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Friday, April 3, 2009

The art of trashtanking

Tanking trash needs dps to understand game mechanics. You can't tank decent with stupid dps.

Last night I was one of 3 tanks in Naxx 25. The trash tanking in Deathknight Wing can be hard. We did it over and over again after resetting the instance several times when we were failing on Razuvious trying for immortal. (Only to find someone dying on the boss right after that.)

Anyway the packs in there are pretty hard and consist of 5 or more and you often get 2 groups. The raidleader said our tanking sucked. And yes indeed the trash was all over the place. Though I really don't think it was because of bad tanking. It was because of bad dps.

Some examples.
  • A dps gets agro. He starts running away. RUN TO THE TANK!? What are these people who don't know to stay in range of the tanks?
  • Tanks start out on a group. Charge in and swipe. There are 3 tanks so we all 3 want to get those trash together so all our aoe hits all targets, and others can aoe all at once. We are often not given time to do this and while moving there is already hard aoe and dps on mobs. You loose agro and you have to chase them.
  • A rogue wanted to have some fun and gets agro on a mob. You taunt it and want to drag it into the pack. Instead the rogue stuns it... dps on the mob still continues, meaning you have to go back to the mob, do dps and hope you got to do enough threat when the mob gets out of the stun.
All the examples above are there because people have lost respect for trash. Understandable, but I think my raidleader should understand that and not say that 3, good, extremely well geared, tanks are sucking so hastily.

Anyway... the next and last example is in my opinion something hard to forgive. The arrogance is so huge and it shows a total lack of knowledge of the game mechanics. Again we are tanking trash. There is aoe damage. Normally swipe can do more threat then any aoe dps can so that is no problem. The only preblem is there when someone does single target dps. In this case a hunter. There are 3 tanks, and 6 mobs. Not all mobs are targetted by the tanks. Sure the tanks can switch between them, but it is really hard to do it correctly (not without marks anyway). So for tanks (at least for) tanking trash is having 1 main target you mangle and maul and the rest you swipe. Call them main target and off-target. next to that I constantly watch for some mob to break out of the pack so I can taunt it.

To continue on the example. The hunter had chosen a target that was an off-target for all 3 tanks and was not being tanked by anyone directly. This mob then ran towards him and I taunted it. It turned, came back to me, but when he was close the taunt had stopped working and the mob ran back towards the hunter. The thing was, all this time the hunter had targeted this mob and had not stopped dps. If this player had been decent he would have done any of the following (decreasing in most appropriate thing to do, nr 1 being the best imo):
  1. before gaining initial agro, he would have seen himself high on the threatlist and switched to a different target. /target tank /assist. Very simple;
  2. before gaining initial agro, seen himself high on the threatlist and he could have done Feign Death;
  3. when the mob was running towards him he could have done a Feign Death;
  4. when the mob was taunted by me he could have changed his target.
No. None of the above. Instead he kept on shooting this target so it ran straight back to him after the taunt was over. I talked to him and he said: "It is the job of the tanks to get them off me". So I really hope he doesn't understand game mechanics rather then be very arrogant, but then again, what is someone like him doing in a hard core raiding guild? Naxx has been to easy on bad players to perform well.

Anyway, to finish my story, if you have dps that doesn't allow you to tank you have to switch your target to the mob running away. You get that mob but that means you can't get threat on other mobs. So they break loose and you have to taunt those, with taunt being on cooldown. It is a cascading effect, that makes it seem you are sucking at tanking. Instead the dps that overagros should wake up and realise they might be doing something wrong...


  1. I'd never taunt off that hunter again. Let him die.

    Check out my ground rule for trash tanking here:


  2. Rawr! Wrong effing Google account.

  3. I like that wow has been made more accessible but it does lead to the problems that you mentioned above! Unfortunately we cant have the best of both worlds by having a more accessible game and good players!

    Ive experienced the same thing in both heroics and raids, eventually i just let them die because its their fault..

