Reader Mail – Finding the Confidence to Tank

Welcome to more reader mail, where I answer questions. It’s rare white elk day in Bearland.

I had a pretty nice email from Feraldawn, who had a number of excellent questions. The question I liked most was about gaining the confidence to tank for the first time.

First, the email;

I have finally leveled my druid to 80.  I have always soloed with her.  Now that she is 80 I would really like to run her into instances.  I had intended to be the tank but I am not confident yet.  I thought I would have her talented as a tank and run around in kitty form until I was more comfortable with playing her in groups. 

Here are my questions:

  • Should I keep the talents like a bear tank or should I duel spec; one for bear and one for kitty.
  • How did you get comfortable tanking?  My main is a holy priest, the tank and healer get the most heat from bad runs.
  • Where should my gear be at to start tanking heroics? 

Well thank you for the help.  I really enjoyed your tank guides and the blog.


Those are really great questions,  Feraldawn. Short and directly to the point.

Talents. My suggestion to you is, unless you are raiding as Feral Cat, to go ahead and use a spec tailored towards Bear tanking, and have no fears about your Kitty DPS in groups. If you’re not raiding, it’s not going to be a big issue. Soloing, you’ll certainly be just fine. If you are raiding, then you really should dual spec for Cat to make sure you tweak things out for maximum DPS for the team.

Also, if you’re raiding as Cat, you really should have seperate Kitty gear. It’s not the same as Bear gear. The leather is similar, but what stat load on that gear changes.

But, again, if you’re not raiding the upper reaches, go for a Bear weighted talent spec and gear. Even for kitty, it’s fine for 5 man action. 

I’m going to skip ahead here to gear. You ask what gear you should have to start tanking.

My answer to you is, it depends entirely on how confident you are.

You CAN start tanking as a Warrior in cloth gear at level 15 in Ragefire Chasm if you want, and if you’re really confident and practise your moves, and have a great healer, you’ll probably kick it’s butt. How? By keeping all threat from all mobs on you and trusting the healer to keep you alive.

That ain’t helpful, it’s mean to illustrate a point. There is no magic number where you will tank without the potential for failure. The reason for that is that you could go into an instance with poor gear and be propped up by a superb healer, or go in with uber gear and never get heals and die anyway.

It’s a team job.

If you were confident in your ability to play well, and IF you were only going to play with friends willing to be patient, you could go into an instance and tank as soon as every slot in your gear list had at least one piece of gear from anywhere on my sidebar guides. The lowest rank of gear in those guides is still fine for tanking instances. If your team is careful on their threat output, if your healer is solid, and if you take your time, you’ll win.

What I think you really want to know is, at what point is your gear good enough that random people won’t be asshats to you in the instance?

That’ll never happen. There is no gear level high enough.

Still, if that is what your goal is, I really suggest you run heroics as a Kitty DPS until you are able to get a full set of higher level gear from my sidebar lists, including the Tier pieces. The better your gear, the more cushion you’ll have to buffer you from the random pug blues. 

As I said, if your confidence is strong, that’s not necessary. But if you’re not sure you’re playing well yet, not sure you’re hitting the right buttons, etc, having more powerful gear than necessary will certainly boost your spirits.

Your third (second?) question is the biggie.

Confidence as a tank.

The fact is, in order to be a tank, much like your experience with healing, you have to be self-confident.

If you run in randoms, there WILL be people that are rude little pricks to you. Absolutely, no question. I 100% guarantee it.

There will be people that do NOT want to be in group with you, people who are there only for a couple daily Frost, people who feel that spending time with you is beneath them, people who want nothing more than a two minute run with zero wasted time on talk. Go go go, get your butt moving, if you won’t pull then I’ll pull for you, pull more, pull faster, why are you stopping, go go go. Pull several rooms at once, why are you pausing, I don’t need mana, you noob, you suck, you’re the worst tank ever, (and then they pop a massive crit while playing in their 6k gear score Fire Mage spec and pull aggro from every mob in the room, and shriek at how bad you suck).

There are many, many random puggers out there that figure that, since THEY have 6k Gearscore and killed Arthas, then EVERYONE they meet in random pugs should ALSO be in the same gear… and that using threat meters is beneath them.

To tank in random pugs, you HAVE to be able to blow those asshats off.

You have to know going in that you have your way of doing it, the way you are most comfortable with, and if you announce in advance, “Hey, I’m still getting my gear together and sharpening my skills, so please give me a chance to build aggro before you blow up the mobs” and they act like asshats pulling for you, or leave the group, or in general are rude, it’s THEIR fault for being pricks, and NOT a reflection on you.

It’s hard, I know. Especially when you feel uncertain as to your skills, and are worried that you’ll do something wrong that you’ll feel warrants being yelled at.

Trust me, I know. If you feel that way, then you’re one of the people I wish I got the chance to play with, because you care, you actually care if you’re doing a good job, and I’ll take you over Mr. 6k gearscore any day of the week.

