Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thought on tanking


My guild has cleared everything in tbc and wotlk with two warrior tanks (our cat druid goes bear for 3-tank fights). There were times when we had to be a little creative, but running with two warriors has never stopped the show.

I don’t like drawing conclusions from one anecdote, but I think the “need” for ideal/preferred tank class for specific encounters is perception, not reality.


I had to tank the 10-man run yesterday, because the bastards in the other 10-man group saved all of our tanks. I don’t get to do this very often, so I was all wrong going into ICC-- Skittles socketed into belt, helmet on my feet, shield on my head, etc. The action bars weren’t even set up. The hunter pulled threat off me on trash, and I opened Cooking window instead of taunting.

The blood queen hits a lot harder than the stuff I’m used to tanking (i.e., UK trash and Frozen Tundra Penguins). My face’s all busted and I feel like the way I felt the day after I tried kissing the Mack truck hurling down the road.


If you follow Gevlon closely, you know he’s adamantly against “stam-stacking idiot tanks”. He’s a huge proponent of avoidance > stam.

Apparently, some dude stormed a thread in MainTankadin claiming his 5-yr experience says armor > stam and that numbers, facts, and data are not necessary to prove a point.

... yeah, seriously, you uber nerds who build partial diffusion models in MATLAB to calculate the probability-weighted impact of surprise buttsecks! Why are you trying to taint the truth with things like “facts” and “data”? My theories are from right here, the bottom of my heart. What did Bruce Lee say? Don’t think. Feel.


Why do they believe stam stacking is necessarily dumb? I don’t know much about tanking, but doesn't the optimal tank stat vary by fight? As in, is it slow big hits or fast small hits? Is it physical damage or magic damage?

I’m a scrub, so my equipment manager has ONE tank set called FrozenTundraPenguins, but Wrathy has many different sets: EH, Block, Anub, HP, Avoidance, Threat, etc.

I know HP is Hewlett Packard… not sure what EH stands for though.


EH can best be related to EPEEN---while DPS EPEEN all over the place to see who's on top, EHARMONY is what tanks use to make their healers feel like specialflowers when the tanking/heals click together.

Trust me, I know what I'm talking about---I storm forums all the time.


Spinks said...

I'll tell you the actual issue with tanking. It doesn't really matter who is ahead as long as people can still do the content with whichever tank knows how to play and turns up regularly.

The reason it gets everyone in a knot is that whichever class is on top (paladins at the moment) gets extremely smug in bboard posts and chat channels.

I know in our raid tank channel I have to sit there and listen to them wittering on about whichever heroic they've just soloed and how much easier they are to heal and how much more health they have than anyone else. And after awhile you just snap.

There's probably a medical name for it ;)

Ardent Defender said...

EH=Effective Health or high stamina tanking set.

Ashley said...

With the gemming stam or avoidance thing, this is how I see it:

Would I rather be able to soak up the big hits, or would I rather avoid them altogether? To me, the latter is better: I'd rather have high stats all around than just be able to soak up the hits.

Of course, there's hits you have to take, which means just having a balance between them is best.

I think HP is Hit Points, as in having a high amount, and EH is Effective Health, as in with mitigation and all. I think. I honestly only have three sets - Avoidance, Threat, and Health. So I have no idea what they really are, but that's my guess from a tankadin's point of view.

Gevlon said...

You need enough health (stamina) to not die from attacks in 1-1.5 secs. We are talking about being one-shotted here. If you are one-shotted from 100%, then yes, you need more stamina.

If you are two-shotted, then you shall stack good healers in your group, not stamina.

Stamina behind one-shotting is "needed" to make raiding accessible to healers who say:
- "Oh, the tank is on 60%, no problem, I finish casting heal on that hunter."
-"Oh, the tank is now on 30%, I guess I shall pull my dick out of my mother's mouth and start casting some randomly selected heal."

Higher avoidance decrease damage taken, allowing healers to heal the raid. This way the raid can run with less healers.

Jong said...

@ gevlon

What about bosses that do huge magic-based attacks, which are completely unmitigated by avoidance (e.g., sarth+3D when it couldn't be zerged)?

"One shot" is a vague term. Consider mob's DPS on your tank. DamagePerSecond = DamagePerAttack x AttacksPerSecond.

For mobs that do heavy attacks at slow speed, EH (combination of high hp & armor) > Avoidance.

For mobs that do light attacks at fast speed, Avoidance > EH.

I don't necessarily disagree with you. My point is that "the best stat" depends on the encounter.

