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Thread: Thoughts on Active Mitigation: Is it Really 'Good' Tanking?

  1. #1
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    Thoughts on Active Mitigation: Is it Really 'Good' Tanking?

    TLDR: I think so. Others may not agree.

    (Not really a rant, but it may sound like one as I kinda fuzzy navel gaze looking for whether we need to be as good as tanks as we feel we need to be. )

    At three months into the expansion, those of us who tank have gotten used to the whole Active Mitigation thingy. The tank role has its own special rotation that comes into play to keep you alive better, longer, and so we've all had our moments where we either embraced it or loathed it.

    And yet I run into tanks all the time in LFR who are bear tanks, and I put them as my focus, and I take a gander at their gear. I run Skada and look at their buffs, and what they're doing, and silently assess how good they are. I watch their Rage bar fill up and never go down -- meaning they're not even using Maul.

    I have run into one tank that is doing it 'right'. One bear tank out of about ten or eleven that is bothering to use Savage Defense and Frenzied Regeneration at all, who isn't just stacking Stam and reforging for Dodge that gives them 16% dodge. Or less. I watch their health go yo yo crazy up and down, and yet...

    ...they live. With crappy gear, no less. Tanks with mostly PvP gear, but because they gemmed for Stamina, they have more health than I do, and the healers keep 'em up, except when they don't. And then the tanks are only blamed if they did the fight completely wrong.

    Blizz's intention was to make tanks work to be a tank, more than just controlling the boss movement and not standing in stuff. But it's only when you get to actual Normal/Heroic raiding that 'real' tanking makes a difference...

    ....or so I thought. The bear tank I got to watch tank Will of the Emperor this weekend wasn't using his cooldowns, but they had 547K health, so despite getting hit multiple times by the Opportunistic Strikes thingy they lived with only having to use their healthstone once. They weren't even healing themselves with Renewal. The healers have gotten that good. I checked their Armory -- they have FOUR Will of the Emperor kills. On Normal. So either their healers in their guild are that good, or they're not the tank, or... maybe it doesn't really matter as much as we thought it does.

    I had the occasion to tank Vizier this Saturday, and I have a bear tank in my guild that isn't that great at the Active Mitigation thing. So she'll take multiple damage spikes up to 75+K, because she's failing to dodge melee strikes, and the healers all say she's squishy, but they can still keep her up. (We're dying because one of the healers and two of the DPS keep eating discs.) Me, I take the tank role and my damage taken is smooth, and stays at 30K, worst spike at 55K. My healers prefer healing me, but they can keep the other tank up almost as well.

    I'm not sure what to think. At the end of the day, some of the fights seem specifically geared to how well you do your active mitigation, but whether you get hit less or not, or hit for less damage, it's the healers that seem to make the difference between success and failure, instead of the tank.

    I can make bad healers look good by rotating cooldowns and avoiding damage. But bad tanks can be covered by good healers, just as much. And no matter how bad the tanks are in LFR, half the time it only takes three good healers out of six to make a successful run.

    So does it really, truly, matter? Those of you who practice and know the other tank disciplines, do you see the same thing? Those of you that heal, can you tell a tank that is doing it right versus a tank that isn't?

    -Tielyn

  2. #2
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    I'm a backup raider for my friend's guild. My iLevel is considerably lower than their MT, but I pride myself on being a good tank, following the best practices, and being the most "efficient" and "optimal."

    The other day the GM tells me that the main tank told him, "you know... I think your friend is probably a better tank than I am."

    It's a point of pride for me, I HATE it when I screw up and I watch my health yo-yo or I have to use last stand when I shouldn't have had to or whatever. I have to be optimal, and to be optimal I need to be good at active mitigation.

    I will say though, that the ability for healers to keep up shitty tanks is why I think that AFTER you are to a point where you can keep your active mitigation abilities up as close to max as possible (for a warrior this pretty much means getting to hit/exp cap) that stacking stam is the way to go. Gives healers more time to heal you, and they apparently aren't running out of mana.
    [Today 09:38 AM] Reev: The older I get, the more I think those Greek philosophers were just annoying hipsters.
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  3. #3
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    I tank with a fellow warrior, and for us at least I am safe in the knowledge that proper use of active mitigation is a hugedifference in damage taken. on will of the emperor i'm taking 33% less damage than the other tank according WoL, even when i screw up the dance more often than he does.

    LFR is LFR it's tuned to be tanked by tanks with potentially less than 400k health, and who are healed by healers who are gonna run out of mana, and of which maybe they have 1 gem and 1 enchant between them. LFR is just not a good basis for judging mechanics.

