After chatting with Dom tonight, it sounded like a good idea to put together some thoughts on Ice Tanking (and DPS). I'm not a super number cruncher, but here's how I got to where I am now...
I started off reading good threads like - http://forums.station.sony.com/dcuops3/posts/list.m?topic_id=6612 (Ice Tanking Guide Sticky) to get a sense of what others were doing. Looks like Cryo tanks (mainly what I am) are far more popular/resilient than Storm tanks. While some info in here is dated due to patches, I'd pay special attention to any posts by Shaolinwind (http://forums.station.sony.com/dcuops3/user/profile.m?user_id=2060), as he has a good head on his shoulders and often explains things in detail.
Key takeaways that still matter...
- Bitter Winds is still borked (no animation, looks like no damage too) while in DPS stance.
- Building towards ice armor (prolonged buffs - by cycling at least two powers that grant chill effects) is a no brainer and almost required.
- Reflect, while possibly affected (less damage reflected back, surrounding enemies potentially not sharing the damage) by update 2, is still essential
My Loadouts up until tonight were:
- Ineascapable Storm - my go-to pull method (single target focused, but if others are close to target they may be pulled too), this also adds frostbite to any enemies pulled
- Bitter Winds - Surrounds you with ice/wind. This is my AOE/pop-up move often used right after inescapable storm (as it has the chance to freeze any frostbitten enemies) if there's a large pull (and I have more than ample power) or when I'm in the middle of a mob and getting hit hard (pop-up provides a break, and this mitgates some damage - but be warned damage mitigation has a cap and often ends before the animation is complete).
- Reflect - The bread and butter of an ice tank, this reflects all damage from the next three attacks back at enemies - This is one of the two chill effect powers I cycle for ice armor, but its not the one I spam. I use this mainly in two cases: 1) the oh crap moments (low life, lots of damage taken quickly) to save my butt and the planned moments (right after walking into/pulling a mob or when a boss is telegraphing a big attack) to give some damage back to the mob/boss respectively
- Ice Bash - Adds ice to normal attacks fo more damage (and aggro). My other chill effect cycle power, with that being its main purpose. I'm usually applying this whenever its ready and I have power. The extra damage, while not a lot (compared to when in DPS mode), is nice to have with a tank's DPS % down. I'm still doubtful this lil extra is worth the slot with other chill effect powers potentially more helpful for tanks (see my new loadout below)
- Winter Ward - Liberates group from control effects, increases def/toughness, and damages attacking emenies. A nice extra to have defensively. This is one that I'll use for the group's sake if I have ample/near full power (after applying 1-2 basic powers above and regenerating power) in a tough/big fight. Its also my "reflect for the group" if I see a lot of folks going down. If you see me use this other than those two cases, its probably because the boss/mobs are CCing like woah.
- Ice Elemental - Full Supercharge, Tranforms into ice hulk = crazier tank + ticked healing over time. This is my last ditch effort (after healers and colas) to stay alive move. Some of the new attacks in this form have AOE/popup effects and the extra def/healing over time can bring you back, or at least give your healers some time to get to you, but often I'm still biting my nails and my health is chipping away by the time this has worn off.
As a huge fan of Martial Arts (still waiting for an epic tank version to come my way) and a current epic tank pistols user, here's what I've used for duos/HA's that don't require a formal tank role in cases.
- Inescapable Storm - Just kept it in till now, but if you see below, there's not a real reason to pull a mob into you if you're range DPS'ing :oP
- Frost Snipe - a good single target attack with decent damage and rooting/encasing powers if chilled effects are on (which they always are)
- Ice Bash - Adds ice to normal attacks for more damage. This is again my one of two powers to cycle ice armor and this is the one I always make sure is on to ensure extra damage.
- Reflect - for cases and examples noted above along with chill effect cycling towards ice armor
- Neo-Venom Boost - Strength and Def increases - This is one I usually cycle on and off with Ice Bash (though less frequently - for bosses, tougher enemies, large swarms with full auto)
- Ice Elemental - again for the same "oh crap" moment reasons as noted above
After snagging a bunch of feats and being ~50 skill points now, I've reset traits and am trying a few other things out - I've got no solid results yet, just ideas on how to better things. I'll follow up with findings.
- Low Pressure (from Flight skills) - In Khan this evening, it was apparent that inescapable storm wasn't the best for nabbing aggro and pulling in clumped groups for DPSers. Instead it was throwing mobs into our party and spreading them out. In order to help get them aggro'ed in a pile around me, Spartan suggested walking in and activating a power - Low Pressure, a backdraft that sucks in nearby opponents in AOE fashion, seems to fit the bill. I'm hoping, upon testing it, to walk into more mobs and just activate (for the ice tank def buff and contained aggro/organization). Also, any recent victims of High Pressure take more damage.
- High Pressure (from Flight skills) - An AOE pop-up that goes hand-in-hand with Low Pressure (where either if chained after the other causes more damage). I'm thinking this could be a similar replacement to Bitter Winds (without the damage mitigation) and used in the same way (oh crap get the mob off of me moments). By using this over Bitter Winds and Low Pressure over Inescapable Storm, I don't have to dip into the storms power branch and can save power points for use on Iconics.
- Reflect - same as before
- Cold Snap - Damages nearby enemies, reflecting some damage and grants chill effects. This seems like a good replacement for Ice Bash in my Ice Armor cycling powers as its has an AOE impact and some protection (rather than the minimal DPS increase of Ice Bash while in Tank Stance)
- Winter Ward - same as before
- Hibernation - 50% supercharge, short but protected incremental self-healing. I know, I know. Everyone on the forums says this isn't useful after level 20 or so in solo stuff. But hear me out in testing this again - my beef with Ice Elemental is the continued damage taken while healing and small ticks over time, as well as different combos/loadout all for 100% supercharge. With Hibernation, I may not get as deep a heal, but will be protected while being healed at half the cost (meaning I can do it twice if an emergency comes up again without healers/cola support). As a keep me alive option till my cola's available or better yet a healer gets to me, this may be better.
- Ice Bash - same as before
- Reflect - same as before
- Neo-Venom Boost - same as before
- Hibernation - reasons noted above in Tank stance
- Impaling Ice - (chant/animation time) heavy damage and knockdown of enemies with enemies at <35% health taking double damage. Sounds like a lot of our fire guys have something similar, and to Spartan's credit he got me thinking about trying this out. While there's chanting time, this may be worth it for bigger bosses and may go well with the dual pistols I'm rocking now (as I can keep my distance and knock folks back with Jump Shot before trying to get this off)
- Snowball - ice fireball at single target, rooted enemies take double damage and after I have 3 or more chill effects under my belt, the ball explodes for AOE damage. I like the sound of this, but it needs set up - for one, I'd only use this one I have three chill effects, by cycling Reflect and Ice Bash (so that it can hit a mob) and because if I'm casting Reflect (which roots enemies) relatively before this I can do double damage. If that situation works out, this will be money.
Phew! Sorry for the Ice Tank manifesto, but that's how I've been playing/loading out and hopefully it'll help you guys with ideas for your tanks and improve my approach too (through your feedback/thoughts). So, let me know what you think.