How To Be Your Tank’s Best Friend (Without Turning Anything Into A Sheep)

A quick note up front: Most of my PvE posts for a while are going to be from a DPS perspective. Even before Cataclysm I officially declared DPS my main spec when I found a good 25-man ICC group that was full up on tanks, and now that I have a leveling/instancing buddy who insists on tanking everything I’m not called on to play meatshield as often as I was in BC and Wrath. I will cover tanking to a certain extent, but for the moment DPS is my specialty.

After the faceroll-fest that was Wrath Heroics, Blizzard decided to bring the pain back to dungeons in Cataclysm. Crowd control abilities that languished on some forgotten keybind for the last two years are suddenly in demand again. Crowd control abilities...that Death Knights do not have.

Well crap.

We aren’t completely useless, though. There are still things we can do to make dungeon runs easier for the whole party:

Don’t attack the sheep. Those of us who played back before crowd control went out of style should remember the importance of not hitting targets who are under the effect of crowd-controlling spells. All the trouble that mage or shaman went through to turn their target into a cute little animal will be for naught if you immediately run up and start AoEing in its face. Ideally the tank will pull mobs far enough away from CCed targets to allow you to hit Howling Blast, but be mindful that tanks who aren’t used to working around CC may not remember to do this, and even those who are may have some complication keeping them from doing so. When in doubt, just Obliterate the skull.

Watch for stragglers. Two abilities that make us such great tanks on our own can also help our tanks keep things together: Strangulate and Death Grip. If there’s a pesky caster mob who refuses to come over to the tank, use Strangulate to silence it and force it to come into melee range. If you’re dealing with something ranged but nonmagical like an archer, you can use Death Grip to bring it into the Death and Decay/Consecrate/Shockwave/Swipe area. Use it wisely. One of the biggest complaints about Death Knights is misuse of Death Grip, but when used in communication with your tank it can be an effective form of crowd control. If possible, let the tank know you’re going to do it before you do it - I cheat by being able to yell into the next room, but a macro will do - and immediately switch back to attacking the main kill target so you don’t keep aggro any longer than necessary. As plate wearers we can take a couple hits, but we can’t tank these guys solo in our DPS gear. Yank it into tanking range and then let the tank pick it up.

Take care of yourself. This is more to make things easier on your healer, but keep in mind that even with a DPS spec you have the ability to heal yourself up a little and mitigate some damage. Death Strike doesn’t do as much damage as a nice fat Obliterate, but as they say, you do 0 DPS when you’re dead. Anti-Magic Shell works wonders against AoE magic damage. Remember that your healer is dealing with a much more challenging mana situation than they’re used to and may have to choose between healing you and healing the tank. Don’t stand in the fire - or at least use Anti-Magic Shell.

Stand in the good. Some healing classes now have area-targeted AoE heal-over-time spells - think a healing Death and Decay - that they can cast into the middle of the fight to help keep the tank and the melee healed up. Learn what these look like and stand in them. For the love of all that is unholy, stand in them.

Interrupt whenever you can. Even trash mobs can do magic damage that will put a huge dent in your tank’s massive HP - not to mention yours if it’s an AoE. Learn what mobs cast interruptable high-damage spells and use Mind Freeze to stop them. Make sure your unit frame of choice has cast bars turned on for your target and keep an eye out for in-game and DBM warnings. Keeping the tank alive keeps everybody alive.

Save the healer. The short duration on Chains of Ice keeps it from being a proper crowd control spell, but if you notice something pulling away from the pack and heading over to eat the healer’s face it can be a lifesaver. Taunts can also be used in a pinch, but again, get it to the tank and then let them take it.

Remember, it’s an exciting new world for all of us. Be patient with your tanks, give your healers time to drink, stay out of the bad, and we’ll all be back in epics in no time.

No comments:

Post a Comment