as presented in "The Light and how to swing it" by Uther

"40 men instance raids" article
some corrections in "the mana pool and healing" article (thanks to your feedback)
editing and grammar check on "the mana pool and healing" article (thanks to Aoikaze of Proudmoore server)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Aggro mechanics and tanking

This section is esclusive to PvE enviroment. It will explain the criteria how the mobs choose their target, how to draw their attention if you want to be that target and how to avoid to be that target.

What is "aggro"?
Aggro stands for mob aggressivity. In other words a player "has aggro" when a mob is focused on attacking the player.
The mobs never attack players randomly but base their target choice on a so called "aggro table". The aggro table is a ranked list based on the threat level every party player have on that specific mob. Mobs (with few exceptions) attack the player ranked 1st on the aggro table if they can. In other words they attack the player percieved as the biggest threat to their life. Normally threat vs mobs is increased dealing damage to them or healing a mate. However there are a lot of abilities in game that can raise or lower your threat greatly.
Managing these abilities correctly is the core of every encounter.
Understand how aggro works and mastering it, is the key concept every tank, but also every other class in wow, should know.
Some basic things:
  • 1 point of damage = 1 threat point (this can be modified by class abilities, for example a warrior in defensive stance with defiance 1 point of damage = 4,1 threat point)
  • 1 point healed = 1 threat point (this can vary depending on class, talents etc, for example for priests 1 point healed = 1,2 threat points)
  • dealing damage raise your threat vs the mob you're facing, healing raises your threat vs all the mob near the healed target.
  • be the first the mob is aware of (aka pulling) ~ 50 threat point
  • some abilities can influence threat points (even without dealing damage/healing)

Some example of abilities that influences threat (all abilities are considered at their max rank):

  • Rogue feint = -600 threat points
  • Priest fade = -820 threat points for 10 seconds only
  • Warrior taunt - target go first on aggro list for 3 seconds
  • Hunter feign death - If not resisted (is considered a spell) aggro points vs the hunter are reset to zero

Aggro range & pulling
When you get too close to an hostile mob you get aggro. The distance when the mob is aware of you and attacks is called aggro range. The aggro range may vary depending on the difference of levels between mob and player. If the mob has an higher level than player the aggro range is wider, while if the player is higher level than the mob the aggro range is smaller. Now you know why you can't have your lvl 10 friend in your group when you enter stratholme instance for example. As soon as he enters a lot of mobs are aggroed from kilometers because vs a lvl 60 mob his aggro range is incredibly wide.

Remember also that often mob are in groups and usually entering in the aggro range of one o them results all the group attack the players.

With "pulling" we intend when a mob is aware of players presence and attack them. Who attracts mob attention first is called "the puller". Pulling can be done in 3 ways.

  1. Raw method. Enter in the mob aggro range. Use it if you're alone only
  2. Ranged pull. With a ranged weapon or ranged damage spell. Only paladin tools for ranged pull is Holy Shock (from talents) or exorcism (for undead and demons only). For a great number of reasons that don't concern this guide hunters are the best pullers.
  3. Ranged pull with crowd-control ability. If you're going to attack a group of mobs pull can start immobilizing one of the mobs. The others will start to attack the players group. Examples of this abilities are shackle undead and mind control (priests), improved sap (rogues) , polymorph (mages). Paladins can obtain repentance with talents but its duration is considered too short for this purpouse.

In synthesis paladins are not meant to be pullers.

What is tanking?

Tanking is the art of keep mob attention.

Tanking is not equal to dealing damage!

It's all about the threat the mob percieve. It requires you know all the tools your class have to raise your threat vs mobs. And also requires your fellows knows how aggro works and try to deal maximum damage/healing without attracting mob attention.

Paladin tanking
In this chapter we examine how paladin tanking works. I will show how tanking was the old manner (up to 1.8 patch) and then how it works on current live servers (from 1.9 patch).
1.8
In 1.8 patch paladins have seal of fury and judgement of fury. These 2 abilities work (like every other seal and judgement) on single target. They don't have any physical damage effect but simply influence aggro.
  • Seal of fury + 90 threat points added every time you hit a mob with weapon.
  • Judgement of fury + 337 (!!) threat point added every time you deal holy damage to the mob with the judgement on it.

