Sunnier and Arielle chat with Grafarion and Slootbag from Midwinter about tanking Mythic HFC, WoD as a whole, and hopes and dreams for Legion!
Sunnier and Arielle talk about the last few bosses in HFC.
Hey, everyone. Long time, no post. I started leveling another Druid so I could pick up writing a Guardian leveling guide for LFD junkies. Instead I was quickly sidetracked with how nearly unplayable it felt when first entering dungeons at 15. As in, worse-than-swipe-at-32, unplayable.
This is my feedback and my rant.
Weird rage quirks – I spoke with someone on this, and they suggested it was akin to low level spells having smaller cast times and/or cooldowns because of the limited amount of abilities provided in total. But, Rage per Auto Attack (RpAA) will go down as you gain levels until it plateaus at level 21. That is, when we gain bear form at level 8, we get 27 rage per auto. At level 9, 24 RpAA. Level 10, 21 RpAA. Level 11, 20 RpAA. It then goes down 1 rage per level until 21 when we get the 10 RpAA that we are supposed to. This is problematic for various reasons and I will describe most of them below.
Abilities – At level 15, we have two damaging abilities. One with a 6 second cooldown (mangle), and one with a 3 second cooldown and a hefty cost of 30 rage(maul). Both of them hit pretty soft. Maul hardly hits for more than an auto attack. Savage Defense has its large 60 rage cost, making it largely unusable, and Growl is just Growl. At level 18, we gain Bear Hug – which is mostly useless and only mildly useful in certain situations. At level 22 we gain Swipe.
That’s 7 levels without an AoE. I’m not alone when I say that I believe all tanks, not just Guardians, all tanks, should have at least 1 AoE button to use upon entering LFD at 15. It just makes life easier.
Instead for 7 levels, this is what we experience: Mangle, wait, wait, wait, Maul, Mangle, wait, wait, maul, wait mangle, wait wait wait, mangle, maul, wait, wait, maul. That’s the sugar coated version. What’s really happening during those waits is: Growl, no wait, chase that one down, no wait, mangle missed (EXPLETIVE), oh, maul missed too? Word. Lost threat here, don’t have enough rage there… Why does my face hurt? Oh god oh god oh god, 60 Rage for Savage Defense, WHERE ARE YOU. Get 60 rage – oh, look, mobs are at 10% health or there’s 1 left and it’s a caster, GREAT. *thumbs up*
. . .
To be quite honest, at 15, rage isn’t too much of a problem. Why? Because you’re getting 14 RpAA. Two autos and a Mangle gives you enough for a Maul, and it’s not that bad of a wait to be able to hit SD if you plan (way, way) ahead. As you go forward, however, you’re getting less and less rage. It is 100% noticeable. You may not know that you’re getting less RpAA at higher levels, but you certainly notice being unable to hit Maul or SD as much as you started out being able to. That is massively frustrating. We go from having a certain amount of rage generation to less rage generation with the same amount of abilities, and getting and keeping AoE threat actually gets worse the closer you get to 22.
This was my typical rotation for a pack of 3 or more. Run in and Growl #1 on the way in, auto attack #2, Mangle #3, Maul #1 if I lost it, whirl back around and auto attack #4, mangle #2 before I lose it again, maul #4… For 7 levels. For 7 levels I frantically switched targets, mashing Maul, mashing mangle, tab auto attacking, keeping growl almost on CD, praying neither of my physical abilities got parried, dodged, or missed, and bemoaning my inability to hit SD as my health seesaws back and forth because I need to use my rage on Maul. Occasionally I’d be able to shift out and Moonfire 2 or 3 mobs on the pull, but if I had any amount of rage I’d stick in bear form because I know I’d need it sooner rather than later.
It’s also quite ironic that the one scenario where Thorns would actually have been helpful… and it was removed from the game.
And Bear Hug? 1 minute CD. We can hit it and switch targets as a form of AoE opener, but it is really nothing special. At level 18, we don’t want a stun on a 1 minute CD that we can kind of use for threat or kind of use for an interrupt. At level 18 we want our AoE abilities because 3 levels of hell just happened. Bear Hug just adds insult to injury at that point.
