Hmm, a tanking post that has nothing to do with math or stats or technique.

WoW is a social game, and tanking is, by definition, something done as part of a group effort. So, let’s talk for a bit about the social aspect of choosing to tank.

I think the biggest potential obstacle facing a good player who is contemplating trying to tank in a group is finding a way to deal with the consequences of failure, real or perceived.

Real or perceived by the tank, and by each individual of the groups they will be in.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the phrasing of that statement.

I said good player, and that’s at the core of where I’m coming from.

By good player, I meant people who care about what they do. Care about how well they do while playing their role, care about not screwing up and causing a wipe, care about whatever it may be that they’re doing, just care.

I think, sometimes, that it’s not fashionable to care about things in the game. That, somehow, if you allow yourself to care, to become emotionally invested in something thats “just a game”, you’re tossed off as a loser.

To me, the structure of WoW is a video game, sure, but as soon as you move from interacting with programmed AI to a group, to actually playing with other real living people, it’s no longer “just a game”. It’s now all about playing, interacting, and socializing with others.

Suddenly, the only difference between grouping in WoW and getting together at a party, bar, pool hall, hopscotch tournament or sporting event is that if you act like a dick, the people around you can’t grab you by the throat and choke the living shit out of you.

Just a game”? Like hell. It’s the biggest game there is; interacting with other people, working together towards a common goal. Whether trying to be a leader or a team player, putting the success of the group above your own snotty feelings of the moment.

Who are the losers in real social situations? Assuming a group of people who share similar interests and could be considered part of the same clique, it’s the people who act like self-centered asshats that become ostracized by the rest of the potential group. Nobody will hang out with them except, of course, other asshats, who splinter off and console themselves by saying the rest of the group were losers anyhow.

Enough BS pop psychology so simplified it’s nearly insulting. Let’s move on before Cassie flames me.

To me, it’s the players that just don’t care, who don’t “give a f%&^” that are the players I never, ever want to see again in my groups. They’re the ones you run into that are in it for themselves, care nothing about anyone else, and who, if feeling themselves slighted or inconvenienced, whether from a slow run (by their standards) or a repair bill or just from having things not go according to THEIR plan, will lash out with hatred and venom instantly to make sure everyone else suffers too.

A good player, to me, is simply someone that cares. Everything else is negotiable.

Any time I am playing any character, if I’m running solo I’m fine. I will be relaxed and confident that whatever happens, nobody but me will get annoyed.

If I’m grouping up, then it’s a different game entirely. Why? Because whatever I do affects other real people, and I don’t want to be the one that screws up or causes the group to fail, or even annoys people. I’m playing for fun, I am inferring that THEY are playing for fun, and I don’t want to ruin other people’s fun with my idiocy.

As soon as someone in the group reveals through their words or actions that they don’t care… well, I’ve said it before, you don’t have to be anybody’s bitch. You deserve a certain amount of consideration and respect, too.

The group requirement is a big obstacle for potential tanks.

By definition, tanking is a group activity, right? So, no matter how well you know your character or spec, at some point you HAVE to face the very first time you will be tanking for someone else.

Tanking a group run consists of a different set of concerns than soloing, regardless of spec.

Let’s say you level as a tanking spec. That will help you to become familiar with the mechanics of the spec, and be more comfortable with what you’re capable of. That’s a great thing.

Even if you dual spec at 80, practising your technique while soloing will help you get comfortable with what you can do. Sure, it’s a good idea.

When you’re soloing, though, the mobs you attack aren’t being distracted by other players. You’re not learning what your big threat generating attacks are, what speed sequences work best for different situations, or have a need to practise generating reactive threat.

You never have to fight to keep the attention of the mobs on you.

Also, while soloing you don’t have an opportunity to practise manuevering yourself and the mobs into positions tactically advantageous to the rest of the party and seeing how well it really works.

Yes, you CAN practise line of sight pulls around terrain obstacles to bring ranged casters closer, and yes you CAN find groups of mixed melee and ranged mobs so that, as a Bear, you can practise our unique skill of Feral Charge to leap from ranged mob to ranged mob, pounding them in sequence and building threat in turns.

But you’re also limited in the size and frequency of that kind of training by not having a healer… and again by not having competing threat generators (those pesky DPS) to challenge your control.

Those skills only really come from experience in groups.

At some point, to be a tank you’ll have to volunteer to tank for others without having any actual group threat and mob control tanking experience.

It’s the very first time thats the worst, when the fear is highest, the fear of failure, of screwing up, of letting the team down.

That first experience, I think, is where we lose a lot of potentially great tanks.

Just the knowledge that you have to tank cold and learn as you go is daunting.

How much worse if you have to join group for the first time with strangers?

Some quick advice; do not, do NOT group up as a tank for your first time with a group of strangers. You might get a group of good players, but chances are high that at least one will be a self-centered snot.

All it takes is one to ruin that first time. Please, don’t do it! Ask some friends, or friends of friends, to go with you knowing that you want to take it slow and ease into it.

My second bit of advice, reiterated from before, is practise your actual skills and talents ahead of time. When you go into an instance (or group situation) for the first time, you should already know what the buttons do.

