Hold the Line; An Endgame Tanking Reference
By: Patrick O'Callahan / Ciderhelm
3.5.1 Tactical Entry Tips
As you enter into nearly all encounters in this game -- with notable exceptions such as Ragnaros and C'Thun -- the way you approach the first several seconds of entry can give you immense control over positioning through the course of the fight. Here are some tips.
Bloodrage builds a small amount of aggro on the creature you are engaged with. Using this ability at the beginning of an encounter when no other player has developed any aggro will lock the creature onto you. These few seconds before engagement -- the calm before the storm -- allow you to pull a creature any distance and to any location.
To use this effectively, no one else in the raid can use any buff, debuff, or ability. It will work on creatures that are pulled with hunter pets or are pulled through body aggro by any member of the raid; it will also work on creatures you ranged pull. It is particularly useful to use a Bloodrage on extended pulls such as Chromaggus or Baron Geddon and move yourself to whatever position you will need to be in for the fight -- the creature will find his way to you.
For entries to encounters that involve immediate contact but significant movement before you are in position -- such as Gluth or the Twin Emperors -- as well as for encounters that require constant movement or kiting, strafing is an important skill to develop. Strafing is generally accomplished by using your "Q" and "E" buttons in the default Blizzard interface; this is the act of running at full speed while facing 90 degrees away from the direction you are travelling.
Strafing allows you to utilize all of your avoidance statistics while moving, as well as continue with standard abilities such as Shield Slam. It is useful for quickly covering distance you would otherwise walk backwards towards. When strafing, it is helpful to angle yourself very slightly inwards towards the creature attacking you -- this ensures that when dealing with turns or any degree of server lag that your avoidance statistics are still in play.
3.5.2 Camera Spin & Jump Shot for Tanks
Camera control is important for quickly altering or changing positions. Any time you need to make a quick move or alteration in a given direction, the most effective way to prepare for it is to angle your in-game camera in the direction you want to move (behind you, for instance, when kiting Anub'Rhekan). Then, when you need to move, you can click your right mouse button -- or whichever key is bound for Steering -- and you will be moving in that direction immediately.
Using your in-game camera to your advantage in movement as well as giving yourself an awareness of your surroundings is often very important and is a skill you will pick up naturally. I would suggest practicing mouse-movement and steering by engaging in active player-verse-player combat.
There is a small trick I do which often helps me in quick positioning of a mob while still mitigating damage. Often, when flipping the position of a creature from front to back or when I need to move the creature farther back without incurring too much unavoided damage, I will do a more simplified version of the Hunter jump shot.
Jumping gives you the ability to move in one direction while faced in another if you are quick with your camera. This means that you can move at full speed in the direction you need to go and, if you turn, also use Shield Block and any other ability during the course of the jump. You can also use the jump to readily put you in a good direction for strafing, allowing you to continue moving in the direction you need. You can repeat this as much as you need to until you are in the position you need to be.
Jumping to get access to your avoidance and abilities while moving away from the creature is particularly useful when flipping a creature. Using this once you pass the central axis point, covered in the next section, is ideal.
3.5.3 Dynamics of the Dragon -- Guidelines for Positioning
Dragons, as a general rule, illustrate most of the basic creature dynamics you will come across in this game in terms of positioning. The following is a repost of a section of the first edition of this reference guide called Dynamics of the Dragon.
One notice I did not include in the following is a small detail regarding frontal breath attacks (as well as nearly all animated attacks in-game). When the animation for a breath has started, the damage has already been fully done -- the raid may feel free to move into a danger zone instantly as the ability goes off and they do not need to wait for the animation to finish.
The Dragon's Center
Of all of the things you need to know about dragon encounters, this is the single most important thing to understand when learning new encounters.
When you click on a dragon, you get a very wide underlying targetting reticule. This circle represents the dragons in-game circumference. Most of your abilities will work outside this circumference, and from a signficant distance away, so don't rely on it too much for positioning. However, pay attention to this reticule and estimate where the center of it is. Using this, you can roughly determine the pinpoint focus center of the dragon.
This matters for one very specific reason: All Line of Sight (LOS) abilities stem from this point. Not your own, mind you - you do not need exact Line of Sight on any creature, you just need to be in range of the reticule itself.
Instead, the dragon's own abilities that it would use to destroy come from it's belly, not it's head.
Why is this important? Firemaw. Chromaggus (dog-dragon!). Any strategy that relies on breaking line of sight relies on understanding this. Just because you can physically see and even attack the mob does not necessarily mean the mob can physically see and attack you with certain abilities.
As a tank, this is particularly important for positioning. It's a way of saying, don't stress yourself out too badly on certain pulls. Chances are, if you needed a specific position and you are off by a small amount, you are still fine.
Also, this is important for turning dragons or other mobs. This central point is also their spinning axis. To do a complete 180 degree flip of a dragon, you want to run through it -- as long as you are still facing the center, the dragon will not change its position, except for the couple seconds in which you run past it's axis and it flips with you.
The Dragon's Maw
This is a dead zone that only your tank should be in at any given time for most dragons. Generally, the maw includes both the breath and cleave attacks from a dragon. This area is determined through the following geometry (I'm no math major, bear with me):
From the focus point of the dragon, a straight line to the tank represents the direction of the dragon. From this line, the maw is determined as a 30-90 degree arc extending from the focus point. Any attacks made in this arc, such as a 90 degree cleave, will then do a secondary check - anyone inside the targetting reticule (underneath the body) are not hit with the frontal cleave. Instead, the player will generally have to be in front of the actual flailing dragonlegs.
This really plays itself out on the Nefarian Rogue class call. While you may have saved all of the rogues from a 30-45 degree Shadow Flame, you may not have saved them from the 75 degree cleave that kills them.
On the other hand, letting your rogues die on Nefarian makes positioning really easy the rest of the fight.
The Dragon's Tail
Normally this doesn't matter all too much to a tank, but has some weight in where you position the dragon for the raid.
Dragon Tails don't kill people; they just do weird things to them. Like, say, aggro a cave of whelps, aggro a pack of trash at green dragons, aggro giants, aggro... well, you get the idea.
The epitome of knockback, try to avoid putting a dragon tail in the middle of the raid.
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