Some introduction to tanking

Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 90
Joined: 09 Oct 2010 10:01
Location: Ploieşti, Romania

Some introduction to tanking

#1 » Post by Toughy » 23 Dec 2012 02:55

Hello all

Every once in a while, not as often as I wish, I meet some new player in game that asks me how to tank. I like the game very much and I believe I can transmit some of my enthusiasm to new players with the proper answer to this question, but no matter how much I try, there are several aspects to be covered and a simple straight answer is not enough.

I know there are many articles on the internet to explain tanking, but I thought I would write an introduction on the subject, without going into all the details, for people that are curious but are not yet familiar with the subject. I will try to keep the discussion generic and not get into abiltiies or details specific to a certain class, but that is not always possible so I may leave out aspects important to some classes like druids. In order to do the job right, you still have to know your class and I suggest you also consult a guide that is specific to your class, once you understand the basics.

There are four classes that can tank in Wrath of the Lich King expansion: warriors, paladins, death knights and druids. Blizzard has gone through a continuous process of balancing all classes so they are equally good, including for tanking. But the balancing process takes time and experience to get right, and in a way it is never complete (it is a continuous process), so the popular belief that warriors are particularly suited for tanking (and priests particularly suited for healing) still persists.

In a general view there is a technical aspect and a social aspect related to tanking. We will start with the technical aspect.

1. Threat
The creatures you encounter in the game are generally called mobs. The term actually means "movable obstruction" and was first used be game developers (programmers) for both friendly and aggressive creatures. Aggressive creatures are technically called creeps, but players are normally using the generic term mobs for them, and use the term NPCs (non-player characters) to refer to friendly non-player creatures.

Damaging a mob or harming it in any way generates aggression from the mob towards you. Of course a mob will aggro you on sight as soon as it can see you, even if you are not the one to hit first, but the point here is: as you hit the mob more, the mob hates you more. Thus there is a measure of how much aggression (or enmity) a mob has built towards you at any one time during fight, which is called threat. Aggro means the mob is targeting you.

The plain damage you deal (with your weapon) generates threat, which in this case is by convention considered equal to the damage. But your class abilities can generate more threat than damage, or even more damage the threat. Threat adds up during fight, the same way you can sum the damage dealt. The tooltip (description) for every ability normally includes the amount of damage (at least up to version 3.3.5a, that is), but not the threat generated by the ability. Some ability tooltips, like Heroic Strike (warrior) for example, will say: "causes a high amount of threat". The paladin ability Righteous Fury says even more: "Increases the threat generated by your Holy spells by 80%". If you install a proper add-on you can actually see the amount of threat for each of your abilities, but I do not recommend add-ons yet.

What this all means is you can generate more threat than damage for a mob if you use the proper abilities, or if you want you can generate more damage than threat. This is not important when you are playing alone (leveling solo) and the mob or mobs will simply aggro you, but it is important when you are in a group. The mobs you fight will attack the player that generates more threat against them, even if damage from that player is not high. There are mobs that do not follow this simple rule at all times (they "switch aggro"), but they are special encounters and we will not disscuss them here.

2. Tanking
Some people have a simplified view of what a tank is: at any moment during fight, the player that is taking damage from the mobs is the tank. While this is correct, it is not neccesarily sufficient. You have to add that a tank also assumes this role, usually for the entire run, and they specialise for it. Note here that tanking is a form of protecting your group: if you (the tank) take all the damage from the mobs, other players are not taking damge, so they are safe. The job of a tank now becomes:
  • to take aggro from the mobs at all times (ensure mobs are attacking the tank)
  • to be able to take the damage and stand up in front of the mobs
Now this is a little theoretical, because in practice it is not the tank alone that does these two things, but the entire group has to assist and cooperate with the tank, to this purpose. And you might know that humans are not always very cooperative (this is a social aspect).

3. Defenses (stamina/HP, armour, avoidance)
You may rightfully wonder how can just one player in the group take all the damage from all the mobs. Well, in real life this may not be realistic, but here we are in the World of Warcraft. The game will correctly follow certain formulas to compute how strong you are and how much damage you get. These are called game mechanics, and you should know a few things about them.

In order to take and withstand the damge from all mobs, you (the tank) are the main target and the main concern of the healer in your group, which is the player that heals you during (and after) the fight when you take damage, using their healing abilities. As a tank you may or may not have abilities to heal, but even if you do, you are concerned with other priorities (generating threat and keeping aggro) that ordinarily do not allow you to use these abilities. So you need a healer in order for you to tank.