If you used seal of fury with a fast one hand weapon, every time you hit you get 90 extra threat point in addition to your damage indipendently how much the damage was. Your threat points could easily double your real damage. But judgement was incredibly better. Every time you dealt holy damage you get 337 extra threat points indipendently how much the damage was. Let's make a pratical example: start with retribution aura on and seal of fury and then when entering in combat immediately judge it (30 sec judgement of fury starting) and cast seal of righteousness. Then spam consecration. Now let's do some math.

In the first 30 seconds of combat you get as threat points:

  • your weapon damage
  • your seal of righteousness damage plus 337 every time it procs (in 1.8 SoR don't proc every time but very often).
  • 337 damage every tick of consecration. In 30 sec you can easily spam it 3 times so 24 ticks * 337 = 8088 threat points.
  • 20+337 threat points every time the mob hits you from retribution aura
  • paladin with shield equipped and holy shield talent get damage plus 337 every holy shield charge proc.

As you can see was easy get huge amount of threat in a short time interval. Paladin tanking was effective. However it had a weak point. Worked only on single target. Paladin had no tools for multiple target tanking except the damage from consecration.

1.9
From this patch the paladin tools for tanking are changed. Seal and Judgement of fury was removed and a new buff with a 30 min duration was introduced: Righteous fury. It increases the threat generated by the Paladin's Holy attacks by 60%. This means that every point of holy damage you deal 1,6 threat point are generated. So now threat is dipendent on the holy damage we deal. Sure we have more abilities that deal holy damage now (new Judgements for example) but compared with a warrior that can generate up to 1900 threat points with a single sunder armor simply we can't compete. We can now generate holy damage when requested (JoC, JoR, HS or Consecration for example) and so have a sort of "snap aggro" tool, but all these abilities require a large amount of mana (larger than 1.8) and for encounters that lasts more than a couple minutes simply our mana pool isn't enough to tank effectively. By the way here follows some routines for paladin single target tanking:
first of all cast Righteous Fury buff
  1. Paladin specialized in holy tree. Judge crusader asap for extra holy damage for your abilities. Then keep SoR. Every time when SoR is going to fade use JoR and then recast SoR. Use also Holy Shock for extra threat or if on cooldown, Consecration. The mana cost of consecration is higher and is usually worth only for multiple targets. When mob is below 20% use hammer of wrath (switch to concentration aura before trying to cast it). Using retribution aura could give a little hand for extra holy damage.
  2. Paladin specialized in protection tree. Start like the example above with JotC and SoR and judge every 30 sec. If you're protection I assume you equip a shield. Use retribution aura. Your extra holy damage comes Blessing of sanctuary and Holy shield holy damage every time you block with your shield. Every block you deal the following holy damage: 20 from retribution aura + 35 from Blessing of sanctuary + 130 from holy shield if active. Moreover a full reckoning bomb with SoR should stick the mob on you definitely.
  3. Paladin specialized in retribution tree. Activate Sanctity aura. JotC asap like other trees, but then go with Seal of Command. Judge it at least every 30 sec and possibly with mob stunned or incapacitated (HoJ or Repentance). Also remember that JoC with Vengeance active grants an extra 15% damage.

Obviously paladin has talents in more than one tree. I can't certainly cover all the possible templates but the above examples should give you a path to follow. While warrior tanking is based on rage that is virtually everlasting till in combat, our tanking sistem is based mainly on mana that is limited. So searching for the right tanking tactic for your template, your main concern is mana cost . For partial solution to this problem pls read "regeneration in combat chapter" article.

If the mob is undead / demon type, exorcism is a great option for tanking. Its mana/damage ratio is far better than other abilities like hammer of wrath, holy shock and consecration.

For what regards multi target tanking you need absolutely Consecration (talent in holy tree). Also Holy Wrath could be used for multiple undead / demons tanking but its long cooldown (1 min) don't allow this tool to be reliable in keeping aggro.


Considerations
Paladins gained the ability to tank multiple target but their effectiveness in tanking is lowered at minimum levels. Paladins can now play tank role in 5-10 man instances at max if no warrior is avaiable but even a druid in bear form can perform better than us. Why developers have done this is actually a mystery. I can understand the introduction of Righteous Fury as an easier to use aggro tool. A lot of paladins never understood how Seal and Judgement of fury works and never use it, and complained on the forums how they couldn't keep aggro with their low damage (shame on them!) but the threat we can generate now is pretty ridicolous, even with Improved righeous fury talent (protection tree). I hope that in next patches this problem is addressed with a higher coefficient of threat generation.

