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Tanking Guide (WoW 4.3.4)

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The Purpose of This Article↑top

The scope of this guide is to cover every aspect of tanking, explaining everything that you need to understand and do in order to be a great tank, whether you are new to the role, or a seasoned veteran.

This article will not go into technical details about talent specs, proper gemming or anything else that's tedious and class or spec specific. You will be able to find all that out in our upcoming tanking class guides. This is not to say that we will never ever make a mention regarding a specific class or ability, but do not expect to gain any class knowledge from any of this.

1. Introduction↑top

You will no doubt have heard many stories about how tanks have it hard and about how tanking is the most stressful and difficult role to perform in the game. There is some merit to these claims, but they do also make tanking seem a bit daunting to the new player. We hope that our guide will remedy this.

Anyone can be a tank, and a great tank at that, provided that they know what to do and how to do it (like pretty much everything else in this game).

2. Profile of a Great Tank↑top

In order to properly explain all the things which you need to do to be a great tank, we first have to give you an idea of how the ideal tank is. Below is a list of invaluable attributes:

  • he/she has top aggro on all targets that he is assigned to tank (and not on others!) — if you do not have aggro, you are not the tank!
  • he/she has excellent reaction time in picking up new mobs, before they attack DPS or healers;
  • he/she has excellent reaction time on taunting back targets that he loses aggro on (which happens to everyone);
  • he/she is intimately familiar with all the fight mechanics, and because of this knows when and where to move, and when and how to use his defensive (and sometimes offensive) cooldowns; a dead tank is not tanking anything!
  • he/she understands the various positional requirements of (especially melee) DPS players and does a good job at minimising their downtime;
  • he/she has the qualities of a leader and is not shy to step up and take control of the group.

In addition to this, as tanks are pretty much the "drivers" of the party or raid group, a tank who is able to set a fast pace will make the dungeon or raid go extremely smoothly and quickly; indeed, the impact of a fast tank is much greater than that of a group having high amounts of DPS.

3. General Concerns↑top

In this section we will cover a number of things which will improve all aspects of your tanking ability, but are not related specifically to game mechanics.

3.1. Add-ons and User Interface Settings

While Blizzard's standard user interface is fully functional, and will allow you to successfully perform any encounter, it is far from optimal. There are several add-ons and features which will make life easier for both you and the rest of your raid.

3.1.1. Threat Meter

Omen Threat Meter is, by far, the best threat add-on out there. It will show you how much threat you have, as well as how much threat other people on the boss' threat table have. In addition to this, it also displays other useful information, such as how long is left until the effects of threat modifying abilities (Misdirection Icon Misdirection, Fade Icon Fade) end.

The add-on is very lightweight and is unlikely to cause you any technical problems.

3.1.2. Name Plates

There are several useful nameplate add-ons, the most popular of which is probably Threat Plates.

Name plates are essentially bars which appear over various enemies (and friendly units, if you so desire) in your proximity. They not only allow you to select enemies with ease (by clicking on the name plates) but they can also provide other useful information.

Threat Plates allows you, at a glance, to see which targets you have aggro of, and which you do not, as well as which targets you are likely to lose aggro of soon (where someone is catching up to you).

This is achieved by providing different colors and/or sizes to the name plates of nearby targets. Traditionally, targets of which you have aggro are green and smaller in size, while targets which you do not have aggro of are red and larger in size (making them easier to click).

Name plate add-ons are mostly useful for add tanking, but regardless of this, they should be in every tank's arsenal.

3.1.3. Raid Announcements

It is essential, as a tank, that you communicate with your healers, if not with all of your raid. Doing so via voice-chat will cause needless clutter and should be avoided. Fortunately, you can simply use one of several add-ons which allow you to announce, in raid chat (or party, or a specific channel, at your choice), when you have used an important ability.

We recommend Raeli's Spell Announcer, a highly customisable add-on. We suggest that, at the very least, defensive cooldowns be announced to the raid.

3.2. Keybinds

While keybinding is a near-mandatory practice for all classes and specs, if you are seeking to be competitive, it is even more so for tanks. As a tank, split second decisions can make or break your raid's chances to succeed. Furthermore, as a tank, you often have to move and rotate your camera, while at the same time using various abilities. You simply cannot do this efficiently if you must use your mouse to click them.

