Monday, August 27, 2012

Four Tanks at the End of Cataclysm

Last night, in a bout of restlessness, I completed my goal of leveling all four tanking classes to 85. The final one was my Death Knight, pictured below.

No, I'm not sure why I have a Stormwind tabard on when I could have used the rep for something else. Regardless, I finished this goal just in time for the new patch, where I would have absolutely no idea how to play any of these classes. So, in celebration of the end of Cataclysm, I decided to post my thoughts on each class in order of me leveling them up.

Druid - Here's a class that I didn't feel like I gave a fair shake. I leveled a Worgen Bear/Cat Druid at the beginning of Cataclysm and hit max level, quickly gearing for Heroic tanking. I did a few runs of Lost City of Tol'Vir and never tanked as a Druid again. Tanking these dungeons was a nightmare. It took me an hour and a half to clear it each time, with one run where I went through three healers who thought I wasn't moving fast enough. I was so discouraged by that and my All-Worgen RP guild that I left the game entirely. That being said, I don't consider Druid tanks to suck. Despite my arguments that rage generation was terrible given that Druids are dodge tanks, and I need to be hit to gain rage, thus making me feel like a crippled warrior, I have been a part of groups where bear tanks wipe the floor in both tanking and damage meters.

Perhaps it was my low skill level in the class that prevented me from taking advantage of the versatility of the class, but I could never do what those bear tanks do. Verdict: Keeping him as a healer to play around with, and watching in awe at the good Bear tanks.

Warrior - This class is tied with Paladin for my favorite tank. The class just feels like a toolbox: It doesn't specialize in anything, but has a tool or two for almost every scenario. I raided ICC as a warrior and as I leveled through the Cataclysm zones I didn't feel like the class had changed much. My tanking experience was much smoother as a Warrior than as a Druid, but that could be for any number of reasons.

Verdit: This will be my main in Mists of Pandaria, unless the Brewmaster somehow steals my attention. My Orc Warrior has always been a dependable tank and the only other thing that could drive me away from his is the new rage system, which I am nervous will prove to push the class down.

Paladin - My first tank, leveled at the end of Burning Crusade and raided through the first half of Wrath of the Lich King. I consider the Paladin to be the best tank class in the game throughout WOTLK and Cataclysm. I have not seen a single thing the Prot Paladin cannot tank, including solo'ing old 40-man raids. During WOTLK, I solo'd Onyxia weekly for gold and fun. Even got myself a Quel'Serrar out of the deal. I hate saying things are overpowered in WoW, but if I did it would be the Prot Paladin. Mists of Pandaria brings a new system for this tank, including a larger reliance on Word of Glory for self-healing. I can't be sure how this will go, but I'll be interested to see the results.

Verdit: I'll level him as an afterthought, and mainly keep him to solo old content for fun.

Death Knight - Of all four of the classes, this is the only tank where I felt I needed to be ovegeared to perform at the same level as the other three. I only experienced leveling dungeons, but the reliance on Blood Shield really brought out some negative aspects about the class. If I was at-level with a dungeon, my Blood Shield could not rack up high enough to mitigate a significant amount of damage. I had a level 84 healer go OOM healing me on trash when I was 82 in Normal Stonecore. Now, I don't want to blame the class because it could have been my skill level, or the healer's, or even my gear at the time. But tanking on a Death Knight was a chore without the proper gear. I felt with enough time and gear it could be fantastic, but with the other classes at max level it was not fun enough to warrant my time.

Verdict: I'll keep him for posterity, and probably level him to 90 before the next expansion sometime. Blood Shield may be useful enough to solo old world content.

BONUS ROUND: Monk - This bonus round is brought to you by Tauren Think Tank! I replied to a tweet of theirs and they tossed me a Beta key, which led me to create a premade lvl 85 Monk. I didn't want to level one because I didn't want to spoil the beginner areas.

In my time with the monk, I was utterly confused by the mechanics of the class, but extremely intrigued by the mitigation system. Shuffle takes a portion of damage and applies it as a DoT, which can then be purged by using Purifying Brew if it gets too high. I thought that Blizzard was out of unique mechanics for tanks, and I was wrong. So far, my impressions of the class are that I'm impressed with the number and versatility of their cooldowns, as well as their ability to AoE tank. Single target rotations are a bit weak in my opinion, but I think many of their AoE moves work just as fine against a single boss.

Verict: We'll see! I hope to trick one out to run heroics, and raid with my warrior, but only the trip from 1-90 will convince me of the Monk's capabilities.

No matter what happens, I look forward to this expansion with glee, and tomorrow's patch as well.

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