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Posts Tagged ‘tanking 101’

Feral druids have few options for ranged pulling. Assuming you are pulling in bear form you only have 2.

One is to use ‘Growl’ on the target. This is a poor idea. It does no real threat and it puts your only taunt on cooldown. It does have a 30 yard range though so if your other option is not ready and you really need to pull it works.

Your other option is Feral Faerie Fire.

When you get this:

Growl you get at lvl 10 along with bear form. You get Faerie Fire (feral) at level 18.

Range:

Growl: 30 yards

Faerie Fire (feral): 30 yard

Additional effects:

Faerie Fire does damage that is 1+0.15 times your attack power. At high level this is a nice little hit. In bear form it also does extra threat. These two effects make it a good ranged pull. Faerie Fire applies a 5 minute duration 5% armor debuff. It also prevents stealth for that time.

Growl causes a very very short forced attack effect (3 seconds) that is not exclusive.

Application:

Using either of these is very simply. You move to within 30 yards, target something, and fire. Then you wait for them to come at you.

Follow up:

The usual follow up is to wait for the targets to get close and then Swipe. If you don’t need to move the pack completely to where you start you might Charge when they get closer. If you used Faerie Fire you will have Growl in reserve if any of your party pulls one of the pack off you as the pull goes down.

Once the pack gets to you and contact is made then you need to do the usual follow ups of pointing the pack in the right direction and positioning yourself where you want to be.

Variations:

Variations include using Line of Sight by hiding around a corner. There is also the ‘hit and run’ which is done by pulling from range, running the other way, and then charging back. Many other variations are possible. The goal here is to move the pack away from a specific area or to position the pack exactly where you want it.

Other use of this ability:

Faerie Fire is a highly effective tool for keeping aggro at range. Firing it repeatedly at something that is not in melee range can be used to keep agro on something you can’t move toward.

Macros and combos:

You might macro a raid mark to it… I prefer mine to be on their own key binding. Since those are your only two ranged abilities there is not much comboing you can do other than variations with charge or growl.

Risks and drawbacks:

All risks of ranged pulls apply. Mainly these risks are that your DPS or heals will do something to ‘pull aggro’ before the pack gets into your melee range.

Other tricks:

Here is a great combo for keeping ranged casters on you if you can’t get them moved into the melee. You wait for the target to ‘pull off’ and then use Growl on it. Immediately after that you use Faerie Fire. The combination of the two means you are now the ‘top threat’ for that target and have a nice little bonus of threat above the next target on the list. This will usually keep the target on you until your cooldowns for Growl and Faerie Fire are complete. You can keep threat this way even if one of your DPS is attacking that target. This is not part of a ranged pull but it is a way you can deal with casters when one is left behind from a ranged pull

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Let them die!

You yank it you tank it!

Ever thought those? If you have done any decent amount of tanking then yeah, you have. Even if you did not give in to the temptation you probably wanted to. Every time you got some jerkwad not watching his threat and pulling you probably wanted to let them die. I have let more than a couple such people die. But that is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the OTHER times you let people pull aggro and die.

Look, you can’t hold all the aggro all the time. I know, I know a good tank tries. Yes. I said as much in other posts. And a really good tank has a shot at pulling that noble goal off. But sometimes you just can’t. Most non-tanks might not agree, most non-tanks probably have never tried to hold aggro when you get an accidental extra pack, a patrol from the rear and some trigger happy DPSers critting their butts off.

Triage

The art of putting your efforts where it is most needed even if it means letting something else slip. This concept applies a lot to healers. Often they have to decide where that critical heal is going and who needs it most. However, when it comes to tanking we get in the same boat. It is very often we have to decide which of two or more targets to taunt and which to throw AOES at. Which to target for some extra hits and which to let run away from us.

Some of you are saying ‘I don’t do that! I just round them all up!’ Ah, but you do. You decide which to round up first and which to wait a GCD for. Or which to wait on your taunt cooldown. You might round them all up EVENTUALLY.  But there are always going to be a few moments where something is not on you. Often that something is going to have a chance to take a swing at one of your party.

With healing triage you heal the people that need it the most AND are most critical to the over all team. Keep the tank up, keep yourself up, keep that really solid caster over there alive. Let the noob DK get smacked around for a while. It does not mean you are letting them die, though sometimes that happens.

Tanking triage works the same, even if we don’t usually think of it that way. Moment to moment, we the tanks, decide what threat moves to use and where. When things go to heck we are deciding on the fly what to taunt and what targets to use what moves on.

Like healing triage this is not something a new tank is likely to do. Like a new healer a new tank will simply throw around what aggro they can and play whack a mole with targets that pull off of them. As you get more experience you develop a system and a sense for what taunts and threats to use where.