As a result, we recommend making ample use of keybinds for your tank. Even if you prefer to click your action bars, a few abilities must be bound. These are: your main threat-generating abilities, your taunt(s), your survival cooldowns and your interrupt.

3.3. Gear Optimisation

In general, tanks will prefer tanking stats (Dodge Rating, Parry Rating, Block Rating, Stamina) and Mastery Rating over other stats such as Critical Strike Rating or Haste Rating.

However, there are two stats which tanks have to carefully consider each time they optimise their gear: Hit and Expertise Rating. For a more detailed look at the effects and benefits of these stats, check our guide on the mechanics of melee attacks.

Suffice it to say that, as a tank, you should, as a rule, never be aiming to maximise your Hit or Expertise Rating (see the subsequent section for an exception). In fact, for the vast majority of cases, you should get rid of as much of these stats as you possibly can. While this does leave you open to losing aggro, especially at the start of the fight, the benefits of survival stats are simply too great to pass up.

3.3.1. Adaptability of Stats

One of the ways in which you can make the transition from being a good tank to being a great tank is to know that tanking is all about adapting your gear (and spec) to the encounter.

As such, since you don't need to reach any caps in the same way as DPS players do, you should always collect and carry with you as many alternative gear pieces as possible.

This will allow you to change your gear on a fight-by-fight basis. If an encounter has heavy magic damage on the tank, you can use a magic damage reducing trinket, for example, or get more Stamina. If the encounter requires you to pump out a great amount of threat, while survivability is less of an issue, you can switch in pieces with Hit and Expertise Rating, and so on.

It is important to know that a great tank's gear and specialisation set-up is always dynamic.

3.4. Knowledge of the Encounter

As a tank, you have to be intimately familiar with all of the encounter's mechanics, to a much greater degree than a DPS player or even healer must.

Only when you are familiar with the encounter will you know what the best time is to use defensive or offensive cooldowns, what position is ideal for tanking the boss, or where it is best to move in order to most easily pick up new adds.

Additionally, as a tank, you have the unique opportunity to get a good general overview of the encounter, and how your raid is performing it. By having a good understanding of it, you can much more easily offer advice and suggestions for improving.

While not applicable to raid bosses, being familiar with the various trash groups (in both raids and dungeons) is also essential for a tank. Knowing exactly what the trash mobs do, how damaging they are and what kind of crowd-control is (possibly) needed allows you to better gauge whether or not you and your healer(s) are prepared to take them on.

Being familiar with encounter mechanics (adds, specifically) and trash mechanics allows you to "mark targets", something which we cover briefly in the next section.

3.4.1. Marking Targets

The game allows players who are party or raid leaders, or assistants in raid groups, to place specific markings, of their choosing, above the heads of friendly or hostile targets.

This is typically done by right clicking the unit frame of the target and selecting a mark, but it can also be done by use of keybinding (they are listed in the Key Binding settings menu in the default Blizzard interface). There are also add-ons which serve this purpose, but we do not consider them to be needed.

Marks above targets can be seen by all of your party or raid members, and serve as a means to coordinate your efforts. The meaning of the marks is set by general consensus, or specific assignments prior to the encounter.

As a tank, you should bind at least 3-4 marks to accessible keys, and make frequent use of marking targets, in order to indicate which mobs you wish to be killed first, and which you wish to be crowd-controlled.

4. Aggro↑top

This section will cover everything you need to know, as a tank, about gaining, maintaining and regaining aggro. First, however, we need to look at some introductory concepts.

4.1. How does Threat and Aggro Work?

Generating threat and maintaining aggro are the defining characteristics of a tank. Understanding these concepts is crucial to your performance.

4.1.1. Threat

Threat is a means of measuring the level of animosity a mob has towards a specific player. Each mob has a threat table, and every person who performs hostile actions towards that mob is put on that table.

There are two important actions which generate threat: dealing damage and healing. Other actions, such as casting a buff or debuff also generate threat, but in very small amounts which are not worth discussing.

Normally, threat is generated at 1:1 ratio with damage done to the mob, and a 1:2 ratio with healing done. However, in order to facilitate tanking, tanks generate threat at a 5:1 ratio with damage done.

