Team Talk for all players from a tired Tank

I’ve talked about running instances from the point of view of a tank that wants to help other new tanks prepare themselves to do the best they can in groups.

I tend to focus on group play rather than soloing, and tanking rather than DPS or Healing. It’s what I mostly think my WoW related rantings on this blog are all about.

It’s what I do. Well, it’s what I do when I’m not doing something else.

I think it’s time to touch on first principles briefly.

I talk about group play in general because when you play solo, no matter how crazed or off the wall you may play, no matter how little you may know about your class spells, Talents, gear or playstyle, the only person’s time you affect is you.

If you want to try to level from 1 to 80 as a pacifist, never harming any other living digital creature… more power to you. Have fun! Send screenshots.

In group play, there are other people present who depend on you to act a certain way, play a certain way, and work towards a common goal together. You’re no longer just handicapping yourself; you’re bringing other people down with you.

So I talk about group play more, because in my mind playing well in groups in a multiplayer game is a higher priority that fine tuning solo performance. 

I talk about tanking because it was the single most challenging aspect of the game for me, personally, to learn when I started. I leveled as DPS Cat/Bear, and I raided as Healing at level 60 end game, but it wasn’t until I hit true Bear tanking in BC that I felt challenged… and rewarded for skillful play. It’s that feeling of satisfaction with Tanking as part of a group, and the enjoyment of doing something difficult very well, that led me to write guides and offer suggestions about it, to help others get started in a little seen aspect of the game and share the fun.

So, I talk about group play because I want to help people be the best member of their group that they can for everyone’e benefit, and I talk about tanking because that was the role of a group I personally found the most challenging to learn.

A statement of my tanking belief.

I feel that, as a member of the team in the role of the tank, it is my primary responsibility to do the best I can to be a team player, and work towards the success of the group. Everything else is built on the foundation of being a team player.

Building on the foundations of being a good team player, I feel that as a tank, it is my job to;

  • Keep all aggro from mobs on me instead of the team.
  • Regain lost aggro as quickly as possible to keep mobs from interfering with other members of the team.
  • Be as difficult to hurt as possible to ease the strain on the Healer to keep me alive through a fight.
  • Be as difficult to hurt as possible to ease the strain on the DPS to kill all mobs before I and the Healer are overwhelmed. 

Those are the core duties of the role. All are focused on being a good team player.

There are other aspects of playing a tank that may not be readily apparent, but when you think in terms of being a good team player, there are lots of things you can see to help.

Remember, my point is to approach the game with the attitude of being the best team player you can; to do what is within your power to ensure the group’s success, and to help everyone towards victory.

Examples of other things you can do as a tank to be a good team player;

  • Hold mobs physically stationary whenever possible so that melee DPS have an easier time of getting behind them. Melee DPS have to properly position themselves to achieve their most effective DPS.
  • Keep the style of your pull as consistent as possible to help your healer and DPS players anticipate what you are about to do (run in and turn around to face mobs away from the rest of the group, or turn to the side, or mark first and second kill targets, etc). This helps everyone else learn to anticipate what you will do, and be prepared for the best time to unleash their skills without pulling.
  • Move mobs and the party out of AoE effects as quickly as possible; don’t just get yourself out, reposition the mob so the DPS behind him are also free from pools/slime/kabooms.
  • Watch mana levels in the group and pause for clearly announced “mana breaks” when really necessary, so that Healers do not feel overly rushed from pull to pull. Encourage the Healer or other players to announce when they want a mana break, and do not listen to people who want to ignore the requests of other team members for a mana break. Only the player who is low on mana can decide for themselves when or if they need a mana break.
  • Pause before the very first instance pull to allow everyone time to buff.
  • Communicate clearly with the group, both with what you intend to do, and also what you would like others to do. Communication also includes asking if anyone is new to an instance, and providing tips before tricky pulls where appropriate.

These things are not written in stone as what a tank must do, but every single suggestion, if followed, can help contribute to a smoother run for the team.

If you are consistent, calm and clear, it helps to cut down on chaos in the party, and players that learn to know what to expect of your pulls will be that much faster in target selection and destruction.

Bringing the same principles to the other roles of a group.

What I listed above applies to tanks. Things to think about, things to watch as opportunities to help as a member of a team. There are many other things that tanks can do to help, as well. That’s why I’ve got a blog, to chat about them.

I’d like to take this opportunity to refresh the idea of good team work and group play in the minds of my readers.

It’s not just tanks that are responsible for being good team players. Every member of the team has a responsibility to do the best they can to contribute to the success of the entire run.

Talking about Threat

One of my first rants on this blog was about Damage Meters. The reason I ranted was because of the effect on a team. I believe that the obsession with reaching the top of Damage Meters indicates that the player is more concerned with scoring a high DPS number than he or she is with being a great team player, and that irritates me.

Let me be more specific. A lot of classes have threat reducing abilities. Paladins have Hand of Salvation, Kitties have Cower, Rogues have Feint and Vanish, Hunters have Feign Death and Misdirect, Mages have Ice Block, etc. Sure, not all classes do, but a lot do. There is no satisfactory reason to ignore the threat reducing tools of a class, because it is not the tank’s job to generate threat that exceeds every player’s maximum possible potential DPS. It’s not, and if you think it is, well, you’re wrong.

There is an excellent addon called Omen, which is a Threat Meter. If you install it, by default it will show you what your threat level is on your targeted mob, in comparison to other players, including the tank.

