With Wrath of the Lich King, the focus was taken away from the use of CC and into more complex strategies for bosses. One of the things that is occasionally overlooked in all of this is aggro management. But in a game with misdirections and tricks of the trade, is aggro that much of an issue anymore? I prefer to look at aggro management in 3 different lights.
5 Mans – Aggro management is still huge in a 5 man setting. While all of the tanking classes have the ability to hold aggro on multiple mobs at once, an overzealous DPS AoEing can pull aggro off of any tank. And I do mean any tank. You can be in 25 man ICC HM tanking gear and a DPS could pull off of you. This is why in 5 mans, it is especially important to wait for tanks to get aggro. If you overgear a 5 man, it may be less of a concern, but it is a concern still.
10 Mans – Aggro management may be an issue in 10 mans. A lot of this is determined by your raid makeup. If your 10 man does not have a rogue or a hunter, then watching aggro becomes much more important since all aggro built is tank aggro. In that case, it is important to wait for the tank to get sufficient aggro before opening up on him. Also, I made an important discover last night in my 10 man on LK. We had a rogue who was doing Tricks of the Trade to the tank. However, if the gear is not comparable, a higher geared DPS can overtake a lesser geared Tricks of the Trade. I ended up pulling LK because my DPS was higher than his Tricks which lead to my death and a unnecessary wipe. So just realize that if you out gear and out DPS your hunter or rogue, you may need to still hold off on DPS to let the tank get full aggro.
25 Mans – Aggro only becomes an issue in select circumstances. Since almost every 25 man will have at least a hunter and a rogue, you should not have an issue pulling aggro off the tank if they are doing their jobs correctly. In a few circumstances, you will still want to wait. One of the biggest examples of aggro management in 25 mans is the raging spirits during the LK fight. I can’t tell you how many DPS died because a raging spirit spawns off a person and they don’t wait for a tank to pick it up before opening on it. Another major instance is HM Deathwhisper, where the adds can one shot a non-tank. Wait until the tank gets aggro on the adds. Also, in HM Deathwhisper, taunting does not work for Deathwhisper, so aggro has to be carefully managed between the two tanks usually through a combination of Tricks and misdirects.
So, if you are close to pulling aggro, how do you drop it really quick? Every class has a few ways to do it, but I’m gonna just talk about the druid’s ways to drop aggro. These tactics rage from really quickly to really slowly, but they will all work.
1) Stop Attacking – This it the most obvious, but it is also the one that is least likely to work. Usually by the time you find out you need to back off, the mob is headed your way anyway. If the tank is not able to get aggro back, you will have to use another tactic.
2) Go Bear Form – If the mob is headed your way, you can always go bear form. If you are DPSing in cat form, you may even be able to tank it for a second since you would pick up the uncrittable talent anyway. If you are DPSing in boomkin, it will still only take two hits to kill you if you throw up Barkskin as well, but it is better than one. Ideally, you want to go bear and then do some slight kiting until the tank gets the boss back.
3) Cower – One of the overlooked druid talents, but incredibly handy. You just change into cat form and then use cower. This helps you drop all aggro on the mob and lets it go back to the tank.
4) Shadowmeld – For all the night elves, you can use Shadowmeld, which will drop aggro on the mob. The one catch to this is you will gain it back the second you come out. However, this may give time for the tank to pull the mob away and get back a aggro lead or have his taunt off cooldown.
5) War Stomp – For the Tauren, your ability is not as good as Shadowmeld. (Sorry) However, if the mob is stunnable, you can stun them and then use some other tactic to drop aggro. It gives you a second, but it may be the second you need to drop aggro. Of course, this will not work on bosses.
So overall in the game, aggro management is still important. Maybe not as much as it was at one point and time in the game (remember the Karazhan mobs that the tanks had to be number 1 and number 2 on the aggro table due to him freezing one of the tanks), but still important enough to pay attention to it especially in 5 and 10 mans.
Please remember to sign up for the Christmas in July contest. You only have 9 more days to sign up to win some free stuff. I feel like early in August, we are going to start getting some announcements about Cataclysm.