Why we triage

The point of triage is that we don’t want to waste our efforts in places where they do no good. Taunting the add on that ret pally is less useful than taunting that add that is hitting the healer. Things like that. If we take the time to taunt off both, something else might pull off of us. Also if we taunt off the pally first the healer could die. A tank that is not actively deciding what triage to do might just simply taunt the first one he notices. In a really bad situation that could lead to a wipe.

Your Priorities

Healer

The top priority is always the healer. That person absolutely needs to not be getting hammered. You have to taunt off them as fast as you can… mostly. If more than one target is going after your healer it might be best use of your precious time to move the fight toward them and use some more AOE. Some of your more exotic ‘oh crap’ moves may need to be saved for the healer alone.

Soft DPS… sometimes

Many soft DPS are either fast with their ‘oh crap’ moves or they are dead. Mages are the big example here. They actually have a lot of moves for saving their own lives. Based on my experience they don’t remember they have half of them and they are usually to slow with the ones they DO remember.

Soft DPS are important to save… except they are probably dead by the time you need to save them. So if you can’t get them in time, cut your losses and let them go. No reason to waste a taunt cooldown taunting a critter that has already finished off your friend in the pointy hat.

Bosses

You have to keep the boss on you. Really.

Adds… sometimes

Most of the time adds have no real threat built up yet so you don’t need a whole taunt to get them to come to you. Still it is better to get some of them on you any way you can.

Adds are usually in a pack. And adds are usually going after someone that is not you (at first). Which means someone is about to bet blasted. So you need to soften that blow as fast as you can. Taunting one of the adds as they come at you is a good way to do it. So is getting closer and throwing AOE. Whatever you can do. This is more important than taunting off of people that just are doing too much threat.  Why? Threat pullers are usually pulling one target. And they usually do it often enough that the healer and the person doing it are ready for it. The healer may NOT be ready for the mage in the back to get omnomnomed by a whole pack of tiny velociraptors.

Adds happen. Dealing with them fast and effectively is the mark of a good tank. When adds happen is when a weak tank/group wipes. So the faster and more effetely you can deal with the changing situation the better. You want to round up those things so fast and tie up their threat so tight that most of the party does not even realize you got any adds.

When NOT to taunt off.

A big challenge in tanking is to not get tunnel vision. If you panic when you see a target pull off you then you stand a very good chance of losing threat on another target. Focusing on that first one caused you to miss a threat move or two and not keep building up your aggro on everyone else. So it is important to know when NOT to worry too much about a target ignoring you.

Taunt off of other dps…. Rarely.

I mean really, why bother? Melee DPS are mostly plate wearers and rogues. Plate can take a few hits and if a rogue can’t dump their own aggro they aren’t worth your taunt cooldown anyway.

And hey, the more threat that DPSer builds up before you taunt the more threat you will have after you taunt.

Hunters, just about never taunt off them. Seriously, feign death and misdirect? What the heck else can anyone need?

Don’t throw threat moves to save someone if there is a higher priority issue. Don’t taunt off that melee DPS if you have not sewed up that pack of adds with enough AOE yet. Early in a fight AOE is more important than taunting. Let me say that again…

EARLY IN A FIGHT AOE THREAT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TAUNTING

If someone pulls off you early and you stop some AOE to get that target back you are highly likely to lose someone else. Don’t do that.

I will get back to that in a second…

What moves to use when

Moves like Intervene, deathgrip and that one that taunts three targets that pallies get. Maybe you save those for the healer and maybe you don’t. It depends on how often you need them and what the chances of getting adds is.

It depends on your play style as well and what your personal strengths are. You don’t want to save a move for saving the healer if you never can remember where you put that obscure hotkey. If you can’t hit it fast and easy then it is not the right move to pick when saving a high criticality target. A lesser move fast is better than an uber move too late. You need to get to know your more obscure options and try them out BEFORE you need them. If you are not use to using something then it will let you down when you need it.

Some ‘oh crap’ type moves need macros to use them most effectively. Even if you don’t use macros for much consider using them for a few critical things as needed. In another post someday I will cover ‘oh crap’ moves and when to use them. Your main categories are these.

-AOE threat

-Focused threat (might be more than one target still)

-Taunts

-‘Other’ oh crap moves.

Here are your top priorities as the fight changes…

1) Opening instant of the fight:

->Get some small amount of threat on EVERY target.

2) First few seconds of the fight

->Build up a lot of threat on the target or targets your party is focusing on.

->Build up some AOE threat on every target

3) Middle and late stages of the fight

->stabilize any situation that developed early on.

