Monday, February 4, 2008

ACLaBT4: The Tab-Lacerate Fallacy, and Tanking as a Non-Feral

Its time for the final installment of A Closer Look at Bear Threat! (Cue cheesy gameshow music and strobe lights). Today, as promised, I will be taking a closer look at threat generation for the Mangle-challenged. The common perception is that nonferal tanks are about as threatening as a little bear cub, time to put that assumption to the test. But I also want to touch on one other topic that I was reminded of when reading some blog comments today, and that is this strange practice some bears engage in of tab-lacerating their offtargets when multi-mob tanking.

Tab Lacerate. . . Why?

Last week, we established breakpoints where swipe is actually better threat generation than lacerate, and I personally came to realize that I have reached the switch-over point myself. In order to debunk this myth that tab-lacerate is somehow useful, though, we need to look at the scenario swipe is really intended for: Multi-target tanking. And while you would think logic alone would prevail, that a multi target ability would be better for a multi target scenario, we already found that similar logic breaks down in the single target scenario, so lets do this up proper.

First off, lets give every advantage we can to lacerate, by gimping our swipes. Lets assume we have a mere 1100 attack power, 15% crit, 35% mob damage reduction (since off-targets generally dont get debuffs), and for the heck of it, I'm getting rid of our expertise and hit rating, even though that should affect everything evenly. This is about as low-grade as you can get at 70, we're talking Braxxis staff, full heavy clefthoof with stam gems, and crappy greens, basically.

With those numbers, we're looking at threat values of 338 for Lacerate, and 169 for swipe. But thats on a single target, and we're talking about hitting at least 2 targets here, so double the swipe threat and we get . . . 338. Fancy that! So even with abysmally crappy gear, swipe puts out just as much threat per use as lacerate overall. Anything better, or add a third mob, and swipe is a clear winner.

Now, that doesn't sound like a lot, but think about it for a second. You dont need to hold off-mobs off of the DPS, because they're killing the main target, not offtargets. If they're not doing that, let 'em die as far as I'm concerned. You just need to be keeping those mobs off the healer. In the worst case scenario, threatwise, you have two mobs on you, and are putting out 169 threat per swipe on the off target. Lets assume one swipe every 2 seconds (3 swipes every 6 in a Mangle->Swipe x3 rotation), so 84 threat/second going into that off mob. For the healer to pull it off of you, they need to do 4 times that amount as healing per second (x2 for the 50% threat modifier on heals, and x2 again due to healing threat being split among the two mobs), or 336 healing/second. With a third mob in there, that goes up to 504 healing/second.

Doesn't sound like a lot, does it? Well, its not for those of us who are used to tanking heroics, raids, and the like, but I feel bad for your group if you have 1100 AP, 15% crit, no hit, and are tanking anything at all challenging. And (this is important), even if swipe spam isn't holding mobs off of your healer, lacerate will NOT solve the problem, because we already did the math and figured out swipe is putting out just as much threat. What will help, however, is tab-Auto-attack, tab-Maul, and/or tab-mangle, while still spamming swipe. That actually puts extra threat into your off targets (at the cost of threat on your main target). For those who find that tab lacerating helps them hold 2-3 mobs at once, I'll all but gurantee the difference is the extra autoattack threat you're hitting them with, NOT lacerate itself.

Threat for Non-Ferals: Why Offspec Druid Tanks Lose Aggro

First off, just let me clarify: I'm not trying to say that non-feral druids CANT tank. Heck, my first time killing High King Maulgar, I was full resto spec, and was one of the tanks on the Warlock. I'm just highlighting why offspecs have such a hard time tanking. All of the mitigation in the world is meaningless if mobs aren't actually beating on the person with the mitigation, and while not having feral tanking talents makes us a little bit squishier, the pain is really felt when we realize that we're a lot less THREATENING without the myriad threat talents in there.

Lets take our baseline feral druid from the calculator. He has all of our feral talents, 2500 AP, and .3 crit. He can crank out 802 threat per second if not using maul at all, and only needs to take 185 damage per second to maintain the rotation. If he is taking at least 1253 DPS, he can go full throttle with Mauls as well, and his threat output shoots up to1069 threat per second.

Now, lets say this druid respecs for PvP. At first, he only drops mangle to pick up Nature's Swiftness. How much can the loss of one talent point hurt? Well, a lot. We change the rotation he uses to nonstop lacerates, and lose the (minimally) boosted threat from lacerate's damage modifier (note that just changing the "Mangle?" box in the calculator to zero automatically zeroes out your mangle damage line, and removes the 1.3x modifier from lacerate's damage). Now, in order to maintain our lacerate spam, we only need to take 149 DPS, but at the same time, our threat generation plummets from 802 TPS down to 593 (A loss of over 25%). If we throw our mauls back in, we need to take 1217 DPS, but our threat generation pops up to 860 (still nearly 20% less threat than before).