In order to be considered a "tank" for this purpose, you must be in the appropriate state: Defensive Stance Icon Defensive Stance for Warriors, Blood Presence Icon Blood Presence for Death Knights, Bear Form Icon Bear Form for Druids and having Righteous Fury Icon Righteous Fury enabled for Paladins.

Furthermore, threat does not decay (decrease) over time or otherwise, unless a specific ability is used which has this effect (such as Hand of Salvation Icon Hand of Salvation) or if the encounter mechanics specifically affect threat.

Threat is reset if the player dies, or otherwise leaves combat with the mob. Lastly, threat cannot have a negative value.

There are many types of threat modifiers, especially encounter-based abilities which reduce the threat output of certain players (forcing tank switching, generally). There are also friendly abilities, such as Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade and Misdirection Icon Misdirection which offer a temporary threat transfer.

4.1.2. Aggro

Having aggro is a state in which players find themselves when they have the highest amount of threat against a particular mob, and that mob attacks them because of it. Needless to say, in principle, this is the aim of every tank.

It is important to keep in mind that there will be times when you will want to avoid having aggro of mobs, even as a tank. This is the case in fights which require multiple tanks, each with their own assignments. It is also the case when the fight mechanics debuff you with something makes you extremely vulnerable to the boss or other mobs.

It is worthwhile to know that you do not gain aggro of a mob simply by overtaking the current top-threat target. For example, if the person who currently has aggro of the boss has 1,000,000 threat, simply reaching 1,000,001 threat will not cause the boss to attack you. There is a threshold which must be met: 110% of the threat of the current aggro target, if you are in melee range of the boss, and 130% if you are away from the boss.

When either of those thresholds is exceeded, the boss will switch targets to the new top-threat player, and the old tank will have to exceed this person by 110%/130% again to regain aggro.

While knowing how to master threat-generation and how to maintain aggro is important, you should always know very well what you are supposed to be tanking.

4.2. Ability Rotation

Tanks, generally speaking, do not have a rotation in the same way that DPS classes do. Their playstyle is much more similar to that of healers, in the sense that some abilities are useful sometimes, and others are useful at other times.

Tanks generally have three categories of abilities:

  • Important threat-generating abilities;
  • Defensive abilities, which help survival;
  • Other, miscellaneous abilities: buffs, debuffs, stuns/slows, taunts, mobility abilities and so on;

Important threat-generating abilities are the bread and butter of every tank's threat. They should be used whenever they are off-cooldown.

In addition to these, naturally, any damage-dealing abilities will generate a good amount of threat (due to the 500% threat multiplier), and should be used as fillers.

Defensive abilities are of two kinds: major and minor. The major ones, generally two per class, provide either a high amount of damage reduction or increased health, while the minor ones provide various kinds of self-healing and damage mitigation.

Miscellaneous abilities serve a multitude of functions, and you should intermingle them with your other abilities as the encounter demands and as you see fit. Examples include buffs, debuffs, stuns, interrupts and movement abilities.

As a tank, regardless of your class, you will most likely have to maintain uptime on some kind of abilities, such as self-buffs like Shield Block Icon Shield Block or enemy debuffs like Demoralizing Roar Icon Demoralizing Roar. As a rule, you should prioritise doing so above everything other than using your important threat-generating abilities or major defensive abilities.

For completeness' sake, we will list all the important threat-generating abilities, by class, so that you know which abilities you should prioritise. Note that these are not necessarily in order.

4.2.1. Death Knight High-Threat Abilities

The following abilities generate the highest amounts of single target threat for Death Knight tanks and should, in principle, be used on cooldown:

For AoE situations, Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay, Blood Boil Icon Blood Boil and the spreading of diseases are the main means of threat generation.

4.2.2. Druid High-Threat Abilities

The following abilities generate the highest amounts of single target threat for Druid tanks and should, in principle, be used on cooldown:

For AoE situations, Swipe Icon Swipe and Thrash Icon Thrash are the main means of threat generation.

4.2.3. Paladin High-Threat Abilities

The following abilities generate the highest amounts of single target threat for Paladin tanks and should, in principle, be used on cooldown:

For AoE situations, Hammer of the Righteous Icon Hammer of the Righteous and Consecration Icon Consecration, while coupled with Inquisition Icon Inquisition, are your main means of threat generation.

