Syzygy Bare in mind I’m trying to explain the basics; there’s plenty of detail I could go into.
captain One such situation is when facing a boss monster and it is performing some kind of AoE attack which covers the room, and which I am powerless to stop—hitting it with MRD’s Interject does nothing, Low Blow does nothing.
Just to add one more detail that I’m not sure @Syzygy covered or not–there are two ways to interrupt an enemy spell or ability, the Stun status effect (like Low Blow and Shield Bash), which will delay or cancel the attack as a consequence of the Stun being applied, or for certain Interruptible enemy attacks, which are interrupted using various player abilities which carry a Silence function as the enemy is casting the ability, such as Interject.
Whether or not you can Stun any particular enemy is not always very clear, as Stun immunity is pretty par for the course for bosses. As a Marauder/Warrior, your main option is Low Blow, which has a cooldown, albeit a short one. I wouldn’t worry about using Low Blow as a means to avoid or cancel attacks in general. Stun immunity for bosses gets more common, it’s always fun to try and see if something with a long cast time can be interrupted or canceled with Low Blow or some other Stun attack, but that’s on a level I would consider finesse.
On what may initially seem like a more complex level, whether an attack can be canceled or delayed using Silence is on an ability-by-ability basis. Most attacks aren’t able to be canceled in this way. Luckily, though, the ones that are able to be canceled, and in some sense are expected to be canceled in order for the tank or party to avoid a heavy hit, have a clear visual indication in the enemy’s cast bar:
It also has a pulsing animation, too. You probably noticed that, in fact, and if I’m being redundant because the Hall of the Novice tutorials also explain that pretty clearly, I apologize.
However, to maybe speak to that in terms of how it pertains specifically to tanking and mitigating damage, basically, if you can’t avoid an AoE, or you know you’re being targeted with a Tankbuster, and it is not interruptible, then, it’s just as Syzygy said. It’s not necessarily a test for the tank. And, well, really, I would go further and say that catching Interruptible attacks consistently is, well, it’s not finesse, but it’s definitely at least an intermediate skill when tanking, and is usually not strictly necessary in normal dungeoneering. I forget or don’t notice them all the time. It might be one of the combination of things that leads to a wipe, like if your healer isn’t managing their MP well enough or a DPS or two catch an unlucky AoE AND you miss an interruptible attack at just the wrong moment, but to my knowledge the game does not have mandatory interruptible attacks the tank or someone has to catch or the tank or the party is going down.
In other words, if you can’t see an obvious way to avoid an attack, it’s probably because you’re supposed to be taking it. Canceling enemy attacks with Low Blow or Interject is pretty situational and generally not the solution to surviving, usually more to make things easier for your healer.
captain then hammer on Overpower to try to take aggro from all enemies and cluster them together
I try to tell inexperienced tanks in particular to err on the side of spamming their AoEs and ensuring every enemy has been hit with an Overpower or two (or three) before anything else. For one, it’s actually what you’re usually going to be doing anyway, since AoE is better damage than single target abilities in most cases you’ve engaged 3 or more enemies. But, as well, getting a group of enemies bunched together in the most advantageous right place takes time and it’s really more the job of the DPS to not begin their AoE early before you’re done setting the pull up, and the Healer’s job to keep pace with you so they can keep you alive, than it is for you to pull and do real damage simultaneously. A dungeon is not a race, and letting the tank do their job well at the pace they are comfortable with will always be faster than a tank feeling pressured to rush, which leads to missing enemies or running into patrols, which leads to healer aggro, which leads to wipes.
In any case the beginning of a pull is always the most chaotic part, you do kinda have to run around like a chicken with your head cut off spamming Overpower and making sure you’ve caught every enemy. The DPS know how to figure out how to line up their AoEs when the time is right, so focus most on making sure everything has been hit with enmity generating attacks, then bunching them together a bit if you can, then park and start focusing more on contributing to damage.
For inexperienced tanks I would also say that moving out of AoEs, and thus avoiding unnecessary damage, and thus reducing the chance the tank will die, and thus avoiding the most common catalyst for a wipe, is far more important for good dungeoneering than your DPS killing the boss or the last few enemies in a normal pull marginally faster because they hit their positionals correctly. So, commit first to avoiding AoEs before you worry too much about how to best move during a pull.
Best practice, though, once you’ve got the staying alive part down, is to move as little as possible while avoiding AoEs. It’s of much less importance when you’re still AoEing 3 or more mobs, as although @sabertoothalex is correct that erratic tank movement makes staying in melee range and especially hitting melee positional dependent attacks more difficult, AoEs don’t have positional requirements. So keeping them bunched up can involve however crazy the movement you require may be.
After that, though, minimizing your movement means keeping the position and especially facing of enemies as consistent as possible. This is getting into intermediate and finesse territory again, but the best way to accomplish this is to pick a spot to park once you’ve got the pull set up (let’s call it a home base), and then to learn to tighten up your efficiency of movement to avoid AoEs. Returning to that same spot once the attack is launched as consistently as you can, while favoring backwards and forwards movement as much as possible, means the enemy is moving in a more predictable and clear way to the other players.