Me, before I play a new role in a team setting, I research what the skills and talents do, I put together a spec, build a gear set, and then I practise on my own in as close to real world conditions as possible.

For tanks, this means making sure you practise keeping all the mobs in sight, so knowing how to change/turn your camera view to keep everyone in view.

Practise using Taunt (Growl) frequently so you can nail it in an emergency, which is the time you need it most.

Try practise pulling groups that have both melee and casters by pulling at range with Feral Faerie Fire, and then using Feral Charge on the ranged guy that still stands back there. It is a good habit to get into, to be able to use Feral Charge in mid-combat to flit to and fro among ranged mobs that are cranky and don’t come running.

Please read those stickies on the sidebar, and focus on learning to see what’s going on, and how to grab aggro on the fly. If you can see when someone pulled aggro, and toss a Growl and a Feral Faerie Fire, and as a last resort Feral Charge the mob and Mangle it, by gosh if that doesn’t get the wayward mob back on you, it’s not your fault.

So, study. Prepare your bars and skills. Practise in non-instances.

Then, hey… why not queue up as a level 80 to tank regular Nexus? There is a good range of mobs, casters and melee. There are some that stun you, there are some that whirlwind, there are groups for AoE, and there are a few dragonkin pulls where the healers are apart from each other, so you can nail one, then Feral Charge to the other one and lock him down, and hop back. You don’t have to, but if you can do it before they die, it’s good practise before you get to the first Icecrown 5 man ranged groups.

Confidence is very hard to build up. If you really care what other people think, and what they say, then the bored people, the idiots with zero patience will get you down, because you cannot prevent them from being pissy.

You just can’t.

What you CAN do, and what you seem to be trying to do, is prepare yourself the best you can, get the right gear, the right spec, and some helpful tips.

My biggest suggestion, really, is to try out the addon TidyPlates, with the added Threat Plates package, both available on Curse. Curse? I’m pretty sure they’re on Curse. I’ll link ’em when I get home.

Your biggest challenge as a tank on the battlefield is keeping all mobs in view, and knowing for an absolute certainty that you have threat on every mob you’ve pulled. Threat Plates will help you do that. It’s very reassuring for new tanks. Being able to see, for a fact, that you have threat on every mob in your view is HUGE for your confidence.

I hope that some of the suggestions here help out, and I also hope that some of our wonderful readers will chime in with tips of their own.

Thanks for the email, Feraldawn!

33 thoughts on “Reader Mail – Finding the Confidence to Tank

  1. I’m really greatful for this post 🙂 I was thinking of switching from resto/boomkin to resto/bear and this post was something that made me even more determined to do it now. I am also one of those people who is quite scared of starting to tank. 😉


  2. Great advice from all, but one quite important thing is to keep a sense of humor about the asshats. Print out Tamarind’s Tardbingo for a side-game that will counter unpleasant encounters.

    Let them wonder why you’re occasionally /yelling BINGO!


  3. Thanks for this post – My main toon is a holy priest like Feraldawn and I’m slowly leveling a bear tank as my boyfriend levels a tree healer. Although we do like to level together, it’s been hard for us to play at the same time lately and since tanking is a role I’m not yet fully confident or competent in, I am sometimes hesitant to use the random queue for dungeons.

    This post and all the comments were really encouraging! I do think playing a healer has helped me somewhat – I always keep an eye on my healer and try to taunt off asap if I have a mob break lose.

    I also believe in the don’t pull if you can’t kill practice, although right now my bear tank is only just past lvl 25 so it’s still reasonably hard for me to keep threat on multiple mobs. It’s quite funny if my boyfriend is my pocket healer because he refuses to heal folks that repeatedly run ahead and pull.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog – tis on my bookmarks now and I read it daily. Your readers are great, too!


  4. What’s already been said is golden. Do your homework – gear appropriately and understand your basic moves and mechanics. Then keep your chin up and your outlook positive. You’re THE tank. You can be the anchor by not only holding aggro but keeping morale solid.

    A key source of self confidence is the LFD tool. Go ahead and queue up as DPS. In my experience, that’s an average wait of 20min before you’re going to see the inside of an instance. Now queue up as a tank. Bam. Almost instant queue on most days (YMMV). Now watch everyone acknowledge. Usually the tank (OK – that’s you) and the healer are johnny-on-the-spot. Some DPS are there. And then there’s the poor guy who’s been waiting so long, he fell asleep and missed the queue timeout.

    The lesson here is that as a tank, you’re already a rare commodity. You’ve volunteered to do something that relatively few others do (how many DPS paladins do I see). The jerks can go back to surfing the queue if they don’t like your tanking. That doesn’t excuse bad behavior on your part. But if you’re doing the basics and holding down your end, then you’re already doing something relatively few others are willing to bother with.

