Art of War

A brewmaster monk blog.

Tank Circle

I usually don’t engage in mass blogosphere questionaires because normally they’re boring and irrelevant, but this time it’s tank specific so that at least makes it relevant! There’s also an acute shortage of non-paladin answers.


1. What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?

Sunnier, worgen feral tank, (0/32/9)

2. What is your primary group tanking environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

Pretty much always hardmode 25s. I like the feel of an army at my back.

3. What is your favorite cooldown for your class and why?

Barkskin! I love its short cooldown and it’s all-around utility. Magic damage, physical damage, it’s always useful. And it’s almost always available. With four-piece T12, it will be even more exciting.

4. What tanking CD do you use least for your class and why?

I only have three tanking cooldowns, so I pretty much use them all. I do forget to use trinkets all the time.

5. What do you feel is the biggest strength of your tanking class and why?

Bears are awesome damage soakers. We have the best passive physical and magical damage reduction of all the tanks. Beyond that, bears are the best off-tank damage dealers. A bear can contribute hefty dose of utility when they can deal reasonable dps during tank swaps or burn phases.

6. What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your class and why?

Lack of control over our own survivability. This is in part due to lack of cooldowns (only three, and only one of those can be used very often), but also because our tanking is not very interactive. I’d love to have something like Word of Glory or Death Strike that gives me a bit more short-term control over my survival. There’s also the issue of being unable to cover the combat table. I don’t find it to be a huge problem in practice, but in theory it bothers the hell out of me that shield tanks have the potential to reduce all physical damage by such a huge margin.

7. In a raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best tanking assignment for you?

Any assignment where I can go into cat form for part of the fight. If that’s not available, any place where there’s a consistently heavy-hitting boss.

8. What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with most and why?

The other two tanks on my team are paladins, so I don’t have much experience with anything else. Sometimes I wish I could play with a warrior, because I would have someone who understands my rage woes, but every warrior I’ve ever played with won’t stop complaining about his class, which is something I could do without. I’d also like to play with a DK because we could hate on the block tanks together.

9. What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with least and why?

Paladins think they’re so cool with their huge number of personal cooldowns, a raid cooldown, and combat table coverage.

10. What is your worst habit as a tank?

I forget to vocalize what I’m doing all the time and I fall off ledges more than the other tanks.

11. What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?

People pulling aggro. No, the irony is not lost on me. I pull aggro off my fellow tanks all the time when I’m dpsing. I’m a horrible person, but at least I know it.

12. Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with others tanks for tanking?

I think bears are downright overpowered in some situations, and decent in others. We’re in a very good spot right now. Though again I’d like to stress how much the combat-table-coverage stuff worries me.

13. What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?

Death Note is the big one. I love this addon. A tank’s primary goal is to survive, and figuring out how exactly I failed that goal is the best way for me to improve. With Death Note I can see how much damage I was taking, how many heals were incoming, and what buffs or debuffs were involved. I can quickly analyze errors and improve in time for the next pull.

I use World of Logs to evaluate my overall performance. Is my Pulverize uptime too low? Am I consistently using my cooldowns? How many main spec dpers am I beating on the charts? Etc.

14. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your tanking class?

Oh boy, are there ever misconceptions about bears. A lot of new players get confused by bears, with their leather-wearing and their lack of parry or block, and I think that combined with a low bear population convinces people that we’re bad tanks. Druids also tend to have lower health than other tanks. It’s not because we are undergeared or underpowered, it’s simply because we can get away with it. With such a huge passive damage reduction, bears just plain don’t need as much health as other tanks.

15. What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new tanks of your class to learn?

I see a lot of newbies who have trouble with threat, especially AoE threat. It’s also a bit unintuitive to reforge all your gear to dodge and to gem for agility.

16. So, how about that whole vengeance mechanic, eh?

Overall, I like vengeance because I get to see big numbers while tanking. I don’t like that it interacts negatively with avoidance or how Savage Defense depends on it, but it could be worse.

17. Stamina, Combat Table Coverage, or total Damage Reduction?

Well the combat table coverage isn’t really an option for me, and stamina is super boring, so total damage reduction it is. Damage reduction is already a bear’s strength, and it means I can gem for agility. I collect all sorts of trinkets (like any bear should) so that I can swap in stamina trinkets or pure tanking trinkets or straight up agility trinkets, depending on the fight.

18. What tanking class do you feel you understand least?

Death knights are really hard to model. Warriors, paladins, and druids all mostly depend on chance. Chance to dodge, chance to block, chance to parry, chance to proc Savage Defense. Death knights have all of that, plus player skill in timing Death Strikes, maintaining buffs and debuffs, and cooldowns that require actual resources. I’ve been leveling a death knight as an attempt to learn more about the class, but so far frost is distracting me from blood.

19. What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in tanking?

My favorite tanking addons are Death Note, for analyzing my dying moments, and Power Auras/ Weak Auras, to help track buffs and debuffs. I use many more, but those are the ones I’d rather not tank without. I wrote a post about my macros, though I don’t consider them to be all that necessary. My macros are just quality of life tools.

20. Do you strive primarily for balance between your tanking stats (stam, mastery, avoidance), or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

I stack avoidance out the kazoo. I have trinkets and consumables for the times I need other stats, but my base set is almost entirely agility and dodge. I try to meet good socket bonuses, which sometimes means I have to use a stamina/agility gem instead of pure agility. It’s a sacrifice I have to make for the greater good.

Lucky for me, avoidance seems to be really strong for Firelands. I hope I can continue to be an avoidance junkie forever.

This picture isn’t entirely relevant since this is PvP. But it is similar to my PvE view.