Posted by: TheLastDeadMouse | February 2, 2011

Pet Feat: Argaloth

Who: Durante of Hydraxis (US)
Pet: Bubbles (85 Turtle)

I had been hoping to tank Argaloth for some time, but I didn’t think I’d be able to have the opportunity for some time since our guild hasn’t been able to set up a working raid schedule. I joined a half formed pug yesterday, and immediately had several members ask me if I wanted to tank with Bubbles, definitely a first for me.

We set up the group with the normal two healers, but with seven dps and myself as the only tank. I was relying on Avoidance reducing Argaloth’s Meteor Slash, even though I’d never definitively tested whether or not Saber Lash type abilities fall into that category. Turns out that pets don’t count as valid targets to Meteor Slash at all, and are completely unaffected by he ability both in terms of damage and its debuff. Since no Meteor Slash soaking was needed unlike with normal tanks, all raid members were able to stand behind the boss, completely eliminating the attack and significantly reducing the amount of raid healing required.

Melee also saw an increase in their DPS since normally they would spend half of the fight attacking the boss from the front, making them subject to parries and limiting the abilities that rogues and feral druids can use. Paired with that the fact that we were able to bring an extra DPS and I was able to do more damage than a typical tank would, we downed the boss in just over three minutes, easily the fastest run I’d even done. Between the lower healing required and higher raid DPS, pet tanks actually make for ideal tanks!

Posted by: TheLastDeadMouse | January 20, 2011

Pet Feat: Blackrock Caverns – Heroic (MT)

Who: Durante of Hydraxis (US)
Pet: Bubbles (85 Turtle)

Tonight I decided that I’d waited long enough, and once our two heroic groups finished their nightly farm I started picking up people for my own run. Fortunately out of the thirteen online, three didn’t think I was insane, and one still thought I was insane but wanted to see the ensuing disaster.

The first few pulls went better than expected. One two mob pulls I generally sent Bubbles directly on Skull and Misdirected the second mob with a few Arcane Shots. Usually by the time the first mob was at 1/3 health I had plenty of threat lead so I could switch Bubbles to the second target to start building threat before the Misdirection threat wore off. With any pull with more than two mobs, the additional mobs were CCed. There were a few trash mobs that for some reason Bubbles generated significantly less threat against for some reason. Against Evolved Twilight Zealots for example, his threat generation was only about half of normal. I’m guessing there might be an issue with Growl on certain mobs, but we’ll need some testing to know for sure.

The first boss, Rom’ogg Bonecrusher, was accidentally aggroed by a DPS while we were clearing the room. One DPS died while I was still attempting to pick up aggro, and I hadn’t had a chance to put on my Misdirect glyph so aggro on the aggro on the adds was extremely poor. Its hard to say if Misdirection and Multishot teamed with Thunderstomp would be enough to prevent the healer from pulling aggro.

Corla went very smoothly. Just make sure that you turn off Thunderstomp to not damage the adds and position with the Go To ability and pull with Misdirect to make sure that any melee tanking beams can reach the boss.

Karsh Steelbender was the boss that worried me the most when we got Blackrock as our random, but after an initial wipe its turned out to be incredibly easy. The first attempt I had planned to pull the mob in and out of the same side of the lava falls as our guild’s tank do, using Distracting Shot and Feign Death to try to get the boss to run in and out, but it ended up being much too clunky and we wiped in short measure. For the second attempt I decided to just keep it simple and maneuvering the old fashion way with the Passive, pulling the boss through the edge of the lava instead of center to limit the number of stacks going up. It ended up being the cleanest kill any of us had ever had, and our tanks will probably end up using the technique for our normal runs.

By keeping the adds CCed, Beauty became basically a tank and spank. Just maneuver your pet slightly to keep her from getting too close to the lava and try to stay near Tremor totems.

Obsidius is in the same boat as Beauty. With a good kiter on the adds, the boss is basically tank and spank. The only thing you need to worry about is the position switch the boss does with one of the adds, but there’s no aggro reset during this so you could really just put your pet on passive and wait for the boss to come to you.

Our healer says that after factoring in Blood of the Rhino, Bubbles was still a bit squisher than a normal tank, but not terribly so, and his single target threat was very much up to par with a traditional tank. All in all we only had the one wipe; considering it was my first Cata heroic, I didn’t have a dedicated tanking set, and we randomed one of the harder heroics I call it a great success.

Note: I will continue to use the same policy as always for Feat submissions. If my submission if the first for a given feat it’ll be treated the same as any other submission until someone else submits the same feat, at which time their submission will become the highlighted submission for that feat.

