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Warrior AoE tanking. Let’s make it fun!

March 23, 2010

I was going to write a post that would require me to go outside and buy myself a nice piece of Parmesan to go with my whine, but I decided not to. Such is not the way of the Pinball. Instead of bringing massive QQ to the already QQ-filled Internets, I shall bring solutions!

“But Pinball, you uncommonly good-looking hunk of dwarven excellence”, I hear the voices in my mind asking, “what is the solution to mobs running wild and turning careless DPS into fine repair bill-flavored midnight snacks?”

Putting aside the fact that my internal monologue seems to be channeling Frostheim, the answer to that question requires a few explanations. I am of course assuming that most Protection Warriors will agree with me here: boss fights are more fun than the trash leading up to them. Why is that? Well, let’s see:

Single Target Fights:

They’re basically you, a Big Bad Mob, Rage and blows being traded all over. It’s all very straightforward, and basically what the Warrior class was made for. Macro Heroic Strike to Devastate, hit the right buttons when they’re up, watch for Sword and Board procs, interrupt/dodge whatever fire/puke/death pancake of doom the boss sends your way, keep Thunderclap and Demo Shout up, and Devastate whenever you have the time to. To me that’s the perfect amount of effort for the final result of keeping the boss looking at me at all times.

Extra options include Vigilancing the best DPS for that extra threat boost, Intervening to get out of a Nova, Charging back over the Ground-Based Hazard of the Day whenever I need to get back to the boss quickly, Spell Reflecting the rare big hit… they’re all bonuses. I don’t need to use them all the time, but those are all valuable buttons I can use when I deem them necessary. Under my own parameters, single-target Warrior tanking is fun, even if more complex than needed (Heroic Strike macros are mandatory).

Multi-Mob Fights:

While Thunderclap, Shockwave and Cleave spam will most definitely keep most mobs off even the spammiest Holy Paladin with Righteous Fury on, they don’t work so well when the DPS are laying down the Pie Plates of Doom on top of the mobs. In the end, tabbing through targets and hitting them with Devastates/Shield Slams one at a time makes warrior AoE tanking feel a lot more like you’re trying to tank all those mobs individually. Up to four enemies, and it’s not hard as long as you have a couple global cooldowns to get Thunderclap and Shockwave in. Tab-targeting, as broken as it is, will still carry you through to victory.

(Request: a working function for the Tab key. Going from mob 1 to mob 2 and then back to mob 1 when there are 5 things hitting me is not how it should work. Make it happen Blizzard, pl0x)

Anything above that, and it starts getting hard to follow which mobs we should be hitting to keep them all on us. In pulls like the 6-mob pulls leading up to the cave in Pit of Saron, it can be very hard to figure who to hit if you have a Retribution Paladin or Fury Warrior in the group, given their basic rotation involves AoE attacks. Unless they wait for a long time to start attacking, which will result in a longer pull. And we all know, the longer the pull, the more time for things to go wrong.

The real problem:

If boss tanking is fun on a Warrior, but AoE tanking goes sour easily, what is the problem? Well, the problem is that many dungeons nowadays, while relatively short and light on trash, still include a lot of AoE opportunities. With the current culture of “damn the crowd-control spells, full speed forward!”, a lot of people are all too eager to drop their biggest nukes first to get it done with as quickly as possible. That sometimes results in pulls that go out of control and dead DPS blaming it on the tank. Or on the healer. But generally the tank, who needs to be thick-skinned enough to parse out the QQ and see the real problem.

It’s an attitude problem: people are spoiled by Paladins and their great AoE abilities (I swear, I’ll stop getting on them eventually!). Right now Seal of Command and Hammer of the Righteous are sure to glue pretty much anything Consecration can’t keep on the Paladin, and that’s a bad thing. There are Priests out there who look at me with wide eyes asking “shackle? lolwut?” when I ask for a troublesome mob to be taken out of the fight for a few seconds. Many a DPS has looked at the mob the Rogue so thoughtfully Sapped a few yards away and went out of their way to hit it. And then they ate a few blows until I got around to taunting that mob back to me.

So, ask for CC if you feel it will help you. If people who have never used it before ask what is it, be patient and explain. With some luck, some of those guys will learn their lesson and maybe even suggest it in case a future Halls of Reflections PuG of theirs starts having too much trouble in the waves of undead on Falric and Marwyn. Maybe if enough people get educated into the fine art of crowd control we’ll be ready for when Cataclysm drops and the tanks start dying like flies again.

Maybe.

As a side note,

I am personally very happy with Blizzard promising the return of crowd-control. Give every class some sort of CC, broaden the variety of things that can be Sheeped, Sapped, Banished and so on. Turn those bland 2-fighters, 1 caster pulls into more interesting battles where the order where you kill them actually matters. Make it so dungeons scale with gear and every group with more than three classes will always be able to take at least one mob out of the way. Do something.

Of course, gear inflation and very efficient AoE attacks are also to blame for the lack of crowd-control. Wrath of the Lich King heroics are amazingly easy to do even if you have only one DPS in Icecrown-level gear, and geared tanks don’t have to worry about dying anymore even while pulling four times the amount of mobs they used to when they first hit 80.

And another thing: I don’t see a lot of low-geared Warriors in LFG on my DPS toons. How did those 45k HP guys get geared up? Did every ilvl251+ Warrior out there do Heroics as Fury until their eyes bled before buying a full set of Wrynn/Garrosh armor and jump straight into a raid? And where are the Arms warriors?!

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