As you may have noticed, my blog has been a bit more quiet lately than it used to be. This is not due to a lack of enthusiasm, but rather due to an overflow of study load. I've just started a new master in September, and I love it, but it does mean less frequent posts. Don't worry, I promise I won't disappear: a one post a week minimum should be doable.
Because I've been so busy studying, I haven't been able to play much either. At the same time, the "final days before the expansion" are very present in the general atmosphere in LotRO: not everyone is as enthusiastic about raiding ToO anymore, and we sometimes struggle for the right numbers or classes. In a weird way, this is actually positive for me: I wouldn't be able to keep up with raiding four days a week with the amount of homework I got.
Some failed raids resulted with very fun stuff, for instance the realization of an old dream of me: bear tanking the Twins fight in Barad Guldur ("BG"). As expected, six-manning BG wasn't that challenging, but it was a blast. We went right through the gauntlet, and after that I plus a captain had to "off-tank" Durchest. Lore-master tanks for the win! After that it was off to the Twins, probably the hardest of the three boss fights for over-leveled characters. Stress when it turned out my bear food stock was depleted! So I went out and quickly made some, and then the fun began. It was actually a bit challenging, and I had to be main DPS on Cargaraf (traited reds), while the captain was tanking it.
Advantages of bear tanking:
- No tank player needed, so it opens up a spot in your raid, which can be filled with an extra DPS class (not relevant here in BG, as we were under-manning, but I guess we were actually effectively 7-manning instead of 6-manning it, if you include the bear)
- The bear might not take all negative effects (in this case the Immolate effect from Morgaraf, so it didn't have to run away every so many seconds), which sometimes makes up for having inferior sturdyness compared to a real tank
How to bear tank:
- Feed the bear pots of Honey and Oats for +15% perceived threat
- Use a legacied Sign of the Wild: Rage on the bear for + 25% perceived threat
- Damage the target yourself and use Inner Flame to transfer your threat to the bear
- Burglars use traited Provoke on the bear
- Champions use Rising Ire on the bear
- Optional: also use a legacied Sign of the Wild: Protection on the bear for extra survivability (Master of Beasts trait needed to be able to apply both signs)
To the right: Zwartje moaning about having the aggro of an imaginary fabricated nazgûl (he's such a whimp!).
With all these buffs, the bear should be able to tank sufficiently. You don't need its force taunt Roaring Challenge unless there's an emergency. This skill doesn't give the bear any aggro, but just forces the target to attack the bear for a set amount of time. It doesn't have much to do with actual (permanent) tanking.
A debated tactic
In the past, bear tanking has been looked at with mistrust. The tricky part is in the "bear might not take all negative effects" part. If the bear is able to avoid a total game mechanic and ridicules the fight, you might speak of an exploit. This happened in Moria times, when a lore-master and a minstrel were able to duo the Turtle with a bear tank. The bear didn't get the acid dot that would force real tanks to swap aggro. Thus a fight designed for twelve could be completed by two.
It must've been a very long fight, mind you. They had no champions or burglars to give the bear aggro, so the players weren't able to deal much damage to the Turtle, otherwise it would loose it. The bear would be main DPS. Meanwhile, the lore-master would be pulling power to supply the minstrel, who had to heal the bear with an increasing intensity. Seriously, it must've taken ages!
In the case of the Turtle, I can can understand how this was considered an exploit and why they changed it so it cannot be done anymore: people were using this to farm for first age symbols without having to roll against many others. However, bear tanking is usually harmless, as most people take the bear with them as a tank to approach fights in a different way and have some fun. Bear tanking isn't something you can do mindlessly: you need to make up a tactic and people need to coordinate and put effort in to let the bear keep having aggro. Also, healers will have to heal the bear more than they would a normal tank, because it's just a bit more squishy. Bear tanking in BG doesn't make the fights easier, rather harder. It did make it faster, though. If done the right way, bear tanking can be very much fun, like it was for us.
Finally, hurray for Zwartje, proud tank of Morgaraf!