Tuesday, July 7, 2009

CC 201: Intermediate Crowd Control for Tanks

Now we're getting into slightly more advanced tactics for tanking. In many 5man dungeons, it seems like the mobs are positioned just perfectly so that controling them is about as difficult as it can get. In today's post, I'm going to give some of the examples of places in Northrend that can be the most difficult in that regard, and how to overcome these challenges with the abilities you have.

The Nexus
In the left-hand hallway with all the frozen mobs, the combination of ranged attackers as well as the melee fighters with an AoE knockback can make it a royal pain to keep all the mobs in range of your attacks so you can keep threat. Genrally, your goal when positioning mobs is to keep them in front of you where your Parry and Dodge mitigate against their melee attacks, and keep them all tightly packed so your AoE spells can generate threat while your group's AoE can kill them all.

Approaching the pulls in this hallway can be handled in a couple ways, but my favorite is to Death Grip the archer to the group, while marking the berserker with the skull so it will die before it can scatter the group. Generally, killing a problem mob before the others is a great way to ensure that it doesn't harm you as much as it otherwise might. Use marking to your advantage, and get rid of the headache. Just remember, any DPS will make the skull dead in short order, but after that, it's a crapshoot, don't try to rely on more than one mark, as there isn't a real standard for kill order after skull.

The other technique to be learned from this, is that if you have an annoying mob that just won't stand where you want it to, Death Grip lets you choose where it will stand for yourself. It is a fairly long cooldown, however, so next example will cover an situation where a single Death Grip isn't enough.

Anh'kahet: the Old Kingdom
In the second and third rooms, there are mob packs which consist of four mobs of varying types. Alone, these packs can be quite dangerous, as the mage mobs hit upwards of 12k on heroic, and !6k on regular. Additionally, of the three melee mobs, one roots your party in place, and there are pats making it fairly likely that you will get two groups at some point.

Whenever you are aware of a patrol, (and aren't in combat,) it is best to aggro it as soon as possible so it can't come in at a less opprotune time later. Always grab patrols first unless you have a good reason not to.

Once you get one of the groups, it is advisable to find some way to control the Darkcaster in the pull, because it will easily hit over half your health in a single attack. Contrary to my previous advice, I do not recommend using Death Grip to bring it into position, save that for the Darkcaster in a pack of adds if you get one, instead, utillize the various walls and stairs nearby to get out of its line of sight, forcing it to run to you. This 'LoS pull' is a great technique, because it's free, has no cooldown and can be used by any class. Once it is in range, use Mind Freeze to prevent its spell from casting. Mind Freeze's cooldown is short enough that you can interrupt all its attacks alone.

If you should get a group of adds, you can use Death Grip to interrupt the first cast, and Strangulate for the second. By that point, hopefully the first Darkcaster will be dead and you can go back to Mind Freeze. If not, your options are Anti-Magic Shell/Zone, Arcane Torrent, (for Blood Elves) War Stomp, (for Tauren) or burn a precious cooldown, which, in the case of adds, is probably already in short supply. Failing those, you can hope one of your DPS, or, god forbid, your healer, is smart enough to interrupt the spells.

Just member, prevention is better than compensation, try not to get adds, pull groups absurdly far back until you're more confident, and make sure to grab patrols early.

Ulduar: Halls of Lightning
In the first room, the five large platforms include archer mobs known as Skybreakers. Not only will they run out of melee range, but their ranged attack has a large knockback, and one of the other mobs will debuff you with a spell that deals nature damage if you move (including due to knockback.)

The technique I recommend for this mob is the same as I recommended for the berserkers in the Nexus, kill it first. Now, you still have the problem of not being able to keep it in melee range... but is that really a problem? It's a little known fact that, unlike other tanking classes, Death Knights can hold threat at a range without a real problem. Mark it up with a skull, throw a D&D under it and let the DPS get to work. In the mean time, you can focus on the mobs that are in melee range, spreading diseases around them and interrupting the Welding Beams (they do that effect that hurts you when knocked back. You can also block the knockback effect by bracing your back against the railing.

Ulduar: Halls of Lightning
Hey, same place. In the large room immediately after Ionar, the pulls can wipe an unprepared group and are positively brutal on Heroic mode. Crowd Control isn't just about positioning your mobs, it can also be what it was back in BC: Sap, Sheep, Hex, Cyclone, Freezing Trap, etc. Ask your group to control one or two of the mobs, it will make the fight much easier. (Incidentally, this technique works in the Ulduar raid as well.)

The Runeshapers in this room don't pose much threat to you, but if their whirlwind isn't interrupted (and it's considered to be a nature spell, so silence and spell interrupts work too) it will almost definitely kill the rest of your group. If you have a Rogue, they can easily stunlock a Runeshaper, but you can take it into your own hands, Mind Freeze is sufficient to control a single one.

The other seriously dangerous mob in this room are the really tall ones. (They see stealth, by the way, don't send a rogue to Sap near them.) They will charge random members of your party knocking them back, and have a powerful poison, also randomly targetted. There's not a lot you can personally do to help your party, (unless you have Anti-Magic Zone,) but, particularly when there's two of them, just try to make sure the healer doesn't need to spend GCDs to heal you also, throw a cooldown and start Death Striking.

So, in recap, recall that you have the following abilities at your disposal:
Raid Target Icons - The skull will die, quickly.
Death Grip - Not just a taunt, but also forced movement, and potentially a spell interrupt.
Fight Selection - Pulling a patrol now means those mobs will not be adds later.
Mind Freeze - A defensive ability that can easily prevent 15k+ damage when used properly.
True CC - It may not be used much, but it's just as powerful as it was in BC.
Death Strike - Healing incoming damage can be as good as preventing it, and this can convert Empower Rune Weapon into health when you need it.

Next time I'll discuss DK tank gear in detail, and particularly how to gear up for breaking into tanking Heroics.

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