This post was published long before the Mists of Pandara Expansion.
The tips and techniques explained here may be outdated.


[NOTE: As of patch 3.0 (release of Wrath) the mechanics of Fade changed. I'm not entirely certain of the change.. but I know it did change. So.. take the below with a grain of salt. It was true at the time it was written.]
Last night I listened to “The Instance #98” and was outraged to hear them mangle a concept. I was up in arms. I decided I’d write to them. I decided I’d blog about it! Then on the way into work this morning I listened to “The Instance #99″ and they admitted they’d gotten it wrong. Grr. Ok.. so no angry corrective letter to them.. but I can still blog about it.

What they got wrong:
A listener who plays a Shadow Priest asked what she could do to stop grabbing aggro from the tank.

They said: Spec into Improved Fade and fade every-time it’s up.

Boggle. I gapped at my MP3 player. Wow.. they’d gotten it totally wrong. I knew they’d gotten it totally wrong.. and I’m not even a priest. Just Wow.

Ok.. Here’s the lowdown.

If you are in melee range you only need to exceed 110% of the tank’s threat in order to grab the attention of the mob. If you’re at range you need to exceed 130% of the tank’s threat. So, if you can stay at range, do it.

If the mob hates you more than he hates the tank you need to do -something- to get him to stop noticing you.

Aggro Pause

Priests have fade, Pallies have bubble, Mages have iceblock. These are aggro pauses. For a short amount of time you will no longer be at the top of the mob’s aggro list. When the pause expires you will go back to where you were on the aggro list.. but hopefully, during that time the tank will have overtaken you and will again have top aggro. The ability, for a short time, makes you an invalid target so the mob goes on to hit whoever’s in the #2 position.

If you continue to build aggro through dps or heals while you’re using this method then after the pause fades the mob will just go back to beating on you. This does not permanently drop you aggro. There is absolutely no benefit to “fading often”.

Aggro Dump

Hunters, Rogues, and (somewhat) Warlocks have a permanent aggro dump. When the hunter hits “Feign Death” they go from wherever they are on the aggro list down to the bottom. They have 0 aggro on the mob (assuming the mob didn’t resist). Rogues can vanish and also dump 100% of their aggro. Warlocks can SoulShatter and drop 50% of their aggro. This is a great method for topping the damage meters as these classes get to completely start over from scratch and do tons more damage.

Take it in the face

Some unlucky sods (I’m looking at you druids, shaman, dps warrior) have no talent for dropping aggro. The best they can do is to stop hitting the mob and hope the tank grabs the mob quickly. There are some items that can be triggered to drop their threat.. but they’re few and far between. These classes should consider things like the subtlety cloak enchant (2% less threat) or any skills in their tree that reduces the threat of their actions.

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7 comments to AGGRO!

  • Don’tcha hate when you hear something factually wrong on a podcast? I start yelling and throwing things, depending on the severity of the incorrectness. Anyway, besides saying “tank better” to the tank, I bet the shadow priest is specced for Improved Vampiric Embrace, so all the crazy healing they’re doing is what’s giving them aggro. I dunno much about priests (other than “haha, I have so little healing aggro as a pally, nyah!”), but I know that they just need to be good little mana batteries. Don’t worry so much about the heals.

    And also, it’s not a 100% success rate (you need to go 5 seconds without getting hit by something), but mages can cast Invisibility for a complete aggro wipe. I love it on Prince Malchezzar, lets me just unload when I get out of it (and I’ve found myself right near the tank’s aggro by the end, too)

    (My anti-spam word was paladin! hee!)

  • Nibuca

    The thing there.. is overhealing causes no aggro. So if I had to guess why she’s out aggro-ing the tank.. I’d have to say:
    – The tank isn’t generating enough threat..
    – If it’s mob#2 or #3 that’s peeling off and eating the priest then I’d say the tank isn’t rotating aggro.
    – It’s possible she’s ramping up too quickly.. idaknow..

  • Your points are valid.

