When is a rockstar tank not a rockstar?

On the flip side to yesterdays whinefest, there is a perception that I wanted to touch on briefly for one of our fellow tank classes; the Paladin.

As gear has increased, you see a lot more tanks running and pulling like crazy. And to go with it, I see quite a lot of folks upset about how tanks are doing things in runs.

This post is really for the non-tanks, more than anyone else.

Please remember my friends, not all tanks are created equal.

The mechanics of tank abilities actually vary a great deal.

For Bears and Warriors, we use Rage as the power source for our special abilities. We start our first fight with zero Rage (or what Enrage gives us, work with me here folks), and as we take damage or deal damage, our Rage meter fills up. The longer a fight runs, the MORE Rage we have to deal with things, not less.

For Warriors and Bears, we are endurance machines. Once we get started, we build up steam and can go on and on forever.

Yes, yes, Bears may start slow, but we can go all night long.

Death Knights have that Runic Power stuff, and it refills pretty quick. 

But Paladins… Paladins use Mana.

Paladins start a fight at full force, all guns blazing. But the longer the fight goes, the limper they get.

One of the worst is if you’re overgeared for the Halls of Stone ‘Brann Bronzebeard’ chamber fight, as the mobs die too fast for Judgements to help much, and hit too lightly to really cause you to get heals and mana back. And it goes on and on and on….

My point is, for Warriors and Bears, we commonly leave a battle at full or near full Rage, and it decays slowly enough that we can pause for a few seconds to check mana and health levels of the party, dance a little dance, sing a little song, get down and funky, and still be great for the next pull.

We Bears can pop Enrage to stop Rage from decaying, we can Feral Faerie Fire non-elite mobs at a distance (like Skeletons in Culling of Strat) to stay in combat (Rage only begins to decay when out of combat), all sorts of stuff.

For Paladins, when they are using their abilities, their Mana is going down. And the Silencing shield throw in particular is a mana whore.

Now, Paladins have a couple choices on how to address this.

You could just sit down and drink after most pulls when you get low.

You can use Blessing of Wisdom, or Judge Wisdom instead of Light or whatever.

Or, you can go another route.

A Paladin has a Talent that lets their melee hits refresh the duration of Divine Plea. Divine Plea is an ability that gives MP/5, at the cost of reduced Healing.

If a Paladin tank pops Divine Plea at the start of a pull, then for as long as he’s whacking stuff, he’s getting mana back. If he’s also Judging Wisdom, then there is even more… but the mob has to live long enough to take some whacks to the head for the mana to get back.

Now, this goes along with another key way Paladin tanks get mana back.

Paladin tanks get mana returned to them when they get healed.

Let’s put these things together.

  • With the way the gear you can get casually has improved so dramatically in comparison to the Heroics we run, a well geared Paladin tank takes far less damage than before in a Heroic 5 man.
  • Less damage taken equals less healing received, and less healing equals less to no mana back.
  • Abilities cost mana to use. Less mana back means less abilities available to generate threat and hold aggro.
  • Long delays, or even delays of more than a few seconds between pulls means Divine Plea expires, and is on cooldown.

So, what will a smart, well geared Paladin do to adapt to the new situation, keeping their mechanics in mind?

A Paladin will seek to have as little time in between pulls as possible, and as many mobs on them at one time as possible, riding a ragged edge of danger.

A Paladin will want to take enough damage that heals will give back mana, but not so much damage that he’s in danger of dying and wiping the party. And the pulls will need to be frequent enough to keep Divine Plea going all the time.

So you get what we see a lot nowadays. A Paladin tank that pulls a group, establishes solid threat, and as soon as one or two of the first group are dead, run off to grab the next group, trusting in their thrown shield to Silence any casters in the next group and get them huddled close together and pull them back in.

You get continuous chain pulls.

A good Paladin tank will seem to ride a wave of chaos into the heart of the instance, chain pulling across the backs of dead mobs, and leaving the rest of the party to run like hell to keep up.

Now, if you know this going in, then you can be prepared to deal with it, especially on drinking whenever possible if you’re the healer.

As a Druid healer, I love going with a Pally tank, because my HoTs let the tank run ahead of me and still get heals, my Innervate keeps me moving in step if I get low on mana, and I can even Innervate the Paladin if things get out of sync for his mana recovery between pulls.

What I wanted to do was have this post to be my way of saying, when I’m talking about rockstar tanks, I’m not talking about anyone that rushes on ahead or pulls fast, or anything like that.

When I talk about a rockstar tank, I’m talking about one that does his own thing, without any consideration for working with the group as a member of a team.

A Paladin tank can chain pull and run ahead and do all the things he does, in an effort to perform his class well, and still watch the mana bars of the party, the health bars of the group, his own health level, and the aggro of the mobs around him (or her).

A Paladin tank can still mark kill orders to help provide the DPS, especially melee DPS, some guidance.

A Paladin tank can still watch his own health, and adjust his pace accordingly.

A Paladin tank can, in short, push when it’s all good, but remains aware of the status of the rest of the party, and works to make life easier on everyone. And if a mob goes after the healer, or there is chaos in the backfield, he is aware of it, and grabs it back. He’s not just focused solely on the next chain pull, oblivious to the world around him.

In most cases this does not require him to slow down in the slightest, except when the party really, really needs it.

In short, in my opinion, a rockstar tank isn’t necessarily one that moves fast, or pulls lots of things.

A rockstar tank is one that is in their own little world, doing their thing, oblivious to and without consideration for the rest of the team.

A rockstar tank just assumes the rest of the band will be there laying down the supporting music, and if they can’t keep up, they must suck.