    That is a very good metric for deciding the stam/mastery argument.
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  4. #4
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    I personally view getting active mitigation right as critical. However, my guild recently was having issues getting enough raid dps and especially enough ranged dps. Since we had numerous people with tanks, I volunteered to let them tank and I would see if I could get a ranged dps toon ready. We did get three new fights down once I made that change, but of course, I was really looking at WoL to see what all really changed. The bear that started tanking for us was keeping Savage Defense up about 8% of the time...yes, 8%. Yet, we still downed three new fights.

    Based on that, my conclusion has to be that good active mitigation tanking is just the difference between good and great tanking. Good healing, sufficient dps and certain mechanics checks are more critical to downing fights.

    Having said that, I still feel that good active mitigation tanking is important to me and I will still strive to do my job the best I can. I take pride when healers tell me, "I barely have to heal you".
    "he doens't need healing, he doesn't need healing, he doesn't nee-WHAOSHIT!wtf was that man!". Please stop leaning on TDR. -Teng

  5. #5
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    how many heals are you running?
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  6. #6
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    If you mean me, we usually go with what the guides here on tankspot recommend so we switch between 2 or 3 in 10 man based on the fight.
    "he doens't need healing, he doesn't need healing, he doesn't nee-WHAOSHIT!wtf was that man!". Please stop leaning on TDR. -Teng

  7. #7
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    Garalon is the only one we 3 heal, so maybe its just my perception since our healers don't have much slack so active mitigation is really felt.
    Harsh Words and Steel: A Protection Warrior Guide
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    Hunters, Just get a Sporebat, most LFRs will be missing that buff.

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    Bear in mind, we are not a HM guild even though the leadership would like to be. We are not even a good normal mode guild at the moment. We've had atrocious turn over ever since MoP launched. More than half our raiders never logged back in after the xpac and it's been a yo-yo ever since.
    "he doens't need healing, he doesn't need healing, he doesn't nee-WHAOSHIT!wtf was that man!". Please stop leaning on TDR. -Teng

  9. #9
    Theck has done a whole lot of math on his blog at sacred duty. Numbers make my head spin but the jist of what he appears to have found is that, at least for paladins, if you're not good at active mitigation the more "passive" stats (ie: dodge, parry, stamina) can make up a huge amount of difference. They don't make up the ENTIRE difference -- a Paladin who's good at managing Holy Power and using his cooldowns effectively will still be more effective -- it's just enough that a tank who isn't very good at active mitigation isn't just going to die all the time.
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  10. #10
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    Yeah, if you can't play the priority right, then hit, expertise, mastery/stamina else hit, expertise, haste. 25 man tanks are probably better off getting more of a health pool before hitting the haste than 10 man raiders, because 25 man has more tank damage (and 1-2 dedicated tank healers - you're lucky to get a dedicated tank healer in a 10 man).

  11. #11
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    I know over on the beta that doing the rotation right was critical, and even then didn't guarantee success. When they watered the Rage generation flow down, it makes it again possible for mediocre tanks to thrive, I guess.

    I talked to three of my healers about this problem, and they all independently said that I'm a lot easier to heal because they don't feel like they have to constantly and exclusively watch me. The paladin in particular said it best -- 'with you, I can put up a bubble shield on you, and stay ahead of the damage coming in most of the time - it's only when lots of things go south that you lose it. With the other tank, it gets ripped off constantly and I have to fight to keep them alive."

    Bears in particular are fairly good at hiding the problem unless you know what to look for; you can put up some decent numbers just by hitting Thrash and Maul and the higher health pool gives healers time to throw big heals at you. But it's not how it's supposed to be done - and it kept biting us in the tail when the not-so-skilled tank would be in a situation on Vizier with one healer dead and one mind controlled and Exhaled on, and the third not being able to keep up.

    Thanks for listening and offering your comments. I like being 'that tank that doesn't take a lot of damage and stays alive even though the healer is eating the floor' because I know what I'm doing -- or so I think.

    -Tielyn

  12. #12
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    just a little bit off topic;

    so I was standing in the shower and I was thinking about your post Tielyn and this whole "how well I'm doing" in active mitigation. And than a PST question came to mind where someone was asking about how good WOL is in assessing how well you have done in a specific encounter. And sure you can check that with buffs active etc.

    However, what I'm trying to say is: It would be awesome if we had a tool that tracks power. Not only how much of the resource we gain but also how efficient we are able to use it. So this addon could tell you how much rage you "wasted" because you were sitting at the cap. This could be a vital benchmark for tanking inasmuch you could tell how well somebody manages his resource (rage etc.)

