Most guides out there describe how you should play to minimize your damage taken in reality they should say the average damage taken. The problem with that is most tank deaths today is because spike damage not because of your average damage taken throughout a fight. Just ask your healers what scares them the most, the spikes you take or the constant damage.
What makes it hard to write a guide about minimizing spike damage taken is that it obviously is depending on the encounter and what tactic that is used for that encounter. Combine that with the fact that it is easy to compare the average damage taken between two tanks but harder to compare the spike damage taken and the result is that a lot of tanks play to minimize average damage taken instead of what is actually killing them.
As a brewmaster you got two spells in you arsenal that are good example of how you can either minimize average damage taken or spike damage taken. Elusive brew at max stack is 15 seconds of 30%(35 with 2 set bonus) extra dodge and Guard is a 30 sec cooldown that absorbs damage for around 500k damage depending on vengeance. The easy way to use these two spells is of course to make sure Elusive brew is used as soon as it reach max stack and that guard is used on cd and the end result is that you minimize your average damage. As I described earlier, the only way to explain how to decrease the spike damage taken is through specific encounters and examples, therefore I will give you some examples (I will assume you know the fights on heroic).
The fourth boss in Heart of Fear(heroic) Wind Lord Mel’jarek I always solo tank this for my guild and for us we found two dangerous situation. One is the “Rain of Blades”, often our two healers can cope with keep me up but when both packs of adds are up it does get hairy, therefore I always save my guard for that ability and as a result I don’t use it on cooldown. The other dangerous situation is when the second pack of adds respawns, therefore I always make sure I got a full stack of elusive brew for that moment even though it means I sit on a full stack for ~10 secs and waste some procs but since the damage before the second packs spawns is of no concern for my healers this is a good trade off.
The first boss in Heart of Fear(heroic), one of the dangerous times for us was when the boss flies over to the second platform at that point me and a healer move over there. While we are there we will eat a force and verve and while it is casting we will have to do the dance. So we got a lot of damage going on while my healer are force to run, however since the damage on the first platform is incredibly low with three healers I always make sure to come to the second platform with a full stack of elusive brew and guard off cooldown. This way I can pop these two in combination with my biggest damage reduction to reduce the damage I take. Doing it this way I have never died at that part(unless my healer ran into a orb and died before the others got there ^^)
To sum it all up, it all comes down to experience on an encounter and being able to identify what situations and ability’s that may possess a danger for you as a tank and then make sure you have you small and big cooldowns ready for those situation to prevent them from turning into a disaster.
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