My third piece of advise is, study the instances ahead of time, and be familiar with them. Most especially, read up on what various mobs and bosses do before you go in, if possible. This isn’t meant to spoil new content, but is very important when tanking content that everyone around you has memorized already. Wowwiki and Wowhead both have excellent comprehensive resources describing each instance, and the mbos and bosses within. 

When you enter that instance with a group for the first time, you should know your buttons, be familiar with your surroundings, and know where to go next. That frees you up to focus on learning/practising two new group-only aspects of tanking;

  1. How to grab mobs and build threat as fast as possible. Controlling the mobs.
  2. How to manuever your camera view to watch the room around you, and do it all the time. Situational awareness.

The first one is obvious. The DPS especially, but also the healer, will generate threat. This finally gives you a means to compare your own ability to generate threat against others. Use your Omen, use your Tidyplates/Threatplates, and concentrate NOT on generating your highest DPS but on cranking out your highest possible THREAT per second. You’ll find that is situational. Some of your best threat abilities will be single target only, and if you use a Global Cooldwon on them, you’ll be losing threat on a group of mobs. For Bears, learning when to start with group AoE threat abilities first like Maul and Swipe, and when to ease off Swipe and switch in others during your GCD comes from experience… and learning what your party will do.

The second one goes with the first. If you lose aggro, being fluid and watching your surroundings will show you what’s going on behind you. If you don’t see the mobs break off and go after your healer, then you can’t react to it with, say, a Feral Charge to a mob on the healer followed by a Challenging Roar.

Also, sometimes members of your party will stand in the wrong place and pull mobs from another group. You have to be able to move your view around and see what those chuckleheads are getting into.

It also helps to be able to see if someone in your group is just an idiot, and stands in the green slime all the time. Knowing that the reason their health is dropping is that they won’t move their ass helps take the feeling of personal responsibility over their life off your shoulders.

It also helps warn you that the healer is probably having to spend their own Global Cooldowns on saving said idiot, rather than on healing you. Time to be prepared to pop your own Survivability and Damage Mitigation cooldowns? Could be.

Please, the first time you run with a group, do it with considerate friends that will help. And try and keep at it, practising until you’re pretty happy with it.

But, that being said, the next hurdle will be deciding if you are willing to put up with random bullshit from asshats to tank for randoms.

It will happen. Nobody that tanks randoms gets good players ALL the time.

From that point on, having given yourself every possible opportunity to learn and practise and master the basics and nuances of tanking…

It’s your call.

I know of several really good players that just don’t tank for random groups. They’ll DPS, and they MIGHT heal, but they won’t put up with the casual abuse. They tank for friends, and that’s it.

I hear that from far more people in private comments than you might believe.

If that’s what you choose, I support you 100%. I’ll say it again in a different way; you do not have to suffer abuse from other people. It’s not your job to be somebody else’s chew toy. If you tank in randoms and people throw abuse your way… you don’t have to deal with it. Put them on ignore at the very least.

What I hope is, if you’re facing that wall, the fear of failing a group, if THAT is what is keeping you from trying tanking for the very first time…

I really hope that you’ll prepare, give yourself every chance at success, and then give it a try with friends. Tanking is an incredibly fun aspect of the game, and you’ll never know if it’s that one thing that really ‘clicks’ with you until you give it a try.

36 Responses to “Tank Talk: Choosing to Tank”
  1. Iggledorf says:

    My first tanking experiences came from friends, and a random player who immediately ended up on my friends list due to the encouragement and little tips here and there. I can only imagine how my gameplay would have worked out if i had just jumped into a random dungeon. Oddly the one thing i have least fun with is DPS, i love tanking, and i quite enjoy healing. I think it comes from my overall sense of responsibility, but for DPS I just cant seem to enjoy the race to top the charts. Oh well.

  2. Moonstalker says:

    I converted to bear from boomkin around 70 or so basically because the friends/family I play with needed a tank. I learned to tank while they learned to heal/dps. More than one mistake was made by all but we are still friends/family. Random pugs are just that – RANDOM. I never know what I will have as group dynamics. BUT I tank as I learned while playing with my friends/family – with respect and fun. Anyone that doesn’t like that gets /ignore and if it continues, I drop group. There are so many other fun things to do than to listen to someone whine about noobs and dps meters. I choose to have fun.

  3. Fangtastic says:

    I think with tanking you need to keep some perspective. You should prepare
    to do the best you can, but be willing to live with the fact that there
    will be wipes or loose mobs, whether you screwed up or not. You will die,
    either first or last and sometimes people will make snarky comments. And
    then instead of giving up in shame or anger you want to understand what you
    could do differently to prevent it from happening.

    As a bear that might be doing an LOS pull and making sure the healer or dps
    aren’t standing round the corner in front of you healing/dpsing before the
    mobs reach you. As a warrior, it might be using vigilance on a dps who
    generates a lot of threat. Throwing a mark up instinctively (keep it bound
    to F6 or something) to help the early part of the pull go smoother. Things
    like how you position mobs, remembering to use your cooldowns before you go
    splat. Small things that you need to pick up on and build into your tanking
    thought process – BBB does a fantastic job of giving you a heads up on
    these. You can think it through all you like, you can read it, you can talk
    it and you can watch it – but I guarantee you that when you go in there as
    a tank, you will NOT be perfect and you will mess up. This is a natural
    part of the process.

