Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why isn't it ever a "tank fight"?

During one of our last Ulduar runs, this tree had a revelation. I can't remember exactly which boss we were working on, but a comment was made to the effect of "this is a healer fight". I paused for a second, held up a branchy arm, and posed my question over vent, the gist of which is:

Why is it that you hear from time to time the phrase "its a dps check" or "its a healer fight" but you rarely or hardly ever hear "its a tank fight"? Was it a tank that came up with these two phrases so that tanks aren't ever "blamed" for a wipe? If dps and healers can be blamed, I think its only fair, don't you? Amirite or Amirite?

Everyone laughed and agreed. There was more laughter on a subsequent night when we wiped on some boss and I declared, "Sigh, this is so obviously a tank fight". I definitely recognize when certain fights are dps checks and others are very much reliant on the healers. I wouldn't have a problem with that if certain fights placed the crux of the responsibility on the tanks. Or is it that there really is no such thing as a "tank fight"?


  1. Some fights are called a "Tank and spank"

  2. Back in the day when you had to worry about crushes, there used to be tank fights. I played a warrior in TBC and you HAD to keep up Shield Block or risk getting crushed. This wasn't so bad, but on hard (or fast) hitters (HKM, Morogrim, Prince P2) you had to be ON TOP of your rotation, and you needed a certain amount of avoidance. Those fights were tank fights and/or tank gear checks. It didn't matter how good your healing was, if you got consecutive crushes, you would likely to lose.

  3. @Marc: When something is called a tank and spank, it is really more focused on the spank, the dps part?

    @Anonymous: Isn't Patchwerk more a dps check? That the group has enough dps before he enrages?

    @Justin: Thanks, good information!

  4. So far our guild has identified two tank fights in Naxxramas 10, both in the military wing. Razzuvious we normally have the tanks use the control crystals, so they have to coordinate the taunts. The other is Four Horsemen, with the tanks trading the two at the front back and forth for the start of the fight.
    Many fights there still need the tanks to be on their game and work the movement, but we healers are mostly taking the blame if they miss a cooldown and end up chewing dirt, same as ever.

  5. I think the important thing is that one needs to understand what is meant by the term first. "DPS fight" generally means "must die fast", "Healing fight" is used sometimes instead of "endurance test" (i.e. how good is your mana management?).

    So before we say what IS a tank fight, we gotta define what a tank fight IS, if you get my drift.

    As Justin pointed out, one hallmark would be the ability to withstand crushing blows, but that is gone from us now.

    So I'm unclear on what a "tank fight" would be.

    (This is funny in context that our MT seems to be blaming himself for our lack of success on one Naxx boss in particular, whereas I'm feeling bad for not keeping him healed. The truth is in the middle, probably.)

  6. I agree with Justin. Back then, if your rotation wasn't spot on you could go from 100% health to 0 in a couple of boss swings if they crushed you.

    Another TBC example of what I would consider a "tank fight" was Nalorakk. There wasn't a lot of room for error when it came to the MT/OT taunt switch.

  7. @Richard: Hee hee... I sorta agree that healers often take the "blame" on "tank fights"

    @Grimmtooth and Misneach: I agree, I am unclear on what a "tank fight" is as well in this day and age.

  8. A lot of people have made good comments about fights requiring tank coordination. Are there many of those in WotLK? Not sure, but 10-man instructor is definitely a candidate.

    I guess a "/blank/ fight" is really about the critical people that have a very specific (and needed role) in an encounter.

    When there is lots of raid damage or non-avoidable burst damage, then its a healer fight. Where there is a short enrage timer, its a dps fight.

    Tank fight mechanics? Taunting between tanks, add pick up (zomg, problems with Sarth3d), and threat generation (early in pulls especially).

