Bear buffs cast - World of Logs

Savage Defense
While the Bear will not have control over how much uptime this has during the fight, there are things they can do with gear to make this buff stronger. Think of Savage Defense as you would Block for a plate wearing tank. The higher the amount of procs the better. Getting 2 T13 is a huge benefit to the uptime/chance to proc of this buff (provided Pulverize uptime is maintained).

Pulverize
You want extremely high uptime on this, and with 2 T13 you really want extremely high uptime on this, as it roughly doubles the chance to proc SD. However if the Bear spends any time in Cat Form the uptime will drop since it is a Bear-only ability so adjust for that when evaluating.

Berserk
You should see two of these listed for Bears, one is a player activated damage/threat increasing CD (3min CD, 15sec duration). The other is a proc generated by Lacerate’s ticks. The activated CD should be used early and whenever off of cooldown, or during times when the boss is taking extra damage (Zon’ozz, Hagara, Heroism/Bloodlust/Timewarp). The proc from Lacerate’s ticks should be immediately spent on Mangle. You would need to use Expression Editor to verify the latter.

Enrage
One minute cooldown, 10 second duration.  Most Bears will use this just before the pull or just before they taunt on tank swaps. If properly specced, (1/3 into King of the Jungle) it too can/should be used during phases when the boss takes extra damage or else used when off cooldown. If the Bear is in a raid group that allows for them to spec fully 3/3 into King of the Jungle they can do even more damage during this buff.

King of the Jungle
You should see this buff as many times as you see the Enrage buff above.

Barkskin
One minute cooldown, 12 second duration. Barkskin reduces damage taken by 20% – a huge survivability tool for Bears, and should be used often. Sometimes it should be saved for when the boss is doing a larger amount of damage, but regardless should be used as much as possible while keeping in mind mechanics of the encounter.

Survival Instincts
Three minute cooldown, 12 second duration.  This reduces damage taken by 50% – another very strong survivability tool for Bears, should be saved for those times when the boss is going to really blast the tank, or if/when the healer(s) need a breather.

Frenzied Regeneration
Three minute cooldown, 20 second duration.  Increases max health by 30% and if the Bear is below 30% health will bring them up to that. This can also be used (unglyphed) to turn rage into health via a HoT, each point of rage gives .3% of max health. Under normal circumstances most Bears will Glyph this ability so that healing done to them is increased by 30% rather than Rage being converted into Health. Think of this as a last resort button. This ability is the center of the Druid 4T13 bonus and can be used amazingly to help out your raid (both glyphed and unglyphed depending on the situation). Be sure to check with your Bear and discuss if you want that cooldown glyphed or unglyphed and when to use it to its best effect.

Stampede
You should not see this buff in your Bear’s buff list. This is not a talent a Bear should take, unless they have built some kind of hybrid build so that they use one spec for both bear and kitty – but that is not what is being discussed here.

Primal Madness
See Stampede above.

Other buffs you might see here are trinkets, shapeshifting buffs, or weapon procs and are usually not in control of the Bear. If the Bear has on-use trinkets they should treat them like Barkskin and Survival Instincts. Even on-use Agility trinkets are good for Bears as survival cooldowns since Agility provides Dodge. They can also be used like Enrage and Berserk for extra Damage. It really all depends on the trinkets your Bear is using. A good tank will always have an assortment of trinkets at their disposal, knowing which to use for a specific encounter can sometimes make the difference.

The Buffs Gained tab is much like the Buffs Cast tab only with more stuff the Bear doesn’t have control over. This IS a good place to look at the debuffs they received during a fight – stacking tank debuffs for example, that need to be taunted off, or need to be allowed to drop off.

The Damage by Actor tab will help you to know if your Bear was on the correct target for the correct amount of time, as well as let you know if they might have been tanking something they shouldn’t.

Healing by Spell is where you can partially see how effective the procs of Savage Defense are. This will become even more important with that 4T13 to see if you want Frenzied Regeneration glyphed or unglyphed.

Damage by Spell – You can see uptimes for abilities here just like you can on the Buffs Cast tab. You can also check the damage abilities being used. Mangle, Maul, Melee, and Lacerate should always be near the top. Fury swipes is not something you can control and will fluctuate wildly, it’s great to have but don’t look too much into it from an evaluation standpoint. You can also see dodges, parries, and misses on the far right (you’ll probably have to scroll). Then at the bottom you can see the damage taken and its source. Did Bear die? Check the Death log to see how, then here. Check the amount of Dodges, as well as absorbs (especially those from Savage Defense).

