Evaluating Tank Performance

Episode 28 of TankCast covered how to evaluate your own performance, starting at 27:15. Here is generally what we talked about:

Step one:

Did you live?

Tanking performance is incredibly binary — a good tank lives, a poor tank dies (with exceptions). But we can dig deeper than that and try to find ways to improve performance and figure out why.

Step two:

Why are you dying?

Let’s identify the tools at our disposal: WarcraftLogs and Death Note. Death Note is an addon that provides a quick way to ascertain your cause of death in game, and it’s self-explanatory so I won’t spend much time talking about it specifically. WarcraftLogs provides an incredibly detailed account of everything you could ever dream of.

Where to start looking in WarcraftLogs?

  • Low health spikes: Is the tank using cooldowns before or after low health spikes? Are they using heals quickly? Could they do anything to reduce those spikes or are they already recovering from them just fine? (Resources pane)
  • Active mitigation usage: Is active mitigation used regularly or sparingly? Are there key events that could use AM or cooldowns? If it’s an easy-to-maintain buff (Shuffle), is it up when it needs to be? (Buffs pane and Resources pane)
  • Defensive cooldown usage: Is the tank using their big cooldowns reactively (after their health drops) or proactively (before their health drops)? When are healers using their tank cooldowns? (Buffs pane)
  • Avoidable damage: Is the tank taking unnecessary damage? Are teammates taking unnecessary damage because of a tank’s positioning? (Problems pane)
  • Healing done and taken Are healers using a lot of their panic spells (tank cooldowns, Flash Heal-type skills)? (Healing pane)
  • Events leading to their death: What contributed to the death and can it be mitigated somehow? Did the tank use everything they had at their disposal before dying (cooldowns, active mitigation, heals, potions)? Did they get enough external heals? (Death pane)
  • Resources: Is the tank capping or wasting key resources? Are they using their resource generators (Mangle, Keg Smash) frequently without overfilling? (Resources pane)
  • Positioning: Is the tank going somewhere they shouldn’t? Are adds getting controlled quickly enough? Could the tank be making things easier on damage dealers? Does anything look weird in the replay? (Replay pane)

Step three:

What can you do better?

  • Potions: Is the tank using all their potions, healing and armor, or could they be used in a more effective place? (Problems pane)
  • *Class-specific nitty gritty**: Depending on the class, but could the tank use their active mitigation in a better place? Could their be a better way to allocate resources? (e.g. purifying brew usage)
  • Events leading to someone else’s death: Why did a damage dealer or healer die, and could the tank do anything (AM, cooldowns) to reduce their own healing requirements? (Death pane)
  • Personal damage: Is there anywhere you can squeeze out some extra dps without endangering yourself? Could your dps cooldowns be used in a better place?
  • Compare to other tanks of the same class: What talents are they using? What does their active mitigation usage look like?

Exceptions: There are always half a dozen exceptions to each rule. If you’re looking at someone else’s logs, it’s difficult to determine whether something weird is a mistake or intentional, and if intentional, why they did it. An accurate comparison should include two tanks with similar progression relative to gear level; a world first guild is going to be tackling content at a much lower gear level than the tank you’re evaluating, and the needs of both will be wildly different. Each encounter will have different jobs for tanks to perform, and the job of one tank compared to another might not align well.

Ranks on Tanks

How introduce competition for tanks?

This whole discussion was sparked by an announcement from Kihra, the creator of WarcraftLogs, that he would remove the tank ranking algorithm next tier.

For some background, WarcraftLogs ranks tanks based on a metric called “KSRI”, or “Kihra‚Äôs Resolve-Weighted Survivability Index”. It’s an algorithm that attempts to rank players based on how defensively they played, similar to dps rankings, though obviously not as easy to implement. It is a mixture of ETMI (a calculation of how smooth a tank’s damage intake is/could be), self heals, and incoming heals.

Sadly, finding a metric for tankiness is nearly impossible. While all metrics can and are gamed such that getting to the top means doing unusual things, like letting just one person AoE all the adds for dps meters, KSRI is especially vulnerable. Its calculation is unobvious and, as Kihra laments, it’s too dependent on certain variables that don’t have solutions yet. There’s also the unintended consequence of these rankings being used to argue for buffs / nerfs, though that’s an annoyance that happens with all rankings.

Arielle had a really good rant on this at the tail end of the podcast, so I especially recommend that portion.