Thursday, 20 June 2013

Tanking Writhing Horror Nightmare as a Shadow

I can't help but write about this. As I mentioned in the previous post, Shadows are reportedly being excluded from progression because of their inability to immediately leap/charge to the boss. This, of course, is not the case of top guilds, where Shadow/Assassin tanks still have their place in the progression group.

So, having no leap/charge is taxing? Not at all. When tanking Writhing Horror, turn your camera angle (max zoom out) so that you see the boss only and yourself behind it. This way, once the boss buries, you can easily see the red circle on the ground marking the spot where the boss is going to emerge next. Use Force Speed to get there quickly and tadaaa, it's a win. If you react quickly enough, you will be there even sooner than leapers or, at least, you won't be trailing behind. If you're lucky and the boss emerges close enough, there will be no AoE spit. If it is far away, there will be one spit. Rarely, there might be two spits before you reach the boss but that is usually because you don't Force Speed soon enough or you simply didn't see the circle in time. The spit, however, causes no issue (hits for 2.5-3k) unless some players are already very low on hp - that usually occurs during red pool/Jealous Male phases.

Below 20% though, when you decide to burn the boss and tanks are not switching anymore (not to spawn the little adds so that you don't need to have anyone wasting time positioning themselves into the red circle and occasionally getting stuck too far away from the boss to dps/heal), it is better to have a Guardian/Vanguard tank the boss until she dies and a Shadow doing the kiting/gathering job. Shadow can Resilience the green debuff you get from Twisted Spawns, they can kite effectively because of Force Speed and they can even Force Cloak and retaunt the adds once again to gain some additional time before the boss dies.

Cooldown management on this fight is essential as there is a thin line between being a capable tank and a spiky burden.

When you start tanking the boss by pulling, focus on building threat for the first 10 seconds and then pop Deflection. The boss hits with melee attacks that hurt when not mitigated (12-13k). There is also and elemental/internal attack the boss does which always comes after she spits at someone to apply the cleanseable debuff. So when you see her spitting the debuff, pop Resilience to resist the sequence of elemental/internal damage. After Deflection is out, Resilience has been used and you start taking some serious beating again, pop Battle Readiness. After Battle Readiness expires, switch is about to come very soon and your job tanking the boss is finished for now.

When you start tanking the boss by switching, pop Deflection 3-5 seconds after taunting. Everything else is the same. You just want to get the first cooldown running faster because healers' attention is now split between you, the tank tanking Jealous Male and the person stood in the red circle, whereas when you pull, there is no one else to heal other than the main tank).

There is no reason to wait with cooldowns until you get the 'oh shit' situation when you drop below 50% hp. This fight is demanding on healers and you need to mitigate as much damage as possible to make it easier on them. You will have both Deflection and Battle Readiness ready for the next time you tank the boss and you want to use both cooldowns every time you tank the boss to minimise the damage taken. Surprisingly, the logs will tell you that you are taking approximately the same amount of damage as a Guardian or Vanguard when you use your cooldowns appropriately.

Last but not least, deploy Phase Walk as often as you can - in the middle of the 'flower triangle'. The best time to deploy it first is when you start the fight (before or during the pull). During the fight, don't waste time running around placing it while you tank, of course. Deploy it when it's off cooldown and when you are done with tanking the Jealous Male. No reason to use it for your own escape until the burn phase where it might help you to kite the adds longer.

The fight is fun as a Shadow and if done properly, the group won't suffer from having a Shadow tank. However, when Shadows react slowly or don't use their cooldowns at the right time, the damage they take will become unmanageable and they will end up being hated.

As always, any comments and constructive criticism is much appreciated and welcome. The next post will be about the role of tanks as DPSers. Until then...

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Spectre of the Past

Today, after quite some time, the second of the couple posts about future/past takes turn. In the original post, I have outlined what Shadows were to become (tanks with best survivability - I will talk about that in my next post). Let me now have a look at what our class has gone through since its birth.

Launch - tank with light armour, eh? Shadow's tanking competence had been questioned for quite some time and only capable players (casting aside all the prejudice) carried on playing Shadows as tanks. However, after several moths people realized how op shadows were when played properly and boom, the nerf was about to come. Self-healing was simply way too good and had to be reduced. But not just self-healing got targeted by the downgrade - armour as well. I remember many people fabricating a theory by then that 'Shadows were never meant to be proper tanks and should always be considered only as emergency off-tanks or dps'.

Funny thing is that back then, Shadows were far from being on par with Commandos or Sentinels in terms of dps which would make them (according to the theory) absolutely useless. I even remember some people explicitly saying that people had 'fucked up' when they had decided to roll a Shadow Consular.

But is this truly a spectre of the past? 2.0 out there for a while now, Shadow dps still considered incompetent in its entirety (at least for some serious progression) and now even Shadow tanks are looked at as rather a casual tanking class. Some decide to exclude Shadow tanks from TFB nightmare progression because they don't have a proper gap closer (see Limited Mobility?). That is, in my opinion, ridiculously stupid. If any Shadow tank has issues with getting to the first boss (emerging where he/she/it wants) fast enough, it is not the class - the player is just bad at playing a Shadow tank.

Spikiness on the other hand, that is something we can't do much about. There are however two different things which are sometimes not looked at separately:
1) Default spikiness, meaning the amount of damage shadows are bound to take when they don't shield or parry/deflect/dodge. Some bosses simply hit too hard and when the only mitigation is damage reduction based on Armor Rating, god (healers) help us.
2) Overall damage taken, reflecting the amount of damage effectively mitigated using cooldowns. This is something instrumental and it is up to players themselves to maximize the effectiveness of their cooldowns. Learning what type of damage comes with each particular attack, when are those instances of damage occurring - all that plays a huge role in determining whether the Shadow tank takes insane damage or mitigates as much as possible.

Simply put, not knowing the fight and using cooldowns only in 'oh shit' situations while on a Shadow tank is bound to be a failure nowadays.

The default spikiness is currently a big issue and is very demanding. Unless played very competently, Shadows are ineffective compared to cooldown-loaded Guardians and passively defending Vanguards. Guardians - hate me for saying this out loud if you like - are now overpowered due to the amount of cooldowns they possess. They don't require particularly high skill to be played in order to be efficient and in hands of competent people, they are outstanding. Vanguards don't have that many cooldowns but they have high armour and their stat priority (Defense and Shield rating) doesn't make them that much RNG, and thus, fairly less spiky than Shadows. To put it bluntly, if Guardians or Vanguards don't have their cooldowns and get unlucky with mitigation, it is no end of the world. If Shadow doesn't have a cooldown and gets unlucky, they usually eat dirt.

But to summarize, all this grief makes Shadows challenging and therefore very fun to play. People are usually surprised to see a Shadow doing well - particularly as a dps class. Tanks are still quite common among players but are currently stigmatized. No wonder though, with the amount of Shadow tanks who don't care much about min-maxing at all, I can easily see where the common attitude comes from.

The next post will now arrive much sooner along with the revision of several older posts which will be updated to reflect changes that took place with the level cap increase. Until then...