Tips for the New Tank

If you’re thinking of being the tank for a group, either for a team of your friends, a raid, or in a pug, I’ve got a few small suggestions that may help you out.

1) Be consistent.

When you get together with any group of people, you have to keep in mind that even if someone else is directing the overall strategy for the run, everyone else takes their cue from the tank. Everyone will be watching how you do things, NOT to judge whether you know what you’re doing, but to see HOW you will be doing things, so they can adapt themselves to your style.

There are so many ways, so many styles you can have as a tank. Each has it’s good points. But whatever you do, be consistent in how you perform each type of pull, so that your DPS and heals can adjust themselves to your flow.

I do not mean always pull every group the same way… but you should have one common way you do things, and then some variations depending on the opposing group’s makeup.

An example. If you prefer to charge into a group of mobs, and then drag them around so you are facing the rest of the party, providing melee DPS with a straight up-the-kilt shot as they run up… do that every time, not just some of the time. If the melee get used to running in after you and NOT having to maneuver around behind the mobs… if you suddenly change styles in mid stream, and stop dragging them around to put their back’s to the party, it will throw the flow off. And if you swap your style every other pull, it’s gonna annoy the shit out of them.

Being consistent in how you pull and how you position yourself allows the rest of the group to get an intuitive feel for how you do things, and they will respond by moving confidently to the attack without wasted motion, and your healers will be better tuned in to what your final range from them will end up being so they can position themselves well.

2) Encourage focus fire on targets with Raid Icons.

Most of the time, whether in Heroics or on raid trash, nobody uses CC anymore. Ulduar, of course, is a different story, but for the most part the normal sequence is pull, generate aggro, kill ’em all, next pull.

Marking targets for Crowd Control or a detailed kill order really isn’t necessary, but there are advantages to marking a primary kill target to encourage everyone else to focus their attacks on that one target.

If you have a good group who know how to play they’re classes, then those with fast cast time attacks or insane burst damage will target your primary kill target while those with slow cast time attacks or powerful DoTs will know to take the initiative and work on some of the other unmarked mobs.

The fast cast burst damage will blow away the focus fire mob so quickly that the slow cast or DoT player wouldn’t have contributed much to that kill… but he will have done great damage against one of the other targets during that time. Everyone wins.

To encourage this, rather than stopping and marking everything up prior to engaging normal trash, instead use either an Addon such as Quickmark that lets you fast click a mark on your current target, or create a macro to let you mark a target with one keypress.

I don’t have a preference. If you like keybindings for macros and are comfortable with them, it can be a nice time savings in the middle of a pull to mark with one key press. If you are used to clicking the screen, then Quickmark is a great addon.

For a macro to mark a Skull over your currently selected target, I recommend the following line of code;

/script SetRaidTarget (“target”, 8)

Make the macro and then move it to your bottom left  button or whatever your “1” is, and as long as you are the party leader or raid leader or assistant, then by tapping the “1” once you’ll put a Skull up on your current target automatically.

Alternatively, you can make a mouseover macro that will let you put a Skull over any mob, just mouseover it and tap your “1”. I don’t use it myself, simply because I want the majority of damage to be hitting my current main threat target, but your mileage may vary.

The code for a mouseover version is as follows;

/script SetRaidTarget (“mouseover”, 8)

As with any text you copy/paste from the internet into the game, copy it into Notepad or some other text editor that strips the hidden HTML code out, and then copy THAT and paste it into WoW.

And yes, of course you can keybind that to other things, I’m just using the “1” as an example.

Quickmarks gives you greater flexibility with what marks to use and when, but it takes some screen clicking distracting time to get ’em up. Still a lot better than right-clicking an enemy portrait and using the drop down menu to assign marks.

Whatever way you choose, marking a kill target on the fly, and selecting another as soon as the first one is dead leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind WHO exactly you intend to focus your main attention on.

Many players will, without a kill target, assume that your current target is your main threat target.

The problem with that is, you might not stay on one target all the time. Most tanks will, at least occasionally, tab-target off the main threat mob to apply some good housekeeping Mauls of approval on some of the others, just for that extra wiggle room, and then go back to the main target.

Maybe on your initial pull, you decide to use a ranged DoT like Moonfire to start some threat on a target that you intend to take second. You Moonfire, the group comes, and then you switch to another target to be the one you blow the shit out of.

If the DPS is going off of your current target, they might not have noticed you moved off your initial target… and will be going all out on the wrong target and pull threat away.