->round up targets that pull off you

->watch for adds

4) End of battle

->stop runners

->check on your healer

->plan your next move

Notice how your focus and priority changes. Also that phase three one ‘->stabilize any situation that developed early on’ is a big area. It might be that your health is going down to fast, or that someone is off in a corner soloing something. It could be a lot of things. But you can’t get distracted by those until you have done the ground work early in the fight. By the time targets are half dead you could almost stop tanking entirely and the fight will end favorably. It is those critical first few seconds your agro generation has to be a high priority. It still matters later. But later, if you drop threat on a target or two, it is unlikely to cause a wipe. If you do that early on it is quite likely to cause a wipe.

Order of business in the triage world.

Stabilize the patient

The party is your patient. If you have to amputate (let someone die) to keep the whole body alive, do it. The first thing to do is to stabilize the situation. What I said about getting to a pack of adds fast? That was stabilizing the situation. Taunting off someone is the same. It is that initial minimum thing you need to do for things to stop being ‘bad’. Even if for just a moment. This can take many forms. Lots of ‘oh crap’ moves are good for stabilizing different situations. AOE force attack moves are great for buying you a few seconds of stability. Antimagic shell is a bit of a stabilizing move, if the issue you have is magic related. Shockwave’s area effect stun is a nice little stabilizing move if timed right.

Assess the situation

This happens in a nano second. If you are having trouble with assessing the problem might be that you are having situational awareness issues. I can’t cover those here so go read other posts :P

Part of assessing is measuring the situation against what you are personally capable of. Can you handle a pack of adds that big? What would have to happen in order for you to survive? Can you keep agro on those casters over there and still keep the big melee all under control? If you can’t handle the situation as it is, what would have to change about it for you to be able to handle it?

Prioritize

See above. You have to decide what area needs your attention the most and focus on that. If there is something you have to do to get things under control, do it. If there are things that are getting in the way of you getting control, stop doing those. Now is the time to do what you KNOW will win the fight. Don’t play threat tug-a-war with an over geared DPSer if you think something else about the fight is at risk.

Cut your losses

Let people die that are going to do. The most important thing in the world is that at the end of the fight one of your party with a rez spell is still standing. Everything else is optional. Sometimes this means you the tank have to die to buy time for the rest of the party. So be it. Your survival is optional. Failure is not optional so be certain that whatever you do, SOMEONE that can rez is alive at the end.

Usually this means you need to preserve yourself, the healer, and one decent DPS. As long as those live you can usually finish things. Sometimes you might be the last one standing or you might only be able to save the healer. Triage is about making the tough choices fast so that the whole survives.

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I have decided to do a few posts on specific fun and interesting pulling tricks. This is a personal favorite of mine.

Name: Hit and run

Use: Pulling a caster pack or mixed pack when no LOS is available and you need to move the pack toward the party.

Difficulty: High. The actual complexity of the pull is medium but the chance of the party letting you do it right is low.

Classes: Any. Works well with charging tanks but can be done with any tank.

How to: Move to the maximum range of your longest range move targeting the closest member of the pack. Fire. Turn IMMEDIATELY and run like heck directly away from the pack. If possible keep an eye over your shoulder on the pack itself. Keep running until the pack is roughly where you want to tank them. Turn around and move to engage the pack. At this time you may use a charge. If the pack is spread out you might want to charge one of the targets in the back (farthest from you). Move in, round them up, tank as normal.

About: This technique is great because it allows you to move a pack with casters closer to you. It allows you to do that WITHOUT a ranged silence move. This is good if you don’t have such a move, or can’t hit all caster targets with such a move. That makes it great for lower level tanks who don’t have a ranged silence yet. It is also good for any class that is not a tank such as AOE grinding mages. It is even good as a single target pull against casters when soloing on any class, not just tanks.

The point of running away is to interrupt the cast of the ranged attackers and to get out of their max range. This forces them to follow you until you turn and re-engage.

Basically any time you need to pull a caster to you, don’t have a ranged silence, and have room to run behind you, then this is a good pull to use.

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One of the most critical things, for a tank is confidence. Many people giving advice on tanking will mention it and all agree it is important. By why? Here is why…

The loop

An acronym somewhat common in military circles is OODA. It is an acronym for the process by which people decide things. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. These are the steps use to make a decision. You see some situation; you orient yourself in relationship to it, decide on a course of actions, and then execute that action. In combat situations they describe this as a loop. You start at Observe, run through it, and as soon as you get to act you are back at observer. You see what changes have taken place in the situation, you orient yourself to those changes, decide what to do next and then do that. In combat this all takes place at blazing speed with no actual pausing or deliberating. But those steps still exist and you still go through them as a cycle.

Getting inside

Years ago fighter pilots discovered that when two people go head to head it was not the person that made the BEST decisions that won the fight. It was the one that made the FASTEST decisions. If both combatants are using the loop you can visualize how as soon as the first person decides and acts she has changed the situation. The other person might be making a technically better choice. But they made it a split second too late. When the first person acted the situation changed. As the fight goes on the ‘better’ decider is falling farther and farther behind in each ‘loop’ around the OODA circle. They call this getting ‘inside’ the other person’s decisions making loop.

