This post is out of date as of october 12, release day of patch 4.0.1. The general thinking of kitting is still viable but the abilities might not work the same way as when it was written.
Today I want to talk about kiting and ranged tanking with a death knight. Of all the tanking classes out there we are unique in our ability to truly tank at range, kite, and even tank/kite multiple targets at once. Mastering these skills will turn you from an average Dk tank into an indispensable tank to any raid.
The problem here is that most new death knights are either unaware of their potential or simply afraid to try their hand at kiting or ranged tanking since it’s a rather unforgiving task. One mistake and the whole raid can simply disappears. It’s a lot of pressure but it’s also one of the most rewarding task you can do.I’ll cover first kiting and then ranged tanking in a following guide.
Kiting and you
Kiting is the act of keeping aggro on a mob while staying out of his range. This is usually done when some enemy hits too hard for a healer to heal the tank but it still needs to be tanked because you cannot let it loose inside the raid. traditionaly, kiting is a hunter speciality but Death knights can do the job too on most encounters when needed. Bellow are the tools and techniques you will need to master in order to be a star kiter tank.
Knowing your enemy
Before even starting to kite you need to know a few things about your enemy that are specific to kiting.
How fast does it move? Not all enemies have to same speed and some can be kited simply by running and others will need to be slowed in some ways. You need to find out at what pace you need to move.
What’s his hit box? A hitbox refers to the area at wich a mob can attack you or you can attack it. Most mobs hitboxes go farther than the physical model displayed and it’s important to know at what distance you need to be. For example, the slimes on Rotface have a hit box that reach very far in front of them meaning you have to keep them farther away than you normally would.
Ability immunities? Can it be slowed? Rooted even? Can you taunt it? Does it have any other kind of weird mechanic that affect its movement? You need to figure all those out.
Tools for the job
Icy touch: The single best ability we have to kite. It even has increased threat now wich means that it’s even possible now to keep aggro on the mob even if ranged dps unleash on it.
Howling blast: For frost tanks it’s as good as Icy touch but it hits multiple targets! Need to kite more than one mob at a time? This is the talent for it!
Death coil: This is our runic dump. Usually when kiting we don’t get many opportunities to spend runic power. Death coil allows us to keep increasing our threat on the target while our runes are on cooldown.
Chains of ice: Our root ability with an added slow effect. While many kitable mobs are immune to outright root, they can sometimes be slowed. If so, spam chains of ice and success is nearly guaranteed! With a bit of practice and timing it can even be kept up on two targets at a time.
Death and decay: A great ability to secure aggro on multiple mobs. Set it up in the path of the group or on their spawning point to help secure aggro before healers or increase aggro on groups. Nice if you don’t have access to Howling blast.
Blood boil: A short-range ability that damage everyone around you. In kiting blood runes would normally go unused but blood boil allows to spend them and activate blade barrier. It’s also a nice way to secure aggro on groups although it requires you to be close. I do not recommended trying at all cost to use it but if you get the chance don’t hesitate. Little trick, it can be used while your back is to the mob so there’s no need to turn around and you can keep on running.
Strangulate: Useful for caster mobs who want to stop in their tracks to cast.
Dark command: The most useful taunt in kiting since it’s ranged and carry no risk of pulling anything to you. You do need to secure agro right after but it can bring quickly a mob back on your track.
Death grip: What? Using an ability that brings a mob to you to kite? Well lots of kitable mobs have an immunity to the grip effect wich means they won’t be coming to you so it can be used as a secondary taunt. Do research the mob before hand as you don’t want to experiment with this during a raid.
The jump shot
The jump shot has long been a skill that separated the good hunters from the truly great ones so I’m going to give credit to them for refining the technique. The purpose of the jump shot is to be able to fire a ranged attack at a mob while keeping moving forward without losing speed. Why is that useful? Because when kiting a mob you need to stay away from it and that usually involves keeping running away from it while keeping aggro. If you stop every 5 seconds or slow down to fire at the mob then it will catch up to you at some point, wich is exactly what you are trying to avoid.
The answer is the jump shot wich consist of firing a shot in midair while turning and keeping turning so that you can resume running in the same direction when you land. The idea is not to lose speed and spinning in the air allows you to fire behind you without slowing down.
2.Spin around 360 degrees using your mouse (Keyboard won’t do it). During the spin fire your ability at the enemy.
3.Land and keep running.
The rubber band
The rubber band is a more tricky move that requires you to play with aggro. The idea here is to keep aggro on a mob for as long as possible and drop aggro when the mob gets close to you. Doing this will make the mob run to another target, ideally far away. Then as the mob gets close to its new target you get aggro once again on it and make it travel to you where you’ll drop aggro again. Rinse and repeat. The effect is that the mob is always travelling between targets without ever reaching any of them.
This is a difficult technique to pull off but it can also be lifesaving when you need some extra time to heal up or simply because the mob cannot be kited by conventional means. The downside is that it needs to be set-up and planned since we can’t drop aggro fast.
An easy technique to pull off is strafe running wich consists simply of running from a mob while strafing. Simply hold down the right mouse button and move using your keyboard and after a little practice you’ll be able to run while keeping a mob to your side instead of behind. The big advantage here is that allows you to use a lot of abilities that you would not be able to if the mob was behind you. Most ranged abilities have a 180 degrees arc and strafe running allows you to keep a mob in that area while running away.
Not every fight makes it possible to use it but if you can do it, it’s the easiest way to kite.
Hope you enjoyed this guide and see you next time for ranged tanking.