Tank Talk pt.2

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Yesterday, Svenn started talking about tanking and aggro generation. Threat per Second (TPS) is the metric by which tanks measure their aggro generation. As long as the DPS does not exceed the threat threshold for a given mob, that mob will remain focused on the tank. In order to keep this from happening, DPS can wait to open up on the mob until the tank has built a sufficient lead in threat, scale down their DPS (equivalent to waiting to open up), change the focus of their damage, or artificially lower their threat through reduction talents. Svenn further proposed that slowing down on DPS will no longer be an option in Ulduar. So then, how can tanks keep mobs "glued" to them while DPS continues to crank out damage far exceeding the tank's TPS?

There are a number of options available here, and a combination of some or all may be necessary for future fights.

1. Crowd Control. CC used to be a necessary part of running instances, but has become superfluous in the content FIST has been running to date. While a defense capped/ avoidance capped tank like Svenn still has nothing to worry about from most trash mob pulls (the more the merrier) CC is emerging once again as a critical component of trash pulls. This is in part due to the increased damage output of AoE DPS classes. With fewer "active" mobs in a pull, the tank has to build aggro on fewer targets and can thus keep his threat paced with the DPS' threat easier. Additionally, if the tank's threat falls behind and aggro is grabbed by the DPS there are fewer targets running around, thus simplifying the throwing of taunts and ensuring that there are enough taunts available to regain control of the mobs.

2. Talents. All DPS classes have some form of threat reduction. These talents come in various types, from passive abilities which apply a constant threat reduction to a particular class of damage (ie. Shadowform), to castable threat reduction (ie. Feign Death), to threat masking (ie. Fade). These are just some of the examples for class specific threat reduction talents, and should be used by DPS when necessary. Svenn isn't the authority on every DPS class out there and so, does not propose to tell them how and when to use their specific threat reduction talents.

3. "Buff" Talents. These are other threat related talents, which Svenn is treating as a separate entity, that are castable on others to help with threat. I am talking about things like Hand of Salvation and Misdirection. These talents are key to sustaining high DPS while helping the tank maintain aggro. Specifically, DPS with huge amounts of damage output may lack the ability to shed enough threat with their inherent class talents (Damage Over Time(DoT) classes in particular may have problems if DoTs continue to tick on mobs while they are "unhittable" by the tanks) may need the added threat reduction offered by these classes. In the past the thinking has been to let DPS manage their own threat, whether by talents or slowing down their DPS, and to save these "buff" talents for the healers for which slowing down their healing aggro isn't an option. Now, especially in a group were several heavy hitters need to do max DPS in order to compensate for lower DPS raid members, it may be necessary for these talents to be applied to DPS instead.

4. Taunts. While these don't necessarily change the overall threat picture (some do, some don't), they focus the mob/mobs' attention back on the tank for a period of time. That window allows the tank to surge threat on the mob through direct targeting (as in AoE pulls when lose of aggro is likely if the mob in question is not the tank's main target) or from spike damage. It also allows for DPS to do a "quick burn" on the mob in order to kill it before the taunt wears off. In a previous post, Svenn talked about saving his taunts for the healers; that was before Ulduar and mainly in the context of 5man heroics. Now, taunts are another integral part of the threat control matrix.

5. TPS Increase Talents. Much time has been spent explaining the options available for decreasing/ controlling DPS threat, with the assumption that the tanks are doing all they can to max their TPS. Svenn would be remiss if he didn't at least mention the existence of TPS multipliers (ie. Pally's Righteous Fury, Enchant Gloves-Armsman, etc.).

This article is not a comprehensive list of talents and items available to reduce or increase threat. Rather it is meant to serve as a vehicle for discussion among raid groups as to how to balance the economics problem of "Threat vs. DPS" when excessive lead times for tanks or damage gimping for DPS just isn't an option. It's not just a DPSer's problem anymore.


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