15 September 2008

Pulling multiple mobs

Tanking heroic Botanica on Friday night was the highlight of the weekend. It was not a smooth run; we had probably four or five wipes and multiple other deaths. Dralkios and Mattoo are perhaps a bit undergeared for the instance, and while Alamein's gear is good, I'm still not experienced enough at tanking. Still, we got all the way through and took down all the bosses, so we were ultimately successful. In a way, it's more satisfying to overcome adversity than it is to destroy an instance on cruise control.

(Beyond that, I mostly ran dailies with the intent of getting Sali an epic flyer; I also did a few battlegrounds and spent some time leveling a new hunter as a bit of a break.)

One of the tanking techniques I'm still working on is the pull. I spent a lot of my healing time watching Cargarios use Avenger's Shield to tag three mobs with a good chunk of threat. As a Bear, I don't have such a luxury. The prototypical pull is using Feral Faerie Fire, which is OK but only tags one mob. Firegrin will of course use Misdirect, but that's usually a one-target tool. So for a few tricky pulls we've tried a few other techniques.

Misdirection + Volley, Misdirection + Multishot: We've used this technique to get a solid aggro start on larger packs. It's a bit tricky; it seems that there's a bit of uncertainty about how many charges of Misdirection either attack will use. Still, when combined with a Feign Death, this has been a good way to pull.

Multishot does more damage, so it's best for three mobs. It will burn the remaining charges on Misdirection so use it as your third shot. Volley appears to be bugged and use zero charges, which is great. It does less single-target damage but hits everything in the area of effect so it's great for large packs.

The main challenge with Misdirection is that it makes chain-trapping a lot trickier for the hunter. (Well, and it has a cooldown too.) So in some situations we opted to use other approaches.

Barkskin + Hurricane: This can be a great way to build a ton of threat, especially on large packs of non-elites, like the plant packs found in a couple of Botanica pulls. It's not recommended if you're dealing with anything that hits very hard; Barkskin only eliminates 20% of damage, so you're not close to your Bear-form armor.

The hard part is getting all the mobs grouped and stationary for long enough that Hurricane can hit them a couple times. One way to do this is to run up to the edge of the pack (in caster form) and body-pull while starting the Hurricane. You can also position the AoE circle for Hurricane right at the edge of the pack, so that all the mobs have to run through it to get to you.

Hibernate pull: This is a specialized technique when you have one or more beasts in the pack. Select one, get to max range, and cast Hibernate. Slip into Bear form and use Feral Faerie Fire to tag the next mob. It doesn't generate exceptional threat, but it has the major advantage of Hibernating the mob well away from your fighting space.

Barkskin + Tranquility: This is purely theoretical; I've not done it. It should work wonderfully but it's tough to set up. Basically you need a situation where the party is either taking damage or starts with a health deficit.

Tranquility is a huge threat generator. It puts out 1518 healing (before any added healing) every 2 seconds over 8 seconds... for everyone in the party. That's theoretically 38,000 points of healing, or 19,000 points of threat, on every mob in the pull. If all that healing actually ticks, you'll have a huge threat lead.

The hard part is figuring out how to actually do any healing with it. You could have the party run directly in to the mob pack and melee. Dangerous -- but the good news is that with that much healing you'll be taking care of a good chunk of incoming damage to the party. It might be better used late in a fight, for instance if most of the original pull is dead but if adds have shown up and are running wild.

Those are four unconventional techniques I'm aware of. I'll try out the Tranquility approach the next time I need it, and report back any other techniques that I learn.

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