Even if you do not use Omen, WoW now has an option to enable a flashing red warning on the screen when you are pulling aggro on your target.

Even if you don’t use addons, there is still a way to get an indication when you are exceeding threat.

The most fundamental responsibility of DPS and Healer players as part of a team is to not pull aggro off of the tank. Period.

You can easily do this by using Omen, waiting for the tank to get at least one attack off on your targeted mob, and then opening with auto-attack or a low damage attack. Then you glance at Omen to see where you stand on threat. You do as much damage as you can, up to and not exceeding the threat the tank has on the mob.

If you are capable of doing 7500 DPS, but the tank is not capable of matching and exceeding your threat, then it is your responsibility to throttle back your DPS to the point where you can attack without pulling.

If you, as a DPS player, are not capable of throttling back your threat to match the tank, then you, not the tank, SUCK as a team player.


Because yes, while the tank has taunting abilities, those abilities are better used as emergency pulls when adds run in, or when someone gets a surprise critical strike that pushes them over the top,NOT as something to be used on every single cooldown just for you, personally.

If every DPS player in a group is pulling aggro off the tank, and the tank only has one taunt, then there are two other players that are eating their mobs, and while we can say we don’t care, you pull it you tank it, the fact is, this is creating chaos. It is stressing the Healer. It is stressing the Tank. It is causing the run to be a big, crappy mess.

This is the fault of the player that regularly pulls aggro. None other. And apologizing in advance that you’re going to be pulling off the tank regularly because you’re “lol so leet”, just says to me, “Hi, I don’t actually know how to play my class, but look at all the neat loot my friends got for me!”

Do you think I respect you because of your gear score, when you don’t have any idea how to manage your threat ina  group? Or, even better, don’t care? I have far more respect for any player that tries their best to be a good team player no matter what their gear. Far more

Every player in a group should be starting with the idea, “What can I be doing to help the group succeed?” If you’re not, why are you grouping? Chances are high it’s because of selfish motives. And I have no respect for that, either.

For DPS, here are some tips.

Watch your threat, and take care to not regularly exceed the threat output of the tank. You can use Omen, or again with the addon plug, you can use a Nameplate addon like Tidy Plates with Threat Plates. It works great for DPS as well. If you see you are about to pull aggro, use a threat dump like Feign Death, switch to auto-attacking for a bit, or switch your attentions to a different target.

Be prepared to protect the healer. Try to watch for adds that run after the Healer. Yes, DPS players can and should try to intercept mobs that escape the Tank to head for the Healer. That can easily happen if there are adds that are pulled, but have no threat done to them. Such adds are loose, and will go after the Healer as soon as the Healer creates healing threat.

Some specific suggestions that you used to see all the time; Hunters hanging out near the Healer, and dropping Ice Trap in front of the Healer to automatically grab the first add that runs after him. Warlocks that have their blueberry taunt mobs off the Healer (if it’s out) when they run in. Priests can Shackle if it’s Undead. Paladins can either bubble the Healer, or cast Hand of Salvation on them (or on other, super high threat generating DPS). And on and on.

Be prepared with your own bandages and consumables like Healing Potions. Yes, there is a group healer, and I’m sure they’re doing their best. But every Healer has priorities, and if the Healer is overtasked keeping the Tank or themself alive, you might not get a Heal when you want, and you should be prepared to spot heal yourself.

Don’t run ahead of everyone else to push the pace. It’s a team effort. If you’re in that much of a hurry to lead, then make a tank and find someone to heal you. If you are not the tank, then it is not your job to pull unless specifically expected to do so by friends or asked to by the tank.  It is not funny, it’s not cute, and it’s not helpful. It’s being an asshat in the minds of every team player I know. If you don’t like the pace of the random you got, then only run with friends. If you don’t have any friends willing to run with you, then maybe you need to think about why that is.

There are so many things that DPS players can do to help make a run smoother, it boggles the mind. Heck, I didn’t even mention using CC on loose mobs that the Tank hasn’t grabbed yet, or using other class abilities like Tremor Totem for Shamans when fighting mobs that Fear regularly, (or Priests likewise using Fear Ward on the tank when fighting a mob that Fears), or Druids Innervating Paladin tanks or Healers that are low on mana mid-fight, or…

Well, you get the point, don’t you? If you’re trynig to be a good player, browse your spellbook. You might find something there neat to try.

Priests using Mind Control to have mobs buff the team? Ever try it?

There is more to being a good team player for DPS than going all out on their attack rotation the second the tank pulls, and maxing the DPS Meters.

A few suggestions for Healers;

Watch your threat. Healers DO create threat. You gain threat for the healing that is actually done on your targets, divided amongst all the mobs currently aware of the target you are Healing.

If the Tank is running forward at the group of mobs, and is at max health, then if you cast a HoT, the HoT does zero healing on the first tick, and does zero threat. The threat does not start until there is actually damage to be healed, and only does threat per point healed, not based on the maximum potential healing the spell could have done.

If the Tank is below max health before the pull, you cast a HoT, and the Tank runs forward within the awareness range of the mobs, then if the first tick hits before the Tank has done ANY damage, every mob just aggroed on the Healer, and start running for, or begins casting attacks AT the Healer.

You can prevent this by waiting until a target or the Tank has done some threat before you heal them. Tanks in particular should be allowed to attack once or twice before you unload heals and HoTs on them.