Oh, and as a side note; I wonder how many tanks see how someone like the Paladin runs and chain pulls, and being ignorant of the mechanics involved, thinks that running that way is how every class should do it? I wonder, when you see a Warrior chain pull big groups of mobs and lose aggro on some of them, and things get crazy and people start dying, and then they blame the DPS for pulling, were they inspired by a Paladin tank, and just don’t understand we all do our bit in our own special ways?

42 thoughts on “When is a rockstar tank not a rockstar?

  1. @ Kauket:

    Belated response, but for those reading this in the future, my comments:
    This macro will be your friend:

    #showtooltip Faerie Fire (Feral)
    /cast Faerie Fire (Feral)

    No truer word has been spoken. This is a must, and essential.

    Actually recommend adding /startattack into any of your powers: that way, you’ll start attacking with that keystroke even if you don’t have sufficient rage to trigger the power.

    Done, and very, very useful advice.

    As to Threat Plates – I had some trouble here. Curse didn’t seem to support the base Threat Plates (although the tanking mod was supported). I manually downloaded it, and it’s since updated on Curse. These are very useful, and I thank you for it. It’s now easy to click on the big red plate, rather than tabbing through the crowd, however I still use grid to ascertain exactly who is getting the aggro. If it’s that annoying mage with Blastwave, or the meat-head warrior who charges in right after me, I can happily ignore it. If it’s the healer with the little red dot, I’m all over them.

    And you’re absolutely right about not turning around 🙂

    Two other overall comments: (1) Don’t be reluctant to demand crowd control and threat reduction/misdirection from your party. Get someone to sheep/hex/frost trap/shackle/etc that ranged who’s troubling you. (2) Just about every class has something that will reduce threat: tricks/feign death/fade/iceblock/soul shatter/etc. DPS and healers do in fact have the responsibility to manage their aggro.

    This is also sage advice, and I’ve learnt that tanking, even more so than healing, requires crowd control of your own party. Tell them what to expect, tell them how you want to play it, and keep the communication flowing. Especially at the lower levels, some people just DON’T KNOW. Thank you – you’ve really helped me here.


  2. This may be off topic but I love running with bear tanks for some reason. Prolly because I don’t see them that often. I do have a sad story. I was healing a Heroic Halls of Reflection run a few days ago and a wonderful bear was tanking and was doing the best that he could but we kept wiping on the waves before the first boss. A snooty DPS DK said that the tank was having too much trouble and started a vote to kick the tank. I said no but was outvoted and the DK swapped specs to tank and we grabbed another DPS. I was disappointed because the bear WAS doing a good job but it was actually a lack of proper DPS management that was killing our group. It’s just a sad example that even with good bear tanks doing everything they can, DPS still sometimes screws it up. I have a warrior tank and it does frustrate me when Pally’s and DK’s seem to throw Consecrate and DnD to max the AoE threat and make them preferable choices in encounters such as these.


  3. BBB,

    thank you for this. I have a Tankadin also and I chain pull the hell out of heroics with her because of the 15sec between pulls for divine plea and my ability to get hurt and get mana when healed. People don’t seem to understand this and in places like HVH this is actually an issue where I’ll have no mana and divine plea disappears due to portals taking 15sec for a mob to show up -.- However, critters can also be used for pallys by whacking them as you run by with Divine Plea up to refresh it =)

    @Pete, If FFF crits you get +5 rage on top of staying in combat…. so I’ll choose to FFF a critter =)


  4. Silly comment, not sure if it’s been made before, but ever since they added damage to FFF it has been much more effective to Growl at the critters. Keeps you in combat longer and they’re still around to swat with your paw if you want more rage, or just to growl at again. With 2 critters you can have pretty much 100 rage before any pull if you’re willing to wait around. Cheers!


  5. A couple of months ago, I turned my 40 boomkin into a bear and ran her up to 80. First time doing anything but DPS, and boy, wish I’d had BBB’s basics then! Anyway, loving my bear, and have been quite impressed with how tough she is right out of the gate: have successfully tanked HoR and off-tanked ICC 10 (yikes!) with 1/3 of my gear still blue/green.

    Yossi says: December 29th, 2009 at 10:06 am

    -I realised 2 days ago that I’d been pulling mobs but that I was forgetting to actually attack them in some cases (like after a FFF pull) – some abilities don’t seem to initiate an auto-attack.

    This macro will be your friend:

    #showtooltip Faerie Fire (Feral)
    /cast Faerie Fire (Feral)

    Actually recommend adding /startattack into any of your powers: that way, you’ll start attacking with that keystroke even if you don’t have sufficient rage to trigger the power.

    And for some reason, ranged mobs always seem to get attached to my healer. I then promptly twirl around, tabbing frantically, looking for the mob (in amongst 2 elite and 3 non-elite) that has my healer targeted and low threat.

    I use grid to warn me of aggro on people (I tend to ignore it on the dps warrior/paladin who are attacking the cross before the skull), but have no idea how to find the mob responsible (see above). And I can’t seem to figure out how to taunt the right mob – I always seem to taunt it half a second after it’s come back to me anyway (it probably just got mauled after I targeted it to taunt) and there goes a wasted taunt CD, whilst some OTHER mob decides to chew on my healer.

    I also have significant issues with casters, especially 2 casters at range. The back-to-basics post (https://thebigbearbutt.com/2009/12/26/intro-to-the-basics-of-bear-mechanics/) helped a lot (I guess it’s just practice), but they still seem to target whomever they want. I dread the inevitable red dots appearing on the mage and priest in my grid (aggro monitor). I really think I get most of the theory now, it’s just that the practical application of maintaining threat is a little beyond me.

    If any friendly bears have some sage advice for a very new bear tank (at my level – I’ve had loads of pugs telling me to mangle and innervate), it would be most welcome! Macros, grid configs, add-ons, sequences, handy tricks, etc… Anything that lets me keep the mobs off my healer/squishies!

