Oct 29, 2009

Help me, Help you

In running some 5-man content lately with both PuGs and guildies, I’ve noticed a few behaviors that rather irk me.

As a tank I judge my success by a few simple measures.
  1. Is the target(s) dead?
  2. Did any of our party die?
  3. If they died, was it my fault? Was it preventable?
In a few of the runs I did, I lost a few people to deaths. Surprisingly, they were not on boss fights, but rather on simple trash. I think it’s largely due to a few simple, preventable behaviors.

So once again, let’s delve into the Jarr perspective -- the one with the big bear butt staring back at you.

You are your own meter maid
You are running a threat meter right? If not, go get one. Omen is the current gold standard in WoW and the one I use, but I’m sure there are others as well.

With that said, it is your responsibility to watch your own agro. As a tank I will try to keep tabs on everyone’s agro, so that I can tell when I might need to taunt off. However, it is still your responsibility to control what you pull. We’re not talking about progression raiding here, so you don’t have to squeeze every little ounce of DPS out of your toon. If you get high in the agro bars, back off. A mob focused on the tank and is far easier on everyone (especially the tank and healer) than if it’s chasing you around the room.

Give me a sec
With the ramp up in gear availability through Ulduar, the tournament trials, and badges, most folks are now far out-geared for heroics. This seems to feed into a “kill it two seconds ago” mentality. It feeds a bloodlust desire to just blow through the content as quickly as possible.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to stack on the tank immediately. Take a moment. Count to two. Give the tank a brief moment to get the pull started and gain some initial agro. Then follow the tank in and start your mash and slash, cast and bash. A run will go far quicker if you let the tank get initial agro and maintain it than if you make the tank chase agro all over because you wanted to shave 1.3 seconds off of your kill time.

Are you focused?
Be honest. When was the last time you used the focus function? During vanilla WoW and TBC when crowd control was more eminent, the focus pane got a workout. Wrath’s laughable need for CC has largely lessened the use of the focus pane I fear.

Take it further. When was the last time you set the tank as your focus? Do yourself a favor. Set your focus to the tank and show the focus’s target. These two panes can make it so much easier to keep agro on the primary target where it belongs. Which leads us to…

Can you assist me?
Most trash mob groups are pulled and then killed with AOE. Even so, being on your tank’s target can help keep the agro on the primary targets. Remember how we set the tank to our focus? Here is a simple macro to help you stay on his target. Alternately you could hit the assist key (default key is ‘F’), but this requires you to target the tank first. This forgoes that need.

/assist [target=focus]

Toss Me Some Love
At the risk of parroting, I’m mentioning this one again. Threat redirection abilities are there for a reason. There is no reason to not use Tricks of the Trade or Misdirection. TotT is even less arguable, since you get a nice damage bonus. Perhaps Blizzard should consider doing the same with Misdirection.

Toss me some agro and then you can stand in place and pew pew away. Otherwise I may be chasing you all over, or worse letting you die. Pull once, shame on me. Pull again…well, it’s your repair bill.

Dodge the Bullet
The flip side of the love toss is the threat reduction. Fade, feign death, feint, soul shatter and the like. They all fall into this category. If you’re about to pull agro then dump some. The few seconds spent to drop the agro won’t hurt your DPS. Come on, you can do it. One global cooldown is worth a smooth run, right?

Lack of agro control is often the cause of deaths or worse wipes. Evasion tanking is not a sign of strength. It’s a sign that something failed. Even if you pull it off, you still failed.

Get behind me
Most encounters require someone to initiate a fight by smacking something. There are a few events that are triggered rather than attacked to start. The hunter trophy room in Utgarde Pinnacle, Keristrasza in Nexus, and the gauntlet event in Halls of Stone come to mind. In these events, the boss will typically go to whomever is closest to them. Let the tank be the only one in there. You don’t need to be on top of the boss at the go. Remember that two-second rule we used for trash. Apply it here. You’ll still get those high DPS e-peens that you seem to love to flex so much.

Sum it up
I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that most groups I’ve run with do well. Those that don’t go so smoothly usually fall into categories mentioned here or in the “Those ‘Uh-oh’ moments.” From where I stand, these a just a few things that can turn a decent run into smooth sailing. Good luck and good hunting all.