No big worries, just a helpful tip that using a Raid Icon to mark your primary threat target on the fly, every time your main target changes, helps keep everyone on track.

3)  Be mindful of lines of sight.

Some instances have terrain that rises or lowers, such as hills or stairs, and there are the ever-present doorways.

Keep in mind that, when fighting, if you are positioned at the peak of such a terrain feature, the healer and ranged DPS  are likely below and behind you… and the melee DPS and pets are in front of you, over the rise, getting behind your opponent.

This can leave your melee DPS and the pet out of line of sight of the healer. Violet Hold is infamous for these types of fights, with portal spawn points being at the top of rubble piles or being at a platform above a long flight of stairs.

Be mindful at all times of your position relative to the party, and ensure that you are not only keeping yourself within healing line of sight, but also the ones doing the fighting at the mob’s rear.

Never be afraid to grab your mob at the top of the terrain feature, and then drag him/them back far enough so the pet is within line of sight, too.

4) Knowledge is power.

One of the simplest things that will make any tank’s life easier is knowing what to expect.

For boss fights, this is obvious. Knowing what the boss does helps you devise your tactics against him.

When trying to tank a run as smoothly as possible, it’s just as important to know the characteristics of the trash you will face.

At the most basic level, is knowing who is a caster, and who is melee. Knowing who will heal, and who will net you in place and then run away to shoot at range.

If you know a group is melee, then you can just do a standard pull and everybody comes running. If one of them is a caster, however, knowing it in advance can let you target him for a sheep to get him out of the way, or inspire you to do a line of sight pull around a corner to make him run to you and get clumped in with the melee.

It should be your goal, when dealing with trash, to find a way to either clump them all up so your threat generating abilities will easily tag them all, or to get those that won’t come into your range out of the fight temporarily.

Sometimes you don’t want to run up to the group to make sure you engage the ranged attackers in melee range. The group might be close to a boss, or another pack of elites, or some other issue may come up.

So keep in mind that if you run out of line of sight of a group after you aggro them, even the ranged will come running after. Also keep in mind that your taunt abilities can be used at range, and so long as nobody is dealing damage to the ranged attacker, your taunt will keep them from attacking anyone except the healer’s global aggro.

A tip? If you have a GOOD working relationship with some ranged DPS, you can have your DPS friend damage the ranged mob a bit while you build initial aggro on the melee group… and then when he gets aggro and takes a few shots, he can switch over to your normal target… and you can Taunt the ranged mob, bumping your threat on that target up to match your DPS friend… WAY over the healer’s global threat. You won’t have to worry so much about reapplying Taunt after that.

The point is, knowing what to expect from the mobs you encounter will help you pull in such a way as to get them all clumped up in your threat range without pulling additional mobs, and without letting any run free to harm the rest of your group.

5) The first rule of martial arts; The board does not hit back.

When you are preparing to be a tank, what you should focus on, first and foremost, is being able to take being hit, not your DPS output.

Everyone tries to stack their armor, avoidance and health that is always active.

But you’ve got a host of other abilities to help keep you alive, and knowing when to use them is key to going from an okay tank to a good tank.

Tip? PvP duels can be great ways to practise your ‘oh shit’ techniques.

Are you a Druid Bear Tank? Then arranging your sequences so it’s easy to trigger Survival Instincts/Frenzied Regeneration (and an optional Lifeblood) when necesary is great, but being practised in USING them when the shit hits the fan, at exactly the right moment, is much better. Especially when you can tell your healer that you’re good at the moment; go heal someone else for 10 seconds.

Knowing how much you can expect to recover from this manuever, by actually having a friend beat the heck out of you in PvP down to bare bones, and then triggering your ‘oh shit’ technique and getting a feel for how much Health you will recover, how much damage you will avoid using Barkskin or Evasion, how much of a hit your bear bubble will eat on a Crit, all these things help you better prepare for when you’re in deep trouble..and will help prevent you from looking at your ghost form, and think “Oh yeah, I should have used my Healthstone/Healing Pot/Lifeblood/Shield Wall/Survival Instincts/Evasion/Bubble.”

Come on. How many of you, with a straight face, can tell me you never died with a Healthstone still active in your inventory.

It won’t be second nature to use your ‘oh shit’ buttons, if you normally aren’t in ‘oh shit’ situations.

So practise it!

And what the hey, while you’re at it, practise your bubble/self heal, or your quick-shift/self heals, and get a feel for how long your cast time leaves you vulnerable, versus how much health you get back.

