Thoughts on Tanking while Levelling

Gurdrid is a prot paladin.  As I mentioned in my previous post about her, I’m loving the nearly non-existent downtime of playing prot.   The instant queues for dungeons are really nice, too.  But.  Actual tanking gear in Outland is almost nonexistant. Somewhere along the line it was decided that all Defense was going to be turned into Agility, so there’s all this quest gear with strength, stamina, and agility on it. Little to no dodge or parry to be found.  It would have been nice if Blizzard had changed the itemization with the realization that agility is useless on plate. (Well, I don’t actually know that – is it useful to DKs?) 

Anyway, I’m level 64 and I’ve done one instance. I’m only about 2/3 of the way through Zangarmarsh. (And I went to Hellfire prior to dinging 60).  Leveling through Hellfire was hella-fast. I know part of it is that I know the quests very well. I have two toons with the Loremaster title, and 6 toons past Hellfire. I’ve done those quests a *lot*.  I have to say I like the soloability of some of the quests that I struggled with on Kerridwen, even over level.   I know that that’s at least in part because of the recent nerfing, but due to the nature of questing these days, I think it was necessary to allow new players to see that content.  

But, back to the comments about tanking. As I mentioned, I’ve only done one instance in BC; and it went pretty well. I got slave pens, which isn’t one of my favorites (I’m not actually sure what my favorite BC dungeons are… hm.) The DK had a little trouble keeping his aggro in check. I forgot to check and see if he had blood presence up or not.  But he was good natured, and never once took aggro on a boss. Not once.   We had a bad pull at one point, where we were about halfway through killing a group, and two pats came and joined the fight.  My healer was awesome through that, and everyone waited 2-3 seconds for me to get an aggro lead before they started blowing AoE.  My health dipped enough for me to drop Word of Glory only once in that mess.

All of that said, though, I’ve learned several things I need to work on:

  •  I need to work on pace. I tend to rush and take my time at turns. I think it’s because when I rush I feel like I’m going to miss something important; and when I take my time people get antsy. 
  • I need to work on dealing with mobs outside my AoE influence. I need my longer-range buttons more accessible.
  • I need to work on marking targets – short story, I need a macro so I can mark on the fly.

I’m sure there are more. I’m sure I could be a much more effective tank, more aware of my surroundings, trying not to put my DPS in the ick behind the boss. Keeping my healer safe. Sona makes these things look easy.  I know they’re not; and I know it takes practice, but I feel clumsy right now.

And OMG, do you level *fast* now. Level 64. In less than 3 days played. With mining and blacksmithing in the target area.  I plan to quest through the rest of Zangarmarsh and then Nagrand; and then I’ll use LFD to finish out getting to level 68 (if I even need it.)  I’m contemplating trying to solo the Ring of Blood. That should be interesting.

So, for those of you who are my fine readers, do you have any suggestions for how I might go about trying to work on my instancing abilities?  This toon is probably going to get most of my not-guild-group love in that regard.

Posted on January 17, 2012, in Altitis, Miscellanea. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I’ve been tanking instances while levelling Bravetank & I’ve had similar pace issues. Sometimes I get a bit excited and carried away and start racing through things but then my husband who is my healer loudly complains & I realise I’m being a “bad tank”. I’ve yet to mark any target – is that very bad?!! But what I’ve really found has helped is getting the right balance between questing/soloing & instances. I did try levelling only through instances but when I started doing more solo stuff I really felt like I was getting to grips more with all my abilities & that has helped improve my performance in dungeons,. So your plan to do Zangarmarsh & Nagrand & then LFD is a good one I think.

    • Sadly, I don’t get to run with my own healer, so I have to hope that the healer is either willing to speak up. I make an absolute point of thanking everyone (especially my healer) for a run well executed.

  2. Awww, you’re sweet. 🙂

    Pacing: rush the trash, and stop completely for a few heartbeats before the boss. At least, that’s how it usually works on our runs. You, personally, tend to oscillate between thinking you’re invulnerable, and then getting nervous. Run through the trash, at least until you get caught up to current content – the odds that it will kill you is slim. Stop at the bosses, or *any* time your healer’s little dot is not moving. Healer doesn’t move -you don’t move.

    Marking: I’ll give you my skull macro. Unless you need CC, that’s all you’ll have to deal with.

    Long-range: Do you have both your taunts? Do you know where they are on your bars? Are you using your shield to bring in casters?

    But you did already know all that, I’m sure. 🙂 It’s just remembering it in the heat of the moment…

    • I think my goal is to chain pull the trash, pausing a moment as everyone dies to loot, and move on. The thing that gets me nervous is when my DPS runs off to pull without me while I’m still looting!

      And I *am* invulnerable, aren’t I?

  3. I keybinded Skull and X ta the F1 and F2 keys years ago. I finds what that works well fer about 90% of whatevers. (Is done in the Interface panel – no macro needed)

  4. Excelent post. Yes pace can be a big issuse in B.C. And sone of the pulls are a pain but like you said you will level out of them fast enfough. Oh some of the rooms in the mana tombs are a real pain. And if your looking for tank gear at that lvl some of the crafted blues are decent tank gear

  5. Somewhere along the line it was decided that all Defense was going to be turned into Agility
    >> The defense juggle wasn’t all that great either, I welcomed this change. And it didn’t all change to agility 😛

    It would have been nice if Blizzard had changed the itemization with the realization that agility is useless on plate. (Well, I don’t actually know that – is it useful to DKs?)
    >> Nope, totally useless for all plate is correct.

    The DK had a little trouble keeping his aggro in check. I forgot to check and see if he had blood presence up or not.
    >> This is probably due to gear. The blue gear you get in the DK starting zone is basicly meant to last you to 70. It’s grossly overpowered, especially at the start of the BC leveling curve.