What about our healing abilities?
As we have seen healing increase threat points. Paladin have healing spells and abilities (HL, FoL, HS, Seal and judgement of light,LoH). Why not use these abilities to grab aggro from mob if we want to tank? Why not cast a simple holy light spell (2,5 sec), healing ~ 1500 damage and generating corresponding threat? Wrong. All paladin healing spells have a threat generation equal to 1/3 of the healed points. This is why paladin healing in large raids is so often used. The risk of grabbing aggro from main tank is minimal and far lower than druids and priests.Even if that happens we have a plate armor to absorb damage instead of cloth (priests) or leather (druids) so we can bear some damage while the main tank works to regain aggro. We can also simply use divine shield and the mob noticing we're immune will switch to 2nd in aggro table (probably the main tank). This will give him extra 12 seconds to generate enough threat to be ranked again first in aggro table. Guild have reported to defeat Nefarian (final BlackWing Lair encounter) with paladins healing main tank spamming FoL (enhanced with BoL effect) continuosly with no problem of aggro management.

Other aggro tools
We have some other abilities that can help our class in aggro management. These abilities don't affect threat points directly.
  • Divine Shield (and divine protection) - If you got aggro and don't want it like in the example few lines above.
  • Hammer of Justice - If you lose aggro, stunning mob for 6 seconds give some nice extra time to regain it avoiding your healer to roleplay a punching ball.
  • Blessing of Protection - If you lose aggro (and the mob isn't caster type), you can regain it immediately casting BoP on your attacked mate. You have then 10 sec to generate extra aggro and be ranked again 1st in aggro table.

13 Comments:

Anonymous snow said...

I posted this in the wrong section a bit ago.


Just a couple things I spotted on the aggro section. A warrior cannot get 1,300 aggro in a single sunder armor. Sunder armor does 261 threat. Defensive stance is a 1.3 multiplier, and defiance ups that to 1.45. There is no additional threat from being the first to aggro. All healing except paladin healing, to my knowledge, uses the .5 modifier. You also might want to note that the threshold for a mob switching targets is 110% threat of the main target for players within melee and 130% for players at range. Righteous fury is also broken in that the multiplier is not applied to retribution aura or blessing of sanctuary, though both are slated to be fixed next patch.

I really hope they give us a real aggro generation tool next patch once they realize the complete lack of a point in the proetection tree past 60 in 1.9. They've managed to completely negate the point of wearing plate in group pve. I would like to see Holy Shield moved back down and some other sort of aggro ability (Shield Smite?) moved in its place. Hell, I'd spec 0/0/0 if I could have SoF back.

There are apparently AQ trinkets that decrease threat generated by 90% for 15 seconds. I would like to see some reversed trinkets for paladins.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Pacio said...

interesting. ^_^
Could you please tell me your data source?
The threat values of defencive stance / defiance etc is an extract from a sticked post in official american warrior forum. I supposed they was correct.

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a lv 70 warrior who used to MT or OT for my guild, so I think I can give my comment here with some reliability.

My KLH Threat Meter shows sunder at defensive stance (3 pts defiance) as around 400 threat (i think it's 440, but I am not that sure). The only ability that can come closest to 2000 threat per global cooldown (all war abilities are on global CD except for Shield Block) is Shield Slam - and that's only because my shield slam can crits for 900-1100.

The statement of 130% threat , or 145% with defiance matches most tanking guide I have ever read before. Mind you that most of the guide are pre-tbc, but i'm sure nothing much have ever changed.

Kenco's Threat guide is by far the most comprehensive of the guides - http://evilempireguild.org/guides/kenco2.php

Bear in mind that rogues and fury war (in zerker stance) have threat reduction of 20% - so it is 0.8 versus 1.45, or close to 2:1 ratio (1.8:1 actually) between dmg a war deals and melee dps deals.

Other than that, also bear in mind that melee needs 110% of threat to "steal" aggro in melee, but 130% to "steal" aggro in range. So for all AOE dps out there who thinks that warrior can keep you out of harm when you run around like headless chicken spamming Arcane Explosion (in melee range!!)- you're the nub, not the warrior.

3:16 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Up date this post, this is horrendously out of date and Pallys are noow very effective tanks due to mana regen etc

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no kidding.. this mentions patch 1.9!!!

we're on patch 3.3 folks... and BC??? we're in WotLK now!!

I'd like some more up to date info on paladin tanking etc.

**wanders off to search other search results**

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