Our hypothetical druid realizes that NS does not a PvP healer make, so he respecs to a full PvP resto (8/11/42) build. Now things get a bit trickier. We get to keep Naturalist and Ferocity, but lose the rest of the listed talents (I'm assuming you're taking thick hide here, since threat generation is useless in PvP). In addition to the talents listed, we also lose 6% crit from Sharpened Claws, 105 attack power from Predatory Strikes, and while I'm not going to try to quantify it, you'll also lose some AP and crit from Survival of the Fittest. Now we're down to a measly 492 threat without Maul, and need to take 800 incoming DPS to sustain our lacerates, and if we spam Maul too, we only get up to 721 TPS, and need to take a whopping 1814 DPS to sustain it. Note that at this point, the healer would overtake you on threat if you were taking that much damage, unless they were a paladin.

But lets not stop there. Lets go all the way, and see what a typical moonkin build with absolutely no feral talents could put out threatwise with that same set of gear. Now we drop Naturalist and Ferocity too, and cry a little. Lacerate and autoattack now only give us 467 threat/second, requiring us to take 920 damage/second to even maintain that (While the non-pally healer cranks out 460 threat/second just to heal us through that kind of damage), and if we mix in maul, we only get up to 689 threat/second, and we have to take 2125 damage/second just to get the rage for it!

Two lessons to take away from all of these numbers. First of all, Mangle itself is a HUGE source of threat for feral druids, losing that one poing alone can drop our threat generation by as much as a quarter! Second, and more importantly, a druid who isn't deeply into the feral tree generates CRAP for threat. They could probably pop on some armor and take a hit fairly well, but they can't piss the mobs off enough to be getting hit unless they're the only ones paying attention to a mob (or the DPSers are very careful/bad), and they have a paladin for a healer, most likely, at least if they ever have enough rage to throw any Mauls.


Felkan said...

You and Big Bear Butt need to get together as he says to use lacerate, you say to use swipe.

RB --> swipe (mouseover)
BBB --> lacerate (mouseover)

Which one? Both? If so, when?

SuraBear said...

You could always do both.

Mouseover swipe is intended for tanking huge groups of mobs (>3) to allow you to mix up which set of three you hit with each swing. Honestly, I dont use it, because I use the slightly less scientific approach of pissing off the melee DPS . . . er, I mean repositioning often, which mixes up which targets are considered closest.

Mouseover lacerate is for maintaining threat on off targets when there is crowd control nearby (and thus, using swipe is a bad idea). I find that 95% of the time, I can simply reposition myself and use swipe (which is more time- and rage-efficient) anyhow, though, and so I dont have mouseover lacerate macroed either.

Anonymous said...


sounds like an interesting blog, however I couldn't agree less :)

It is my personal experience, as well as that of a young druid I coach, that at a badge rewards/kara epics level, swipe won't cut it for multi-mob tanking.

I tried the swipe strategy many, many times, especially in Shattered Halls, and I consistently failed for lack of Growl cd: one mob deaggroed, was growled, another deaggroed, was bashed, a third was growled and the fourth went amok.

I then told myself I HAVE to hold them, and now very succesfully use this strategy:

* right-click mob 2, use whatever is on cd, lacerate or mangle
* right-click mob 3, use whatever is on cd,
* etc....

It also switches the autoattack to that mob, and generates enough threat that I barely ever growl

SuraBear said...

Silly question but . . . who is tanking the first kill target while you're tabbing through all of the mobs? Because if swipe isn't enough to keep mobs off of the healer when tanking 4+ mobs, your DPS is certainly going to be pulling off of you while you're hitting everything else.

I mean, I guess it is working for you, but with nothing being done to the kill target 75% of the time, I'm not quite sure how.

Looking For More: said...

I found the complete opposite to Anon above. I've always found that my swipe was more than enough, at every level of gear I've attained so far, to keep the mobs off of my healer and to build a good starting amount of threat on the next primary target to keep it off of the DPS.

There have been times when a DPS has not followed the kill order and taken agro, but they're not who I'm tanking for. I'm tanking for the DPS who aren't complete morons. I'm tanking for the healer who's keeping us all alive. I'm certainly not even attempting to primary-target tank two targets at once, I probably could if I wanted to, but I don't. I want the idiot DPS to die so he maybe learns a lesson so he performs his role correctly the next time.

I love my swipe.

© 2008 The Rambling Bear. All Rights Reserved.

World of Warcraft™ and Blizzard Entertainment® are all trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment in the United States and/or other countries. These terms and all related materials, logos, and images are copyright © Blizzard Entertainment. This site is in no way associated with Blizzard Entertainment®