Sprink Notes

Thou Shalt Tank

Posted on: May 16, 2010

And Tank Spectacularly!How many of you read Thou Shalt DPS? If you haven’t, go ahead, I’ll give you a minute.

Back? Okay. Well, it took a while, but I think I’m ready to throw down some fundamentals I’ve learned on tanking. Remember, this back to the basics approach is just that, my take on the basics you’ll need to keep in mind when running around with complete strangers depending on you to ‘do your job.’

So, on that note, I’d like to toss out a list of things every tank should probably keep at least in the back of their minds. Remember, when the going gets tough, Thou Shalt Tank.

  • Tanks Lead the Way…
    As the tank, you’re expected to stand in between the bad things and the squishies, which means you will be leading the pack through the dungeon.  It’s okay to mention to the group if you’ve never been inside the dungeon before; they’ll probably thank you and give you guidance as to where to go and what to do next. My first few runs through Nexus on Tirralyis were opened with a “/p I’m a pretty new tank, but I’ve been through this dungeon quite a few times on my mage. Take it easy on me and let me know if I’m not doing well. Apologies ahead of time for any wipes. ^_^” Even if they don’t offer up anything, at least you gave them fair warning. If other group members run ahead of you, gently remind them that you are tanking, and they’ll usually back off. If they don’t, just try to do the best you can.
  • … But Good Tanks Have a Path Already Planned.
    I love our 5-man group’s tank, Vengilus. You see, Veng is an avid reader, and you can bet that we’re at least going to know the basics of the dungeon before we even zone in. Forget where to stand during a certain phase of a boss fight? Veng’ll remind you. Not sure what the plan is for this pull? Veng’ll let you know how and where things should be. Even if you’ve never been in the dungeon before, looking over the maps and boss strategies for dungeons you can enter before you queue will make for a much happier, easier, stress-free run.
  • Tanks Are Hard to Come by…
    If you’ve ever queued as DPS, you know that it’s not uncommon to see a 10-20 minute wait before you can even be added to a party. However, queuing as a tank gives you an almost instant group. I think the longest I’ve had to wait on Tirralyis was three minutes, and that’s because there were several AFK DPS that weren’t accepting the group invite. Tanks are a rare breed, and good tanks are a rarer breed. If you’re a new tank, this means that many groups will be a lot more friendly to you and will let you have a few more screw ups than say, a DPS. Many groups will only initiate a group kick of the tank if said tank is beyond bad, arrogant, and just plain fail at their class.
  • … But Not Irreplaceable.
    Just because you are a tank doesn’t mean you cannot be vote-kicked. You are not immune to being benched for a fresh second-stringer. Being a tank does not give you a Get Out of Jail Free Card for being an ass. Or a jerk. Or a jerk-ass. Ragging on the healer for not healing you, when you were obviously not keeping threat on the mobs is not going to go over well with your healer. Picking on the DPS for not doing enough damage is not going to win you any kind of friends any time soon. Being a neglectful tank and letting mobs run around the squishies like they’re a Sunday buffet is roughly 20 seconds away from a vote-kick.
  • Tanks Know When (and How) to Pull Them…
    Since you’re the one doing the pulling, you’re going to be the initiator in most fights. However, a tank whose healer is still drinking and whose DPS are not in the room is not going to be alive for very long. It should go without saying that if you are pulling more than one mob, you will need to keep threat on more than one mob. Tell the mob they smell funny when they’re wet. Tell them they’re King Kong, and they got nothing on you. Hell, tell them their mother was a hamster and their father smelled like elderberries. Regardless of how you do it, keep threat on everything you pull. It doesn’t matter if it’s one mob or the whole dungeon, your role in the group is to keep threat. Every tank class has a different way of handling this, and seeing as I’ve only played a paladin, I don’t really feel comfortable going into detail on the finer points of various strategies. However, as a rule, I tend to keep my taunt off cooldown as much as I can, just in case an errant mob goes for my squishies… especially my healer. ^_^
  • … And Know When to Throw in the Towel.
    Which isn’t to say you need to stress yourself ridiculously nauseous over keeping threat. Sometimes, things get away. Sometimes, things happen. You can’t help it that fire mages are notoriously known as threat machines. Maybe the hunter forgot to take their pet off growl. Either way, do your best to get the mob(s) back. However, once you’ve done all you can, that’s all you can do. I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. The first thing I had to learn about tanking was that, well, sometimes things get away from you. Either you misstepped, or you didn’t quite catch that last mob like you wanted to. Don’t stress over it.
  • Tanks Love Their Healers…
    A tank and a healer are the backbone of any group. Your healer is what keeps you alive while you’re getting picked on by all the mobs. They should be priority number one if something gets away from you. Some healers are okay with pulling groups if they’re at half mana, others prefer to be full up for all pulls. Ask you healer either in party or in a tell what their preference is. Almost all healers like to be full up for bosses. Good communication between healer and tank is the key to a good run.
  • … And Their DPS.
    Which means you can’t ignore the DPSers who are in your party. If the tank and healer are the backbone of a group, the DPSers are the rest of the guts. While the healer is priority number one, you shouldn’t let stray mobs eat the people standing in the back, waving their hands around. You’re not just dragging them along as a peanut gallery for you and your healer’s awesomeness. They’re the ones doing all the damage to kill the things that are beating up on you. Without them, at best it’s going to take forever for you and a healer to get through the dungeon. At worst, you’re not going to make it through the end of the dungeon.
  • Thou Shalt Tank.
    As I mentioned in TSDPS, remember your role as the tank. Be ready to drop some cash on repair costs, as it is just the nature of the beast. Know your rotation, know your class abilities, and with a little practice, you’ll do fine. So shine up your shield (or brush down your fur) and PULL!

Anything I missed? Let me know! ^_^

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2 Responses to "Thou Shalt Tank"

Err, you lost me at “And Know When to Throw in the Towel”. You mean to say at some point I have to call a wipe? NEVAR! Sure, my staying power took a hit with each patch, but that never stopped me from trying. I had two main rotations: “Out-threat Sprink” and “Shitshit, Russ is dead!” Seriously, how many times did the rest of the group make it half way through HHoL before Loken finally downed me? Throw in the towel? Pft! I say bring it on!

Now, as we’re probably all aware, unholy tanking goes bye-bye in Cata. Having been unholy since beta, will this finally kill off Venge’s insatiable need to laugh off bosses attempts to kill her? Probably not. Assuming I can still keep all my fun little toys, that is.

(Also, for the record, I have neither shield nor fur. 😛 )

You see, Veng, this is assuming your tank isn’t a force of nature… er, un-nature. -Those- tanks might feel the need to throw in the towel. And yes, there were plenty a time when the four of us were running back to jump back into the fight in ToC while you were still standing. Ah, those were the days.

(And I was going to add something for those who don’t have shields or fur, but I couldn’t come up with something that didn’t sound terrible. ^_^)

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  • Sprink: @Veng I still have to do the other side of the centaur, and I just stepped foot into Silithis, so I feel like I'm pretty much right on track for Kali
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