Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Rundown – A comparison of Warrior, Druid, and Paladin tanks

(Cross-posted from: http://myworld.creativegamingevents.com/blogs_view.php?id=583 )

Since this seems to be the biggest issue with most uninformed people out there, I decided to put off the guide I had been planning on releasing today (Tanking 5-mans) and release this first. In addition, I’m moving up a couple of shorter topics so I have more time to dedicate to fuller, more comprehensive guides (One that takes you through all of K arazhan, for instance).

So what this is all about is that I’ve noticed that most people seem to think a tank is a tank, they hold the big boys, get the crap kicked out of them, and let the rest of the raid do all the work.


There is a time and place for all three tank types to be used equally, and there are situations where one type is flat out better than another. So here, I’m going to break down the three classes that can currently tank (Warriors, Druids, and Paladins), and list both their strengths and their weaknesses. This is as researched and objective as I can make it without having fully played either other type of tank myself, but from the opinions of others who have. It’s mostly a compilation, I claim only the amalgamation of the information.

So enough big words. Here we go.


-Most versatile. Warriors have the largest selection of abilities at their disposal. Not only that, but they often have more than one ability that functions similarly (stuns, disarms, silences, etc). So if one fails, they have another to try. This makes them easily usable for just about any situation.
-Spell Mitigation. Warriors are the only ones who have an outright ability to mitigate spell damage. (Paladins have a flat percentage they don’t take, but it’s very small, and Druids just have the hit points to deal with it) Between Spell Reflect and having a higher overall percentage of damage resisted, Warriors are the only real choice for spell-heavy fights.
-Best Single-target agro generation. Warriors, overall, will generate the most agro against a single target. Generally, they are the preferred tank for most raid bosses.
-Take the least damage overall. Warriors have the highest flat percentage of damage just not taken. Druids have next to none besides armor, and Paladins trail behind by about 4%
-Easiest to gear. Warriors probably have the best itemization, as they’ve been the most viable tank for the longest amount of time. It’s a matter of waiting for something to drop or grinding the right rep like any other class, where as both Druids and Paladins have to jump through a couple more hoops.
-Best OS (Oh SH!T) buttons. Warriors have the best abilities to bounce back from potentially dangerous situations.

-Cannot handle many adds. Warriors are not built to handle tanking more than two, maybe three things at the same time without an incredible amount of skill and some luck. Even then, I doubt too many people could tab between 5-6 adds to keep agro on them all.
-Easily Crushable against fast-melee bosses. A Warrior’s shield block has fewer charges than a Paladin’s Holy Shield, causing them to be more vulnerable to crushing blows against quick-melee bosses (such as Prince’s phase 2).
-Slow Initial Aggro. This means your DPS starts later, which can be important in timed fights.
-No direct raid utility. All warrior direct buffs only affect people in their party. While useful, they don’t last very long, and odds are they won’t be as frequent to keep it up if they have ten other abilities they need to be juggling in a fight. (Their indirect buffs, like sunder for instance, are very useful, but not part of this category).
-Vulnerable to disarming. A disarmed warrior is severely gimped in comparison to a disarmed Paladin (who can still fully function), or a druid who can’t be disarmed.
-Generate the least DPS. Warriors generate the least amount of DPS in comparison to their Paladin or Druid companions. Much of their agro comes from flat abilities, not from actual damage.
-Difficult to play. Warriors have many more abilities to sift through than a Paladin or Druid, requiring a greater knowledge and extent of training to master.