And there you have it, the “quickie” way to evaluate your Bear tank.

One last bit of advice concerning Savage Defense, use your expression editor (spell=”Savage Defense”) and check how often it’s being applied, overwritten, etc. The one downside to Savage Defense is that it can overwrite itself, and it can overwrite with a smaller proc (thanks to Vengeance changes). Look to see if it is fading with anything remaining. Many Bears look at the uptime and the absorbs and are either discouraged or encouraged by that number, that is not the proper way to judge SD. It must be looked at in-depth to fully see and understand its benefits. Is SD being used up (fades with 0 remaining), is it being overwritten, or is it fading with full power still left on it? All of these things factor into a Bears evaluation.

Resto Druid Tier 13 Sneak Peaks

A lot of Tier 13 information has been released in the past few weeks, including the appearance of the Druid Tier 13 armor and its set bonuses.

The Druid set is called Deep Earth Vestments and here’s what it looks like:
Druid Tier 13 - Deep Earth VestmentsImage from MMO-Champion

I don’t hate them. That might not sound like high praise, but considering the negative reactions I had to Tiers 10-12 when they were first released, this is a step in the right direction. I tend to dislike the armor sets at first, and then grow to like them over time. This one I actually kind of liked right away. I’m happy we’re making a return to robes instead of pants. Slightly less happy about the return to WWE sized belts though. The mushrooms give the set a nice, earthy feel and phosphorescence is fun!

The new set does give me a bit of a recycled vibe though.

Druid Tier 9 and Tier 13

I see a lot of similarities between this new set and the Alliance Tier 9 set. The helms are the same size and shape and both cover the eyes (no bird beak on 13 though, thankfully). The robes have the same cut and style, similar patterns and the colours are almost identical (except one has glowy purple accents and one has glowy blue accents).

Anyway, I think it’s attractive enough. Not the best tier set I’ve ever seen, but definitely not the worst.

The set bonuses were also released recently. Here’s what resto Druids have to look forward to:

2P — After using Innervate, the mana cost of your healing spells is reduced by 25% for 15 sec.

I think this is a neat bonus. Depending on the spells you use while this is active you could be saving around 10-12k mana over that 15 seconds. This isn’t too bad, but I don’t think it’s quite as strong as our current 2T12 bonus. Heartfire currently gives me about 5200 mana per minute. Since we can only benefit from the 2T13 bonus every 3 minutes, I suspect it will be slightly weaker.

However, one thing I really like about this bonus is that it will make us look at one of our spells differently. Giving Innervate that extra bonus will add a bit of complexity to the spell which I think is great.

4P — Your Rejuvenation and Regrowth spells have a 10% chance to Timeslip and have double the normal duration.

I’m not too thrilled about this bonus. It could be useful in certain situations – a 24 second Rejuvenation on a fight with constant AoE damage would be great – but on fights without that I think this bonus will generate more overhealing than effective healing. How useful this will be will really depend on the nature of the fights in Tier 13. If people are often below full health it could be handy but if everyone is getting topped up quickly or not taking damage often it won’t be great.

So how about them tanks?

There is something else non-druid I’d like to talk about for a second. That is the tank 4-piece bonuses. Here they are if you haven’t seen them yet:

DK – Your Vampiric Blood ability also affects all party and raid members for 50% of the effect it has on you.
Druid
– Frenzied Regeneration also affects all raid and party members.

Paladin – Reduces the cooldown of Divine Guardian by 60 sec and increases the radius of its effect by 70 yards.
Warrior – Your Shield Wall ability now grants 50% of its effect to all party and raid members.

What the what? Raid wall for warriors? Extra healing bonuses from the tanks?

These bonuses sound awesome, but overpowered. They also seem completely out of whack when compared to anyone else’s set bonuses. What’s a little extra damage or healing output compared to a new raid-wide cooldown? If the bonuses stay as-is I would feel like a completely selfish jerk if I ever rolled against a tank on a piece of tier loot. And considering that all of the tier gear will now only be obtainable in raids, that’s a lot of passing I’m going to be doing. It’s not all about gear, but making the bonuses for one specific role so much more powerful than everyone elses seems a little odd.

What do you think of the Tier 13 previews?