4.2.4. Warrior High-Threat Abilities

The following abilities generate the highest amounts of single target threat for Warrior tanks and should, in principle, be used on cooldown:

For AoE situations, Shockwave Icon Shockwave, Thunder Clap Icon Thunder Clap (and spreading of Rend Icon Rend through it) and Cleave Icon Cleave are your main means of threat generation.

4.3. Initial Aggro

As a tank, generally, it is your responsibility to start the encounters, or, in other words, to "pull". This means that you get the opportunity to attack the boss before anyone else. This should, in theory, offer you the opportunity to gain initial aggro.

While you may find that running into the boss and pressing some of your abilities (especially when supported by Misdirection Icon Misdirection or Tricks of the Trade Icon Tricks of the Trade) at random will achieve this goal, it is far from ideal.

As a competent tank, you should at the very least know which of your abilities generate high amounts of threat. Once you know this, you should always have a plan for the pull, as well as for picking up adds which join the fight later on. While this is class specific, and up to you to perfect, follow these guidelines:

  1. Always begin with the ability which generates the highest amount of threat.
  2. Be prepared to use another, high-threat ability immediately after it (especially if the first attack is dodged, parried or is a missed attack).
  3. Be prepared to use your taunt ability the moment you notice that you have lost aggro of the boss (but NOT before).
  4. Delay your debuffs and other survival cooldowns until you have stabilised your threat (obviously, if the fight mechanics require you to use a survival cooldown right away, then you should do so).

The idea is that, at any time, your attacks can be dodged, parried or they can miss altogether. Because of this, at the pull, your threat generation can be very volatile. This stops being an issue as the fight goes on, but it makes the pull the most crucial moment of the encounter, threat-wise.

Therefore, you should plan accordingly and have your most powerful abilities available. These should be coupled with offensive cooldowns which your class possesses, to maximise the amount of damage that you do, and thus your threat.

Depending on the environment where you are tanking (guild raid, pug group, 5-man dungeon, etc.), you may find yourself having to literally fight against DPS players in reaching the boss first.

This may be due to the desire (or necessity, even) to maximise damage done to the boss, or it may be due to impatience and lack of consideration. In any case, you should, as the tank, always take the initiative and be aggressive in engaging the encounter.

4.3.1. Picking up Adds

In addition to the normal way in which you will find yourself gaining aggro (pulling the boss), you will often encounter situations where new enemies, generally adds, enter the fight while it is in progress.

The same applies here as for the pull: you should have a mental plan on how you're going to pick these adds up. The ability priority will change from the one you used at the pull, most likely, especially in the case of multiple adds, when you will want to use your AoE abilities. Furthermore, you will find yourself using taunt proactively rather than reactively.

Good knowledge of the encounter is crucial, because it is important to know when and where the adds will appear (especially since you may want to use ground-based threat abilities such as Consecration Icon Consecration or Death and Decay Icon Death and Decay).

You also have to pay special attention to healer aggro, when picking up adds. Indeed, it is quite likely that, as healers are constantly casting spells, they will take aggro of the newly spawned adds before you even have a chance to react. You must prepare for this situation, be in a good position and not hesitate to taunt the adds to you.

Generally, practice over successive attempts will allow you to gain invaluable experience as to which way is best to pick up the adds in a particular fight.

4.3.2. Using Offensive Cooldowns

All tanking classes have some kind of offensive cooldown, whether they reduce the cooldown or resource cost of some abilities, or simply increase damage done.

It is a natural reaction to think that, as a tank, you will focus on using defensive cooldowns. However, in order to be truly successful in managing threat, especially in crucial moments of the encounter (such as the pull), it is important to use your offensive cooldowns as well.

As a rule, you should always pull with one such cooldown available, and aim to chain another onto it immediately after it expires.

4.4. Maintaining Aggro

In addition to their increased threat generation, tanks also have a passive ability, called Vengeance. Essentially, based on damage taken, Vengeance will increase your attack power by up to 10% of your current health.

This means that, over a longer period of time, where isolated dodged or parried attacks have a smaller impact, you should easily pull ahead of DPS players (and healers) in terms of threat generation.

There are, of course, several cases in which this may be somewhat more difficult to achieve. To name a few: being severely undergeared compared to DPS players, having to switch off the target in order to pick up a different one or encounter design which grants increased damage done to DPS players, but not to tanks.

