It has been a very long time since I made my last post. A day turned into a week, which turned into months in succession. Much has happened since my last post. Both in regards to druids, my guild, and life outside of the game.
Rather than talk aboot starting to blog again or waiting for some epic druid change to force me back into the blogosphere realm, I’m just going to dive in. And what better way than to respond to the tag I’ve received from my Fiance.
* What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?
Keaton is my level 80 “tank it first, ask questions second” feral druid.
* What is your usual tanking environment?
Keaton has played the meatshield for most every fight available in the game, from the Deadmines of Westfall to Trial of the Grand Crusader deep within the heart of Icecrown. I spend the majority of my time on Keaton tanking our guilds 10 and 25 man raids. I’ll run the odd heroic every now and then when a guild run can’t find a tank in /trade or my Fiance is 3 badges short of getting those cute new shoes she has been waiting to get her hooves on.
* What is your favorite encounter to tank, and why?
My favourite encounter of all time would have to be Solarian in Tempest Keep, eh Michelle? 😉
Honestly though, I would probably have to say A’lar in Tempest Keep or Fathom Lord or Serpent Shine Cavern. Both fights go well beyond typical meatshield mechanics. Movement, and mob placement is crucial to raid success. Both fights really engage a tank and force them to use their environment to their advantage, instead of focusing on your maximum hate rotation.
* What is your least favorite encounter to tank, and why?
I have two separate answers for this question. Currently, I despise Twin Val’kyr/Grobbulus. Not that I dislike either encounters mechanics or find them overly difficult…but they have the most ridiculous hit boxes. If I so much as lean on my hind paws, they run clear across the room it seems >.< Making them hold still long enough for dps to hit them is a feat in and of itself.
Historically, I’d have to say The Prophet Tharon’ja from (Heroic) Drak’Tharon Keep. For several months after the release of the expansion, the fight was glitched in a manner that made it un-tankable by a feral druid. He alternates between fighting the party in their normal forms and transforming everyone into skeletons with unique abilities. In the few seconds that followed after the switch back to normal and removing the temporary undead forms, druids were considered to be in caster form and unable to shapeshift. No armor, stamina or crit reduction bonus’. Parties began to refuse to bring druid tanks to this instance as a result. And did I mention the encounter dropped Keystone Great-Ring >.<
* What do you think is the biggest strength of your class, and why?
Without a doubt, versatility. Regardless of the group composition or the class of my partner tank(s), I’m bound to excel in an area they generally lack performance in. Druids have massive hate output, excellent damage capabilities (I usually put out 3.8K while tanking/offtanking Gormok the Impaler. /flex) enormous hit point pools, effective AoE threat capabilities, unrivalled combat mobility, as well as unique abilities like Rebirth (Battle Rez) and Innervate.
Feral Druids can make efficient main tanks, and very effective off tank/dps hybrids.
* What do you think is the biggest weakness of your class, and why?
AoE tanking mitigation and a spell interupt.
Also, feral forms have the most obscure punishments. For example, I can’t use any cosmetic effect to modify my characters appearance. If I que into a battleground or arena while in flight form, at the completion of the encounter, I will reappear in the sky, plumetting towards the earth.
Weird druid only issues are weird and druid only >.<
In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel is the best tanking assignment for you?
As I said above, the real strength of any druid is their versatility. Thus, I usually plan my assignment based on who I am tanking alongside. Generally, I’m better served tanking the boss instead of adds. My mitigation while AoE tanking is significantly less than a block tank would be. However, my swipe/maul combo is great for snap aggro on a couple of targets.
The “best” fight for a druid to tank however is anything that hits very hard as supposed to very fast. The massive hit point pool gives your healers alot of room to work with and don’t need to be afraid of you getting two shot.
* What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with the most?
Druid. Bear is 4 tank!
What is your worst habit as a tank?
Pulling aggro off my fellow tanks on trash or taunt rotations. When I’m going through my max dps rotation, my threat output is exceptionally high, especially on multiple targets (Please don’t nerf my glyph of Maul!). While I usually don’t have an issue with this, whenever I hit my Bearzerk (C wut I did thar?) cooldown, I lose all ability to use rational thought. The world fades away…there is only me, the mobs and the insane amount of damage I’m aboot to do in the next 15 seconds. =D
What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?
I have one MAJOR pet peeve and it is a problem exclusive to druids.
Rebirth: Whenever I see a player drop in the raid, I quickly begin to evaluate the situation. Will this death result in a wipe? If so, would resurrecting this person in time prevent it? Is there a reasonable chance for winning the encounter from this point on? Should I save my rez for someone fundamental to this fight that we couldn’t succeed without? Should I decide the situation warrants the use of my battle rez, I now need to prepare for the cast.