Even with the group healer continuously healing you during fight, you still have to observe several statistics for your in-game character in order to absorb all the damage, and these are:
  • your total hit points, or health. These are proportional to your stamina, and you need as much stamina/health as you can get. A large amount of hit points (HP) allows you to stay alive a few more seconds when all the mobs are hitting, and this allows the healer a few more seconds to cast the heals and keep you alive during fight.
  • your total armour. This should be obvious: if you want to take a lot of damage, you need as much armour as you can get. A point to note here is if your class can equip a shield (paladins, warriors), than you need one. Some tanking classes can not equip shields (druids, death knights), but they have other game mechanics to compansate for that. When you use a shield you can no longer use a two-handed (2H) weapon, and must now use a one-handed (1H) weapon, with lower damage. That is ok, because your role as a tank is to take damage, not to deal damage.
  • your total avoidance. Your in-game character does not have to take (absorb) every hit that lands. What you can also do instead is:
    • parry the attack with your weapon. A parry is followed by an aditional auto-attack, which is considered an advantage.
    • block the attack with your shield. This only happens if your class can equip a shield (paladins, warriors). Death Knights for example equip weapons instead of shields and as a result they use parry instead of block. Blocking an attack prevents only part of the damage for that attack from reaching you, which is known as your block value. If you get hit harder than your block value (and you happen to block that hit), than you will absorbe (you will "feel") the difference between the hit value and your block value. Your block value increases with your strength, and it may also be a bonus from some items you can equip.
    • dodge the attack. This avoids the attack entirely, and does not rely on your weapon or shield.
    • the mob misses on its attack on you. There is nothing you do for that, and this is not a parry, block or a dodge. The mobs simply does not hit you right and the attack misses.
    For every hit that lands on you, your character has an exact chance to parry the attack, or to block it, or to dodge it. You can see your chance to parry/block/dodge on your charcter pane in-game (default press C), if you select Defenses. All these forms of avoidance are passive abilities, meaning your character will benefit from them automatically, and you do not need to press some botton or something to activete these.
  • spell damage reduction. Physical damge from melee (hand-to-hand) combat is not the only damage you can take as a tank. You will also encounter casters. They have this property that their spels completely ignore your strong armour and high avoidance, and bite directly from your hit points. However, there is little you can do about this. Whatever spell resistance you may get in the game will be insufficient for protecting you from spellcasters, and usually you have to deal with them another way.
4. More game mechanics
There is more to be said about your avoidance. On your attack, on every weapon swing you have a chance, ususally between 95% and 100%, to hit your target with the weapon, but you also have a small chance to miss, and a small chance to critically hit. A critical hit means you hit the target for double the normal amount of damage.

With proper gear you can improve your chance to miss and chance to critically hit, to your advantage, but by default against an equal level opponent, your chance to miss is equal with your chance to critically hit (5% for each) so that on an average your hits will output the expected amount of damage as if you always hit straight.

The same discussion holds true for every mob that hits you. The mob has a chance to hit, a chance to miss and a chance to crit. If a mob is higher level than you, it has a higher chance to critically strike you. Another form of avoidance is avoiding critical strikes from the mobs, which is of particular importance at high levels in raids.

Just as you can dodge attacks from the mobs, a mob can dodge attacks from you or from your group. Mobs do not usually have shields, so they do not block. They do use weapons sometimes, so they can parry, but I could not tell you more about that.

So as a tank you want to improve your own avoidance, and to overcome avoidance of the mobs you are fighting. The later depends on two other statistics (stats) for your in-game character:
  • to reduce chance to miss on your attacks, you want to increase your hit or hit rating.
  • to reduce change to be dodged/parried/blocked, you want to increase your expertise
Last edited by Toughy on 05 Jun 2013 18:42, edited 5 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 90
Joined: 09 Oct 2010 10:01
Location: Ploieşti, Romania

Re: Some introduction to tanking

#2 » Post by Toughy » 23 Dec 2012 03:59

5. Gearing and talents/glyphs
To assume the tank role you should collect your gear (called gearing), invest talent points and learn glyphs appropriate for this role. This is called specialization, or spec. You can use dual talent specialization (dual spec), with the tanking spec being either your main spec, either your off-spec.