Practising as a Bear Tank to see how fast you can pop out of Bear, throw down two insta-cast HoTs and pop back into Bear can give you some good skills.

I know that when fighting Moroes in less than full groups, being able to self-heal during a Vanish is a wonderful thing… but leaving yourself in caster too long while trying to get greedy with the heals on long casts is embarrasing.

Your goal is to absorb damage and stay alive first, aggro everything second. If one mob gets loose, you might only lose one person. If you die, you will probably wipe the run.

Priorities, cheena. Priorities. You first, healer second, the DPS gets a rock.

6) Never assume.

For better or worse, the main tank is often looked to as the raid or party leader for group events.

If you have run something a thousand times, that’s great. When you are tanking a run though, you have to remember, just because YOU know what to do, doesn’t mean everyone else does. Remember that knowledge thing up above? Yeah, if you know what to expect, and there is a trick to keep things going smoothly… share the trick with your group.

Communicate clearly to the group your expectations for a fight… and be open to suggestions on different things to try. Please, for all that is holy, don’t tell other people how to play their class or character. But DO suggest a tactic that has worked in the past, things you’ve seen or asked other classes to do before, and ask if the other players can try the same thing.

Again, don’t tell other players how to play, and do be open to constructive suggestions after you’ve said your piece.

You know the portal to the upper left in Violet Hold that is going to spawn a group that splits up in two? Well, when it spawns, don’t just run around in silence, tell the Hunter that you’d like a Misdirect if possible onto you for the left pair, or that you want everyone to move back to the stairs to give yuo more time to round ’em all up, or explain that you feel suicidal and you’re gonna bear dance and let the team wipe.

Don’t act in silence.

Likewise, don’t assume that the current boss is ‘ezmode’, so you don’t need to explain your intentions on a boss fight or your expectations of the team.

I get a LOT of crap in my guild, because every time we do a raid, I ask if there is anyone on a boss fight that doesn’t know what to do… and if I get an affirmative, then I take the time to explain what is going to happen, and make sure that person and anyone else is clear on what we will do.

I get a load of crap… but our runs are always pretty smooth, even when we are learning a fight for the first time.

I’ve been on raids before where the raid leader apparently thought that being master looter meant he was a leader. That’s great, but when you have folks just blindly shooting at whatever comes along, and hoping they don’t screw up, afraid to speak up and ask questions because they’ll ‘slow down the run’, then I call that a massive failure on the raid leader’s part.

If you invited them on the run, then you are responsible for making sure they know what to do, and aren’t treated with derision for having the temerity to ask questions.

If you want everyone to have studied their role in an upcoming raid in detail before you ever set foot inside… make sure that expectation is communicated ahead of time. And then feel free to rearrange your raid if that was your rule, and someone showed up unprepared.

You can have a speed run where no words are exchanged the whole fight and everything died anyway, awesome loot, kick ass, no deaths… and if one person on that run felt that if they spoke up, they’d be mocked for not knowing what is going on, and spent the whole run tense and confused and unhappy and fearful of screwing up, I consider that a crappy fail of a run.

But then, that’s just me.

The fish wrap-up.

I hope some of this can prove helpful if you’re just starting out as a tank, and wondering what kind of things to think about to help make your runs go smoothly.

Until next time, have fun!


49 thoughts on “Tips for the New Tank

  1. Thanx for the insiteful report… I have been a boomkin / resto druid since I’ve built my character but have found my dps to be somewhat less desirable. After trying all that I can (via help from other excellent boomkins) I have decieded to change my balance tree to a feral one. And obtaining that beautiful mace from the ICC quest has sent me in the right direction. I now have set out to run heroics till my eyes bleed, as a healer, so that I can get enough badges to obtain a full T9 feral set. Any other insite / advice would be greatly appreciated.


  2. This has been a great post for me as I have been tanking while leveling with a hunter. It really helps me understand the theory behind the numbers and also caused me to think about the practicing with other classes I play.

    Knowing how to activate any of your Oh noes buttons is good for any class.


  3. Ty for an xcellent guide BBB,

    there’s just one advice for new tanks you may have left out: Never, ever tank an instance you are not comfortable with.

    For the 2 years I’ve tanked, I’ve time and time again have let myself been talked into tanking instances in PUGs, that I was actually undergeared for – and you can imagine the results 😦

    With so relatively few tanks about, you will as a new tank be invited to tank in PUGs all the time, but be careful what you aggree to. I’ve had so much hazzle in PUGs, who had begged me to tank a heroic altho I only had run them on normal, so that I only tank for guildies now.