Posted by: TheLastDeadMouse | October 29, 2010

Cataclysm and Crit Immunity

I had been putting the finishing touches on a post about the new Cataclysm healing model, and how it would interact with a combination of effective health and Blood of the Rhino to keep tanking pets effective, but I have much better news.

Frostheim over at the Warcraft Hunters Union just happened to run into Ghostcrawler, one of the lead developers for WoW, in a hallway at Blizzcon and was able to ask him some questions. A few couple hunter questions, a note on Ghostcrawler’s Blackberry and a few days later, its my pleasure to show you this.

With the release of Cataclysm, or perhaps earlier, we will have more than enough crit reduction to make us crit immune against boss melee attacks. Rejoice!

Posted by: TheLastDeadMouse | October 11, 2010

Catacylsm Talent Builds and Scaling

Click for Wowhead talent calculator

As we covered in our last post, a much streamlined BM tree has eliminated nearly all of our tanking talents, and is now mostly centered on DPS. The BM tree has a pretty has a straight forward build for maximum DPS with a few extra talent points to spend in either PvP or tanking talents, resulting in the build you see above for group tanking. At level 80 this should stand as a standard tanking build, although the effects of Focus Fire on pet threat generation have yet to be determined and Mend Pet may be desirable depending on content.

As always pet talent builds are going to vary wildly based on personal preference and content being tanked, but most will be working off the same 14 point base.

Click for Wowhead talent calculator

This base of talents picks up the most important talents in pet durability as well with the most important threat talents and still leaves six talent points at level 80 to pick up spell resistances, Silverback or additional threat. Once more 4.0.1 goes live and DPS tools become more readily available, We’ll do a rundown of the threat benefits of Serpent Swiftness, Spiked Collar, and the new Wild Hunt.

Finally we come to the topic of scaling, the answer to some of our biggest concerns going into the Cataclysm changes. While most of our talents to increase our pets HP and Armor have vanished, their base scaling of these stats has gone way up. Stamina scaling before talents has increased from 45% to either 78% or 73.5% (the ingame numbers don’t seem to match Blizzards stated numbers. Before group buffs a hunter and pet with all the HP improving talents in 3.3.5 gives his pet about 8.5 HP per point of stamina on his gear, and it 4.0.1 it’s 8.23. Combine that with the fact that our gear has more stamina on it than ever before and our pet’s HP has barely changed at all.

Its the same story for Armor. in 3.3.5 without any talents pet receive 45% of their hunter’s armor rating, increased to 70% on the 4.0.1 PTR. After talents in 3.3.5 fully talented a pet receives around 73% of the hunter’s armor, but in 4.0.1 PTR its actually been increased to nearly 85%. That’s right, even after eliminating our armor talents, our pets are actually more durable than before.

The final major concern left for us pet tankers after Cataclysm changes is crit immunity, or our lack thereof, and why it might not matter after all.

Posted by: TheLastDeadMouse | October 5, 2010

Cataclysm: Hunter Talents

Note: This post was written with Wowhead tooltips in mind which should implemented shortly. Apologies for any inconvenience.

I have good news and bad new. The bad news is that most of our dedicated pet tanking talents are gone. Completely cleared out. Endurance Training, Thick Hide and Catlike Reflexes will no longer be available to us after our new talent trees become active. The good news? Most of our dedicated pet tanking talents are gone. Any BM talent build will usable, although perhaps not ideal, for pet tanking. We may no longer need to respec or dedicate our secondary spec to tanking so long as we have a BM talent build. As a result, most of the talents in our BM tree are going to be primarily threat building.

Click for Wowhead Talent Calculator

Some of our old friends are still left in the BM tree primarily untouched. The following talents have either not been altered or merely updated for the removale of mana as the hunter ability resource.

Many of our talents have been remade or had their balancing changed in some way.

  • Improved Kill Command: Formerly increased hunter damage by 2% and increased pet special ability crit chance by 20% while Kill Command was active.
  • Bestial Discipline: Increased from 2 to 3 talent points and focus regeneration bonus to pets reduced from 100% to 30%.
  • Frenzy: Changed from 5 to 3 talent points and ranks changed from proc chance to attack speed percent.
  • Cobra Strikes: Changed to proc on hit instead of critical hit; proc off Arcane instead of Arcane, Steady, and Kill Shots; effects only pet basic attacks (Claw, Smack, Bite) instead of all special abilities.
  • Bestial Wrath: Bonus damaged changed from 50% to 20%.

Finally, we come to brand new talents.

