I mentioned in my last post that I was going to concentrate a little more on my bear tank. I’m getting there – over the last few days I have reviewed the gems and enchants I’ve got on, after reading BBB’s post about gems and the wow.com’s Bear Tanking 101 (which is a very good guide for those just starting out).
As a consequence, I’ve spent a fortune in time and gold regemming and re-enchanting my gear, and I have also respecced to a recommended talent tree selection – I’ve just got to go over my glyphs and I’ll be about there.
I have to say I’m still a little reluctant to tank – despite my main character being a dual specced holy/shadow priest and regularly healing, I feel that tanking is a much bigger responsibility. Healing (and ranged dps) mainly involves you standing at the back doing your “thing”, regardless of what anything other than your target is doing, albeit keeping a sharp eye out for the occasional bad guy who has suddenly taken a liking for you, or for puddles on the floor (regardless of colour). Basically you are doing your job from range, whilst watching for anything making a bee-line for you.
Tanking is a lot more full on, especially in the current instances where it is expected for the tank to take on large groups of mobs with no crowd control – often a mix of casters and melee classes. Even if you mark a kill order in order to give yourself more time to gain aggro on multiple targets, the majority of dps simply open up with AoE attacks and keep going until the last one is down. Which means they are gaining aggro on the “edges” of your group faster than you are.
So for druids at least (and possibly warrior tanks, as I feel they have a similar tanking style, relying on rage to carry out attacks and having fairly poor group control) a lot of tanking seems to be a matter of trying to get in a few swipes before AoE starts, and then being on the ball enough to be able to pull back the mobs who inevitably break away from your influence in order to munch on some squishy. Not only are you having to look after yourself, watch your positioning, watch your threat levels, but you are also having to watch everyone else – see if anyone is taking aggro, or too much damage and why.
At the point where you lose the attention of one of your targets, everything can very easily go pear shaped. As soon as you shift your attention from keeping threat up on the group of mobs in front of you, to the one who has broken away, you are losing threat on the rest of them. There is no point simply taunting that individual mob back into the group then switching back to the primary target, as very shortly afterwards he is going to be off again, so you then often need to apply an extra “tap” to get his undivided attention – be it his own personal wallop, or a swift faerie fire.
I tanked heroic Forge of Souls for the first time last night (after the gem changes, but before the talent tree shuffle) and I feel it went okay – at least there were no wipes and we didn’t seem to struggle at any point – indeed the groups of 5 mobs that you encounter near the start of the instance seemed to be remarkably easy to tank, although I suspect that could also have been down to the excellent dps I had along for the ride. I guess if they hadn’t been guildees who were being cautious with their dps useage, it could have been a very different story.