The difference in a great guild and a mediocre guild often times comes down to the quality of its DPSers. Any guild that wants to have any progression at all will need at least a decent tank and decent healers. However, most mediocre guilds get by with bad to horrible DPSers just by giving them better gear. This is the reason that top quality guilds tackle and conquer new content before good ones do. The difference (for newly released content) is not in the gear, but in the ability for EVERYONE in the raid to maximize their potential. This article will focus on how DPS should be playing to maximize their PEW PEW! potential.

Pretty much every DPSer understands that better gear means more DPS. They also usually understand which ability/spell rotation needs to be used to maximize DPS. What many people don’t understand is that DPS relies on the TIME element to become Damage Done.

Example: Assume a 10 minute fight / Lost time is attributed to dodging boss abilities and regenerating mana

  • Mage A
    • Average DPS: 1300
    • Time spent DPSing: 6:00
    • Damage Done: 468,000
  • Mage B
    • Average DPS: 1800
    • Time spent DPSing: 2:00 (Stood in a fire and DIED)
    • Damage Done: 216,000
  • Mage C
    • Average DPS: 1100
    • Time spent DPSing: 7:30
    • Damage Done: 495,000

Let’s take a minute to analyze this data.

  • Mage B obviously has pretty good gear to be able to maintain 1800 DPS for 2:00. Too bad he puts it all to waste by not noticing the huge fire underneath him and DYING LIKE A SCRUB.
  • Mage A manages to stay alive the entire time, but is inefficient with his time and loses about 1:30 compared to Mage C.
  • Mage C manages to stay alive the entire time, is more efficient with his time, and does the most damage even with his low DPS.

Where does that huge time difference come from? Noone is going to be bad at hitting 1 button over and over. The time difference comes from efficient movement and efficient management of threat.

Hate your tank and want to make his life miserable? Love your tank and want to make sure you’re not making his life miserable? Either way, this list will help you identify what makes a tank’s life hard.

In no particular order, on to the list!

1. Start to DPS right away!
Starting to DPS mobs that were gun-pulled and aren’t even to the tank yet, is a good way to get yourself killed. Tanks are sensitive and insecure people. When someone in the party dies before them, they feel like they’ve done something wrong. Even if you never give him a chance to get aggro then end up pulling and dying, it makes the tank feel bad. Thoughts such as “I should have taunted faster” or “I should have used concussion blow” and other should haves will leave him tossing and turning all night.

2. Starve him
Rage is very important to a tank’s threat. Starving him of rage is a great way to make your tank look like he couldn’t hold aggro if it was duct taped to his hands. This can happen in several ways – for classes with stun capability, stunning the mob may seem like a great way to reduce damage and help the tank out. However, stunning the mob implies a huge loss in rage generation for the tank. You think that puny 200 top end damage weapon generates rage? Think again. Most of a tank’s rage generation comes from getting hit. Getting hit leads to threat generation which leads to getting hit more. Unless your tank is dropping fast or your healer is picking his nose, save those nasty stunlocks for Warlocks in PvP.

3. Ignore the Kill Order
Kill orders are for people who are bound by the shackles of conformity. You, as an innovative and free-thinking individual should be allowed to kill whatever you want whenever you want. Kill Skull then X then Circle? Not for you. The Circle must die… NOW. Tanking multiple mobs is one of the most challenging things that a tank can do. A lot of the difficulty of multi-mob tanking comes from the DPS aspect. A good tank will have no problem keeping aggro on 3+ mobs as long as his DPSers are focusing and killing the correct ones. Nothing is harder than tanking 3 mobs with DPS split 3 ways – Except maybe my… Anyway, if an extra pack pulls and there are no marks for you to follow, don’t panic! Assisting your tank for a kill target may or may not be a good idea depending on the situation. Chances are, he’s tab sundering like a madman, so his target at the second you assist him may not be the best thing to nuke. Instead, I’d suggest assisting another DPS to make sure that you’re DPSing down the same thing. A good tank will notice that one mob’s health is dropping significantly faster and be sure to generate more threat on that mob. If your tank doesn’t notice things like this, I hope you’re not very far from the instance entrance.

