"I will never tank ICC"

| Monday, August 16, 2010
I used to think this. It seemed inevitable, impossible, partly due to circumstance and partly due to my own choices and priorities.

My main spec is retribution. This isn't purely by choice, but is an adaptation to a guild with way too many players trying to tank. Once upon a time I did some tanking, but it's been a while. Since then I've lost my identity as a tank, since I was relegated to PUGs or randoms. Well, at some point I realized that most randoms are so trivialized by gear that it's easier to just run as ret with a mix of tank gear, just burning things down. I have no interest in PUG raids, for a variety of reasons.

The result is that my tank set is mostly stuff I picked up in ToC 25, a handful of ICC5 items, and a couple unwanted ICC25 rings. It averages somewhere around 245, meaning that it's good enough for ICC10, probably even 25, definitely enough with the buff. But that still puts me way behind the expected inflated gearscore, not just in PUGs, but in guild runs. Since we have more than enough tanks, why choose the moderately geared person? Of course this builds on itself: a non-tank doesn't get much tanking gear and the lack of gear solidifies the position as a non-tank. I could catch up a bit with ICC10 runs, but I am sick enough of it already without running a second raid with a high likelihood of PUGs.

Last night we couldn't fill the normal 25, so I joined a 10 that someone had been saving at LK. That was tricky to fill and we ended up with no priests and two warrior tanks. It didn't work well. Adds all over the place. Well, I suppose they were mostly tacked up with only a stray here and there, problem was they were stacked on me. Turns out having no short CD AoE taunt and next to no ranged abilities makes it pretty damn hard for a warrior to get aggro on adds 15 yards away (don't hold me to that arbitrary number). So they tended to congregate on the next logical spot: the person with divine storm. Sure, vigilance on that person can help, but playing taunt ping-pong just isn't much fun for anyone.

So I whispered a silly suggestion: I would be the off tank. Picking between me tanking, wiping until we quit WoW, or leaving, we went with me tanking.

It took me a minute or so to remember what I have to do to be a tank. You know, things like gear, righteous fury, switching spec, drinking again, rebuffing, righteous fury, and standing somewhere other than next to the raid poised to dart behind Arthas. And righteous fury. With that complete, I moved onto my next task: freaking the fuck out because holy fucking shit I've not tanked anything in... months? And now here I am at fucking Arthas the Lich King the last boss of this expansion unless we count the dragon which I don't, though there is something to be said for internet dragons.


Then we started it up and I immediately noticed a big problem with me tanking: I was entirely used to standing on the inside ring, meaning that if I am standing on the outside and there is a phase change, it must mean that we all have to run inside. Fortunately I was quick enough to realize that this wasn't a good idea before Arthas could cold death cold freeze me into a block of cold frozen ice cold. So not a major problem beside looking really stupid.

I'll just get it out of the way and say that Arthas didn't die and Tirion is still stuck in a block of ice.

But damn was it fun. DPS was just boring. Hit boss. Hit boss some more. Stand here. Stand here. Hit other thing. Not very engaging.

In contrast while tanking I was actually watching things, needing to think a bit. As DPS I tend to go into a daze, which works well enough because I react by habit to bosses moving, even without dialog, as if it were a dance that I've done way too many times. This doesn't work perfectly when things change, as when I was tanking and therefore standing somewhere else, but that's an unusual situation.

I had to figure out how to grab three adds which spawn around Arthas and therefore in convenient range to get hit by the tank and the fury warrior. Ideally all three would glance at the fury warrior, at which point I can AoE taunt them off him with no mess. Less ideally, one gets on the tank, in which cause I use my single target taunt. If two get on him, it's a bit more trouble, since AoE taunt will bring Arthas, but I also need my taunt for the one still on the fury, and meanwhile I have stuff already on me, blocking my view somewhat. So I throw a shield and preemptively taunt for the damage while they're crawling up and constantly try to hit my macro to fire my rocket gloves which doesn't work because my tanking gloves have a couple inches or armor plating on them rather than a rocket launcher like my DPS gloves.