    Experince in tanking is invaluable, true, but make sure to make that experience a good one. If you are in a guild, ask a more experienced tank for advice and training. All guilds need tanks and should help you out.

    – Tankmekana (Hell yeah, gnomes can tank)


  4. I definitely admit to having a healthstone many times after I’ve died, and/or haven’t used a health pot. I think a lot of that stems from not being able to use them in forms prior to 3.0, and I haven’t gotten used to actually using them while tanking. I give credit to my healers for keeping me up without me having to burn tricks often though, as I rarely have to use Survival Instincts or Frenzied Regen. Barkskin I got used to having on cooldown very quickly though, it lets me use Enrage more to pump out more damage/threat. 🙂


  5. Hey I just wanted to say THANK you for all the time you have saved me doing research and playing my druid tank. I only get about an hour or two a day to play so its very nice to spend that time enjoying the game.
    Your advice and builds have been a tremendous help
    THANKS !!!!!!!!!


  6. Thanks for posting this. My main is a holy priest, but I am leveling two tanks atm, warrior and druid, and trying very hard to learn threat and aggro strategies. it has been fun so far and this guide definitely helps 🙂


  7. Good to see a tanking guide that isn’t just about rotations and maxing your gear out.

    My best advice would be to be an offtank. Honestly i think OT’ing 10 man naxx is the way to go once you have run a few heroics and gotten a feel for the role. Its a good opportunity to see how other people tank while you are still figuring things out for yourself. One thing that we did in my guild was have the usual OT step in as main, have the new tank fill in for the OT, and then I would just DPS kitty style and pop in to bear if anything bad happened. Setting up like that worked pretty well for us because it took away a lot of the pressure for the new tank so he could learn what works and doesn’t work without the fear of wiping the group.

    Also, be a friendly tank, not one of those angry ones. Tanks that yell and scream at their raid group trying to be the center of attention are way too common these days, we don’t need any more of them.


  8. Re: Marking

    Built in to WoW’s interface, is actual hotkey spots for the different raid marks. I bound those to my numpad (seriously, get autorun off of numlock already, move it to ] or something)

    I can mark quickly pre-pulls and during pulls if needbe as well.


  9. Great write up! I certainly could have used this info when I started tanking on my druid. I was basically thrown into the fire by my friends (lol some friends eh?).

    As far as marking targets goes I use Opie to handle my marking. Basically, I hope down Shift+Mouse5 and it brings up a ring with all of the marks and then I move my mouse in the direction (N, S, W, etc.) of the mark I wish to use and then let go of the keybind and it will mark it. Really speeds up the marking, which is nice because I tend to pull fast.

    Another suggestion would be to use some sort of addon (or party frames) that will monitor the mana of your dps/healers, they will love you if you actually are watching their mana during pulls so they can drink. Also, it helps to use an addon that will monitor if anyone other than you has aggro on a mob. Currently I use Grid to handle both of the suggestions. I suppose you could use Target of Target to see who a mob is targeting, but Grid will show a red border around anyone who has aggro and I can get that mob off of them.

    Finally, I would say to any new tanks not to get discouraged. Lately, tanking druids haven’t really been the optimal tanking classes used by a lot of the high-end raiding guilds, at least on my realm (Bleeding Hollow). Yeah, we do have situations where we excel, but I have personally tanked every instance (pre-Ulduar) in the game without any issues, so anyone who says that druid tanks aren’t a preferred choice is full of crap.

    Blizzard Devs: “Our nerfs will block out the sun.”
    Druid Tanks: “Then we’ll tank in the shade.”


  10. Great article! One thing I’d add would be a note about pulling strategies. I’ve noticed that when I’m not tanking, running a new tank through a 5-man or something, one of the most consistent things they mess up is the pull, and it’s one of the most fundamental aspects of tanking. New tanks seem unclear about the concept of LoS-ing casters around corners, of charging vs. pulling, of the fine art of kiting. In an age where CC is irrelevant, pulls are simpler, but the different types of pulls are different tools available to tanks, and it is always helpful for new tanks to know what their options are.

