Oct 272010

Since the 4.0.1 patch, many ferals have reported an issue with what I’m referring to as “intermediate threat.” Unlike pre-patch, where threat issues were either on the pull (tank missed, I didn’t, oops I’m dead) or late into the fight (sustained DPS > sustained tank TPS), we’re having an issue around 30-45s in. Why? Couple reasons:

  • Tricks of the Trade / Misdirection no longer giving permanent threat (fades after 30s). This is the biggie, as threat meters are not accounting for this drop. Your average raid has 3-4 rogues/hunters, and they’ve been well-trained to use TotT/MD on the pull. Everything looks good, you give the tank a few seconds, then open up full blast, no issues…and you zoom from 80% threat to 110% threat at 30s in (when all those TotT/MD’s expire simultaneously) and go splat.  If you’re fast, you can run out of melee range/Shadowmeld (NE’s) to save yourself, but your mileage may vary.
  • Vengeance issues. Vengeance is pretty complicated in how it works, but it essentially gives tanks more attack power (thus more DPS, thus more TPS) as they tank damage. Unfortunately, it takes time to stack, and it starts to decay far too quickly. Combine this with a tank’s very high avoidance at level 80 (50%+), and vengeance is likely not well-stacked when it’s needed.. Unfortunately, vengeance can increase a tank’s DPS/TPS by as much as 50%, so swingy is bad. Very bad. (For what it’s worth, I think the concept of vengeance was good, but the implementation has been horrible. It’s supposed to be somewhat “optional,” but now tank threat is too weak when it’s low (heroics/lower tier raids, offtanking) and too strong when it’s high. I’ve seen parses from lvl 85 boss fights on beta where the tank finishes first on DPS.)

Solutions (for cats):

  • Save Berserk. We’re used to hitting Berserk ASAP so we can use it again sooner, but that’s not going to do you a whole lot of good. I’d recommend waiting until after your second’s Tiger’s Fury (so 30s delay). As always, a pro move is to figure out the estimated fight duration; if you know you usually down, say, BQL or Festergut in 4m 30s, then using it at 30s and 3m 30s isn’t any loss over using it at 5s and 3m 5s.
  • Preemptive Cower. While initial cowers are somewhat ineffective (10% reduction off 100k does less than of 1m, obviously), you’re still dropping quite a bit. I’d recommend going ahead and using a Cower after you’ve gotten your initial DoTs up and your TF’s worn off (so about 10-15s in), use it again when it’s off CD, and then evaluate.
  • Thorns on the tank. Toss this up during the pull (check with other druids, though, since I don’t believe it stacks). This will add a bit of TPS and rDPS, essentially for free. If you’re high on threat still, start using it on the tank on cooldown. (If the tank has multiple mobs, glyph it and use it on cooldown anyway, as is it just became your highest DPS ability.) For more fun, toss on 3p T1 prepull (yes, Tier 1!) for 10s extra of thorns time…just don’t get caught in combat with T1 on.
  • Hand of Salvation. Enough said, though if you have mages or boomkins, they’re probably soaking up all the salv’s. :(
  • Cataclysm will fix it. Maybe.

Solutions (for bears):

  • If you can’t coax another druid into it, get used to using Thorns pre-pull, and during a fight if you have a few seconds of not getting hit. (Admittedly, I need  to check if shifting out drops your Vengeance stack; not sure.)
  • Have your hunters/rogues stagger their threat-transfer abilities. Your DPS can throttle back, if they have some warning. Avoiding the “30s chain-threat-drop” is key here.
  • Wear DPS jewelry/trinkets. Not recommended for raid tanking (where the stamina saves you from dying to spike damage) but for tanking lower-tier stuff, very useful.
  • Preemptive Challenging Roar/Growl on an accessible keybind. CR doesn’t affect threat, but it forces enemies to target you. Growl adds enough threat to you to vault you to the top of the threat table. You probably can’t react in time to save a melee DPS, but you should always be able to save a caster at max range, unless you’re using the following strategy:
  • Let the aggro monkeys die. Satisfying, though not optimal.
  • Cataclysm will fix it. /hopeandpray.

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