They say while leveling you may tank without a tank spec if needed, as long as you wear plate or you have a class that can tank. Never tried that, but I figure you still need to know the role, and you need a group that is ok with having a little patience.

The purpose of the character statistics and game mechanics discussion is to help you understand how to collect your gear and to spec for tanking. The gearscore add-on used by many people assigns (and displays) a number to any gear item, and the better the item, the higher the score for that item will be. However better can also mean better for DPS or healing, so you must still take care to collect tanking gear, no matter what the score is for an item. For example, an item with a high chance to critically strike and with a lot of attack power may show a high gearscore, but as a tank you first need armour and stamina.

To obtain high amounts of hit points and strong armour, you just collect gear that gives +stam bonuses and offers high armour. When you collect and equip more pieces of gear that all give the same bonus like +stam, it is said that you "stack up", or "stack", stamina. Gear can also offer you avoidance, not directly but using a simple formula instead:
  • chance to parry is computed from your parry rating plus your defense rating, which are provided by the gear you equip.
  • chance to block is computed from your block rating plus your defense rating
  • chance to dodge is computed from your dodge rating plus your defense rating
  • chance to be missed is computed from your defense rating (and the mob hit rating, which depends on mob level compared to your level).
  • chance to avoid a critical hit is computed from your resilience rating plus your defense rating
In this description, the higher the rating, the higher your avoidance will be. Of course the calculation will take Into account also the abilities of the mob hitting you, which usually depend on mob level (compared to your level). As you can see above, your defense rating provides all of:
  • chance to parry
  • chance to block
  • chance to dodge
  • chance to be missed
  • chance to prevent critical strikes on you
This is why I like to say for example that +20 defense rating is 5 times better than +20 parry rating or +20 dodge rating. Also note that defense is the only way to increase chance to get missing hits on you. It is also considered the only way to prevent critical hits on you. Resilience does have that effect, too, but it is found on PvP gear that does not otherwise help you in PvE (and starting with the Catclysm expansion, resilience only has an effect if you are hit by players).

You should note that when we get into this many details about avoidance and game mechanics, the discussion becomes specific to one version / expansion of World of Warcraft. While the general information about tanking that you find in this article is correct for more than one version of World of Warcraft, the specific details regarding avoidance and defense are known to be correct for Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) expansion, version 3.3.5a. The next Wow expansion, Cataclysm, is known to use no defense at all, and only parry/block/dodge rating.

Also the specific details of how you will tank depend on your class. Druids in particular have a little different game mechanics and the discussion here will be at times not acurate for them. Blood Death Knights use self-healing abilities as another form of defense, which is not included in our discussion here.

At maximum level (or the level cap) it is important to prevent critical strikes (raid bosses can hit real hard, and your healers do not want to see you getting critical strikes from them), and you must collect enough defense rating from your gear until the mobs no longer have a chance to get a critical strike on you. At the level cap these mobs are usually higher level than you are. Raid bosses do not have a proper "level", so they are by convention considered to be 3 levels higher than you, which means you need more defense to put up with them. The needed amount of defense to prevent critical strikes from such mobs is called the soft defense cap and for level 80 it is at 540 defense (not defense rating, "plain" defense is what you can see in your character pane directly). For a tank at that level it should be easy to reach the defense cap. The values is, however, based on the "level 83" convention, and any more defence you can stack will keep adding to your chances to block/dodge/parry and chance to be missed.

Since there are several statistics we are interested in when gearing, it is often the case that one piece of gear may offer some stats, and another piece (or your existing one) may offer another stats. To correctly pick between the two, you can follow some rules:
  • first make sure the item is for tanking, that is it has some +defense bonus, or has an emphasis on +stam. If the item offers a lot of +crit (critical strike) / +arp (armour penetration) / +ap (attack power), it is more for warrior DPS than for tanking
  • make sure the item is for your class. If you are a warrior (that does not use +int (intellect)), than an item with +int or +sp (spell power) is not really for you, but for a paladin.
  • make sure the item type (leather, mail, plate) is for you. If you are a paladin or warrior that can equip plate (above lvl 40), than a mail item is not for you even it if provides +stam/+def or other stats you want
  • finally, if all the above checks pass (both items are your armour type, your class and are for tanking), than you should pick the higher +stam or armour item, or use gearscore and go with its chice
As you can see, all these avoidance stats are a detailed and verbose discussion. If you are still leveling feel free to keep things simple and keep looking for +stam and armour on your pieces until you hit the level cap.