    In my experience, when someone is giving me grief (relatively rare – and I do accept there’s a difference between constructive criticism and grief), I’ve offered them to leave. No skin off my nose. We can pick up another DPS any time we need (I don’t know what it is, but I’ve rarely had grief from my healer even when I’m being stingy on my cooldowns or have been a little squishy for the instance I tried to tackle). Most times, the heckler will quieten down and everyone can get to the job at hand. I leveled from 57 to 80 almost entirely via LFD (and a healing druid partner). There was one time when we had someone so annoying that we bailed (jerk rogue who’d run off way ahead of everyone to do a Tricks-of-the-trade pull).

    So don’t worry about it. Gear up, limber up, and put down your paw. None shall pass – friend or foe alike.

    (…and at some point… consider that modesty is also good… but only after you’ve got your confidence issue handled….)


  5. Agh. I can’t seem to see an edit button, so maybe I can be obliged to get this added in to my just added comment:

    If you have a Bear friend you can run around with in dungeons (Heroic or normal), follow them as Cat and have them tell you what tactics they use for specific stuff. Some you’ll pick up on your own (boring trash, SwipeSwipeSwipe), some you may need to get pointed on to. But if you have a Bear friend, it can make your experiences a bit easier.


  6. I can definitely attest to Bears & Cats in different gear. I’m currently raiding as both, though my cat spec comes first when it comes to armor drops. Rings/Neck/Trinks/Back you can typically go with the melee-DPS-based, Agility increasing ones for Cat (Ashen Band of Vengeance, Herkuml War Token), while Bears would go with tank-based, Strength increasing ones (Corroded Skeleton Key, Ashen Band of Courage). Granted, so far I’ve pretty much just upgraded my Cat gear, regemmed it if appropriate for Stamina (or if it’s got a decent enough bonus, a Stam/etc. gem), and bam, it’s Bear. Granted, as from the above possibilities, some stuff just doesn’t work well from Cat to Bear. Yes, while some of the Trinks out there can be useful for a Bear for threat generation/etc., there’s many more out there that are more useful (adding defensive cooldowns, stamina, or what have you).

    The main problem I have right now is not having a second weapon. My Cat weapon is enchanted with Berserking, which doesn’t work all that well with tanking. I keep waiting for that Hersir’s Greatspear or Shaft of Glacial Ice (or God help me, Tainted Twig of Nordrassil/Warmace of Menethil) drop in ICC10, but until that day, I’m tanking with Berserking.


  7. I remember how timid I was when I started tanking. I was slow to start because of everything mentioned above. When you dive into tanking you simply need a few tools, BBB and as mentioned Tidy/Threat Plates which was a God send after I discovered them. Check your talents against other bears. Ask questions if given the opportunity by another bear. If you are in a guild, it’s the best way to practice with heroics. Some days you can chain a few heroics with people who are at or near your same level. When it’s time for raids, you will not be tanking by yourself so do not let the anxiety of raiding bother you either.

    If you have not checked out the “Chasing Bear Aggro” post yet, click the Bear Aggro Issues link in the right column. It’s safe to say BBB and the posters who reply here are really helpful. I think each tip is worth a look. I wish I had known BBB was here when I started tanking. I would have jumped in sooner 🙂


  8. As a long time healer, trying to pick up some tanking skills myself, I feel you. Confidence is a big deal. Here are a few things that worked for me:

    – Pick a nice happy instance you like, one of the lower level heroics. Just one. Get a tanky friend to run it with you on your main/healer. Have them in vent explaining every single pull. Why they used LoS here, which pulls have casters, where they need to silence the casters, who hits really hard, what boss mechanics they watch out for, everything. If you don’t have a helpful meat shield friend, try doing some research on the instance. Make sure you know the layout, where to go next, what kind of cleanses are needed, whether there are stuns or silences, everything you can think of. Run it several times until you know it well; as many times as you need to.

    – Find a well geared healer you respect. Bake them cookies or bribe them with fish feasts or whatever…but ask them very kindly to queue with you for a few trial runs on your chosen instance. Having someone you *know* can heal you and the group even if you make a mistake does wonders. Someone you know can keep up with you and won’t suddenly go afk. You won’t believe how much more confidant you feel knowing someone you trust has your back.

    – Go faster than you think you should….but be careful pulling multiple packs.

    – Be aware of your healer’s mana bar before every pull. That’s what’s going to keep you alive.

    Best of luck!


  9. Feraldawn I hope your reading this or that BBB will pass it onto you. Some healers will give you problems but in majority we look after our tanks. What he said about announce your still warming up is completely true and lets a healer prepare more.

    My healers are all well geared up so a non perfect tank makes it a challenge, and excitement I don’t usually get. if I have time Ill run a couple more instances with them to help with the badges.