  9. While I agree that we most often fall prey to the healer fight/DPS race mentality, there are a number of encounters in which tanking coordination (or lack thereof) severely impacts encounter success. Just a few to think about (including some clutch old world examples):

    1) Illidan. You've got three tanks in this particular encounter (not counting your caster tank for demon form), and two of them have to successfully kite and dodge eyebeams. Your main tank also has to make sure that he or she is kiting Illidan out of his flames and that he or she is Shield Blocking the Shears.

    2) Brutallus. No major craziness here; however, tanks need to make sure they're communicating their Taunt rotations effectively.

    3) A'lar. Not only do you have your tanks running between platforms in a timely fashion, but you've also got a taunt rotation in Phase 2 and a group of OTs making sure that adds get pulled to the appropriate corners. It's all about control.

    3) Grobbulus. This is a bit of a stretch, but it does require a tank kiting him around the room in such a fashion that your melee DPS isn't running all over the place to continue their rotations. Small, effective spacing of clouds is key. You also need an offtank to pull the slimes out.

    4) Yogg-Saron. Add management is KEY here in phase one, especially in the heroic version. We have three tanks that have established a mob swap rotation to make sure that each guardian is brought to Sara and "exploded" at the appropriate time. The tanks also need to make sure that they're dodging clouds (so as to avoid MORE spawns) and snapping aggro quickly enough so that DPS can get their jobs done. Tanks also need to make sure that they get themselves in the proper positions to be in range of Crusher tentacles, and in phase 3, the guardian spawns need to be controlled and contained in an area away from the boss.

    Et cetera. There are also fights that you could consider tank "gear" checks (like Patch, Hard Mode Thorim, Brutallus), but you can almost always overcompensate for gear inadequacies with stellar healers.

  10. Re: Healer Blame

    An experienced tank knows when "it's the healers fault" and when it's not.

    The vast majority of the time, when a tank dies it's either because of a huge amount of burst damage that would have been impossible to heal through anyway or the tank just didn't properly use the "oh shit" buttons TPTB so graciously provided us. The former is bad luck, the latter is bad tanking.

    I've had healers, usually PUGs, who have pretty much fallen asleep at the wheel, spent too much time healing dps who were standing in fire or some other ominous hole in the ground, or just didn't know how to manage their mana. Tank deaths in those scenarios are their fault.

    Bottom line, unless I can tell the healer is a complete idiot I never blame them. Resurrect, repair if necessary, saddle up, try again.

  11. Yeah, I agrees with them others what a "tank fight" is one what requires tanks ta maneuver the target, hand aggro off to another tank, and generally do more than stand there, be threatening, and get healed. Four Horseman and A'lar is good examples. Timed runs like CoS, mebbe too. Old Murmur in Slabs the tank hadda understand when to run in and run out, or ya wiped.

  12. Thanks everyone!

    Wow, with all these tanks reading my blog, maybe I should tone down making fun of Jess? Though that is really more specific to Jess than tanks in general.

    I think I will just start declaring that every wipe we have in Ulduar is on a boss that is a tank fight and blame Jess, whereas every success will be an obvious healer fight. lawl! Im sure all you tanks are super jealous of the crap that Jess gets from me... :)

  13. Heigan, Four Horsemen, Malygos.. typical tank-fights..

    I think a tank-fight is a fight where the tank has to move the boss around during the fight, becuase if you don't, everyone dies.

  14. "Tank fights" are encounters with one or more of the following elements: coordinated movement, adds, periods of burst damage, aggro resets and rotations, and ridicule from healers.

  15. Umm...because all the fights in the game except Instructor Raz (10) and Flame Leviathan are Tank Fights?

    Fights that really challenge tanks involve high threat requirements, boss movement, add pick-up, threat resets, and initial positioning are "tank fights"

    Grobbulus (add pick up and movement), Noth (threat resets), Heigen (movement), Anub'rekhan (movement), Sartharion (add pick up, initial positioning, movement)... the list goes on.

    Trust me. When you wipe for no obvious reason everyone is secretly blaming the tank.

  16. Well back in BT there was the rogue tank fight. And if he couldn't dodge Mother, it was totally his fault. >:}