Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Beast called WWS - Tanking

I'm not a tank, I dabble with a druid sometimes, but I generally just heal tanks. So I figured it would be best to have an actual tank write the part about WWS and tanking. Thrornir has been tanking with our guild ever since paladins became viable tanks, and we are currently standing at 5/14 in Ulduar 10.

We'll be discussing interpreting WWS for tanks in this part of The Beast called WWS. My name is Thrornir, the paladin tank mentioned in Shy's confessions, and I'll be your writer today.

This might look familiar from the first post – This is the Damage In section from WWS, and it's one of the basic tools you can use as a tank. Overall, the first use is simply picking out the tanks involved in a raid if you're looking at someone else's WWS – unless things have gone horribly, horribly wrong, the people with the most damage taken were tanking.

Clicking on the tank's name brings you to the personal information for that specific player.

The top section provides two useful bits of information. The first is your DPS – in a general sense, the higher your DPS, the higher your threat is. If the DPS classes are complaining about being threat capped, take a look at your DPS. If you're doing a third to a half of the DPS of your best DPS, your threat output should be fine. If it's lower then that, your highest DPS might have to start slowing down to avoid pulling the boss off you – or are finding out what the floor tastes like when the boss turns and smashes them. If you are doing well on DPS, make sure you've kept your tanking buff/stance/form/aura turned on. On trash I've heard other tanks (and done it myself) forget to turn on their threat modifier and wonder why the mobs are going wild.

The more important part of this section is the death times. Clicking on the time provided brings you to the correct section of the logs with the events leading up to your death as explained in the first post.

The Dmg. Out section lets you take a look at what your most effective moves are. This has to be tempered by knowledge of your moves of course – while AoE attacks might end up first and second from fighting trash, they're less powerful when you're only fighting one enemy.
In the example above, the fight used is Kel'Thuzad, from the main tank's perspective. Shield of the Righteousness is the highest DPS move used, with about the same number of uses as Hammer of the Righteous and Judgement of Vengeance lagging behind by only a few casts. However, it does about the same damage as the other two abilities combined. This lets you see that on single target fights, you want to make sure you're using this ability as often as possible for higher threat. Meanwhile, Judgement of Vengeance wasn't hitting for very much. This is where you need to know your abilities – while the Judgement isn't your highest DPS (and thus Threat Per Second) attack, it provides a variety of raid buffs and debuffs depending on your talents, so the paladin in question wants to cast it regularly because of the benefit to the raid group as a whole.

Let's take one last example from the above image – Exorcism. If you look at the average damage, it's above Hammer of the Righteous, but it was used only 3 times instead of 29. Part of this is due to a longer cooldown, but if the paladin finds a spare moment, he should try using Exorcism when its up to increase his threat.

Here's one of the two biggest sections for a tank – your incoming damage breakdown. This example is also from Kel'Thuzad.

The first thing to explain is the breakdown. After selecting a player and the fight you're interested in , click on the name of a damage type to expand the information presented. Before expanding the Physical section, you can see that the tank took 234k over the fight, suffered 40 physical strikes, which was roughly half of the attacks made against him, and those strikes tended to hit for 6k. Further, the physical damage taken was mitigated by 15% - for physical attacks, this is a combination of blocking for classes that can do so, and shielding effects such as trinkets and class spells that absorb damage.

The expanded breakdown provides a wealth of further detail – the biggest hit taken was 7.7k, no critical or crushing blows were taken, and of the 47.4% attacks that missed, 6.6% missed outright, 17.1% were parried, and 22.4% were dodged, with one lone attack being fully absorbed by something (a full absorb from a priest shield, for example.)

The final four columns detail the mitigation totals – resisted is found when taking spell damage, and is a result of resist gear or the appropriate aura, totem or spell. Blocked damage comes, rather logically, from blocking incoming strikes, while absorbed damage comes from spell effects that absorb damage.

You can use the provided information to compare your performance week to week, as well as how effective your gear is for a boss. Using Kel'Thuzad as an example, we have the main tank stick on his frost resist set, which results in roughly 150k frost damage that he simply doesn't take. Meanwhile, the physical damage he takes goes up, but far less then the frost damage that is reduced. This is where you want to compare your logs one week to the next, to make sure that not only is a tactic viable, but providing greater benefit then the original tactic.

To touch on one last point – WWS is a great tool for comparing your performance from one raid to the next. It can also be used, but in very limited fashion, to compare yourself to other tanks. When you do so, remember that no two raids or encounters is created equal. The damage taken during Kel'Thuzad is quite different if you are tanking adds or fighting Kel'Thuzad himself.

Damage taken between raids differs because of different healers, different buffs, or different tactics. So remember WWS is a tool for improving your tanking performance, not a surefire way of saying 'x player or class is better then y player or class'.

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