    I love Threat Plates (a Tidy Plates add-on), as it puts the mobs’ threat right above their heads which makes it glaringly obvious on whom I do or don’t have threat. I don’t really care which player is pulling threat, so Grid and it’s ilk aren’t nearly as useful IMO.

    Also, do not turn around to tab through mobs. Turning your back on the melee will result in you being hit a lot more, making your healer work harder. Your healer is generating aggro every time he heals, so if the ranged aren’t fixated on you, they’re going to be going for him. Instead of turning, hold down the left mouse button and shift your camera view around. Growl and FFF do not require you to be facing the enemy. Keep swiping to maintain the close aggro, click the ranged who’re a problem, then taunt.

    If you can’t get your camera view far enough back to see everything, macro:
    /console CameraDistanceMaxFactor 4
    I usually hit that first thing when logging in. May not need it, but better safe than sorry.

    Mangle is a wonderful thing to distribute right off as it’s 30% plus to bleed damage: your Lacerate and Maul will thank you. More damage, more threat. Innervate is a dangerous thing to the tank… I usually only cast it between pulls, usually reserving it for the healer. If you have a lot of mobs on you, jumping out of bear form to innervate is instant death in most cases.

    Two other overall comments: (1) Don’t be reluctant to demand crowd control and threat reduction/misdirection from your party. Get someone to sheep/hex/frost trap/shackle/etc that ranged who’s troubling you. (2) Just about every class has something that will reduce threat: tricks/feign death/fade/iceblock/soul shatter/etc. DPS and healers do in fact have the responsibility to manage their aggro.

    In some ways, tanking/healing has become so overpowered that everyone else has gotten really lazy. Unless I demand up front, almost no one CC’s, reduces threat, or even interrupts casters. Compare how we charge in now to the immensely careful pulls with 3 CC minimums that used to have to be done in Shadow Labs in Blackheart’s room… Generally, if you ask, people will help. They’re just totally out of the habit now.


  6. *A Note to any DPS running with a Bear Tank*

    “If i have no RAGE… I cannot SWIPE! Do not AoE before the mobs hit me PLEASE!” …Even our AoE Taunt requires rage…

    I try to always have rage at the beginning of a Pull, but sometimes it just so happens i’m out of Rage and Enrage is off CD. Between FF and Growl Single pulls are easy with no starting rage. But AoE pulls? …Huricane Agro <Blizzard Agro


  7. Wow…. this post went in a direction I didn’t expect.

    Reading it over, I see why.

    I never intended to get into an in depth discussion on techniques for Paladin tanks to get mana back, but hell… awesome advice, guys. Seriously, I feel like tossing this to a Paladin tank blogger and saying, “Could you please dress it up and post it, I wish I’d known some of this when I started tanking?”

    The sitting down to get crit on purpose amuses me even more than naked tanking… maybe because as a Bear, I don’t get the most obvious benefits of being naked… there’s no shock value, I already tank naked, ‘skyclad’, if you wish.

    My thanks to each person who has so far made such intelligent, insightful sugestions on generating mana. Thank you very much.

    My apologies go out to people that feel, based on what I wrote, that I think Warriors aren’t capable of chain pulling and holding group aggro against AoE.

    I never meant to give that impression, what was in my head was that, just mentioning Warriors as a Rage based class as an example, but including other tanks in general, a tank doesn’t need to mimic a Paladin tanks’ playstyle based on mechanics as the only right way to tank, because each of us has different mechanics, and wouldn’t it be more fun if we each found our own groove and danced to our own favorite song.

    If you WANT to chain pull at top speed and blast through content, it’s my opinion that we’re perfectly suited for it… with some of the observations made above. Starting a pull at low Rage when your Rage generating abilities like Enrage are on cooldown can be bad news if the DPS is waiting for you just to get in the general area of the mobs before they unload hell on the entire area.


  8. Regarding paladin’s mana problem.

    I’ve been paladin all of times, sure, I got my alts leveled, none to 80, but all my time as 80 was on a Paladin, Protection specced.

    On the very first moment of the tank career I’ve started to run extreemly quick out of mana, something about needing to stop almost every pull. It was due my DPS friends were overgeared, so the mobs died too quickly and I got no mana back from healing. The solution was not chain pulling, I was not geared enough to that, but not using a full tanking rotation unless I was wacking the boss. It’s just a matter to not open with consecration, ever, and I still dont do so (unless there is a DK that thinks that he should open up with death and decay on Violet Hold). Mostly Shield of Rightousness, Hammer of the righteous and avenger’s shield made the trick.

    Then I’ve geared up, and met my doom. A discipline priest. I mean, I did not got a single heal during the pulls, only shields, My mana would drop so fast even not using full tank rotation that I could not even hold aggro. I’ve tried to switch over Blessing of wisdom, but it is useless, I recovered more mana from the 4 dodges I got per pull than from Blessing of Wisdom. The only solution i’ve got, and that yet not failed me during all the random pugs, was the Seal of Wisdom.

    Divine plea showed itself mostly useless. I get 350 mana each tick, and spend 700+ in the same time. It delays the problem, not solve it. But, since nowadays threath is not a problem, a protadin can generate 46k threath with only avenger’s shield, shield of righteousness and hammer of the righteous, withouth any tanking seals, there is mostly no problem to switch your seal to wisdom.

    1) The proc is faily constant, happens way more often than divine plea itself.
    2) Each proc recovers around 550 mana, instead of 350

    I still did not run oom in a heroic, no matter how good any of the others members of the group were, how geared they were, how good they played, and what is the class/spec of the healer.

