Tanking for Dummies

Top 10 Ways to Know Your Tank is a Noob.
March 20, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Advice for Non Tanks, Gear, Lists, Stupid Tanking | Tags: , , , ,

Everyone wants a good tank for their group.  Obviously, not all tanks can be Cinderhelm and Veneretio.  Sometimes you are stuck with me.  Sometimes, you are stuck with me on a cold day in January three years ago.  Just because you spec protection doesn’t make you a tank.

Yes, I once was a Noob (perhaps, as is the case in some strains in Buddhism, some might say I have the noob’s mind).  I have made most if not all of the mistakes I am about to list at some point in my now lengthy career as a tank.  Some of them I have made more than others.  While some might say that I learn best by failing, I think pretty much all of these lessons I wish someone had told me about before I wiped a group with them.

That said, you (like me) might be/have once been a noob if…

10. You turned with your keyboard.

If you don’t know what “keyboard turning is,” it refers to the practice of using the left and right turn buttons on your keyboard (A and D by default) to turn your character around.  As a tank, things get behind you a lot.  Behind is bad.  When things are behind you, most of your defensive abilities don’t work.  And turning with your keyboard is sloooow.  Turning with the mouse (by clicking, or grabbing, and moving the mouse) is much faster.  As in practically instant.  As bad as this is, I still do this on occasion.  Why?  Because my mouse falls off the pad… especially when I’m turning around and trying to grab Anub’Rekhan after fleeing from Locust Swarm.

9. You love charge so much, you forgot about the patrol.

I love charge.   I cannot possibly be the only warrior who decided this must be the class for them because at level 4 they clicked this button and a little giggle of childish glee popped out.  To me, Warbringer has been the height of the expansion thus far.  However, I think charge has killed more groups than any other ability, particularly when we are young and innocent.  The reason for this is simple, proximity agro is fickle and even with Thunderclap all it takes is one patrol at the wrong time to bring it all crashing down.  Pulling with a ranged weapon is almost always the best and safest alternative, especially when you’re learning your limits.

8.  You pull with face, heroically.
This is, realistically, related to number 9 in as much as they seem to be a problem for similar reasons.  That said, “face pulling” or intentionally using proximity agro to pull, is even more signing a death warrant for you healer because it takes but one tick of a hot or even an incidental buff (like Inner Fire) to shift agro away from you.  For their sakes (and yours) never do this without saying something to the effect of “I’m going to pull with my face now.  Please don’t heal me until I’ve gotten actual agro.”
7. You have too much rage.
I will qualify this with saying that this is different from saying “I don’t have to worry about rage.”  Really, what this statement is about is using Heroic Strike.  Namely, if you’re ever above 30 rage, you should be hitting it constantly until it is below that.  I litterally tanked for almost 3 years before I started to love my Heroic Strike spam.  It’s off the global cooldown.  You can queue it up while you are doing your normal rotation.  Never leave home without it.
6. You use the same gear, no matter what you’re doing.
Multiple gear sets are the stepping stone to a more advanced understanding of the game.  This is true for everyone, but with Warriors the results are always staggering because Warriors are so gear dependant.  The earlier you start this trend, the better, because you will learn to appreciate add-ons like Itemrack that much more.  Multiple gear sets are so essential that come 3.1 Blizzard is building gear swapping into the core UI.  Dress for success, as a tank, but also for DPS, also realize that the rabbit hole goes pretty deep.
5. You haven’t checked your healer’s mana bar.
Your healer’s mana regen is the heartbeat by which you set the pace of your group.  Sure you have your magic buttons for emergancies, but the bottom line is when you’re healer is out of mana you’re living on borrowed time.  If you’re lucky enough to run with the same healers all the time, you’ll get this pace pretty quickly.  If you don’t, do them a favor and start slow, ramping up the speed to find the happy medium.  Generally speaking, try to avoid pulling if your healer is below 50%.
4. You left your shield in your other pants.
Once upon a time, if you were rediculously overgeared or over leveled, tanking without a shield was somewhat understandable.  There is just no excuse for this now.  With Shield Slam, Sword and Board, and Damage Shield you’re doing your DPS a disservice if you’re not rocking it out Spartan style.  Plus, if you’re a warrior, and protection, who are you trying to fool?
3. The healer just pulled agro off you.
A wise tank once told me the baseline of any DPS is that they must do more damage than the tank.  The logical extension of this is that the tank must produce more threat than the healer.  This is vastly easier than it ever has been, but if you’re struggling to keep up under normal circumstances (e.g. you’re not dealing with a mob who has some sort of ability that specifically targets healers or other party members independant of threat you’re generating), you need to do something to boost your threat because frankly, you’re not doing your job.
2. You’re going to tank using a weapon you haven’t wielded since level 10.
We are all tempted by shiny new weapons.  They’re pretty and make a huge difference in terms of everything we do.  But if you don’t have time to level your weapon to within the appropriate skill level for the content you’re about to tank (effectively effectively 20 points lower than the level of the toughest mob in the instance multiplied by 5) don’t use the weapon.  If you disregard this, you will miss a lot, and when you miss a lot, people die.
But all of these things are minor and pale in comparison when you consider…
1. You ignore the advice of your group members.
In my opinion, you can be specced well, you can have the right gear, you can be aware of your surroundings, and use the correct rotation, but still fail at tanking because you are not being responsive to your group.  Sometimes, you can end up in a group with an alt of a more experienced tank.  Sometimes, your healer is having a problem.  Sometimes you are just failing at your job.  Tanking is all about strategy and communication, and that means keeping your ears and mind open.  If you do, you’ll transcend your noobery in no time.  If you don’t, I’m afraid you’ll be a noob forever.

