So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior: The Dreaded Heroic PUG
Patch 3.3 is simultaneously the best of times and the worst of times for new up-and-coming tanks. It’s the best of times because the old sequential gearing paradigm–you need to do normal 5-mans to gear up for heroic 5-mans to gear up for Naxx to gear up for Ulduar to gear up for Trial of the Crusader to gear up for Icecrown–is right out the window. It is now possible to skip many of the middle steps and load up on tasty Tier 9-level gear by nothing more than running heroic 5-mans and the occasional raid for weekly quests. (Whether you’ll actually be able to get into a raid once you get that gear is another matter entirely, and not in scope for this post.)
It’s also the worst of times, though, because in order to get that gear, you’re going to have to run a lot of heroics. And that almost certainly means, unless you are blessed with lots and lots of friends, sooner or later, you’ll end up using the Looking for Dungeon tool and end up as the tank…of a cross-server pick-up group.
(Insert lightning flashes, thunder, and jarring pipe organ chord here.)
You’ve probably heard the horror stories flying around about cross-server PUGs. Of trigger-happy DPS who throw all their threat-management skills out the window and go balls-to-the-wall trying to top the Almighty Recount, and expect the tank to magically be able to save them from their own e-peenery. Of healers belittling tanks and bailing on groups when the tank has less than full T9 and 40k health unbuffed. And yes, those things do happen…but not always. Not even the majority of the time, in fact.
Are you are a shiny fresh new level 80 tank ready to get on the LFD PUG treadmill to Triumph and Frost Nirvana, but you’re scared to press that first “Find Group” button? Never fear, Panzercow is here. What I’m about to tell you is all common-sense stuff that you may have already figured out–trust me, I’m not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, so if I know this stuff, it ain’t rocket surgery. But it’ll help, and it’ll give you the foundation you need to stride forth into the world of cross-server PUGs and survive.
It all basically comes down to what I call the four “bes”–be knowledgeable, be prepared, be honest, and be confident.
Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster. –Sun Tzu
Tanking, with any class, is a learned process. You need to have a sound, well-researched spec. You need to learn your chosen class’s abilities, rotation or priority system, and emergency buttons. Then you need to learn how to extend that to controlling agro on multiple mobs. Then, on top of that, you need to build the situational awareness that all good tanks have, and advanced techniques like LOS pulling. And then, as the final layer on the cake, you have to know the specific instance–patrol paths, where you can LOS pull safely, kill orders of specific groups, and, of course, boss strategies.
A cross-server PUG, with four people you don’t know, is not the time to be learning all of it.
If you don’t know an instance, run it with friends first–or at least read up on it on any of the various sites out there on the Web. If your babytank is an alt, start paying more attention to “tanky” things when you’re in the instance on your main. Watch how your tank grabs groups and where he tanks them. Watch his facing. Note which mobs are casters that need to be silenced.
As for your own tanking, it should go without saying…you need to have a solid grasp of the basics of tanking instance pulls before setting foot in a heroic PUG. Run more forgiving normal groups (PUGs if need be) or heroics with friends. You should’ve been instancing as you leveled anyway, quite honestly, so by the time you’re ready to do heroics, tanking instances should be second nature to you. Chances are, a PUG is going to push your tanking skills to (or beyond) their limits, especially if you are a fairly new 80 grouped up with well-geared DPS. Be ready for it–have your own skills squared away before you queue up.
Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy… use the conquered foe to augment one’s own strength. –Sun Tzu
There are some very unrealistic expectations floating around in PUGs these days. Yes, sometimes, people flip out and drop the group when the tank isn’t already ridiculously overgeared–God forbid some of these mouth-breathers actually have to take ten extra minutes to finish Azjol-Nerub. You, as a fresh 80, can’t do anything about that. You have to run the heroics to get the gear.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t be as well-prepared as possible going in. Once you hit 80, find a friendly neighborhood blacksmith and make friends. Things like the Tempered Titansteel Helm, Tempered Titansteel Treads, and especially the Titansteel Shield Wall will go a long way toward getting you to where you need to be. Before trying a heroic, your goals, in my opinion, should be:
- 23,000 health unbuffed
- 21,000 armor unbuffed
- 535 Defense (this is non-negotiable and should be your top priority)
- 130 hit rating (+4% hit, half of what you need to never miss unless you’re Draenei)
- at least some expertise, preferably over 10
Now, I know people are often slack about gemming and enchanting sub-ilevel-200 stuff. The thought is, “why waste the money when I’m just going to replace it in a few weeks?” Well, sorry, folks, but that’s a bad thought to have. You should always gem and enchant your gear with something. You don’t need to be dropping 250 gold on Solid Majestic Zircons to put into an ilevel 187 breastplate unless you’re absolutely dripping in gold. But you can pick up blue- or green-quality gems for a fraction of the cost and use those instead. Similarly, true, a chest enchant like Powerful Stats (+10 all stats) would be a waste. But what’s wrong with Super Stats (+8 all stats) or even Powerful Stats (+6 all stats)? You can snag scrolls of those on the AH for much less money, and they provide a good benefit. Make sure you get factional enchants (like Sons of Hodir shoulder or Argent Crusade head) as soon as you can–snag them on your main if your babytank is an alt. It is especially important for a tank to push their gear to the limit and get as much out of it as possible. Don’t slack. Gem and enchant, but do it wisely. Make the most out of what gear you have and you maximize your chances of success.