    You could, of course, undergear yourself for it too, like to switch to some dps or healer gear to improve threath/mana, depends on where you feel the help would be more needed, but you could not “carry” the group on disasters like tank and hold all ads from getting to brann in tribunal of ages, when only you is alive, until the end of the encounter.


  9. You make it sound like a warrior tank cant chainpull :/ But im glyphed into next-swinging 3 mobs at once and i have shockwave (with glyph) and the slowing shout… if that doesnt get your imagination going: charge, thunderclap, cleave, cleave, cleave, demo shout, shockwave, slowing shout -> run/charge on. That way i drag a bunch of mobs behind me which cant hit me because they are too slow… and my dps kill them while we move towards the next trash group. Works like a charm imho, rocking Utgarde Keep in under 15 minutes (mention this because i always check the time in that instance -> such a piece of cake). Note that it does make sense for a warrior (and prolly a bear too) to have a lot of mobs on your butt for rage, heroics often tend to not really fill my rage bar anywhere above 50 and the damage i get is usually low enough to get healed by the smallest hot or heal anyways.


  10. No need to take off gear on a paladin. Just sit down during pulls. You’ll get a crit. On heroic trash, that’s nothing. It also forces the healer to heal you. I work the sit button into my rotation. Cut to me throwing an Avenger’s Shield then sitting down as a mob runs towards me.


  11. @Yossi

    I think your biggest issue is a fairly minor one. The lack of rage/AOE aggro was a problem my friend’s feral druid we’re leveling (same level! ;]) as well right before we hit a few key talents.

    Before anyone jumps my arse, I know how valuable it is, but for that first little while maxing your HP as crazy high as possible isn’t a huge issue given our crit immunity. Sooo… skip Heart of the Wild for now, pick up some other talents.

    For an idea what I’m talking about, here! 😀



  12. As a druid healer, a tip to help pallytanks maintain mana is to use wild growth on the tank on EVERY cooldown, trying to get all your party members are affected. Combined with Revitalize, it goes a long way in helping the pallytank regain mana, as WG tends to tick quite often, and is a very efficient heal compared to lifebloom. The more ticks, the more chances the tank gets in getting mana/rage/RP back. Keeping as many HoT’s as possible on the tank while keeping your mana in check will maximize the resource return.

    Happy healing!
    .-= krizzlybear´s last blog ..Merry Christmas from Littlebark! =-.


  13. Great article, and I’m in strong agreement with almost everything.

    Just one small quibble – I think of the bad behavior you’re describing as “Diva”, not rockstar. 🙂


  14. As a ret pally turned prot, there are a number of areas imho that differentiate between rockstar and non-rockstar tanks. However, I think a 3rd tier needs to be brought into the discussion – the n00b tanks 🙂 The latter being encountered more and more often through the new LFG system where it takes about 10-15 minutes to find a dps spot vs a few nano seconds to get a tank role and because tier 9 gear is so easily attainable (you might as well spend those emblems on something!). This leads to reasonably geared tanks appearing in PUGs but with naff-all experience.

    I agree with everything that BBB says in his article – it’s very well explained and detailed. Pally tanks do have a mana conservation issue and a good pally tank will always start a fight where he is not totally familiar with the other group members aiming to preserve his mana pool using a variety of methods – Divine Plea, Judge Wisdom, Seal of Wisdom etc without relying on Mana regen abilities provided by others – such as Innervate. The very worst thing a Pally Tank can do is to run out of mana (emergency backup potions as a last resort!).

    Chain pulling is all well and good as – as has been pointed out – it seems to be what the class is designed for. However, situational awareness is paramount and the main difference between rockstars and a tank who quietly and efficiently goes about his business is recognising that not all groups are created equal.

    One of the main issues with chain pulling is threat and making sure that the tanks keep it. Pally tanks are simply not designed for the tab & taunt routine that Warriors go through. We are an aoe threat gen mechanic. Pick a target (and mark it!) and hope like h3ll that our aoe threat gen keeps us at the top of the table when the Warlocks, Hunters, DKs and Mages start letting rip. Balancing our mana pool and threat is the key to a successful pally tank.

    The way I combat this – obviously – is to start off slow. Use Hand of Reckoning (our taunt), Avenger’s Shield (aka Holy Frisbee), Hammer of the Righteous, Consecrate, Divine Plea and Judge/Seal. I typically start with a Seal of Wisdom/Judge Wis (because I’m trying to see how much mana gets returned to me from the group). If after the first few mobs it appears that I’m not having a mana issue I will switch to Seal of Command/Judge Wis – this increases my aoe threat generation significantly. Bosses get Seal of Vengeance / Corruption. Pulling speed increases to compensate for the group. But that’s just the way I do it 🙂

    So in defence of Rockstar Tanks (of any class) – they get that way because of who they are and who they group with. It’s not always their fault – a rogue who isn’t paying attention to Target-of-Target & who hasn’t heard of Tricks of the Trade is always going to be a pain in the BBB. However, I believe that a more ‘mature’ and balanced player will consider the team as a whole and test the waters before they go full steam ahead.

    Oh and facing the mob away from the group is always a good tip. 🙂

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all.


  15. Yes Bitterdruid has a good point, to the point where entertaining our guilds healers in anything below the new heroics consists of our tank running around with shield, weapon, boots, gloves, cape and wrists equipped which BTW leaves him at exactly 536 defense. Oddly ive only seen one person outside of the guild actually pipe up and say why is the tank running around naked and even then they assumed it was the gah everyone is naked bug at first.
    So yeah our MT pallies nickname is Captain Pants-less but yeah chain pulling is particularly prevalent with pallies and spotting people who have never tanked with a druid or warrior particularly is easy because they seem think think oh the tank is running to the mob ill just shoot it, burn, electrocute, etc it can be fun but a lot of tank do not understand the limits of the other group members


  16. What i find when doing LFG instances, is that if i wait more than a few seconds before pulling (waiting for a cooldown, scratching my ass etc.), most of the time one of two things happens:
    1. Some impatient dpser says something like ‘Go’, or ‘Hurry up plz’
    2. Or even worse, one of the dpsers starts pulling (usually hunters or dps-warriors)

    I find that to be so irritating, that i prefer just to chain-pull, and hope for the best. Usually works out pretty good.