17 Comments so far
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Not bad, the only bad habits I have left are:
10: It is fast to turn with the mouse, but I often use the keyboard, mainly because the rotation is too sensitve and I spin like a top.

6: The issue here is that I do have some alt pieces, but they are mostly DPS Plate. I just don’t know what pieces of tank worthy gear are equivalent to each other with differences coming from bonus emphasis (EH vs. Avoid vs. Threat)

Comment by James V

@James – Regarding #10, you may have your mouse sensitivity up to high in the game, but you may just need to use a different technique. If you turn the camera angle to face the bad guy (something you’re probably doing anyway) and then tap the right mouse button, your character will automatically turn in the right direction. You move forward in that direction slightly, but if you just tap, you’ll not be in any trouble.

Re: 6 – If you’re swapping out most of your pieces you’ve really got your game down, you’re just tweaking it a bit. I’m really talking about tanks who don’t change even one piece of gear whether they’re questing, DPSing or tanking.

Comment by Tarsus

[…] Tanking for Dummies blog has the Top 10 Ways To Know Your Tank Is A Noob. Don’t be that […]

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I’m only guilty of 6, and partially 10.

10: I use the mouse to turn fast when I need it, but sometimes you don’t *need* to turn fast, so I use the keyboard because I don’t like pushing the mouse buttons too much. I almost never have things behind me because of this, so I think there’s no noobery here.

6: More than one set of gear is more expensive to maintain, and I’m not exactly “swimming in gold” so I only keep extra pieces of gear when they’re really, really necessary (i.e. Things with block value for my Shield of Righteousness when off-dpsing).

This guide/list seems to be more focused on Warriors, so maybe it doesn’t apply 100% for me as I’m a Tankadin.

Anyway, I don’t consider myself a noob, and none of the people I’ve raided with consider me noob either.

Comment by SidheKnight

@SidheKnight – Mostly focused on warriors yes, but there are applications of most to other tanking classes. Paladin and warrior tanking have never been more similar.
Re: 10 – It’s more of an issue when your primary agro abilities need you to actually face your target, but if you almost never have things behind you must be doing something right that I haven’t gotten yet.
Re: 6 – Most of my alt-set gear comes from questing or drops from groups that the plate DPS don’t want. I wouldn’t say I’m swimming in gold either, but I have an alt piece for almost every slot just based on attrition.

Comment by Tarsus

[…] Tanking for Dummies blog has the Top 10 Ways To Know Your Tank Is A Noob. Don’t be that […]

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I can rock it Spartan style all i want… Dk ftw

Comment by Defense

wow. stupid. a good tank never lets anything get past him.

Comment by z man

Alternately about number 10, when you’re tanking with the alt of someone who may or may not have a more experienced tank and is totally rewriting your playbook. I once tanked a heroic Mechanar with a boomkin in the group who refused to calm don and work with my “better safe than sorry” style. I decided, hell why not try it his way? and pulled that robot with positive and negative charges up the stairs without pulling the trash in the corner.