Watch your mana level. Use mana regeneration abilities to top up on the fly, or be prepared to drink between pulls quickly. Others should try to give you time to regain mana, but be proactive in looking for opportunities to keep yourself topped up.

If you queued as a Healer, make healing the entire group your priority, and NOT dealing DPS. If you are so eager to top the DPS meters, queue as a DPS. The group needs to be able to count on your heals being there in an emergency. If you can drop some DPS into the mix, that’s fine, but never let it get in the way of performing your prime duty; keeping the team alive.

A few general suggestions for EVERYONE.

Be repaired, be armed with your proper Reagents, and BUFF PEOPLE. Few things say “lazy selfish bugger” to me quite as clearly as someone that just can’t be bothered to buff anyone else on the run. I don’t care if you think it’s necessary or not, the point is that as a team player, you have a way to contribute to the overall success of the group. So buff people.

Don’t queue up for a run unless you intend to stay for the entire length of the run. Within reasonable limits, of course. If the group is just completely fail, and you try and try to pull things together and people just aren’t willing to listen or work together, then no, I’m not saying stick it out for four hours. I am specifically saying, don’t queue for a group, get a group, start the run, and ten minutes later announce “Whoops, raid time, gotta go, bye!” and drop group.  That’s bullshit. If you don’t have ten minutes, then you don’t have time. Don’t queue.

I have never said all this stuff before, at least in so many words, because in my heart I thought everyone that wanted to group, wanted to do their best to be a team player.

I’m writing this in the hopes that people really DO want to be a good team player, but don’t understand how.

What I’m afraid of is that most people that act like selfish asshats in teams do so intentionally, because they really don’t give a damn about anyone else. Nothing will help that situation, except an ever-expanding ignore list.

I’ll end this with one very serious statement.

Having a high gear score does not make you a good player. Putting out 15k DPS, having 100K Health, or being able to heal a Squirrel through a Hurricane does not make you a good player. I will not kiss your ass. Those stats are loot based. Static. They say nothing of how good a player you are, they only indicate what kind of content you’ve run successfully in the past with other people. 

What they really tell us is that you’ve run in a group that had some good players in it. It tells us nothing about YOU.

What makes you a good player is how you behave as part of a team, in every team you join. You have to prove yourself fresh every single time you join a group.

In WoW, just as in real life, nobody cares how you played on your other character, on your main, in your raid group, or with your friends last week. All we care about is, how are you playing right now?

I invite all other bloggers to think about what their favorite class can do in terms of being a strong supportive team player, and write a post to help guide folks along those lines.

I know it seems, well, obvious, but seriously, based on the runs I go on it’s past time to be clear about this stuff, and bring team play back to the front of people’s awareness.

75 thoughts on “Team Talk for all players from a tired Tank

  1. Regarding threat, in a recent blue post by Ghostcrawler,
    Many DPS players don’t like the mechanic that there’s this higher level of damage they could achieve if only they weren’t constantly being throttled by this one dude up in front. It often ends up feeling not like the group is overcoming a challenge together, but that the dude in front needs to get his act together. It just makes tanks feel weak. When the raid dies because the boss hammered the tank, then that feels cooperative because it’s the raid vs. the boss. When the raid wipes because the warlock got aggro, then it feels like it’s the tank vs. the warlock (or maybe the raid vs. the warlock or the raid vs. the tank).
    Link to the above quote


  2. Thank you for posting this! I tank on a warrior, paladin, and occasionally on a bear. And I mark things, but I’m sure I’m doing it wrong. Apparently “Skull” means “keep alive until the end”.
    Recently I’ve been playing my mage more – yes, occasionally I want to wear my comfy jammies, hang out in the back, and blow stuff up. In order to get “MOAR GEARZ”, I’m pugging daily heroics, and I have to admit, I’m stressing. I wouldn’t have believed it, but yes, I am.
    I’d love to assist the wtf-ever-gearscore tank (40+K health) if he would PLEASE not tab-target every .5 seconds. I have issues frostbolting every single target and then guess where and when I can start doing damage. So I start guessing “what would I do as a tank? Probably the caster first”. WRONG. 2 Arcane Blasts and the damn caster comes to me. Frostblock. Pick a different target. AGAIN! So Mr. Tank decided to high-threat the one thing that hits like a wet noodle and doesn’t damage anyone, but the mob healer gets to stay alive because that’s how we can all do more damage longer?! Sure my DPS sucks, dear group, if I don’t know what to hit.
    Then there’s Mr. OP-ally, who is in ICC25 gear, blessing us in Nexxus. In NEXXUS! “Should be a quick run, don’t slow me down”, he says. Pulls everything to the first boss, drags first boss to Telestra. Bitches that Telestra doesn’t die at ANY decent speed. Let’s see: in the group we have 2 mages and a lock. 2 mages have issues casting on the run, by the time we’re at Telestra, the lock is dead, I’m at 10% mana, the other mage at 50%. Thank you, Mr. Let’s-Insult-Everyone, right-click-ignore, click-leave-group.
    And when I group with bears, don’t get me wrong, I love bears. But some bears have the tendency to target a remote caster for the occasional FFF and just swipe-swipe-swipe. That’s fine, really. But again, who do you want me to kill?