You should know there are some other stats that are not entirely useless, either. Some +str helps with your block value and your attack power, and +agi (agility) will give you a little armour. However paladins will prefer +int or spirit / mana regeneration (+spi / +mp5) over these. Death Knights, on the other hands, have a class specific ability that converts their strenght into chance to parray, so they will need +str more.

If you want to keep things complicated instead of simple, you should know that at level cap, you want to collect:
  • enough expertise so that mobs can no longer dodge/parry/block your attacks, and
  • enough hit so that your attacks no longer miss.
  • (enough defense to prevent critical strikes on you, discussed above)
That means you need to get 26 expertise (not expertise rating) and 8% increased chance to hit (this is in addition to the 540 defense you need, that we talked about above). But know that when you hit with your abilities (called yellow attacks) your chances to hit are usually higher than from simple hits with your weapon (called white attacks). These numbers (26 exp, +8% hit) are enough for yellow attacks only, but even so they are enough for your needs.

At high levels you can stack bonus statistics like +stam, +exp (expertise) or +def also from item echants and from socketing gems into the sockets provided by your gear. When you pick such echantments you follow that same rules that you follow when you pick gear.

About your spec (talents and glyphs), the protection (or defensive) talent tree and the glyphs you should use are specific to your character class, so I will not talk about them in here. For warriors, you need to pick the Protection tree, for paladins, the Devotion tree. Death Knights are special: they have tanking talents in either the Blood tree, either the Frost tree. They can even tank with talents in their Unholy tree. This was changed in Cataclysm, where Death Knights now specialize in the Blood talent tree for tanking. All three classes (warriors, paladins, death knights) have avoidance-related talents (+parry, +dodge, +block) in different talent trees. Some of them are outside their tanking tree. However, above lvl 60 you start getting more talent points than you need to complete one tree. So past lvl 60 you can pick talents from the other trees, and you should take your +parry/+block/+dodge talents from there. The set of talents and glyphs that you pick is called a build, and once you reach the level cap your build will no longer evolve and you have little reason to change it. You can find tanking builds for your class on the internet, but I recommend you read and go through all the talented abilities as you pick them (while leveling), so you know what each of them does for you.

6. Generating threat
Now that you know what gear you need you can be confident in your ability to hold off many mobs, and we can talk about how to keep their attention (aggro) on you and not the party memebers.

For this, you already know the first rule: you have to generate enough threat with your abilities so that mobs want to attack you over the others. There are a number of challenges to this goal:
  • you have to learn and remember which of your abilities generate more threat
  • you have to generate threat continuously during fight, because your group continuously deals damage, so your threat must always stay on top of their damage
  • you have to hold off several mobs at once
You also need to know that any player in the group can have some threat for a given mob, but only one of them has the mob attention, or the aggro from the mob. So threat is only a means for you to get aggro. You have 3 different objectives about aggro during a fight:
  • getting initial aggro
  • keeping aggro while group memebers compete with you for threat
  • getting back aggro if one of the mobs is hitting another group member
Your threat generation abilities depend of course on your class. For any class though the first thing to do is to be in your tanking "mode", that is:
  • for a warrior, you should be in Defensive Stance
  • for a paladin, you should use Righteous Fury
  • for a death knight, you should use Frost Presence
  • for a druid, you should use bear form.
In your group the tank should be the only one that uses the above tanking "mode", and other members should use other stance/presence/form...

Next, you should cast in order the abilities that generate the most threat for your class. For a warrior these abilties are Shield Slam, Revenge, Devastate (or Sunder Armour). You can ask any tank in-game about what your abilities should be, but I do not recommend you to learn a fixed sequence (called a rotation) to use blindly at all times. At first (while you are leveling) you will not have all the abilities yet. This is still good though, as it will allow you to learn and get used to the abilities, one at a time.

6.1 Initial aggro
To get the initial aggro, what you need is to be the first in your group to atack a mob, that is you should be the one who starts the fight and opens the attack. This is also a social aspect, as your group will normaly wait for you before every fight, and so you as the tank will set the speed at which your group progresses through the instance. You should find the proper rithm for which the other party members, especially your healer, can keep up. But most of the time the group will want you to go as fast as you can. Since you are the first to attack, your group might also expect you to lead the way through the instance, or to play the role of a party leader. This however is not required, and I have tanked many (most) instances that I entered for the first time, by simply asking anyone in the group to show the way..