Also, do not be afraid to use buff food, potions, elixirs, scrolls, or anything else you’ve got in your backpack. Every little bit helps. When you’ve got 40,000 health, you won’t have to worry about “flasking up” before a heroic. When you’ve got 23,000 health, it’s not a bad idea to go ahead and do it, just in case.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. –Sun Tzu
So you know how to tank, you know the instances, and your gear is as ready as you can make it. And there you are, standing at the entrance to your first heroic…grouped with four people from different servers, none of whom you know and none of whom know you. And you can tell by your unitframes that they’re all targeting you and wondering why you have 23,300 health when you’ve got the little shield icon by your name.
This is not a situation you can bullshit your way out of, so don’t even try it. Be honest and get it all out right up front. Say, “hey guys, FYI, if you couldn’t tell, I haven’t been 80 for long…work with me on this and I’ll do my best for you.”
If people start giving you crap like “lol” and “ffs noobtank” and bailing out? Screw ’em. You wouldn’t have wanted to run the instance with them anyway. I think, though, that you will be surprised at just how many people will respond positively to you being honest with them. We tend to think of PUGs as being composed of nothing but nasty knuckle-draggers who actually want to make your life a living hell, but that’s not true. The majority of the hundreds of people in the Cyclone battlegroup that I’ve run heroics with, on five different characters (one tank, four DPS), have been competent, and if not pleasant, at least polite. They want to finish the run as quickly and smoothly as possible, get their badges, and move on. No, they don’t want to take an hour to run Azjol-Nerub, but they also don’t want to go hellbent in there, pull all three Watchers at once and wipe, either.
If you’re a little fuzzy on part of the instance, don’t hesitate to ask. If you think you need assistance as you’re going along, don’t hesitate to ask–“hey, Mr. DK, think you could death grip that second caster over here when I heroic throw the first one?” Don’t try to bluff your way through, because it won’t work. Honesty talks, bullshit walks.
The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him. –Sun Tzu
Now that you’ve got yourself ready, your gear ready, and you’ve prepped the group for what to expect…take charge.
Now by “take charge,” I don’t mean start acting like a douchemuffin and bossing people around. That’ll get you votekicked in short order. But, you are the tank, are you not? You are the one who does the pulling and controls the agro, yes? Then do it. Make sure everybody’s ready, take a deep breath, and pull.
“Taking charge” means that you assert yourself as the tank. You, as the tank, are going to control the speed of the run, so pull at a pace that’s fast but comfortable for you. Check the healer’s mana before every pull–his is the blue bar you care about far more than the others (except your own if you’re a paladin). If the healer’s drinking, wait. If people are falling behind, wait a second for them to catch up, then go. If they’re yelling “gogogogogo” in your ear, do not speed up unless you and the healer are comfortable with doing so. NEVER let yourself get pressured into going faster than you can handle. At your gear level, you are not going to be able to bulldoze an instance at the speed of a well-geared tank, and you’ve already let your group know that up front. It’s their decision whether to work with you or to bail out.
You may get people who decide that they should pull “for” you. Personally, I have zero tolerance for this, and you shouldn’t either. When I’m tanking a heroic, I pull, period, unless I work out with a hunter to do a misdirect pull (very rare). Otherwise I tend to see mobs running at a squishy while I have no rage to do anything. So if you get “assistant” pullers, I say let them tank it! If they somehow manage to live, great. Before they run off and do it again, tell them in no uncertain terms that you don’t want them to do it. If they do it again, wish them fun tanking, and drop group.
