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Top Ten Ways Tanks Fail in WoW

Updated Tue, Feb 22, 2011 by Messiah

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We have all been there. We jump into a random instance queue, get into a group and very shortly after get so frustrated with the tank that we are willing to sit in queue again rather that waste our time with that tank. It has gotten worse over time as more players switch to tank specs just to get through the queues faster while leveling. Here is a list of ten ways that tanks completely fail in WoW. So if you’re looking to tank a few instances, check this list out and make sure you are not one of those fail tanks we all criticize.


Threat – This is all about not being able to hold threat. Now to be fair, I’m not talking about generating enough threat to hold back that crazy raid geared DPS’er that is trying to pull 20,000 DPS in a normal 85 instance. No, that’s their own fault if they pull aggro and die. What I’m talking about is the DPS that is geared the same as the tank, gives him a few seconds, and then the tank still can’t hold aggro. If you’re tanking, it’s your responsibility to know your abilities and rotation enough to put out decent threat. That means being able to hold back threat from at least 8,000 DPS players in normal instances, and 12,000 DPS players in a heroic instance. If you can’t do that, you really should re-think tanking as a talent spec.

Not understanding the speed of the group and instance – This one is truly frustrating. Some tanks just don’t get it. Some groups are better than others, and you need to adjust to it. When you want into and instance and players say it is their first time there, then any intelligent person would take that to mean they should slow down, mark things, and explain fights. Conversely, when you enter an instance and players obviously over gear it or out level it, any normal person should be able to figure it out pretty quickly and compensate. However, many tanks continue to run extremely slow or extremely fast, as per their normal pace, and never adjust. This is extremely frustrating to new players to the instance who then never learn, or wipe many times if paced too quickly, and equally frustrating to geared players who are forced to a slow 90 minute run, when they could AOE the instance in 20 minutes. A good tank should figure out the ability and needs of the group and adjusts the pace accordingly within a few pulls.

Readychecks – This can go both ways. Some players get extremely frustrated that tanks do not use /readycheck in five man instances, while other tanks use it way too often. We have all seen groups wipe because the tank pulls a boss with the healer out of mana drinking 100 yards away. We have also all seen tanks that use a readycheck before each and every pull, and drag the run out for ever. A common convention is to only use readychecks in an instance for bosses, and even then many groups only want it used if the tank is not sure that someone is ready, meaning mana users below ½, multiple players not at full health, or players having gone AFK and you’re not sure if they are back.

Constantly blaming the Healer or DPS all the time – Ok, sometimes it’s true that a wipe is the healer’s fault, maybe they got sidetracked on someone else instead of the tank. They know it, don’t carry on about it. Same with DPS, sometimes they really are idiots and pull aggro by not watching threat, or by standing in the fire, or not moving from a charge. However, that is not ALWAYS the case. Sometimes it is the tank’s fault. Maybe you did something wrong, maybe you didn’t explain the fight well enough, or maybe you didn’t let the healer get mana back before the fight. When it happens, admit it, apologize, and move on.

Trying to AOE everything / Not Using CC – Many players got way too used to AOE tanking instances and even raids in the WotLK cycle. That has changed until you are at much higher gear levels. Unless the group is much higher level than the instance or way out gears it, CC still has its place. Learn which classes can CC what and use it.

Using Strange CC raid mark assignments – Maybe this is a personal one, but it still bugs the heck out of me. Since raid marks were first introduced into WoW long, long ago in patch 2.4 almost everyone has used at least 2 simple standard assignments. If any normal tank throws up a square and a moon on two mobs in a group, 80% or more of WoW players would automatically assume that meant trap and poly respectively. Lately though, it seems that each tank is coming up with their own system, and then never telling anyone what it is until after a wipe. I got yelled at for trapping square and not diamond the other day while on my hunter, having never been warned. Huh? Tanks should always tell you what is expected before hand. Even worse, he refused to use square even after I asked, because “I’m the tank, suck it up I’m in charge”, which leads to…

Ego – I kind of get this one, as I play a tank and as such have to know and understand all fights and everyone’s role in each fight. I firmly believe that tanks and healers need to know more and generally control the groups more than the average DPS player. That doesn’t mean, however, that the tank or healer should feel omnipotent and all controlling. Everyone playing is still entitled to play the game and not be talked down to and treated as equals, at least until proved otherwise. Too many tanks lately though, are way too cocky, rude, controlling, and egotistical than they should be. This is a game to have fun in, chill guys.

Charging for Random Instance Instant Queues – While I know there is a tank shortage, and I can understand how some players would be tempted, this is completely bad form. I play two different tanks, a healer, and DPS. I would never, ever charge someone for a queue. It is extremely bad form and shows once again the above mentioned ego. Hey, I know I could charge for my tanking services, everyone I group with loves me as a tank, but I never ever would.

Not knowing a fight in an instance – As tank, it is your job to know each and every fight in the instance before you go into it, unless you are going with friends. It is extremely bad to enter an instance without doing some preliminary research as to what to expect. We all need to learn, and you don’t need to know every pull, but you should know the bosses major abilities and the key mechanics to avoid. There are too many tanks that just charge into every boss, not knowing anything, standing in the fire, and wiping the group. At least if you don’t know, ask.

Being a mana sponge – I was reminded of this one by my favourite healer Kaarma while discussing this article. He pointed out that one of his biggest complaints with fail tanks is with those that focus exclusively on health and ignore avoidance and mitigation, thinking that having the biggest health pool makes them the best tank. In actuality all it makes them is a mana sponge and a fail tank. As a tank you need a big health pool, but with gimped avoidance all you are doing is sucking your healer's mana pool dry in 30 seconds flat. Effective Health is king, and that ties in your health, avoidance, and mitigation.

Queuing as a Tank to skip the long DPS queue for random instances – This one is more and more common, as tanks can queue for instances and get in immediately. DPS queues at peak times on many servers can stretch out to an hour or longer! This has led many players that can queue as tanks (DKs, Paladins, Warriors, Druids) to queue as a tank, even though they do not have the gear for it, are not specced for it, and many times don’t even really understand how to. They just don’t seem to understand that this is an MMO and the other 4 players in the group are actually real people and you are wasting their time. If you are not really able to tank, don’t queue as a tank. These people should be banned.


How to be a better tank

Ok, for those that can count, you'll realize that was 11 points. Sue me, Paladin tanks can't count, we just group 'em up and consecrate them down. Ok, so maybe that's now 12 ways tanks fail, we can't count. But anyway, now we know what makes a tank fail, how do you succeed if you want to tank properly? Well, to start off with read as much as you can. There are many great guides out there on how to tank and what to do in each instance. You can find some right here at Ten Ton Hammer such as our: Big Guide to Tanking, Paladin Tank Guide, and Cataclysm Instance and Zone Flow Chart.

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