Monday, May 14, 2007

What is a Panzerkin?



What's a Panzerkin?
A panzerkin is exactly what the name says -- a moonkin-spec'd druid who can tank. Put another way, panzerkin are about balancing out two competing drives, damage per second (DPS) vs. damage mitigation. Though often panzerkin only perform as an off-tank, picking up those mobs that stray from the group's main tank before they hit the true squishies (mages, warlocks -- even priests to a certain degree, though they don't wilt like real clothies when attacked), in most instances, they make quite capable main tanks.

Why can moonkin tank?
  • There's no better spec for pulling than the panzerkin, who can grab with starfires for about 1k damage even at my current level (63) and crit for 2k. It's very easy to moonfire a number of mobs quickly, keeping their attention on you, or to toss in some Wraths as they approach, all while in your high-armor form.

  • With pointblank wrath-spams, it's very hard to find a tank that can match a panzer's DPS, which helps with keeping up the threat level. Worst case for me is, give or take, 450 damage per 3.5 seconds with Wrath and my feral gear on, which means 900 damage in 3 seconds when I crit on top of moonfire's damage over time (turns into 650 & 1300 with DPS gear; beat that, prot warriors).

  • With the right gear - Ursol's Claw is an early example -- panzers can also dish out good DPS during melee combat as well. Feral-geared moonkin can dish out better damage in melee as kin than bear.

  • Elune's touch gives melee an added benefit of regenerating some Wrath mana while you're at it.

  • It's also here that druids' area of effect (AoE) damage spells make more sense. Casting barkskin and hurricane mean that quite a few mobs will concentrate mainly on you, and is a good way of pulling aggro, as the form doesn't have talents that do that artificially.

  • So why not call them Abramskin? Well, the World War II panzers were known in conjunction with blitzkriegs, or "lightning war". Moonkin have the damage mitigation to tank fairly well, but have a much more difficult time keeping up their damage per second (DPS), if only because they run out of mana. There's no way to beat Wrath-spamming your opponent for DPS, except that, eventually, without a ton of Elune's Touches and a great shadowpriest, you'll run out of the mana to conjure Wrath up. This takes some good gameplay skills, as well-timed mana potions become especially important.

    Clothing a Kin:
    You may have heard the term "clothkin." These seem less prevalent in The Burning Crusade because there's a lot more +spell damage leather gear, but clothkins are those who sacrifice armor to pile on cloth equipment. The bonuses of cloth gear targets the classes that usually wear it, mages & warlocks, and have a great deal more +spell damage for Wrath, making DPS go through the roof.

    This is great when you're soloing, and can use roots for crowd control, and helps a balance druid fill a DPS slot in a group, but loses two-thirds of the bonuses the moonkin form gives -- extra attack power and the armor multiplier. I'd also suggest that "of Nature's Wrath" gear, which I'll blog more on later, is a better way to pick up some more DPS and damage mitigation than cloth gear for very little gold.

    Striking a good balance between DPS and damage mitigation gear is pretty difficult. I've found I tend to wear nearly pure feral gear while panzering, with just a few extra pieces to add DPS to my Wrath.

    Why the Armor Bonus if not Tanking?
    Taken another way, let's answer the question, "Why does moonkin have as much armor as bear?" from the Blizzard forums. From the OP:
    There is just no way that a caster form should have the same amount of armor bonus as a tanking form. Ever. Period.

    Perhaps because moonkin is a tanking form? From the first reply...
    In a nutshell, the Moonkin armor level is to give you a measure of survivability if you pull aggro from trash in an instance - allowing you a limited ability to offtank.

    The way I see it, they got a bump in armor in order to promote some measure of scalability now that the game has extended 10 additional levels. Playing a heavy hitting caster that neither has an aggro dump, nor any aggro reduction talents is a wee bit dangerous. Armor helps them.

    The point of these two posts is certainly true... As I've said a few times, being a druid means you've been the main healer quite a bit, like it or not. I've healed long enough to know that when a tank loses aggro and a mob rushes a clothie, the health bars drop like the bottom fell out. It's a real pain healing mages who draw aggro before they go down and the chance for wiping begins.

    But healing standard DPS moonkin who draw aggro? No problem. If a moonkin can't finish off one loose mob, well, they aren't worth their Deeprock Salt. Even then, the healer has a lot larger window for timing the heal than with a mage. The armor is a good bonus, even when just DPSing.

    But, as I've already suggested, it would seem there's another message from Blizzard. They could have left moonkin at 360% for their armor multiplier after the bear nerf, and nobody would have complained. At 400%, matching bear armor for armor, the message seems to be, "You can both tank, fools!"

    Why not?

    (I'll try to edit this post a bit later, but thought I'd get this much out now.)


    Eilianna said...

    The huge flaw in your argument is threat generation. Panzerkin simply don't have improved threat generation talents.

    I'll provide a simple example of two feral druids in a group, with comparable gear for their roles. The druid in cat will rarely be able to pull aggro off the tanking bear. However, if for some reason two tanks are required and the cat druid shifts to bear as an offtank, he will most likely pull aggro. Although he has much more AP and dps when in cat, he still doesn't pull then. However, when in bear, wearing dps gear, he generates more threat even though he does less damage than he would in cat. Thus, he pulls (and takes more damage because of his lack of mitigation due to gear).

    Granted, there is a fine line between dps and mitigation. The difference is, correctly spec'd feral druids and prot spec'd warriors can produce that threat while taking less damage. You are correct, armor plays an important role. However, it is silly to forget dodge and hp, two other very important components of tanking that the panzerkin simply doesn't have talents for.

    rufbo said...

    Thanks for the comments; you're quite right. There are several formula that I need to start reviewing, a weakness I hope I make clear with the "confessions" part of the title; I'm no expert WoWer.

    The first I'll cover on the blog is damage mitigation, since that's pretty important to understand vs. DPS improvement if you want to panzerkin, or have sustainable solo play (ie, not drop and drink after every few mobs).

    Threat generation is another. Right now, I've rarely had a group where I couldn't pull aggro off of a clothie/squishie by laying the Wrath into the mob. It really doesn't take long, imo. Still, this is only anecdotal, and I need to back it up a bit. "Maths" to follow...

    Andre said...

    Hmmm....while eilianna was right in stating that panzerkin simply dont't have improved threat generation talents, she simply forgot to mention that neither does a feral druid. Druid in bear form has only one talent to generate additional aggro while the druid in cat from simply has none. I been feral till lvl 50 when i switched to balance. I had no problem stealing main tanks aggro on the bosses even with 3 sunders on them.
    Granted the tank was fairly new and was still learning the ropes but you wouldn't believe how much threat starfire can generate. Combine that with enginering as a profession and you will truly have yourself a panzerkin....
    I know post is a little old but still