Likewise, if people are rude to you because they don’t think you’re going “fast enough?” Let it slide off your back. If they continue to insist upon being assholes, thank the good people in the group, and leave. (Or votekick the asshole if possible, which is the best outcome!) Tanking is a stressful activity at the best of times, you do not need somebody insulting you while you’re trying to give your best effort. Do not take crap from haters. Stand your ground, and if it gets too nasty, leave. Take a break while your timer ticks down. Then immediately requeue, as soon as you can. Get right back on the horse. You’ll probably get a better group and have a more pleasant time.
My final thought is this: A significant portion of what makes good tanks good is mental toughness. You’re going to screw up. You’ll wipe groups. You’ll get mental midgets who aren’t fit to carry your mousepad insulting you because you’re a “noobtank.” Do not let it get you down. Stay strong. Take a break if you’re not feeling like tanking–hey, it is still a recreational fun activity, right?–but don’t get run off from it permanently. In the end, if you are knowledgeable, prepared, honest, and confident, you will prevail.
Great advice as usual, Lin. Too bad I’m still not confident enough to tank an honest-to-god random pug group. I’ve got a full set of shiny T9 and the only time I tank is in a situation like last night, where no guild tanks were available for a random, so two of us with tank offspecs went along and decided which one of us was tanking based on which instance we got. xD
February 11, 2010 at 16:12
Sound advice as always. From my own personal experience, I can especially vouch for the last two paragraphs; tanking is a stressful activity and in my own experiences nothing has wrecked my ability to tank worse than allowing a single mistake or a rude member of the group to make me lose confidence in my ability to do the job. The first instance I got when I felt confident enough to try tanking was an Occulus run that nearly fell over because people left in fear of the fact it was Occulus. The second was a Heroic Culling of Stratholme, barely beating the timer.
The third was a Halls of Stone run where I attempted to move past a seemingly unnecessary patrol in the starting room. The DPS hanging in back facepulled, and I had a Night Elf hunter on my back complaining about everything that went wrong in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS until the DPS wiped on Sjonnir, from standing in the lightning ring when their health could not take it, and promptly kicked me. By the end of that morning, after those three runs, I’m not sure whether I was ready to weep, quit tanking or both. I almost did just give up on trying to tank and I’m still petrified of tanking some things, even after running dozens of successful Heroics as a tank. It’s a job where one bad experience can spoil the whole thing.
February 11, 2010 at 17:12
Remember, beating the time run in COT is not “standard” experience but used to be exception.
February 11, 2010 at 17:31
I would add two things.
The little one might be to say, fresh ding 80, still gearing up.
The other is use /all/ the tools you have at hand, if you can.
If you get HHoR, for example, having the Priest shackle one of the far mobs–well out of AE, helps tremendously. Even more importantly, if you see uber geared DPS, let them know it’s ok for them to solo casters and the like. The healer might have something to say about, but feel free to take advantage of the overgeared players.
HHoR, again, on the exit run, becomes much easier if you, as a tank, can let the DPSers tank the casters while you are busy picking 4 aboms and more than 9,000 giests. Casters won’t chop your DPSers in half with one swing and their damage is highly interruptable. And remember casters eat healers because of healing agro. Having even one caster engaged by your DPS makes life much easier.
Just because you are a tank–no matter how good–doesn’t mean you can’t use your overgeared DPS to your advantage.
February 11, 2010 at 17:26
Initially I was very intimidated by the dungeon finder and I’ve been prot spec since before BC. I did find it much easier in random heroics when I respecced away from a raid spec to a prot spec aimed specifically at heroics. I rarely chain-pull, but mostly the runs go fine. If someone is a jerk, I just /ignore them. Keep at it and it gets much easier. I’ve found that almost everyone is perfectly content with a competent tank, greatness is really not required.
February 11, 2010 at 23:36
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A couple points for the noob warr tank:
1) Remember, DPS waited for you to join the queue a lot longer than you waited for DPS. They can talk a big game all they want.. But it’s just talk. And if they leave? You’re a tank. You’re still going to get another group in four seconds. You will find a group willing to take you before that other DPS that left finds a group, I’ll put money on it
2) Nothing will give people the impression that you know what you’re doing more than putting vigilance on the most serious looking DPS *before* the first pull.
3) Cleave. Spec it, glyph it. Hug it and love it. Heroics = AOE fest = cleave. Raiding? Drop cleave from your rotation. Respec when you’re done farming. But for heroics? CLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEE. Orient your rotation for snap AOE threat first, not single target threat. IE: Charge into TCLAP, move a bit to line up a shockwave (while queuing up a cleave) and then dropping another TCLAP all takes exactly the amount of time one tclap cooldown does. Thats a lot of aoe threat. Usually enough to last until trash pack = dead.