  17. A pala friend of mine often swapped out his chest for a dress when he has mana issues which seems to help somewhere, although in a Halls of Stone run the other day he decided to take it a little further and wore his dress, rings, trinkets, sword and board only, nothing else. After the rock boss I told him never to do that again, a tank with 19k health being critted for 14k, not fun to heal. But I think removing a couple of items can be useful if you are having mana issues, just don’t remove to much.


  18. I understand the intent of this post, and I readily agree that it does happen. I’ve seen it, though usually from DK tanks the few times I’ve not personally tanked an instance. The aforementioned Death Knights were doing what Paladins were trying to do in TBC, which is prove that they COULD tank, whereas most seasoned Tankadins don’t have anything to prove and just do what’s needed.

    I don’t consider myself a rockstar, either in the terms that are described in this post, nor do I consider myself an outstanding tank, but I take the time to know what I’m doing, know the encounters, and quickly learn what the group I’m in is capable of and adapt my playstyle to it. I hear all manner of horror stories from guildies who talk about the horrible pug tanks they encounter, but as I’m generally on either my Paladin or the Warrior tank I’m gearing up, I really can’t speak for said tanks. The reason I don’t really play my Mage or Rogue much is that I generally don’t trust other tanks to do their jobs, which was one of the reasons I switched to my Belf when TBC came out.

    So, I can’t really speak for the horrible Paladins out there, but as one who thinks he knows what he’s doing, I can make these assertions:
    1) The good tank knows to watch the healer’s mana bar, and to stop pulling when it’s low, or to burn a cooldown if he’s suddenly taking more damage.
    2) The good tank knows to stop when the group isn’t caught up to him. Especially the healer.
    3) The good tank knows how to assess the output of his group, and whether they can manage to put out significant AOE/dps to handle mass pulling, or whether a slower, more deliberate approach is called for.
    4) The good tank brings his own supplies, whether bandages, food, or yes, even water. He also knows how to appreciate the kindness that are soggy conjured mage biscuits.
    5) The good Paladin tank knows how to stall between pulls to let Divine Plea run up his mana bar, and still pull before it wears off.

    My Warrior doesn’t have nearly the gear that my Pally does, and as such he doesn’t put out nearly the threat and he’s about 14k of unbuffed health behind him(44k vs. ~30k). Yet I’ve learned that it takes a different set of specific skills to manage him effectively, and it’s actually far more engaging having to use different techniques to control the mobs(More taunting, Challenging Shout, Shockwave, etc.) versus just holding aggro and tanking with my face. I currently have an 80 DK in the wings to learn tanking on after the Warrior is geared up, and I’m leveling a Druid as well to give that a go before Cataclysm hits.

    In all cases I’ve seen, though, it’s about knowing which tools you have, knowing how they are best used, and then using them at the right time. That comes as much with experience as it does with reading blogs and theorycrafting.


  19. I am a Warrior tank and have run over 60+ Heroics in LFD since it’s implementation. Non-stressful and successful chain pull runs have several things in common: DPS prioritize mobs (lowest health die first, special mobs (Skirmishers in Azjol-Nerub), etc.), they let me pull, and use threat manipulation abilities (Feint, Feign Death, Tricks of the Trade, Ice Block, Fade, etc.). Hardly ever have I gotten groups like this; nearly every instance that I think a group is capable of chain pulling I feel stress (they mostly do not prioritize mobs or manipulate their threat levels). Come to think of it, only once have I ever run an instance using LFD and have not felt stress. This was because of the rogue (equipped in ilvl 258+ gear Tricking onto me every pull and out DPSing everyone else in the group by a ridiculous margin.

    Rockstar tanks are people with less experience running instances with strangers. I cannot imagine anyone blaming their group after doing their 20th LFD heroic. By then they should have enough experience to know better.


  20. I know to solve my mana issues on my Tankadin (I have a tank of each class that can tank), I started to use my Ret gear and reduce my +def to as close to 535 (ie heroic ready) as I could.

    This allows me to

    A) Do even more Damage (4k+ on 3+ mob pulls)
    B) Take more Damage (it leaves me about 4-5 points under blockcap)
    C) lets me maintain Hit and Expertise cap.

    So far it seems to be working well, and it really pushes my threat over the top. If you have the chance and are seeing good DPS plate being sharded anyhow, it might be worth it to take a look and maybe roll need on them if your looking for another tanking edge (this works well for DKs and Warriors as well just remember to remain uncrittable ie 535 defense).


  21. Jack, overhealing doesn’t count towards a Pally tank’s mana regain any more. It USED to, and I can’t tell you what patch removed it – possibly even the start of the expac, as it’s been quite a long time. Seeing the tank’s mana go up when his health is full is probably coincidental and due to one of the myriad ways Pally tanks regain mana now – Divine Plea, Blessing of Sanctuary, Judging Wisdom, and (unlikely but possible) Seal of Wisdom, and possibly even Lay on Hands if they’re really stuck and can’t pot.

    My husband, a Pally tank main taught me (while I was levelling a pally as prot) “If you’re running out of mana, you’re not pulling enough mobs”. It was so much fun pulling entire villages 4-5 levels higher and laying waste to them (Plaguelands, I’m looking at YOU!).

    He also respecced my pally tank (now 80) for greater AoE threat since changes made in 3.2. Seal of Command is your friend!