In any case, the absolute best way to ensure that you never lose aggro over a longer period of time is to know your ability priority. It is essential to understand which abilities must be used on cooldown at all times, and what other threat-generating abilities to fill gaps with. Proper knowledge of your abilities will, in most cases, guarantee that you do not lose aggro.

In regards to the levels of Hit and Expertise Rating, and how they influence threat generation, you should keep the following idea in mind. It is always better to get survival stats instead of Hit or Expertise Rating, because in most cases, if you perform properly, you will be able to maintain aggro even with virtually no offensive stats.

However, if for some reason (even your own inexperience with your tanking character), you are unable to maintain aggro, it is better to get some more offensive stats. This should be considered the exception, however, and should really only be done when the encounter has an enrage timer which your raid cannot meet because DPS players have to hold back.

4.4.1. "Tab Targeting"

Tab targeting is a technique which involves using the TAB key (the default key for automatic targeting) to quickly switch between multiple targets. It is very useful when you are tanking multiple targets (adds, for example) and all of your usual AoE abilities are on cooldown or are proving insufficient.

Essentially, you want to cycle through all of the targets by using the TAB key (you can do it manually, as well, though it is less efficient) and apply single target threat-generating abilities on each individual add. For best results, check Omen to see if there are any targets on which you have a large threat lead, and do not bother attacking those.

4.5. Regaining Aggro (Taunting and Tank-Switching)

There are two situations when you will need to regain aggro of a mob: when you have lost aggro, unintentionally, to DPS players or another tank, and when you are engaged in a tank-switching rotation. While taunting a stray mob on which you have lost aggro is rather simple, a few notes are in order regarding tank switching. First, however, you must understand exactly how to best use your taunt.

4.5.1. How to Taunt

While using taunt may seem straightforward enough, and many times it is, there are a few subtle points which you must understand.

First of all, you need to understand how taunt works and how it affects your threat.

Each of the four tanking classes has a main taunt, on an 8 second cooldown, as well as a secondary taunt-like mechanic. We will only focus on the specifics of the main taunt, to clarify a few things.

Taunting a mob has two effects:

  1. It forces the mob to attack the player who taunted it, for 3 seconds.
  2. It grants the player who taunted it an amount of threat equal to that of the player who had aggro of the mob at the time of the taunt.

Regarding the first point, the mob is basically forced to attack the player for 3 seconds. This effect is subject to diminishing returns, so subsequent taunts, within a 15 second window, will reduce the amount of time, until the spell eventually has no effect. Note that all taunts share the same diminishing returns, so a Warrior's taunt will cause the Paladin off-tank's taunts to have diminished effects, for example.

Regarding the second point, taunt only affects your threat level when you are not at the top of the threat table. If you are, then taunt will only force the mob to attack you for 3 seconds.

Taunt's cooldown is relatively low, and it is a key part of any tank's toolkit, so do not be afraid to use it. While you may get the idea that having to taunt off people is "shameful", as a reflection of your ability to maintain aggro, this could not be farther from the truth. A good tank is one who makes free and efficient use of taunt.

Secondly, you must understand the following: if you are about to taunt a mob on which you do not have aggro, then do not bother using any threat abilities before taunting, as any extra threat you gain before taunting is essentially useless (since taunt puts you on top of the threat table anyway). Rather, save your most powerful ability or abilities for the moments immediately after you have taunted. This will ensure that, in addition to getting pushed to the top of the threat table, you will gain a considerable lead over everyone else.

Likewise, there is little point in taunting a mob on which you do not have aggro of, if you cannot reach it to attack it and thus boost your threat. Therefore, you should try to always position yourself close to mobs which you have lost aggro of, and taunt them only when you are prepared to attack - otherwise they are very likely to simply run back to their previous target after the 3 second effect of taunt wears off. You can use ranged abilities to help you out in these situations, but as tanking ranged abilities are rather weak (and on long cooldowns), this is not reliable.

Finally, because of the diminishing returns of taunt, and because, when you already have aggro, it provides no benefits whatsoever, it should not be used as part of your "rotation". Rather, taunt should be saved for when it is actually needed.

