Friday, January 29, 2010

Feeling Threatened?

Lately I've been hearing a lot about dps and threat management. There seems to be a theme running through all the podcasts I've been listening to so I thought I'd drop some lines about it.

I have had an opportunity to get a different perspective on the 5 man group. Since Blizz made it very easy to level I know that many folks have had this same opportunity to try something new. Either dps, tank or heals, melee or ranged, we've all gotten to see how the other side lives. Has this changed your perspective? Do you have more or less respect for the job others do in your group?

I have been playing my warlock now for nearly 5 years. When I began I was not a big add-on fan so I shied away from them. I played by feel. What that means to me is that I just began to get an idea of where I was on the threat meter by what I was doing. I knew that if I threw out one more shadowbolt I'd be over the top so I would back off. I got a sense of the feel for the dungeon and the mob I'm hitting and what it would take to peel it off the tank. I knew where my threshold was and it became instinctual, for lack of a better word. I now use quite a few add-ons one of which is Omen. I find I don't look at it very often. Occasionally I glance down to see where I'm at and how quickly my threat is building.

The first thing I do when I join a group is put the tank on focus. That allows me to always see what the tank is focused on. Most mobs are not marked, though some tanks do mark the first target off on occasion. I maintain single target dps. I follow the tanks target and build threat gradually. When that mob is dead I will usually grab the next one the tank does unless he's trying to pull threat off of someone else. My rotation begins with curses before I whip out my larger immolates and conflags. Once I know how the tank is working I may switch it up, or if the instance is something like VH where the targets are fast I might hit mulitple targets, again depending on how the tank is handling threat. If the tank is predisposed to run through the instance mopping the floor with every mob I may convert to AoE damage and bust out SoC, or during certain mob fights like the rock guys in HoS. I have found that pally's tend to do this. They have the ability to hold mob aggro much better than other classes and I can let loose. I get frustrated when I'm in a group where everyone is AoE'ing and its obvious mobs are flying everywhere and yet they don't stop. I don't believe AoE is the best solution in every fight and I don't think it benefits the group unless everyone can handle it.
As a prot warrior I don't generally put focus on any one member of the group. I use grid to help me determine if someone else has pulled threat. Being a warrior I don't have a particular rotation but do rely on some basics when first pulling a mob such as TC, SS and Shockwave. My ideal is to get them all into a nice neat package then stun them. I have a nice macro that will grab the next target and throw a few things at him, when I hit the macro again it will grab the next target etc. Being a warrior I don't have as much to throw on the floor to grab their attention so I do have to make sure I'm hitting everything. Cleave comes in handy here too and I tend to use that towards the end of gathering them up as it helps maintain threat and is a good rage dump. My biggest pet peeve as a warrior is AoE. No surprise there huh.

I remember back in the day (here we go) when we used to have the 3 sunder rule. Before everyone used Omen. I have kinda come back to this. Not necessarily waiting for 3 sunders, but waiting a little. Count to 1 or something. I realize that there is no reason to be in such a fired up hurry. Giving the mobs a little time to find the tank more charming than the dps. On both sides I have found that if I relax a little, give it a second, the results are much better. There is no reason for the dps to start banging away right off.

So who is responsible for threat? Everyone. We are all responsible for managing our own threat and for being aware of our threat. How it accumulates, what it takes to build and maintain it and what we need to do to dump it if needed. I see it as a line in the air. The tank is supposed to keep threat, keep that line up as high and as best as possible. This is it, this is the line don't go over it. I am the tank and I have said THIS is the LINE! The dps' job is to down the mob or boss without going above that line. Now we all wish we had uber tanks that could hold a mob just by staring them down. Everybody limbo now.

Reality is that is just not the case. Everyone is different. Not just classes but people. Everyone is at a different level/ability, has different gear, or has a different way of thinking. Everyone has an idea about what is best. How best to build a rotation as a dps or to build threat as a tank. If you think you have the only way you are wrong.

The fact is what I've been hearing and seeing around the interwebs these days about dps, is that they have gone mad. They believe that for a tank to be good they MUST be able to endure everything a dps can through at the mob as fast as possible.

Let me end with a personal experience. In trade chat just last week someone was bragging about how they got kicked out of a group because they continually pulled threat off the tank, and how they must be a great dps, and that tank just sucked. That person thought it was funny that they would be kicked for such a thing, and thought that trade chat would get a good laugh along with them. I was happy to see some people tell this guy he was full of shit and deserved to be kicked. So I know there are others out there who know what their jobs are. The problem is, they seem to be few and far between these days. Apparently that huntard that had no idea what he was doing in BRD is now in tier 9 and trolling LFG.

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