    I need to work on pace
    >> After every trash pack, check your healer’s mana. If he burned 50% of his mana on the previous trash pack, you’re good for one more pack, then he’ll need a mana break.

    I need my longer-range buttons more accessible.
    >> This is where keybinds would really help 🙂 Is it mostly out of habit that you click? Are you open to trying keybinding and would you like some ideas/tips to get started?

    I need to work on marking targets – short story, I need a macro so I can mark on the fly.
    >> I have all my marks bound to my numpad. This way, I can mark up incredibly quick between packs (select-mark select-mark etc) and on the fly if I have to.

    • Wow, thanks for your thoughts, Vuuk.

      Agility on plate >>
      I think Blizzard could have changed the defense itemization to parry and dodge; but I’ll admit I didn’t pay attention to the tanking requirements at the time. I do remember both my tanking buddies being quite happy about that change, though.

      DK Aggro >>
      It’s nice to know that DKs are overpowered due to gearing. I’m sure Blizz did that so that they wouldn’t have to itemize quest rewards for a class that didn’t exist previously.

      Pace >>
      When I ran again last night (I’m level 65!) I found that I was doing a bit better with pace. Now I just need to figure out how to keep the jerky dps from pulling for me while I’m busy checking on my healer’s mana. I actually do try to watch everyone’s resources, because it doesn’t help much if the mage is oom either.

      Buttons >>
      I am horrible about keybinds. I’ve tried to get started on them a couple of times, and generally just go back to clicking. I don’t know if it’s a comfort level thing, or what, but I would certainly be willing to try keybinding.

      Marking >>
      I’m trying out Ratters suggestion of using the function keys, but numbers may be eaier, especially if I can start keybinding other things.

  6. Now I just need to figure out how to keep the jerky dps from pulling for me while I’m busy checking on my healer’s mana.

    >> When you find out, let us know. Even max level tanks can’t help this, I’m afraid. It’s basicly up to the manners of said DPS. Although letting them pull and staying back far enough so they just die seems to get the point across sometimes.

    I’ll look into writing a post about keybinds for next week.

  7. Leveling as prot – done that multiple times :o)

    The BC gear you should be looking for is ‘Of the Champion’ or ‘Of the beast’.
    Yes, until level 80 (where you get mastery and thus sheild block) you will have appalling defensive stats.
    ie maybe 10-12% dodge, 5-10% parry, no block.
    But that doesn’t matter too much as things hit like a wet noodle – YAY for constant dungeon/level nerfs.

    Regarding that DK that pulled threat – We have 3 possible reasons.
    A. You didn’t have RF on.
    B. He was in blood presence.
    C. Both of above.

    With the 500% threat bonus to tanking, there is no way a dps – even an overgeared DK should be able to pull threat from a competent tank UNLESS he had Blood Presence off.
    As the DK is obviously newly minted, you will find this happens OFTEN while tanking BC level dungeons. People just have no clue how DK’s work. “But Blood gives me more health!”

    Marking shouldn’t be too much of a priority in these dungeons – Threat is high and things die quick.
    Mark maybe the first target, throw your shield at the casters to make them come close then spam your AoE and watch the pretty numbers. Most DPS will be blindly spamming their aoe anyway.

    • Now that I’m headed into Northrend, (good lord! level 68 with less than 4 days played!) I’m finding a little bit of gear that at least has dodge or parry on it. Since my main is a ret pally, I didn’t realize at first that I don’t actually want to itemize for strength, that it essentially just comes on my gear (much like stam just comes on ret gear)… the things we take for granted.

      I’ll be doing my last few BC dungeons tonight, with a tiny bit of Northrend gear, but I’m struggling to find quests since I ran off out of Outland very shortly after getting to level 68. I’m level 69 now, and hoping to make short work of the level.

      I’ll admit that I’m letting my gear come synergistically. I’m not spending gold on it, just picking up what I can from quests and dungeons. Part of that is because I know it’s going to be replaced quickly when I hit the next expansion. I’ll be looking very closely at my gearing options when I hit 80 and start to look at Cataclysm level gear. Any pally tank bloggers out there who want to point me to their sites and discussions of early prot gear are encouraged!

      As far as that DK – as I mentioned, I didn’t take the time to look and see what presence he was in. I know I had RF up, It’s the first thing I check when someone grabs aggro from me. I also think he may not have been staying on my target, which might have accounted for some of it. We had an awesome healer, though, so it didn’t cause much trouble. I’ve just never had another class pull off me like that without something much more obvious going on; and I know their mechanics the *least*.

  8. Back in TBC, there weren’t many tankin’ gears until ya started farmin’ dungeons at 70. Blizz figgered out this were a stupids idea.

    Now, when ya gets ta 70, any blacksmith can hammer ya out a set of cobalt armor plus a shield – is loaded with yummy tanking stats. Mats is fairly cheap. At 75, ya wants fer ta do the quest Ragemane’s Flipper so’s ta get the world’s fugliest tankin’ mace. Is right at the beginnin’ of the Zul’Darak zone – ya cain’t miss it. Most dungeons got a tanking quest reward in them as well. That will be sufficient fer ta tank any normal mode dungeon in Northrend. Is another more expensives, mid-70s set of crafted armor too – tempered saronite – but this be optional.

    This repeats at 80 – blacksmiths can make the hardened obsidium armor and shield, agains loaded with yummy tankin’ stats. Ya can get away with any ol’ weapon until a nice one drops fer ya (I likes the axe what drops in Vogon Pinnacle meself). This’ll get ya through the normals, and then it be farming time.

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