Tanking: Some Opinions

I created my Paladin in August last year. So I’ve got a year of experience tanking, though I will say in the beginning, that I didn’t know what I was doing, as compared to now. There are a few simple rules for tanking, some for the tank to follow, and some for the group to follow. When joining a group, the most commonly asked question is “who is the MT?” (main tank). Once this has been established, the rule of thumb for all classes is to cast all your “group friend” buffs on the MT, so he will get added stats/avoidance/dps/procs/etc. This will help him stay alive, which in turn helps you stay alive. Once in your zone/instance of choice, the battle will begin. I’ve thrown together some simple guidelines for tanks to follow, and for group members in general.

1. Stance. When you are designated as the MT, defensive stance is standard, as is a sword and board setup. Of course, this is designed for plate tanks, as brawlers tend to dual wield/2Hblunt. You will lose some dps in defensive stance, but the added mitigation/avoidance is worth it, especially when facing heroics that are above level cap. Besides, dps is meant to come from your group, you are meant to keep the group alive.

2. Use your tools. As a Paladin I have amends, and this is always placed on the highest parsing dps class in my group (that doesn’t have a hate transfer themselves). At adept 3, this transfers 39% of their hate to me, which is an invaluable tool. The cap is 50%, so an assassin/swashbuckler can easily cap this out with one of their hate transfers. For those instances when someone still grabs aggro, make use of your taunts. Some tanks will swear by opening with taunts, or taunting occasionally through a fight, but I’ve found with Paladins holding aggro is easy, as AOEs and some of our other skills increase hate. But on the occasions where I do lose aggro, I will throw out a couple taunts or rescue. Sigil of Heroism is another great tool, but other tanks have taunt procs, or more taunts than we do, and they may have to use them more often than Crusaders would.

3. Turning the Mob. It is essential in most dungeon crawls to turn the mob’s back to the group, making it easier for scouts to do more damage (not having to run around the mob as much for positional attacks), and it causes you to be nearest any roaming mobs that may sneak up on you, causing them to aggro on you instead of your scouts. I make a habit of pulling a mob, running back into the group, then running back ahead while facing the group, so the mob is looking at me, and has it’s back to them. Then I turn my camera view looking at the mob’s back, so I can see the corridor ahead, effectively seeing any roamers that may be on the way. Some group members will advise you when mobs are coming, but some won’t, best to rely on yourself.

4. Pulling. As a rule of thumb, in most zones, body pulling is required. Mobs can be tightly packed, and in social zones, casting a spell or pulling with ranged weapons can cause more than one encounter, and this can mean a wipe. Body pulling is simple. Creep up to a mob until you see it turn to you, and give chase. Run back to your group, and follow the step above. GROUP MEMBERS SHOULD NEVER PULL! It is the tanks job to grab and set the mob. This is his function, and he is geared/buffed to do so, thusly a scout that is pulling is making the tanks job more difficult, as you have established aggro and the tank now needs to pull it from you, and then get it built up on himself. This makes the group less efficient, and is just plain annoying.

5. Casting on the pull. As a Paladin, I have one encounter spell that can be cast on the run (Brimstone), so I use this quite often. While running back to the group, I will begin to cast, so that by the time I get to the group it goes off. As a rule, all other group members should not be casting or using CAs on the pull. Once the mob is set, then you are free to destroy. This is why raid tanks use “all-in” calls, as if you cast too soon, you can rip the mob off the MT, and cause the raid to wipe if the MT can’t get aggro back quick enough. Best case, you die. Worst case, Group dies.

6. Prewarding/Healing. Paladins have a single target ward, and this should be used on the pull, just the same as Guardians/Berzerkers have short mitigation buffs. This goes back to “using your tools”, but again, is necessary for all tanks to facilitate. Also, on tough encounters, it may be necessary for your healers to throw a ward/heal over time/reactive on you to help absorb some of the initial damage. I prefer wards in this instance, as it prevents the initial spike damage, and helps other healers keep up, but a HoT will do just as well as long as timed right. If cast too soon, the healer will get aggro, and sometimes a single taunt won’t get aggro back to the tank. So try and throw up the heals a few seconds before the pull, so the tank can grab aggro first.

That about sums up the basics. More on that in the future when I come up with more.

