Ghostcrawler had a post a few days ago talking about tanking, vengeance, and his thoughts on the the new skill and tanks lack of desire to put out dps. He said the following (source):
Now, it would be awesome if tanks did consider dps stats more seriously, and maybe outside of the instagib environment of Lich King, they will. Back in the day, tanks at least have say swords and rings for +threat fights even if they didn’t use them all the time.
Ghostcrawler seems to be under the impression that tanks don’t want to do lots of dps, and that we do not carry around an extra sword and ring for threat sensitive fights. I would love for him to fall upon Meloree’s bleeding edge of TPS thread on Maintankadin, Anafielle’s post on Rhidach’s blog about her threat set, or even just some of the blogs that I have done here regarding itemization, gear sets, and knowing how to gear for any encounter. There are plenty of people out there who love gear sets, have multiple ones, and wear them every week. And sadly, while I am sure he was trying to simplify his statement by saying that rings and swords are what we swap out, we can do so much more than that.
Gear Sets and their purpose
Currently the newest encounter in the expansion employs a fire breathing, parry haste enabled, dragon. One of the common theories as to why parry haste is turned on for dragons is because the breath is suppose to be the instant gib, threatening attack which healers and tanks should plan for. However as many of use have seen, the breath is the nice part of Halion hard mode. The evil part is the 30-35k swings that he employs in concert with breaths, cleaves, adds, and laser beams of death. This brought up a discussion on MainTankadin at one point, and more recently in my guild forums. A few of our more outspoken dps (some of whom happen to have tanks as alts), Brought up the fact that the tanks should just gear for expertise.
This movement to gear towards expertise came off of a night of wiping on Halion to parry hasting gibs. The theory, based off of the facts at hand, from the point of view of a dps player, was sound and obvious. If parry haste is killing the tank, eliminate the threat by gearing or even gemming for expertise. However the deeper seeded issue with this theory is that it is not taking into account all of the facts. When you look at the fight there are a few things that stick out in my mind as the essential moments to gear for. First and foremost, Halion hits like a truck so stamina and armor is key to survival. A very high level of effective health will help with a tanks survival. However on hard mode there are multiple other things to consider.
Depending on the tank role you are assigned, there are three gearing philosophies which should be employed, and this will transition perfectly into a discussion on gear sets. There are two “main tanks” and one “off tank” in this fight. Firstly, you have the tank who is assigned to Halion in the physical realm. This tank has two different end objectives of his or her gearing strategy. First and foremost, you need to survive. Health and defensive statistics which will help mitigate and avoid damage will be key. However there is a second component to the gearing philosophy which should not be completely overlooked. You need snap threat for the add pick up and sustained threat to ensure that you can tank both the boss and the add. From my perspective, this is a perfect situation to maximize survival while maintaining hit cap and threat statistics. I would personally wear my Max HP set, which has a nice balance of 253 hit and 26 expertise, while boosting my HP raid buffed to 60k.
The second tanking role in the encounter is the add tank in the physical realm. The most important thing for the add tank is to be able to maintain threat on as many adds as possible, while pumping out a good amount of dps in the process. The adds need to die as fast as possible, and with the number of raiders going all out on dps because of the tight timer in between meteors, a threat set is essential. There are of course caveats to this, but for the most part, a tanking set which focuses on threat and dps output would be ideal for this situation. The tank should easily be putting out 8-9k dps because of all the adds that they are responsible for holding off of your melee who are cranking out 16-17k dps.
Finally the Twilight Realm tank needs to focus on one thing, and only one thing, and that is survival. They will need to be able to produce the best effective health set possible, in concert with a cool down heavy spec , because the challenge in the twilight realm for the tank is to stay alive taking 30k hits while the healers are moving for about 10 seconds. The major key to success in the twilight realm is cool down usage, but this is only good if the gear on your back can withstand the beating. You want a full effective health set, which is focused on pure survival. Threat should not be that much of an issue, as you will have a good head start on your dps due to your early entry into the twilight realm, as well as the fact that you should have some tricks and MDs when your dps get down there.
Threat Matters, Gear Solves the Issues
Back when the buff in ICC was pushing from 15-20% I noticed a trend in my tps output. I was starting to lose the large gap I had between myself and the dps when it came to threat. I blogged a few times about it, and even went as far as posting some screen shots from World of Logs to illustrate why my threat was not as good as it could be. My threat was hindered by the lack of hit and expertise on my gear, however the gap in threat between myself and the dps was caused by the gradual increase of 277 gear in the raid and the zone buff increasing every month. As our dps started putting out larger and larger numbers due to gear and buffing, my threat did not follow suit. I knew that something had to be done, and it was not something that would be solved by swapping out a ring and a sword.
After pouring over parses, and looking at the gear I had available to me, I went ahead and constructed a high health threat set, not the one that I use to smash faces with on Festergut, but the one that I would use for pumping out threat when I knew that my healers could not keep me up in my threat set. While we have seen amazing things from tanks, that also comes with an amazing raid. The more talented the healers, the less you have to bring, the more dps you can bring and the quicker the fight ends. Because the fight is quicker, your cool down and bloodlust / Heroism buff is a larger percentage of your over all dps. I did not have the luxury of other tanks, so I needed to keep my survival, but up my threat. This set consisted of not only a swap in rings and weapon, but also trinkets, pants, cloak, glove, belt, boots, and libram. This is not a small undertaking as Ghostcrawler suggested in his post, this is a methodical and premeditated swap of an entire gear set to achieve the maximum desired result.
Finally, I wanted to share something with the rest of you who dont read Rhidach’s blog, or saw Meloree’s comment on that. I am working on it myself, but unfortunately I have quite a few holy paladins who soak up all the ret gear, so I do my best with tank gear and originally had a top 20 spot, which has now dropped down to a top 70 spot. Alas, I digress. This directly shows evidence of one of the best examples in the world of why Ghostcrawlers comment above is outdated and out of touch. I give you Meloree on festergut!
How well it works:
Maintankadin post on doing truly absurd tank dps: