View Full Version : Tanking School

02-10-2008, 03:51 AM
I’m going to be working with the paladin and druid raid tanks in my guild to run a “tanking school” for some of our alts and casual members some time soon. We’ve been having some issues at times with our more casual members really not being any good at holding aggro, and this is directly to address that. But, I figure we’ll all get something out of it in terms of learning more about how our comrades in other tanking classes work, and how we can improve our performance individually.

So, I figured I’d post here about this and see if people have any suggestions about specific items to cover, and how to teach people about those items. My own notes will be rather warrior-centric, as that’s what I do, and I haven’t talked in detail to my paladin and druid cohorts yet. Here are some specific areas I’d like to cover, and thoughts about how to address them:

0) Theories of Threat and Mitigation

This is likely to involve a lot of reading assignments. :) But I figure we can go over the essentials of the combat table and more obvious points of how threat and aggro work. Point out some of the finer points of what happens as ranges change during the fight, etc. Point out some of the implications of the combat table like “the smaller the chance you get hit, the more likely that when you do get hit it will be crushing”, etc. And yeah, “go read!”

1) Gearing and talent choice.

This is pretty obvious. We can look over the gear of folks and check out their talents and make suggestions about things to change. We can talk about the specific strengths and weaknesses of certain talents, and what kind of gear or talent choices are strong in different environments.

This is a place where we can make some pretty solid suggestions about ways to improve, but since new gear involves getting the drops, the homework is to go out and collect gear. :)

2) Maintaining Aggro 101

My thought here is to go out somewhere with big mobs that take a lot of killing, and tell people to generate as much aggro as possible. Actually, I’m thinking that a good test (and lesson that “gear is not an excuse”) might be to give people a rusty sword and tell them to get naked and go hold aggro off of their healer. (I will have to test this to see how it goes before I make anybody else do it. :) For bonus points, the healers are paladins with Righteous Fury active.

The goal is to watch what people do in a controlled environment. It can be hard to observe exactly what’s going wrong in the middle of a raid. Especially when you have a mix of really well and really poorly geared and skilled players... and you really don’t want everybody to die over and over again while you work the problems out, so you take over.

Here, we can watch exactly what people are doing, with minimal chance of death, and plenty of time to try and re-try things. We can demonstrate, and there’s no chance of people feeling that they could do better if they had T5 and T6 gear, too.

3) Threat vs. Mitigation

The next step from holding aggro is: how do you balance mitigating incoming damage with holding threat? Here we can talk a bit about different scenarios which require different sets of gear and abilities to be used. Have people try to mitigate as much as possible (for warriors: keep shield block, demo shout, and thunderclap active 100% of the time in the target dummy fights). Show how their threat generation went way down. etc. Talk about how to get a good mix of mitigation and threat when you need a bit of both. How to keep max threat possible when you have to mitigate as much as possible. How to keep max mitigation possible without losing aggro, etc.

4) Specific Situational Abilities

Mainly, this section is because I want an excuse to say “Okay, now I’m going to pretend to fear you, and you’re going to stance dance to avoid my fear.” “Rumble rumble cast...” “RAWR! FEAR!”

For warriors, I can think of three really good things to address here. First: stance dancing fears (both timed cast and instant fears, and how you can get good at knowing when instant fears are coming by doing a fight a lot.) Second: Kiting while tanking—how to move quickly without reducing your defenses. Third: AoE tanking (although maybe that should have a separate section.)

Anyway, those are the areas I’d like to focus in. :) Any suggestions from folks about specific practical excercises to demonstrate and practice needed skills would be great. As would suggestions about things that should be covered which I’ve missed. I’m going to be making up lists of suggested reading material between now and whenever we do this, but any specific pointers there would be great—especially for paladins and druids, since I don’t personally have expertise with those classes.