It is like a boxer keeping the other person off balance. The other boxer might have a really great left hook that is sure to cause a knockout, but if he is always off balance he can’t throw the punch.

These concepts apply to tanking, though not in precisely the same way. You, as the tank, are making decisions in this OODA loop. The Observing step applies to situational awareness, something I have talked about in the past. The Orient step has to do with both awareness and positioning. Deciding and acting must be quick smooth and confident. We don’t have time to be second guessing or rehashing mistakes. We have to start the loop again and react to the changing battle.

We are not going up against another human in single combat so we are not pitting our loop against another loop. We are, however, pitting it against the programmed actions and reactions of the packs we are tanking. These actions are fast paced but not all instant so there is a time factor. We still have to pit our decision making against the pace of the instance. Or, against ourselves if we are setting a ‘gogogo’ pace. The harder we push the faster we have to be reacting and deciding.

Tank vs Party

But wait! There is more! We ARE pitting our decision loop in head to head combat with others… those others are our own party. How much this is a ‘versus’ depends on how good they are at following your lead and how good they are at being good party players in general.

The other day I was in a pug and a boomkin, well geared and a solid player, was mentioning how great they are at cycloning things before they get to the healer. I pointed out that doing that prevents the tank from taunting them back into the AOE threat zone. The response I got was something like ‘oh that is ok. I saved the healer.’ They missed my point that if the tank taunts an instant after you cyclone it is wasted. Or maybe they tried to death grip, judge fearie fire, or otherwise toss some threat at the wayward critter. The boomkin thinks they are being helpful and saving the day but in reality they quite well could be messing up the tank. Something similar happens if a mage frostnovas a pack off adds. Now you can’t’ get those into the threat zone quickly. These are not party wipers (usually) but they can throw a tank off stride, they force you to react to a changed situation. You reaction is yet another quick loop around the OODA cycle as you see what they did, and react to it. The slower your loops around the circle are the farther behind you get and the more you are at the mercy of your oh so helpful party. We have all been in one of those. Maybe it was a hunter that was on speed and tagging everything in sight. Or perhaps some DK gripping orcs around the Ramparts like crazy. And we have probably all seen the groups where our tank was just so slow to react they could not deal with anything.

Confidence

This is where ‘confidence’ comes in. What we mean when we say ‘confidence’ (with respect to tanking) is the ability to make a fast decision and act on it with no hesitation or pausing to rethink. Do we go left or right? Left! Go! Do we jump down? Weeeee. Do we pull the left ones or the right ones. *kapow*! Before the dps has time to ponder, second guess, get bored, or pull themselves the tank has already decided on a path and a plan and put that plan into effect.

Yes, in WOW it is possible for a tank to be extremely slow and deliberate. You can set up every pull with carful precision and deliberateness and try to make it so you never have to react quickly to anything. You can also mercilessly kick anyone that upsets the balance even a little. But that does not make you a better tank.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying carful pulls are a sign of a bad tank. I am also not saying that all good tanks set a high speed pace. NOT AT ALL.

A good tank decides quickly and acts confidently no matter what the paces is. There are always adds, or fears, or unexpected events to react to. A good tank should endeavor to learn fast and confident decision making to enhance their abilities. This does not always mean charging ahead. But if you are stopping for mana, you can say “mana!” or “30 second break” in chat and you can do it fast an confident without standing around for 20 seconds agonizing over if the healer has enough for another pull while the DPS wonders if you are DCed. Same thing with pulls. You don’t have to charge in fast, but you can’t just stand there for 1 minute while considering all the angles with the DPS thinking you are walking the dog. If you need a second, quickly and confidently say “give me a second”.

Aura of Confidence

Along with just deciding the fast you are projecting to your party the aura that you are confident and know what you are doing. Even when you don’t know, project it anyway. Even if you are asking for advice on a pull or asking to be reminded of what a boss does. Even asking for help can be done in a confident and timely manner. People can usually respect a brain fart and a quick ‘what does this guy do again?’ Those same people are unlikely to respect 2 minutes of ‘er, um’ and ‘let me check my notes’ before finally asking the same thing. The key is to make people think you know what you are doing. Not through lying but thorough an aura of confidence and competence. Even when you are admitting you have no clue you can do it in a way that shows them you are CONFIDENT you have no clue. Don’t lie about not knowing and blow their trust. Be honest but project confidence. As I said, even asking for advice can be done in a leadership fashion. Observe the following two methods.

A: “Ah, I have never tanked this one… does anyone know it? Anyone?” (someone else comments) “Er does that work? Are you sure? Anyone else have an idea?”

