Author: @theaxolotl#4252 (Discord: TheAxolotl#9404)
Last Modified: February 28, 2020
What the Heck am I about to Read?
Are you DPS that has ever wondered why your tank can’t seem to hold aggro from you? Are you a tank that wants to know what you can do to increase your threat? Are you a healer that is sick of getting all the healing aggro and dying? If any of these have or do apply to you, read on and I’ll share what I know!
As a general disclaimer, this will contain both information that is known and information that is currently unknown. Please keep in mind that some of this information is speculation and not a guarantee. I could be off on some of the statements and assumptions I make. That being said, this take on threat has driven my approach to tanking and for the most part, it seems to be somewhat accurate.
An Update, With Sources
Good news! Since I first wrote this, I’ve been pointed to a M16 Fighter Feedback post on the Neverwinter forums that has some specific juicy tidbits in it. Granted, the numbers themselves might have changed a bit, but the mechanics should still be accurate. For those that don’t want to look at the thread directly, I’ll be pulling my information from these specific comments.
The Basics, and Types of Threat
Starting with the basics, each enemy unit has their own threat list that constantly shifts as damage is dealt to them and healing is received by you, and in order to maintain threat, you as a tank need to maintain the top position in their list. There are two forms of threat or aggro generation that help with this, which I group into two categories – Proactive and Reactive.
Proactive: where you prepare for what is about to happen
Examples of Proactive threat would be powers that increase your threat generation or have an Added Effect of Increased Threat, such as the Threatening Presence Feature, the Frustrating Slash Feat, and the Primal Fury Encounter. Proactive threat also includes the threat you gain from dealing damage or healing external targets. Note: It was previously believed that incoming healing does not generate threat – only outgoing healing does. Based on the comment above in reference to self-healing generating threat, this might not actually be the case. It is possible that self-healing from things like Primal Fury and Mount Insignia Bonuses could be generating threat. In addition, powers that deal damage and heal, like Primal Fury, could be generating threat from both the damage and the healing portions.
Reactive: acting on a situation that has occurred.
Examples of Reactive threat would be what I call Soft Taunts – powers that immediately place you on top of the target’s threat list, such as the Come and Get It Encounter and the Challenger’s Charge Feature.
Both Proactive and Reactive threat mechanics are important to use while tanking. Reactive mechanics allow you to take back threat once you lose it, while Proactive mechanics allow you to maintain threat when you have it. If you only use Proactive mechanics, you’ll be hard-pressed to keep threat through the entirety of a fight with high DPS in your party and if you lose it, you’ll have a hard time getting it back. If you only use Reactive mechanics, you’ll be able to take back threat whenever you lose it, however the boss will be ping-ponging around the room, frustrating your entire group and likely leading to many deaths.
If you find yourself in a situation where the tank takes aggro, loses it shortly thereafter, takes it back again, then loses it shortly thereafter once more, it’s likely that the tank is only using Reactive mechanics and doesn’t have enough Proactive threat generation. On the other hand, if you find yourself in a scenario where the tank has aggro for a while then loses it, but is not able to get it back at all, chances are the tank is only using Proactive threat generation and doesn’t use any Reactive mechanics to compensate once aggro is lost.
In an ideal scenario, the tank will have enough Proactive threat generation to maintain aggro, while having at least one Reactive Encounter to get aggro back if lost.
Threat Modifiers and Formula
First, based on the comment above, we know that 1 point of damage and 1 point of healing each generates 1 point of threat, prior to the modifier being applied. Unfortunately, the modifier is where things get tricky. We know that tank classes get an increased threat modifier. Based on the comment above, as mod M16 preview, that number was 200% more, or a 3x modifier.
Similarly, for powers with a Proactive threat component (remember, powers that increase threat), we know that those powers deal roughly 700% (or an 8x modifier) more than their base damage.
There are a couple things that are still unclear. First, we don’t know if that 8x modifier includes the 3x modifier or not. I suspect it does, which would likely have the powers themselves having a 5x modifier, which gets added to the 3x class modifier. Second, we don’t know what the modifier is of Feats and Class Features that cause the tank to deal additional threat, such as Frustrating Slash and Threatening Presence. It’s likely that these increase the modifier further, but we can’t say by how much.
Since there’s a direct relationship between damage or healing and threat, we know that increasing the damage we deal is essential to increasing our threat. This means that as a tank, we get a threat boost by pushing our offensive stats towards their caps as well. Increases to Armor Penetration, Accuracy, Critical Strike and Combat Advantage will all lead to increased threat, but should we get all of our offensive stats to their caps? In an ideal world, sure, but that’s not very realistic. The better option is likely to get your defensive stats capped, then work on your offensive, and cap what you can. My personal priority is Armor Penetration > Accuracy > Critical Strike > Combat Advantage. Currently on my Barbarian, I have capped Defense, Deflect, Critical Avoid, Armor Penetration and Accuracy. As of now, I also have around 115k Power, 72k Critical Strike, and 60k Combat Advantage. Increasing any of those three should increase my threat, however I’d need to use a damage calculator to determine what would be best in a given scenario.
Applications to Tanking
Now, you may read all of that above and think “This is great, but how can I apply it to tanking.” Good question! Unfortunately, there’s no single answer, as each tanking class has different nuances to it, however there are a few general principals to follow.
- Initial Aggro is important. If DPS happens to engage a boss before you do, you’re going to be stuck playing catch-up for a while. This isn’t great. Ideally, you’ll be the one that makes initial contact with the boss, either via a ranged attack or a high mobility or charging attack. From there, you can start building threat on the boss with your attacks.
- Don’t spam your Encounters. This is very important, especially when you look at Soft Taunt abilities. If you happen to be first on a boss’ threat list and then you use an ability that puts you first on the threat list, all you’ve done at that point is put your Soft Taunt on cooldown. These are ideally going to be saved for moments where you lose aggro on a boss – in a perfect scenario, you might never even use one.
- Predict your party. This one can be tricky at times, but in many cases, especially following an initial engage, you might have DPS in your party that unload with some hard hitting attacks that may or may not be buffed by artifacts. If you go into a fight knowing this, you can be ready. Suppose you get your initial aggro, but then it gets immediately taken by DPS. If you go in expecting this, you can immediately pop your Soft Taunt when you lose aggro, then unload with some Proactive threat attacks. This will give you a significant boost to your threat, since at that point, your threat level will have been given a lift due to the threat level of your DPS. From there, you can continue building your Proactive threat while reserving your Soft Taunt for another scenario where DPS might pass you.
- Predict the fight. This is another tricky one, as it’s tailored to specific fights. Learn to know when you need to be defensive and when you need to be offensive. If you know a part is coming up where you are stationary, but dps has to move, try to unload with some high-threat attacks to establish your lead. You can use this to build a threat buffer for when you have to go defensive.
- Combine your threat sources. This one can vary from class to class. Using Barbarians as an example, we have several ways to stack threat mechanics together. An example for building threat on multiple mobs would be to use Sentinel’s Slash with the Frustrating Slash feat to trigger the 10 second threat increase, then switch to Challenger’s Slash, which has a built-in threat boost. Combining the two would give significantly more threat than using one or the other alone.
As always, thanks for reading! I hope this provides some sort of value to you, even if some of the information in there is wrong. If we ever happen to learn the true inner workings of the threat mechanics in this game, I will be sure to update this post accordingly. A big thanks goes out to anyone that took the time to discuss threat mechanics with me and anyone that has let me tank for them when I decided to experiment! If you know something in here to be incorrect or even want to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me in game or via Discord! Lastly, as always, thanks to Alleykate for giving us a place to host this!