  10. Self confidence and tanking – oh boy, this takes me back 🙂
    I learned how to (prot warrior) tank in BC with a sometimes patient, sometimes sarcastic pocket-healer. Having your own healer helps! And yes, even though I’m sporting ICC gear, no, I don’t heroic in it (rage, where do I buy that?), so people at times point at my gearscore, which I refuse to seriously look up, and giggle – and then note my DPS rings/trinkets and “only 35K health”. Fine. Quit. You’re DPS, which means I have to wait what, 10 seconds? My healer never complained – and if the healer happens to be newish, I can always pull slower or put on “thicker” gear. OK, all that doesn’t help you, sorry 🙂
    I like the idea of doing regular instances first. People will be glad to see you! That’s a confidence boost in itself.
    If you have friends or guildmates, ask them to help you out in heroics. The other day we went to heroic UP with a new DK tank (wearing some greens, even). The one pug, a geared rogue, asked us to kick him “because the tank is undergeared”. We obliged, got a replacement in 10 seconds, and proceeded through the instance. It wasn’t a speed run, but it didn’t take an hour either, and I think only once did a DPS die – and that wasn’t even during the gauntlet.
    The trick to success? DK marked the target, we hit it, and we watched omen. And we had a good healer!

    Now that I’m pugging on my mage, I’d almost suggest this: Queue kitty-dps and wait until you run into a completely arrogant idiot tank – likely a dual-wielding DK or a geared arrogant mad-pulling paladin. Should only take 1-2 queues. See them drop or pull stupid 2-4 times in a row, die, and drop group (or in case of the pally, wipe everyone except the healer and spend 5 minutes downing the boss, be an asshat, and then drop group). Ask your group if it’s OK with them if you go bear… Success!

    Thick skin. Tell ’em you’re relatively new. Tell ’em again. Tell ’em that “Skull” doesn’t mean “dies last”. And if they still don’t listen, well, if they die the mob should come back to you 🙂 Again, this is easier if you know the healer 🙂

    Good luck, and don’t let “them” get to you!


  11. My quick 2 cents, from someone who has and is dealing with similar questions/feelings:

    * Do heroics as Kitty, but do so with your mind on how the tank is doing it – for better or worse. I found that just because I had done a dungeon 10 times before, by following the tank I hadn’t quite learned the nuances of each dungeon.

    * After doing your heroic, queue as tank for a normal dungeon. You likely won’t be so outgeared that you are constantly fighting the two 6k GS DPSers over aggro. Do so until you get your own GS and confidence up.

    * You can Kitty with a bear spec.

    * If you can, tank with a friend in the group. It helps your confidence to know that you won’t get kicked! (Plus, you have backup when there is an asshat in group.)


  12. One thing, threat plates is awesome, but in cramped areas it can be hard to see due to camera positioning (oh hello PoS cave!). I use grid as raid frames even in five mans and have one of the displays set to aggro warning. Won’t tell me which mob got away, but it will tell me that I need to look.


  13. Once you start using tidy plates, you’ll find your confidence climb steadily as you maul/swipe a sea of green nameplates.

    Then you’ll get a sick feeling in your stomach as you see one of them quickly go yellow, the red and then become massive with red jagged edges as the mob runs out of your swipe range towards the idiot mage/hunter/lock who will shortly divert it to the healer. In that situation, you of course want to taunt the mob back (with growl). For a new tank, the co-ordination needed to turn around, switch targets, growl and resume laying down threat can be harrowing the first few times. That is where this macro comes in:

    /use [target=mouseover, harm, nodead][harm,nodead][target=targettarget, harm, nodead][] Growl

    Bind it to mousewheel up. Then when you see a nameplate go red, you can simply mouseover the nameplate and flick the mousewheel up to taunt the mob back. Makes it so much less stressful when you don’t have to worry about switching to a target to pull it back in range of your maul/swipe spam. This is particularly useful when 2 dps are riding your tail on threat on the primary target and a third dps has been focusing something else.

    For extra flexibility, you can have a feral faerie fire macro on mouseover too:

    /use [target=mouseover, harm, nodead][harm,nodead][target=targettarget, harm, nodead][] Feral Faerie Fire

    With this you can flick the mousewheel up to taunt, mousewheel down to get some extra ranged threat. Works for keeping threat on ranged mobs that are not in your melee range yet (as long as a dps isn’t attacking them).

    BTW, I use variations on this macro for my tree form – mousewheel up – entangling roots, mousewheel down – cyclone. Came up with this from my pvp arcane mage where mousewheel up is polymorph, mousewheel down is slow.

    Try mouseover macros, they make your life MUCH simpler by eliminating the (re)targeting steps.


  14. “That’ll never happen. There is no gear level high enough.”
    ^^ This. (Bwahahahah)

    No matter if you’re dps or healing or tanking or offtanking, you will have trolls.
    Whether you’re a hunter with a 264 tanking gun proven by in-game dps and spreadsheets..
    Whether you’re a druid that just took a standard talent tree off the web instead of hand picking the slots.
    People just feel the need to be asshats.


