Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bloody Tanking (4.3 Cataclysm)

Blood tanking is a sticky subject

OUT OF DATE (Look for updated guides soon!)

Everyone has their own opinion on the theory and mechanics, but SOMETHING out there is working, because some of the best tanks in the best guilds in the world are blood DKs.

Now, one thing I'm going to emphasize. Blood tanks are VERY different from every other tank in the game. We are not built for passive survival. Blood tanking is about actively healing yourself and erecting blood shields. If you're not competing with your healers for total healing done to your character, you're not only doing it wrong, you're going to wipe the group.

Here are a few very helpful links.

Satorri's Guide to the Bloody Future

This one is quite old, however I'll leave it here because it covers much of the essential techniques and goes further in depth than the modern guides. This is a good place to start, but be sure to read on as many things have changed since this post

Obligatory Elitist Jerks link

This is the current guide, including the major changes to our spec in 4.1-4.3.

WoW Forums Blood Tanking Guide

While it doesn't add much to the Elitist Jerks link, it does have some very useful content, specifically addressing fight mechanics. Also, it goes further into the theory.

Now, my own take on the situation.

First and foremost: you have two big enemies as a blood tank.

1) Magic damage. Magic damage is not mitigated by blood shield, so effectively all you can do is hope you survive and heal yourself back up, or pop cooldowns. Of course, using Anti Magic Shell and/or Icebound Fortitude is very effective, but with the longish cooldowns you'll have to be very careful. Getting a trinket, like Mirror of Broken Images is an excellent way to supplement yourself in this regard. But above all, understand the fights so you can anticipate big, bursty magic damage.

2) You. You are your own worst enemy here. You have to play conservatively, communicate well with your healers, conserve your cooldowns and resources, and most of all- you MUST understand every aspect of the fight.

Now that you understand what you're up against, a few thoughts about stacking mastery vs stacking avoidance. Both prove mathematically viable, but with some napkin math the high mastery build looks the best by a landslide.

Realistically, taking this build to the extreme has a fatal flaw. Imagine a fight like Nefarion, Balroc, or Blackthorn, where the tank is taking a series of rapid, brutal blows. For each individual hit, math shows the mastery strategy will be superior at a given gear iLevel. This is mostly due to diminishing returns making every additional point of avoidance count for less.

However- a problem arises with the mastery build. Taking several massive hits in a row means that we will most likely exhaust our resources very rapidly. If yet more damage comes through while your cooldowns are still unavailable and your runes are still regenerating, you're effectively defenseless.

You have 2 options here. You either start stacking stam and lean on your healers to keep your meat-shell standing, or else you start putting a bit more investment into avoidance.

If you had avoided even one of those brutal hits your chances of survival would be immensely improved. For example, 4 hits against 40% total avoidance there is a whopping 87%  chance of dodging or parrying AT LEAST one of those hits, if not more, vs a mere 77% chance to parry or dodge one or more of those hits when at 30% total avoidance assuming the RNG boss doesn't hate you more than it statistically should today.

You are buying yourself a 10% chance to live in this situation, at a relatively minor cost to mastery.

Needless to say- Until I find a significant reason not to I will continue my own strategy (mastery rating~=total avoidance)- Trying to simultaneously avoid as many hits as possible without making huge sacrifices to my mastery so that I can still effectively heal and shield myself.


Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy getting your face beat on as much as I have!
Be sure to ask if you have any questions, and if you see an error or have a difference of opinion, don't be shy, leave a comment!