4.5.2. How to Tank-Switch

There are a great many encounters in the game which require two (or more) tanks to taunt the boss off of each other at specific intervals of time, usually due to some debuffs applied to the tanks.

While the practice itself is not overly complicated, we would like to make three mentions:

  1. Understand exactly why you are taunting the boss, and why it is being taunted off you, and what the correct timing for it is. Boss mods usually alert you as to the timing, but you must make sure that you can monitor your fellow tanks' debuffs.
  2. Time a powerful threat-generating ability (or more) immediately after your taunt lands, to ensure that you do not lose aggro immediately after taunting.
  3. When you have been taunted off of, stop using powerful threat-generating abilities for a sensible amount of time, in order to help the other tank stabilise his aggro. Depending on various circumstances, you may even need to stop auto-attacking.

Additionally, it is very important to observe the correct position and facing of the boss before you taunt it. This is especially true in the case of dragon bosses, who have both tail and breath attacks. The best thing to do is to to position yourself exactly in the same place as the tank who currently has aggro, before you taunt, so that the boss does not move at all.

Lastly, it's important that you position yourself behind the boss when you are not tanking it. This ensures that none of your attacks are parried, and also that you do not receive damage from breath or cleaving type attacks that the boss may perform. Keep in mind, however, that some encounters specifically require both tanks to be in front of the boss.

5. Survival↑top

Instinctively, it feels as though your survival, as a tank, is all in the hands of your healers, but this couldn't be farther from the truth. Yes, with incompetent healers, you will die, and there is little you can do to save yourself. However, even excellent healers will fail to keep you alive if you don't make proper use of the tools at your disposal.

This section will be rather brief, but there are a few important mentions we feel need to be made.

5.1. Cooldowns

Every tanking class has at least a few defensive/survival cooldowns (Death Knights having considerably more). You need to be familiar with what they are, how they work and, very importantly, you must have them keybound to accessible keys. Furthermore, you should keep in mind that you have other survival tools at your disposal outside of the major cooldowns — trinket on-use effects or minor cooldowns.

For completeness' sake, we shall list all of the major and minor survival cooldowns, by class, below. We will not, however, dwell on them or go into detail to explain their mechanics — this is up to you! Before that, however, we provide you with the general guidelines for how to use your defensive cooldowns.

5.1.1. General Guidelines

  • Prevention is better than remedy. Unless there's a specific event in the encounter which you need to save cooldowns for, use them freely, as many times as possible during the fight.
  • Damage reduction cooldowns should always be used proactively. Don't bother using them when you notice you're on 5% health — it's already too late. Use them when you anticipate a period of high damage, or when your healers are going to be unable to heal you.
  • Health increasing cooldowns can be used both proactively and reactively, though if given the choice, you should try to save them for moments when your health is suddenly very low.
  • As much as possible, do not stack cooldowns — as a rule, if you need to use all of your cooldowns at once to survive a fight mechanic, chances are you are not intended to survive it in the first place.

Having a good understanding of the encounter mechanics and of your raid's strategy will help tremendously in allowing you to time your cooldowns to perfection. Practice makes perfect.

Additionally, good communication with your healers is invaluable. Everything may appear to be fine, but a healer disconnecting, or being targeted by a boss ability which requires them to move are important events that justify the use of a (mostly damage reduction) cooldown.

5.1.2. Death Knight Cooldowns

Death Knights have the following major survival cooldowns:

Death Knights have the following minor survival cooldowns:

5.1.3. Druid Cooldowns

Druids have the following survival cooldowns:

5.1.4. Paladin Cooldowns

Paladins have the following major survival cooldowns:

Paladins have the following minor survival cooldowns:

5.1.5. Warrior Cooldowns

Warriors have the following major survival cooldowns:

Warriors have the following minor survival cooldowns:

5.2. Positioning and Movement

In addition to not standing in any harmful ground effects, which is something that every raider should be aware of, there is another absolutely key piece of advice for every tank out there: never ever have your back to a mob which is attacking you.

There is a simple reason for this: when your back is turned to an attacking mob, you will not be able to dodge, parry or block any of its attacks. This translates to, essentially, a burst of damage onto you, as a lot of attacks are generally dodged, parried or blocked. This will not only increase the amount of healing that is needed to keep you alive, but it may make it impossible to keep you alive altogether (such as if you're tanking multiple adds).