  15. Excellent questions, post and comments!!

    I agree with everything said. I will add my support of TidyPlates as well.

    A couple of complaints/comments I received when I first began tanking were:
    “OMG noob your not even defense capped!!” hehe I always loved that one and it always proved to me that the complainer knew nothing about druid tanking so it was easy to blow off.
    – then from healers “man your squishy!!” yep as new bears we can be very squishy when compared to the other plate wearing tank classes.


  16. There is a lot of awesome advice here. I’ll only add my support for Tidy Plates/Threat Plates and ignoring the L33t @$$h@T$ that will surely find their way into your pugs.

    I have let many a dumbass die (my healer is a good friend and we pug frequently, she also stops healing them). If you can, gather as many friends as a heroic will hold and things will be smooth as silk.

    Small moderately irrelevant story:
    Pulled my tankadin out of mothballs wearing all Naxx10 gear and decided it was time to play him again. Queued for a heroic and somehow managed to get Forge of Souls. I told the group I was just out of mothballs and to be careful. They did, and that went great. Filled with confidence, I tried it again the next day, hoping to grab the nice tanky pieces. I really missed the first group. We failed miserably because they were asses and not willing to pace themselves.

    Moral of the story: No matter how well you know how to play that tank, the asshats will always lose.


  17. Thank you for this post 🙂 I’ve been leveling a druid as kitty spec and am wanting to switch to tanking but have had exactly the same problems as Feraldawn, particularly in the ‘lack of confidence’ and ‘what if I screw up’ arenas. Much appreciated!


  18. Tremendous question and responses, I am levelling a feral druid atm and am at 50, I have dual spec’d but am mostly questing with cat but the other spec is bear. I have been putting off trying it as I also have a prot paly with gs of around 5.2K which I have been tring to get into tanking. Your points are right on the mark…….in some cases I thought it was me not playing well but in hindsight it would be a ranged dps with around 6k gs doing aoe and I could not keep threat on all the mobs then getting slagged for being useless.
    After reading the posts I am going to get stuck in with my bear, cheers all


  19. Don’t forget the often mentioned important option to “let them die”.
    If a high-GS player is being an ass and keeps pulling the mobs before you’re ready (mentaly or rage or whatever), just stop taunting the mobs.
    When he’s dead, push as hard as you can to stay in combat so he can’t be ressed 🙂

    A couple of those, and he may complain about the speed, but at least he won’t pull anymore. And remind him that dead mages don’t do dps 🙂


  20. For confidence building and practice, I’d go with the non-heroics. Generally the levelling toons are quite happy to see a lvl 80 pop in, and they’re much less likely to be geared enough to pull aggro off you.

    Just don’t be like the tank one of my alts had recently, who forgot to switch from kitty to bear… then got mad at the healer for not keeping him alive and dropped group. Total id10t error.


  21. I’ve been bear tanking for some time now, and I’ve never seen anyone complain about my tanking skills (or another tank’s skills, for that matter) per se. This doesn’t mean that I’m the best tank in the world (which I’m not), it means that complains don’t usually come because of the skill of the tank. I’f you know the basics (which BBB explains perfectly well in this blog), you should be fine.

    I’ve been called noob and many other things by a lot of idiots that can’t play as a team even if their lives depended on it. Some look at you gear a say “noob” while lifting their chins. Yesterday I pugged Nexus and the healer whispered right away “I hope you can tank well…”. These things sure would undermine my self-steem… if I cared the least bit about them.

    I’ve found that players tend to be asshats when they don’t know you. If they were in front of you staring you at the face, they wouldn’t say a word. So, my best advice is: play with people you know. Gather a group of friends, and try to do any instance that offers a fair challenge to the group. Get to know them, and how they play. Let them know what helps you, and ask how you can help them. Start slowly at the beggining, letting everyone take their time to get mana, and offer indications about buffs, cc, and the role you want everyone to take. I find it extremely usefull to go with a healer that you have confidence with. Having a possible offtank at hand is also good, in case you can’t hold aggro when large groups of mobs are pulled.

    Explain to everyone that the goal of the run is to clear the instance, and help everyone gear. The goal is NOT to beat the clock and chew 100 mobs per second. The goal is to have FUN. And I find that having fun is always easier among friends. I hate when someone says “If the XXXXX axe drops it’s MINE”.

