In the time I have been playing WoW, I have played all of the positions that make up the raid/dunge0n/etc. groups in this game. I was always a healer prior to playing WoW, unless it was a toon I fiddled around with on my own. However, I have mentioned once before that I played a Death Knight tank to 85, and I adore her.
So now on Wyrmrest Accord, I am currently leveling Effraeti as a DK – partly for RP and story purposes, but also because I like tanking as one.
The thing is, it seems the longer I play WoW and the more familiar I become with tanking and especially DK tanking, the more I realize that there are very few good DKs.
Prior to level 55, hunters are the biggest bane, from there on, it is the Death Knight.
In fact, at one point I coined the phrase “DKs are like a**holes: everyone has one and most of them stink.”
But seriously, Death Knights being a Hero Class, meaning they can be created from level 55 instead of level 1, seem to make for great farming toons since there are less levels to grind through. But if one wants to get their DK to 85, there are still 30 levels where they will likely be interacting with other people. Level 58 DKs (the level you leave their starting zone) are almost like cockroaches, and are usually played like a toon someone just bought off eBay. So from the beginning of the Burning Crusade dungeons on, it is more often than not that the start of a dungeon is accompanied by a heavy sigh and a comment of, “Oh no, not another DK.”
So why am I suddenly going off on a tangent regarding this?
Well, it seems recently the trend with max level DK tanks is to stack Stamina and Mastery. What this means to someone who does not usually tank or heal is that they have a lot of hit points, no avoidance (dodge and parry) but their Death Strike is very effective. Death Strike heals on hit for an amount based on damage the DK has taken most recently and also provides a small bubble of absorption.
So the logic is – the more damage you take, the more you would heal yourself.
Now, this is all well and good… Yay, big self-heal! BUT this is a heart attack waiting to happen for your healer. Stam/Mastery DKs fluctuate health constantly. And the big downside is the RNG (Random Number Generator). If you miss a Death Strike, you will probably go “squish” because you will go down faster than the healer can compensate.
Wrath healers could cope with Stam stacking, but the mechanics of healing have changed dramatically. Wrath healers were about fast and heavy heal output. Cata healers are about consistency of healing. We can handle “sprints” of heavy healing, but we are set up for long fights of semi-predictable hits. We manage our mana and our group’s health pools through chaining abilities that augment our heals and carefully timing cooldowns. When you throw in the wrench of having them constantly spam their largest heal, it is going to wear your healer out, assuming they can even cast fast enough to begin with.
I can say for a fact, I can tell the difference between a well-balanced DK tank and a Stam/Mastery DK without even looking at their gear. I can also tell a DK that is not using their Death Strike often enough. The difference is night and day.
Now, my DK on Eonar, Caeridwen – I did NOT stack Stamina and Mastery. I have almost no Stamina gemmed, only to fulfill blue socket requirements with green gems. I did however stack Mastery as much as possible, but I also made sure she had a lot of avoidance. She has Swordshattering on her weapon, which is Parry, and everywhere I could I reforged Dodge onto her gear to try and make it as even as possible with her Parry.
How do I know that my stat priority is working? Well, one of the first times I ran Caer through a Zul’Gurub, everyone else died on Venoxis and I soloed him from 40% to zero.
My Death Strike will save my life, but it does not mean my death if I miss with it once. In fact, I have almost no Hit on Caeridwen. She is over her minimum Expertise, but she has a high miss chance on dungeon and raid elites.
But I take the RNG out of the picture by making sure she still dodges and parries.
I cannot stress enough that your job as a tank is two-fold: keep everything hitting YOU (create threat) and stay ALIVE (avoid and mitigate damage). Staying alive is not solely the job of your healer. Staying alive is your own responsibility, as well.
Despite Caer’s low hit, I never had aggro problems (and this was before the recent threat boost) and I usually get the comment from healers that I am easy to heal and they are not really doing anything. As a tank – that is about the best compliment I can get. 🙂 A bored healer means I am definitely doing something right… And it means I can pull faster and bigger. heh
Effraeti still has a ways to go before she is 85 and geared and doing heroics (and possibly raids), but she is already exceeding my expectations. I recently did Slave Pens with her, and somehow the whole group died on the last boss (??) except me and lil Effy tanked him from 30% to zero.
A well-played Blood DK is totally overpowered, IMHO. So, I have to say that it irks me to know how easy they are to play and what a wonderful class it is and yet see so many people give them the bad name they have. It is not that I think I am superior – I am NO elitist. I would help anyone who asked learn to play one better. But I makes me cry a little every time I come across a DK who makes me gnash my teeth in frustration.
My poor Vianessa – she runs herself ragged on trying to heal tanks that do not realize how important the two simple jobs of a tank really are.
On the other hand, who am I to try and tell someone how to play their character? But when it comes to dungeons and raiding, it truly is a team effort. I heal you, you keep mobs off of me, we get through quick and easy and everyone has a good time. Rather than… OMG aggro everywhere, the healer is flailing around and OOM again, DPS are are dying everywhere and the tank is getting frustrated.
I do not like dungeoning like that.
At the same time, do not get me wrong – I have a great deal of patience for anyone who says “I do not know this dungeon” or “I have DPS’d but never tanked/healed this” etc. In fact, I LIKE when people say “I dunno” because those people are ten times more receptive to learning.
Honestly, gaming is not too much different from real life. Treat others as you want to be treated.
So the moral of this story? Respect yourself, respect your tank, respect your healer, respect your DPS and have fun together. 🙂
EDIT: Vianessa is now Lazheward.