    The important thing is to care enough to do your homework, but not care so
    much that you quit tanking the moment you cause a wipe or queue with a
    group of retards. Perspective. Don’t lose it.

    Yeah you caused a wipe, yeah some people got a few G worth of repair bill
    and maybe lost 5 minutes of “progress”. Ain’t the end of the world – you’re
    learning a new skill and as long as you’re making the effort to do well,
    you should be able to live with yourself when you mess up. Don’t be afraid
    of screwing up – accept that you will screw up, the group might wipe on
    occassion and just make sure you learn from it so you do better next time.
    If you hang in there, you will get better and eventually you’ll find
    everything coming to you naturally. And then you’ll have a total blast.

    Would be a shame if you were so hard on yourself that you quit before you
    got there. :-)

  4. Neil says:

    “A good player, to me, is simply someone that cares. Everything else is negotiable.”

    This is some of the best WoW advice I’ve ever heard. With your permission, I’d love to quote this in the preamble to my guild’s rules.

  5. Bacon says:

    I love tanking, but I will opt to heal for randoms and go Bear for friends. I ran into too many asshats who don’t watch threat and then call me out for not holding aggro.

  6. bigbearbutt says:

    Neil, be my guest, sir.

    Converging Forces is the only thing that is a complete “no” on reposting as far as I’m concerned, as long as folks are nice enough to mention where they found what they post, I’ll always say go for it.

  7. I levelled my toon through the middle of Burning Crusade, and raided during the last third of it. I really never, ever, tried to cat dps. I was always in bear form taking the beating for whoever I was partied with/grouped with. The culture was different in game, then, I think. Even on my backwater RP server, we had elitist raiders, but everyone understood tanks needed to get threat, and cc was a big deal. There was much less “you’re a bad tank if I pulled the mob to me and it killed me”. I honestly feel, if I had needed to learn to tank in Wrath, I would have given up. The culture change is a huge deal. Huge.

    Even now, though, with my new paladin tank…. I would be scared to death walking into ICC if I hadn’t seen the fights before on one of my other toons. My tank upbringing and my heal focus most of the time means I absorb a lot more about fights than just health bars. Working with a new MT (who outgears me) but didn’t absorb all that info while he was healing in ICC really brought to my mind how much I did pick up, and how often I use it, without thinking about it.

    I love my tank reflexes.

  8. Rowtan says:

    I have a Druid tank and a pally one. The Druid has been a tank for longer but only comes out when the guild is desperate for a tank, I don’t feel confident enough playing her – perhaps it is just lack of practice I don’t know. My pally tank actually levelled protection although didn’t star instances until we got to Outland – and even then only for guildees. However, I do feel more confident tanking with the pally – I just feel that I have more AoE and more burst threat straight out of the gates. I feel that Druid threat tends to build up more slowly which, in the current environment of the “gogogo”ers makes competing with dps threat a constant battle rather than fun. Of course it could just be lack of practice and often after reading one of your posts here I will pick up extra info and more enthusiasm to give it a go – I still feel that, after my priest facemelter/healer, my Druid is my favourite toon.

  9. Fangtastic says:

    Btw if you have trouble with threat as a bear try to get a higher damage (FAP) weapon asap. Makes a huge difference. I’m trying to get a 251 or better for my bear bit been having bad luck on drops. The rest of your gear will help you survive better but the weapon contributes most to threat.

  10. Fish says:

    I think you did an excellent job laying it out. Really tanking has become no fun. Groups almost expect a tank to have 40k health, and run instances like AOE farming with bosses. Healing seems a lot easier, and as long as no one dies, groups are generally content. DPS, well, they just get to wait. I was running CoS the other day for some easy emblems and we had a DPS doing 450 DPS. I cant even understand how you can get to level 80 with that output. . .

  11. Fangtastic says:

    @Fish: By not caring.

  12. HerrDrache says:

    When I’m on my mage, I’m always a bit nervous about those 40+K health tanks in heroics – especially when I see the bar drop to 40%. Mitigation/Avoidance anyone? It’s not ICC, yanno?
    But yes, even though I tanked since I turned 70 and Kara was our progression, there was that point in Wrath where I just didn’t want to pug anymore. I blame the dungeon-finder – cross-server anonymity means that people can get away with a ton of uglyness, and I tip my hat to (almost) any tank that has the guts to pug solo, without even a healer – especially when they’re in “normal” gear, i.e. dungeon blues and purples.

  13. I have steadily been gearing my pally’s tanking off-spec, but all the reasons you give here are a large reason I rarely tank.

    BTW, I think pallies have some very good tools to get initial aggroon 3-4 mobs, but if there are more than that, we are in trouble, especially if/wehen you get casters involved (FOrge of soules and Pit of Sauron come to mind.

    Also, if we lose aggro on mulit-mobs, our tool set is kind of limited. We don’t have any really good AoE taunts. Righteous Defense and Avenger’s Shield can each get 3 targets, but those require actively targeting the offenders, as opposed to just standing in a given spot and spamming swipe or warstomp (or whatever the warrior’s AoE threat move is)

    Back on topic… as it is, I almost never tank, simply for the reasons you mention.

