Tanking 101

So here I am thinking “My main is an elemental shaman atm, whyever should I be writing a tanking story?”  Well, I was over at World of Warcraft Wanderings and somehow ended up on this old post — Tanking at Tanking.  Healer becomes tank.  Healer feels unprepared and overwhelmed.  Healer never wants to taunt another mob again!  I think every moderately sane tank  has dealt with the frustration of feeling not “up to par” when starting out, so let me share some lessons I’ve learned.

1. Be the leader.

  • Tanks often have a reputation for being pushy, know-it-all, or just plain flat arrogant.  While you don’t have to be any of those things, it sure makes the job a hell of a lot easier.  You are responsible for taking your crack team in and completing the dungeon.  The DPS will be doing the “work” of getting the mob down, and you sure can’t get anywhere without your healer; however, the tactical decision making is often assumed to be the responsibility of the tank, so become comfortable with the mentality that you are the leader.

2. Be prepared to communicate

  • No one expects you to be a paragon of knowledge on other classes.  However, if you’re new to tanking (especially at this stage of the content) you may will run into dps that radically outgears you.  This makes your job harder even with the staggering differences in threat generation that you hear old hand tanks talking about.  You can lose aggro.  If this happens, do not assume your dps will take into account your scrubby gear and stop getting themselves killed.  Be proactive.  Mark a kill order.  Talk to your team and let them know you are new to the tanking scene and still getting gear.  Something!  Do not let your team fail because you fail to communicate.  Losing aggro happens when you are outgeared.
  • Your healer is the other half of yourself.  Without a solid healer behind you, you will fail (most especially as a new tank).  While dps may whine about having to hold back, your healer may be amazed that he actually has to do more than throw a hot on you in a heroic!  Forewarning can help save you a wipe before you start 🙂

3.  Learn the Dungeons

  • I know, you probably have 30 other alts that have run Nexus 10k times at least before you ever thought of making your healing paladin a tank.  What you didn’t know, is that the fights look radically different and require different trigger responses on your part when you’re the tank.  When scaly things appear, you cannot run away!  It’s your job to get that stuff now ^.^  Knowing what silences, what the patrols in a dungeon look like, and when to expect extra spawning mobs can mean the difference between an effortless face-roll and a night of frustration.  As with your gear, you are probably going to want to take the dungeon at a slower pace than you’re used to it being run.  Remember the first few times you ran the instance and the tank took his time — it’s because s/he was learning the dungeon.  Do the same!

4. You need to see your raid members

  • Have raid frames that can show you who has aggro.  When tanking multiple mobs its vital to know if they’re beating on you, the other tank, or the squishy healer in the back who you can’t even see through the mob pack.  A raid frame addon (your choice, I prefer grid) is invaluable in letting you glance at a consistent area on your screen and ensure you actually DO have everything.

5.  Rule of thumb: If you are short of mana/rage — PULL MORE MOBS!

  • My friend, Sileen, hated this rule of thumb, but it is definitely true.  If you’re a paladin tank sitting on your butt, drinking water, you’re doing the dungeon wrong.  I mention this in the tanking 101 rules, because many tanks do not seem to know when they are beginning to outscale the dungeon.  If you consistently run out of your resource of choice on trash mobs, then your gear is scaling past the dungeon indicator, and you should find another mob/pack to keep your party moving.  The only time to ignore this advice is on the word of your healer, who is out of mana.  Otherwise, let ’em catch up ^.^

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2 thoughts on “Tanking 101

  1. Windsoar's husband here. I can personally vouch for rule #5 and the insanity that results from it. Doing timed runs in Culling of Stratholme, for the mount, and taking one new person in each time. The only person who could get to to even consider slowing down, was the healer. And with good reason.

    If you're DPS, your job is simply to pew pew things. (Or stabbity stabbity them, depending on your preferences) If you can't keep up with your tank, and you're constantly having to stop to drink, it's time to look at your rotations, and see how efficient you really are.

    I know those insane Strat runs really helped me maximize my output, and minimize my downtime. I know that I'm amazed when I go in to a dungeon these days, at how long some tanks take to pull a mob.

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