    On a personal note, this makes me a little nostalgic for the old days of CCing in 5-mans. My mage friend and I became so adept at perfectly timed sheep-pulling it was as though we were acting as one person, and I really miss the honing of such skills through months of practice. On the other hand, one of the other bear druids in my guild learned to wildly outshine me in CC-pulling as he somehow managed to master a sleep-root-pull, CC-ing 2 targets on his own as he pulled, and still getting into bear and being ready to tank when the first mob got to him (also popping up to re-root while tanking). It was rarely necessary, but it was still pretty impressive.


  11. Lemme add a few tips here too:

    1) Don’t be tanking happy. Only pull when the raid group is ready, and when you mean to do it. Accidental pulls will give you a bad name
    2) Pay attention to the raid leader instructions TO THE LETTER.
    3) It is usually better to sacrifice a DPS than a HEALER. So if you are tanking 6 targets and 1 DPS pulls aggro from you on one of them, unless you can pick that one back without compromising the other targets, let the DPS have it. That mob will come back to you after saying hello to the dps, while if you loose one of the others, it will probably go toward a healer
    4) Pay attention to everything. 360 degrees awareness is very important for a good tank


  12. Great post BBB. it seems no matter how long i’ve been tanking, i remain quite the noob at it. Definely some good info here. And Dirz, don’t worry, I’d bet I was the bad raid leader 😉 Especially loved the tip about having a ranged dps hit the ranged mobs and taunt off to get a good threat lead. Never had thought about that 😦


  13. Nice article. Thanks for writing it. I haven’t done much tanking — I used a hunter pet for a tank in one instance run, but that’s it — but I’ve just recently started a pally with the intention of learning to tank, so I appreciate this.


  14. A very good primer! I have been tanking for a short while and was having a problem seeing everthing. Some bosses are so big that I could not see anything. I adjusted camera positions but was still having a hard time. It was worst when you get the dreaded yell from behide, “get this off of me.” I could not even see my guildmate never mind who was pounding him!

    I started to practice. I would pull a few trash, engage them, practice generating threat watching Omen, then I started looking around and Taunting distant mobs to pull them to me. I practice using FF, taunt, demor roar, etc. different ways to pull a distant mob. I was able to develop better sight and get a feel for what was going on around me by doing this simple exercise. It is much easier for me to now see what is happening during raids.

    The key was practice.


  15. Thank you very much, I found that incredibly useful. After being boomkin for a loooong time, I thought I’d give feral tanking a go now that I have dual spec. This is a page I will be bookmarking to come back and read from time to time!


  16. Great stuff here Big, Azeroth could certainly use more tanks and this sort of information helps take some of the edge off of stepping into the role.

    If I could add my own two sense, I would stay it helps out your group’s dps immensely if you can keep the mobs as still as possible. This is especially true for melee dps who are constantly dancing to be behind your target. If you are spinning around or running needlessly it really hurts your group’s dps. Say for instance, say you are pulling a stray mob into an already established pack. Do not bring the pack to the loose mob, just let the loose mob come to the pack. Mobility is important, but as a tank it is important to never move without purpose. Generally speaking your group will always be assuming you will stay in the same place for purposes of their positioning and use of AoE. Try to make them right whenever you can.

    Keep it coming Big 🙂


  17. Awesome breakdown on tanking. Would like to highlight what I feel is the most important part of your post, PRACTICE! I know you mentioned it only for the use of your “oh shit” buttons, but it goes beyond that as well. The more you tank the more comfortable you get with it. Also, don’t always tank for the same group and get into that “comfort zone”, go and PUG some things so you get used to other players play styles and personalitites. I have been a feral tank on my druid since I rolled him (well once I leveled him up to 18 and started tanking DM) and can say there are thousands upon thousands of things that will go wrong in a run, and the more you see them the better you will be at reacting to it.


  18. Hello there.

    I just wanted to say hi as I’m finding myself wandering over here more and more these days.

    I am former feral druid myself (I rerolled resto not long after WOTLK) and will be directing other ferals in this general direction as there seem to many out there who don’t always have a clue what they are doing, usually resulting in the tree tanking which will be forever painful.

    Maybe I will even find the inspiration to take up tanking again ^_^


  19. Lenaiya, thanks for doing a quick shot at Threat Generation for Manitou, I appreciate it. I’ll expand on it a bit more soon.

    Savvy… this was tips for NEW tanks. You start going into master-class stuff right off the bat and you’ll discourage folks too soon. lol.

    Give folks a chance to take on some of the reasons as to WHY they do things as a tank, get those down, and then start filling in the blanks with high tech trickery.

    That being said… you got some really nice ideas there. Very nice indeed.