  14. dorgol says:

    I think some of this is a little out of date.

    Tanking in Classic was a serious thing. You had to KNOW what you were doing, what gear to get, and we didn’t have any easy resources for data like we do today. I tanked a few things back then (Strat, Scholo, 15 man UBRS), and I’ll be honest with you that I wasn’t very good. Good enough to get the instance complete, but not good enough to advertise myself as a tank.

    Tanking in TBC was only slightly different. And the difference WASN’T the classes, it was the knowledge. Sites were out there (this was one of them) with gear lists, stats, strats, etc. But tanking was still tough work. Heroics were Heroics. I attempted to tank exaclty once on my Warrior, and it was barely successful. I swore never to go back. On the flip-side, though, I happily tanked every heroic available on my Paladin. Paladins were simply easier to tank with!

    In both of those cases, I would have been right with you about starting to tank only with friends / guildies. It was harder to hold threat. Croud Control meant you had to understand the pull. BADASS HEROICS meant that mistakes would result in splats.

    These days? I say throw yourself into it. Don’t start in a heroic, but don’t be afraid to run a normal instance either. Threat is a joke for all tanks nowadays. Crowd Control was gone even before we outgeared the instances. If the player is a good player (something assumed from the beginning of this article), they should have ZERO problems getting in and getting the job done.

    I was nervous about tanking back in TBC because it was straight-up hard to do. In WotLK I created a Death Knight, got him to 60 as DPS – and then tanked over 100 5-mans on the way to 80. I haven’t done DPS on that character since level 60! Why? Was it because I knew the class? Not really. Was it because I’d already tanked those same instances on a Paladin? Yes. Was it ALSO because tanking just isn’t the challenge it once was? Abso-friggin-lutely.

  15. Nimizar says:

    While the RNG gods have declared that my druid shall be primarily a tree rather than a bear (well, the RNG gods and the fact that a few guildies have been working on tanks lately, and a couple of our raid DPS have been tanking dungeon runs in their off specs to help gear up some relatively fresh level 80 DPS), tanking for friends is certainly where I started.

    However, the other thing I did was to go tank random *normal* dungeons. While my gear is only OK for heroics, it’s very good for normal runs. It gives me a chance to learn all the mechanics I never really noticed as a hunter plinking away from range, plus the “faster, faster, faster” crowd are only interested in their frost and triumph badges and generally don’t bother with the normal runs.

  16. Bernie says:

    What I can never understand is who exactly do the a$$hats think are going to show up in their PUGs? Perhaps an addon for 6k+ gs players.

  17. Adanos says:

    True true and…. so true.

    This post is great for a reason, I think there’s a class designed for everyone, a class that you can call your own, class that when you play it, you feel at home. And, there’s a role for everyone…. there are people that are healers, and cant understand why people enjoy dpsing…. there are people that get that warm and fussy feeling while tanking, and there are the dps.

    I was a dps, I’ve found my druid pretty early on…. and my kitty and I were one, I did my first 10 man, and t5 raids on kitty and I loved it, until one day when I was mostly BoJ geared, in which (due to the lack of tanks) the guild master of my guild told me if I wanted to level up a paladin or warrior to have a tank alt. Back in TBC people usually frowned upon the might of the bear (I know, shame on them), so I started to read about bear tonking and it sounded great, and It assured me a spot on any raid, so I started gathering gear for tank, first off the Heavy Clefthoof Set, then I converted my Violet Signet of the grand Restorer to “of the Grand Protector” and once I had a few decent items I got some friends together and tried my first Underbog Heroic, since that day I’ve been a Bear full time, going kitty when there was another Main Tank and dps was welcomed, and that day I understood I was born for tanking, and ever since I cant get much of fun out of dpsing.

    So (returning to the point after that huuuuge train of thought) this post of yours 3B is important cause there’s a lot of people out there that, just like me, were made for tanking and dont know it yet. So, my little 2 cts here is…. try tanking, try healing, just in case you learn thats what makes you tick and you’ll enjoy WoW a lot more.

  18. Tesh says:

    My first tanking experience was a trial by fire. I was running a random dungeon via the Finder, prowling around in the Scarlet Cathedral as a Tauren Druid in kitty form. The Warrior tank disconnected, and we couldn’t boot him for 10 minutes. I offered to step up and tank in bear form, not willing to just wait or requeue. And, well… I wanted to see what I could and couldn’t do.

    The Mage, Shaman and resto Druid agreed readily enough, and we proceeded to four-man the place. I’d been there before as pure DPS, so I was at least familiar with the area and the bosses… but I didn’t realize that you have to clear both wings before taking on the final boss duo. So yeah, we wiped. I managed to handle tanking the bulk of the run, though I was kind of slow due to careful pulling. Nobody died until we got bum rushed by the West Wing. The others accepted my embarrassed apologies, and we went back and steamrolled the place.

    It was interesting; I was able to see that tanking in itself could be fun, but also that a mid-twenties Druid bear doesn’t have a lot of strong aggro-generating abilities. The few baddies that got past me were burned down quickly enough by the others, but I just literally couldn’t keep all of the bad guys on me, no matter how hard I tried. That’s why I pulled small groups, very carefully.