  • One with Nature: Spiritual successor to Apsect Mastery, extra AP means more threat.
  • Fervor: An on demand burst of focus, should serve useful for initial threat burst or threat bursts after threat wipes or adds.
  • Focus Fire: Removes our pet’s Frenzy effect, giving our pet 4 focus and giving the hunter up to a 15% haste buff. Testing will need to be done to see if this is an overall threat boost.
  • Killing Streak: By increasing Kill Command damage this should be a moderate threat boost.
  • Kindred Spirits: By increasing initial pet and master focus we can generate more burst threat on pulls and also reduce possible focus overflow from the new GFtT and Sic’ Em!

As always both the Marksman and Survival trees have some low hanging fruit in great talents for any pet tanking build.

  • Hunter vs. Wild: With the same effect as the former Survivalist talent, this first tier survival tree talent provides us a very useful 10% stamina buff in a very convenient three talent point cost and location.
  • Pathing: This remade tier 1 survival talent provides 3% haste for three talent points, increasing our focus regen and our pet’s attack speed.
  • Go for the Throat: Only procing off auto-shots and having the awarded focus from 50 to 10 severely reduces this mega focus generator to a more reasonable level.
  • Sic ‘Em!: This new second tier MM talent will give our pets a free Smack, Claw, or Bite on our Arcane Shot crits for a low low price of two talent points.

Finally we take a look at our updated Tenacity tree, the heart of our abilities as a pet tanker.

Click for Wowhead Talent Calculator

  • Serpent Swiftness: Replaces the overly complicated Cobra Reflexes as our pet attack speed buff, 10% faster attack speed means more damage, more threat, and faster stacking on Frenzy.
  • Spiked Collar: A nerfed Spiked Collar now only award 3-9% bonus damage to Bite, Claw, and Smack instead of all attacks.
  • Taunt: In a nice, yet quiet buff the cooldown of Taunt has been reduced from 3 minutes to 1. Rejoice!
  • Wild Hunt: In a major change, Wild Hunt no longer increases our pet’s stamina or attack power, but instead increases both the damage and cost of Claw, Smack, and Bite when our pets have more than 50% focus. Anytime our pets are capped on focus this will serve as a great threat buff.

Now at this point you may be horrified at the loss of so many armor, stamina and avoidance talents that we rely on; I was myself at first. Tune back in for my next post and we’ll discuss some possible talent analysis and builds and I’ll explain why everything is going to be alright.

Posted by: TheLastDeadMouse | October 4, 2010

Cataclysm Preview

Time to get excited kiddos. After months of waiting the beta has finally reached a point of relative stability, where most of the changes and mechanics are in place and its now a matter of adjusting numbers, and I can finally report on and analyze the changes with relative assurance that they’ll still be in the game in a week’s time.

So stay tuned the next few weeks while I run through the new talents and abilities, the nerfs and the buffs, and why Cataclysm may be the best time for pet tanks yet.

Posted by: TheLastDeadMouse | July 20, 2010

News, Updates, The Waiting Game, and References

1. News
Cataclysm! Thus far I’ve resisted the urge to post on Cataclysm details. There will of course be news, analysis and commentary on all Cataclysm changes and how they related to pet tanking when they become available. However at this point, pets really haven’t received their first round of changes yet (other than the amazingly sweet new Move To ability, article coming soon) and since such a huge amount about the class and game is changing, it seems premature to make assessments until we see the new pet changes. That and the new BM talent tree is almost totally wiped of tanking talents and its depressing.

B. Updates
The new version of the Big Red Rhino Tanking Spreadsheet (also known as BRRTS) is completed and will be posted shortly. Edit, its now up and the link is active on the Spreadsheet page. Just in time for new expansion obsolescence.

3. The Waiting Game
Just like many of you, I continue to sit and wait, checking daily hoping to see my invite to the beta. Ideally if I do get in, I’ll be able to bring in depth analysis to pet changes and take our refined friends for a test drive. While I will discuss pet tanking changes beta or no, there are more informative, and more entertaining, venues for general hunter information.

IV. References
Q. Will Hunters be able to pet-tank through Cataclysm (even if just beast masters)?
A. What, you didn’t see that video where some guy tanked Marrowgar with his Gorilla?

They haven’t forgotten about us pet tankers yet.

Posted by: TheLastDeadMouse | May 18, 2010

The Return of the King

I should have the time to post a few tanking articles over the course of the next few days, but in the meantime I wanted to report on some news that tremendously exciting for me personally.

Back when this site was founded but its original caretaker Ihlos, he knew very little about the Warcraft blogosphere. He read one or two blogs, hadn’t heard of the blogger most people assume this site is named after, Big Red Kitty. I on the other hand had been reading BRK for about a year and a half at that point, and in fact BRK was the primary reason that I cast off the shackles of huntardom.