    If you don’t have friends yet, do some pugs and see who do you like to play with and who should be in the ignore list. Add nice people to your friends list, and ask them to play with you again and again. After some time, some failures and some nice surprises, you may be able to get a group of people that actually enjoys doing heroics with you. In time you’ll be able to raid and have fun. 🙂

    BBB has explained this really well, but I can’t overemphasize the fact that individual skills are not that important while doing instances: it’s teamwork what gets the work done smoothly. I once went to Violet Hold with one “extremely good dps”, who was a kitty druid. I was bear tanking with mediocre gear, and the healer was a druid tree (yay, druid power XD). Something went wrong, and I missed a mob, who killed the healer quickly. I growled at the mob, and stared helplessly as the kitty kept on doing a (mediocre) dps untill we wiped. His reaction was to shout that we should get someone who could tank instead of someone who thought that he was a tank. I answered that yes, that was true, but we also needed someone who could play his class well, and battle ressed the healer when the healer died, and also helped healing the tank when he was the only one capable of doing so. After that I left and added the asshat to my ignore list. The rest of the group supported me, and after we got another dps (with worse gear but a much better attitude), we did the instance (and some others) without incident.

    Don’t let the asshats get at you, they are not worth it.

    Practice a bit, and enjoy bear tanking!


  22. Guess I’m a stroppy bugger then Bear .. if I mark a skull, then within seconds a pugger (or a guildee!) pulls aggro on something else … I’ll take my own sweet time pulling that mob off them. If you can’t tank it, don’t pull it!


  23. Pretty much everything BBB has said, and then some. I’ll add that I’ve been tanking for some time now but only just installed threatplates, god knows how I tanked before they make spotting breaking mobs a complete breeze.


  24. I fully second that BBB, I find marking just ends up working against me in the end. I also say confidence is key as a tank. Unless your pally then all you have to do is push a button.


  25. I’ve actually stopped recommending people Mark kill targets. My testing has found tat todays asshats are more likely to intentionally kill everything EXCEPT your kill targets, just to see what you’ll do.

    Plus, if you mark a kill target, that let’s asshats know what mobs you’re NOT putting max threat on so they can be bigger pains in the butt.


  26. Head’s up Feraldawn ~ when you do announce that you’re new to tanking, be prepared for groans and sighs. Ignore it, some people just can’t help themselves it seems, and then go in there and kick ass!

    Tidy Plates are the bomb! I ❤ them lots!

    And for extra confidence building, as recommended above by the guru himself, definitely start off with the regular dungeons. Less overgeared, go-go-go players to be found there.

    Of course, prepare to be shocked at the amount of players that don't know to target off the tank, or even at the skull marked mob.


  27. lol..out of curiosity, (btw..I’ve stopped playing WoW for nearly a year)… I looked up my gearscore in and was largely amused when my score of 4.1k read as FAIL 🙂

    Guess I’ll have no chance getting a shot in a PuG should I ever decide to get back into WoW these days. I hear that Heroic Udgarde Keep needs a GS of approx 5k before you’ll even get a look at.

    **I jest. As some of the posters noted. We did Heroic UK just fine in 80 quest blues and a mix of T4s and greens etc. The point is that you have fun running the instance with folks you enjoy spending time with. Leet Kids can stay on my ignore list for all I care. 🙂


  28. Bear pretty much nailed it all on the head. From personal experience, I can say that the second best thing you can do to be a good tank is to be a good healer. My two favorite characters to play currently are my 80 Shaman and 58 Paladin. I love healing on the Shammy, and tanking on the Pally. But without hesitation, I can say that being able to heal my way out of a wet paper bag(because that’s about as good as I am) went a long way into tanking well.

    With that said, Bear’s point about asshats is 100% true. I personally feel that I’m a very good tank. I put the effort into learning the instances, knowing where to pull, knowing how to turn mobs to max DPS’s time on target, and not pulling more than my healer can deal with. That last bit is very important btw; if you are trying to tank more mobs than your healer can compensate for, it’s your fault. Accidents do happen, however.

    But the asshats? They never go away. I’ve leveled the paladin from 34 to 56 exclusively in dungeons and shared dungeon quests. 99% of the groups I’ve had either didn’t say a thing, or thanked me for my skill. This doesn’t stop critchickens from queueing up to heal for faster queue times(Oh, I can handle this…) It doesn’t stop DPS from pulling a mob off of you and running away. That will happen regardless, and the important thing is to have a thick skin, throw em on ignore, and press on with your life.

    Cheers, and remember: Getting hit in the face repeatedly is a satisfying experience!


  29. So I checked my e-mail and saw that Mr. B3 had answered my e-mail I was very happy. Then I saw he was going to blog about it. Is it silly I got excited? 🙂 Anyway thank you so much for the answers. Like I said I have always been a healer and just didn’t know how to jump into the tank role. I really didn’t want to make other players suffer while I learned the ropes. Now I really wish my hubby had that healer of his leveled higher then 25.

    I think I will just stick with the tank role and slowly move myself up. Babe steps as they say. With my priest I had from the start been in groups and instances. It was never a question how to play that role. Feral was my first toon, she was just special. She has always been a toon I could get on and just have fun with. Nothing was ever expected from her, fishing, picking flowers, chasing and eating pirates what ever sounded good at the time. I used Feral to get away from the whispered “Hey can you heal …”. I think it is past time for her to have a focus 🙂

    Thank you again everyone for the helpful ideas. I have my macro set-Tank in training. Wish me luck!


