It dawned on me today that somehow I let everyone skip past the 101 course in my Tanking series. We had the primer/high school course of leveling as a protadin, and then we went straight into healing heroics and beyond. Therefore this post will be a bridge post – covering the basics that every tank should know. Much of it will have been covered in other posts, but I like the idea of a one stop shop.
I’m going to try and pretend that sub 1k DPS yelling “go go go” don’t exist this world, and that you’ll be lucky enough to cut your tanking teeth with friends in lower level dungeons.
I highly recommended using the LFD tool to practice these skills before you get to 80.
Basic principle #1 – Threat
Like it or not, you’ve signed up to have your face beaten in by whatever level of baddie you’re facing. Because of this, it’s your job to get agro early, and (in most cases) never let it go. This is a challenge that will becoming increasingly difficult in AoE situations. Remember that contrary to what you would perceive to be common sense, most DPS don’t care about TPS (Threat Per Second) and only about their personal DPS. Don’t be afraid to let a few of the over-eager ones die, even if it does get you called a “Noob” or being told to “lrn2tank”. Trust me, it’s helpful for them, and rehabilitative for you.
The Opening Pull – aka the most hectic 8 seconds of your life
Depending on your class, and the mob makeup, you’re going to approach this situation in one of two or three ways.
1) The Han Solo approach – This is where you go charging into a group of mobs (yes, even the non warriors) with the hopes of getting their attention before your DPS does. This method has the benefit of instantly closing you to melee range with the caster mobs, as well as putting you in a position to use your AoE abilities early. The biggest drawback to this method is that you can outdistance your healers if you’re not careful. Remember, even Han Solo came running back like his pants were on fire.
2) The sit back and wait – This method will generally result in disaster, as mob agro will be lost to healers, DPS, or that kid drawing on your wall. Casters will sit back and nuke you, and you’re highly dependant on your DPS to help the situation out. This approach works better when combined with one of the following two.
3) Crowd Control – A lost art in 99% of the Wrath content, it’s still fun to break out every once in a while. If you can use CC to effectively shut down part of the pull, standing back and waiting can help prevent accidental CC breaking.
4) LoS – Another lost art, it’s often advantageous to take cover behind a wall or other large object (no, the BBB does not count) forcing the mobs to come to you. This is the opposite of the Han Solo method, and is best served with Admiral Ackbar yelling “It’s a trap!” as they run into your waiting arms. Couple this pull with some CC, and you can just skip this post and head to tanking 301.
Regardless of your pull method, you’re doing to be spending the next 8 seconds scrambling for agro. In an ideal environment you’ll be able to focus on getting high threat on a single target, followed by group AoE threat on the rest of the trash. TAB TARGETING IS YOUR FRIEND. Unlike the crazy ranged DPS, the odds of you accidently tab targeting the next pack and pulling them is extremely slim – like 1 in 1,000,000,000 (bonus points if you get the reference without the profanity).
Remember, your goal here is to touch each target at least once; spreading sunders, diseases, SoCom cleaves, or whatever it is that bears do (mangle? Swipe? Smell funny?). Once you’ve got agro solidified, take a small breather and start looking forward to the next pack.
Basic Tank Tips
· Most bosses have some sort of frontal attack – facing them away from the party/raid will get you bonus points. You’ll also increase the melee DPS by preventing them from getting parried, thus reducing the amount of damage you’ll take from being parry gibbed! It’s a win/win situation. This is why using Army of the Dead will get any DK I’m tanking for ignored, and Vote Kicked if I can. Yeah – it’s heroics, but it’s still bad form.
· Raid Warnings, learn to read them – Even the most basic dungeon boss has some kind of emote or built in party warning for that really nasty ability. Recognizing them, and moving into the proper position, will make your party love you, and your healer want to have your love child.
· A 2H is not a tank weapon – Unless you’re a DK, or a very well geared Fury Warrior. I’ll admit, the thought of tanking with a giant 2H and a shield makes me giddy – but it’s not idea. Put it down and get a proper tank set.
· Gear does matter – Unlike DPS, if you fail to meet a certain set of base criteria as a tank, your whole party is in for a long night.
541 is your defense cap for heroics and raids. Subtract 5 for each level you are below 80. After Defense, your stat priority is generally Stamina > Armor > Anything other than Spirit or Intellect. Don’t put spell power gear on (that’s so BC) as a Paladin/DK tank, and please – don’t wear mail or leather as a plate tank.
Love your healer
I can’t say this enough. You may be the head, but the healer is the neck. Watch their mana, and talk to them early and often. It’s better to take 15 seconds for them to loot and drink than it is to wipe because they were OOM (or teaching you a lesson).
Praise your DPS
Especially the ones who do things like Death Grip a mob to you, counter-spell a caster, or use some last second CC to buy your healer a few extra moments. Write their names down, and sing their glory to the highest – for they are rare specimens indeed. Once you’re geared, don’t belittle the DPS for being under you. It’s a rare PUG who out DPSs me on trash these days – but anything over 1500 DPS on bosses is just fine. Just like your threat, their DPS takes time to ramp up and get going.
I really hope that folks find this useful. If you have any tanking questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to try and answer them.