B: “Alright guys this boss is a new one to me. Does anyone have a good strat?” (insert comments) “Ok sounds good. We will do that. Lets go! Pulling in 10 seconds”

See the difference? How did each make you feel about the group and the likelihood of success?

Communication

Communicate clearly and unambiguously. Don’t make them go ‘what?’ If you handout advice, instructions, or strategies don’t make them have to figure out what you meant. They should not have to guess what bush you are beating around by the sound of the branches. Tell them what you mean. Tell them what you want them to do. Tell them clearly what YOU are going to do. You don’t have to be a jerk about things to be firm and clearly state what you mean.

 Tanking is a leadership role. Almost everything written about leadership applies to tanking in some way or another.

Final note on Pacing versus Decision Making

The pace you set and the speed you decide are not the same. Not the same but they are closely related. One of the reasons we are seeing so many overly fast tanks is that they can go fast. Not because they are any good, but because the over gearing and dumbing down of content has made it so that most tanks can just charge in, hammer their aoes and expect the fight to go well. They can set a fast pace because they have almost nothing to decide. The same goes for impatient DPS. They can act fast because they have nothing to think about of figure out beyond who to put an arrow in first or which one to beat on next. That takes no time or actual thinking so they can plow ahead at an unsustainable pace.

Each tank will have to find their own ways of slowing people down. I usually do it by setting pace that is either flat out insane, or simply setting one that is just fast enough to prevent boredom and the stupidity that follows. You may be finding people pushing you or making your tanking life miserable by doing dumb things. Keep in mind that if you push yourself a little harder things might actually get easier. Once you get your decision making loop ‘inside’ your dpsers, or set a pace just fast enough to not let them get bored, you will find the random stupidity starts to decrease and things get smoother and easier.

Finally, setting a slower more careful pace can be a crutch for slow deciding but that is not at all 1 to 1 correlation. Also that is not to be confused with running content with a sub optimal group just to add challenge. This slows things down by forcing more complicated and difficult decisions. It can be fun and rewarding.

Cataclysm…

It might be a nightmare at first. Forcing people to use CC (as they have said will happen more) means fights are going to be harder and more complicated. Tanks will have to do more than just AOE spam. Also healers are going to have to get better at triage instead of just ‘topping people off’. All this means instances runs may well be a rude awakening for many. Personally I am hoping for it. I am hoping it will blow away the current level of stagnation in randoms and get people think more and do more. I only hope that overgeared morons will not be able to steamroll their way to 85. I want to see them slam hard into the wall and learn to play again.

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I already talked about multi-pulls. Chain pulls are different. Multi pulls involve pulling and downing multiple packs at the same time. Chain pulling, in a nutshell, is minimizing the time between pulls. This might be simply charging the next group as soon as one is down or it might mean actually leaving a pack mostly dead for the DPS to finish off while you head for the next group. So in chain pulls you are doing one pull at a time but doing them back to back. The challenges and issues of chain pulling are different from multi pulls.

You are only fighting one pack at a time so each fight involves less incoming damage for you the tank. This means they are in theory, easier to heal. But in fact the hardest thing about chain pulling is how hard it is on the healer, or more specifically, how hard it is on the healer’s mana pool. Because you are allowing no time for anyone to rest of drink the mana pool either has to be improbably huge, or the healer has to be extremely good at conserving it (possibly by being hugely geared), or you have to require almost no healing. The last way that a healer’s mana can survive a chain pulling run is by the DPS killing things very fast. Let’s look at each of those.

Healer mana pool

You, the tank, can’t actually effect how big the healers mana pool is, but you can monitor it and actually stop as needed. If you think you are good enough to run something at super speed then you can prove it by being good enough to pay attention to the healer’s mana. The level of mana at the end of a fight is the healers problem to deal with. The level of mana the healer has when the next fight starts is YOUR problem. Anyone that chain pulls and then complains when an OOM healer lets them die needs to respect from tanking and NEVER tank again. Seriously. Do us all a favor. Are they gone yet? Good. If you are still reading I am going to assume you are not a jerk or a moron and you want to actually be able to do fast chain pulling runs that don’t involve whining while running back from the graveyard. If this is the case you need to take a few steps.

I am talking about steps YOU the TANK have to take. Things the other roles have to do are different.

Own your healer’s mana pool

That is right. His/her mana is your problem. Treat it as such. If you panic the healer and they waste mana that is your mistake. If they forget to drink or are too scared to for fear you might run off, that is your problem.

Make it clear from the start it will be a fast run. Feel free to say it in /party. While you are at it tell the casters and healers that if they need mana to let you know. This will put them at ease about your frantic place and make them more likely to actually stop and drink when you pause and give them the chance. If you notice them getting low during the run, pause and suggest they drink. Monitor how much their mana goes down after each fight. This is useful information. If they have 1/3 of their total does that mean you can take on another group? It might.. after a few pulls you should KNOW because you should be paying attention. Their mana is your healing. Treat it with care.

