Tanks, Tanking and Agro Management in the Secret World
Initial Post on this topic
Tanks are nearly always in short supply in MMO’s. It’s one of the two roles (healer being the other) that virtually guarantees you short waits for dungeon groups. However, as with healer, it’s a role where inexperience and inconsistency really show. On top of that, when the tank or healer screws up, the fight is almost always a loss and reset. So, it’s high stress work and that turns a lot of people off to it. On the other hand, it’s very rewarding if you are willing to pick up the reins and make a go of it.
I tank, I always tank, I rarely ever don’t tank – and even then it’s usually in situations where I’m working with a new tank on their tactics. That’s been true for a good ten years now and it’s unlikely to change any time soon.
Agro Management and Tanks
There’s a world of difference, as many note, between a mostly-guild tank and a pug-tank. Contrary to the position of some, a mostly guild tank (like myself) usually opens the door for their DPS to do a lot more with a lot less concern for themselves. That’s NOT because guild-tanks are BETTER than PUG tanks (I’m sure there’s variance in both directions on this), it’s because teams that play together simply KNOW each other better and can play off each other. The benefit comes from the reduced uncertainty.
Several of my guild DPS run in all ATK gear to really push the envelope of their DPS. They can’t do that in a PUG format because they don’t know what they’ll find for agro generation.
I also don’t typically have a problem with the occasional PUG. My wife, Aela, runs healer regularly, so we have the luxury typically to pick and choose on our groups. We will PUG in DPS, but if someone is pushy, doesn’t follow instructions, or is just generally obnoxious, we put them on /ignore and never include them in a PUG again – problem solved.
Guides for Tanks
In terms of guides for the new tank, I strongly recommend the work of Ciderhelm. While his work isn’t TSW specific, tanking is tanking with the differences between games being relatively minor. His guide covers all the Tanking 101 things that remain true from game to game, era to era, level to level. For someone wanting to roll a tank for their very first time, this is good stuff. For those who tank regularly, it’s all old hat. That’s kind of the point of a newbie guide, though!
Ciderhelm is not affiliated with our site, nor does he play TSW to the best of my knowledge. He’s just done this for a long time at a very high level. He writes well, is quite thorough, and very patient in laying out what is happening in the tank role. I have great respect for his work.
For those wanting to tank in TSW, our site has some material that is helpful. We provide a newbie tank deck that will take a truly new player through Polaris while it is still meaningful (e.g. QL2/3). That build then “grows up” into the single target tank build I used to get through the middle dungeons.
While that build will work all the way into elites, I also provide two additional tank builds that I currently use up through qualifying at gatekeeper. The primary build I run is designed for single target fights, which is most of your elite boss content. However, some elite fights are guaranteed to have 2+ targets through the majority of the fight. In those situations, I swap out of my single target and into my AOE tank build.
In all four builds, you are progressing through the same cells of the wheel, there is a natural progression from them and they will take you cleanly from Polaris normal through clearing your final Elite.
In terms of dungeons, we have walk-through information for the first four dungeons, boss-by-boss. I need to get the write-ups for the final four dungeons put together, they just take awhile to assemble. I am also beginning to put parsing data in the overview of some of the dungeons. It’s pretty clear that some bosses have a much higher rate on some stats than others. Discussion on nightmare tanking is indicating that certain bosses will need builds or gear itemized to offset these extremes. For normal through elite, though, general tanking builds with reasonable gear mixes will suffice.
Talisman, Weapons and Glyphs for Tanks
I am in the middle of writing up something on talisman distribution. I can give the short version of it here, though. Well before you hit elite, you will start finding threat problems if you gear 100% hitpoint gear. DPS are exceeding your output by enough of a multiple that Agitator and Stoicism can not keep up. You need to go at least 20% DPS to maintain agro and you will find this happening somewhere around the Ankh.
For me, that’s just been a headpiece swap out (I used an ATK headpiece with defensive glyphs) and that’s been more than enough for elites from a threat standpoint. There’s a lot more to think about here, but as I said, I’m writing that currently.
Mods and Add-ons
A caveat, you don’t NEED these to play. As others note, back in the old days we all tanked just find using stock interfaces and chat call outs. However, the game permits mods and add-ons and TSW has a booming community of mod-writers. We do NOT host guides and add-ons, the forums here and a couple of other sites typically do. We do maintain a list of mods with links to those sites. I recommend:
- ACT Combat Parser – when you are fine tuning, nothing else comes close
- Vipers Deck Manager – removes the gear swap from the deck manager component. This is an awesome mod.
- Categorical’s improved character sheet – accurate calculations and updates to your combat stats
- Mercinaova’s improved casting bars – most fights you dont need to watch the UI, when you do, these help
Tanking requires practice and patience. It’s a lot of fun though. If you want to group up quickly and get more dungeon runs in, it’s worth investing the time and patience to learn to tank.