Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Paladin Tanking. E-Z Mode? Not So Much.

If I have learned one thing from playing Jasminne, it is that my jealousy over their ability to "Easy-Mode AoE Tank" is more perception than truth. I suppose I had bought into the cries of "Paladin tanks have it so easy, why can't we AoE tank like Paladins" that I see often from warriors (nothing against warriors, mind you, just the ones that yell the loudest on the forums). While it is true that Paladins have the easiest time of AoE tanking big groups (with the added advantage of being able to actually do it while others hit said group with AoE DPS), Druids and Warriors are each perfectly capable of tanking large groups if they know what they're doing (and the DPSers know enough to use single-target DPS), and Paladins give up a lot of what we take for granted.

Now, before I go any further, let me clarify one thing. Paladins are perfectly viable tanks. In no way is what I am about to discuss intended to imply that Paladin tanks suck, or that they can only be used successfully in specific situations. In fact, my point is the opposite. I have great respect for those who walk the road of the Prot Paladin, and would never think twice about standing behind one on any of my characters, in any situation (Well, except maybe for those damnable "prot warrior only" fights like Reliquary of Souls).

For those who haven't played a paladin tank before, such as myself, you may think they have it easy. Chuck a shield at a group of mobs, keep a consecrate on the ground and holy shield up, and watch as the mobs die around you. And frankly, sometimes that really is how the prot paladin plays. Six mob pulls in Shattered Halls? Talk about a yawnfest. Some instances, like SH, play very well to a paladin's strength: Standing in one place, tanking big groups.

Not all fights in WoW are like that (thank God, we'd all get bored to tears if that was the case). Fights that require the tank to constantly be on the move are tough on a paladin. Take, for example, Grandmaster Vorpil, the third boss of Shadow Labyrinth. The standard method (at least on my server) for doing that fight is to have the tank pull Vorpil around all of the voidwalkers that he spawns to a safe, clear area. Not an unreasonable thing to ask a tank to do (in fact, I really enjoy that fight on Surania), but with a Paladin tanking, this means DPS has to slow it down a bit, because unless that pally stands relatively still (which he can only do once out of the spawns), his Consecrations are only getting to tick once or twice every 8 seconds, if he even bothers blowing the mana on casting them at all. Meanwhile, a druid or warrior tanking that fight can continue full threat generation.

Second, an issue I'm sure everybody is at least somewhat familiar with: Mana. Prot paladins have to focus a lot on standard tanking stats like defense, dodge, stamina, armor, and block. As such, we tend to be lacking on caster stats like mana regen and intellect. Jasminne currently has a little over 4,000 mana, and no form of passive mana regeneration at all. The only way I get any mana back during a fight is by taking large amounts of damage, since Paladins' Spiritual Attunement gives back 10% of all outside heals as mana. Unfortunately, if I'm trying to maximize my threat generation, I'm spending 82.5 mana/second on Consecration, 19ish mana/second on Judgement, 32.5 mana/second on Seal of Righteousness, and 28 mana/second on Holy Shield. 162 mana/second to maintain max threat, meaning if I'm taking less than 1.6k damage EVERY SECOND, I'm either running OoM or using a lower-threat cycle to conserve, most often either dropping/downranking Consecration, or swithcing either my seal or judgement (or both) to wisdom. All three of which reduce my threat generation drastically. I can't just spend 2 seconds autoattacking and get enough mana to pop out a Consecrate the same way I autoattack on Surania once and get the rage for another mangle or swipe.

Even when mana isn't limited, however, a paladin's ability to crank out threat can be diminished signifigantly. I had already mentioned mobility fights, where consecration (which at my gear level generates about 200 threat/second) can't be used as much, but what about crowd control? Usually, with good CCers, and a good plan of action, you can find a way to make it viable, but more often than not, you'll find yourself in situations where the mage was asleep at the wheel, the hunter couldn't peel his mob off of you, or the warlock isn't paying any attention to where his seduced mob is going to go after it breaks, and you suddenly have a moon, square, or diamond-marked mob in your face (at least if you use my marking system). If you're able to handle the extra mob beating on you, then you'll probably just continue to consecrate and tank the mob (while the CCer gets annoyed that you keep breaking sheep/seduce or building threat on trap). If that mob, however, is one of the caster trash mobs in SSC, for example, you must instead move said mob out of your current Consecration, wait for the aforementioned CCer to recast, and then move AGAIN before you can continue to use your signature threat ability.

Casters are another treat. Instead of making it impossible to Consecrate, casters tend to make yet another big aggro builder ineffective: Holy Shield. Some casters, like Kael'thas, will still swing at you from time to time with their staves, giving you at least a few procs of holy damage. Others, like his warlock trash mobs, do nothing but spam spells, thus denying you of a lot of threat (Did I mention every time I block on jasminne, I generate 5-600 threat, depending on my choice of buffs at the time?). On the plus side, casters also tend to do more damage to tanks, allowing your healer to refill your blue bar so you can continue to spam consecrate. Yeah, welcome to the mindset of a paladin tank, the only folks I know that actually use their /sit button as a TANKING TOOL

So, whats my point in all of this? Its simple really: Paladin tanking isn't my bag. Any e-peen envy I may have had for paladins is all but erased, and I am quite happy to do any tanking that needs to be done on my druid (though I do plan to keep Jasminne prot until the expansion, at which time she'll probably go back to her original intent of being a healer).

Now, if only I could tank murlocs and solarian adds with swipe. . . oh, right, then I never would have been a paladin tank in the first place. . .