4) If DPS is really really outthreating you and you’re at or around 1k DPS overall, stuff is going to be dying wayyy too fast for you to really worry all that much. Know your healer’s limitations right off the bat. Give them a quick inspection: A really geared healer wants to be done: Chain pull and let the dps take a little damage.
5) If DPS is outthreating you single target and you’re devastating, shield slamming, revenging and working in some heroic strikes: THEY are doing it wrong. That 7kdps warlock that just pulled threat off the tank in blues? Yeah, he knew better. If you’ve been a good tank otherwise, most well geared DPS shrugs that kind of crap off. If they don’t, /ignore and get on with your life.
6) If you’re having real threat trouble and stuff isn’t dying fast, learning to mark fast (and following your own kill order) is a godsend. Go to the key bindings, find “assign [symbol] to target.” I’ve found the easiest by FAR for me is to bind four symbols (I use skull X square moon) to SHIFT-Z, SHIFT-X, SHIFT-C and SHIFT-V. I can mark on the fly, fast, while running, and I don’t have to look down to find the buttons. Given that badges come 5-7 per heroic now, you’ll be at the point where you’re geared enough for any group in just a few hours (couple pieces of tier 9 + the gear from the heroics you ran.)
7) Gear priority: Helmet first. Why? Having something you can put a meta and the arcanum from AC on will give you almost 1000 health over upgraded gloves for example.
February 16, 2010 at 15:13
I follow the rules of pugging even now at lvl 77. They are allowed to pull something “for” me once, then I tell them if they want to tank go ahead, if they charge in, I leave party and let them enjoy.
I don’t have time to stroke their e-peens or make them happy. I do my job, they do theirs. My main is a geared to the teeth hunter, so I have no problem running with fresh 80 tanks. I can burn most things down before they get to me. If the tank is having aggro issues due to my dps, then I make sure I MD and let him get some aggro before I start firing. Simple as that. I’ve had no problems except when I run with a pally tank who doesn’t know how to use Righteous Fury to his advantage…or even turn it on sometimes.
I’ve followed your “So you wanna be a prot warrior” series and it’s helped me a lot. Thanks.
March 1, 2010 at 17:11
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If your def capped from gear already (Possible if you have the t9 tanking set and various tanking plate items from the 5mans), Greater inscription of the Gladiator (+30 stam) is a better shoulder enchant for itemization purposes, since once you got your 540, you got to work on your health pool…
March 11, 2010 at 00:44
I had a similar though the other day in a post too – more for what attitude the tank should have, rather than the stats. Nice use of Sun Tzu too.
If you’re keen have a read, I think we come from a similar perspective. http://typhoonandrew.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/how-to-tank-heroic-runs/
March 11, 2010 at 00:46
IIRC it is literally impossible to cap defense with ilvl 187 blues — shooting for 535 defense before starting heroics is in fact impossible.
I distinctly remember tanking heroics with less that 500 defense, maybe even less that 490.
I certainly agree that capping defense is an excellent goal, but trying to do so before even starting heroics… ridiculous. My first couple weeks of heroics it angered me when people would look at my gear and say “wth you’re not even defense capped!?” It saddens me to see a similar attitude from a fellow tank.
March 11, 2010 at 00:53
With the dungeon system and the way badges are given out, there really isn’t any excuse for not having your T9 set, which should give you 500 def. its that last 40 points that can be the most difficult to get, and expensive.
And if you have your t9 set, then you’re going to wind up in the Icecrown 5mans using LFG, and those, you better at least have the soft cap for 5mans, or your group is screwed.
Also, no where did I say in my post that You HAVE to def-capped to run heroics. hell, the only gold I spent on my tank set was on a couple enchantments, rest was paid for with Honor for my gems (Killed lots of horde to do it too).
Hell, I only recommended a better use of itemization… don’t know where you got that I have a particular attitude about anything from.
March 11, 2010 at 03:23
lol dude i wasnt talking to you, i was talking to the author of the article where he says
“Before trying a heroic, your goals, in my opinion, should be:
23,000 health unbuffed
21,000 armor unbuffed
535 Defense (this is non-negotiable and should be your top priority)”
March 11, 2010 at 04:08
That’s why I suggested getting the Titansteel crafted pieces, which are defense-heavy. That’s what I did, although it was easier because Linedan’s a blacksmith; I had the helm and the shield made and ready by the time I turned 80, waiting for me. I got some help from my guild and friends on the mats. Don’t forget that the Seal of the Pantheon (+65 defense rating) drops out of HoL normal off Loken, and once you hit Revered with the Argent Crusade, you get the +20 defense/+37 stamina head enchant; and there’s a +20 defense shield enchant as well.
