Posts Tagged ‘gear’

Recently I posted a three part series about tanking Cataclysm heroics. I decided that only natural follow-up was to share a little of what I learned from my experience and how that applies to my previous experience tanking in back in WotLK. Tanking regular dungeons is pretty much the equivalent of tank Wrath heroics. If your healer is even somewhat coherent you’ll probably be fine. So regular dungeons don’t really need much strategy. If you do, however, have aspirations of taking your tanking to the next level then they are both a good place to gear up in preparation for heroics and also the perfect testing ground. This however isn’t a guide on how to get ready for heroics, it is instead a primer on what to do when you get there.

Step 1: Observation

This is an important step for any tank (it’s also not a bad idea for dps or heals either). Take note of your group. What is their gear like? Does the healer seem to barely have heroic blues at all or is he/she rocking raiding epics and 100k mana?  To take it a step further you could do an inspect and verify the gems/enchants on the healers gear. If they have gems and enchants, and they seem to be correct, then there’s a better chance your healer doesn’t suck. Next make a mental list of the crowd control abilities in your group. If you arrive at VP with another DK, a warrior, and a Paladin, you might have some trouble. With a good healer that is properly geared many dungeons can be done without CC at all, on the other hand, if your healer looks new you better make good use of any available CC. 

Step 2: Communication

This is really another important step for any tank. It’s a good time to state your intention to use (or in some cases omit the use of) CC. If everyone looks pretty well geared you might offer, “hey heals, your gear looks pretty sweet, think we could just power through this stuff”? If you are feeling more cautious or the healer prefers not to chain pull the instance, this is the point where you declare the CC ability/player with the symbol you’ll be using. Include the kill order symbols (skull>x>whatever). Try to be consistent throughout. If moon is sheep and square is trap, don’t switch it up later on. It can result in confusion and wipes. No matter what you declare skull is, people will always shoot at it. Try putting a skull on the healer and watch your dps go insane from confusion.

Step 3: The Pulls

So you’ve figured out what you have to work with and how you’re going to proceed. Now it’s time to actually pull some mobs. I’ll go over a single target or at least non-AOE-fest plan first. When using CC, it’s often a good idea to have one of your ranged CC options pull via their CC and pick the mobs up as they run towards the group. This way the free mobs are a little ways away from the controlled ones and you have a lesser chance of accidentally pulling them as you smash things on your keyboard carefully target and tank the mobs. Death and Decay is always a great opening move if there is more than 1 mob that you’re tanking AND you won’t pull controlled mobs. If you have marked a “skull” target make sure to grab that one first. I’ll typically start laying down my diseases on this one first, usually saving my Outbreak for an emergency disease refresh. If you have a caster mob that isn’t controlled, use Death Grip to grab threat and bring the mob away from the others.

Assuming you’re out of range of CC’d mobs use your pestilence to spread diseases (if there is more than 1 mob) to help threat on those targets. The main rotation you’ll be using as a DK tank is diseases > Death Strike (for mitigation/heath) OR heart strike for threat > rune strike (to use your runic power). Trash mobs won’t live long enough to need refreshing diseases most of the time. If you aren’t dealing with a large group or have controlled the excess mobs you shouldn’t find yourself needing to use any cooldowns.

For AOE pulls it is a little more complicated (sort of) and chaotic. Without any CC targets, DnD is ALWAYS the best opening move in a large group of mobs. It hits everything and does great threat. Keep in mind, this will NOT stop a DPS from pulling aggro on a single target but should make sure they’re all hitting you at the start. When pulling a tough AOE I’ll usually use my outbreak to save time getting diseases spread. My rotation ends up something like DnD>Outbreak>Pestilence>Some cooldown for survivability>Possibly a DPS cooldown for threat>Death Strikes for life>Blood Boil for AOE Threat. It is usually still a good idea to mark the initial kill target even on an AOE pull. If you can DnD then focus on one mob, you won’t have as much worry about DPS pulling off random targets and requiring you to taunt. Be prepared to use more cooldowns as needed depending on the skill and gear of your healer. AoE chain pulling is often the fastest and funnest method for a tank, but it can be very stressful on the healer. Make sure he/she is okay with that method or expect wipes or healers quitting.

Lions, tigers, Bosses – Oh My!

Death Knights seem to have it pretty easy on heroic bosses for holding threat and staying alive. For a boss you have a rotation something like Diseases>RS (if excess runic power)>DS or HS. I won’t open with outbreak on a boss since Icy Tough is pretty decent threat. The only real though in our basic rotation is threat vs survivability in heart strike or death strike. If you have a good threat lead use death strike as much as possible for the healing and the bubble and then death strike as a filler. Make sure to keep diseases up and use cooldowns in high damage phases or any time you seem to be at high risk of death. Use rune strike enough to not waste runic power and you’re golden. I’ll often use Dancing Rune Weapon with Runic Empowerment  and a DPS cooldown if I ever need extra threat or just for a nice burst damage. We DK’s have a great selection of cooldowns for pretty much every situation. Following these general ideas outlined in this primer and you shouldn’t have any problems tanking heroics…..except for bad healers, douche dps, and random acts of god. Good luck and happy tanking!