    – “Hey, Mr. Mage, please don’t frost nova the mobs I’m dragging with me”
    – “Sorry, pure reflex. I do that when melee stuff starts running my way”

    You wanna be the bad-ass tank? Sure, go ahead, but at some point I need to do some damage, and if my completely untalented blizzard starts pulling stuff off you, and you don’t tell me what’s safe – I can only icelance and guesstimate for so long 😦

    Don’t even get me started on dual-wielding DK-tanks that are in blues. I know it becomes valid at certain gear levels. Blue ain’t it, apparently…


  3. I could not identify or agree with this post more. Thank you…

    Thank you for putting into words what has caused me hundreds of hours of frustration as a paladin tank. Why mage, why do you think you’re DPS is so elite that you don’t have to contribute to downing the adds on Lady Deathwhisper after you were told to two times? Why did you argue with the raid leader about it? Why do you make everyone in the raid stand around for a half-hour playing Peggle and taking random AFKs while you debate the merits of your DPS being solely on the boss? Do you even realize (you know who you are) that most of us could produce elite DPS if we didn’t down the adds? Yes, we could all not do our jobs in the raid, simply DPS (heals and tanks are going DPS too…screw it) and we WILL DIE. But god, lets find out as a group of 25 people, who will grace the number one position on the Recount meter. If I wanted to know that – I’d invite 25 people to the training dummies in Stormwind!


  4. People have mentioned to take your pet off growl. I’m a new hunter, and I’ve noticed in random dungeon PUGs that I can often help by sending my pet after a mob that peels off and runs towards a DPS or healer. In such a case, growl is vital. Sometimes I will also use Intimidate and other threat-generating commands. But, do tanks find that helpful in the first place, or should I stop doing it?


  5. Kudos to BBB for this most excellent and straightforward collection of party dynamics.

    I’ve spent the past 5 years levelling and having fun with every class in the game, and it’s given me a great perspective of what (and what not) to do in a group. Tanking provided me with the insights of the dificulties and responsibilities of the one who keeps the damage focused on oneself, and learns to mitigate that damage as to not overtax the healer. Healing gave me the responsibility of not only keeping everyone alive, but doing that in concert with a tank’s pulling techniques as not to draw mob aggro away from the tank with a poorly timed heal.

    Tanking and healing gave me PHENOMENAL insight into how to dps. Learning how to help your group best by using aggro misdirection, cc, damage timing, patience, and understanding. Many responses to your blog highlight the need to focus more on Omen, and less on Recount. I truly miss fights like Moroes in Kara where, at the end of the fight, and Moroes is down, you’re surrounded by raid members who are heartily congratulating those who actually contributed to the group’s success the most. No, not the person who topped the dps meter. The rogue who threw the timely blind. The priest who maintained a shackle while healing that poor garroted mage. The hunter who chain trapped the mortal strike warrior through the entire fight while still peppering shots at Moroes.

    God I miss the days of CC and marked targets. Sure, they slowed down instances. So what? I don’t understand the mentality. The math just doesn’t work out for me. As a dps you’ll sit in the LFD queue for 20 minutes, and then when you finally get the chance to do exactly what you queued for…. you want to make the time in the instance as short as possible! It makes no sense to me. Give me a dpser who enjoys CC and I’ll show you someone who wants to play the game, not just marvel at how his new shineys look.

    When I’m tanking, I’ll still use a skull marking macro to ensure that people have an idea of what my first target is, where my aggro priority is going to be on each fight opening. Often enough, I’ll get the odd confused remark from the rogue/paladin/dk/whatever who goes to town on an unmarked mob ” I thought that you wanted to tank skull so I left it alone”. Alright, fair enough, I didn’t explain. Kill skull. If I don’t mark anything else, that’s fine, I’m happy with the rest being randomly attacked, as I’ll have aggro on those fine and dandy by the time you’re done with skull. But please, kill that skull. He’s marked for many reasons. One could be that he’s a pain in the arse mob that drops aggro and kills random people… like healers (skirmishers in AN). Or he’s a caster that’ll knock the tank down to 1/2 health if he gets his cast off (spell-slingers in OK). Stuff like that, I’ve done my research. I’ve run the instances. I’ve tanked, dps’d and healed them. I know that mob’s going to give us all grief, so let’s kill the skull.

    There’s always been a “noobs are bad, and we have every right to look down upon them” part of WoW. It’s part of the culture we have. I’ve levelled enough toons, endured the shots here and there taken at my gear, or my dps… but I’ve only paid attention to shots taken at my playstyle. I.e. ” um, standing in stuff that isn’t ground coloured…that’d be a bad thing…noob ” After being rezzed by the healer and given that particular form of advice oh so many years ago, it’s stuck with me to this day.

    Face it, gear doesn’t a game make. Earning that gear? Sure, you worked hard at it, finally downing whatever boss your raid group was on. The gods of luck shined down upon you twice, in that the gear you wanted drop actually DID drop, and you won it throw a high roll, or a loot system that happened to favor you that day. Congratulations. Now go out and use that gear in the way you earned it. With teamwork.


  6. You know, I love it… I really do. It’s something we’re all thinking when we tank with ‘gogogo’ guy or that guy who pulls extra packs while you’re still fighting.

    Unfortunately, those uber-l33t d-bag DPS who consistently ruin LFDs probably only read EJ, not Big Bear Butt Blogger. 😦
    The very CONCEPT of team-play is alien to them, because it’s not WHY they play. They play to feel superior to others, not work with them – trying to explain that would probably result in “lol wut” (at least, I think that’s how you speak their language…). The whole dungeon and team system is simply a framework for them to be provided with competitors to gloat over – the tank serves as an anchor for damage so that these guys can get to the business of feeling badass without having to think about the consequences.