    I’ve seen enough to think that tanking could be fun, especially with people willing to be flexible. I’ve seen enough to believe that leveling tanks might be especially hampered by incomplete mechanics (especially when competing with DPS characters with Heirloom gear). I’m looking forward to the threat rework for Cataclysm to see if that makes things a bit less… frustrating. I don’t mind learning how to play, but when I don’t have the tools to do what I’ve learned to do, well… that’s frustrating.

  19. Moochew says:

    Tell me about those 40k tanks with no avoidance! I have 3 healers (priest, druid, shaman) and two tanks (Paladin, bear, and a retired warrior tank) and only one DPS that I play. My DPS is a DW frost DK who’s only just hit 79. Healing those 40k + tanks can be really hit and miss. Some, (bears and DK’s seem prone to this more than pallys or warriors, and perhaps it’s more obvious because of the lack of shield to help with blocks / extra mitigation) have a lot of HPs, but are massive mana sponges, requiring constant healing. It’s not uncommon for me to run into a 30-35k DK / bear who’s focused on properly gearing for tanking and they will be easier to heal than the 40k DK tank who has nothing but stamina and ignored the other stats when gearing.

    I actually stopped trying to gear up my warrior to tank at 80 because at 28k people were abusing me and calling me a scrub, DPS in ICC gear were bursting their damage all up front and complaining I couldn’t hold agro and generally being dicks about everything. I feel sorry for ANY tank who starts out new in the current environment. Most DPS won’t care about factoring in the tank’s gear at all. There’s been plenty of instances I’ve healed with starter tanks, where if they’re doing well and just having significantly overgeared DPS causing problem I’ll make sure to whisper them that they’re doing a great job, and to ignore the DPS who are in end game raid gear. I let those DPS die if they don’t modify their play style somewhat.

    I was healing a heroic the other day, and there were two DK’s in there who were averaging 800dps, and about 600dps on boss encounter. This was H.Drak’Tharon, an encounter with fairly melee friendly boss fights. When asked, they said they’d hit 80 30 minutes previously. We had one of those properly geared 34k tanks, so I went Ele half way through (was healing on my shaman) and doubled their combined total damage by the end of the instance.

    My current DPS DK, at 79, can push 2.2k dps on bosses, and sits 1.5k – 2k overall dps. I’m confident that even if I go straight into heroics when I hit 80, I can maintain at least 1.5k on bosses, and the 1.5k-2k on overall. I don’t understand how people can care so little about their characters that a fresh 80 can’t even maintain 1k dps. I’d expect most classes to be able to put out at least 1.5k as fresh 80’s.

  20. Taeraresh says:

    Most people want me in groups for DPS (being in nearly full ICC25 gear does that), but I’ve built up pretty decent tank gear as well. I’ve tried tanking for random groups, and given up on it. There’s just too much derision for inexperienced tanks, and for bear tanks (at least on my server), and I fall into both categories. Weirdly, I don’t find it nearly as miserable on my paladin, who’s currently tanking his way past level 52. Maybe the lower-level people are more polite, or there are just less expectations of perfection when everyone’s still learning how their class works.

  21. jinkx says:

    BBB, i recognise so much from your story in my first tanking experience its scary!
    My offspec on my lazer chicken is bear and altough im not an icc tank for our guild i am geared for tanking it and i do tank a lot of the heroics and the lower raids. Just love the big bangs to much to switch main spec to tanking i guess :-) But anyway, another word of advice i would like to give to new tanks:
    yes you should care about doing your job to the best of your abilitys.
    Yes you should care that everyone in your group survives the run, i usually have more guilt about it then the healer.
    Yes every mistake you make will probably be magnified as the consequenses for your mistake ar far bigger then the mistakes of a dps.
    But sometimes people die and things go to shit. And its NOT always your fault. One of the most important things our guilds MT (one of the best DK tanks i ever saw) learned me is to know the difference. If it is your fault fuss up about it, learn from the mistakes made and move on, but also know when its not your fault.
    Oh and about tanking randoms? Elephanthide helps. Grow some :-)

    And most important: have fun. Tanking can be an ungratefull job but when a run goes smooth its one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do in wow.

  22. Eryius says:

    It’s all very true. I tank on my bear regularly and started that with friend-groups only. Now I also tried tanking with my DK and figured that using my bear-experience I could get into tanking using PuGs. How wrong I was, the crap you get thrown at you just because you don’t have 40k hitpoints is daunting really. I completely gave up tanking on my DK because of that. It’s just not funny tanking for ppl you don’t know.

    What surprises me most though about all of this, is that there is HUGE lack of tanks worldwide (as far as I know). So I would expect that the ppl that DO choose to take the burden should get a bit more space to learn and pick up skills. But the way the DPS are behaving, we’ll keep this tank shortage forever…

    Btw, I started healing on my main and turned to tanking later on. As a healer, you pretty much run into exactly the same issues. It can be really demotivating to learn healing in PuGs, same issues all over. So for resto druids (and other healers) out there, I would give the same advice, stick with friends until you’re comfortable with your skills.
    Specially nowadays, DPS doesnt move anymore and expects you to heal them through everything. Then ofc they shout and bark at you if you don’t…
    On the same line of thought, I think that most healers are also ppl that care, as you phrase it. Just like tanks often seem to do.