-Mass HP. Druids just plain have more stamina than Warriors or Paladins. They also have less stats to gear for or worry about, so they can itemize for stamina easier than the other two.
-Mass Armor. Same reasons for Mass HP.
-Best Dodge Formula. Druids receive the most benefit from Agility to Dodge, and their Dodge is almost always infinitely higher than any given Warrior or Paladin. Therefore, when something is mitigated against a Druid, he always takes zero damage.
-Deal the most damage. While tanking, a Druid will pump out more total DPS than either a Warrior or a Paladin, as most of their threat is derived from flat damage.
-Best Off-Tanks. Period. Druids have a slightly lesser reliance on Rage to generate threat, and can easily off-tank any encounter. In addition, they can easily off-tank from a DPS perspective (kitty form) while in their tanking gear, and easily swap to a tanking position should something happen to the primary tank.
-Best secondary role. A druid tank who is not in a tanking position offers the most in a different role, given their spec. Since their DPS and Tank tree are one in the same, they can make a gear swap for DPS and perform leaps and bounds above a Warrior or Paladin in a secondary role.
-Good raid utility. Druids offer all their normal Druid spells to the rest of the raid, including Mark of the Wild, Thorns, and in extreme emergencies, innervate and battle-resurrection.

-Always Crushable. Druids cannot parry or block, and thus lack the capability of becoming immune to Crushing Blows.
-No overall avoidance/mitigation. Druids have armor and HP to make up for this lack of mitigation, but a string of crushing blows or heavy hitting spell damage will still take one out.
-Oh SH!T button is weak. I don’t even know what the Druid OS button is. Someone please enlighten me.

-“Frontloading” capability. Paladins start with a full “blue rage bar,” and can open up any fight with a heavy spike of threat, allowing DPS to start quicker.
-Least likely to be crushed. The Paladin shield ability (Holy Shield) has more charges and lasts longer. Specifically, against quick-melee bosses, Paladins have the highest probability for survival.
-AOE tanks. They are unique in the sense that they are the only tank that can effectively tank several mobs at once. In theory, they could hold agro on an infinite number of mobs, due to their reactive high-threat damage.
-Wipe Recovery. Beyond a druid’s once every half-hour resurrection, a Paladin can always resurrect others after a wipe. In addition, if too many healers or DPS has died, the tank can opt to Divine Intervention a remaining individual with a resurrect ability.
-Ranged Taunt. Paladins are the only tank with a ranged taunt ability, as clunky as it may be.
-Excellent Raid Utility. A Paladin’s Auras and Blessings are always welcome, if not ultimately desired, in any raid.

-Mana/magic dependent. This is a problem against enemies or bosses that are immune to magic, can silence, or can mana-drain.
-Poor Off-tanks. Paladins do not generate nearly enough threat to be good off-tanks without being over-geared on spell-damage, as most of their usual threat is reactive damage from being directly hit.
-No single-target taunt. This sucks. It really, REALLY does. A Paladin needs to be able to front-load damage on an enemy to “taunt” off a fellow tank. Their only two “taunts” will not work at all in this situation (as one will pull off multiple targets, and the other causes all enemies to go to the next person on the agro chart, which isn’t always the paladin).
-Tanking Buff can be dispelled. While a Warrior’s Defensive stance is static, Righteous Fury can be dispelled, and it’s a very expensive spell to cast. This can cause a severe mana-drain for a Paladin tank.
-Take slightly more damage. Where as Druids have straight armor and the hit points to take blows, and warriors have a higher damage reduction, Paladins have nothing to compensate for having only 6% damage reduction.
-All abilities on GCD. All of a Paladin’s abilities, with the exception of Judgement, are on the Global Cool Down. Paladins require a higher amount of ability micro-management than either Druids or Warriors.


Here’s the short version:
Warriors – General preferred MTs, most versatile.
Druids – Best OTs, most HP/Armor
Paladins – The best multiple-mob tanks.

This is not to say that any of the other tank types can’t function in those other roles; they can, and quite effectively so. But what a good Raid Leader or Guild Leader for that matter should know is that there are times and places where individual tank types can rise to the challenge above others and be given the chance to shine. And hopefully, if they possess the basic knowledge of how all three function, they’ll know when and where those situations arise.

