[Cataclysm] A few thoughts on tanking and instances

(I will write a more inclusive view on Cataclysm when I’ve seen more of it. At the moment, I’ve been posting thoughts more or less as they occurred to me. There’s a lot to like, though. A LOT.)

I’ve had a chance to run a few instances now, mostly with my guild but a couple with PUGs also. I don’t feel I have the mental stamina needed to tank a PUG – but sometimes it ends up happening anyway. i.e. If the tank is really struggling with a boss and I know my gear is better I’ll offer to switch. This is not to say that gear is the be all and end all, but 30k extra health isn’t to be sniffed at either. We’ve been running normal instances. I’d suggest that unless you really are in a hardcore guild, consider running normals for awhile before you move into heroics. They’re plenty hard as it is, you can pick up some nice blue drops, and it’s a good chance to really learn them.

The good news is that threat hasn’t been an issue. I haven’t done any reforging, on the basis that I’d see how my gear held up first and then decide which stats might need to be boosted. Or in other words, in levelling quest rewards and a couple of blue badge rewards (I had some points going in to Cataclysm to spend), I haven’t had any need to reforge for more hit or expertise to tank normal instances. I don’t imagine it’s necessary for heroics either – only in raids where the bosses are higher level.

Second good news is that protection warriors do fine. Maybe we have to work harder than other tanks, maybe we don’t have the crazy self (and group) heals that paladins do (although victory rush puts up some big numbers) but I haven’t had any issues with either tanking groups, picking up adds, or holding on to bosses.

Having said all that, here are a few tips:

1/ Get used to using crowd control. It’s probably worth marking up any group where you are not absolutely sure what each mob does. At least while you are learning.

2/ Assume people in PUGs will not know what the bosses do yet so take time to explain (or make someone else explain) before you pull one.

3/ The good news is, you don’t have to do all the marking yourself. I’ve found that CC classes are quite happy to be asked to mark their own mobs, and they’ll also have an idea of which mobs are positioned most easily for crowd control too. Just assign each CC character a symbol at the start of the instance.

4/ Gevlon has noted that having two healers will help on encounters/ instances where more of the pressure is on tanks/heals than on dps. I haven’t tried heroics but encourage your healer to ask hybrids for help when they know a fight is going to be hard. We used to regularly do this in TBC (I remember on my druid asking shadow priests to switch to healing on a couple of fights in the Arcatraz.)

5/ Heroic leap is great! But … perhaps you don’t need to use it on absolutely every pull, and it will break crowd control.

Cataclysm Screenshot of the Day


A couple of screenshots from Deepholm, the plane of elemental earth.  My screenies don’t really do justice to the amazing way the whole zone is lit.

8 thoughts on “[Cataclysm] A few thoughts on tanking and instances

  1. Good general points but id add one that a large number of tanks don’t do and in my opinion is actually the very important.

    Mark a kill target.

    The amount of times I’m in a pug the tank carefully marks two cc targets and the other 3 mobs all seem to die at the same time. I know dps should use the tanks target but this can’t be relied upon and it really is the work of seconds to put up a skull to kill.

    • Good point. And I shouldn’t have skipped that because I’ve been dps in PUGs where I had to ask the tank to mark a kill order.

      Usually the best way to do this is let the CC mark their targets first and then mark up whatever is left, I find. But once we know the instances better, it’ll be easier to know which mobs to CC and which to kill fast. (I suspect Blizzard have designed it so that you have some options though, depending on which CC is in your group.)

      • In my experience marking a kill target doesn’t make a difference, half the DPS will still AOE or go for a target other than the skull so their DPS on recount doesn’t suffer….

  2. My first PuG instance run in Cataclysm had a hybrid in and they offered to help with healing on at least one boss. Was happy to take the help, even if they didn’t switch to full healing to do it.

  3. Spinks, I have a question for you as a tank (after the lengthy preambe).

    In my experience so far, healers are extremely busy, and we have our hands full with managing damage and mana.

    DPS seem to be more engaged in dungeons, now that they have responsibilities (i.e., CC) besides NUKE, watch Omen, NUKE MORE.

    The game has changed quite a bit for healers, and it seems to have changed a bit for dps. What about tanks? Are you finding that the game has changed at all, and if so, is it for the better?

    • I’d agree with Celendus in that the main difference I have found so far is needing to work with crowd control (like, I forgot that glyphed revenge has a cleave effect and broke CC by mistake on one pull) and being way more careful with the trash pulls.

      It’s because I find marking up 4 mobs per pull to be such a headache that I started encouraging CC to mark their own.

      Tanking itself hasn’t really changed in any major way that I can see. But it was always very dependent on the encounters and that’s still the case. There’s a good variety of types of encounter in the instances I have seen.

      Gearing is also changing. You can’t really gear for stacking stamina since all gear has it anyway so you effectively do have more choices but it’ll still boil down between gearing for threat vs gearing for mitigation.

      My suspicion is that tanks now will all be able to use their mastery to get more mitigation vs physical attacks so that Blizzard can use spell attacks as their “omg you can’t just tank though this and hope the healer can handle it!!!”

  4. @Jeffo:

    As a Paladin tank, I’ve noticed the following:

    – We have more cooldowns than ever, and many of them are small (~20%). They’re also now on short cooldowns. There’s no reason not to use cooldowns on trash.

    – Threat doesn’t seem hard unless I get chain stunned or something. AoE tanking is limited mostly by healer mana, but this may change as DPS gets more gear.

    – Working around CC is of course different than hulk-smash-aoe-tanking, but it’s coming back to me. It does require finesse.

  5. I haven’t done any tanking in Cata dungeons yet, but I’ve recently done Blood Furnace (TBC) on my Warrior tank, and things are definately tougher tho I don’t think its necessarily for the worst either. AOE Threat is tougher, I can barely manage 3 mobs anymore, and 4 or 5 I am constantly running after strays. Rage generation is much better, i really have to try to get below about 50%. Damage mitigation is easier, as I have quicker cool downs and i have a heal button now which helps! Much of this can likely be attributed to me primarily playing with PUGS, and them not understanding focus fire or CC. I take it as a chance to relearn to play a game that I already enjoy!

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