18-22 was the same rotation as above with Bear Hug sprinkled in out of complete necessity, not out of wanting to use the ability. I only used it because I needed to, not because I wanted to. It is a very lackluster ability and to be quite honest, we can do without getting it so early on.
Level 22 and we finally get swipe. Oh my god, a breather from the hectic need to grab AoE threat with limited abilities and resources.
Swipe, Mangle, Swipe, wait….. wait…. Swipe, Mangle, Swipe, wait…. wait…. Swipe, Mangle, Swipe, wait….
We just went from frantically running around to: “oh… my-god… this is so painfully boring. What… I can’t even…”
Why not add in Maul for a bit more flavor? Well… Because Maul is a trap.
See… I know I should be saving my rage for Savage Defense. Say what you will about low level dungeons but it’s still easily possible to drop dead if your healer is only half paying attention. Especially if you have those swell DPS that like to run ahead of you and “accidentally” pull more packs of mobs as though the large pack you have now is beneath them to kill first. DPS must flow…
Maul… hardly does more damage than an auto attack with a cost that’s too great for the damage it does. And, I’m sorry, since when did MAUL go from “OH GOD MY FACE” to “heh heh… hey, that tickles… ^.^”? Not cool. Not. Cool.
The average new Guardian isn’t going to know that, however. They will have just spent 7 levels (perhaps more if they quested in Bear form) using Rage on Maul and probably ignoring Savage Defense because it wasn’t damage. And they needed damage because the damage output is woefully slow and small that every bit was necessary. It’s also teaching Guardians how to play incorrectly. It’s teaching them the wrong priorities. It can’t be helped because of the poor ability spread (I’ll get into that too, don’t you worry), but nevertheless, it’s teaching them to do it wrong. They will get to higher levels, still be hitting maul, get asked why they’re not using SD and answer “lol, because I need rage for damage and SD costs too much”. (note: I am not saying that SD’s rage cost is too high)
Well… life gets a bit better at level 28 when we finally receive abilities that reset the CD on Mangle: Thrash and Faerie Fire. In addition to that, Thrash will buff the damage of Swipe. AoE ceases to be an issue and Rage flows a bit more freely – getting even better at 30 with the addition of Primal Fury.
But, that’s 15 levels of suffering in order to get the point to where it’s comfortable to tank and not feel awful about it. Is that really necessary? We’re back to the days of “just don’t tank until level 32 when you get swipe.” There’s nothing fun about Guardian LFD leveling 15-28. Nothing. It’s awful, it’s mundane, it’s painful, there’s no synergy between abilities, there’s hardly anything to press, it’s frustrating, and if I was a new player I’d be completely turned off from Guardian until much later, if not forever.
That’s not Okay. It was not Okay to tell Bears to wait until 32 to tank in Wrath, and it’s certainly not Okay to tell bears to wait until 28 or 30 to tank again. Wrath was doable – we had thorns, maul hit really hard and rage was not in short supply. This? MoP? It’s almost unbearable (no pun intended). It nearly made me give up on it. Never enough rage, abilities hitting for very small amounts because of the low base damage which was caused by unlimited Vengeance – which you don’t see very much of in low level dungeons. I get, maybe, 50 extra AP? That’s not enough to make a difference, even with chain pulling.
Moving on to the ability spread. It’s… terrible. Again.
- AoE at 22, when it should be at level 14, 15, or 16
- Bear Hug at 18, when it should be much later, allowing for something else to be moved down
- Thrash and FFF at level 28. 2 abilities that reset Mangle, when 1 of them should be moved down (FFF to 18?) much earlier to get used to the synergy.
- Ranged pull ability at level 28. Compared to 20 for Warriors, 10 for Paladins and 10 for Monks. Again, FFF to 18.
- Lacerate is fine as is, though moving it lower wouldn’t hurt.
- Barkskin: level 44. Availability feels a bit high still. The SM dungeons hurt a bit more and the lack of cooldown is no fun. It’s an improvement from getting it at 58, however.