Adjust your cooldown strategy

On the multi-pull runs I described you are using cooldowns first to survive big hits and only second as a way to save your healers mana. On a chain-pull run your cooldowns are there to save your healer’s mana. It is also good to keep one or two in reserve if you expect to chare out of your healers healing range. But, mostly your cooldowns should be used to make it so you don’t actually need to be healed at all. Even a poorly geared healer can keep you topped off is you are well equipped and using your cool downs effectively.

Also do all you can to reduce the AOE damage your party takes. Sure it is their fault if they stand in the fire, but you are hear for a fast run. A fast run requires they not die and the healer not go OOM keeping their fire standing butt alive. So shift bosses, stun casters, use your aoe debuffs and generally do all you can to reduce AOE damage. Also pop a cooldown of your own when AOE damage is happening. If the healer does not have to worry about you they can be more efficient with what they use to heal the DPSers.

Kill Fast

There is one thing that does the most to make fast runs fast as well as keep the mana of all involved from running out. That thing is mad crazy DPS. You need groups to die fast and hard. As a tank you can help. Round up groups nice and fast into tight packs and then hold them in place through all AOEs. Don’t drag the groups after you to get to the next group faster. This will only slow things down because your DPSers will not be able to AOE effectively.

There are tricks you can use if your group is doing such mad crazy DPS that you can’t actually hold agro. Learn those tricks and use them. One big one is to use your AOE forces attack with optimal timing. AOE stuns and slows are also effective. It does not matter if your DPS pulled agro if everything dies a half second later.

If anyone is doing something that is slowing things down, let them know. For example using typhoon and blowing things out of the AOE area. Let the boomkin know that that is actually slowing the run down. If you think they are too trigger happy to stop using it ask them to use it only at the tail end of a fight.

Multi pulling, chain pulling or a little of both

In many high speed runs these days you are likely to mix the back to back ‘chain pull’ with a true multi pull when you do more than one group at once. This works well but it is still important to understand the differences between them. Otherwise you will be moving at a brisk pace and then be surprised when you suddenly wipe due to an extra pack or two. The trick is to set a brisk pace but to still have it be a deliberate pace that you control. You have to know your limits. Push them but don’t ignore them.

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One of the tanks jobs is to control the battlespace. This means several things. It means you pick when and where the battle takes place. It also means you control or attempt to control where and how the battle moves and progresses.

The concept of controlling the battlespace comes from military parlance. The methods and reasons are completely different but the general concept is the same. By picking where and how the battle is fought you increase or decrease your chances of winning. Picking well can cause a battle to be ‘easy’ and picking poorly or not exerting control at all can cause the battle to be sloppy at best and a wipe at worst.

Picking and Positioning the Battlespace

The first part of controlling the battle space is deciding where the battle happens. If the battle will involve movement this is picking where it starts. The shape of the ‘pull’ is the major determiner of where the battle starts.

First I want to comment on aggro range. The aggro range of a pack is actually the area of all of the members.

Here is a pack.

Here are the members of the pack.

And here are all their agro ranges.

But that is too much so we just combined them and approximate it as a circle.

From now on I will just use it like this.

Picking the battle ground

Now we bring in the tank.

Let’s take the most basic sort of pull. Move toward the enemy until they see you and attack. You can easily predict where this fight will start. Take agro range of the pack and divide it in half. Follow your line of movement from the edge of their agro range. Half roughly half the distance to them is where you will first get hit.

This is obvious but important. Here the tank moves in to the group. The group spots him and comes to meet him. Whether the tank meant to or not he has moved the fight.

The distance the group moved to meet the tank relocated where the fight was going to happen. It is only a small distance but it is a change.

As tank you should be aware of such small changes and what effect they might have on the fight. Now what if instead the tank had used a charge (bear or warrior).

Notice that the targets only moved from where they were over to the one the tank charged. Everyone KNOWS this stuff, right? Yes but it is critically important that the tank realize they, by choosing how to start the fight have chose to hold the fight at a specific place. A tank that just charges because it is ‘the way warriors start a fight’ is completely failing to see that there are other options. Fighting the fight where your charge target is standing might not be the best plan. Then again it might work just fine but you need to know you are making a decision about the fights location.

Here is another one.

This tank used a ranged move, a taunt, an attack, even death grip. It does not matter which in this case. We are just looking at the fight location. An this time the location is moved much farther. By simply using his favorite pull move the tank has decided to move the fight a long way.

Even if they did not intend to make such a decision, they did. One of the main uses for doing different kinds of pulls is to actively decide to hold the fight in different places.