I was well over the defense floor before entering my first heroic. As other people have said, I had to give up +stamina gems and enchants to do it, but I did it. See this old post for proof. It possible, with intelligent use of enchants, gems, and crafted gear to get gem slots for those +defense gems. With just straight ilevel 187 dungeon blues, maybe not…but I never said to walk into a heroic in straight ilevel 187 dungeon blues!
March 11, 2010 at 07:57
i was able to do it with no crafted gear, you just have to look around for the gear, start shooting for it the moment you enter northrend, and aim high…gem for def/stam, in that order…you can be over 540 def cap before 80 if you do it right
March 11, 2010 at 14:02
My prot paladin was defense and hit capped the day he turned 80, without setting foot in a single dungeon. For what it’s worth, it IS doable and it’s not even hard. The only piece of crafted gear I needed was the Titansteel helm. The rest of the gear was quest or rep rewards. I found a terrific post on Elitist Jerks on gearing your prot paladin that broke it down by “go here, do this quest, get this reward” and “grind this rep, buy this item.” It was brilliant.
I have multiple 80s and play all three roles in a group at times. (Not at the SAME time, but you know what I mean…) I would never insist that a tank have any particular stat or gear to tank in a normal dungeon, but if you want to tank a HEROIC and you’re not defense capped? *I* won’t heal you. You’re a dead man walking.
March 11, 2010 at 07:59
It saddens me to see a tank who obviously did not do their homework beforehand. I was def capped before setting foot in any dungeon. I greatly recommend any starting tank to look over Elitist Jerks website for their class/spec. I know i followed their ‘starting’ gear about 80% of the time with some other items which i had managed to pick up or craft. Their article allowed me to find out what quests/rep/crafted items to go for, and i was kitted out in a few hours. Saying its impossible to be def capped before you start is wrong, misleading and extreamly poor advice to give to new tanks.
As my tank os is healer, i would also say if i find a new tank whos not def capped i would ask him to go get the kit -and then ill do the dungeon with him – and teach along the way. But i wont heal a non def capped tank – tis a recipe for high repair bills and frustration.
March 11, 2010 at 08:24
sorry, i didn’t mean a similar attitude. I meant fallacy… it saddens me to see a fellow tank reinforce the defense cap misconception.
March 11, 2010 at 00:59
There’s a rather nice “random green” plate breastplate that drops with the “of defense” suffix. About ilvl 178, and over 100 defense on that item alone (it’s on my wife’s pally tank, so apologies for not being able to give exact stats). It might seem odd to use a green chest to tank heroics, but that’s worked surprisingly well while she’s been gearing.
OK, it helps that I tend to go along as a T9-geared tree :-).
March 11, 2010 at 03:04
It isn’t impossible to get the def cap for heroics as a freshly dinged 80, but it does take work in advance.
Get the titansteel “set” from a friendly blacksmith (or make it yourself if you happen to be one) and also gem and enchant for defense. Granted, this will cut into your health pool, but over the course of a full run, the health you save from not getting crit will be more than worth it.
And as you gear up more, you can slowly drop the defense gems for stamina and before you know it, you’ll have the same problem most tanks run into eventually… too much defense from gear alone.
March 11, 2010 at 03:19
“Defense Cap Misconception?” Really? You are the one that is mistaken. Its not anything special to think that if you are at 530 def, for example, you will be crit against a very small amount of the time. When it becomes a problem isn’t necessarily on 2-3 mob packs, but on heroics bosses that hit for 10K (probably close to 1 shotting you if they crit on your low HP pool) or the times you get the ICC Heroics that you will simply fail at with 20K HP and no def cap with 6 elite mobs drilling on you at a time. Its also fair to say that if you aren’t defense capped, you will have an extremely low HP pool. You will also be poor at holding threat against the DPSers in your group with a much higher gear score than you, and your avoidance and mitigation from armor, etc. will also be low.
I have 575 defense right now and can’t do a thing to reduce it without dropping down a couple ilvls of gear. Gear is ridiculously easy to get and not being def cap just shows that you aren’t geared enough to be a tank yet. With +20 Defense gem’s, its even easier. Just stick to your leveling arms or fury spec until you get a chance to roll on tank gear in heroics, which most of the tanks around don’t need. BOE tank items on the AH are cheap these days, as are craftables.