- Enrage: Level. Seventy. Six. Is this for real? Seventy-six? Warriors get theirs at level 18 and they certainly have an easier time tanking – and do more damage. What the hell? What? Oh, no. No, no, no… I don’t want my resource generating ability until WELL AFTER I have very few problems generating it. You must have me confused for someone that NEEDS it. I can’t even talk about this without wanting to swear, so I’m just going to say: Lower the level we get Enrage. By a lot. Soon. In 5.1. Please. Do it for Baby Cenarius. Move like… Bear hug to 76. I can live without Bear Hug until that point. Really, I can. I can live without Bear Hug until 90.
- Seriously, take Bear Hug out of the level 18 slot.
- … no really.
Low Level Guardians need a ton of help. I took no enjoyment away from leveling my new one. It wasn’t fun, it was tedious. I did it because I had to, and the only “wanting” to was for the purpose of experience in order to give this feedback.
All I can do is provide this feedback and hope that they will be looked at, else we will be telling other guardians not to bother with tanking until 30 levels in again.
I was chatting with a guild DPS the other day… What we thought about Mists, the talent system, DPS balances, tank balances and heaven’s knows what else in that time frame… when she said something rather interesting. She told me she liked it when I tanked Warmaster.
“What? I never tanked that fight. ‘Cept that one time–”
“You had to one night during our progression.”
“Yeah, that was one, very short, night where I had to… so how can you say you liked it? I barely knew what I was doing.” All I could think about was how I was really bad at positioning the cleaving mob to be within cleave range of drakes while still not getting melee hit by it. I’m probably still bad at it.
“After just a couple attempts I knew exactly what you were going to do – how you were going to move – and I was easily able to prepare my DPS for it. I can’t always do that.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
At first I was all “D’aww, she likes my tanking!”, but I started to consider the implications of it. First, it pretty much pushed me over the edge and cemented my decision to start tanking again in Mists. (DPS is only amusing for so long) Second, it got me thinking about just where in the world (of warcraft) I learned how to tank with such consistency (and I’m definitely habitual and consistent), and really, just how I became as good as I am now.
I guess it starts in the beginning.
I learned the basics of the basics of tanking in Vanilla as a Priest first. I quickly became very appreciative of any tank that could hold threat on (mostly) everything so I didn’t have a heart attack while trying to keep the group up, and more importantly myself, while mobs ran rampant. The difference between the two were night and day, however the subtleties didn’t quite grab me at that level.
After my Priest was my Warrior. I wanted to tank. Problem was, I only had a very, very vague idea on how to do so. The group of friends I played with at the time taught me the basics. Stance dancing to Thunder Clap, using Demo Shout and Cleave, pushing Shield Block in order to use Revenge, and most importantly: Sunder Armor. I won’t say I was good, in fact I’m sure I was bad, but I was learning. From playing my priest, I knew it was important to stop the mobs from hitting my other party members, especially my healer, so I did the best I could do with what I knew.
It wasn’t until the very tail end of BC that I picked up tanking again. Reesi was Resto at the time, but I came across a Bear that was really good; as good as the better warriors I was healing in heroics. I eventually befriended this Bear and he taught me how to be a bear and just about everything he knew. How to gear for tanking, how to AoE tank (3-target swipe and lacerates!), how to AoE pull with Wrath, Starfire, Moonfire, and Hurricane, and most importantly, to use “V” to show health bars above mobs in order to better target them. I tried my first heroic – Mechanar because it was easiest at the time, and took it slow-ish. I knew the pulls from healing them (and resto tanking them!), so I knew what to avoid and what to wait for by observation. The only really rough patch was the gauntlet just before the final boss, but I did fine. I remember joining a Karazhan pug and being nervous as all hell. Tanking a few heroics was one thing. Tanking a raid, with a pug, was another. They actually let me tank Prince. Luckily we didn’t get horrible Inferno spawns and killed him the first go around. Success! Tanking wasn’t so bad after all, and I found I did pretty well with it, with practice, though I still wasn’t terribly comfortable with it.