About initial aggro, you should make sure you get the attention of all the mobs upon your first attack. Especially at the level cap, it is very much possible for mobs in the group you want to fight to see you as the well-geared group tank, but still go straight for your healer or other members, instead of hitting you. To prevent this you should start your attack by going right in the middle of the group of mobs, and use some area of effect (AoE) ability that will reach and harm them all at a time. For a warrior such an ability would be Thunder Clap, for a paladin use Consecration, for a Death Knight use Death and Decay. The sequence of abilities that you use to start the attack and get intial aggro is sometimes called the "opening". I will let you ask other tanks in-game, or search the internet yourself, to find out more about what your opening should be.

Also for the initial aggro, your group should wait behind for a few seconds, after you open the attack to let you cast all your spells and abitlities to get the aggro. This is often called "wait for aggro", but do not count too much on them to always do this.

6.2 Keeping aggro
After you get the initial aggro, the second objective comes to play, and that is competing for threat with the rest of your group. You must stay above everyone else in threat generation (often called threat output). For this you should first understand how party members generate threat:
  • you as the tank generate threat with your spells and abilities and with your tanking stance/presence/form... that we have seen above.
  • the DPSes in your group generate threat by dealing large amounts of damage (they have a high damage output).
  • the group healer generates threat by healing the tank (or other party members).
You have to know that healing the tank generates threat towards any mobs attacking the tank. So your healer always builds threat towards the mobs you fight. A healing spell (ability) produces threat equal to half the amount healed, but a healer is using such abilities continuously and is healing the tank for large amounts of health over time, and the threat they build this way is high.

For the DPSes, the threat they output is proportional to their damage. However once you reach the level cap the DPSes can output so much more damage than the tank ! Under normal situations, the rotation of abilities used by the tank is enough to output more threat than the DPSes, but if the DPSes are higher level than the tank, or if the DPSes have superior gear items, than DPS threat output will exceed that of the tank, if only for short periods of time.

Next you need to know that at least in theory a DPS can see when they deal too much threat (damage) and stop their DPS to prevent aggro, however your healer on the other hand does not have such a luxury. The healer has to heal you to keep you alive, and if that generates more threat than the tank, there is nothing healer can do about it. Any attempt for the healer to stop healing, and the tank is as good as dead. There is nothing you can do about this as a tank, you just have to output more threat than your healer, and have good armour to make sure that any heal counts.

For this reason, to maximize your threat output you will find that during fight you must cast abilities from your rotation at all times, giving you little time to cast anything else, especially any damage-related abilties. But happily you will find that a few tanking-related abilities also deal quite a lot of damage too.

6.3 Getting back aggro
Next the third objective, getting back aggro when a mob is already hitting someone else in your party. Well if you get here it already means something went wrong, although usually it is not because of you. Getting back aggro with regular threat-output abilitites (with your rotation) has very little chances of success, and normally this will not help you in a fight. What you can do is to use some special abilities called Taunts, that are meant to instantly output enough threat on your target to make it turn back to you, and then to force the target to hit you for a number of seconds. You need these seconds to allow the targeted mob to run back to you in case it is at a distance, and to allow you to build up some more threat on the mob untill the Taunt effect wears off, so that the mob will stay on you even after the taunt. Exactly what your taunt abilitites are depends on your class:
  • warriors have Taunt and Mocking Blow
  • paladins have Hand of Reckoning and Righteous Defense
  • death knights have Death Grip and Dark Command
  • for druids I will let you find the abilities yourself, as I do not know them yet
Normally you use Taunts more like a panic button.

You might also have other class specific abilities for Taunt and for recovering from such situations. Warriors have a AoE taunt abilty called Chalenging Shout, that taunts all mobs around the warrior. Paladins have Divine Sacrifice, which is not the same but still helps.