02-10-2008, 04:18 AM
Well i can say you are much friendlier than i would be with putting up with teaching them how to play their class =P Personally i didn't have anyone hold my hand in teaching me how to play my warrior and pally when it came to raiding, i used the resources available to me (tank spot and the tankadin communities) and read everything i could ever find on either of them, and it was/is alot =) Personally i think giving your guildies links to here and the tankadin forums should be enough "training" for them. All you can do is put the information out there, if they aren't applying it or showing any initiative by improving then i would say it's time to replace them. Being "casual" isn't an excuse for sucking at your class ><

02-10-2008, 06:02 AM
Well, if you want people to practice stance dancing, get a warlock, a handful of healers, the tank in question to participate in this exercise, and head to the Gurubashi Arena in STV. Have the healers heal the warlock and your tank through any damage they both take and have the tank just sunder and do his normal tanking rotation on the warlock, pretending he were actually Nightbane or Archimonde or some other mob/boss with a castable fear on a timer. Then have the warlock fear every 58 seconds or so and see if your warrior can switch to Berserker Stance, hit Berserker Rage, and then hop back into Defensive. Put Curse of Tongues on the warlock to simulate Nightbane's slow fear, and have the warlock throw on 4 pieces of gladiator (-.2 seconds cast time on fear set bonus) or have a paladin Blessing of Protection the warlock to prevent spell knockback/accidental spell interruption for Archimonde's faster fear.

Also, you could have your tanks fraps their tanking so you can watch how they operate in an instance or whatever although that may help more on a case-by-case basis.

Anyway, sounds like a really great project that you could eventually partially publish as either a series of guides, a blog, or an annotated sort of "entanklopedia" with links to various threads with tons of math and values and so on.

Personally I've always felt like becoming a tank was something you had to do on your own...you can get help from other people but there's only so much you can get before people start saying "I don't know how to explain to you how to not be bad and get better, I've given you my approach and my philosophy and the math behind TPS and gear values, and I can recommend a starting rotation as well as other tanks' rotations, now you have to do the rest because I can't play your character for you." (Paraphrasing my ex-MT when I had to replace him and take over his job so my guild could progress.)

If I could give one more tip it would be to emphasize that you need to be focused; if you aren't paying attention to pretty much every single thing going on, you're missing out on information that is vital to your success as a tank. Healer mana, where mobs are standing, what mobs are cc'ed, where your group members are standing, whose dead, there's like a million things you have to keep track of.

02-10-2008, 10:52 AM
Well, it may be worth noting that these are folks I absolutely do not expect to become raid tanks at any time soon. The two target audiences, really, are the people who are skilled DPS or healing types, and want to know a bit more about the finer points of tanking for when they play their tank alts. Those people, I know are self-motivated enough to come out here and do their own reading, try stuff out, etc. But I certainly don't mind giving them advice. Doing it in an organized manner just means we can share the advice with a bunch of folks at once.

The other group are the people who are, quite frankly, an embarrassment to the guild. These folks are out there every day running heroics, and so on. They end up as MTs in Kara runs for alts on off-nights. I’d like to give these people some rather direct advice so that non-guildies don’t come out of heroics with a bad opinion of our guild, and so that I don’t get deluged with “Aiiiieee! Please come tank XXX and save us!” tells quite so often. :)

I do think that there's really no substitute for experience, but I also think that there are people who don’t really learn well from theory papers. And for those people, I’m really looking for a solution that lets me say “Okay: I notice that you’re weak in this, that, and the other skill” rather than “I’ve heard that you suck horribly, and I’ve no idea why, but would you please stop sucking? Here, go read these forums.”

On the raid tank side? Well—we just won’t recruit tanks that don’t have what it takes. But it’s a lot easier to talk to somebody and figure out whether they know their theorycraft, and then take them on a few raids to check out their performance. If they don’t perform to our expectations, we don’t have to accept them. For casual members, though, we’re not going to kick them from the guild. And when they get together groups for alt/casual instance runs, we’re not going to stop them. So, the solution seems to be to educate them.

