Tuesday, June 3, 2008
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. . .