If you somehow can not taunt, for example your taunt ability is on cooldown, or if you miss with your ability, what you can still try is to stun the target. A stun will prevent all damage and spell cast from that mob for a short period of time (a few seconds). Warriors also have Shockwave, which is an AoE ability stunning all mobs in-front-of the warrior (in a frontal cone), or they can take Concusion Blow, which is a single-target stun. Actually warriors are a particular case, as they have a third option here: either Charge or Intercept (and even Intervene). These abilitites bring the warrior to the mob, instead of bringing the mob to the warrior : )
Last edited by Toughy on 05 Jun 2013 18:27, edited 17 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 3139
Joined: 18 Nov 2010 11:58

Re: Some introduction to tanking

#3 » Post by Cover25 » 23 Dec 2012 05:49

Eh, it's a nice guide and all, but you're missing out on key things. Like for example, you listed 540 as a def rating. No, just no. I don't consider 540 a acceptable tanking defense rate, 600 is the preferred and by some required rating to tank.

Also, at lower levels you don't want to stack stam as much, stack defensive stats such as dodge and exper and def. Only go into pure stam when you gain nothing from those gems (high end gear)

Also, I don't really care for armor (Organ is shit for warriors) as 80% of all damage in raids is magical.

User avatar
Posts: 90
Joined: 09 Oct 2010 10:01
Location: Ploieşti, Romania

Re: Some introduction to tanking

#4 » Post by Toughy » 23 Dec 2012 13:56

7. Skill beyond threat

Ok, I know I promised and "introduction" to tanking, and the article is long and has lots of information, but it is important to have a correct view on how things work.

As a tank your main objective are threat and aggro, but in order to do the job right you need to know a few other things. The first one, as you might already know, are the casters. They have some specific properties:
  • their spells bite right through your strong armour and your high avoidance
  • they usually stay at range and out of your reach, when you are busy with the melee mobs
  • they switch targets very easy, since you do not really build threat against them when you are at range, to keep their interest in you high
  • you can not normally pull and position them, as they will not leave their place in order to attack you. It is known that casters can only be pulled around a corner.
The solution for dealing with casters is both easy and important: target casters first. For every group of mobs you encounter and engage, it is your job to observe the group composition. Usually you may find the group is composed of:
  • a bruiser, like a mini-boss, it is a stronger, often larger, and meaner-looking mob
  • melee fighters
  • casters
  • sometimes a healer
For the most part you can actually ignore the melees and the bruiser, and go straight for casters / healer (if any).

A second topic you should observe is to pay attention to the scene. Upon your first pull or Charge you should position the mobs within any fighting space you have (in the scene) in a way that is convenient. Remember that once you have aggro, the mobs will follow you. Just bring them all to the caster (which will not follow you otherwise) and position them with the back to the rest of the group. Again, you can only pull a caster around a corner. You should know that all of your avoidance (parry, block, dodge) only works and helps you if the mob is in front of you. You can not dodge/parry/block a mob that is hitting you from behind, so if you got some mobs on your back, brush them off. If you get surrounded by many little mobs, strafe aside, out of the circle they form around you.

Carefull though ! If you move the mobs around too much, you will than annoy your melee DPSes, that need to follow your moves.

Another point about positioning: your healer must be able to see you at all times to get any heals on you. It is said you must stay in their line of sight (LoS). They usually try to positions themseves so as to always have you in view, but they also try to stay at range, so it is your responsibility too to stay in their sight. If you suddenly enter a side room with your healer at range behind, or you turn around a corner and attack, you are lost.

Once you learn your abilities and your rotation, you might find that you spend most of your time watching ablitiy cooldowns to wear off, on your action bars. This is a bad thing for you, your attention should be on the scene. Try to learn your abilities enough so that you do not need to watch for cooldowns all the time, or use some cooldowns addon. Players used to engage in PvP (player-versus-player) combat in battlegrounds often already know how you can not spend a single second watching the action bars for cooldowns.

Also, try to watch the mobs during fight. You should know where they all are, and if another player in group pulls aggro off you, or pulls more mobs from a different group, you can even know about it before it happens and have a Taunt ready. Many times during fight you can tell that a mob is not facing you by simply looking at them, so you know you should target them or even Taunt.

To always spot the mobs at a glance, turn on enemy name plates in the interface settings. Friendly nameplates are not normally needed and may even bother you. Sometimes, but not ofthen, enemy nameplates let you know when a mob is being damaged more than the others, so you know you should target that mob, or get ready to build more threat on that mob.

To have a proper view of the scene, make sure you keep your camera in-game at a maximum distance that you can set it to. Usually you set the viewing distance (or distance to the camera) with the mouse wheel in-game, but use the interface settings too, to allow for a larger distance.