    Maybe we could re-package your post as part of a ‘L33t DPSer Intervention’ script! For friends and families of asshats who care about them and want them to stop being asshats. We could do up pamphlets…

    There’s one line I think we can all take to our LFDs for the tl;dr crowd:
    “If you don’t like the pace of the random you got, then only run with friends. If you don’t have any friends willing to run with you, then maybe you need to think about why that is.”


  7. My big bear butt tanked Drak’ Theron so I know I can do it.
    Yes, I had to battlerez the tree healer, but at least we got through
    the run.

    I’ve soloed a few outland dungeons to try to teach myself how-to-tank.
    Recently, I killed Azuregos in Azshara by myself while looking for a
    j/c recipe. (Other world dragons were too hard for me to solo.)
    Soloing is not very fun or practical for me as a tank because I’m not
    learning how to tank.

    Anyway, I come to BBB to learn and get tips. My bear is neglected
    and I’m playing my shadow priest to learn the layout and dynamics
    of heroic dungeons. It’s kinda hard to tank when you don’t know where
    you are going or what’s gonna be there when you arrive.

    –Not giving up on my bear and plan to get the Polar gear made
    today and then I’m gonna tank ‘The Lord of Ahune’ holiday boss
    as many times as I can.
    LOL I do hope I don’t get vote kicked before I can learn more
    about how to tank in a group.

    Thank you bigbearbutt for providing bear tank info on your blog.

    –Cynsia on armory in case anyone would like to advise me
    about my gear.


  8. Notes from a very tired healer:

    1. My job is to keep the tank alive and by doing that keep myself alive in order to keep the tank alive.
    If you are DPS and your DPS is more important than the success of the run, just leave, in fact don’t bother to queue at all. If you pull aggro once then I’ll heal you, if you do it a couple times I’ll still heal you but only if everyone else is doing ok. If you consistently pull aggro then I’ll still heal you but you will be at the bottom of my priority list. If you die from pulling aggro it will be your problem, I’m tired of feeling bad because you died when it is caused by you not knowing how to manage your aggro.

    2. It is not my job to run after the tank while he chain pulls the entire instance.
    When you tank a run you need to be aware that *most* good healers are good because they actually care about keeping everyone alive. If you as a tank are trying to be “uber” and run an instance as fast as you can physically move through it, then find another healer. I’m tired of feeling bad because I have to let people die in order to keep up. It’s not fun and the point of playing the game is to have fun. You don’t need to wait five minutes between pulls but at the same time you don’t need to run the instance in one pull.

    3. It is my job to show up ready to run but not within 2 seconds of entering an instance.
    I need a couple minutes at the beginning of a run to make sure that I have buffs on everyone, that everyone has buffed me correctly (priests like might? really?), that I have the correct spec and that my bars are set for healing. Give me that 1-2 minutes and I’ll be ready to go, or even just ask if everyone is ready. You will make my day. I’m tired of using mana pots so I can chase the group that walked in and started pulling.

    4. It is my job to manage my own aggro but it is EVERYONES job to help me do that.
    Making me heal 4 people instead of just the tank will cause me to aggro mobs (and over heal for that matter). Over heal just means that it will take longer to complete the run (more time drinking to get mana or waiting for people to run back because I was OOM). Aggro for a healer that is only healing the tank is MY fault. If a mob is attacking the healer it is the tank AND the DPS’s job to get that mob off them. Better yet prevent it from ever reaching the healer and THAT is the responsibility of the DPS pure and simple. If I am running with a mage I expect that mage to be 1-2 yards away from me pretty much all the time. If a mob heads for me, I expect that mage to pull that aggro or crowd control it and in turn I will make sure that the mage is alive to do it. Same for any DPS with CC abilities. Its up to the DPS to decide who is on healer watch but I expect it to be done. I’m tired of being dead because a player that has CC doesn’t bother because it makes their DPS lower when they have to “waste” time protecting the healer.

    5. It is my job to follow the TANK, the TANK sets the pace and I support the TANK throughout the run.
    When I run an instance you can always find me in the same place. I’m always about the same distance from the tank, never right on his big bear butt, but always within healing distance. If he moves the mobs and that takes his big bear butt out of my line of sight I will move to adjust because he is MY tank and I’ll keep him alive. Its his job to know when that is necessary and I will trust his judgement. MY tank isn’t going to die while I have any way to keep that from happening. But if DPS moves out of my line of sight then you will not get heals. I will not sacrifice others (especially the tank or myself) to try to save you.

    6. It is EVERYONES job to help out new people.
    Think back to your first few runs when you were brand new. You sucked. People helped you learn, you may have put in the effort to learn even more by reading forums, experimenting with different styles or whatever but other players helped you in game. Your over-inflated ego is not an excuse to treat new people like they are worthless or stupid. HELP them politely. Offer suggestions without berating them. You sucked when you started, now you get to pay back your debt, from others helping you, by helping newer players. One of my in game friends plays a hunter, she is very good at her class and does very good DPS but she was hell to run with. After we talked for a while I mentioned that it would be good if she protected the healer. Her reply was that no one had ever asked her to do that before and from that point on she developed group awareness very quickly. Later she told me that her raiding guilds GM had complemented her for the vast improvement in her playing style. Just because someone “sucks” doesn’t mean that they don’t want to get better. HELP them if they are willing to learn.