  22. Amen!!!!

    I tank on three of my characters and whenever I go to an instance where I’m not the tank (usually on my healing alt) I find myself banging my head on the desk because of all the “rockstars” out there who wouldn’t be able to hold their own at indie night at the local dive bar.

    The only other suggestion I would throw out there for DPS would be for the DPS to try a simple trick that I’ve always tried to live by. When the tank goes in, target the tank, then target his target. 9 times out of 10 that’s the mob you won’t pull aggro off of.
    .-= Faulen´s last blog ..Casual Leading =-.


  23. Very good points BBB, but another note to go along with your Divine Plea statement.

    The majority of Pally Tanks will actually glyph to improve our Divine Plea. This glyph actually reduces the damage we take by an additional 3%. What is a base line great ability to keep mana flowing eventually becomes a needed buff to keep up at all times. It’s a magnificent way to lighten the load on your healers as long as you are aware of the status of your healer.

    Being a Pally Tank is like having a nagging need in the back of your mind. The entire play style to be the most effective tank possible is to never stop moving. That’s just the way they designed us. By stopping to orient yourself you are actually making yourself more vunerable to the next groups attack.


  24. I’d like to offer a little tip for those doing PUG Heroics: Equip the Idol of Perspicious Attacks (probably flubbed up the spelling of that :P). IIRC, it’s from a quest in Borean Tundra.

    What’s so good about it? Well, it adds to the base damage of your Maul and Swipe. Since the name of the game these days is to charge in and start spamming Maul & Swipe, your aggro generation will be thru the roof! You should not have any aggro problems at all if you use this one instead of your Tier piece.


  25. @Tesaki:

    You should be dodging MORE attacks, gaining more rage that way, from better gear, and if memory serves me right, it doesn’t matter how MUCH damage you take, so long as they do hit you, you should get rage… meaning that your better gear should cause you to gain MORE rage, not less, unless you’re fighting things that are so low level they outright miss you…

    I’ll be the first to admit that I could be wrong, but… perhaps there is another reason you are having rage issues? Assuming you have the spec right, I can’t think of what would cause that much issue, but… hey maybe somebody smarter than me can think of something.
    .-= Kaethir´s last blog ..Yet another Primer Followup =-.


  26. This brings up a question I’ve never been able to get a definitive answer to. Do Paladins gain mana when you heal them when they have a full health bar? Or is it only actual healing that regenerates mana, not overhealing?


    Maybe I’ve been too busy rockstar-tanking away in my own little world to notice!


  27. I’ve been gearing up my druid now with some t9 and other nice things that either dropped or via emblems.

    And I’ve discovered one problem.

    With all the awesome DPS around, I have to work my ass off to keep aggro from them as they (I blame me sometimes, as Im not marking) hit the wrong target.
    And because of my, now, really good gear, I don’t take enough damage or dodge enough attacks to get rage. Aaaand the dead warrior, shaman or rogue is a fact. Shamans mostly, as they tend to keep spamming chain lightning.

    Got some really nice tips on tanking from your blog tho, like FFF castermobs that you can’t hit just yet, just to keep aggro from the healer. It works! Halleluja!

    And even tho I sometimes feel confident with what I’m doing, I check if the DPS and the healer can keep up. If everyone keeps up, I go faster or pull more mobs. But mostly I take it easy until I really know. Having a threatmeter and dpsmeter helps, as I can see if anyone is lagging behind.


  28. Super good info on pally tanking man! I was aware that they use mana, and how they get it back, but I never put it together like you just did.

    I think this whole discussion can be summed up easily by listening to Ghost Crawler when he said that the vast majority of people that play WoW are not like us. (Us being the kind of people that read WoW blogs in our spare time, or put together gear lists, or farm instances for a certain weapon.)

    We are the minority folks. If I had to actually pay for the mats for all the enchants I have on my Druid for both specs…epic flyer. Thousands and thousands of gold and gems on my gear. And it’s not a nice thing to have, for me it’s a requirement. I’m weird, and so are you if you compare yourself to most others.

    The whole thing is that when you are not used to it, it’s hard to muster up the courage to do something you have never done, to ask in trade to join a group, to subject yourself to public scrutiny. It’s hard, and if you have been digging your daily quests of the tournament grounds, getting your seals and decking yourself out in gear that way maybe it’s scary to think about a raider checking you out and possibly calling you a nub.

    The first raid I ever, ever did was Kara, as a tree druid. Somebody was spamming trade for a 3rd heals. I whispered them, I had 900 plus heals. He said ok. I get a summon, and boom, in Kara. The raiders inspected me, and thank goodness POLITELY, said that my gear wasn’t going to cut it. I was given a mage portal back to Shat. And folks, that was a huge bummer. It honestly hurt my feelings, I thought I was doing good, and I got rejected. I was new at that aspect of the game.

    In BC you had to get a key to run a heroic. It required a rep grind that often consisted of running the regular instance many, many times. This is no longer true. And this ties into the new LFG button. Hit the button. Don’t need to have EVER been in the instance before. Don’t need to pass any inspection before the whole group is already there. It’s so easy now, and now many many people are enjoying a part of the game they have never seen. But some don’t know how to play well enough to play at that level, and they think they are doing good at tanking or dpsing, but those of us with far more experience know they are sub par for that level of content.

    If you are nice, you help them out. If you are a douche-hat (or possibly just don’t know what you are doing), you belittle them and make them feel bad. We were all nub-cakes at one time, here’s hoping we can tip the scales in the nice favor as much as we can. And here’s to hoping that when we kindly offer advice in a constructive polite way that it doesn’t fall on deaf, or perhaps defensive ears.