About the interface, you should know clicking with your mouse on the action bars, to cast your abilitites, is a poor way of playing the game. As a tank you need a fast response time, and for that you need to use the keyboard. Make a list of the keys that are most easy to press, normally the keys close to your left hand like Q, W, R, T, Z, X, C, V, 1, 2, 3, 4, Ctrl+W, Ctrl+Q, Ctrl+W, Ctrl+A, Ctrl+S...
Make a list of abilitites that you use more often, or that are more important (like Taunt, Last Stand / Lay On Hands) and bind them to the easiest keys.
Last edited by Toughy on 03 Jun 2013 18:30, edited 5 times in total.

User avatar
Posts: 90
Joined: 09 Oct 2010 10:01
Location: Ploieşti, Romania

Re: Some introduction to tanking

#5 » Post by Toughy » 24 Dec 2012 15:12

8. Social aspects
You should know some things about the social aspects of the role. These things stem from the fact that the tank and healer have a more important role in the group, so you have to be more carefull, and more reliable.

It has been my experience throughout the game that if you can tank, you will tank. Every time I join random Dungeon Finder (RDF) for heroic mode instances as both tank and DPS, I get the tank role in over 95% of the cases. It is on occasion possibble for a group to ask you to tank even if you do not have the spec for it, but you have the character class needed (if you wear plate). At low levels, on the other hand, there may be more players that roll a tank to try it out, to see how it works, or to learn about it, so the situation might be different there.

Remember that your total HP is above others, and though it is only one of the stats you need, it is something other players can easily see at a glance.

At the level cap, another way for a group leader to see if you are good as tank in their group is your total gear score (which is the score of all items you equip). GearScore requirements usually (but not always) apply equally to all 3 roles: tank, heal and DPS. Depending on the expected dificulty of the raid, you may be expected to show a minimum gearscore of 4.5k, 4.8k, 5.0k, 5.2k ,5.5k, 5.8k GS. You can reach about 4.9k GS if you run enough heroic mode instances, and get all the gear you can with the Emblems of Triumph you collect in this way automatically from every boss. Remember that GearScore will rank your items even if they are not suitable for your role. For this reason a high gearscore is required but not sufficient to indicate a good player. Your personal skills and knowledge (and attitude) are ultimately more important.

8.1 Higher expectations
It is considered bad behaviour for tank or healer to leave group before the run is completed. It is of course impolite for anyone to leave group before completing the run, but for tank and healer people have higher expectations in this regard. At the level cap, in a raid group, a tank or healer that leaves group can terminate about 3 hours of fun or progression gameplay for 10 or 25 people. That is not fun. You are expected to be reliable and do better than that.

If you are learning to tank, you should start with the begining and make a new character. If you are already level 70, everyone in the group will expect you to know everything already. Or if you have a group of friends you may ask them to group with you and have some patiance util you get the grasp of things, but I believe you will still have a hard time this way. At low levels you get your spells/abilities one at a time, and you get to practice each one before you learn the next, without much risk of disappointing your group.

8.2 Group cooperation
Another social aspect is the way the game works in a group during fight, which appears to be designed around groop cooperation. That is not a bad thing and makes the game so much more interesting, but many times you do not group with friends, but instead use use the dungeon finder to get a pick-up group. Be sure to join a good guild when you find one, but pick it carefully.

The first thing you need is for your group to wait for you to pull or Charge first. For this reason. it is good if you can lead the way into the instance, and many groups will expect you to do just that, without a word. Keep in mind that while it is in your own interest to do so, it is not a requirement of the job.

The second one is your group should all pick your main target and hit that. You will have a hard time if every DPS is picking a different mob as their target, and then you have to keep aggro on all of them. Especially warrior tanks have difficutlies with generating AoE threat. Their only ability for that is Thunder Clap, and at high levels thay can also use their AoE stun called Shockwave. But for a warrior most of the tanking abilities already hit two mobs at once (they are multi-target abilities).

To prompt your group to pick your main target and DPS that, you may place a mark like the skull on your target before you pull or start the fight. You may want to create a keyboard shortcut for that mark, to easily set it every time you need. To be able to mark targets, you might also need to be the party leader, at least in dungeon finder groups.

Some people recomand that you switch targets during fight to keep aggro on several mobs at the same time, and I have done so in the past, but it is a little tiresome and time-consuming. For this reason pick-up groups (PUGs), for example the groups you enter with the Dungeon Finder tool (DF or RDF, random dungeon finder), that are in the habit of picking targets randomly, will constantly annoy you.