It's a more interactive process.

In the end I was able to control the adds very well, though I still had to be careful with target of target taunting. And my rotation was completely fucked. But I figure that was a lower priority than keeping adds from eating the other tank, the DPS, or the other DPS. Or the healers.

So you know what? I was wrong: I can tank ICC. Or at least one boss for a couple phases, and I plan to do it again next time we raid. Dead boss or not, it's fun, and that's what matters.


Shintar said...

Arthas is definitely one of the more interesting bosses to tank. Unfortunately most of the others in ICC aren't. :P

Anonymous said...

Shintar, have you ever tried Lady on heroic?..

Llamaeggs said...

Just a side note - two warrior tanks is actually very, very viable for tanking LK. In my opinion, warriors are the single best off-tanks for that encounter. You just have to think a bit outside of the box.

You said the OT was putting vigilance on you. He should put it on the MT. Yes, I know this slightly gimp's the MT's threat, but it gives the OT roughly infinite taunts. You'll never have issues with the adds again.

This also works out really nice in phase 3 with the vile spirits since the OT can taunt them all to himself and just eat the explosions. It's much easier for healers to heal a tank through vile spirit explosions than it is to heal the DPS through it.

And if you really want to get fancy, have your off-tank spec out of damage shield and into Safeguard. Good way to reduce damage during Soul Harvests in phase 2.

Llamaeggs said...

Erm... excuse me. I think I meant to say Soul Reaper instead of Soul Harvest. Too many similar ability names in that fight.

Shintar said...

@Anonymous: Yes, I have, and that one's reasonably interesting. Note that I didn't say all of ICC is boring to tank. :P

Oh, and I second the thing about warrior tanks. Our old warrior tank was also bragging about his unlimited taunts while off-tanking the LK; quite handy.

Anonymous said...

HOWTO - Offtank Heroic 25 Blood Queen Lana'thel



Klepsacovic said...

We had tried vigilance both ways, on me or on the MT. Either way, I think it was a mess to do so much single-target taunting. I don't know what method the OT was using for taunt targeting, though I use a macro that lets me do either mousover or directly targeting.

@Anonymous: I am not fooled by your not so subtle attempt to indirectly advertise Bejeweled!

P.S. It is best not to advertise druidism here. I am still furious that they got shift dances. GHOST WOLF IS THE ONE TRUE DANCE.

Unknown said...

So you didn't wait until a tank loot dropped to decide you wanted to tank?

How times have changed!

:) <3

Klepsacovic said...

@Heather: What could you hope to accomplish? To storm brazenly into my domain... to employ trolling... against ME?

Llamaeggs said...

Sorry for the super late response.

I found when OTing in Phase 1, it wasn't too hard to just taunt them over one or two at a time. The issue became that I would usually lose threat on them when they were about 80% of the way over to me. So what I normally did was:
1) taunt one ghoul
2) taunt a second ghoul
3) once ghoul 1 was close enough, thunderclap
4) re-taunt the second ghoul
5) rinse and repeat.

You don't need to put much threat on them as nobody should be DPSing the adds. You only have to stay ahead of the healers, so a few thunderclaps and shockwaves (when the horrors are enraged) should be sufficient.

It also helps to ask dps to not cleave too much and not to stun at all. Save a taunt/heroic throw combo for the horrors (HT should be off cooldown for each horror).

Also, if you're going all out with the safeguard spec and intervenes in P2 and 3, make sure to put vigilance on someone else in P2, as your MT will almost surely run into threat issues (losing threat via vigilance and each intervene).

Sorry to ramble. And love the blog!

Klepsacovic said...

The 80% thing was the real problem. That and divine storm being essential to my damage. I doubt this will be a big problem in the future, since I expect we'll always have our DK tank for 25 with his trivializing death and decay.

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