 

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After my Paladin, who is now pretty much as geared as possible with the exception of valor point and raiding gear (and one piece of Earthen Ring rep gear for the Holy Offspec), I’m working on gearing up my fury/prot warrior. From a little math of my total justice points earned, I’ve killed about 50 bosses on him… and won 2 pieces of fury gear. An interesting bit to note, rolling greed only, I’d won 3-4 pieces of off-spec tanking gear before I had enough justice points to buy a 346 piece from the vendor. I simply have no luck attempting to get fury gear for this warrior. I bought the epic dps chest piece, got an epic belt from Hyjal Rep, won bracers and a trinket from heroics. Aside from those pieces, despite 50 boss kills, the rest of the gear is from regulars or, even worse, quest rewards. Sometimes the rolls just don’t go your way.

What I find most interesting about the warriors lack of loot, is that I haven’t lost rolls for fury loot. After 50 boss kills, only 2 pieces of fury wearable loot have dropped. So, ironically, the warrior could also be considered very lucky because I’ve won 100% of the fury drops. When wanting to call yourself unlucky, it’s good to look at the situation from as many views as possible.

A good friend and guildy of mine was asked by our guild to switch mains as our guild was fairly overburdened with plate dps classes. Fortunately, this (being only a couple of weeks ago) was still fairly early in the expansion. His warrior though, was already pretty much decked out in pre-raid gear. So with a little grumbling he began rushing his rogue to level 85. Within days of reaching level cap, he grabbed a couple of pre-raid best-in-slot heroic pieces and, in a unusual stint of good luck, 1 epic from each of the first two pulls in a Bastion of Twilight trash run. Effectively putting his rogue ahead of his warrior in terms of gear in probably 1/4 of the time. Luck is a funny thing, isn’t it?

I’ve prepared a pretty inclusive list of all the cataclysm factions, links to their loot lists on wowhead, and if they have tabards, dailies, etc. Also past the cut is a list of each factions epic loot available. Continue below to see the list including Baradin’s Wardens, Dragonmaw Clan, Guardians of Hyjal, Hellscream’s Reach, Ramkahen, The Earthen Ring, Therazane and Wildhammer Clan.

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* EDIT – I’ve made a comprehensive faction guide – check it out HERE. *

Naturally the one new cataclysm reputation I really want to grind for the Belt of the Ferocious Wolf, has no dailies. So, for all those who’ve been searching for the location of the Guardians of Hyjal dailies, they don’t exist. The only way to get your rep there after you finish the quests in the zone is to do dungeons with their tabard that you can pick up at friendly. You should be revered by the time you finish the zone, so it isn’t too far to go. Next I’ll probably be after Ramkahen rep for a few things.

Wowhead of course has a nice list of the factions stuff here.

Tomorrow or the next day I should have my impressions of Uldum up here, so check back!

So lets talk a little about PVP gear. It’s pretty standard to be able to buy the last tier of pvp gear and maybe the current tier of off set pieces with honor points. PVP gear this point in wrath is not typically optimal for a PVE environment (raids, instances, etc). PVP gear on the other hand is great for gearing up an alt with points that are traditionally easier to earn than the badges needed for PVE gear. For example, in the latest tier, wrathful gear is the best PVP gear a player can get, though furious set pieces, some relentless pieces, and wrathful off pieces can all be purchased with honor points. An item level 200 head-piece has less strength and overall stats than a 232 furious gladiators plate helm that can be purchased with honor from any random battle ground or weekly WG quest. Tanks that are in high need of stamina will find some great pieces this way, as PVP gear has higher stamina than PVE gear of the same level. Higher tiers of PVP gear that could best heroic instance PVE gear have typically been off-limits to people without arena ratings – until now.

Currently all PVP gear except item level 270 and above is available without an arena rating and with only honor points. This means you can gear and alt, or even a main character, with a 264 level weapon, something otherwise only reached in ICC 25 raiding or decent skill in arena. I bought my Paladin a 264 Wrathful Gladiators weapon with 100 more spell power than my 10 man ICC weapon I had currently. Over all a solid upgrade for easily acquired points compared to hoping for a 25 man raid drop. He’s just had no luck getting a good 25 man caster weapon. These weapons will have much more spell power or weapon damage than a lower level weapon you can get from a heroic or lower tier of raid. The weapon I bought had 100 more spell power than the lower piece I was using, at the cost of 50 haste though, but 100 spell power greatly outweighs 50 haste. Unfortunately, the best of the best gear still requires arena rating and PVP skill to get. Go check it out for yourself and see if you have an upgrade waiting with honor points you might already have. It’s important to note that 264 wands are only 260 honor points and shields/off-hand gear are only 70 honor points. That’s a new shield for your tank, pally or shaman for basically one wintergrasp win.

Somewhat tangentially related to the previous topic is my death knight who is now frost dps and blood tanking spec. He needs to get one of the 264 weapons with honor as he only has the weapon from heroic Pit of Sauron which took 15-20 runs to get. I just wanted to mention, if you respecced to frost dps from unholy or particularly blood after 4.0.1 hit, be careful with your AoE damage. Howling blast can crit for 13k+ in my only somewhat decent gear and threatens to pull aggro often. A couple of heroics in and I’m finding this spec more fun than blood dps used to be, just lacking the self-healing while soloing content. Again, howling blast with caution.