02-10-2008, 07:56 PM
If they're "casual", then I think you should go light on the theories and just make them curious enough to read this site if they want to know more. Go "down and dirty" and explain it like it's their first and last day they can tank and if they fail they'll die miserablly or something. =p

Here are my two cents.

0) Theories of Threat and Mitigation
I'd rather keep it simple and tell them this:
*. Rule#1: mobs will generally attack something else if the tank does not touch them
*. Rule#2: if you don't do anything, everyone will die a horrible horrible death
*. Rule#3: the better your gear is, the easier it is to tank and heal

The test: asking several questions on tanking theory (I think we had a thread here somewhere related to that...?)

1) Gearing and talent choice
*. wtf does 490 defense skill do?
*. how to not tank with your face: parry, dodge, block and you
*. tanking specs and how to use them
*. specific talents and what they do

The test: get them to play with specific talent builds on the talent calculator and criticize their choices; ask why they picked A over B, etc.

2) Maintaining Aggro 101
*. tanking rotation 1: single-target tanking
*. tanking rotation 2: double-tanking
*. tanking rotation 3: aoe tanking
*. relying on Taunt is a sign of weakness
*. "what's this button do?" when to use what skills
*. specific scenarios and what to do: situational examples

The test: tanking Shadow Labyrinth with minimal CC.

3) Threat vs. Mitigation
Can't really recommend much on this. Can probably suggest the test though.

The test: tanking Sethekk Guards/Ravenguards with a combat rogue flurrying the crap out of them. >_>

4) Specific Situational Abilities
*. what the nasty mobs can do to you: incapacitating effects

This would include but not be limited to: fears, roots, death coil, bleed, disarms...

02-10-2008, 08:32 PM
I run tanking school for warriors of my guild - Thorns of Gold (http://www.theoldergamers.com) on Proudmoore.

Here is what I cover (I hope it gives you a couple more ideas):

PM me if you are a L68+ warrior and would like me to take you on a 2 hour tanking lesson through to the 1st boss in Shadow Labs.

I will give you tips on:

* the concept of threat
* pulling
* instance tanking Vs raid tanking
* tanking multiple mobs
* how to generate threat/aggro - what really makes the difference
* healer aggro and how to ensure your healers don't get in trouble
* mob kill order/priority
* how to deal with classes that pull aggro
* how to instruct your party
* what buffs you need
* consumables and when to use them
* talent trees
* shield wall, shield block, last stand, devastate, intercept, intervene, demoralizing shout, thunderclap, heroic strike, revenge, shield slam
* crit immunity, crushing blows, the attack table
* armor, health, avoidance, mitigation, block value, block rating, expertise, gem selection and general gear selection
* weapon selection
* big boss fights
* how to generate threat when overgeared

Allow 2 hours for the lesson. You will receive training notes and go into the draw for a limited edition "I got tanked with Polar" T-Shirt :D

Shadow Labs is a good place for this since there is a single mob just inside the instance that you can do a lot of exercises on (including exercises showing what abilities contribute to threat, breaking crowd control, pulling). You just need to be careful not to kill him too quick :). Second, there are a lot of multi-mob and LOS tanking opportunities in there. Finally, the 1st boss in SL is a good boss-fight training opportunity.

02-10-2008, 08:37 PM
I also use the Tankpoint Calculator to show the combat table and then get them to pop shield block and watch crushing&#37; go to zero. This helps explain the concept of pushing crushings off the attack table.

02-10-2008, 10:31 PM
* how to generate threat when overgeared

Me @ KZ : " Fu...g mob , hit me !!! give me rage ffs !!!argh my tps ,so low !!!"
DPS @ KZ : " Aggro Aggro !! DPS die ... looser MT "
Heal @ KZ : <AFK>

02-11-2008, 04:50 AM
I've found that replacing all the items with durability with the blues I started kara with lets me tank the regular 5 mans very well. It's an excellent way to stay in good practice.