Damn, Anicella just died. We could really use his dps for this. Where is Annah and Liluye? Oh good, they’re close enough for me to move a few yards without getting out of healing range. Now, lets turn this boss every so slightly to the side…careful not to cleave the melee…good, now slide away from the wall…just a little further….Okay, I’m in range of Anicella’s corpse. Okay, get a feel for the timing. BAM, One steamboat, two stea– BAM, theres the hit. Okay I’ve got the rhythm. Wait for it…I need to get topped off…NOW! **Keaton begins casting rebirth** And back to bear…YES! Pulls it off, healers have me under control. Okay, pull the boss back into position. Give Anicella room to jump up….back to the wall…keep coming….stupid mob, get over here….there we go. Okay, turn back. There we go. Wheeew, what a rush. Hmmmm, whats Anicella waiting for? I’ve moved the boss away, theres no fire on the ground….there aren’t any adds to worry aboot. Still not jumping up. What the hell. “Anicella, you get that rez?” My question echo’s over ventrillo and is met with total silence. Great, all that effort and he’s AFK. /sigh
Theres nothing more frustrating than wasting a 20 minute cooldown just to have someone not use it. Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you should walk away from your keyboard.
* Do you feel your class/spec is balanced with respect to the other tanking classes?
More or less. The game has changed alot since TBC. Theres no such thing as the warrior fight, or the paladin fight or the druid fight anymore. In theory any tank should be able to tank any encounter without complications. I’ve never heard our healers say “You’re taking too much damage. Let the death knight tank instead, we know we can keep him up.”
At least not since Obsidian Sanctum 3 Drake attempts >.<
* What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?
I’m a firm believer that damage meters don’t tell the full story. Did I live? Did I hold aggro? Did I keep the boss under control? Awesome.
If I’m underperforming, my healers will let me know they can’t keep me up, or my dps will start crying that they are threat cap’d.
* What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have with your tanking class?
“Dr00dz can tank and dps in the same spec, they are OP!”
I assure you, I cannot. If I attempt to dps in a raid while in my tanking spec I’ll place 15th. Ahead of the other two tanks and our raids 7 healers. The only way I’ll climb higher on the meter is if someone is afk, dies early in the fight, or is not yet level 80.
Additionally, when I switch to dps, I cannot tank. I lose several thousand armor, 6% dodge as well as 12% damage reduction. To put this into perspective, this is the equivalent of asking a prot warrior to remove his chest piece, and start tanking in Berserker stance.
“Dr00dz are immune to snares, they are OP!”
Sorry, no. Being immune would suggest that snares would have no effect. That any class is incapable of slowing a druid or locking them in place. I don’t have a passive blessing of freedom. If you frost nova me, I can’t move. If you hamstring me, I can’t run. I’m just as vulnerable to snares as any other class in the game. Except shaman in ghost wolf form….apparently. /boggle
Yes, I can break out of a snare, but it comes at the cost of several hundred mana and a global cooldown. A global cooldown spent on breaking a snare is a global cooldown I can’t use to hit you. So yes, I’m not doomed to sit in that frost nova for the full duration, but any warrior, DK, hunter, rogue, druid, arcane mage, or affliction warlock can keep me from using a global cooldown for any offensive purpose, indefinitely.
* What do you think is the toughest thing for new players of your class to learn about tanking?
Definitely how to gear. Druids. Are. Soooooo. Weird. Most tanks have it easy when it comes to learning how to gear a tank. Sure every class favours certain stats over others, but every plate tanking piece in the game will have some combination of dodge, parry, block (rating or value) or defence. You really would have to be blind to not recognize a tank piece when you see it.
Ferals on the other hand have to sift through the leather they want. There is no tell tail sign.
Hmm, which of these bracers is better for tanking? These ones have Armor Penetration, but these ones have haste. /ponder
* If someone were to evaluate your tanking ability via tools like fraps, recount, and World of Logs, what tendencies would they notice?
Um, how much time I spend answering whispers aboot how to do the next fight in between attempts? =P
There is probably two things that would stand out when I play. I always try to maximize my incidental damage (have I mentioned how much I love glyph of maul?).
The second is how infrequently I use barkskin. I’ve essentially written it off as an ability. While I understand the mathematics behind the ability and acknowledge that over the course of an encounter the damage it mitigates would be quite sizeable…I find it completely useless.
The point of a tanking cooldown, is to drastically reduce the amount of incoming damage. 20% reduction from barkskin is hardly enough to save me from a would be wipe. I’d be shocked if my healers actually noticed the decrease of damage and attributed it to anything other than, a lucky dodge streak.
I’ll take a longer cooldown on barkskin with a bigger reduction to damage anyday.
Stamina or Avoidance, and why?
Armor. Overall mitigation > mana sponge or RNG.
* Which tanking class do you understand the least?
Death Knights. Mainly because I’ve tanked 25 man raid content on the other 3 tanking classes. Time for another alt? =P
* What addons or macros do you currently use to aid you in tanking?
/cast Dire Bear Form(Shapeshift)
This simple but amazing macro will take you from any form to bear form in a single global cooldown. Great for those “Oh shit, I need to get back into bear before he hits me again” moments. Or “damn, I really need to get out of this snare, but that mob is going to destroy me if I do.”
* Do you strive for a balance in tanking stats, or do you stack some higher than others, and why?
Unlike other tanks, druids cannot block or parry. This means we benefit from a smaller list of stats than most. As such, I pretty much exclusively stack agility and stamina. If I pick up some stats that benefit my aggro generation along the way, all the better =D
Hopefully people find this helpful or at the very least a touch intriguing. As for the tag….I call upon that crazy shaman that isn’t actually on Ramen. You’re up Elam!