  29. @Argon
    “You don’t really need to use [consecrate] unless there are 4 or more mobs”
    Totally depends on your group, man. On my boomkin, if a paladin doesn’t consecrate, I can’t hurricane without pulling some off him. Maybe it’s splitting hairs. I mean, I don’t hurricane just two targets and if I see the Pally doesn’t consecrate with three, then I won’t hurricane with three either. It really is a group dynamic thing that we figure out as we move.

    I’ve never levelled a paladin as far as even level 20, so most of what I know about them comes from my son talking about his level 80 pally. It was a real revelation to me to watch him heal an instance and throw heals at his paladin tank with a full health bar.

    “Isn’t that a waste of mana?”

    “No, I’ve got plenty. I’m just building up his mana.”


    So the next time I healed a paladin (with my Resto Druid) I watched his mana bar as I stacked on HoTs and, sure enough . . . quite the revelation indeed. Amazing how much better you play when you actually know what other classes do.


  30. Also, just reread your post Yossi. Rage will come after you get your Agility and Crit up. You should keep an eye on it and make sure that when you start the fight you have plenty (I like having over 30) and near the end of the fight you can slow down your rotation to conserve on rage. That will help prepare you for the next pull. Again, having a group that will focus fire for you will help you learn this much easier.


  31. @Yossi: Being level 40-50 means you probably don’t have a lot of gear to help back you up. Your group mates might have better gear (heirloom?) and what not. Being outgeared as a tank makes your job much harder. You definitely have to be on your toes and use your taunts and AoE more effectively. BBB has done a great job of getting the Bear primer down. Check out Intro to the Basics of Bear Mechanics, if you haven’t already. If you’re biggest problem is AoE aggro, then have your Glyph of Maul handy and Swipe and Maul. Swtich target and use FFF. Make sure you use Demo Roar on the packs. Mangle is great single target threat generator (and dps too) but if you can’t keep aggro on a pack, establish threat on them first before Mangle.

    Also, nothing wrong with good ole focus firing! If your friends want to help you learn to tank well, convince them to help by focusing fire on your primary target before graduating to the next step of handling packs. If you can handle single target aggro, then packs aren’t too far off.


  32. I usually have folks wanting me to go faster rather than slow down, but then, I like to have a moment to loot and double-check a couple of things before pushing on.

    That being said, I *do* occasionally have rage issues at the end of fights, usually when we’re talking about groups with a lot of casters or single-target mobs that don’t hit very fast. This isn’t usually a problem, as I can generally Enrage/Barkskin and keep going. Every once in awhile, though, you end up with a situation like this:

    Out of rage. Enrage/Barkskin and charge to kill a group.
    Kill the last mob of the group. Loot.
    Check DPS/Heals mana: ok.
    “Check” rage: all my abilities in are lit up, I’ve got rage (here’s the trap: I might have just 15-20, enough for only one ability, and it’s half a tick from not even having that.)
    Target the next group, feral charge… aaaand I’m out of rage.
    DPS thinks I’ve started in, lets loose. Enrage is still on cooldown, so I still have no rage.
    I haven’t hit Maul or Swipe because the mobs have barely had a chance to react to me, so the DPS starts taking damage.
    This is usually the point where either a) the healer is awesome and he keeps folks up long enough for the one mob I managed to get aggro on hits me enough for a Challenging Roar followed by Swipe, b) the healer is mediocre and there’s enough plate DPS for the same, or c) the healer isn’t ready for it and we wipe.
    Then, there’s d) I carry around a stack of Mighty Rage potions for just this occurrence.

    .-= Kaethir´s last blog ..Yet another Primer Followup =-.


  33. I have been looking at the new LFG system as a chance to improve my chain pulling techniques. Gundrak goes really fast now. I thought it was fast before, but then I realized I had never changed my old PuG pulling strategy of one or two groups at a time. Guildies, yes I would speed pull, but before the LFG system I would take it slow, until the healer and only the healer started saying they were bored.

    I didnt realize how quickly I was able to move through an instance until the guantlet event in Culling of Strat. I pulled the burning hallway in one big pack, charging, intercepting, thunderclapping, and demo shouting. The two other warriors in the group loved it at the end, because they were able to pop blade storm and giggle. To make it easier on the healer I did use shieldwall, last stand, and enraged regen, but that is part of the technique now.



  34. Or, you could go with the alternative….


    Equipped with a sword, board, and undies (But only because you can’t take them off, too), the ever-feared Nakedpallytank shameless flaunts his or her gigantic, throbbing, supple skills while taking enough damage to keep the healer busy (If you know what I mean), which in turn returns much needed mana for a Nakedpallytank to continue. All night long.

    .-= Nim (Ankh)´s last blog ..The Gift That Keeps On Giving – Why? =-.


  35. Protection paladins also have access to Blessing of Sanctuary, which returns mana (or rage/runic power/energy) when you block, dodge, or parry an attack. If your Prot Paladin isn’t using it, then… you probably have bigger things to worry about than an OOM tank…

    Glyphed Divine Plea also reduces damage by 3% while active. Plea has a 60 sec CD. If the healer or caster/hunter mana is running a little ragged, then a good paladin tank will be willing to wait–and top themselves off, if need be. (I keep a stack of the early Northrend water for such occasions.)

    I always try to mark at least Skull/X on the rare occasions I’m tanking, but… just because I mark it doesn’t mean my DPS is hitting it. (That’s okay, if a mage wants to go all-out FFB on the mob I’m not hitting… well, it’s not MY repair bill. Also Warlocks that RoF before I even drop a Consecrate… *shakes head*)
    .-= Cerys´s last blog ..Return of the flailtank =-.


  36. Actually, a warrior tank is quite able to run instances as you described, provided they are skilled and geared correctly. My raid leader/main tank runs instances like that, and successfully holds aggro whilst doing it. When I flip heals for him it’s holyhelltimetogetnitroboosts time. I LOVE it.