Tank Abuse

My baby prot warrior dinged 80 last weekend and I’ve been doing a lot of random heroics since then. I’m finding tanking a completely different experience from healing or DPS. The tank is at the forefront and is the one who usually gets the blame or the credit for how well a run goes, whether it is warranted or not. I’ve run with all sorts of people with varying levels of skill, gear and social etiquette. I’ve gotten compliments on my tanking when runs go smoothly and I’ve gotten outright abuse when they don’t. Do my tanking skills fluctuate wildly from instance to instance? I doubt it. The quality of the rest of the group makes a huge difference. I have no delusions that I am the best tank ever – my gear isn’t very good and tanking hasn’t yet become instinctual like healing is, but I try my best and the dungeons I tank generally go quite well. Every once in a while though, I get a group where everything goes wrong. Who gets the blame? You guessed it, the tank!

The thing that gives me the most trouble is large trash packs with casters. The trash in Forge of Souls is the absolute worst. I run around and throw out taunt every time it’s off cooldown and try to gather all the mobs, but I still find it difficult. I accept that gathering the mobs is my responsibility but how the rest of the group acts can either help me or hinder me.

How to help the tank on tough pulls:

  • DPS the mob the tank is attacking
  • Use abilities like misdirect and tricks
  • If you get aggro, move towards the tank
  • If you are capable, silence or Death Grip a caster so that they move into the group
  • Crowd control a stray mob (hahaha – fear or sheep when you could be spamming AoE? I’m funny)
  • Heal the tank

How to be completely unhelpful:

  • Ass-pull the trash packs
  • Start AoE before the tank has even touched half the mobs
  • Every DPS attack a different target
  • When you get aggro, run away
  • Occupy yourself with telling other members of your group how much they suck rather than dps/heal

I had a particularly bad heroic Forge of Souls run yesterday. We wiped on a trash pack (where every member of the group subscribed to the unhelpful tactics listed above) and two people in the group just railed on me. You suck, your gear sucks, you can’t hold aggro, you’re retarded. The fact that people in an anonymous environment like LFD can be complete assholes shouldn’t surprise me but I’ve never been abused like that in a group before. I came away from the run (which obviously fell apart) torn between two thoughts: “Those people are assholes, fuck’em” and “Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be doing the Icecrown heroics quite yet”. I queued for another heroic and got Pit of Saron. I was a little wary at the beginning, but it went very smoothly. At one point the healer asked me to stand in more bad things on the ground so he would have something to heal and at the end two people in the group complimented my tanking.

People are so quick to cast blame in randoms when things go wrong, often without really knowing who is at fault or examining their own performance. People make mistakes, things go awry. Instead of the generic exclamation of “u suck” in party chat when things go wrong, try giving a helpful suggestion. Or do what I do and yell obscenities at your computer. If things are really bad, just leave the group. Does verbally abusing some random person you’re probably never going to run into again accomplish anything? Is there an Asshat achievement I don’t know about?

Where are all the good tanks?

Last weekend I logged onto my level 70 ret pally for the first time in ages, hoping to do a random dungeon or two. After a queue of almost 40 minutes, I finally get into an Utgarde Keep run. I’ve barely zoned into the place and the tank is already pulling. It was only one mob, so I just ignored it and buffed everyone. Then he pulls another pack and the raid swiftly dies. The ranged dps pull aggro, the tank dies, I die, then the healer dies. Not a very good start. I release and run back to the instance. The healer is offline and the tank has not released. I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt and toss him a rez. Nothing happens. About a minute later, the demand comes:

Tank: rez
Tank: me
Tank: now
Tank: pl0x
Tank: pally rez me

Well, I had already used up my piddling ret pally mana pool on the first, unaccepted rez, so I sit down to drink. One of the other dps tells the tank that he should run back. What does he do instead? He leaves the group. Sigh.

We’re now without a tank or healer so we re-queue. It takes another 20 minutes or so before the group fills up. Everyone stands at the front of the instance and buffs. The mage seems to be afk. I assume that like me, he had now spent a total of 1 hour waiting for a tank, so I want to give him a minute or two to get back. Then the tank says:

Tank: Leaving in 5
Tank: 4
Tank: 3

I’m assuming what he means is that he’ll either be vote kicking the mage or start pulling in 5 seconds.

Tank: 2
Tank: 1

Well, how silly am I? He doesn’t kick the mage or start pulling, he leaves the group.

That’s how some tanks show their appreciation of having <1 minute queues, by acting like complete and utter tools. At this point I’m rather disgusted and log off to play a game where my experience can’t be ruined by other people being inconsiderate douchebags. Really, is a little bit of patience or a tiny bit of decency that much to ask?

To all those people out there who think the mere fact that you are a tank (even a bad tank) makes you better than everyone else and means it’s your way or the highway: May your healers be crappy and your repair bills be high.

And to all the patient, competent, friendly tanks who protect my healer and dps toons from harm: Thank you!