Let’s start with the good news: Pet Tanking is doing very well! Tanking heroics should be doable by numerous hunters.
For those who need the refresher on tanking strategies, the links are here, here, here, and here. This article assumes you’re versed in each, and will go into some particulars of my heroic tanking experience.
Hunters have a lot of new dps abilities. They’re all important…if you’re dps’ing. When tanking, you have to prioritize. Things like keeping Mend Pet up and target switching are more important than an extra Arcane or Glaive Toss, for example. As such, this being my first heroic tanking in a while, I did things like macro Fervor to Kill Command, and I ignored our Level 90 ability altogether (in my case, Glaive Toss). There’s such a thing as too many abilities, and your first and sometimes only goals should be tank threat and health. With Mend Pet, occasional Misdirections, Blink Strike, etc. effectively becoming part of our standard tanking rotation, less is more with certain abilities.
So ok, cards on the table, I’m convinced something is bugged here. Sometimes it drops the pet’s aggro, other times it doesn’t. I can’t seem to nail down an internal cooldown either; it seems entirely random. I played around with it in my instance runs. Sometimes I’d glyph for it and use it as a mitigation cooldown. Other times I’d cast it just to test the aggro drop (which it did a couple times on bosses…fun times). On most pulls, though, I simply ignored it due to the possibility of an aggro drop. It’s an unfortunate dps loss, but our single target threat is more than ok even without this. Use at your own risk, and if someone can explain what’s wrong in the comments, you’ll have my thanks.
[Edit]: Looks like we have a winner in the comments. The aggro drop is apparently only when glyphed. Bosses/mobs ignore the pet once they can’t be killed. I will test to confirm, but this likely removes Glyph of Endless Wrath from consideration.
Gear and Execution
I’ve been tanking long enough now that even bad runs are pretty solid, but the runs in the videos below aren’t necessarily entirely min-maxed. I forgot to wear my tanking gear (dual stamina trinkets and a helm with a tanking meta gem), and occasionally I was testing strategies or abilities (like the Bestial Wrath tests mentioned earlier). I have a feeling that the gear would have prevented one of two pet-deaths in the Shado-Pan run, as it boosted my pet’s health by about 40K. I generally only have one take to get these runs “right” for video, so there’s rarely such a thing as a perfect run, despite the fact that I’m comfortable in a tanking role.
Pros and Cons
Some of this is review, but…
- Pro: Pets still ignore 90% of AoE damage, effectively negating AoE damage mechanics in fights.
- Pro: Pets still take the largest heals in the game.
- Pro: Single target threat is amazing. Growl-taunting is a revelation for our threat, and we may not even need it for most single target fights.
- Con: Pet health is still noticeably smaller than regular tanks. As such, small and medium-sized heals, or absorbs, are ideal. Larger healing spells will result in a lot of overheals.
- Con: Magic Resistance is gone, which means we no longer have that as an “edge” over regular tanks (pets used to have higher base resistance).
- Con: AoE threat remains an issue. For most trash pulls in the videos below, we just bludgeoned our way through and our dps pulled occasional aggro. If this is not possible, use CC abilities liberally.
- Both: Pet armor still isn’t as high as regular tanks, but the gap is smaller than it has been in the past. We’re still on the lookout for fights with lots of magic and/or AoE damage. Those are our friends as hunter tanks, since melee swings will still hit harder. This will be more of an issue in raids, but can affect your survivability in heroics as well.
Temple of the Jade Serpent
This is considered by most to be the “easiest” heroic. I started here to get my feet wet. As expected, it was quite easy. A smooth run, though you’ll see the result of my pet’s low AoE threat a few times, as the Warlock and DK pulled occasional trash aggro.
According to my guildies, this is probably the hardest non-Challenge-Mode heroic out there right now, so I wanted to see how I did. Predictably, it is somewhat rockier. My pet couldn’t properly attack the flying serpent in the first boss, my pet died twice, the group wiped once (pulled a PAT during trash), and in general we moved more slowly and had to concentrate on what we were doing (as opposed to Temple, which was easy-mode facerolling). Some of this is cut to make the video more smooth, but the takeaway point is that it’s difficult but doable.
So if that’s as hard as heroic tanking is, it’s within the realm of possibility for any dedicated hunter to do it (start with something easier though). Anyway, enjoy!
I was ilvl 470 in these runs. Not wearing tank gear items. And with a group of similarly-geared toons.
There are a couple boss encounters in other dungeons that set up poorly for us. But none that I’d deem impossible. I think it’s safe to say that hunters can tank any heroic at this point.
We know we can pet tank heroics. And maybe it’s that I’m a better player or have more tanking experience than in previous expansions, but I’ve never had such an easy time tanking heroics this early in an expansion. I think it bodes well for tanking in MoP.