  23. Smallbeard says:

    Hello BBB,

    After reading a lot off your post; i decided to reply. First off all, i want to Want to say thanks for this blog. It’s the only one I read on a regular basis and is a must read for al the new (want to be) tanks in our little guild.
    On topic:
    I just started tanking about 3 months ago after levelling 2 pali’s. I hope I can say that I know my class a bit, so I started tanking to help out my guildies. The main reason for me not to tank is the reason stated in your blog… The feeling of not wanting to let the group down, especially if it’s not a guild group. On my runs with the guild there’s for some reason always 1 person in the group who dies a horrible death, but I really try to avoid that when on a pug. I only pug when I got another guildie with me, just so I know there will be a few laughs on the way. It’s a game so it should be fun and sure I take my “job” serieus so other people have a nice and smooth run, but it’s still a game.
    On the lower levels it’s more relaxed, it’s more a group effort because you’re not that overgeared and you actually need each other. For new tanks I have this advice; start tanking from the start. DPS-ing and tanking are two totally different things and it’s really hard to learn to tank on a character that you always dps-ed with.

  24. I had a couple small experiences tanking with Naxx right after ToC was released. Didn’t do too bad, but wasn’t in love with it like I was Kitty on my fresh 80, so I put it to the side and my laser pointers focused on, gearing up my kitty.

    About a month after ICC was released, I got tired of waiting on long queue times, so I dusted off the old bear form again. I slowly built a tank set using a mix of kitty pieces and bear pieces I could cobble together, only tanking with friends and grinding out badges with kitty to gear it up. Did a bunch of reading and research. (Which is when I found your blog.) And was doing ok, but didn’t feel like I was doing great. Then, after some drama in my old guild, I had a long discussion with my our GM. And during our talk, he told me, go into the randoms, face the idiots who are going to do every stupid thing imaginable and still try and make it through. Survivability and holding threat were my ultimate goals.

    And that’s what I did, I ran random after random, a lot with full pugs and a lot with the pally I’m going to marry. (Seriously, we’re engaged irl. ;) ) I did always feel more confident with “my healer.” But when I walked in to tank, with a random group, not on vent and felt I could handle 95% of what anyone there could throw at me, I finally felt like a good tank. And, to me, my ultimate moment was when a random with guildies ended up in HoR and the healer (not my sweetie) said after we finished the first room, “Wow, I think that’s the smoothest I’ve ever seen that go.”

    So I know you mention in your post, tanks not wanting to do randoms, so they don’t deal with the idiots, but if any of your readers have thick enough skin to deal with the idiots, I always make the suggestion, go the trial by fire route if you can.

    To borrow a paraphrased quote that I made in my own blog when doing this: (With apologies to Rudyard Kipling.)

    If you can hold mobs when all about you
    Are pulling aggro and blaming it on you
    If you can keep the mage alive when others doubt you
    And the healer and the kitty and the rogue too

    Yours is the boss and everything that’s in it,
    And – which is more – you’ll be a Tank, my son!

    Brewa/Feral Instincts

  25. Nighwhisp says:

    With tanking just as in real life perception=reality. It is silly how much more respect I get if I have my “Kingslayer” title on vs “Twilight Vanquisher,” “The Patient,” or the kiss of death: “Jenkins”

    Rule #1 Never let them see you sweat!- The moment you apologize for anything the group will assume that you don’t know what you are doing and will lose confidence in you. Don’t place blame elsewhere just, run back and rebuff and go again.

    Rule #2 Don’t get in arguments!-If someone “calls you out” type “/ignore” and initiate a kick vote. this will tell them you aren’t taking any crap and it tells the others you won’t take crap from them. should they insteed kick you, your queue for another group will be under five minutes so what the heck. Also as a newer tank never accept an “In Progress” instance, they have probably lost the tank before you for a good reason, like maybe they are asshats!

    Rule #3 Be the strong silent type!- Unless you know the group, or have become very comfortable with them keep chat to an absolute minimum. Often I will politely greet the group at the first and say thanks for the group at the end and nothing more. Most instructions will not be understood or followed anyway, it is a well documented fact that the average DPS player in dungeon finder is not intelligent enough to understand line of sight, assist targeting or crowd control, and forget about interrupts.

    Rule #4 Don’t allow another player to control your self image!- You must pat yourself on the back for your victories, and you should get up and brush yourself off when you fail. You will have wipes, and some will be your fault, it is part of the game. Don’t worry about it!

    Rule #5 Read BBB and other class specific blogs to gain every bit of information on how to play your toon!- Need I say more?

    And then there is the secret trick for learning to tank: (don’t tell other people or it won’t be a secret. . .) Until you learn how to tank, queue below your level. Dungeon finder works for spicific instances as well as randoms. Yep, sounds simple but it is amazing. If you are level 40 and you are running with level 32 DPS you will be a threat goddess! Run an instance over and over until you are an expert on that instance. When you hit 80, don’t just jump into Wrath Heroics as a tank! Use your DPS off spec to get Frost Badges and the non-heroics to get Triumphs, and hone your skills. The mid to upper seventies players will be in shock and awe of the big 80 that is running the show. When you start running heroics if you are running Utguard and you are geared for Forge of Souls, you will find that everything goes much more smoothly.