The sides of the staircase aren’t far enough apart for the two charges.

Also, he refused to move when his charge changed.

He also decided that absolutely nothing else I said the rest of the instance was worth noting. We wiped 16 times before the Cache of the Legion, and I stoned out. So not worth the aggravation.

Long story short- Listen to your group members unless they begin what they’re telling you with “Well my -old- guild did -this- way…” or are general ignoramuses to begin with.

Comment by oakleafwolf

By #10 I meant #1. The one at the bottom.

Oh well.

Comment by oakleafwolf

@ Tarsus

Re: 10 – It’s not that I never got things behind me, but if have, I just reposition them, or me.

Re: 6 – that’s the same I do, but I don’t enchant or gem my alt-gear.

The warrior thing I said is because I read an entire point dedicated to charge. (That skill is goddamn fun) and the point of the shields doesn’t make sense for dk’s and bears. But the rest is 100% useful for everyone.

Anyway, excellent guide. Wish I had it when I was newbie at tanking.

Comment by SidheKnight

Re 10. I find due to no. of alts and abilities nowdays with out of rotation procs, key turning is easier (for me) and I mouse click rotation abilities as required. To compensate for this, after i pull the mobs to me, i open with thunderclap, then immediately walk through the mobs and turn them around 180 degrees to the party. (Heroic throw any casters to pull them to you)

This works for me for a number of reasons.
A. I can see which mobs run to the party if i somehow loose aggro (very rare), and can taunt as reqd.
B. I can see what the party is doing behind the mobs (incase they get adds, healer stunned, etc)
C. It makes the rest of the party attack the mobs backs, so you arnt getting any extra parry hits.

Just my 2c worth for those that dont like mouse turning.

Comment by Blacky

Good list (all tanks should know it), though I’d disagree that keyboard turning should be avoided at all costs. I’m a pretty good tank and I just use what works best. Most of the time I use a combination of both (Though I do tank with a pally and our abilities are different). Perhaps a better #10 would have been, “Your tank ‘tanks’ with one or more mobs behind him.”

Comment by Cruce Ingram

@oakleafwolf – alt-Tanks can make simply awful dps from an agro perspective. The mindset is just totally different; it can be really hard to swap. I know my mage is a total agro monkey.

@Sidheknight – Achtung Panzercow is putting out a pretty killer leveling guide which is warrior specific if you ever feel the bug to try tanking another way. Now THAT is something I wish I had while I was leveling. And also, if bears had shields, I would just give up. The armor would just be disgusting.

@Blacky – Pretty good advice that works with mouse turning as well. It’s a good technique regardless.

@Cruce – Things getting behind me seems like a worse problem than ever before in the “gather em up and AoE them down” approach to instance/raid trash. The Tauren model doesn’t make this any easier. Damn my huge hitbox!

Comment by Tarsus

On #10. No, you’re not a noob for using ur keyboard. The mouse can be nice when you do need to turn quickly, but I hardly ever use it. a good tank should know when to turn and when not to. For instance, I was running H VH the other day and some of those mobs blink behind the tank. A simple back up to the wall and slight turn with the keyboard fixed this. Everything else looks fine, except for tanking with a shield. Please. DK tank FTW! (Although we’re getting majorly nerfed.) >.<

P.S. DK tanks who fail at keeping aggro should stay Dps.

Comment by Crave

Can I add one as well??

you know your tank is a noob when they click PW: Shield off, even though they have enough rage/mana/threat, and not enough dodge/parry/block/health/armor to really justify spending the time to click it off. and dont think we dont know when you do it!! if my shield lasts near the full duration on a tank in naxx 10, it is not getting eaten by one stray mob in Heroic CoS. all clicking this off does is waste our mana. so dont do it!!! >.<

Also, you're a noob tank if your healer drags mobs to you (that they (somehow) managed to pull off you just by healing, or that spawned and ran for us because we're sexier than you) and you just stand there. every tank class has an aoe.

Comment by Vinre

sorry, u cant.

if you see that tank clicks it off, then he don’t need it, don’t put it back, lol.

u sound more like retarded healer.

Comment by mojo

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