However even if your group always follows you and picks your main target, keep in mind that your healer normaly generates threat on all mobs that attack you, so no matter what you must keep aggro on all mobs. Don't forget to use an AoE every once in a while for that.

Since we are discussing social aspects and group cooperation, we also touch a little the subject of human nature. You may know that human nature is not always a nice thing to deal with, especially in pick-up groups. Sometimes humans are naturally disrespectfull, ignorant, foolish, or plain rude. As a tank who needs group cooperation, you will feel this problem a lot ! Healers have a similar problem, but not as much so.

8.3 "Thick skin" to put up with human nature
Sooner or later you will run into a group of players that completely disregard cooperation, and not only they do not wait for you to aggro, but they pull mobs before you or make a mess and then expect you to recover the situation. But remember how recovering aggro is not an easy job to do.

It gets even worse. No matter how much you try to achieve a smooth and nice gameplay, there will come a time when things go wrong and you will start to hear all sorts of dirty and nasty words, all directed and referring to you. Sometimes because it is you who screwed things up, but many times when it is not you. I have been kicked a few times myself while learning, and then a few times more. Do not take it personally, it happens to most players.

To take this role, you have to have a "thick skin", that is you must be able to take various insults without feeling ofended that much. A self-suficient attitude is in many times the only thing that helps you to put up with foolish groups. If you are easily offended or sensitive to personal insults, you should either make sure you are prepared to hear them, or think twice before taking the role.

I have at times seen tanks that just leave the group when they get shouted at, or even leave after the group simply does not listen to "what they say" as if the role entitles them to some sort of authority within the group. This is childish (in other words, noobish). Instead of raging, you should always try to learn something new from everything you do.

Leaving the group for any reason makes you unreliable. It is not the proper behavior for you. Even after you hear dirty words about you, you should try to keep the group running. Actually in most situations you should normally be the last to leave the group.

At the opposite end, I have once met in a group a healer in The Culling of Stratholme, at a late time of day, that kept harrassing me (openly and directly) for something like pulling too many mobs at ance and generally for not paying enough attention to the scene. I admit that at the time I was quite tired. But much to my surprise, when I said "ok guys I have to go anyway, good luck", I found that the healer really expected me to stay, despite his attitude, and put up with him.

I kindly explained that I had the "thick skin" for the job, as he expected, and the reason for leaving was my girlfriend calling. I believe I have left the entire group disappointed, as the hour was late and chances to find a tank were growing thin. As I said, leaving the group for any reason makes you unreliable.

9. When all things settle
Suppose for a moment that you have been tanking long enough that it has become second nature. After tanking over and over again countless encounters, I still find the role as rewarding as I did the first time, and I still feel some of the excitement from the first time I queued, my group said "go tank" and I charged (of course it turned into a mess pretty soon after, but the point is to learn what you could have done better, and not get offended too much).

I should tell you that in the long run I always found something new to learn, some new situation to adapt to, some new boss that I had to learn how to approach. In the end-game raids, konwing all the tactics is a hard requirement for you, if you want to tank. And there are so many tactics to learn there, which are part of what makes the game interesting. Look up tankspot or elitistjerks web sites for more details/tactics to follow.

Also in the long run you may find that the most often of your annoyances are gropus that are impatiant and either want you to go faster then you can or you want, or simply groups that are otherwise nice but do not wait enough for aggro, or pick their own target disregarding whatever you do, and then pull aggro off you. I have quickly grown tired and a little shy of telling everyone that they have to wait for me, or that they have to do what I say, and now I just abuse Taunt whenever someone pulls aggro, and otherwise I let them have their way. Sometimes when I see someone mindlessly pull too much before me, I tend to let them also take all the damage, since they seem to like it, but I do not make a big deal of it and I promptly pull back aggro on me before things get ugly. Some tanks make it a rule that if "you pull it, you tank it" which I think might work, but I am not usually that agressive.
Last edited by Toughy on 05 Jun 2013 18:47, edited 5 times in total.

User avatar
Former Staff
Posts: 2277
Joined: 06 Feb 2011 23:40

Re: Some introduction to tanking

#6 » Post by Bluebell » 24 Dec 2012 21:02

Needs more colour, would make it far easier to read. And it'd look pretty
Why join the winning side if you can change the winner?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest