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Dual specs, or the loneliness of the long-distance offtank

So Blizzard has put out a Q&A with Ghostcrawler about how the Dual Spec feature planned for the 3.1 release is going to work.  You’ve probably already seen the information, if you’re hooked into the WoW blogosphere at all.

I am really looking forward to this feature because of where I sit with my current 25-man raid.  I am in a raid that’s, basically, a side of pwnage stuffed with spectacular, drizzled in awesomesauce, and wrapped in bacon.  I’ve been part of it off and on for three years now, from the days when I was a badly-undergeared level 60 31/5/15 hybrid and got dragged to Molten Core, all the way up to being a regular offtank on Tier 5 and Tier 6 content in Burning Crusade.  Now, we’re in 25-man Naxx, with everything but Kel’Thuzad dead.

We do things a little differently–instead of a “standard” 3 tank/6 healer/16 DPS setup, we usually run with 4 tanks and either 5 healers/16 DPS or 6 healers/15 DPS.  And by “tank” I mean dedicated tanks–a prot warrior MT, a prot paladin, a frost DK, and me, the other prot warrior.  We also have one or two feral druids that are quite capable of stepping up if needed–trust me, we’re not hurting for an offensive line on this team.  All four of us dedicated tanks buff out over 35,000 health–I’m the squishiest at about 35.5k, with the warrior and paladin closer to 37k and the DK at an astonishing 40k fully pimped.

But as the #4 tank, generally, I don’t really tank all that much.  I MT every so often, but mostly, I tank trash where I can, grab and hold adds (slimes on Grobbulus, worshippers on Faerlina, etc.), work the back of the room on Four Horsemen sometimes, stuff like that–the kind of lunchpail down-in-the-trenches work that offtanks do while the MT gets to dance with Big Nasty.  With a great MT and two very strong AOE tanks, though, and with the design of Naxx encounters not really needing four dedicated high-health, high-avoidance tanks all that often, a lot of the time, I’m left DPSing, while still keeping my tank suit on in the event that things go to hell in a bucket and I have to step in and take some hits.  And while it isn’t the total effort in futility that it was pre-3.0, DPSing as a prot warrior who’s not getting beaned in the head is never going to produce a lot of deeps.  Rage generation of a 1H + shield is, and will always be, very low, even with a good weapon like Lin’s Split Greathammer.  Low rage = low damage output.

Dual specs offers a ray of hope.  It may give me the chance to make Linedan what I have wanted him to be for a very long time…a true hybrid combination of tank capability and painbringing, a DPS/offtank hybrid.  Hybrid specs for warriors right now simply do not work.  You’ve got to be 51+ in some tree or other, and 51+ in either of the DPS trees is generally not going to leave you capable of main tanking even a 10-man raid, possibly even a harder heroic (depending on gear of course).  I’ve chosen to take him Prot, 15/5/51 currently, because that’s what I have the gear for, and that’s the spec I generally like playing.  He’s a good tank, geared and ready for anything up through 25-man content.  I’ve worked hard to make him a good tank and make myself a good tank player.  But there are situations where another tank isn’t what’s needed…and maybe I can help.

So my long-term plan, at this point, is to start using heroics and 10-mans to build him an offspec DPS set with an eye toward a raid Arms build–54/17/0, or whatever a similar raid-support Arms build looks like after Blizzard tweaks Arms for 3.1.  (Build courtesy of the folks over at Big Hit Box.)  Why Arms?  Because while I don’t like being dead last on the Deeps Parade, I’m not in it to blow the top off the meters.  I’m in it to help the raid succeed.  And Arms brings a lot of toys to help a raid that’s heavy on physical damage, as ours sometimes is, kill stuff faster.  Trauma giving +30% to bleed damage for 15 seconds after a crit?  Hell, my wife the feral druid will love me for that alone.  Then throw in the extra +2% (maybe +4% in 3.1) physical damage from Blood Frenzy whenever Rend or Deep Wounds is up.  I won’t do the insane DPS that a TG Fury warrior can do.  But I can do more than I can as Prot, and jack up everybody else’s too.

I’m not going to go Arms full-time, no way.  I like Prot.  I like tanking.  I’m not going to change from primarily being a Prot warrior.  Arms would be my secondary build, to be dragged out in situations where I know I won’t have to MT anything and I’ll only be occasionally offtanking.  If the materials for the “portable Lexicon” Ghostcrawler mentions aren’t too expensive, maybe I can even switch mid-raid if it proves necessary.

I sure hope Blizzard doesn’t bork this feature up, because it’s one of the cooler concepts that’s come along in WoW for a while.

3 responses

  1. One of the things I’m expecting out of the next 25-man raids (no not the dragon events, I’m talking about Ulduar and Icecrown) is a difficulty level like we saw walking into Tempest Keep. The need for 4 functional tanks controlling multiple mobs awash in a bath of aoe damage. When this day comes, we will be ready, we won’t need to go back through content we’re more than done with to gear up some new roles, or stress over recruiting.

    Blizzard has said time and time again that Ulduar is going to be more difficult than Naxx, hinted that it won’t be able to be pugged through on night one of release.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. You may not feel like it from pull to pull or boss to boss, but you do contribute, and we’re glad you’re there with us in the thick of things. The fact that you’re entertaining ways to improve that contribution only reinforces that feeling.

    February 13, 2009 at 20:15

  2. spinks

    I think I would kill myself if I had to run every raid in prot spec as the fourth offtank if there were ferals around.

    Do yourself a favour, spec dps on the nights you aren’t needed to be MT or first OT (and get your raid to rotate the roles so that you get a chance to do it, it’s useful for multiple tanks to know the fights anyway). I’m trying to think which fights in Naxx might need 4 tanks and the only one that possibly might is Gothik.

    February 20, 2009 at 07:02

  3. Pingback: Don’t panic, it’s temporary « Achtung Panzercow

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