  20. What about affixing the “set to skull” macro to your highest single target threat generator? Maybe whatever you judge/lacerate/mangle/hammer of righteous/revenge/devastate/shield slam/icy touch/runestrike can just be labeled as skull full time for people who can’t make a /assist macro and find your primary target that way.

    /script SetRaidTarget (”target”, 8)
    /cast Awesome (Rank 11)

    On my holy pally I have replaced seal of light and wisdom with a macro that assists my focus (always set to the tank) judges their target with light/wisdom, announces one of 3 different quotes to the group and marks them with yellow or blue raid icons as appropriate if I happen to have lead or assist. This is the light version (adjust 1 to 2 in second line, light -> wisdom in the third, and edit the “light” commentary to something more appropriate and you’ll have the wisdom version):

    /assist focus
    /script SetRaidTarget(“target”,1)
    /cast Judgement of Light
    /run SendChatMessage(GetRandomArgument(“%t is an enemy of the Light!.”,”Attack %t to earn Light’s reward.”,”%t is judged by the Light!”),”PARTY”)
    /target focus

    The last line puts me back on the tank, forgot.


  21. I have made every mistake you mentioned more than once and still make them from time to time.

    Especially the style of pulling. I find it hard to be consistant and change my pull style way to often.

    Thanks for this post as it makes me see that it can be anoying. I should learn to be more consistant and open my mouth a bit more about tactics.


  22. You nailed it Big Wind. I’ve actually been razzed because of talking too much when I’ve tanked.. lol

    Can’t tell you how many times the MT never swung the mobs around, and as a Melee had to spend precious seconds trying to get behind them. No DPS while you are trying to manuever, and, unlike SD, some groups/pugs/guilds are DPS Meter fanatics.

    When I’m the MH.
    The MT tanks in a bad place, and half the Melee are out of LS, they STILL blame the MH for not doing their job. Or you have to run around until you can SEE the other toons, but you aren’t healing while your running. Lose Lose

    It’s all about tactics and game play once your geared for that level. Superior tactics and coordination will win most of the time, even if the group is under geared. A confident and communicative MT can make it a fun time had by all.

    Great BLOG as always. Basic Tanking rules that Every MT should follow. You da MAN.. errr.. Bear. 🙂


  23. Excellent guide BBB, really enjoyed it. Lenaiya’s comments about threat gen are really good as well. My two cents on threat gen would be in groups do not forget demoralizing roar – adds a little bit of threat, helps out your healers and your survival. Also, for bosses or other single targets, feral faerie fire is now an excellent threat gen tool, especially as it’s rage free. Don’t be afraid to use it every time the cooldown is up.


  24. Manitou – a quick fix to help you out with your threat generation until Bear gets around to posting a detailed guide:

    1) Check your hit rating. If it’s under 100, it’s probably too low, even for a tank. I try to keep mine around 150, but I have no idea what level gear you’re at. (I’m in Naxx 25.) If you can’t afford to gem/enchant for hit (hit/agi gems are nummy) because you’ll then be too squishy, then you can either eat some Snapper Extreme or take a +hit elixir. I can’t remember the name of it. >.< Also, if you have extra pieces of the same slot, you can enchant one piece for threat gen (hit/crit etc.) and the other piece to use on bosses for mitigation (sta/agi).

    2) If you’re hit’s good, and you think it’s your rotation, here’s a decent priority list: When the mobs are coming in, queue up a maul (I’m assuming you have glyph of maul, it’s THE BOMB for threat gen.), then hit a mangle when they get to you. It’s so fun when both of those crit at the same time. 😀 If you have more than 2 mobs, swipe then tab and lacerate/swipe/lacerate/swipe, if you have 2 or less mobs, start stacking lacerates in between your mangle cooldown. Just be sure to continually keep maul going, hit mangle when the cooldown’s up, and swipe or fill with lacerate and faerie fires. Tab target as you need to – that’s something you’ll have to get a feel for just when you need to do that, depending on how hard your AoE’rs hit, and how soon they hit. The more mobs you have, the more you’ll be using swipe. The fewer mobs you have, the more you can tab-lacerate/mangle. Maul is your bread and butter for threat, so be sure and keep it up no matter what.

    Kinda long, but hope that helps you a bit!


  25. I have never posted a comment here before, but I have to say that this post is AWESOME. I would recommend this reading to any new tank (regardless of class). I have been tanking in this game since 2004, and it even gave me a little food for thought.

    Great job.


  26. Awesome post as ever BBB, I myself am now attempting the painful grind of learning to tank (coming from tree to bear) and I’ve printed a copy to go over and over. Could I make a request that you cover threat generation next as I cant for the life of me get mine right and its sooo annoying. I’m doing what I believe is right from my many readings but my assistant in learning (an MM hunter) can pull mobs in a matter of seconds from me and its driving me craaaaaazzzy. Please say its part 2 of this awesome guide 😀


  27. Amazing the things you learn when someone else does all the sorting and organizing.

    I’ve been running as tank for a while now, and I hadn’t really though about the rogue/cat behind the mob LOS issues in VH. I’m always very careful to pull the mobs off the edge so I’m not breaking LOS, but hadn’t been allowing for the poor Ferals who are bravely leaping behind the rather large dragonkin and taking themselves out of LOS. Sorry, Night, I’ll bring ’em back further. 🙂

    Thanks for the breakdown Bear, love to learn.


  28. The addon I use for marking is called SimpleRaidTargetIcons. Quickmark looks similar, but I really like SRTI’s radial menu. It also has a nice assist feature, where you can delegate marking to other people with the addon without giving them party lead or raid assist. Unfortunately, neither Quickmark nor SRTI have been updated for 3.1, it looks like.

    BTW, it was great to meet you last week! Next time, let’s have it someplace a little less noisy.


  29. Thanks BBB. A great refresher for tanking. Been taking our casual small guild thru Heroics and trying to get that synergy for runs even though we have played on and off together for some time. This is a great example of why we love reading ur blog, asshats be dammed. I appreciate your efforts.


  30. BBB – LOVE your tips, my DK is really good to be quite the meatshield herself. : )
    Oh – I don’t know if anyone else mentioned it, but you can keybind raid icons from the default game Keybind menu. I have Skull set to Backspace, and X, Star, and Moon on my 10-key 7, 8, and 9, respectively.


  31. I beg to differ on the subject of Divine Shield; it’s an important tanking ability. It’s our get out of debuff free (or nearly so) card. It cancels almost every debuff in the game, from Moroes’s bleed until you die to Ymiron’s cower while he runs to his next pyrrific boat. Oh, and normal fears, too. Yes, the aggro suspension can be annoying, which is why every paladin should have a macro that reads:

    #showtooltip Divine Shield
    /cancelaura Divine Shield
    /cast Divine Shield

    First button press casts the shield and clears the debuffs, the second press removes the shield (no hunting through your buff list) which reinstates your threat and allows you to go back to full damage.

    Also: Folks complaining about teaching the new people boss strategies? That’s just dumb. The whole point is to work as a team, and how the heck are you going to do that if some people don’t know the plan? Heck, even if everybody’s downed that encounter before doesn’t mean that they used the same plan.

    And if I came across as one of ’em then A) I expressed myself poorly and B) I apologize. The raid (and guild) leader certainly doesn’t need any more headaches.


  32. Excellent advice.

    Just this past week I had exactly the problem you describe in VH. Wyrmkin split into two groups down the ramp, I ran to intercept one group and throw a bomb as the second ran past . . . healer ran towards the group I planned to throw a bomb at. And, of course, the bomb landed after they’d used the healer as a speed bump.

    I was very careful after that to call out every time that I’d intercept both groups at the bottom of the stairs. It went much, much smoother once I started doing that.

    The concept applies to tanking almost every pull: communicate what you’re going to do. Walk to the spot on the ground you want to stand during the fight, jump up and down and tell your group, “this is where I’m going to pull.” If you don’t do that, I guarantee your group will follow you right up to the spot where you start the pull and someone will hit a mob before you get positioned where you want to be


  33. Tanks are one class I don’t envy. Its a huge responsiblity and good tanks are very aware of their surroundings as to where the mobs are and their raid. As DPS I do my best to make my tanks job as painless as possible by letting him/her get good aggro first, especially on AOE pulls. Us mages can get a little impatient:) I enjoy raiding best when everyone is on their game, paying attention and communicating well.

    Props to the tanks and the beatings they take:)


  34. I use F1-F4 for skull, X, etc (using the built-in key bindings setup). I typically only mark Skull and X. But when the shit hits the fan (multiple pull, etc.) I smash F1 (skull) on a target to help get DPS to focus. It makes all the difference. Plus since my 5-man unit frames is configured to show Party Target, I can easily see which player isn’t on Skull, so I can yell over vent (doesn’t work so well in pugs…lol).