Next post! (Which WILL be done on Saturday, come hell or high water) I want to answer your questions! Send me your questions via Private Message or even just replying to this post, and they will be answered! Anything posted on Saturday before I start writing (likely in the morning, around 10AM Central) will NOT be accepted. So please send me your questions! They don't even have to be about Tankadins; Anything WoW related will do, though do remember I know next to nothing about Druids/Hunters/Warlocks/Shaman, and my knowledge of the other classes beyond that is limited (though I know a bit about Rogues, Warriors, Mages, and less about Priests). I'll also answer any questions you have about myself, but I will try to keep it on-topic about WoW as much as possible. =D

See you Saturday!


Alziroth said...

FYI, druid res is now a 20minute cooldown. One thing that is a good point is that as a druid tank, my GoTW is useless unless I'm the only druid on deck, whereas 2 paladins means 2 auras and 2 lots of blessings. However this was an interesting read purely due to the fact that i am yet to see a competent Tankadin in game. You've enlightened me that they may in fact have a place if i ever spot one thats not completely useless.

Orion Antares said...

On your Druid breakdown:

-"Best Dodge Formula."
+The reason for the higher agi to dodge formula is to offset the lack of parry that warriors and paladins use with dodge. That is the only reason for the higher dodge ratio and really isn't a pro but just an offset to warriors and paladins.

-"Deal the most damage."
+This isn't completely true. A druid will deal more damage but not a significant amount more. Lacerate is similar to sunder in that it is a flat amount of threat but with a very minor amount of damage. Other abilities such as Mangle and Maul scale similar to warrior abilities Shield Slam and Heroic Strike.

-"Best Off-Tanks. Period."
+Actually warriors are equal here with druids. Both do have a significant reliance on rage and if they don't manage it properly will become rage starved and have poor threat production. Druids have an easier talent setup to support not being hit for rage generation but warriors have a better class setup to support not being hit and still being able to generate needed rage. And if it hits the worst case situation a warrior can still use rage pots while a druid cannot.
The only advantage to a druid off-tank is that when their mob is dead they can shift to cat form and still make a contribution to killing the primary boss where when the prot warrior is done tanking he's pretty much useless unless he is the only prot warrior in the raid. If he is the only prot warrior in the raid he is still useful as a de-buffer with sunder being the single best physical dps increasing debuff in the game and Tclap, demo and commanding shout being some extremely good buffs to the survivability of the other non-warrior tank that might have been placed as the MT that fight.

-"Good raid utility."
+Thorns and Mark of the Wild are not only the weakest of the group buffs but also become devalued coming from a druid tank as any other druid in the raid can cast these buffs and any caster druids in the raid are likely to have the improved talented versions. Innervate and battle rez are only useful when the druid isn't a tank or in some cases when the druid is tanking and they get creative with timing.

-"Always Crushable."
+Crushing blows are rather insignificant to a druid. Basically all it looks like is that the boss they are tanking has a larger weapon damage range. The top end being the crushing blows is going to hit the druid for about the same amount as a normal non-crushing top end blow would hit a warrior or paladin because of the armor difference any properly geared druid is pushing armor cap in T4 gear already. This is the primary reason a druid tank is preferred on bosses like High King Mags, and Tidewalker.

-"No overall avoidance/mitigation."
+Crushing blows aren't a concern because of the sheer differnce in physical mitigation that druids have over the plate classes. Spell damage mitigation on the other hand can be a weakness if the mob takes full advantage of it. But in the case of a pure resist fight like Hydross the higher stamina multipliers that druids have can actually make them a bit more favored as tanks that are easier to keep alive because of the larger health range. They take 16% more damage but have probably 20+% more health in resist gear.

-"Oh SH!T button is weak. I don’t even know what the Druid OS button is. Someone please enlighten me."

+The druid's panic button is basically trinkets. Moroes' Pocket Watch and the Badge of Tenacity give the druid an effective 10 second "Evasion" with a 2 minute cooldown. Every druid should use both of these trinkets for any heavily physical boss encounter. Not only is the badge key in reaching armor cap but with the activation bonus being Agility (which druids get a much higher amount of dodge from) instead of dodge like the Pocket Watch, they allowed them to stack and be used together.