    Like you said in the end its possible that you can have a had DPSer that like to ramp their DPS up faster than the tank is building threat. I’ve seen that. I just believe at times some DPSers just fail to pay attention to anything else but their own DPS.

    Some DPSers I’ve seen that are range casters dont even like to stay at range and cast thus being able to stay under the 130% aggro gain cap. Thats on the reason I keep aggro gain on my Threat meter. I’ve seen some DPSers on my heroic run above my aggro gain bar when I notice it, where are they standing and casting? Right behind or next to me, not at range where if they pull aggro the mob has to travel 30-40 yrds before the get one smacked to death. I usually hate it when DPSers crowd right around the tank. If they not focus firing on correct target or at range distance for higher aggro gain its easy to see one get smacked if mob takes two step and BAM dead. I love to see people at range when I’m tanking. It gives me time to throw a Hammer of Justice on trash, a taunt or a macro bubble BoP on the targeted DPSer.

    Yet its still good if you have a DPSer that can controol their DPS to not pull aggro off the tank. I like to think thats paying attention to whats happening in a fight. Then again some People that DPS need to learn to read a threat meter. The answers can be various to hour post.

  • Wulfie

    Kitty Druids have Cower to pro-actively reduce their aggro (like Rogue Feint and Hunter Disengage).

  • Griff

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you didn’t really suggest what to do as a shadow priest. Having a raiding shadow priest, I can empathize with the guy on Scott and Randy’s show – the only thing you can ACTIVELY do is fade.

    I’m not sure how much raid experience you have, but even though Fade is a aggro pause, if your raid is halfway competent- ANY pause will cause you to fall behind(aggro-wise). Everyone else is still going 100%, so you are falling behind. Fading doesnt really cause you to drop aggro – more like it lets everyone else catch back up.

    While I don’t think improved fade is really the answer – fading whenever it’s up WILL help.

    The only permanent answer is Omen. Or KTM. Or some quality threat meter. It is YOUR responsibility to watch your aggro. Want to not get aggro? Make sure your name doesn’t hit the top of your threat meter. Near the top? Leave shadow word death out of your rotation. Or some other high threat spell. Basically learn to manage aggro. If you can handle 800 dps for a boss fight, and your tank cannot hold aggro, you’ve got to throttle down, use fade and adjust. It’s all you have, it’s all you can do.


  • Nibuca

    IANASP (I am not a shadow priest) BUT:

    ok.. so -if- you stop dpsing for a couple of seconds -during- the fade then pre-emptive fading might work. BUT fading only temporarily drops your aggro. If you continue to DPS during the fade at the same rate as you were before the fade and -if- your tank doesn’t ramp up, then you’re just going to grab aggro after the fade.. fades.

    You would do better (and save mana) by watching your aggro and cutting back on DPS when you’re riding high on the threat meter. Save Fade for when you accidentally pop up to 127% threat. Fade and then hold off dps until the tank has a comfortable lead.

    I didn’t address it in the original post because I’m not a Shadow Priest authority. I’m toying with a “Riding the threat crest” post but I’m not sure I have enough “meat” to make it into a real post.

  • Busket

    I shadow priest in raids, and you have it right Nibuca, fading all the time is not the answer, or even an answer. I can’t see any way in which fading every time it is up helps. If a spriest is constantly threatening to overtake the tank, the answer is to have him lower his DPS (stick to mind flays and DoTs) or get a better tank. Fade is an “oh crap” button, and if you are constantly putting yourself in an “oh crap” situation such that you need to fade every time it’s up, you’re not adjusting properly and wasting mana to boot.

    Now, there are times when Fade use should be planned; mostly in boss fights where you can accurately predict when a boss will drop aggro; for instance, on Leotheras, I fade every time a whirlwind is about to end, so that my DoTs don’t grab aggro (even though it’s temporary, Fade can actually give you a buffer of negative threat). I strongly believe that Improved Fade exists solely to point out shadow priests who need some advice.