Monday, October 1, 2007

Threat, Hate, Aggro

Over the weekend in our Karazhan raid I heard comments from a number of people about threat and specifically about the threat meters. I'm going to use fictitious names so as to not embarass anyone.

Single largest comment I heard was "I was 10K under the tank, why is he hitting me?" The answer is, there may be a number of reasons.

The first reason the mob may be hitting you when you're under the tank's threat is he may be programmed to do that. For instance, Attumen randomly charges a member of the raid after he mounts up. The skeletal chargers also do a random charge. It doesn't matter if you have zero threat. If you're in combat, you're a potential target. Another way mobs are programmed are being immune to taunt effects. When a tank loses the mob's focus, taunt is likely to be the first thing he tries (or growl or whatever) to get it back. If the mob is immune to taunt, you've got big problems.

Another reason for why the mob is hitting you may have to do with your meters. A couple of things may be going on. Threat meters are at best approximations. They collect a lot of data from your group, share it around through synching channels and graphically put the approximation of the mob's threat onto your screen. If you're cutting the line close you may actually be significantly higher than you think. Also, depending on the mod you're using it may be tracking actual threat against your targetted mob or residual threat over the whole fight. That's a question you'll have to find the answer to and then adjust your playstyle.

The third reason you may be drawing unwarranted threat? The hunter (or warlock or priest or...) Several classes have built in threat reducers. They use them and the mob pops right back onto the tank right? Well, not always. Let me explain.

If you're not in melee range of the primary threat (hopefully the tank), you must accumulate 130% threat to pull the mob's attention onto you. If you are in melee range, you need only 110% threat to pull aggro. Rogues, Feral Druids and DPS Warriors aren't the only ones who need know the 110% number though. Let me give you an example.

Example: You're in a run with my hunter, Bremagorn. He's providing sustained DPS on the monster while the tank is doing the meat-shielding. If I don't notice my threat creeping ever closer to the tanks and do something about it, I may land a lucky crit and BAM I'm at 131% of the tank's threat. The mob comes running for me, is about to poke me in the eye and I feign. The mob pops back to the tank right? Well, maybe. The tank is now probably OUTSIDE of melee range. The healer (or mage or warlock or..), however is probably INSIDE melee range. The mob probably is NOT going to run for the warrior. He's probably going to decide he'd like barbecued healer leg for dinner and pop the squishy priest.

You can also draw too much threat in other ways. Doing a full burn of your mana to do the most DPS you can is almost always going to get you dead. Especially if you lay into the mob when the mob isn't under the tank's control.

So, what's our object lessons here?

  • Know how the threat meter you use (You DO use one right?) displays threat
  • Slow down. Dead players contribute almost no DPS
  • Before using your aggro dumping abilities, have a good idea WHO will take the aggro.
  • Know that some mobs are programmed to do random things, be immune to taunt, or have no conventional aggro list.
Good luck out there.


Scott said...

This is, so far, one of your best posts. Fantastic work. This is one of the reasons I try to position the target with their back to the group. Not only do I avoid extra hits because he parried the melee dpsers swings, but if he does take off after someone he's usually running -away- from me and I just have to move forward and taunt. That's much easier than having to turn and chase him down.

I'd like to add two things that I see causing large amounts of aggro generation and loss of focus on the tank.

1) Knowing your tanks abilities. Since warriors( and I believe druids ) build rage by hitting and being hit, you have to backload your damage. You start out a bit slower then ramp up the damage so the tank can build adequate threat. With a paladin tank, since we use mana to generate aggro, you time till ramp-up is much shorter. Especially if your paladin can use his shield pull which generates a -ton- of threat - nobody likes to get hit in the face with a shield!

2) Breaking CC. I'm not talking about accidentally breaking traps, seductions, shackles, etc. I'm talking about after the skull and the X are down and we move onto another target. Do -not- unload on this guy. The same rules apply. Let your tank establish not just aggro but -good- aggro. Do not take the short break to get that Aimed Shot going, or that Pyroblast running up! There's a fair chance the tank has had to burn one of his taunts in the previous fight or use his heavy aggro skills( most of which have cooldowns ) to keep the target on themselves. And in a place like Karazhan, Blizzard had the brilliant idea of making certain mobs untauntable by Righteous Defense( the paladin taunt ).

Ironshield said...

If I may add a line or two... aggro management is a party thing - not a tank thing. Bad aggro management is bad party performance. It's everyone's job to try to make sure the po'd mob is smacking your tank and not you. So keep an eye on that KTM/Omen threat meter and make sure you are lining up the next volley to be something that will put you exactly where you want to be in the threat stack. That may mean white damage autoshot or a low level wand.

Also, if clothies think it is annoying for someone to start the next fight while they are trying to drink, imagine how much it PO the tank when someone starts the next fight and they are nowhere near where they need to be - caught by surprise by the early start - and then haul all the way over to the mob only to have it pulled back to the party. I tend to have a rule that if you don't check whether I am ready before you pull, then it is "you spank it, you tank it!" time!

= )