Now, tanks are a dime a dozen in this game. Many (crusaders in particular), have gotten a bad rep when it comes to tanking ability. I have grouped with many horrible tanks, and I’ve grouped with some that can out tank me. From my experiences, I’ve gathered that player skill > gear, as many well geared tanks are still terrible at their job. For me personally, my skill level is high, but my gear isn’t the best, but I think with the better gear I would perform even better. I have tanked every group instance in the game, including unrest, with little problem. I have never raid tanked, but again, I think I need better gear. I have however parsed 1200 in raids, in offensive stance with a fabled two hander.  Needless to say, I’ve seen comparably geared Paladins parse very low, or wipe a group due to poor skill. I think a lot of people in this game need to really learn their class before trying to show off.

I think there are some balance issues in the game that need addressing between the tanks. I think all tank types should be viable at doing different things, and there should be trade offs for each. For instance, Crusaders (Paladin, Shadowknight), trade off some tanking ability (lower HP/mitigation/avoidance) to be able to cast spells. I think this is pretty cool, and it can be very effective, yet being a raid tank is much harder for us.

Warriors (Guardian, Berzerker) have the better tanking ability, and more skills in their arsenal to hold aggro. But there doesn’t seem to be as much of a trade-off, particularly for Zerkers. Zerkers can hold aggro better that crusaders in most cases, yet they can produce higher DPS at the same time. Seems to me they would also be able to solo quite effectively. This to me doesn’t seem right, as in EQ1, Warriors couldn’t solo. Their trade-off for being the best tanks was that they were completely group dependent, much like healers are. I don’t think a Warrior should ever out parse a Crusader, and definitely not a Brawler.

Brawlers (Monk, Bruiser) are supposed to be the DPS tank. Their trade-off is lower mitigation due to being only able to wear leather armor. They do however have a high avoidance rating, so they can avoid a lot of damage, but when it hits it’s a rather large spike. They have the most severe of trade offs in my opinion, simply because they can’t stay up when getting pounded on. Supposedly there are ones out there that can tank all group instances, but I have yet to see one that can out tank a Crusader. There is no real place for the Brawler, and this doesn’t seem right.

If the Warrior is the supreme Raid Tank, and Crusaders are the best Group Tank, then where does that leave Brawlers? I haven’t figured this part out yet. The good part, is they can fill a tank position, or a dps position, but I would rather have a scout or mage class behind me in a group. In raids they take a dps role, but so do crusaders. It seems to me that they should implement something in raids where all tanks are needed, so that we don’t have to sit on the sidelines. They could make certain mobs tankable by crusaders or brawlers. Ones that a Warrior just can’t do. I don’t know how exactly, but they should do something to make all classes desirable. Balance is the key to making everyone happy.

5 thoughts on “Tanking: Some Opinions

  1. Thanks for thus very good tanking guide.

    I would like to add 1 additional point.

    Paladin here so I’ll be specific, although this can be applied to other tanks as well I am sure.

    In addition to the Ward on pull, I use Intervene on the healer. I combine these two in a macro (I usually specify name of the main healer in the macro). Intervene is very useful when the healer wards and I am prox pulling so can’t taunt straight away. It mitigates any damage that the healer would take for that instant before I can safely taunt (social agro, etc).

    I find this very useful on Mystics (bless em) and Templars as I group with these all the time and the always ward/buff me which can taunt of prox-pulled mobs.

    Congrats on your very good write-up.

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  2. very informative and agree with you on the Brawler class – I have a Monk and as I’m nearing the Raid level it’s pretty clear there isn’t a good role for a Brawler class toon. Your suggestion of certain MOB’s tankable by certain classes is really a great idea.

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  3. I dunnno man, I think Berserkers should indeed out parse Crusaders, and pretty significantly too. Raid group, non DPS placed, I can hit 1000-1200 no problem pretty consistently. In a dps group, I’ll crank 1400 and I’ve hit 3000 dps in DT a couple of times… lots of ooo and ahhh when that happens

    I don’t know how much parsing should be placed on thanking classes, because there’s so many variables to take into consideration that can really warp that number.

    Nonetheless, I loved the post.

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  4. Well I will still disagree with you there, mainly because as I said, it’s not fair that zerkers can have the best tanking skills (cas/spells) along with putting out the best dps. There’s no trade off there. What is the Warrior’s downfall? Doesn’t seem like there is one, and that is imbalance. Period.

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  5. With the right gear and spec all plate tank classes can raid tank. I do often and can tank unrest fast no problem in a good dps group with 1 healer. From what i’ve seen a player can make up for the difference in classes. Being a SK i use Despoil debuff first on large raid pulls to up my mit and other things to allow me to tank on par with most warriors. Totally agree with point on brawlers classes and they do need to balence out the game better. Great post

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