It's a fun cheap way to spend a night, with a real tank pugs do quite a bit better (kick anyone who's aweful) and I had enough rage to sit over 600 with times over 1k. Since their dps isn't that great it's usually enough to stay above them even if they aren't watching agro.

Only about 14 more runs of SL for my tanking ring.

02-11-2008, 01:19 PM
Best way to learn to tank imo is to head to the BGs as prot and try to keep people around you alive. Make em do some mouseover macros for their stuns.

* how to generate threat when overgeared

Me @ KZ : " Fu...g mob , hit me !!! give me rage ffs !!!argh my tps ,so low !!!"
DPS @ KZ : " Aggro Aggro !! DPS die ... looser MT "
Heal @ KZ : <AFK>
Stack expertise plzokithx.

02-11-2008, 01:41 PM
Irghen > @ 80 +hit and @ 45 expertise rating ( -5 &#37; with talent) , the rage don't come so fast even if u hit hard ...(specially on trash )

02-12-2008, 09:12 AM
Thanks very much of the suggestions. :) If we end up doing this, I'll report back on how it went. (At the moment, there hasn't been much interest on my guild forums—chances are good that my best bet is to take our super-bad casual tank aside for a little one-on-one "WTF?" moment, instead of trying to browbeat more people into attending.)

02-12-2008, 10:11 AM
That may be more advisable than a public flaying. If you take another person to school in front of everyone else you will only end up with the other person being publicly humiliated. The school idea is a good one, and i would consider doing a clinic myself, but only if asked by the person who needs the help. Even then its best to do it one on one with no one else involved. Mabye I baby my tanks too much, but they do come to me when they need help working on somthing because i dont bring it out in front of everyone.

02-12-2008, 10:50 AM
I think the roughest thing on tanks that didn't learn to tank while leveling up during normal instance runs is to control the situation. Put the mobs where you want them, CC the one(s) that will make you lose control (fear/scatter shot/mind control etc), kill in priority from most to least dangerous to the group. This approach comes naturally to tanks that are veterans, but getting there seems to be a rocky road for guys that hit 70 and decide they should start tanking.

Gear empowers you to be a better tank, but I firmly believe 90&#37; of it is getting out there and learning the instances, the mobs, the pulls etc. It's a position of natural leadership, and you can't lead a group if you have no confidence in yourself or any idea what you are doing.

I think this is a great idea, and it's probably what many inexperienced tanks secretly really want. Someone to pass on those gems we paid to learn with repair bill money :P

02-19-2008, 04:19 PM
Irghen > @ 80 +hit and @ 45 expertise rating ( -5 &#37; with talent) , the rage don't come so fast even if u hit hard ...(specially on trash )

Yeah I know, I was only half joking before, but 1 thing that works wonders for me is using some pvp gear, specially substituting defense for resiliance; I do remain uncrittable but I'm reducing my avoidance and thus getting hit (and hitting harder). It also helps that this does not feel like I'm undergearing, and lets me throw away old gear. Another good idea is to not use any CC, just have eberything pummeling your ass.

Aside from that, one thing I noticed is that we tend to think that mobs must be targetting us, which, while optimal, is not necessary, keeping our stuns (and even piercing howl or hamstring) active on a mob may get the same results, aka, our party safe.

02-22-2008, 07:46 AM
my theory is that people who cant build threat don't press the buttons fast enough

02-22-2008, 08:13 AM
my theory is that people who cant build threat don't press the buttons fast enough

That's a DPS point of view for sure, lol. I'm finding it harder and harder to generate the rage needed too with all the avoidance that I have been accumulating. I switched out to some S1 gear the other night for resilience instead of defense and noticed a much better rage generation. Just dropping from 510 to 501 Defense made my rage generation a lot better so of agro and mitigation then come much faster as well. Overgearing is tough to overcome sometimes.