    Sorry if this sounds like ranting. I didn’t intend it to be. It is amazing to me that (except for new people) this sort of stuff is still an issue. But it is.


  9. For the record, linked to your post this morning, so that’s where all masses are wandering in from.

    I have two tank characters (Druid / Paladin) as well a hunter, and haven’t formed a good answer on this yet. Why the growl hate? My hunter leaves it off 95% of the time, and apologize if I realize I have it on, but as a tank I honestly don’t mind in the least if a pet has growl on. You can still build threat, typically more than the pet. If the pet dies (which lets face it happens more often than not in LFD groups anyway), I don’t think there’s been an instance yet where I wasn’t second on the list. If I’m a group with an average or better hunter (heh), say H-FoS tanking on my druid, I’ll actually ask the hunter to turn growl on and send the pet after one of the casters that I can’t for the life of me seem to collect in less than 10 seconds. I would ask them to MD (and I always hope they do), but that involves them paying attention each pull, and I dare not hope for that much good fortune. Taunting pets would be a pain, but growling pets… what is it about that tanks take exception to?


  10. Awesome post. Unfortunately people who should pay attention this advice are the people who are going to ignore it because they want their frost badges nao and “ur not going fast enough!”

    I have a reasonably new DK tank, blood spec, with about 4200 GS. Generating AOE threat is a bit tricky, I through down DND, spread my diseases around and have to wait for my blood rune to pop back up so I can Blood boil. Normally I’m fine, except when the ICC geared dps decide to pick out their own targets and nuke the crap out of it before I can hit pestilence. Naturally the group blames the tank. It’s called the f button people, it stands for “Attack my Friggin target”

    It’s also fun when rogues and hunters try to “help” you go faster by pulling the next pack while your already tanking four mobs. Believe it or I can’t shoot DnD out whenever I feel like it, and by the time I get the runes to do so, those mobs are going to be munching on the healers face. You know what? I’d love to make the instance run faster, but I’m swinging a Titansteel Destroyer and I don’t have enough trust in the DPS to behave enough for me to pull the entire room.


  11. Great post, my friend. As one who builds/leads raids without gear score/achieves required, I loved your knowledge and ethos in this post. You hit the nail on the head, and I’ve made this the top news item on our guilds webpage. This is a wonderful, all-around useful post on teamwork and role requirements in group situations.

    Thanks for taking the time to communicate the thoughts I have on a daily basis in a manner I can share with my whole guild. Keep your big bear butt free of stickleburrs and keep on tanking!



  12. I am leveling my first druid tank — I have been playing healers and some dps for the most part. I was always hesitant to roll a tank, because it is a tough job, and doing it well takes time and effort. I am helping a recruit a friend — tank and healer combo insta-queue, so no heirloom gear, starting from the bottom up. It has been an eye opener for sure. I have no problem with the mechanics of tanking, but the other players??! BBB, you hit the nail on the head. What you didn’t mention is that people are just plain … rude. I was really surprised. Trying to learn the mechanics of rage management and mob management has been really aggravating and having to ask someone to PLEASE STOP PULLING every minute is infuriating. And as a bear, I need the mobs to be hitting me — so when dps are pulling threat off of me, it sort of snowballs. I guess I am used to everyone knowing their roles and responsibilities.

    I have heard people complain because someone rolled need on a green (green is better then an empty slot or a white item!), call people noobs, criticize their gear, and brag about their dps. And although I play a hunter, hunters have been the worst — pulling, miss-pulling, pets on growl, tab-targeting a mob in the other room, pet chasing a fleeing monk into another room and bring the whole thing back with them. And the run back to some of those old instances is quite a ways.

    I am a relatively calm player, and tend to be the peace maker between bickering pugmates, but I have left groups for the first time, happily taking the debuff. I end up muttering to myself, hoping that they get to wait for the next tank in the queue. A long, long time. A reaallly long time.


  13. Excellent post, are you sure you’re not channelling my thoughts?

    I’ll see if I can draft up some responses from the healing & dps camps as well as adding my own thoughts on the tanking issues you’ve raised (once you’ve tanked you never go back 🙂


  14. You know, it makes me grin when people see a 3 thousand word post, and people take the time to bitch about my daring to include the word “Cower” when I mention a variety of threat reduction abilities in passing.

    I could say that, hey, Blizzard has clearly stated in the recent past that they intend to correct the issues with Cower in Cataclysm and I intend to link this post on the sidebar long term, so why would I as a Druid ignore my own form of threat reduction in a long term post, or I could mention the fact that it was but one of many types of threat reduction I mentioned in relation to the point of the overall post, and that I was pretty clear that none of them trump watching your threat and backing off when you’re about to overtake the tank, or I could say something along the lines of maybe not everyone is dressed to the nines in the same gear level YOU are, or are even playing at max level when running in groups, and might find that Cower could help them when running in lower level groups with wildly different player levels thanks to LFD, or I could go on and on.

    But if I did that, it would have just been something else.

    Somebody must have linked to this post, but I don’t know who, my WordPress installation utterly fails at letting me know who links to me. It’s highly frustrating.


