This started as a post about healing …

December 31, 2008 at 7:13 pm 2 comments

Rohan of Blessing of Kings recently posted a list of complaints about PuG DPS, from a healer’s perspective.  As a DPS main with a healing alt, I’m hard-pressed to disagree with any of them … as much as I find myself wishing I could.

One of Rohan’s pet peeves is mine as well: players who post the damage meters every other pull.  As an affliction ‘lock, I shine on long fights, but I can’t compete on the trash meters and shouldn’t have to.  I’m specced for longevity, mobility, self-sufficiency and sustained DPS.  The trade-off is that my trash damage is abysmally low.  (Case in point: I once put myself on /follow between boss fights in Naxx 25 to bathe my dogs, and no one noticed!*)

As a guild leader and sometimes raid leader, I don’t care if you can blow all of your cooldowns and burst through trash at 4K DPS.  If you run OOM two minutes into a 10 minute boss fight because you have no concept of mana efficiency, or if you’re missing one in every ten spells because you gemmed for spell power and haste over hit, then you simply aren’t as valuable to the group or raid as a player who can manage sustained DPS, even if she can’t come close to your “peaks.”

There’s a destruction warlock in my guild who advertises himself in Trade as 4K+ DPS.  In his defense, I’ve seen him hit 4K after a series of lucky crits.  But on our most recent Heroic Patchwerk, I topped the meters at 3.7K, closely followed by an unholy Death Knight and a retribution paladin.  The hotshot ‘lock didn’t even make the top 5 (probably because he refuses to gem for hit over spell power and thinks Chaos Bolt is the cornerstone of his PvE rotation *sigh*).

One of Rohan’s other frustrations is party members who don’t run back after the wipe.  This is one I can relate to no matter which hat I’m wearing.  As a healer, few things irk me more than rezzing everyone else in the group who was too lazy to run back with me — especially the elemental shaman.

Hello!  You can rezz, too!

Ancestral Spirit is not a deep resto talent!

As a warlock, it’s the same thing — but with summons instead of rezzes.  If I have the soul shards for it, then no, I don’t mind summoning you directly into the instance.  Especially if there happens to be World PvP happening at the stone.  But for the love of all things dark and demonic, ASK FIRST.

Don’t hearth to Dalaran because you ran out of arrows or forgot to repair, without telling anyone, let alone asking if I have the shards to act as your personal, inter-dimensional taxi cab.

Don’t zone into the instance after a wipe, ninja /afk, and then beg for a summon five minutes later when the rest of the party has finally made it back through whatever labyrinth we happen to be running to find the last boss who thwarted us.

And by the way, there is no summoning stone for the Vault of Archevon, and half the time the portal from Dalaran is closed.  If I have to make the trek through Wintergrasp, risking death and dismemberment in a PvP zone to enter a PvE instance, then so do you.

… I’m off on a tangent here …

I started this post with the intention of talking about a tongue-in-cheek comment I made in response to Rohan’s post:

A careless DPSer can be just as frustrating to conscientious DPSers as to healers and tanks.

Especially when the mage refuses to focus-fire, pulls aggro, iceblocks, and gets the poor, unsuspecting warlock (what? we exist!) murdered because the tank is suddenly out of range.

I thought this was a fairly innocuous comment (less the dig at mages, of course, but sometimes I just can’t help myself).

I checked the blog on a whim before work, and found a couple of responses, including this one from a poster named Chris:

If a mage is pulling aggro these days, then your tank is terribad.  Almost every Heroic and Naxx pull is AOE these days, and if Blizzard/Flamestrike/Arcane Explosion is pulling aggro, either the tank isn’t using the correct abilities, or they’re spec’d incorrectly or just plain bad.

Further, if after an iceblock the Warlock is the next aggro target, that’s even MORE proof that the tank is bad.  How are both the Mage and the Warlock above the tank’s threat?

Answer: The tank is bad.  Period.

Actually, my tank is good. Very good.