In conclusion, saying it’s OK to not be defense capped is absolutely horrible advice/logic.
March 11, 2010 at 11:19
I stand corrected. It is certainly doable to hit the cap without entering any heroics.
Here’s an example profile in 187 blues: http://www.wowhead.com/?profile=20948118
While it only barely breaks the cap, there are no gems or enchants on it to speak of. However, I think it’s fair to assume that some tanks who are gearing up are broke and have no friends.
I stand by my philosophy: run heroics when you feel you’re ready and don’t be afraid to push your limits.
You’re never going to learn how to tank if you only run content when you overgear it. Healers want to bitch? Let them. You’ll get big faster, you’ll get good faster. You shouldn’t run each level 80 normal half a dozen times to get those drops. It takes too long. hundreds of gold for crafted 200 purples? It takes too long. You’re playing the role of bad ass, so go by your gut.
In December I started running heroics with somewhere between 480 and 490 defense. Sure I had a wipe or two, but we always finished (with less than 3 wipes lol). Hell I tanked heroic pit and forge before I hit 535 defense and we didn’t wipe once. Tanked 3 bosses in ICC yesterday and I have 31k hp unbuffed. Saurfang face raped us but my survivability wasn’t the issue. I’m not bragging, I’m making the point that you’ll never need as much stats as people suggest.
While I was certainly incorrect about my defense cap claim, I’m correct that people have attitudes and misconceptions when it comes to tanks gearing up. Just look at my replies. Many players greatly overestimate the numbers you need to tank certain content and I don’t like when people reinforce that.
I know tl;dr.
March 11, 2010 at 19:37
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You only need 6% hit (197 rating) to never miss in a heroic, not 8%. Expertise also effectively caps at 22, instead of 26 for raids.
Though not applicable to new tanks, geared tanks will find that BIS heroic and badge gear (excluding frost badges) will defense, hit, and expertise cap them when fully enchanted and gemmed.
March 11, 2010 at 01:57
March 11, 2010 at 03:21
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New to your site and I must say, Excellent post! I am new to healing and many of your points apply to healers as well.
March 11, 2010 at 07:39
As a alt tank, i encountered all these problems. The one i found most irritating is the hunters/rogue who pull ‘for’ you to ‘speed things up’. As im a pally tank – and was in T9 at the time, with a disc healer – i was encountering some mana issues after 3-5 pulls, so sat down to drink. Guess what – the two dps ‘pulled’ for me. As i didnt have ANY mana at that time, and fortunately their Tott and MD were on CD, i had the satisfying experience of seeing them both die to the mobs. I had enough mana to get them off the healer by that time, and then we 3 manned the two packs they had pulled. Once finished the crys of ‘noob tank’ resounded, at which time the healer piped up and said ‘noob dps – the TANK pulls not you – now CR noobs’. The other dps (who was on his 2nd ever heroic it turned out) kept quiet. The rogue dropped group – which was strange as we were 1 pull away from the end boss – but his loss – the hunter apologised. We then got a very delighted new dps who came in for the very last boss (quickest Frosties for him ever!)
March 11, 2010 at 08:10
“A cross-server PUG, with four people you don’t know, is not the time to be learning all of it.”
Haha, this is THE perfect time for learning to tank, no one to badmouth you to other guilds on your server, and if u eff u you do a quick group leave and no harm
March 11, 2010 at 08:27
Very nice article.
As a healer I found entering heroics fine even on my really badly geared pally (he normally tanks) as the tanks take so little damage.
Tanking from freshly hit 80 (druid) is almost impossible (I levelled as resto/balance) and even in non-HCsDPS just like to nuke even when you warn them that you are new to tanking and don’t really know the practical of all the theorycrafting you have studied.
It seems the best option to get through new to heroics is to DPS as people understand (mostly) when you warn your gear sucks and so might your DPS until you get the gear.
Shame there is no way to practice tanking outside of a group
March 11, 2010 at 09:39
I agree with you. There’s no easy way to learn tanking solo but I’ve heard this advice elsewhere and I thought it sounded good.
If you want to learn how to tank, find another tank (same class as you) then find some elite mobs that the two of you can easily take down. Practice taunting off the other tank and recovering from him taunting off of you. Once you get comfortable with that, find groups of mobs to practice AOE threat.
Doing it this way gives you a much better tutor than some random DPS/Healer that may not know what you’re doing wrong.
March 11, 2010 at 11:00
Great article! One point is don’t de-value the usefulness of Resilience (at least until Cataclysm). My Prot Pally dinged 80 yesterday and (through a little help from my other chars) is crit chance capped just through Resilience. You can do WG at level 78 and these are great for honor and WG marks (for more PVP gear). Unfortunately on my server, the AV free xp pool dried up about the time that I started leveling my pally. If you have a more active battlegroup, you can get more honor in AV (while getting xp).
After I dinged 80 and bought some pvp gear, I queued for my first Heroic and got ToC…..Thankfully, I had a very understanding (yet remarkably quiet) group and we were able to grind through after only a couple of wipes on the first bosses (warrior, rogue, mage, which is tough by itself).
March 11, 2010 at 11:27
Hi, this is a very good article, but I would just like a add a few tidbits of tanking experience that I find to be helpful.
It is absolutely possible to be defense capped (535) when you get to 80. I had all the pre-raiding Blacksmithing epic items made for my pally tank before I started doing heroics. There is also a blue gear set that can also be made by blacksmithing that provide a lot of defense, specifically I’m looking at the set.
The next best thing (if getting the mats for crafting is harder for you or nothing is craft able for the gear slot), is to grab tank gear from quest rewards if the rewards give you no viable leveling gear. I found this to especially true for a lot of the quests from normal Nexus and there is nothing wrong with using level 71 tank gear to stay defense capped in certain situations.
“Give respect, and you shall in-turn receive it.”
In the case of asking for help, it is respectful and polite to say the character name when asking them to do something. You don’t need to type out the name exactly and if the name is long you can truncate the it to be shorter. Just don’t make the person your speaking to feel hollow and remember that there is a real person on the other side of the character your speaking to. You don’t like being called ‘The Paladin’ or the ‘The Tank’, so don’t assume others like to be called ‘the DPS’ or ‘Mr.DK’.
March 11, 2010 at 12:38
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Tanking is a mental game. It can be quite stressful and as you reference, can be made even worse by a bad group. A few points that I’d add to your excellent post:
1 – Utilize the random dungeon finder before you get to 80. It’s great to be able to pick up Emblems of Triumph before you hit 80 and be able to put on tier gloves or shoulders the minute you ding.
2 – Don’t pick the “best raid spec” at your spec for when you just hit level 80 and are starting heroics. This is frequently poorly understood — but why assume that the best specs/glyphs for someone who is focusing on single mob tanking in a raid situation when they’re fully decked out in frost badge and ICC gear is the game spec you should use when you’re trying to tank 5-6 trash mobs doing Heroic PoS? In many instances at least the glyphs will change. My DK is now my main heroic 5-man tank. His spec is certainly not the one I would choose for MTing a raid — it is a spec (with glyphs to match) that focuses on holding great AOE threat.
3 – Don’t be afraid to thank the healer and the dps. I immediately make friends with the healer (“Dude, nice mace. Btw, I’m gona chain pull this thing. I’ve got you on focus but I sometimes forget to look…just say “Mana” over party chat and I’ll sit like a dog…cool?”). May seem contrived…but I usually get a “LOL — thanks. Will do.” back. After the first few pulls I can tell who the pro dps are (e.g. not just the geared ones…but the ones who know what they’re doing). If after a few pulls I can tell that one of the better geared dps are going right up to the limit on threat but not pulling, I send them a whisper (“Hey man — you’re pro! Lots of dps without ZOMG Aggro pull!”). Again, I tend to get something like “Hehehe…well, I could try harder!” or something of the ilk, but the relationship is established. How this helps? First, if people actually get that you’re on the same team, they’re less likely to be destructive. Second, they may police the dps that are acting out and help you avoid having to do it.
4 — Do it your way. As you reference above, you should be leading and not letting anyone talk you out of the way you like to tank the instance. I was farming normal PoS for a couple of weeks for a DPS item. Every time before falling ice cave, I’d stop and say “Going to middle and stopping. Don’t dps anything until I stop moving.” Usually while I’m trying, someone party-says “Gogogogog”. I don’t let it bother me. I always stop and say it. Why? Because if I don’t, eventually, some rogue will ROFL-FanOfKnives, have everything on them, the healer will heal the rogue and…well, you know how this ends.