  15. And sorry to double-post, but to the commenter above referring to “having no idea how the warlock pulls” – Warlocks have two threat reduction talents – one that only affects affliction spells and one that only affects destruction spells. The affliction one is on a talent that has little value in a raid setting, so most warlocks don’t take it. On top of that, Soulshatter is a single-case threat reduction of 50% and has a 3 minute cooldown, so it is not always up and if the warlock has to use it early in a fight, he likely will not have another threat drop. Furthermore, the nature of DoTs means that a warlock can not just stop doing damage instantly like most other classes. It has long been the case that warlocks have a lot of trouble with threat, and nearing the end of this expansion where DPS gear is so powerful, the maximum possible threat per second of some DPS classes is actually surpassing the maximum possible threat per second of some tank classes.

    It’s also true that if he is not pulling threat until a good 15 seconds into an encounter like you say (and not almost instantly off the pull which would clearly be his fault), it is entirely possible that your threat is lacking despite your gemming. By that point in an encounter you should have a solid threat lead unless he outgears you significantly, especially considering that warlock DPS takes a fair amount of time to spin up to full output.

    Anyway, if the warlock isn’t your top DPS and the aggro-pulling IS entirely his fault, leave him on the floor. There aren’t many encounters in ICC where being one DPS down will kill you unless the rest of your DPS is terrible. He’ll fix his behavior pretty quickly when he realizes he won’t get a rez.

    The more you know!


  16. Not to be contrary, but you said “Kitties have Cower” and I luled because 95% of raiding cats don’t even have it on their bars. As a fixed-amount threat reduction skill of ~3.5k value, it is basically entirely worthless. There’s almost never been a situation where a 3.5k threat reduction would have prevented me from pulling aggro when my white melee crits hit for nearly that much threat. The best way for a geared cat to not pull threat off a tank who is having trouble is to sit in a corner and lick your paws, or take off your weapon and half your gear and ensure that you never have Savage Roar up.

    I’ve actually tried switching my weapon out for my Kalu’ak fishing pole… didn’t work. =/


  17. I love you! Can we group?
    My main is a hunter, but I am also leveling a couple of healers with my best friend who is leveling a couple of tanks.
    First, you might want to add to your aggro management request list, “hunters, take your pet off growl”. I know this is “duh”, but this is especially a problem when leveling, even more so when the hunter is higher level than the tank. While leveling alts, I have found that some new players don’t even know how to take off growl. Even those who know to do it may forget because they are questing between instances. This happens so much while leveling our alts that my tanking friend has a macro for “turn off growl, please” and she has to use it almost every instance. Sometimes even level 80s forget it.
    Second, I think that damage players are much more concerned with personal DPS than they are with the wellbeing of the group, which is unfortunate. Yes, there is more to playing damage than high DPS, but since it is not measured on a meter, no one seems to care, but high DPS doesn’t mean a damn thing when everyone is dead! Often, obsession with personal DPS overshadows group concerns, turns people into asshats, and ruins the run. Personally, I wish we didn’t have damage meters in raids/instances because that’s what seems to motivate too many players. I don’t use a damage meter, but instead just play the best I can. And as far as your DPS goes, I won’t play that “mine is bigger than yours” game….after all, I’m a girl and I don’t have “one” anyway! 😀
    Third, especially during heroics and while leveling, people want to rush so fast that not only do people not manage aggro, everyone tanks. In fact, it seems like some groups have 3 or 4 tanks! On my healers, I often don’t have time to buff people before they (everyone but the tank) start pulling, and when I’m leveling a lowbie healer, I don’t have time to mana up after buffing before I have to heal the clothies and hunters that are tanking. I know, it’s just lowbie stuff, easy to those of us who are geared or on alts, but it creates really bad habits and sends the wrong message to new players, it is irritating to the tank and healer, making them work too hard (you may be having fun, but the tank certainly isn’t!), and it is just plain MESSY. It’s not good game. No wonder we have so few tanks… no one wants to put up with that crap! If you really want to go fast, just play well…it will save a lot of gripe time. Leet seems to mean asshat, and if you are too leet to play well in a heroic or a leveling instance, you probably too leet to play well in a raid. If you join a group, please give a crap, even if it’s just heroics or a leveling instance.
    Finally, I wish people would take personal responsibility for their weaknesses and mistakes instead of blaming everyone but themselves. If you make a mistake, own up and apologize, and then try your best to do better next time. That means a lot when playing as a team. When warnings fail, my tank friend tells me to stop healing people who persist in drawing aggro to teach them a lesson. Unfortunately, when I do that, the person usually doesn’t get it that he/she was in the wrong, but just gets very ugly, cursing us out, and doesn’t change, thereby ruining the run for everyone. So sad.


  18. Useful post though a bit sad that five years into the game it still needs spelling out to people, and it clearly does. Unfortunately those who need it most won’t read it.
    I’ve recently started tanking on my baby druid (still working up the nerve on my main) and my mouth dropped open when on a random run to Mauradon the mage started spamming recount and telling people to pick up their dps. Players of different levels in fairly haphazard gear (from twinked out alt to first toon using whatever drops), can’t be ‘judged’ by their dps output.

    @Eldracil:As a new melee player who also tanks I am also struggling with the ultimate question…which is worse boss ass or boss crotch /discuss 😛

    As a bear tank all you see is Big Bear Butt anyway 🙂


  19. I feel so relieved that you’ve posted the section about DPS watching their threat! Finally, someone who seems to agree with me. My bear isn’t even stacked with pure stamina, I have a lot of gems and enchants for more threat over more survivability because my dying is not the issue – it’s the warlock that dies 15 seconds into every other boss encounter dying that is. He grumbles about “having to” use Soulshatter and complains all the time that I’m the one not causing enough threat. There are two other DPS within our core raiders who are consistently above him on the damage meters, we have no idea how he ends up pulling but he doesn’t seem to do much to prevent it. It’s very frustrating, but thanks for validating that I’m not a terrible tank when bad DPS pull off me! Haha.


