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.
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.
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.
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…
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.