The Renaissance Man said...


Currently, and actually for almost all of wrath, save patch 3.1, Bear druids have been the most effective progression tank. However, they've been pretty under the radar, as it's an extremely underepresented spec, when compared to the other tanking classes.

@Ashley and Gevlon

Stam stacking, when done correctly, is built around magic numbers. It's designed to create a buffer. You stack stam until you're no longer one shottable. Then you try and stack stam until you're no longer two shottable. If you can't reach that point, then you stack avoidance, or other relevant tanking statistics. But the difference between being two shotted without a heal, and being three shotted without a heal is immense. However, any stam total that falls in the gap between the two only serves to decrease overkill. In reality, the calculations become much more complex, and indivualized to each encounter. It looks more like Melee, Freezing Slash, LS tick, LS tick, Melee before death versus Freezing Slash, Melee, LS tick, LS tick, Melee, LS tick.

Stamina is the absolute buffer. It is the only taking statistic that does not suffer from diminishing returns, and with few exceptions, it's the only tanking statistic that works against all attacks, and all encounters.

If you go stacking avoidance on magic heavy fights like Maly, Sarth, Deathwhisper, Blood Princes, Twin Valks, Jormungars, Heigan, Loatheb, KT, 4H, Gothik, Grobbulus, Ony, Mimiron, IC, Razorscale, Hodir, Freya, and Mimiron, you're not only suffering from the diminishing returns that are built into the stats, but you're suffering from the fact that avoidance only actually helps you with 60%, 50%, or in some cases, 40% of the total damage you're taking.

If you also factor in fights that have heavy unavoidable spike damage, like Anub, Icehowl, Gormak, and Algalon. Or fights that feature heavy bleed damage, like Auriaya or BQL.

If your healers can't keep up with the damage on the tank from basic melee hits, then you need to find new healers. Throughput should never be an issue, regardless of avoidance. If your DPS are taking too much damage, either your raid leader is handling a mechanic poorly, or your DPS are standing in The Fire. Wipes should not be due to tank death. Wipes that are due to tank death are not solved through stacking avoidance, because the mechanics that threaten tanks in cutting edge encounters typically ignore avoidance. They might as well have sunk their itemization points in spirit.

Dread said...

Avoidance is subject to RNG, effective health is not. Each hit is rolled individually, so having 80% avoidance definitely does not mean you will avoid 8/10 attacks, it just doesn't work like that. Ask any healer in a progression guild who they'd rather heal.

Avoidance, and gearing (gems, trinkets) for such provides "spiky damage". What that means is you have a lowered health pool than if you were to stack stamina (since you can't gem for armor, yet, outside of lolagility). This means yes, you will take less damage over all due to avoiding them, but when you do take a hit, it brings your health percentage down more so than it would had you stacked stamina.

The other thing that effective health helps with is keeping heals effective and reducing overhealing. The heals should be landing on your tank every half second or second depending on 10/25 man fights and the fight itself. If you're avoiding more hits on average, more of those heals go to waste. Canceling heals is out of the question and results in tank death. Reactive healing or healing after the tank takes damage also will lead to quick tank death and a subsequent wipe. The only fight currently available on live servers where avoidance is favored over effective health, and this is counting all from Naxx to ICC, is Anub'arak heroic off tanking, where it's preferable to have a warrior or paladin tank with a 101.6% avoidance+block set on the adds.

There you go, a post devoid of math, full of theory, and plenty of circumstantial, easily provable evidence.

Dread said...

To add to my comment, there's no saying with 80 or 90% avoidance that you still won't take 5 hits in a row and get your face smashed. Effective health focus will prevent a wipe in this case.

Also forgot to add, you get more than enough avoidance already on your gear. This is why it's possible to put a blue gem in a yellow slot. If blizzard wanted you to always match your socket bonuses they would make it impossible to put anything but a yellow or green gem in it.

firespirit said...

I think the entire WoW community is getting just a *bit* too flummoxed over "who is the best" at whatever. Its getting really irritating.

Do your dammed job, and stop trying to say that you are broken. You aren't. I dont think I can say there is a single spec that is broken the way that WoW players claim they are. They are at a disadvantage maybe, but skill dammit. skill.

Marcelo said...

So many technical comments.


"The hunter pulled threat off me on trash, and I opened Cooking window instead of taunting."

This is a Scarlet Ruby line!

"The blood queen hits a lot harder than the stuff I’m used to tanking (i.e., UK trash and Frozen Tundra Penguins)."

