You may have noticed this post over on LOTRO Reporter, so this is purely a re-post of that information.
I’ve primarily focused on how to not only solo effectively as a Warden but tank and hold agro as well. However, a recent post on the Guardian forums got me thinking that I should put down some thoughts on off-tanking as a Warden. I will admit that I’m not the greatest off-tank on my Warden as I do tend to just end up tanking, mainly due to my arrogance when on my Warden :). However, in some cases it may make sense to off-tank so here are some ideas for you.
You might be wondering why if I’ve written and boasted how good Wardens are as tanks, why would I now advocate taking a back seat? My thoughts here primarily revolve around group makeup and open communication, although fight mechanics also can have an impact. For group makeup, I’ve run in numerous groups with another tank (either another Warden, or a Guardian) and it really makes it easier for everyone if there’s a designated main tank. So in that case I’ll defer if I know the tank or if they speak up that they want to main tank for whatever reason. This is a really good time to learn how to tank as there’s not the same pressure since you have a true tank as a backup. As for fight mechanics for bosses that hit real hard sometimes it can be smoother for a Guardian to tank it since they have the flat 10% higher mitigations. Or there may be a need to wrangle up a series of adds and having a Warden do that works out better – I’m thinking the Igash fight in the Grand stairs where the Warden can grab the archers.
Now that I’ve walked through the reasons why you might want to off-tank, lets jump into the specifics. The responsibility of the off-tank is to grab any other mobs that the tank doesn’t have. Primarily I look at the off-tank as the protector of the squishies whether those are Minstrels, RKs, or just a Hunter who’s a bit overzealous. Ideally the way it works is that if a mobs peals off to go after the healer you’d target that mob and taunt it such that it comes after you and either hold it till it dies or until the main tank can pull it back. The easiest way to do this is by using the “target of target” option in the Combat Options such that the offending mob is highlighted and then target that mob. Skill target forwarding helps too but it might not always get you the right target as it will give you who the squishie is targeted not who’s targeting the squishy. Off-tanking is a little easier on Captains and Champions as they have targeted forced taunts but a Warden can fill this role just as well and offers a slightly different way of doing it.
Your best friend for off-tanking is the fist-spear mastery as you can instantly que up a Precise Blow and get it off almost instantly. You might also to want to use the recovery skills if need be, but with the recent changes you’re probably just as well off hitting whatever’s in your gambit bar and doing it that way as the recovery skills just aren’t as fast as they used to be. I wouldn’t suggest Defiant Challenge since it is an AoE forced taunt and speaking from personal experience it does confuse (and annoy) the tank when mobs are force taunted off them. I would only use that as a last ditch skill if either the squishy’s getting pounded or if you just can’t pull it off. Usually a single Precise blow will get the mobs attention, but if not spamming it will most likely be the quickest way to pull it.
The other important gambits to use are our threat transfers like Conviction and Dance of War, but you do need to be cautious such that you don’t over-steal threat 🙂 This is where Wardens function a bit differently as an off-tank and when done well can really make for smooth runs. The reason for using the transfers is such that you can keep yourself higher on the threat table for all nearby mobs but also lower everyone elses threat level. Conviction also provides some nice healing which not only is additional threat but it lessens the load on the healers a bit, which again lowers their threat. So the threat transfers are a sort off preventative off-tank strategy which really should help eliminate the need to grab a stray mob.
Outside of all that, the only other thing I have to say about off-tanking is that you don’t want to get into a threat competition with the main tank, it may help your ego (I’ll admit, I’ve done this on a few occasions) but it really doesn’t help your group. So outside of the skills I’ve mentioned, try to stay away from taunts and if you are building a gambit with taunts in it try to use builders as much as possible since they don’t have a threat component. But probably the most important thing is to communicate with your group about the roles everyone is expected to fill.