There are a lot of reasons to chose to fight the fight some place different than where the pack is standing. Perhaps they fear and are close to something else. Maybe your rogue is planning to get behind them and the next group is awfully close. Moving the fight, even slightly, can give the rogue room to do optimal damage.

It is very important to understand that the way you chose to pull sets up the location and the shape of the space you will be fighting in.

Moving a fight

The act of pulling can do a certain amount to relocate the fight. To do more drastic ‘relocating’ you need to move the fight after that initial moment contact. Moving the fight after it starts is harder but still something you can do. Mainly you just do it by moving yourself and having the pack follow. The reasons for doing this are much like the other ones. Maybe you realized you should have pulled them back more. Or maybe you just spotted a patrol.

There are risks involved with this. One is that you might break LOS with the healer. Another is you might move out from under some nice AOEs and waste the DPSers time and energy to retarget. However, biggest risk is that while you are moving you will stop doing part or all of your threat rotation. This can cause you to drop agro on something. There are other risk too like getting a whirlwinding mob too close to a clothie.

Moving a fight is to be avoided for those reasons but is often necessary. As the tank you need to be ready and willing to move the fight when needed.

But there is something else you also need to be aware. That is the times you move the fight as a reaction. Those are the times you did NOT mean to move it. When someone pulls agro off you and you go chasing to get that agro back you are moving the fight. All the risks of moving the fight listed above and the others I didn’t all apply when the fight moves. It does not matter if you meant to move it or not.

So be aware of your actions and choices. As you start paying attention to choices you did not know you were making you may start to see that there are other options.

Orienting a fight

Orienting a fight is one of the things you do after a fight starts to position the targets or your party (or both) in the way you want them or need them to be positioned. This is usually done as a reaction to something the target pack or party are doing or in anticipation of something they will be doing.

Turn the boss around

The most common reorient move is to face the target away from the party. Many critters do some sort of aoe attack in front of them. This can be anything from chain lightening to poison sprays. If you even suspect a target is going to do something like that you should face them away from the group.

The simple way to do this is to move past the target and spin around.

I move and then they move and then I move and they move again! Stop them already!

This is a well known bug. Every time you adjust your position the target moves somewhere you don’t want them and you have to adjust again. This is because they are reacting as if, when you move, you are going to KEEP moving. They, for an instant think you are taking off running. So before the your game client can tell the server you have stopped moving, the critter moves to follow you. Because of internet lag this makes it look as if they are moving after you have already stopped. They really aren’t but an instant of lag makes it look that way.

Yes there IS a way to break this vicious cycle. Move sideways! Use your strafe keys and right click mouse drag to sidle around the target like a crab.

The target might step sideways to match you but you have still turned them away from the party. Because you are rotating the target as you go they don’t just jump past you and turn back around.

Turning things in the direction you want is the most comment way you reorient things. Other times you turn things is when you are simply repositioning them but don’t want to move too far in a certain direction. For example if you are moving a fight off the patch of poison or bad mojo but don’t want to drag the fight into the next pack. At times like that you might move them in a circular pattern or run past to drag them in some other direction.

Remember, while it is the DPS’s job to stay out of the fire it is your job to move the target to where they can attack it without being in the fire. You have to give them space to do their job.

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This will be a very basic introduction to raid tanking. Although a tank is often the raid leader this will not be about leading raids. The assumption here is that someone else is leading things and you are either main tanking or off tank.

Before you do anything else go get a raid boss addon, like Deadly Boss Mods. You can’t tank a real raid without one so don’t even consider it. You can probably tank most of the weekly raids without it… but go get it anyway.

First off…

Know the Fight!

This is totally critical. You must know what to expect. If you have done it as a DPS or healer don’t assume you know what you need to do. There are mechanics bosses do that no one but the tanks cares about so don’t think you know the fight if you have not tanked it. Go watch a video, read a guide or just plain ask lots of questions. Better yet, do all three. If you are not 110% clear on what you need to do, ask again. This is not a pug where asking questions is cause for mocking and kicking. Let me say that again…

RAIDS ARE NOT PUGS

Don’t assume you can just be mute and stumble though it and things will go well. That will not happen. There are things you need to know and there is communication that needs to take place. The standard social conventions of a 5man to NOT apply to a raid. If you don’t know something you are expected to ask. If you don’t ask and your ignorance causes a wipe you can expect the group will kick you out the door with their epic boots.

Basic Raid tank concepts.

There are a lot of different encounters with a variety of mechanics. You will learn those over time. But there are a few concepts you 100% must understand or you will fail and fail hard. These are widely used in boss fights and therefore must be well understood.

