Elder Vrethir
Thanks to a tweet from the Blog Azeroth forums I’ve noticed a new challenge of sorts to write some advice for new players. It was started by Khi over at Tree Burglar (and here on Blog Azeroth forums) and I really hope we can come up with some solid posts and possibly get it read by the ones who need that information the most. Anyway, since lately I’ve been levelling two healers from level one mostly by the LFG, here’s some tips from an experienced tank for the ones that are just starting.
Before I start, there’s one thing that you absolutely need to remember.
Even with the heirloom gear, you can’t solo the appropriate level 5-man dungeon. The 5 in “5-man” is there for a reason.
With that initial tip out of the way, lets start with some tips for the tanks. All of this is based on my healer experience in random 5-man dungeons.
- Always know where your healer is and what is he or she doing. Don’t run away on your own and start whacking some mobs behind two corners – the healer needs to see you to be able to heal you. Your healer is being attacked by a mob? Taunt it off.
- Watch the healer’s mana bar. If it’s less than 1/3 full, don’t pull anything, stop and wait for the healer to regain mana. This is extremely important at the lower levels, as the healer doesn’t have any mana regeneration abilities yet, and their only option is to sit and drink. They can’t do that while in combat, they need a short break. While I know that nowadays everyone wants to finish the instance fast, so they can go and queue for the next one (and this is regardless of a level), it’s really simple. Letting the healer refill their mana bar takes 30 seconds. Dying because the healer had no mana and running back will take you at least 2 to 10 minutes, and in some extreme cases like Blackrock Depths, 10 minutes might not be enough, depending on where you died. Which would you prefer?
- Learn how to tank. This is obviously different for all classes, but generally if you look over the spell tooltips, you will notice some of them have “this ability does a lot of threat” or similar on them. Use these. If after that you’re still not sure about what you should use, ask someone – either a friend or just do “/who your class 80” and ask someone that’s not in some instance (if you’re going to ask politely, most people will respond politely). You’re here to hold the mobs on you – if you don’t do that, they will run and smack that squishy mage (or what’s worse – that squishy priest that’s healing you) in the face and most likely kill them.
- Positioning is important. Never turn your back to the mob that you’re tanking, unless you have a damn good reason to do so – like taunting a mob off the healer for example – and even then only do so for a few seconds only. Always try to position yourself in such way so you can see all the mobs you’re tanking, keeping in mind that you need to be in range (and line of sight) of your healer. Overdoing it is also bad – once you’re in a position, you shouldn’t move unless the mobs or the boss drop an AoE effect on your head.
- How you pull the mobs is also important. Shoot them, charge them, Faerie Fire or Hand of Reckoning them, but don’t just run in and body-pull a group. Remember that you have to do some damage to the mobs to keep them on you, so only taunting is not enough. And if you forget to hit one mob out of the whole pack, you can be pretty sure that it will run to the healer very fast, as we don’t usually have threat reducing talents at the early levels.
- As the tank, you’ll be expected to know where to go, even if it’s your first time seeing that dungeon. The old world instances are all rather complicated (with the exception of maybe Stormwind Stockade) and they still don’t have ingame maps even after 5 years. If you don’t know the way, don’t be afraid to ask in the party if someone does. Chances are good that there will be an alt of someone who done it hundreds of times. Don’t forget to learn the way while you’re there. Also, WowHead and WoWWiki are good resources to check before signing up to the LFG – you’ll find maps, boss and loot lists, tactics, comments, dungeon quests and where to get them, all sorts of useful stuff.
- Have at least some sort of tank gear. Below level 68 it doesn’t really matter that much and there won’t be much tanking drops, but don’t forget to have a one-handed weapon and a shield if you’re a paladin or a warrior (even if you have the heirloom 2-handed weapon), or the appropriate talents if you’re a druid. Other than that – gear with defense rating, stamina, agility, strength, and of the highest armor class you can wear is good for you. Remember that you’re here in this dungeon to tank the mobs, not to kill them. There are 3 other people that will do the killing for you.
- Use your cooldowns. Tanking classes get their defensive cooldowns pretty early. Learn to use them whenever you can (and take a lot of damage) – their cooldown was cut down from half an hour to just a few minutes, so there’s no reason to save them. One warning for the paladins and druids though – trying to cast your healing spells while tanking is not a good idea at all, unless a) the healer is already dead, b) you’re absolutely certain that you can survive the few seconds before the cast finishes (especially as a druid, since it takes you out of bear form).
- After entering the dungeon, ask if the healer is ready, then start running after mobs. Maybe they need to regain their mana first, because they were questing? Maybe they need to switch from a dps spec to a healing spec (and they can’t do that while you put the whole group in combat)? You can’t expect them to be ready and simply asking costs you nothing. Also, see the second hint about the detailed reason why.
The last few tips are not only for the tanks, but also for the dps.
- Don’t ask or nag the healer to heal you. The healer already knows that they’re in the dungeon to heal people, and if they’re not AFK, there’s a big chance that they’re already casting a heal on you. Same goes for resurrecting dead people – I can see that you’re dead, and you can keep asking for a ress but that won’t happen if I don’t have enough mana after the fight (or we’re still not out of combat yet).
- Being polite keeps you alive (or gets you back from the dead). If I see something like “preist res” in the chat window, then I really hope you know your way back from the graveyard, because you’re definitely not getting resurrected by me. The characters we play have names, and the game itself even has a name auto-completion system included after you type the first few letters and press [Tab]. It doesn’t get any easier than this. My priest’s name, Ranshe, doesn’t have any accented letters that might be hard to type, so there’s absolutely no excuse to not use it. We’re all living people in this LFG group, even if you will never see us again.
- Being polite also extends to gameplay. Don’t run off in a random direction by yourself while the group goes the other way – if there’s a boss or a quest mob, just ask in party chat and we’re all going to go there. If you see other players need an item that’s of a higher level and they can use it right away and you don’t – don’t press the need button, you’ll have more chances to get it or something else.
- Focus on your job and let the others focus on theirs. Pulling mobs and tanking them is the tank’s job. Healing is the healer’s job. They will do that even without your help. You are a dps here – that means your job is dealing damage to the mobs the tank is tanking. Do that.
- If you’re not the tank, stay away from taunt buttons. Yes we know you have them, yes we know that your Death Grip looks cool or that your Hand of Reckoning deals damage. Don’t use them unless you have a very good reason to do so – like saving a healer that would otherwise die. Any other case is just going to get you dead faster.
Oh, and one last thing.
If you piss off the healer, you’d better not take any damage at all for the rest of the dungeon. This also includes tanks.