4. Inconsistent Pulling
If you’re letting your tank do the pulling (you should) then let him do the damn pulling. If you really feel the need to pull every pack, be sure to let your tank know that you need to satisfy your pulling craving and that you’ll pull for the entire instance. You should NOT randomly decide that the next group needs to be pulled and follow your burning impulse to do so. Chances are, your tank is also ready to pull, and will end up pulling a different pack. This is an amazing way to turn a 3 pull into the size of a AoE pack. There are some exceptions of course. Some mobs have tricky pat pathing where they’re only safe to be pulled for a few seconds at a time. Tanks using guns will have a difficult time pulling these due to the cast time of their Shoot skill. If you have an instant cast that makes pulling trivial and you’re sure that your group is ready for it, go ahead and pull the mob to your tank.

5 . Inconsistent Crowd Control
You have the best tank in the world. He can handle 5 mobs on him at a time and never lose aggro. And when he does, he taunts it back immediately. SO GOOD. Why does he even want me to trap the square? He does fine without me trapping! Though I’m sure your tank would be flattered to hear this from you, he probably needs to know about it. Believe it or not, tanks can’t pay attention to everything at once. If he marks a mob to be trapped, he expects it to be trapped. When you multi-shot it and end up pulling it, he’s not going to taunt it back – because it’s supposed to be trapped. In the same sense, if you’ve made a point not to trap through the beginning of the instance, don’t mysteriously start trapping without telling him. It’s irritating to be tanking several mobs and have one repeatedly start running towards the squishies because the hunter is trying to trap it. For classes with casted ranged CC, such as mages, try to CC as soon as the pull starts. Thunderclap for warriors tanking multiple mobs is like deathcoil for warlocks dueling rogues. IT’S NECESSARY! The faster you sheep, the faster the tank can pull the other mobs away and start thunderclapping. If the tank accidentally breaks your sheep, make re-sheeping it your first priority. Afterwards, feel free to follow with comments such as “IS UR NAME BAD IRL?!” and “WHY U SO BAD?!”

The argument of avoidance vs. effective health has been argued to death, but most of the examples cited by both sides have been from progression-based raiding. Here, we take a minute to consider the same in the context of Heroics and trash mobs.

From the standpoint of raiding, avoidance and effective health both have strong arguments to support its theories. In terms of taking damage, taking no damage at all will always be superior to taking reduced damage. However, because hits in World of Warcraft are based on a roll system, tanks who focus on avoidance stats may see much spikier damage than tanks who focus on effective health and get “RNG’d”. In the same way that a sword-specced warrior with windfury can instagib a druid in arenas, avoidance based tanks can get destroyed very quickly by hard-hitting bosses. Though an avoidance tank may take less overall damage, proponents of effective health argue that more steady and predictable damage is much easier to heal. For an extremely in-depth discussion of EH vs. Avoidance, refer to this excellent series of posts by Ciderhelm and Cronedog.

Heroics and 25-mans have a few key differences.
1. Mobs don’t hit nearly as hard
2. Mobs die much faster
3. People take heroics much less seriously, which leads to…
4. DPSers tend to start DPSing right away

Because of the design of heroic instances, a tank’s threat generation becomes much more important than his ability to mitigate damage. Since DPSers are reluctant to wait for threat and because the mobs die so fast, tanks in heroics (given that they have decent gear and aren’t in danger of dying) should put emphasis on maximizing threat. How does this relate to Avoidance tanking vs. Effective Health Tanking? It lies in the fact that avoided hits don’t generate rage. A tank’s threat generation is directly correlated to the amount of rage that he has to work with and thus, having high avoidance in a heroic makes threat generation very difficult. Very commonly, tanks with high avoidance will see a long string of dodges, parries, and some more dodges. When this happens, it becomes extremely difficult to hold aggro against DPS.

If the tank has sacrificed health and armor for even higher amounts of avoidance, this can lull healers into a false sense of security. They’ll watch the tank sit at full health for long periods of time, finally take a hit, then not take another one for another long period of time. When that unlucky string of unavoided hits come, sleepy healers may not be ready for the sudden spike of damage.

So, the verdict? For tanking heroics, Effective Health > Avoidance.


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