Utolsó módosítás programmer, ekkor: 2015.03.21.
1. 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. This guide will apply to you, 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 is tedious, and specific to a class or spec. You are able to find all the specific information pertaining to tanking classes and specs in our existing 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-specific knowledge from this guide.
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. While this statement holds true for all roles in World of Warcraft, tanks are certainly no exception.
3. 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 what the ideal tank is like. Below is a list of invaluable attributes.
In addition to this, as tanks are 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.
4. 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.
4.1. 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.
4.1.1. 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, Fade) end.
4.1.2. 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 in threat).
This is achieved by providing different colors and/or sizes to the name plates of nearby targets. For example, 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 notice and click).
Name plate add-ons are mostly useful for add tanking, but regardless of this, they should be in every tank's arsenal.
4.1.3. 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 is a viable option, but it will often cause needless clutter. Moreover, due to the various sounds in the encounter, you may not always be clearly heard.
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.
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.
4.3. Gear Optimisation
Needless to say, you should research your class and specialisation, in order to find what the best statistics are for you, and adapt your character accordingly.
4.3.1. 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 talents) to the encounter.
As such, 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, you can switch in pieces with Hit and Expertise Rating (assuming you are not yet at the caps for these statistics).
If you are looking to reduce the physical damage you are taking as much as possible, you will probably prefer Mastery Rating.
The list goes on, but it is important to remember that a great tank's gear and talent set-up is always dynamic.
4.4. 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 a 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 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.
4.4.1. 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.
Keep in mind that, during raid encounters, marking is generally the prerogative of your raid leader, and unless specifically directed to, you should not interfere.
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.
5.1. 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.
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 tanking state:
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), 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 and Misdirection, which offer a temporary threat transfer.
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 that 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 must first know very well what you are supposed to be tanking.
5.2. 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 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:
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, you will have to maintain the Weakened Blows debuff (unless it is being provided reliably by another tank). This is a priority, so you should make sure that the debuff is always present.
Weakened Blows is applied:
5.3. 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 or 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, there are several guidelines to follow.
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 sometimes, the necessity) to maximise damage done to the boss, or it may be due to impatience and lack of consideration. In any case, you should always take the initiative and be aggressive in engaging the encounter.
5.3.1. 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 if you want to use ground-based threat abilities.
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.
5.3.2. Using Offensive Cooldowns
All tanking classes have some kind of offensive cooldown. Sometimes, these reduce the cooldown or resource cost of some abilities, while other times they 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.
5.4. Maintaining Aggro
In addition to their increased threat generation, tanks also have a passive ability, called Vengeance. Vengeance grants you attack power equal to 2% of the damage you have sustained, for 20 seconds. The amount of attack power continues to stack, granting you immense amounts of attack power, provided that you continue to take damage.
There are times when maintaining aggro can be difficult, such as when you are severely undergeared compared to DPS players, when you have to switch off the target in order to pick up a different one, or when encounter design 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, 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.
5.4.1. "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.
5.5. 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.
5.5.1. 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.
Taunting a mob has two effects:
Regarding the first point, the duration that the mob attacks the taunting player for 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 at the top of the threat table (but do not have aggro), then taunt will only force the mob to attack you for 3 seconds. If you have aggro and are at the top of the aggro table, then taunt does nothing except for making sure that the target will stick to you for the duration of taunt.
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 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.
5.5.2. 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.
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.
Instinctively, it feels as though your survival, as a tank, is all in the hands of your healers, but this could not 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 do not 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.
6.1. Active Survival
Each tanking class has various active survival and mitigation tools at their disposal. These take the form of abilities with low or no cooldown, which offer great benefits but are also rather expensive. You must learn to make constant (and proper) use of these abilities in your rotation, otherwise you will be practically unhealable.
Going into depth about these abilities is beyond the scope of this guide, so we recommend that you read our class-specific tanking guides.
Every tanking class has at least a few defensive/survival cooldowns. 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, such as trinket on-use effects or minor cooldowns.
6.2.1. General Guidelines
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 cooldown.
6.3. 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.
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.
In case the target you are tanking needs to be moved a short distance backwards (that is to say, in the direction that you are facing), you can employ a technique known as pushing. To do this, simple step forward until you enter the target's hitbox. This will cause them to adjust to your position, and in most cases this means that they will step back a very short distance, and face you again.
The alternative to this is to drag the target to the desired location, but in the process of doing so, you need to move a lot more, and the target is very likely to turn around for extended periods of time, making it much less desirable than pushing.
We would like to note that some mobs, due to the size of their hitbox, are not very receptive to this technique.
7. 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 completing 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.
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.
8. 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 do not let it impede your drive.
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. There are a few steps you can follow.
If any of this seems daunting, fear not, and remember that the best quality of a great tank is confidence! Remember that we have all lost aggro, accidentally pulled in DPS gear, or fallen off of platforms.