  37. BBB,

    Our MT paladin when doing heroics will often remove his hat for a more, shall we say, colorful item (ie, Santa Hat or Sombrero). Even in Heroics he is still Def capped and we have found this to be a better solution instead of aggressive chain pulling to the point of the run being chaotic. The runs are still fast and fluid and with the exception of one Shaman healer in H CoS, no one has ever pushed the issue of him wearing a normal helm. DPS tend to be confused by it but after the first couple of pulls the healers realize it is a non-issue. Personally I tend to find that the conversations it starts makes the groups more enjoyable rather than the normal anonymous H PUGs where everone just does their job with little concern for anyone else.


  38. Classic example of a non-rockstar tank: chain pulls to keep Divine Plea up, then stopping when he’s had the benefit of Innervate and he sees the healer is about out of mana (three cheers for Sodality of Cairne!).
    Classic example of a rockstar tank: chain pulls to keep Divine Plea up, leaving un-aggro’d mobs behind who get into and kill the casters… then when all the casters are good and dead, complaining about lack of heals (three jeers for…. we’ll let that one go).


  39. Ok, thanks for some of the rage-keeping tips. I’m currently doing lvl 40-50 dungeons with my bear, and I’m still on a steep learning curve:
    -I only realised yesterday that silence affects taunt
    -I keep forgetting that I can polymorph out of snares (re-remembered yesterday)
    -I hadn’t played my druid in a year, and was surprised to find that I could Shadowmeld out of combat (wipe protection when last bear standing) – read that today
    -That FFF trick seems really good for holding rage up – I don’t know how I’ll put it into use for vanilla instances, but still…
    -I realised 2 days ago that I’d been pulling mobs but that I was forgetting to actually attack them in some cases (like after a FFF pull) – some abilities don’t seem to initiate an auto-attack.

    Aggro is my biggest problem at the moment. Survivability is not an issue, since I’m quite well-geared (Armory linked) for the content I’m doing. Rage generation/loss has been my Achilles heel. I’ve been “pulling big”, and chain-pulling to compensate, which frustrates everyone: I’m confident in my ability to stay alive, as long as DPS/healer don’t come crashing in too soon. I’ve keybound and to focus fire (which gets ignored 50% of the time, and AoE is my bane right now). I’ve since learnt that small but frequent pulls are safer for all concerned, but many (mages particularly) still insist on AoE, which breaks my threat. And for some reason, ranged mobs always seem to get attached to my healer. I then promptly twirl around, tabbing frantically, looking for the mob (in amongst 2 elite and 3 non-elite) that has my healer targeted and low threat.

    I use grid to warn me of aggro on people (I tend to ignore it on the dps warrior/paladin who are attacking the cross before the skull), but have no idea how to find the mob responsible (see above). And I can’t seem to figure out how to taunt the right mob – I always seem to taunt it half a second after it’s come back to me anyway (it probably just got mauled after I targeted it to taunt) and there goes a wasted taunt CD, whilst some OTHER mob decides to chew on my healer.

    I also have significant issues with casters, especially 2 casters at range. The back-to-basics post (https://thebigbearbutt.com/2009/12/26/intro-to-the-basics-of-bear-mechanics/) helped a lot (I guess it’s just practice), but they still seem to target whomever they want. I dread the inevitable red dots appearing on the mage and priest in my grid (aggro monitor). I really think I get most of the theory now, it’s just that the practical application of maintaining threat is a little beyond me.

    If any friendly bears have some sage advice for a very new bear tank (at my level – I’ve had loads of pugs telling me to mangle and innervate), it would be most welcome! Macros, grid configs, add-ons, sequences, handy tricks, etc… Anything that lets me keep the mobs off my healer/squishies!

    On a positive note, I’m better than I was a week ago when I started, and the PuGs are still (mostly) accommodating.


  40. I realize this is sort of beside the point, but another great way for paladin tanks to stop running out of mana is to consecrate less. You don’t really need to use it unless there are 4 or more mobs on you at a time. Another useful thing is to carry around stacks of mana potions, when you suddenly realize you are in the middle of a fight and are out of mana.

    Another factor that makes chain pulling like a maniac on a paladin tank really nice is Blessing of Sanctuary, which gives you mana when you avoid or block an attack. More things hitting you means more mana.


  41. I AM a tank, but I would like to comment here. My “alt” used to be my main prior to WotLK, which was a Holy spec Priest who raided near the top end of T6 content. I now play my priest and am trying to get him geared up enough to raid alongside my bear tank, so I get the opportunity to heal a bunch of said “rockstars”.

    As a tank, you should control the pace of the run. That is a great perk to eating most of the damage, but it carries with it a responsibility to the rest of your group. You have to know what your group is capable of. You should know this in the first couple of pulls. If your healer is struggling, there’s no need to push the pace up. If your DPS is struggling to do enough damage to bring the packs down it doesn’t matter whether or not you can take all that abuse, or your healer is comeptent. Eventually it will wear down on your healer’s mana.

    I don’t have problems running from pull to pull as a healer or a tank, as long as the group is competent. As a healer I find that my PUG tank is more concerned with showing off how much damage he can take than paying attention to what is going on. I have OFTEN said in party chat “I need to rest for mana”, and “no I’m serious this time, wait”, and “STOP”. The decision you have to make is whether or not to just sit your butt down and let the tank die, or try and hope for the best. I end up doing a bit of both. I’ll sit down and drink to get mana back while the tank is pulling. Then at some point before things get too nuts bring it back in order.

    It all just comes down to teamwork. And it’s hard to be a good teammate if you don’t listen, and if you don’t try to understand the challenges your mates are facing.


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