5 — Don’t be afraid to use (or threaten to use) the “Vote-Kick” option. These guys likely waited for you for 10 minutes or longer — you likely queue’d and got an invite within a minute. They know that. While I’m not suggesting being an ass, I am saying that you should feel OK about giving someone a friendly reminder. Last night I had a mage make friends with a non-necessary to clear trash mob on Heroic PoS…because he wanted to increase his chances at getting a hilt. Problem is that the healer, myself and the other two dps were pulling the boss. So he comes running, kitting the mob typing in all caps “TAUNT YOU NOOB”. So I taunted — it was a little hairy for a second as I blew my defensive cool-downs…but we made it through — noone pulled aggro and noone died. After the boss died I said “Man — you could have caused a very unnecessary wipe. Please don’t do that again.” He came back with a “Hahaha — then learn to clear trash”. I replied with a “Seriously man — I pull, not you — it isn’t fair to the group for me to potentially wipe them saving you — if it happens again, I’m gona let you tank it.” His eloquent retort “ROFL. L2P Noob.” I voted to kick. 30 seconds later he was gone, replaced with another dps and we were on our way.
March 11, 2010 at 12:55
I recently started down this path myself. For me, the best path for a freshly 80 tank was to run as a dps or healer until you can amass a good collection of item level 200 gear. With the number of end-game gear people running daily randoms for Frost Emblems, it can be very easily case where you’ll find yourself vastly out-geared by your group. There’s a lot of good drops from the farmable regular dungeons (ToC 5, FoS, PoS, HoR) that have good drops too, and they’re usually easy enough that you can practice your tanking skills.
As for dealing with PUGs I think the best trait to have is confidence and honesty. Trust in your tanking skill and your ability to play your role. Ask if people have constructive advice, but if all they’re doing is whining, then just ignore them or drop group. Secondly, if you mess up, admit it openly. When I tanked my first POS, I was very nervous. I knew the boss fights pretty well, but I was a bit unfamiliar with some of the scripted events (like the ambushers jumping your group) and accidentally caused a wipe. I admitted my mistake, but there was a rather excitable (and aggro-prone) dps warrior who kept on complaining about my lousy tanking & threat through-out the rest of the run. By the end of the instance, the entire group (including the healer) was actively telling him to quit whining. I count that as a small personal victory.
March 11, 2010 at 14:13
First, this was a good read and I agree with a lot of what was said in the article, but because it is still a little bit outdated already I’m going to
post some ideas. My main is a DPS atm, was in TBC, I was a warrior tank in Vanilla. I’m currently leveling my warrior at a casual pace because of my
work schedule but here is what I’ve found so far (as tank and dps):
1) You shouldn’t be going into heroics as a tank freshly dinged. Ever.
2) You should have enough badges through leveling with daily dungeons to buy 1-2 pieces of gear at minimum.
3) If you have another 80 you should have at least 1-2 pieces crafted and waiting (bracers, boots, etc).
I say this for several reasons, tanking as soon as you hit 80 even if you have mostly blue and quested tanking gear still puts you at
a serious disadvantage. You don’t have enough hp, you can’t generate enough threat, you can’t effectively tank aoe, you probably don’t
have the proper glyphs/spec/gems/enchants. If you run into a group where the healer isn’t very well geared, or the dps is very well
geared, you’ll have issues. I have a very geared rogue, and it is very frustrating to me when I hop in a random heroic and see a 2.5 geared
tank, a 2.4 geared healer, a 2.3 geared dps and a 2.8 geared dps. My autoattack was pulling aggro and doubled the dps (not exaggerating, it
was the worst I’ve ever seen). I left promptly and I’m sure they ended up wasting a ton of time until they all went to new groups.
My suggestion for new tanks is to have as many pieces waiting for you when you hit 80 as possible, you might have a ton and be fine for tanking
right away and you might need some work. But queue up as dps for a few days, do some farming or pvp while you wait for queue to pop. That way you
can get your essentials without much trouble and get something accomplished at the same time. Your group will be much happier with a lackluster dps
than a lackluster tank and then you can offtank to take some pressure off your healer if you run into some fellow inexperienced people. It took me
less than 2 weeks on my dps to fully regear (5/5 t9, ring, neck, triumph trinket, frost trinket) with some heroic and toc stuff thrown in there and I
was playing 1 daily heroic and 1 day a week other than the single dungeon per night. You don’t have to fully gear this way, but even getting a couple
things after having a couple epics waiting for you when you ding will make a serious difference and go a long way toward learning to tank beyond leveling
and your groups will appreciate it when you have at least mediocre gear. You’ll also be much more likely to get into pug TOC and ICC to grab up some of
the gear in there!
March 25, 2010 at 03:28
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