  20. BBB, you took the words right out of my mouth! I wish I could link this to each and every asshat who I come across in RFD, but they’d never in a million years read it or care. Still, I linked this on my guild forums as I know they’ll appreciate it there. Sadly, the folks who act this way really DO run dungeons for truly selfish reasons and will roll on an offspec item that’s a sidegrade a most against a player in blues who needs it for main spec because “it happens to me all the time.”

    I’ve said it before and I’ll probably be saying it long into the forseeable future: instant gratification has truly ruined a lot of the game. No more do we have to spend an hour or longer just putting the damn group together, then another twenty minutes or so of travel time, before we could even start a dungeon. THen the dungeon itself took an hour to two… depending on which one you did. You’d be in BRD all night. Now? We get fidgety when the healer sits for twenty seconds to drink, and skip everything skippable because the run is unbearably long if the dungeon timer cooldown isn’t still up when you pull the last boss.

    Maybe it’s just nostalgia talking, but it seems like people were more willing to be a little more helpful and considerate in those dungeons, after putting so much time into it already. Clearing to an obscure quest item or boss, having stacks of water prepared for the priest, letting the rogue have those nifty leather pants your healing druid wants so much. Oh sure there there were some jerks… but really they didn’t seem nearly as prominent even in TBC as now.

    Nowadays, don’t like the tank’s attitude? Kick. Don’t feel the mage’s 3.5k dps is enough? Kick. Healer has to stop to drink? Lol, noob; kick. Poof, another player will appear in less than five minutes, raring to go. People don’t group for others anymore. They group purely for themselves. An example was tonight on Ahune, I grouped with a ret pally and the first words he said in party chat were “No one else roll on my dps cape, I need it really bad.” His cape. He needed. Only him. It was as if he thought the group was formed specifically to get him HIS cape. And really, what evidence is there to the contrary for him? He wanted the cape, he clicked a button, and was deposited into a group to get it. It’s a bit ridiculous.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the RDF, it’s hella convenient. But it’s seriously having a huge negative affect on the overall attitude and feel in the game. Everyone for themselves. People screwed me out of loot, I’ll screw faceless others out of loot, people not even worthy to be called by name, they’re just another Priest or Tank. I don’t think we’re going fast enough, so I’ll pull, no it’s okay I can tank it.

    Ugh. Sorry, this got all ranty. But really, I wish more people would open their eyes and just SEE that there are other people behind those nameless characters they’re abusing and they can help make it stop. If more people dropped group after a pointless/cruel vote-kick, maybe it would stop. Or just don’t click yes to begin with (I know, you can click no and if everyone else clicks yes it still passes).

    Really, you nailed it here, spot on. It’s simple, little stuff. Making sure to rebuff a dead player after a rez. Congratulating a player on winning a drop. The ele shaman dropping melee totems in an all-melee group. I actually went out of my way to thank profusely a rogue I saw run away from Crystallus when he went to Shatter, instead of being like every other melee-monkey running back in for MOAR DPS!


  21. Great post. The tank vs. DPS dynamic is a big one, and I think you captured both sides. It’s the tank’s responsibility to generate as much threat as he can, and it’s the DPS’ responsibility not to pull aggro. Lots of folks want to put the blame entirely on one side or the other, which isn’t fair. With gear disparities so huge at the end of the expansion, it’s very common to have a group with a relatively “undergeared” tank (although still geared enough for heroics) who simply can’t hold aggro from the 6k GS mage if the latter goes all-out. Solution: the mage has to throttle it back. On the other hand, with comparable gear levels and a couple seconds’ lead time, a competent tank should be able to keep the attention of any pull, and if he consistently isn’t then the DPS have a right to be annoyed.


  22. Awesome post, thanks!

    I am levelling a tauren bear on Chromaggus, EU, with a friend who is levelling as Resto. These are our first toons on this server, have no heirloom gear, and are jut enjoying levelling old school. We are about to ding level 40, and try to do at least one dungeon each time we play. Two nights ago I got kicked from Scarlet Monestary. Vote kicked. First time ever. I was absolutely mortified. Now, I have a macro which I click at the start of every run, it says something along the lines of “Pls be nice to your tank! No heirloom gear etc, blah blah blah”. It’s all neatly explained.

    During this specific dungeon, every single dps had a “lol i’m leet and u suck” attitude. In fact, all except one LFD group has had at least one ‘leet dpser. The insults about my tanking is ludicrous, but it got to such a point two nights ago that I asked in trade for a tank to speak to me. one responded, and he said pretty much the same as what BBB has said here. I am NOT a bad tank.

    I considered giving up this tanking lark, but was encouraged to continue, and just realise that arsehats exist. I think what arsehat dps (and not all dps are arsehats), is that its all very well for them to complain about the lack of tanks across most realms, but perhaps, just perhaps, others have tried tanking and have shared my experience. It can really put one off the idea.

    As many above me have said, sadly not many people who need to read this will read this.

    Thanks BBB, your blog is awesome, and has helped me be the best little bear tank I can be!


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