I may be slightly biased in this regard because my tank is also my boyfriend, but I think his résumé speaks for itself.  A feral druid, he was my guild’s Main Tank throughout The Burning Crusade, leading us from Attumen all the way to Illidan.  He’s tanked all heroic and raid content currently available in Wrath of the Lich King, up to and including Malygos.  With a guild group, in a raid environment, he won’t lose aggro.  Period.

… And believe me, I’m trying to pull it off of him.  It’s a private challenge between us, and the details are almost certain to be TMI — so let’s just say that I have a pair of gloves enchanted with 2% threat and have been known to cast Searing Pain from time to time.  That’s how incented I am!

No, the problem isn’t the tank; it’s the mechanics of tanking as a druid vs. the “almost every Heroic and Naxx pull is AoE these days (so I don’t have to worry about the tank’s threat, let alone my own!)” mentality that has dominated the PvE game since 3.0.1 and is captured so well in Chris’s comments.

In order to establish aggro on a multi-mob pull, my boyfriend/tank will Starfire the third kill target, Moonfire the second and Feral Faerie Fire the first.  This is generally enough to grab their attention, but not enough to hold aggro if the DPS starts unleashing the AoE before he is able to hit the mobs with a Swipe or glyphed Maul.

Unlike Consecrate and other AoE tanking tools, Swipe hits in a frontal cone rather than in a full 360 degree arc.  This means that a druid tank needs a second or two to position the mobs (especially if a pack contains casters, which are always tricky) after the pull before he can start building reliable threat.

What inevitably happens in a PuG is that someone will see the initial Starfire cast and blithely assume that the tank has aggro on ALL of the mobs, including those he hasn’t touched yet, and start DPS before they, or he, are in position.

If a mage pulls aggro at this point with a Bizzard/Flamestrike/Arcane Explosion, it’s 100% her fault — not the tank’s.

And while it could very well save the mage’s life, a poorly timed Iceblock could also send a loose mob ping-ponging through the party or raid.  This is because once the mob is out of the tank’s melee range, it takes 130% of threat to pull aggro.  If taunt or Feral Charge are on cooldown, the tank doesn’t notice the loose mob right away or is simply operating under a “You pull it, you tank it!” philosophy (and I know several who do), then the healer and any conscientious DPSers who were at max range at the beginning of the pull will find themselves in melee range of a rampaging mob, and that much more likely (110% vs. 130%) to pull healing or backloaded DoT aggro.

(My threat ramps up over time as my DoTs tick.  I can safely single-target DoT mobs while the tank is dragging them into position — assuming that the Mage doesn’t do something stupidly reckless and get us all killed, of course.)

If this sounds like a specific set of circumstances, rest assured … it isn’t.  This happened to us every. single. pull. in a Heroic Culling of Stratholme PuG, to the point that my boyfriend flat-out refused to tank the instance (at least until a guild group coaxed him into it and he won his bronze drake, the jerk!).

While what started as a response to a Paladin healer and his pet peeves somehow evolved into a rant about druid tanking mechanics, Rohan’s original point remains a good one:

How the DPS acts is much more of a wild card, and really makes the difference between a pleasurable run and an unpleasant run

— not just to the healers, but to the rest of the party as well.


*This isn’t something that I would usually do or condone, but my terrier had just come back from the groomer with ticks(!), so I wanted to dip all four dogs as soon as possible.  I tried to duck out of the raid, but there was no one else available to take my place.


Entry filed under: WoW. Tags: .

Better late than never? A belated introduction post. WoW, Randomly.

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Siha  |  January 8, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    “Further, if after an iceblock the Warlock is the next aggro target, that’s even MORE proof that the tank is bad. How are both the Mage and the Warlock above the tank’s threat?”

    There’s proof right there that Chris doesn’t understand aggro mechanics. Why do so few people understand the whole ‘once it’s in melee range it takes a lot less threat to get it in your lap?’ factor? *sigh*

    [Uh, apologies for the comment spam; as you can tell, I’m wandering through old entries. :)]

  • 2. Elleiras  |  January 8, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    I love comment spam! I’m /dancing for joy (or possibly terror?) that people are actually reading this drivel. Seriously. You’re making my day here. 🙂


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