Anonymous said...

hehe, memories.

i guess it's allowing for error and having a plan B. i'm a progression MT in SSC/TK atm and i love it. pally tanking is all about planning. i guess i take some of your concerns about working around CC and odd tank fights like the 3rd boss in SL for granted. you learn to tank differently when it comes to consecrate and allow for the possibility of breaking sheep or having the hunter not be able to pull off you (let him pull his target then throw your shield/consecrate) or just deal with the extra incoming damage. once you hit t5 content/gear most of your issues will go away as you'll be able to make mistakes fun.

one other thing, grab the 1-handed axe from kara that you can also throw for odd pulls that require finessé -- high king mulgar.

K said...

Druids and Warriors can AoE tank just fine, though no AoE DPS please. Just need to make sure the DPS understand what the kill order is and that they give the tank time to switch to said mob to start generating real threat.

My personal method is to switch when the current kill target (provided my threat is high enough) is around 10% alive. I start building threat on X while the DPS continue on skull. This tends to work because in the thick of things, a lot of DPS forget that they need to wait just a bit on subsequent mobs. :) ... this goes for AoE tanking or just regular tanking, too.

And in the future, not sure what level you're playing at (and I can't remember when you get deathcoil anyway as a warlock...) the warlock CAN start having the succubus cast charm as soon as the mob is feared. It runs out of consecrated ground and voila... seduced.

Kalon said...

On threat downranking: downranking consecrate to rank 4 is pretty good for a threat/mana ratio. You still do a good chunk of your normal spelldamage (92%, IIRC) but don't spend as much mana. The base isn't as good, mind you, but if you're doing 200TPS a tick with it that won't be as big a concern.

My recommendation is to lead off with JotC for a quick threat boost, then go JoW when that expires, then reseal righteousness. That should give back some mana. Being in a spriest group helps wonders too. Make sure to get BoW as well. And yes, sometimes this still isn't enough, and sometimes you can get hosed. It's tricky and a balancing act, but it is one of the things that can make paladin tanking enjoyable.

As to caster mobs - if you're talking heroics, the easiest way is to LoS pull them and then dps them first. Even if they happen to target someone else they usually die too fast to matter. For things like raid situations (SSC is a good one) you'll have multiple tanks; in that case, either tank the non-casters or tank the casters with a range pull, and pick them up later. They are annoying, but it's not so insurmountable, and at least paladins take less damage from casters than druids do.

I really miss aspects of paladin tanking. I envy those shattered halls runs - really, any heroic runs - and the piles of bodies around the prot tank in Hyjal. I envy good ranged threat generation. But I do love the single target threat a druid can generate and the ability to take huge hits that other tanks drool at.

SuraBear said...

@k: Its not me that has the problem when I play my 'lock, I've gotten pretty good at controlling my seduces. But most warlocks are . . . well, they're like me back when I first hit 70, insistant that seduce is terrible CC, impossible to use and control. Said 'locks are the ones that tend to lose seduces to my consecrated ground.

See also: The Art of Seduction

Lypi said...

For what it's worth, there is a place that allows the tank to stand in one place on Vorpil. Behind him, to the left, there's a corner with a wall part-blocking. Everyone can run there before the pull, and burn him down in that corner. If he lasts long enough to teleport, run straight back to the corner, and finish the job. Easy. It has the advantage of not having to move much, and early DPS onset.

Anonymous said...

Single targeting down mobs while you hold 5 is not NOT tanking. I've gotten up and made a sandwich on while tanking curator on my pally.

Dale said...

To quote: "Single targeting down mobs while you hold 5 is not NOT tanking. I've gotten up and made a sandwich on while tanking curator on my pally."

Let's look at the definition of TANK: Noun: A player-character, typically in a MMORPG, that is able to occupy an agressor and take the brunt of the aggressor's attacks while the other players deal damage, heal, or perform some other action. The "tank" can survive longer while taking damage than the other characters. Typically, the tank has higher hitpoints (health) and a higher armor rating than the other characters. Less commonly, a character with a lower armor rating can perform the actions of the tank by using avoidance abilities. Ultimately, the tank needs to be able to occupy the agressor without dying. The method employed, whether avoidance or absorption, does not matter, as long as the tank can mitigate damage in some way.

So if by being able to get up to make a sandwich while holding 5 mobs with the curator is not tanking, then your comprehension of the term "tanking" is NOT correct. Have a nice day.

Arencey said...

Speaking as someone who had a level 80 paladin and gave it up I have to say they are a bit on the EZ mode side when it comes to tanking, the reason other tanks are hard to play is because of pug dps who are going to unload aoe right off the bat whether you like it or not, because of this death knights are in a bad situation, most death knights are being forced to use lolspecs that have morbidy and spam their aoe spells before they have diseases up, which generates less tps than a standard threat rotation for frost or blood.

I'm not saying paladin are OP or anything like that, druids have massive amounts of hp, and warriors can use shield block every minute along with some other nifty defensive spells which is an extreme amount of mitigation, warriors also have the added stats from a ranged weapon.

Other non paladin tanks bring a very underestimated amount of utility, warriors sunder armor for their main threat generator, that's a big load of free arp for all physical dps, warriors also bring shouts, death knight tanks bring improved frost fever which slows the attack speed of all mobs the death knight is tanking by a considerable amount if frost, Unholy brings an awesome "magic sunder armor" sort to speak that increases spell damage done to the mobs they are tanking if unholy. Paladins? They bring their instant and massive aoe threat and the same buffs any other non tanking paladin can bring, that alone is good and I'm not saying paladins suck, I'm trying to remind everyone that other tanks bring plenty to fights as well.

© 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®