Original Post Date: 1/21/2009
So, now that I've gone through and written up a formal discussion on many generic tanking topics, I wanted to have a separate venue in which I could bring up other, more subtle aspects of the tanking environment at large in the World of Warcraft. These posts will, in general, be far less formal than the Compendium, so I won't be spending time getting the formatting to be all pretty. They should also be shorter, in theory, but I do have a tendency to go on tangents.
That said, these essays will attempt to cover some of my more obscure, yet note-worthy tanking experiences. They are meant to be an open forum of sorts, as well, and I encourage all tanking classes to weigh in (All of these posts, while coming from a Warrior Tank, are not specific to Warriors). The topics will vary pretty wildly over time, too, I imagine; hopefully there will be something useful hidden within these pages, or at least entertaining.
Now, for this first piece: I wanted to open these essays with a talk about some of the trickier boss encounters in WotLK, and solutions I've found for countering them. Rycharde has successfully tanked every encounter in the game for 5-man and 10-man content, so I believe I've seen the best and worst of the tanking environment. Also, while many encounters may be difficult in general, or difficult on your healers or DPS, I'm presently concerned only with the tanking-complex encounters.
Anub'Arak - Azjol-Nerub: This guy was a real challenge to get through in starting gear. I haven't had much trouble with him since my first two or three days clearing this instance, but those first days taught me a lot about how to handle him. His pounds are lethal to your melee DPS, and you can't afford to lose them here: get them clear every time. The little adds will need a brave caster to be handled optimally, or your healer will be spell-locked. Be sure to keep the boss roughly centered, so everyone can clear his pounds, and move up to the gate for each adds phase. The poison damage is substantial, so make sure that you and your DPS hot-swap to the venom spiders when they show, even if other things are still alive. You'll need to burn them quickly, and do everything you can to interrupt their poison volleys - the single-shots are less dire. You also need to remain mobile at all times: perform small side-steps to keep on your toes, as it were: those spikes will take a huge chunk out of even your health, so avoid it as best you can. The first two bosses of this instance are far easier, by comparison: don't be surprised if this one gives you some trouble. Useful party members: Shaman and Druid, both of which bring strong poison removal to the party.
Prince Taldaram - Ahn'Kahet: The Old Kingdom: A highly melee-unfriendly fight. His fire damage is substantial, so an aura or totem will certainly help to mitigate some of that damage. You and your melee DPS need to evade the orbs as best you can, however, so there is a substantial movement requisite: be ready to strafe out and jump-guard so you don't expose your back to the boss or move too slowly out. Every boss within this instance has some obnoxious trick to make your life miserable, but this is the one most dependant upon your leadership and positioning of the party: space them correctly, make sure they know where and how to run, and keep them updated as you kite the boss around the room. For me, the easiest strategy is to always bring the boss to the center, leave my ranged by the stairs, and run to the casters when the orbs appear. As soon as I reach the casters, I double back to reset the positioning. When the boss vanishes, I try to call everyone inwards as best I can, but if this fails, we just adjust the corner that the ranged use to somewhere else in the room.
Mage-Lord Urom - The Oculus: With enough frost resistance, this fight is cake. The frostbomb damage does next-to-nothing damage against 300 Frost Resistance, which you can get quite readily with the craftable gear. If you have this available, just tank the boss where he stands. Have your party stand behind a pillar, spread out as best they can to mitigate time bomb damage, and endure the frost bombs. I make my melee DPS sit this fight out if they don't have the FR gear for it: the slower fight is at least far safer. Now, if you don't yet have your FR gear set together, this fight becomes a substantial challenge. You need to be strafing for nearly the entire fight at the reduced speed, and your party needs to stay three steps ahead of you to stay out of the frost damage altogether. After seeing the hellish wipes this can lead to with any melee DPS (they all too often get stuck behind the tank and die from excessive frost damage), I think that tanking through the frost damage may be advisable even without frost resistance gear: the alternative is risky with anyone who hasn't performed the run multiple times before. For the arcane explosions, you would do well to get clear of the frost field, especially if you aren't wearing FR gear. The explosion hits for roughly 12000 damage, which may be healable, but clearing off the 30 stacks of frost goo is the real necessity here; get to clear ground first, get behind a pillar second.
Xevozz - The Violet Hold: Another mobility-key fight, the key to clearing this fight without stress is to establish your kite path with everyone in the raid. I always shove the entire raid up onto the left-side staircase at the beginning of the fight - LoS your ranged and healers to get them up if they won't listen - the kiting is imperative for everyone in this fight. The boss will summon in arcane orbs shortly into the fight, and if they reach the boss, he gains a substantial damage boost - he will easily two-shot most tanks while under this effect. Thus, you need to kite him away from the orbs. Watch the orbs approach, and as soon as the closer orb reaches the very bottom of the staircase, kite up and around the ring, moving left-to-right if you're looking into the room from the entrance. You'll need to move quickly, and always keep an eye on where the orbs are. They will likely slide up the gravelly path leading to Zuramat, but you should have plenty of clear path yet to go - all the way to the right-side staircase. The orbs will summon you after a while; when this happens, book it back to the starting point. The boss will come running for you, so keep him out of the orbs, or stay out of melee range until you see the buff wear off of him. Resetting the kite path is key here, as the orbs detonate shortly after the summon, and the boss will recast them at the same places. Running from right-to-left should also be a viable kite path, but I've too often seen a team get caught between the orbs, since the kiter doesn't outrun the orb that slithers up the gravel path; left-to-right kiting makes clearing the gravel path occur much earlier in the overall path, which should be a help.
There's more to come here, perhaps in a second post. Also, be sure to post up any other encounters you've found cute tricks for, or encounters that you haven't had any luck clearing successfully - I'll share what I can about the solutions I used.