  35. I had read that you could keybind them, but I’m an old fogie. I haven’t used that method, so I didn’t mention it. By all means, keybind so you can save bar space. 🙂

    Honor, I suppose I can see why you’d think that needed a correction, but I said Bubble and not Divine Shield because my Divine Shield isn’t used in group combat on my 63 Pally, my Divine Prot is. So my Divine Prot is my group use ‘bubble’.

    I have a feeling that I have stumbled upon accepted class terminology here. What I mean by bubble ain’t what other Paladins mean.

    That’s cool, it still looks like a bubble when I pop it, and makes me feel so pretty.

    I paid to dual-spec my Paladin, by the way. Ret/Heals, my friend. Ret/Heals. I already gots a tank.


  36. Fantastic guide.

    Basically, as a tank, if you die and every emergency button you have isn’t on cooldown, it’s your fault you died. P

    Paladin Tanks can’t really use our Bubble (Divine Shield), because when the Boss sees we are immune, he’ll go after the next target on the aggor list. Bad Things ™ tend to follow. We can and should pop Divine Protection (basically the effect as Shield Wall).

    Keep up the great work.


  37. Nice write up BBB, it’ll prove very useful for the new tanks out there.

    Taking the time to explain boss fights is a no brainer if you ask me. It just makes everything a lot easier, everyone knows what to expect and what you are going to do.

    And i’ll stick to my tank rule!! IF YOU PULL IT, YOU TANK IT!!


  38. A tanking masterclass

    Recomend for a sticky 🙂

    Ok you know what I mean.

    We got a Pally healer (and a few others) in my guild at the moment who’s looking to start tanking and is very uncertain about how to actually tank – This is exactly what he needs, he’s fine with the pally tanking mechanics, it the “how the hell do you Tank for a group” thats the problem for him at the moment. This guide seams perfect for any tanking class, and is going to get linked to from our guild forums, if thats ok?



  39. An excellent post Bear! I might recommend for all those reading one small addendum to the “Knowledge is power” section, and that is: Know your gear! Gearing as a tank can be quite the balancing act, and knowing where you can get upgrades from (which includes knowing what you can shift around to stay at defense cap for non-Bear tanks) can be really helpful.


  40. Man, I hope I wasn’t the crappy raid leader you were talking about:(… I actually have my keybindings for raid marks set to wasd and x so i can quickly mark before a pull or mark on the fly. Granted this means some icons change mid fight becuase i use shift plus numbers to do other things and accidentally hit those, but overall it speeds up marking a lot and can help immensely when an unexpected mob pops up (Shade I’m looking at you!;))


  41. C’mon, we *love* your explanations in raid. But seriously – good guide. And thank you for mentioning LoS issues in VH – it can be a real pain finding a spot in that regard.


  42. /me scratches grass on a steaming pile of savage defense. Savage defense is the stuff bears do in the woods.

    That ‘ability’ is in no way a replacement for the 10k armor they’ve taken away from me AGAIN…

    Thebitterfig; “Never say die, say kill.” Good advice; my rule has always been ‘if the healer runs, everybody runs’. And since I’m not using my mana while tanking, I do as much between fight healing as I can, to save downtime so the healer doesn’t have to drink twice.


  43. In Keybindings there is now the option to keybind the raid icons, easier than macros perhaps. I keep four keybound, skull, cross, star and circle, on my numpad 1, 2, 3 and 4.


  44. You can keybind raid markings in the keybindings menu.
    I personally bind them to the number-pad keys. 1 = skull, 2 = cross, 3 = triangle, 0 = clear mark etc…

    One macro I did use in BC was something like:
    /p DPS order: {skull} first, then {cross}, then {triangle}. Sheep {moon}.


  45. i’ll add this from my own experience: you can’t give up. no matter what happens, you keep up the fight as strongly as possible. healer and two dps go down? keep fighting that boss and blow cooldowns if you think you can hold out long enough (i once was the only player to survive the voidwalker in VH). this might be a source of stress, but unlike a dps can at sometimes, you can’t phone it in. not just because folks can die, but it has to do with a tank being a sort of tempo-setter. if you as the tank start giving up, what hope does anyone else have of keeping motiviated?

    that, and never demand a rez, and always bandage/eat instead of waiting for a healer to top you off, and in case of a wipe you too should release instead of just waiting for the healer to get back and start rezzing. that is, common decency is a most important talent..


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