What does this mean, though, in terms of movement? What if you have to move the boss from one place to another, and you have to do so quickly? Well, rest assured, you do not have to slowly backpedal your way there. What you should do instead is strafe sideways. If your side is turned to the attacking mob, you continue to parry, dodge and block attacks, and what's more, you maintain your normal run speed.

This is slightly tricky to master right away, but you can always find a low level mob (so it doesn't kill you), aggro it and run away from it. This will allow you to practice the exact angle you need to be facing. Just check to see if you are registering any dodges or parries, as this will be an indication that you are facing the correct way.

Finally, you should always make sure that you do not leave line of sight of your healers, as this is a sure way to get yourself killed. While it is less of a problem in raids (as most rooms do not have obstacles), it can happen easily in dungeons.

6. Maximising Your Raid's and Your Own DPS↑top

Holding aggro and not dying are essential aspects of being a great tank, but to move to the next level, you have to understand how each and every one of your actions impact the rest of your raid.

There are many encounters which require you, as the tank, to position or move the boss. Doing so is, generally, a requirement to complete the encounter successfully, but simply knowing when and where the boss needs to be moved is not all there is to it.

In order not to hamper your raid's DPS, you must understand that melee DPS players must be within melee range of the boss to perform their attacks. This means that, whenever you move the boss, you should make sure that you move him as little as possible, while still achieving your goal. The less you move the boss, the less melee DPS players will have to move to follow it, and the more DPS they will be able to do.

Additionally, you need to understand that melee DPS players need to attack mobs from behind in order for their DPS to be competitive. This has two implications:

  • Keep the boss facing the same way, as much as possible, so that DPS players do not suddenly find that they have to reposition themselves.
  • Make sure that there are no fire patches or other void zones behind the boss, making it impossible for melee DPS to stand there.

Indeed, while it takes a good tank to know when to move the boss from place to place, it takes an excellent tank to move him in the way which is most efficient for your DPS players.

Finally, keep in mind that, even after you are generating enough threat to maintain aggro and you are surviving the encounter, you can still improve your own performance. Any extra DPS that you do as a tank will be added to your raid's DPS and will, even if in just a small part, help you kill the boss faster.

7. Leadership and Attitude↑top

As the tank, whether you desire it or not, you are in a unique position of control over your group. Healers and DPS players may be the assigned leaders, or they may wish to take charge, but at the end of the day, they are unable to do anything without you.

This state of affairs makes it so that, often, it is preferred that a tank simply be the leader, as this simplifies matters greatly. Furthermore, because tanking attracts leaders, it then becomes an expected quality of all tanks to lead their groups.

So, exactly what qualities should a tank have, in terms of leadership? They should be confident, they should not be shy to speak up, they should know perfectly well what they want their group to do (which, incidentally, should also be the correct thing to do, hence why knowing the encounter mechanics is important) and they should have the vigour to do it.

Tanks have a lot of responsibility, as a tanking mistake is going to lead to a wipe a lot more often than a DPS or healer one would. For this reason, tanks are most likely to receive criticism. But, because, as we said, tanking is all about confidence, you cannot let it get to you! If you did indeed make a mistake, then learn from it and apologise, but don't let it get to you or impede your drive.

8. Conclusions↑top

This concludes the tanking guide. If you have followed us all the way to the end, you now know exactly what a great tank is, and what you need to do to achieve that.

You must understand, however, that tanking, more than any other role in the game, is all about repeated practice. Only when you have done something many times will you be so confident as to do it effortlessly and quickly. So, if you are wondering how you can start, then remember that you cannot practice tanking on a training dummy, and follow these steps:

  1. Set up your user interface, add-ons and keybinds, and do a few high level quests to familiarise yourself with your new settings.
  2. Look up the tactics for the bosses (and trash pulls, if possible) of a specific heroic dungeon, and just go and do it! (preferably with friends, although the anonymity granted by the Dungeon Finder may suit you better).
  3. Be polite and considerate with your fellow party members, but do not let them get to you, regardless of what they may say.

If any of this seems daunting, fear not, and remember that the best quality of a great tank is confidence! (and also remember that we have all lost aggro, accidentally pulled in DPS gear or fallen off of platforms).

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