    Tank dies -> Healers fault
    Healer Dies -> Tanks fault
    DPS Dies -> DPS fault

  4. Hey Karhis. Who is Andrew? ;)

    And indeed I just should let him die. Thing is, after that he is going for some other dps ;)
    I also react instinctly to taunt it. I'll keep an eye out. I told the hunter that way of thinking would wipe us in Ulduar and he better start practicing how to play now.

  5. Just as a side note, since you're talking about disrespecting trash. How many people do you notice taking out the totems dropped in the construct quarter?

  6. In respect to pulling respawns I mean?
    Well most of the time it is the raidleader distributing the loot that is lagging behind while the rest of us have past that part already. He has vent and is so kind to tell us he is coming in hot ;)

  7. Hmm, we've never had trash tanking issues in the military quarter, or even talked about it as tanks. We do nothing special. I think this is probably a good indication that the problem yes is your DPS.

    When trash tanking I always do the following, I do the whole maul/swipe (and mangle on cooldown) thing and collect all the mobs just like you say. But I also constantly switch targets (unless I'm assigned to skull) usually after each mangle to monitor the tank threat lead on each mob. If I find a mob that has a DPS a little too close on the threat table then I spend a little more quality time with it.

    I've always had the mantra that if a DPS pulls an off target then they've signed up for it. They must know what they are doing, and intend to tank it themselves or do some crazy amount of damage that will kill it before its an issue for them. There is some obvious sarcasm there, but its the only way they will learn. And you don't have to worry about the mob going off to another DPS, as long as you've put the appropriate threat on the target, especially if you've already taunted once, the mob will dutifully come back to you after going through its lesson plan on group tactics with said DPS. :)

  8. My fiancée Miss Direction is a hunter, and in my understanding, a fantastic one. I hear a lot about hunter mechanics, you know, over dinner and such. I think the hunter in question should have used misdirection on you before ploughing into that mob. There's no reason a hunter, with all of their different threat mitigation tools, should *ever* take aggro from their tank. Ever.

    That said, I think a tank has a major responsibility to their melee DPS, and I'll elaborate on that point elsewhere because it deserves to be said correctly and illustrated.

  9. The mobs on that wing is not hard, unless you let a warrior run loose whirlwinding in the ranged pack. We didn't have problems to clear it at all. But in general, before Razuious there is a lot of trash (relatively) and it they are not as easy as the mobs in spider wing.

    Melee dps is not the problem. Well most of them just assist a tank. Aoe SoC and single target overagro is the problem here. When they overagro they pick a different target and standing in consecration they figure they will loose agro at some point, until then the healers will get em through. Also I see on grid which target has agro. I can then start looking for the mob that is targeting the melee and get it off him.

  10. Hi,

    I don't think a tank can over-aggro a cat in berserk on all targets in an aoe-grp. At least to my experience I constantly got aggro whilst bombing aoe-grps in naxx. The problem is that the tanks don't get time to build up some aggro-buffer beforehand. All ranged-dps seem to think the 100+ percent of aggro they have to build up before actually pulling away a mob are enough to allow them to instantly open fire the second the tank charges the mobs. As a cat and long time MT in Naxx I keep myself back 2-3 second before doing aggro. That saves my butt and does not stress the healers.

    Maybe every DPS should be condemmed to at least tank once to learn some manners. ;)

  11. Well... In my experience there is no dps like cat on berserk. No tank in the world (of warcraft) can keep agro on a group when a cat goes berserk. But every time I did that it was just pure for fun. If I died I laughed, and it was only when it didn't really matter (farm runs)

  12. This is what I dislike about Wrath of the Lich King. It's made all dps lazy and indifferent. Bump Kara up to level 80 and watch them die to trash. Death knights have spoiled the dps too. All of our protection Pallys went Retribution so they would have something to do.

  13. I blame damage meters.
    People want to top them so bady that they start dps asap, in some cases even ninja pulling.

  14. Taunt the mob once, then if the DPS pulls it again, let his face get eaten. It's not your repair bill, and eventually the DPS might figure it out =)