    Don’t give up, we need more tanks, and you just might find that it is the role that was tailor made for you. . .

  26. Tabiat says:

    What a fantastic post!
    I myself got tired of waiting for others to tank/heal so started doing it myself. What I discovered was rather interesting. Firstly I love healing or better said helping people. For me the most fun is in having a happy bunch of people as we cruise through doing a dungeon or seeing how far we can get in a raid. Lately the healing didn’t help me much farming marks either so I started tanking. I have a DK, but the Bear is the Bong! The other ‘interesting’ thing I discovered was how many people play on my server SylvanasEU (I’m presuming it’s better on other servers, although I suspect that is just being naive) that are absolute d**ks. People that would join a group or PUG start arguing about loot that hasn’t even dropped yet. Point in case was last week when I was in a PUG for ICC25man, the group disbanded before Marrowgar! Literally in front of him… I couldn’t believe what I saw. It took about 1.5 hours to make the group and about 10minutes for it to be destroyed without a single wipe, just because of d**ks.

    I try my best to play with only people I know now. This has forced me to become an organizer etc, which I don’t mind except I have so little time to play compared to others, or what I used to have. However my favorite wow moments have resulted because of this. We regularly run 10mans now and the chatting and vibe is just great. Otherwise I simply love Arena. 2v2 is easiest as all you need is a good bud.

    Good luck everybody caught in the maelstrom. May you find a nice happy group that don’t mind failure from time to time, that will allow you to learn as you go. And don’t forget, if you can’t find one; make one!

  27. paperclip says:

    I always thought it would be a great idea for Blizzard to put in some quests that helped people practice tanking skills. Something where you had NPCs acting as DPS and Healing where you could practice keeping agro. Most solo play you effectively are dps, a few escort/defend type quests you can play healer, but there are only one or two where you can be a tank. I’ve been running with a bear spec recently, but I think of it as a “survival” spec, rather than a “tank” spec because I have no idea how well I will hold agro if I were to run with a group. Having a way to practice without risking other players could have a big impact on the pool of people willing to give tanking a try.

  28. Aerdita says:

    I’ve been a DPS/healer for a long time. As a healer you see a lot of the same pressures. There’s a lot of little things that make your teeth grind. Tanks that won’t turn away mobs that breath weapon/cleave/etc, or more likely the melee dps that stands in it anyway. Groups that won’t wait on your mana. I have bitched and yelled at a hunter that kept pulling threat off a low geared tank. Hunter used to be my main, anyone that can’t find their feign death button pisses me off. But I had to heal him, or it was MY fault if he died.
    Only recently did my druid hit 80 and I returned to the world of tanking. In the days of Ulduar, I toyed with pally tanking and didn’t like it. I love my druid, she’s my main now. I have dual spec, but i haven’t used it in so long I can barely remember what it is. I don’t run my max level DPS anymore. I may never again, except with friends. As a tank or healer, I feel I have more direct control over a group’s success. I know both roles well enough when a wipe happens, I can usually tell who caused it. I’ve gotten compliments, or requests to queue for another, which tells me I’m doing things right. I love that, it makes me all warm and fuzzy.
    Most important when you’re learning, tank or healer: run below you’re gear level till you know and trust your skills, and don’t take shit from anyone. Own up to your mistakes, but if anyone is giving you grief, vote to kick or leave. I will not abandon a group because of multiple wipes unless its 100% clear the players are incapable of pulling off a run, but I will leave a party with an asshole in it fast enough to make them all blink. Tanks have a 30 second queue in my battlegroup, so its a tankers market.

  29. Solitudeone says:

    Thanks so much for such an informative, yet down to earth post! I’m currently trying to decide upon my off-spec (feral or restro), so your post and all the comments are like a treasure chest find for me. It’s great to find an informative article every now and then without having to weed through all the numbers.

  30. Pawzy says:

    My main is a warrior. In the beginning, I admit I wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box. I bought dual spec and tried to go to tanking spec at 70 after having leveled completely as Arms. I’d ask guildmates and friends for tips and try my best to do them. Then… I hit up the random dungeon finder. Big mistake. Almost every group kevetched at me for one reason or another. Not pulling fast enough. Not enough health/good enough gear. DPS who out-geared me pulling aggro. It wore me down. It made me so upset that I quit the game for a while after a particularly nasty group. After my break, I tried tanking once again. Again, abuse. I snapped, went to the trainer and changed that tanking spec into a fury spec. I’ve been happier since. It’s nice being able to get a group and not be verbally abused.

    Buuut. I still wanted to tank. I made and twinked out a druid. She is currently lvl 55, bear spec’d and takes no abuse from anybody. Life has been better as a tank since I decided I was the one in control, and screw anyone else who didn’t want to be civil. I’ve let aggro-whores die (after a warning or two) and if it got bad, I’d leave. I play for fun, not to be somebody’s tank-bot! =)

  31. Wikid says:

    I think I have a few people I am going to share this post with, they are still relatively new to tanking and need to understand how their actions effect others and how others actions effect what they are doing. I think you make great points in this.

