Let's start right at the beginning. Let me explain all the roles in a group and which classes can fall under which of the roles.


The leader is the person that controls the group and its pace through the instance. This is normally the person that started the group, however it is not unheard of for it to be passed to someone else to manage. Many times it is pass to the tank or puller (if different than the tank) so that they can control the flow of battle.

The leader will normally determine which route to take through the instance, which bosses or quests are being completed, how loot is distributed, and much more. Basically all the administrative details of the group are up to the leader.

Obviously, every group needs a leader. While I say obviously, sometimes people don't realize how important a leader really is. Without someone directing, giving orders, and taking control, even the most experienced group can fall apart. This is because its human nature to do what you think is best for yourself, which may or may not be best for the group. Not having a single person in control is just asking for issues.


The tanks job is to hold aggro. As a tank, you should not worry about doing damage (you will do a little, but that's secondary), or much of anything else. Just worry about having everything attacking you and keeping control or them. You should watch for anything that runs off to attack another target (especially your healer or other cloth wearers) and pull them back to you.


The off-tanks jobs is to be second on the aggro list so that if anything happens to the main tank, the MOBs will start attacking him. Off -tanks can be used in two almost completely opposite ways. The first is to hold aggro of single or groups of MOBs to be dealt with later. More the off-tank is also the one that holds aggro on the current "to be killed" target, and is some times referred to as the main assist because of it. The second is the one that I use as my definition in all descriptions of the off-tank unless specified otherwise.


The healer is the person that heals all of the other players. Your job is to keep everyone alive so that they can deal with the MOBs. Your secondary job is rezzing anyone that dies, which can not always be avoided. Your healing priorities should be yourself, the tank, and then whoever you most need at the time. Being aware that cloth wearers will obviously die faster than anyone else once they have aggro on them.

There will usually be some sort of backup healer in most groups as well. These do the same thing as a healer but usually only step into the healing role if there are lots of MOBs attacking and the main healer can not keep up, of if the healer is out of mana (oom).


The puller is the part member that draws in each new group of MOBs that you will be fighting. While almost anyone can be a puller the best two classes to pull are a Hunter or Rogue. Warriors and Mages also make decent pullers due to ranged attacks and the popular "sheep pull". In undead instances priests can sometimes pull using a "shackle pull" or in live instances a "mind control pull".

I believe that when possible though a Hunter or Rogue should always be the puller. This is because they have methods to drop aggro and get out of a bad pull if needed. A hunter can either pull with their pet and allow it to die if things go wrong, or feign death, while a rogue can vanish to abort the pull. Many groups make the main tank the puller by default, which I don't believe in as they have no way out of a pull once it has started.

Once a pull has started the puller should move towards the tank and allow them to get aggro off of them and control the MOBs. The puller can then fall back into their normal role (usually melee or ranged DPS).

Damage Dealers (DPS'ers)

The DPS'ers are the players whose job it is to actually kill the MOBs that get pulled. The key caveat to that statement is that you must kill them without pulling aggro. Pulling aggro is bad because it makes the healer waste mana healing someone other than the main tank, makes the main or off tank waste time getting control of the fight again, and could get you killed. DPS is often referred to by the two main types, ranged and melee.

As a DPSer you should always have a macro created that auto targets you onto the newest "to be killed" target. This will usually be a macro that targets you on the main or off tanks target, but could be someone else if your group is having someone else pick out the kill order. The macro should be something like:

/assist [character name to be assisted]

Usually the kill order for the first two or three MOBs will be determined before the fight begins, however near the end it will be semi-random. It is important to use the macro to find the newest target as you go through the fight.

Some groups have a hunter pick the target and mark them with their hunters mark, and this completely valid as well. However I would suggest that the off tank pick the target and then the hunter mark it immediately after. This allows the off tank to gain aggro for a few seconds before everyone is attacking the target.


The AOE'ers (Area of Effect) job is to kill massive groups of low power MOBs as quickly as possible. This is a completely secondary role as most instances do not have large numbers of MOBs that need to be AOE'ed down. Usually this is done by Mages or Warlocks, however there are other options. If the MOBs are really weak or if you have a few of the following you can get away with Paladins consecration, Priests Holy Nova and Hunters Volley. None of these are ideal though and you need 2-3 to replace a single true AOE'ers abilities. In a pinch though they will work.

Crowd Control

The job of a person performing crowd control is to control the number of MOBs that the group must fight at any given time. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. The main two forms of crowd control though are polymorph (sheeping) and sapping, done by mages and rogues respectively. There are other more limited forms of crowd control as well though, they are a hunters ice trap, a priests mind control and shackle undead and a warlocks banish. Depending on the situation all can be very useful.

The most common tactic though is to have a rogue sneak up and sap one of the MOBs in the group you are next going to fight. Have the puller pull the group, have the mage sheep one of the incoming MOBs and then have the tank gain control of the rest. If done on a 5 MOB pull you are down to dealing with 3 instead of 5. Normally you can have them all dealt with before the sap expires and then re-sheep the other one and deal with them 1 on 1.

Class - Role Chart


Role Primary Classes Alternate Classes
Leader Any  
Tank Warrior Druid, Paladin
Off-Tank Warrior Druid, Paladin, Hunter or Warlock pet in some circumstances.
Puller Hunter, Rogue Warrior, Mage, Almost any class under certain circumstances
Healer Priest Druid, Shaman, Paladin
Crowd Control Mage, Rogue Priest, Warlock under certain circumstances
AOE Mage, Warlock Paladin, Priest, Hunter - all in very limited ways
Melee DPS Rogue, Warrior Shaman, Paladin, Druid
Ranged DPS Hunter, Mage, Warlock Shaman, Priest


Have comments or suggestions? Thought of something that has been missed? Found an error? We would love to hear from you! Please email me at [email protected].

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.


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