This is Cardinal Ruby line!

"you uber nerds who build partial diffusion models in MATLAB to calculate the probability-weighted impact of surprise buttsecks!"

This is an all new legendary gem of blogposting.

Thanks Jong for allowing my IRL guildworkmates to laugh at me for laughing so hard at the internerds!

avengingwrathy said...

I guess I should clarify a few things with regards to gear sets, effective health, stam stacking and epeen measuring.

Communities such as MainTankadin are out there for the people who like to theorycraft, and as a resource to newer tanks who have questions regarding spec, gear, encounter mechanics, etc. and I find them very valuable resources when it comes to learning how to play your class.

Most of the discussion around effective health, stam stacking and min/maxing has to do with pushing progression encounters during progression times. What I mean by this is as your group begins to out gear encounters, the necessity to ensure that you can survive burst damage becomes less, and your ability to optimize for less damage taken increases. Gevlon has shown that skill is greater than all with his blue run of Ulduar and his new blue guild. The problem that most great tanks (of any class) try to combat is the M&S in the raid (since gevlon is here i figured id borrow his lines).

As for my sets, my EH or effective health set is only for progression encounters, aka encounters where less than 200 guilds in the world have killed them. Once an encounter is on farm, I swap over to my HP threat set or my High health threat set.

TRM basically hit the nail on the head when it comes to gearing, for your first kill, you should be ensuring that you can take the max burst damage which a boss can throw at you, and you do this by stacking EH. While EH is a concept, it is made up of mainly stamina and armor. Since armor does not mitigate physical damage, and suffers diminishing returns, it is considered situational, where as stamina always works.

As for cocky paladin tanks, their time to be hit by the nerf bat will come. Honestly unless my co tanks can tell you otherwise, i just keep my mouth shut and do my job. I dont care about dps, I dont care about my health or gear score, all I care about is killing that next boss, and I gear to ensure that.

River said...

I use to tank on a warrior. Jumping around alot helped...I have no proof, but Gruul didn't like it.

As a warrior, and I think Pallie to. There is a thing as too much mitigation. You become Rage/Mana starved if you miss too much. That's why Stamina stacking is good, it gives solid number,and the health to take the hits.

SlikRX said...

I can't speak at all about Warriors, but wanted to ad to Rivers comment, as far as Tankadins go:

We also receive a boatload of mana (via attunement) for our heals received. So, too much avoidance (on low/mid level stuff which is all I will even consider) mana starving can be a problem

Anonymous said...

In reality, when you're going for avoidance-tanking you're gambling. The odds maybe with you, but once in a while you'll fall on your ass. As a main tank, if that 'once in a while' is once in 3 minutes, than every attempt on every boss results in a wipe. If that's once in 10 minutes, than every other attempt is a wipe.

With high HP, you do need healers to fill up your HP bar fast. But if they can do it, than there's no risk of dying. You're relying on their skill, vs RNG.

And as a tank, you can't gamble, because it's a raid wipe, it's very different than DPS with high crit%, so sometimes he crits, sometimes he doesn't, it balances out. The problem for tanks is if RNG works against your dodge/parry chance - you will wipe raid.

Morane said...

"I opened Cooking window instead of taunting."

Hate that.

And then all of a sudden I'm too busy to close it so I spend the whole fight with half the screen telling me the mats for Spice Bread.

Hana said...

I actually salv-ed myself while pally tanking once. It was kinda embarrassing. >_< And I was wondering wny I suddenly lost threat.

Karial said...

Personally, I try to bind something fun next to every important skill. This way, when I want to throw a rejuv, I'll usually do that AND open up my character sheet too. :-)

The Renaissance Man said...

Hana, I'll see your accidental salv, and raise you the time I accidently DIed our fury warrior mid attempt when trying to salv him.

Sprink said...

My tanking, while getting better on my not-so-baby-anymore pally, is totally random. Some days I'm on. Some days I'm scrub DPS in the shape of a tank.

"Righteous Fury does not persist through death. Bad pally is bad." - From when I ran Tirralyis through UK for the third time in a row last night. Random dungeon my ass!

"Also, you have an ability called Righteous Defense. Use it." - From a Nexus run that went horribly, horribly wrong.

Arioch said...

In real life, my cooking could probably be considered a taunt. Or a stun mechanic.

windpaw said...

So we were working on Ulduar Hard-mode fights a couple weeks back and our Druid MT goes to fire off Survival Instincts.

Summons his Argent Squire Instead.

Raid wiped laughing.