  32. Sylani says:

    My first time tanking was around 65 when I said to myself “self, all of your gear is the same gear a bear would wear, you know you could get faster random queues if you queued as tank/dps *evilgrin*”

    I felt that anxiety, nervous that I would screw up. Scared that I would just be a bad tank and ruin it for everyone… but I did it anyways. I figured that if there were any time to try out tanking, the present had no similar. I queued up for a random, yep, a random. People I didn’t know from Adam. I don’t even remember what dungeon I got, just that I had never set foot inside of it before. I had started playing around half way through BC and quit playing when I leveled up faster than my friends, only returning after wrath and then barreling through to 80 on my hunter.

    When I got in I simply said “first time tanking ever, gonna be slow and my apologies if I screw up”. At the end of the run I got a compliment from the healer that I did fine. This was all the encouragement that I needed in order to continue. I leveled all the way to 80 on my durid through random dungeons, hitting 80 about 3 and a half months ago and I love it.

  33. Matheo says:

    It’s really amazing how a poor group can sap one’s sense of well-being. If someone in a pug actually compliments me on my tanking (not my gear), I make a screenshot of it and put it in my “Mat’s Happy Place” folder. After a rough run, I can sit back and flip through all the spontaneously nice things people have said, and it doesn’t sting quite so badly. It’s easy to focus on the asshats; don’t forget the genuinely nice folks who are grateful for a tank that tries.

  34. Decuma says:

    I tried tanking….. with guildies…. off we went to Gnomer with one of the guild main tanks on an alt ..all of us on alts… never ever ever again… apparently there are a ton of shortcuts to avios a lot of mobs.. Since i didnt do Gnomer on my main i missed at least 1.2 the instance and learnt exactly nothing… another toon that will not get to max level since she was always going to be a tank and really i hated every moment of it.. Sometimes the stranger danger might be preferable to a guildie who knows everything but cant remember what it was like at the lower levels.

    I think i will stick to healing..its safer that way

  35. Imanoob says:

    Triple B. You always have great topics! Boy can I tell you about tank anxiety. My main is Tree/Featherpants. My advise to any guildy that shows a desire to heal or tank is: level in your chosen spec! I leveled my druid from 55 to 80 in instances only (pre Dungeon Finder). I learned all kinds of tricks that way. By the time I hit level cap it was only a matter of adding the 80 spells to my tool box & diving in. I did try to go Bear around lvl 75 but even with people I knew it was a tuff role to play. I respeced my DK tank & tried again. It seemed that with the DF tool, the role of tank became much harder. Now I had to deal with griefers, and gogo’ers & people that just don’t grasp or care that there is a person at the other end of the toon. I gave up tanking for a few months after I had two back to back asshats yell out “Fail tank Fail”. Here is where the “people who care” come in, my GM is a tank (he has 3 ICC geared MT’s Pally, DK, Warrior) again I am main spec heals so we have run so many Heroics & Raids together I know what he is going to do before he does it. About 4 months ago it dawned on me “I know every move he makes” with the coaxing of an uber tank (thanks Arch/Dread/Val) I dusted off my DK & gave it another go. I luv tanking! The need to be constantly aware of everything keeps the game exciting. I even rolled a warrior (and leveled to cap in prot thru the DF) I still run into griefers, asshats etc. I’ll even try to save them from the death they just pulled off of me (so the nice rogue who tricks’ed me, the lock that tossed out some candy, or that beautiful fresh 80 tree won’t have to wait for him to be rez’ed). I was thinking of asking Ghostcrawler for a “Happy Team Button”. This button would put a vote to the party, “Asshat or No Asshat” when it’s passed, the offender gets clobbered with a shield slam, bash strangulate & has a debuff “by way of an asshat” placed on them until reset. Think it would make them behave? Prolly not huh…

  36. Mokele says:

    Haha Nightwhisp – my main gets round in Jenkins title XD I have all the leet fancy titles, but getting round in Jenkins gives me a chuckle that Kingslayer doesn’t . <.<

    Thats a great comment on trying lower level dungeons to hone skills. I am one of those who lost confidence along the way (then fell in love with Kitty dps). I tanked my way through the SM & Uldamann LFD randoms it all went very smoothly & I really enjoyed bearing it up, it was great fun. The one fateful day the LFD threw me in Dire Maul. I don't know if I was doing it wrong (probably – I don't know DM & I didn't expect it to come up on a random) but heals just couldn't keep me up :( We wiped 3 times, then heals left & it took too long to find another so the group disbanded. I felt bad about it, so for the remainder of the Dire Maul levels I queued as DPS, the plan was to get through to Outlands then bear up again. Well I'm in Outlands… still kittying… (love mah cat) coz – I have no confidence in my capacity for tanking. My main is heals – I'm one who takes responsibility for the group & I'm used to being able to carry it in the LFD, no matter how unskilled the others are. I guess I'm just expecting that I should be able to do that with tanking too despite the lack of experience. I need to find a heals like me – who is willing & able to happily cover for the mistakes I'll inevitably make. Guild runs & lower level dungeons I guess is the way to go.

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