I didn’t tank a whole lot then, as it was nearing the release of Wrath and I had found a new love for Enhance Shaman. Playing melee completely altered my view of what made a good tank and what made a bad tank. Getting threat on everything I understood easily enough. The one thing that rubbed me the wrong way with tanks was always positioning. It wasn’t something I entirely considered when I tanked for that little bit on Reesi. Sure, I knew the basic “don’t stand in bad stuff” thing, but that was it. I guess positioning a boss or trash isn’t really something you learn to appreciate until you’ve played a melee class that has to chase after a constantly moving target – and have to constantly replace totems in the process because of it(I hated you Grobbulus…). Chasing after mobs is a giant pain in the ass… especially when there’s no necessary reason for the mob to move. The other was turning mobs with a cleave or breath attack. Whenever tanks didn’t turn a boss that had either of those, or both, and forced the rest of the party to move in order to avoid it, I got pretty mad.
Naxxramas came and went. My itch to work on tanking surfaced again. At the time we had two tanks and I was sure I could do better. In my some-what brief play as an Enhance, I learned a lot more about raiding, min maxing, and all the connotations that progression (albeit not hardcore) raiding brought along. I had been keeping up on the official forums for Enhance (Thanks, Elam!), so that carried over to Reesi when I swapped to her the second week of Ulduar.
I was the third tank, so I learned how to Feral DPS in Ulduar and I really learned how to Bear tank in there as well. With the help of Thatgrimguy’s sticky on the official forums, I learned Bears very well. I started to fine-tune my tanking. I started to use macros. I started to change my keybinds and UI to better facilitate what I needed to do. I became an expert in the rotation – without the stupid cast sequence macro – and my guild’s dps began to notice how good my threat actually was and rely on me for it. Man, give me more of that praise. I loved it! It was extremely satisfying to know my tanking was appreciated.
Feral DPS, however, I think is what fine-tuned my need for consistency. Having a positional attack really forced me to pay attention to mob positions. If I couldn’t shred, I wasn’t doing well. I knew how much it sucked to have a boss be moved in such a way that it caused me to be in the parry zone, if even for a few seconds. I knew how annoying it was when tanks turned a boss around slowly. I again knew the pain of twitchy mobs. Having to deal with that as a melee DPS really just sucks. You may think we’re just being whiny bitches, and to a degree we are, but when you want to be competitive DPS and are being held back, if only a little, by a tank that doesn’t care or realize the importance of stationary and well-positioned mobs, it’s really, really frustrating.
My competitive spirit, my drive to be a good player, and the satisfaction of doing my job well all drove me to become the complete-package tank, though I didn’t really know it at the time. I just wanted to do my job well. I wanted to tank, but do it in such a way that didn’t inconvenience the rest of the raid or party (and if I was going to do something odd, I’d always find myself saying so over vent so they could at least prepare). I moved on from my Ulduar guild to a higher up guild (US 69th) and mostly DPS’d for them, though somewhere during ToC I ended up being one of their main tanks. I got a bit better, though the strain wasn’t that much. There were a few DPS that would challenge my threat if I wasn’t careful, but that made it fun when I could hold my own against them.
Essentially, all the little things I picked up on in my years of playing WoW all culminated into my ability to tank.
I knew how to manipulate mob hit boxes in order to move in such a way that wasn’t frustrating for melee, I knew how to hold threat and hold threat well, I knew when to use cooldowns… I was in a good guild and getting praise for my tanking. I thought I was done learning.
I joined Drow.
I was seriously wrong.
Going from a guild that was barely making progress in Heroic ICC to a guild that had every boss but Lich King on farm caught me so off guard the first week that it shook my confidence to the core. I didn’t know a damn thing about progression raiding at a top US level and I felt extremely lost. It was a trial by fire, and I felt like a complete ass after the first week. I lost AoE threat on gunship (hearing “Why are people dead on gunship?” on vent really sent me over the emo edge), I had the melee DPS yelling at me on Rotface for not keeping the boss turned in the direction he spewed, I’m pretty sure I messed something up on Princes, I again lost threat on Valithria, and I screwed up the healer’s positioning strategy for Sindragosa. I was simply not prepared for Drow’s level of DPS and their overall raid synergy. Even though I had been asking questions, I still felt lost.
The only thing that DID go well was my single target threat.