BRK’s greatest writing strengths weren’t that he was the most informative source out there, we had sites like Elitist Jerks for that, but that he informed us while using humor that kept experienced hunters coming back, and the pride
that made new players want to be the best hunters they could be. Since he hung up his rifle more than a year ago many hunter bloggers have done an excellent job informing the hunter community, but no one else has managed to inspire hunters quite like BRK could.

Its with great enthusiasm that I report that BRK has returned to blogging after being grabbed by Blizzard to report on the Cataclysm Alpha. While its doubtful how much he’ll be able to report while the non-disclosure agreement is still up and his return may only be temporary, its certainly exciting news for hunters everywhere, especially his old fans.

Posted by: TheLastDeadMouse | April 29, 2010

Gearing: PvE vs PvP

Before I get too far into breaking down the results of my latest testing, there’s many qualifiers that need to be made. First is that my spreadsheet is far, far from a perfect tool. Its also heavily relies on outside sources that aren’t perfect. Its also modeling a fight as though it were a pure tank and spank fight with no movement, no adds and no disruption of dps. Finally I’m only presenting three different scenarios for gearing, and what’s right for you will change heavily on what gear is available to you and what content you plan on tanking.

That being said lets jump in and take a look at the most basic of gearing decisions, PvE gear or PvP gear?

To start, I used my own raid tanking set, which almost entirely consists of PvP gear, as the base standard for a PvP tanking set. This set and the others refereed to in this article can be accessed at by clicking on Public Settings and typing in “Durante” in the “Made By:” space. First I took my set and removed all the gems (listed as the set PvP Set – Gemless) then plugged in the gear stats into the Defense tab of the spreadsheet and offensive totals into the blue spaces of the Threat tab. This gave me the baseline attributes of this set with 13 empty gem slots as a blank slate where I could test the effect of any number of stats.

Given this baseline, I then plugged in straight Agility gems into each slot and recorded the results, then repeated the process for with AP gems and Stamina gems.

As we’ve suspected for quite some time, AP proves to be a much more effective threat stat than agility. The additional armor from the Agility gemming is also fairly insignificant. One surprise to me though is that gemming AP is almost as potent at increasing threat as gemming stamina is at increasing health. In this particular gear set filling those 13 gem slots increases total TPS by 8.76% while gemming stamina increased effective health by 9.94%.

In order to compare to a set of similar PvE gear, I constructed a set where every piece was the same iLevel as the PvP piece it replaced. I had to make judgment calls between a number of items of the same level for the same slot, so I picked whichever item had the most beneficial stats like AP, stamina, gem slots and agility, and stayed away from those with mostly useless stats like Armor Pen and Haste. Two pieces of PvP gear were left in the set to provide the resilience required to keep the pet crit immune. I eventually settled on the set listed as PvE Tank – Gemless.

Much as I expected a PvE and AP build gave considerably more threat that an PvP and AP build while a PvP Stamina build gave more survivability than its PvE counterpart. What’s much more interested however is when you look at more balanced builds, gemming PvP gear for threat and PvE for survivability. If you’re trying to build a set that has both adequate threat and effective health you’d be better off with PvE gear, as it only had .620% less threat while giving 6.41% more effective health. That’s a trade off I’d take any day of the week. The biggest cause of this disparity is the huge number of gem slots in the PvE set, nearly double that of the PvP set. This allows us to take a larger portion of that items stat budget and apply it to the two stats we love most and avoid junk stats.

So what’s the moral of this story? At least thus far, is seems like if you don’t need 25 man raid levels of health, PvE gear is the way to go.

Posted by: TheLastDeadMouse | April 22, 2010

The Spreadsheet

Today I’m debuting a new version of the Big Red Rhino Pet Tanking Spreadsheet. Unlike the old version which was based off Shandara’s Elitist Jerks Hunter DPS Spreadsheet, this new version was built from scratch after it became obvious that I didn’t have the expertise to keep all of the abilities of the spreadsheet functional after my alterations, nor the time to keep up with the pace at which its updated.

This means two things. First is that the new spreadsheet is much smaller, more pet tanking focused, and can be updated very quickly. Second is that since it doesn’t contain the hugely complicated DPS calculations in the spreadsheet, it needs to be used along side either the Shandara’s Spreadsheet or the Zeherah’s Hunter DPS Analyzer at Female Dwarf to deliver accurate threat information.

Click the Excel icon to download the beta version of the spreadsheet. A few calculations may be off, and nothing on the spreadsheet it locked yet, so be sure to only edit spaces with white or light blue backgrounds. Please submit any suggestions, corrections or other feedback in the comments.

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