  30. To be honest this blog has everything you need to get started tanking. I have only one 80 and it’s a druid. I have been balance ever since I hit 80 and switched to tanking only last week. This blog has been my main resource to get started. I read all of the bear tanking guides.

    The best way I got my confidence up was I queued regular nexus for my first dungeon. I would suggest this to anyone and everyone trying to learn. Do something simple and maybe even lower level. Something you KNOW. I can’t tell you how many times I have done the nexus… While doing the dungeon I was able to get the main idea on what tanking situations are like and how to hold aggro. Even if a person is level 71 and they are not focusing on the same target as you they can and will pull a target off you. The next best thing I did was the same night I ran the nexus again in Heroic mode. This time I ran it with a guildie who has been giving me tanking pointers. So, if you have that available to you I would recommend it. He was able to point out things I was doing in guild chat to help kind of guide me through it.

    As BBB said you will ALWAYS have asshats come along in randoms just ignore them and do your best. The only way you get better is practice practice practice.


  31. Feraldawn,

    The original level 80 heroics (i.e. excluding ToC, FoS, PoS, HoR) are balanced for groups wearing iLvl 187 blue gear. These days, they’re usually run by people in iLvl 251-264 epics, and as a result are trivial for most groups. Nevertheless, the content is completely doable in low-end blue gear. Trust me – that’s how we all did it when Wrath launched 🙂

    If you really want a specific numerical indicator that You Are Ready For Heroics, I’d suggest a gearscore of around 3000 ( is useful). For emphasis: this is completely arbitrary and mostly arm-waving for your benefit if you’d like a fixed point of reference. I definitely do not buy into the gearscore-obsession movement, but if you need a benchmark for gear readiness, 3K is as good as any.

    It’s far more important to know how to play your class than to be decked out in epics. B3’s advice to run normal Nexus for practice is fantastic. You’ll have to worry a lot less about threat (the DPS will all be ten levels below you) and survivability (the mobs will all be ten levels below you), and can focus purely on learning How To Tank.

    Get a feel for how to round up a spread-out pack of enemies, for how to handle casters that insist on staying at range, for how to handle idiot DPS that run ahead of the group. Try and practice using your defensive cooldowns when appropriate, even if they’re not particularly necessary. Learn to pull at a brisk yet reasonable pace. These basic tanking skills are important regardless of gear, content, or any other factors. B3 has some great articles on learning these skills, and I really recommend reading them.

    Once you have a handle on that, try queuing for random normal-difficulty dungeons. See how well you hold up in regular Utgarde Pinnacle, Culling of Stratholme, or Oculus (yes, you need to know how to do Oculus). The DPS will be a little closer to your level (a standout level 78 player can actually cause threat issues for tanks) and the incoming damage will start to be meaningful.

    Once you’re confident with normal dungeons, try jumping into the random heroic pool. Here’s where you’ll start to encounter some DPS’ers against whom, if they go all-out, you cannot possibly hope to hold threat. This is their fault, not yours. As long as you’re actually working through a proper tanking rotation and not simply mashing buttons in a panicked frenzy, it’s (a long-forgotten part of) their job to hold back on DPS.

    Depending on your healer, you may start running into situations where you’ll be at actual risk of dying, and use of cooldowns becomes important. This is a normal part of tanking – if the DPS accidentally pull an extra pack, the healer dies early, and you only survive a fight because you hit Barkskin/SI/FR all at once, do not be alarmed. Simply take a deep breath, relax, and say “Working as intended.”

    (Alternatively, pump your fist in the air and shout “%$@# yeah! You can TRY and kill THIS hotness, but you CAN’T! WHAT UP NOW?!” If there’s nobody else in the room, this is a great time to jump out of your chair and start pelvic thrusting toward the monitor. I may or may not prefer this approach 😉 )

    Some groups might rage at you about a low gearscore and blah blah you suck blah blah. That doesn’t matter. Again, for emphasis: as long as you’re making a reasonable best effort to do your job, it’s in turn their job to support you, whether by throttling their DPS or actually paying attention to their healing.

    Regarding the differences between Bears and Cats:

    Bears and Cats both wear the same Leather armor with Agi/Stam/AP and some combination of hit/exp/crit/haste/ArP. Likewise, any 2H weapon with Agi/Stam/AP and some combination of hit/exp/crit/haste/ArP is viable for Bears and Cats alike. Current Idols also work equally well for Bears and Cats (although not too long ago, this wasn’t the case).

    The remaining slots, though, are different. Amulets, cloaks, rings for Bears should have Str/Stam with some combination of def/dodge/armor (avoid block/parry). Cats will stick with the Agi/Stam/AP + hit/exp/crit/haste/ArP in those slot.