Cleave

When someone says a boss cleaves this means there is some move or moves that hit more than one target. It usually hits two targets. The way to deal with this is to have all tanks stand in front of the target and everyone else stand behind. THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL! This must be done. Many bosses can one-shot tanks if another tank is not standing next to him. This is because if only one target is in front of the boss the whole cleave damage hits that target. If there are two the cleave is split between them and both live. These fights are DESIGNED to require two tanks. The main thing people will tell you to do when cleave is in the picture is…

Stack on X

Or skull or star or whatever. When you are instructed to stack on a particular raid mark that does not mean be within shouting distance or to be sort of kind of near them. It means gets so close to their butt that it is illegal in 23 states. It means super glue your hip to theirs. Sometimes stacking is temporary until a phase is past or an effect goes off. When this is the case you need to stack FAST when it is time to stack and unstack when the time for it is over. Anytime someone talks about stacking in a raid it is IMPORTANT and you need to do it when they say to do it and not do it when they say to move away. It is not a suggestion, hint or gentle recommendation. It is an ORDER. You are expected to follow it or leave the raid. If you can’t handle that concept go back to pugs and give bloggers more fail-pug stories to write about.

Taunt swapping.

This is a very critical tanking concept. The way you will hear it will be something like ‘taunt on 3 stacks’ or ‘taunt when you get the mark’. Here is why. In many fights there are mechanics where the boss absolutely has to switch his aggro between the tanks at critical moments. There are a lot of reasons for it. Sometimes it is a debuff that reduces that tank’s healing received or sometimes it is a mark that gives the boss power. The why does not matter. What matters are these following steps…

Know when you are suppose to taunt.

Be clear on just what mark or debuff it is and how many stacks you taunt on. Don’t rely on the other tank to tell you in vent. KNOW YOUR JOB. If you wait for the vent command it might be too late. If someone has to tell you ‘taunt now’ in vent there is an unspoken ‘you slacker moron’ on the end of ‘taunt now’. Know when to taunt and do it before they tell you to.

Do NOT taunt ANY other time.

Don’t taunt when you already have aggro. That causes taunt immunity and is a waste of a GCD. Don’t taunt when it is not your turn. That can literally wipe the raid. That is right. Your taunt button can be a one button ‘kill everyone’ key in some fights. Be careful with it!

That is the short short version of starting in on raid tanking. There is a lot more to it. But, if you can’t handle the concepts of taunt swapping, stacking on the other tank, and following orders you should just save 9 or 24 other people the repair costs and stay away. There are lots of other things to learn so be willing to look things up and learn fights. Be ready to try different tactics and not just do something because you saw it done that way one time. There are a lot of other good raid tanking resources out there so go find them. This was intended to simply be basic transition information for someone who has never done any sort of multi tank fight.

If you don’t know, ask.

People are far less having to give an explanation than they are by wiping. And trust me, you NEED the explanation. These are not fights you can just get through on luck and instinct. They are tricks and traps that you need to respond to. So ask as many questions as you need to. Don’t worry about looking dumb. Worry about getting kicked if you don’t speak up and everyone figures out you don’t know the fight when they are dead on the floor. People are more forgiving of learning tanks if you TELL them you are learning in advance.

Other raid tips…

Expect to wipe.

Wipes happen. Wipes can happen many times. This is not a 5 man where if you die to a boss 2 or 4 times you drop group and don’t look back. Raiding is a whole different dynamic. You might die to a boss many times before downing him. But as a raider you should be ready to go the distance. You should be ready to buff back up, learn from your mistakes and try again.

Speaking of mistakes…

Take criticism.

If you can’t handle having someone tell you just how dumb you are then you should not raid. Think of such people as drill instructors. They are getting in your face and cutting you down to size so that you straighten up, follow the leader’s orders, and get the job done. They don’t do it for you to cry, shout, argue, or drop group and spend all evening bad mouthing them in /trade. If you messed up face up to it, take your licks and your verbal abuse and learn from it. Sometimes it is not pretty. There is very little room for error in a raid fight so raiders can’t afford to let repeated mistakes go unanswered. They might say mean and unfair things. Downing the boss is worth it! Learning from your mistakes and becoming a better player is worth it. Thank them for their help, ask what you can do different and be willing to learn. Do that and you will find you get a lot more invites and a generally better attitude from your leaders. If you try to argue with them or just storm out of the group in a huff, don’t expect them to have sympathy. They worked hard and learned from their mistakes to get as good as they are. So they don’t have a lot of patience for people that are not also willing to work hard and learn from mistakes.

Willingness to try hard and learn something WILL earn their respect. Remember, when you wipe they are mad about failing and they are taking that out on your. The way to get out of the line of fire is to not be the weak link. Let them vent and then try to learn something. Arguing or being stubborn is a waste of time. Raids are srs bizns to many people. In the event that they are jerks AND morons you can still be quite, learn what you can, and take that learning to a new raid group next time.

Raids are challenging and rewarding. Good luck and have fun.

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