Attack animations lock an enemy’s position into place, and, as well, there is a delay after an enemy launches an attack and when they resume movement and thus pursuit of you. Meaning, if you dodge an AoE efficiently enough, you can often return to your home base before the enemy moves or even turns to face you at all. It’s, say, walking right under an enemy and getting behind them and not returning to home base that makes things most difficult for DPS. They can be expected to adjust if the enemy is turning a dozen degrees to face you after an attack, the annoying thing for them is when an enemy finishes an attack and then whips around 180 degrees. That’s also why its best to stay aligned with your target by moving backwards and forwards as much as possible (if the AoE in question allows it of course), since that also minimizes your target’s radial movement.
If you have been having trouble avoiding AoEs and then responding to an enemy’s movement after, you may want to know about this following dark knowledge. There is a bit of a trick that the game plays on you that I think is essential for tanks to know in particular, specifically with regards to avoiding AoEs and positioning enemies. This is a bit in the realm of seeing how the sausage is made, but it makes this aspect of the game so much easier and more clear than I think it’s essential to know:
In order to avoid an AoE, you must standing outside of the AoE marker or field before it fades and the attack animation launches. You do not need to avoid the attack animation.
In other words, if a dragon is readying an attack that spews fiery breath at you in a cone in front of you, with a 3 second marker and then a 3 second fire breath animation or whatever, feel free to move a pace or two (or 4 or 5 if you’re a Lalafell) to the left the moment you see the cone appear, and move right back to home base the moment the cone has completely disappeared. Watch your character take a dragon breath attack straight to the face (or the scalp if you’re a Lalafell), and take zero damage, because you have already avoided the attack. This is really what facilitates the nice and smooth tank movement that keeps enemy positioning stable and predictable. The animations of the attacks are not what registers the attack as a hit. So, well, it’s not possible for every attack, nor is it even strictly necessary, as again, positionals matter but they’re not necessarily going to make or break an encounter very often. However knowing how AoE marked attacks actually land I think can really help build confidence in tank movement and positioning.
captain using buffs as needed depending on the encounter.
Knowing how to use damage mitigation cooldowns is probably more like bridging the gap between basic and intermediate tanking skills, and there’s no strictly right answer. There are some principles to keep in mind, though.
I don’t know if you’ve given much indication what level you’re at, but if you’re still a Marauder then I suppose you’re under level 30. I am going to reference abilities you don’t have yet, but the principles won’t change. You’ve got Rampart for sure and you can certainly see what Reprisal does. And, now that I’m looking at it, they changed Reprisal to reduce the outgoing damage of enemies nearby, rather than just your single target! Interesting. You can also think fondly about the idea of getting another similar but Job specific ability called Vengeance at level 38, which also gives you a percentage of damage mitigation for a certain duration.
The value and use case of your damage mitigation cooldowns are, I think, communicated first and foremost by their duration and their recast timers, and still integrally by how much damage they mitigate. How to interpret this information, though, changes drastically between normal groups of enemies and bosses.
In general, for example, Rampart and Reprisal are on a 90 second and 60 recast timer respectively, meaning you can and should get used to using them both all the time. Vengeance is a two minute cooldown and a 30% damage mitigation, so that’s more something you want to save for sticky situations. You do want to have it when you need it, but also in general, using them regularly is a good thing. They are not just to respond to emergencies, even if that is an obvious utility for them too1.
1 - Of course, each tank also has a Hail Mary play cooldown that is almost strictly only for responding to emergencies, but you don’t have that yet, and their long cooldowns communicate that pretty clearly, too.
Pulls of multiple mobs mean you’re taking the most damage as soon as you’ve got everything grouped up and they’re all focused on you and attacking and not focused on chasing you, until the first enemy dies. So it’s best to take a proactive and preventative approach with your damage mitigation cooldowns. You can help your healer settle in to the pull a lot by using something like Rampart or Reprisal right off the top after you’ve positioned yourself properly. This also means if everyone is in good shape, a good healer is contributing to damage with their own AoEs. If your group is killing things fast, you can alternate between Rampart and Reprisal for each pull. In either case, any time you’re taking damage with a buff up is more stability and thus more opportunities for the healer to AoE, so at least for starting off normal pulls, habitually using them is great. Healing jobs have varying capacity to turn around a dire situation, especially when it comes to focused intensive single target healing (White Mages/Conjurers are best set up for it, other Jobs have tools but they’re less good at it). Some of those tools are also cooldown dependent, and, well, all of them are soft dependent on your healer being observant and having good reflexes, and hard dependent on cast times and healing potency. A good healer should be able to save your bacon if you are taking heavier damage than expected because a patrolling mob wandered in at the top of the pull and you reactively popped Rampart once you noticed your health was spiking up and down below 50%–a less good healer might not fully comprehend why you’re taking more damage than expected and not alter their healing approach fast enough, even with the help Rampart gives. That same less good healer, though, might have a better chance if you popped Rampart before things really got hairy, and is already keeping a close eye on your health once Rampart drops. Or, even, a mob or two is already down and the crisis doesn’t even have a chance to get hairy.