    Trinkets are not as cut-and-dried, but Bears will go for defensive stats and Cats will go for offensive stats. With the notable exception of the Agility-flavored Darkmoon Card: Greatness (avoidance and threat for Bears, loads of pewpew for Cats), the two Feral roles do not share trinkets.

    Enchants and gems will also vary. Cats will typically gem for as much Agi as possible (switching to ArP at high gear levels) whereas Bears will typically gem for as much Stam as possible. Enchants, likewise, will find Cats seeking out Agi/AP with Bears seeking out Stam.

    Specs also vary quite a bit. About 80% of the points are the same across the two roles, but crucial Cat talents such as Shredding Attacks or King of the Jungle are absent from the typical Bear spec, and likewise, necessary Bear talents like Protector of the Pack or Natural Reaction won’t appear in Cat specs.

    Glyphs are totally different. Most Bears I’ve seen run with Maul/Survival Instincts/Frenzied Regeneration, whereas Cats are more or less locked into Rip/Shred/Savage Roar.

    What does this mean to you? Well, I’ve found that, if the overall level of your gear is a fair bit higher than originally intended for the content, you can tank 5-player heroics just fine with full Cat gear, Cat spec, and Cat glyphs. You’ll need a healer who actually pays attention, but it’s doable. I actually end up struggling less with threat, just because my gear is so heavily-loaded with offensive stats. (6K GS Mage, meet my capped Armor Pen.)

    For what it’s worth, though, as a fresh 80, you probably don’t yet have the overwhelming gear advantage you’d need to make this viable. That means that Bear tanking in your Cat gear/spec is not yet a reasonable option 😦

    On the reverse side: Playing as a Cat with a Bear spec is pure frustration, as far as I’m concerned. First off, there’s a major DPS loss. But even if you set aside the concern of maximizing DPS (which is completely reasonable!) and only ask the question “Can I be a Cat with Bear spec/gear and still have fun?” I would still answer “Probably not.” Without getting into too much detail, the Cat rotation is heavily dependent on certain talents. If you don’t have them, you’ll end up sitting around, frustrated, waiting for energy while your crucial buffs and debuffs fall off.

    So, can you show up to a group as a Cat in Bear spec/gear with a clear conscience? Sure, I wouldn’t complain if I saw it. (Unlike AFK-Rogue-on-follow … I hate you so much, AFK-Rogue-on-follow.) But will you have much fun? If my experience is any indicator, probably not.

    The best solution to the problem, in my experience, is to dual-spec for Bear/Cat, and also maintain two sets of gear. If your intent is to be a tank, I’d suggest gemming/enchanting your newest Leather acquisitions for Bear, and refitting the “cast-offs” or “hand-me-downs” for Cat.

    If dual-spec is not an option for you, I strongly recommend picking a role and sticking with it. If you take it slow (starting with low-70’s normals, moving up to 78-80 normals, and then going to heroics), you can skip the “be a Cat while learning to play” phase of your originally-suggested plan, and jump right into Bear-tanking awesomeness.

    A few tips for getting started:

    * If you don’t even have a Feral set yet, get one crafted! Leatherworking has some great and affordable options for starter gear:;minle=115;maxle=200;cr=21:86;crs=1:8;crv=0:0#0-2+1

    * If your budget permits, there is some fantastic epic crafted Leather. You won’t replace these items with anything you find in heroics or at Emblem vendors:;minle=226;cr=86:21;crs=11:1;crv=0:0#0+2+1

    * There are also two Jewelcrafting items that, although you’ll end up replacing with Emblem gear, are good starter items:;minle=200;cr=86:42;crs=7:1;crv=0:0 If money really isn’t a concern, pick ’em up as well!

    * Each faction offers a quest in Borean Tundra that awards the Idol of the Plainstalker (procs 55 Agi on Mangle). This is a great filler item for that slot until you have the Emblems to purchase the Idol of the Corruptor or the Idol of Mutilation.

    * Never walk into a pack of mobs when you can Feral Charge into a pack of mobs. (a) Smashing into someone with a Bear is awesome and (b) If you’re quick, you can fire off a Swipe in mid-charge for early snap threat!

    Yikes … this post has become almost as long as B3’s original post, and this page is only big enough for one Bearwall, so I’ll defer to our gracious host.

    Good luck, and happy Druiding!


  32. Seconded on using Tidy/Threat Plates. I’ve started using it while duoing my bear with my husband’s shadow priest, and being able to see the nameplates go BIG when I’ve lost aggro to him is a real help. Plus, I can have TP turn nameplates on only during combat, so I won’t be bothered seeing them when I’m not smashing things with my big bear paws.


  33. You may want to macro your introduction about still gearing up and such. That way you don’t have to type it all the time. Also, you can usually tell who will be an asshat right from the start by the way they act upon entering the instance. I would suggest putting them on ignore right away so you can do the run in peace. You can remove them afterwards or leave them on. Its your choice.


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