    Also, a tab where you can see the max. damage taken would be highly beneficial. As of now it only show average damage on WOL

  13. #13
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    Indeed it woulld be nice. I do get a warm tingle inside anytime i take an Sbar addict to elegon, and watch them fall over before there 9th stack.
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  14. #14
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    I've been using the Damage Taken graph function in WoL and the Log Browser to look at damage spikes and damage taken. Usually I put together a function like 'Actor=(bossname)' 'Target=Tielyn' or something similar. I also made a check at one point just for Overwhelming Assault on the tanks.

    Another thing you can do is look at the Damage Done tab, lower section, for Damage Taken. I use it to measure how often I dodge boss attacks, so for other classes it would be Block or Parry, I imagine. Generally at least for bears the amount of Savage Defense uptime (Buffs tab) is usually a direct correlation to how much we dodge, and if it's not in Dodge, I look at Healing Done (Frenzied Regeneration) Buffs Uptime again for the glyphed version. Also, excessive use of Maul turns into Absorbs, and if you mouseover the Absorb amount it'll show a number like '11x' so you know how many absorbs there were.

    Credit where credit is due: I gotta thank Tengenstein for turning me into a habitual WoL user, because he once analyzed a log on Neffy to see where we were going wrong.

    -Tielyn

  15. #15
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    I see where you coming from. Sure, there are some WOL tools where you can get an idea of the situation. you can find out what was the max. dmg peak and you can find out at what time you took the most damage. However, while it is possible to see the dps plot and buff uptimes in the same graph it is not possible for damage taken. That would be useful. Example (beware of my terrible paint skills):


    Furthermore, I'd really like an another option to the above idea where you can enable certain abilities in the graph in addition to buff uptime. Example:


    This way you can instantly tell if a tank uses is defensive CD at the right time. But the feature I tried to explain in the above post is something like this:

    You don't plot damage taken vs time but instead vs occurance. Lets say you take all melee hits from the boss (so you would be able to choose from which unit and what attack you want to show). The raw data looks something like this



    Than you take this data and put it in to groups i.e. one group could be all hits from 75000-84999 another group from 85000-94999. Than you should get a histogram similar to the ones that you're used to from theck:



    A good tank is one that is easy to heal, therefore making use of active mitigation. If one tank takes 10% less damage overall compared to another doesn't really say anything. Certainly you can not conclude from that how easy he is too heal.
    Last edited by gom; 12-21-2012 at 11:43 AM.

  16. #16
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    wow your paint skills really did improve by the end.
    Harsh Words and Steel: A Protection Warrior Guide
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    Hunters, Just get a Sporebat, most LFRs will be missing that buff.

  17. #17
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    Yes I am pleased as well with my progress in heroic paint.exe

  18. #18
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    I would actually like to see something that showed shortest event string that would have killed you if not for the healers.
    Harsh Words and Steel: A Protection Warrior Guide
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    Hunters, Just get a Sporebat, most LFRs will be missing that buff.

  19. #19
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    Kinda revisiting this topic: our two 'less active mitigation-enabled' tanks managed to get our guild's first downing of Blade Lord last week; my OT-bear caught on the lesson of how to time the stacks for Overwhelming Assault such that you only get one stack most of the time, and coupled with our monster healer (he's currently #6 for all Holy Priests on Stone Guard, 54 on Feng, and 57 on Spirit Kings) and our best DPS they managed to shave a full minute off the average fight time that our groups in previous weeks have had, and boom, no more boss.

    They then went on to go play with Will of the Emperor (since my group had downed Elegon the previous day) and got them down to 24% on their fourth attempt. Neither tank managed to pull off a single Opportunistic Strike, and both of them took some horrific damage as a result, but good healers will keep you alive regardless of how well you understand the mechanics (or not).

    Buoyed by their success, said bear tank raid led on a different realm with a different bear that they'd levelled with the same reforges on less gear (463 ilvl, some PvP pieces, heavy Mastery, some dodge, less crit) with two new-to-the-raid healers, and proceeded to wipe 16 times in a row on Stone Guard as they tried to make their brand new OT do double swap without really explaining the fight mechanics to them, and they were also pretty damned squishy. :P

    Moral of the story: Don't discount that your healers make a lot of difference when your skill doesn't make up for it.

    -Tielyn

  20. #20
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    I think i said the collolary of that originally?
    Harsh Words and Steel: A Protection Warrior Guide
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    Hunters, Just get a Sporebat, most LFRs will be missing that buff.

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