This gets to be even more important when you get into multi-pulling, as in, pulling more than is intended by the dungeon design and trailing linked groups of mobs around to further ones. More on this social aspect in a bit, but it requires lots of experience and comfort, and so anyone asking you to pull faster than you’re comfortable with can stuff it. However, it makes that front-loading of damage and danger during normal dungeon pulling to be much more important. Again, plan to do it in the future, but for, say, late ARR or early HW dungeons, this might mean you’re alternating between doubling up on Reprisal and Rampart at the beginning of a pull, and using Vengeance. But, anyway, that’s all getting way too ahead.
…However, to get even more ahead for just a moment, look forward to level 56 Warrior, when they get the most OP damn ability for dungeon/multiple enemy tanking. When I have been leveling Warrior I enjoy running around doing FATEs and pulling every FATE mob in sight and tanking all of them, alone without a healer, and not even breaking a sweat. That’s something to look forward to, though…
Anyway, how to most effectively use damage mitigation cooldowns during boss fights is actually somewhat simpler and usually less important. It’s more responsive than preventative. The situation you described where you had to take an AoE that you couldn’t avoid or interrupt, your healer will probably be responding with a party-wide heal in most cases. Generally speaking, the biggest problem with healing is dealing with spikes in damage, at least, in a way that is mana efficient. So even if the damage isn’t too bad on an unavoidable party-wide attack, if you took 20% less than the rest of the party, they might be able to get away with healing the rest of the party with mana efficient HoTs and throwing you a few direct heals if needed. So a well placed Rampart or a Reprisal is generally not necessary to keep you alive during boss mechanics, but using them to smooth out even smaller damage spikes can help your healer a lot.
The other main use for damage mitigation skills in the context of boss fights is tank buster abilities. Which, is, well, basically what I described, but unavoidable damage designed specifically to do very heavy damage specifically to the tank. Now, I don’t know what level bosses start to use tank busters, and I think more recently there was an update that went back and added a specific marker, which is I’m pretty sure featured in this stupid meme:
So once you start seeing bosses put that on you, know that that is the icon you want to save at least one damage mitigation skill for, the more damage reduction the better. Instead of smoothing out a spike to give the healer a favor, tank busters are the ones where you’re trying to control just how high the spike is going to be. Tank busters aren’t usually 1HKOs or anything, but if you’re taking it unmitigated and you’re not near full health, you might be tasting floor soon.
captain lol not according to the mage who was with me yesterday (don’t think this was the person messaging me).
Just saying, but if I was the other DPS or the healer in that group I would have gotten lippy at anyone who would criticize a tank unconstructively like that. I mean, no offense, but I don’t find it hard to identify inexperienced tanks, so I’d even go so far as to say I think it shouldn’t be necessary to explain or apologize in advance for still learning what I think is one of the most idiosyncratic and complex styles of videogame out there. I mean, maybe I’m still being impolite, but I’d probably instead have chimed in with instructions like “run around like a chicken with your head cut off spamming Overpower first” rather than just tell you that you need to be doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Then again, I learned the fundamentals of this stuff like 15 years ago playing World of Warcraft, and taught some pals how to tank then, too. To be generous, maybe they didn’t know how tanking really works and couldn’t have explained anyway.
Being an old hand at this, I have some perspectives on tanking you could even say are borderline philosophical. I think it’s something you have to approach with a certain attitude as well as a sort of confidence. I might take the whole “dungeon leader” role more seriously than Syzygy, because I think that’s a very important aspect of it.
Or, maybe it’s less that you’re the leader and more that you are the pace car. In my opinion, criticizing a tank unconstructively is not okay because it’s tantamount to rushing a tank, which is an MMORPG cardinal sin. Notwithstanding the tank standing in a nasty AoE or a stack of AoEs, a tank dying first is a tank doing their job. That job is a weird idiosyncratic thing in videogames to begin with, but that job also becomes much harder when people try to pass the pace car. It certainly doesn’t make anything go faster, it just holds up the race proceeding in an orderly fashion while also putting people in unnecessary danger. You want to get out of the way and start the race as much as anyone, and you’re trying to do your job. I guess where the metaphor breaks down is that no one who gets to drive in the pace position is learning to drive a race car, but that’s the challenge you’ve put yourself to. Even if it’s frustrating, I still say that no matter what that pace or direction may be, non-tanks should follow the tank no matter what. It’s kind of the role that depends most on that sort of patience and co-operation from other players while you’re learning. However it’s not so complex and demanding that you won’t get the hang of it.
Syzygy If your whole hotbar is covered how are you hitting skills mapped to 7, 8, 9? With the mouse? I suppose different classes necessitate having your hand on WASD in different measures.
I recently got one of those so-called MMO mice with a whole 3×4 numpad kinda thing on the side. Before that, I used a mouse with a Mouse 5 and 6 Button, as well as the number keys closest to WASD, and both then and now, combinations of number keys and mouse buttons + Alt, Shift, and Ctrl. You can do Alt+Shift+X too.