Tanking for Dummies

The 5 Characteristics of the Happy Tank
June 10, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Advice for Non Tanks, Lists | Tags: , ,

Following up on Monday’s thoughts on leveling prot warriors, it occurs to me I didn’t say anything about who might find it fun. Given all the changes that have been made to Tanking in WoW, I dare say there is no better time to pick up a tank than now.  This has been a pretty exclusive club so far, but the dis-incentives that were put into tanking have all but vanished, and the there is that whole Death Knights start at 55 thing going.

That said, some things haven’t changed and I cannot help shake the impression that tanking is still not for everyone.  That is perhaps doubly so for we Warriors who Tank.  However, given that there will be many people now who are taking a second look at tanking I wanted to provide a bit of insight into what I think characterizes Warrior Tanks.  So if you’re thinking of making a tank, or even dual-speccing to tank, consider these following traits.

1. Self Sacrifice

I know what you’re about to say: Didn’t Protection DPS get a boost in 3.0?  Indeed, it did, but in as much as there are flavors to tanking, Warriors should appeal to the person who gets perverse pride out of the statement: “Taking it in the face so you don’t have to.”  This appeal applies to most tanks, but the style sticks with warriors.

2. Brashness

There is nothing “quiet” about a warrior, and warrior tanking is very offensive-ly oriented.  Even our abilities have very brash sounding names, “Taunt,” “Mocking Blow,” “Challenging Shout,” I could go on, but again, this is a style issue.  I am sure that most tanks would feel similarly.

3. Love for Shields

If you watched 300 (or remember anything about Sparta from history class), you probably noticed they like shields.  Shields for blocking weapons; shields for hitting people in the face; shields for carrying the dead – it was like the multi-tool of the bronze age.  Warriors do their job with shields, and it seems Blizzard has gone out of their way to give us even more opportunity to hit people with our shields.  Getting a new shield, for a warrior, is practically the biggest upgrade possible – all other gear being equal.

4. Being hard to kill (PvE)

I’ll not bandy around with PvP – I’ve obviously done very little – but in a raid environment no one has more “Oh SHIT” buttons than the Protection Warrior.  Let’s count them shall we?  Shield Wall, Last Stand, Shield Block, and Enraged Regeneration are all designed to keep you alive when things are going bad.  We’ve got five ways to deal with spellcasters (four, counting Heroic Throw, if you’ve spent the talent points): Shield Bash, Concussive Blow, Intimidating Shout, and Spell Reflect.  We’ve even got three debuffs to physical damage as well: Disarm, Thunderclap, and Demoralize Shout.  We are the survivalist for all occasions.  We might not have the short cooldowns, but we have variety.

It’s damn lucky we can’t heal ourselves, otherwise we’d be Death Knights probably win in PvP too.

5. Situational Awareness

Anyone with a pulse can probably hit the buttons to produce sufficient threat now, but the capacity to know where you are, where you need to be, and when to use special abilities is key on a Tank.  If you’re dying in Mojo Puddles or getting nailed by Void Zones, you’re probably not going to have a lot of fun on a tank.  I’ll probably dedicate a whole post to this trait at some point, but as the most likely candidate to set the pace for movement in any fight is the tank, and if you’re uncomfortable with needed to making those pro-active split second decisions, you’ll likely be unhappy.


There will not be a post on Friday and possibly Monday as well, I’m going to be out of town so I likely won’t have the keyboard time to put something together.

However, stranger things have happened.

See you in a week, if not before.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice post! I also thing there is one that is needed:
Leadership: as MT you need to know how to mark, who to cc and to set the pace. For this you need to know the encounters. Being a tank is a lot of responsibility that should not be taken lightly on the fun factor :)

Comment by Grorg

I definitely agree in a 5 man, but to a lesser extent in raids. I often find it to be more straightforward to have another raid member handle a lot of the nuts and bolts because it lets the Main Tank do the job of setting the pace for the raid.

I know that might seem like a fine distinction, but separating the responsibility for marking targets from pacemaking does speed things up, at least in our raid (which the MT often ends up leading, hence slowing us down).

Comment by Tarsus

Do you ever feel a bit gimped though when a pally tank in a pvp situation can basicly own your face though (since they are like warriors now, but they can heal and have a bubble).
I have been giving some serious mental flexing to telling blizz when they said we were the masters of close combat that they lied to us!

And can we have a lazy mans commanding shout please, pallys got their 30 min lazy time!

<– is having a slight disgruntled moment

Comment by Beefbringer

Like I said, I don’t do much PvP, so I’m not sure what works well and what doesn’t. It seems to me though, with the introduction of Shattering Throw we should be able to show a Paladin a thing or three, at least once every five minutes.

Also, to my knowledge, CS cannot be dispelled, so there might be an advantage there over Blessing of Kings. If you’re rocking Protection in PvP, I suppose you could just shield slam off their buffs.

Comment by Tarsus

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