I’m super competitive in games, and not to derail my own blog post, but being told you couldn’t play with the boys because you’re a girl throughout your childhood (I grew up around boys!) really kind of drives the competitive spirit into almost everything you do. (“Anything you can do, I can do better”) I had something to prove, and though I enjoy playing games just to play them, there were underlying motives. So, I forced myself to get even better. I wanted to be in Drow and to prove that I, a female, could tank at that level. To play with the boys, so to speak. I knew I was on a worse chopping block because of that (and because Drow had not recruited a female since Sunwell). I wanted the satisfaction of tanking for players that were not just good, but amazing, and to also be at their level.
The next week arguably went better. I added Tidy Plates: Threat Plates to my UI arsenal (<3), I cleaned up my boss mods and I made sure my unit frames would display the other tank’s debuffs. I was determined to do better. Gunship came around and I figured I could get away with some of my DPS gear, since the adds didn’t seem to hit very hard. Armor Pen combined with a Bear = Mostly better threat than the locks and mages = no dead people on Gunship. Success! The rest of my mistakes were pretty much fixed for the rest of the fights. All of it was looking good, though I still was very hard on myself whenever I screwed up.
Probably my worst screw up with Drow was when they brought me in for H. LK attempts. I was doing well (again learning the subtleties of his twitchy hitbox with lots of ghouls around, and moving him into place for Defile without moving him too much, and learning how to run across the platform from ghosts without screwing melee over, etc), until I went to hit a cooldown for Soul Reaper and immediately started spamming Druid chat with “Innervating Lich King!!”
Psst. That wasn’t Frenzied Regen you just hit, Reesi. That was Innervate. And now you’re in caster form with Lich King about to hit you with Soul Reaper and you have no cooldown and you’re not a bear and you’re about to di—SPLAT
Needless to say I felt like a complete moron. And I learned the importance of never, ever, ever having any of your caster form ability keybinds anywhere near your cooldowns.
After all that (it was probably the most stressful month I have ever had in WoW) I was promoted to Raid Team, but I really wasn’t completely done learning. Drow challenged me in new ways all the time. Being on the edge of that kind of progression really forces you to play to the best of your abilities in more ways than one. I’ve learned how to tweak gear when a situation calls for it – and not be afraid to do so. The worst you can do is die horribly, and that can be fixed the next attempt! I learned how to utilize my UI to make playing easier in order to pay attention to my surroundings. I learned how to grab threat without tricks (before the threat changes, clearly) and keep it from the fury warriors, even if that meant using Growl, then Challenging Roar, then Growl again. Adaptability is a huge quality to have; if something I’m doing isn’t working one way, then I go ahead and try it a different way.
I suppose what I’m trying to get at is, in order for someone to be a great tank, they can’t ever really be done learning. There’s always a new challenge that surfaces that must be overcome, even if it’s something small like learning how a boss’s hitbox interacts with your own and manipulating it to your advantage.
With my return to tanking and a new tanking model surfacing for Mists, I’m sure I’ll have plenty to learn yet again in order to maintain my level of play. I welcome the challenge.
Some of you don’t know, and some of you do know, that Arielle and I are apart of something called the Team Waffle Podcast. In short, it’s an all-druid Podcast made specifically for Druids. We also record with Lissanna of Restokin, and Clay, some random crazy Physicist that PvPs (and who also has an Author account here, but he hasn’t posted a damn thing!).
Well, we recently teamed up with a follower on Twitter, HackxTV and started devising a craaaaazy plan to do our shows Live. It was something that was initially discussed when the Podcast started, but not something we were quite able to do. Until now. HackxTV graciously offered to stream and host live shows for us and we thought it something we couldn’t pass up.
So! TIB and Team Waffle Followers, I am quite happy to invite you to join us on our first ever Live show, which is sure to be filled with crazy shenanigans, listener participation, and the happy fun times that are technical difficulties.
When do we record? Every other Friday, if all goes well, at 8pm PST / 11pm EST. And obviously, we record tonight (Nov. 18th).
You can view the stream here: twitch.tv
Here: Team Waffle
Or right here! Please note that in order to chat with us, you need to make an account for twitch.tv.