How to Start Tanking in Dragonflight

Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Tanking can be one of the dullest roles in World of Warcraft, depending on your gameplay preferences, but it is one of the most important roles to fill nonetheless.

Most PVE content needs Tanks in the group, and there are only a handful of Tanks out there. This is how Tanks mostly get an instant queue on raid and dungeon finders.

The role can seem a bit complicated, but it is not that hard with a little practice. This guide will help you learn how to start tanking in Dragonflight.

Since there are a lot of classes and specs out there for tanking, this guide will cover mostly the general responsibilities that come with the role. These tips will be relevant to every Tank in the game. It will get you over the hump in becoming a respected Tank in any group, especially when you combine it with some class guides.

What is the Role of a Tank?

The role of a tank is pretty straightforward. Your goal is to make sure that everyone in your party or raid is safe by taking ‘aggro’ from the enemies and tanking everyone.

Aggro: getting the threat from enemies so that they attack you instead

Tanks are bulky and have a lot of survivability so that they can take all the damage, which means it is easier for Healers to funnel their heals toward the Tank.

Since it is also the Tank’s role to keep the party or raid alive, it is important to learn all the mechanics for every fight.

There are situations where you need to face the boss away from your party or raid members to keep them alive. You also have the job of bringing enemies to specific areas of the fighting area for other mechanics.

In a way, the role of a Tank is as simple as learning the mechanics and just keeping everyone else safe.You will use defensive cooldowns at the correct timings and help the team just by surviving.

General Rules for Tanks

Know Your Specialization’s Strengths

There are only a few Tank specs in the game, but each one has a distinct playstyle and strength.

For example, Protection Paladins and Guardian Druids have average mitigation skills but have great self-healing. A Healer might look at these Tanks and find that they are in trouble when they fall below 50% HP.

However, they can quickly pick themselves up. Blood Death Knights are also known for self-healing, and they usually just self-heal most of the time for survivability.

This rule is more about building chemistry with your Healers. Once you see a Healer being a bit more aggressive (doing more damage), you can adjust your playstyle a bit and play safer with skill usage.

If you have two charges of Frenzied Regeneration as a Guardian Druid and you are taking a lot of damage, you can use it quicker rather than waiting until you go below 60% HP.

It reduces the pressure on your Healers. Imagine doing a big self-heal because your HP is low, but the Healer has already started casting a big single-target heal or even a Restoration Shaman dropping a cooldown like a Spirit Link Totem, but it turns out the situation isn’t as dire as it seems.

Knowing your spec is important when it comes to improving as a tank in Dragonflight. Protection Warriors get a bit stronger with survivability when dealing with a big pull (multiple mobs). Vengeance Demon Hunters do insane damage against a lot of mobs and are mobile.

These can change with class balancing patches, but you get the point.

Correct Mitigation Timings and Defensive Cooldowns

The one thing that separates an average Tank and an amazing Tank is how they use their mitigation skills.

The general rule is always to use your mitigation like Ironfur, Ignore Pain, Shield Block, and other mitigation skills before taking big damage.

Inexperienced Tanks use these skills when they have taken damage already. In most scenarios, it is usually fine, but fine isn’t good enough. If you get the hang of this, you can even pull multiple mobs in M+ every time your cooldowns are ready.

Right Usage of Taunts

The one common thing about all Tanks is that they all have Taunt skills. This is a skill that immediately forces a single target to attack you and take aggro.

You only use Taunts when:

  • A target is attacking a party or raid member, and you are too far away.
  • Swap aggro with another tank in raids
  • You have no damaging skills to take aggro from something that is too far from you
  • You see a party member popping cooldowns on a single target and might lose aggro

You want to leave your Taunt skill available as much as possible because you want to keep it available for emergency situations when you lose aggro.

Once you get aggro from a Taunt, you want to deal damage to that target, or else you might lose aggro again.

Please Use Interrupts

All Tanks have interrupts, and they usually have short cooldowns. Since the DPS is mainly focusing on their rotation to deal a lot of damage, you are free to focus on these interrupts.

Tanks are usually the main player to interrupt first, and if the enemies have multiple casts, you can rotate along with other DPS players.

Some DPS players have long cooldowns, like Balance Druids, Mages, and other classes. You have to take these into consideration and adjust the game plan depending on what content you are doing.

Interrupts are easy but hard to remember. It can be the difference between wiping and not wiping as a group. It is also important to know which casts are interruptable and which ones are the most dangerous.

Tips & Tricks for All Tanks

Surviving Big Pulls

When you pull multiple mobs, the damage you take isn’t that big initially as you pull the enemies together. Once you stop, this is where you will be taking a lot of damage because they will be hitting you constantly at the same time.

These situations can sometimes make Tanks feel overconfident because they aren’t taking too much damage at the start. But you always want to think ahead. You also have to account for spellcasters because you will be taking damage as you pull them in.

The tip here is to use your mitigation skills one second before stopping at a spot where you will be tanking all of them.

You don’t want to go below 20% HP instantly and risk putting pressure on your Healer and party. With more experience, you will get the hang of your mitigation skills, especially since M+ dungeons are usually the same for the whole duration of an expansion.

Use Line-of-Sight Tricks to Clump Up Enemies

A perfect tip for pairing with the previous one is to use line-of-sight to clump up ranged enemies with the other melee enemies.

Since there will always be enemies that are ranged, they will not follow you when they can hit you from where they are standing.

If you are pulling just a single pack of enemies, you can just stack the melee enemies on top of the ranged enemies to cleave them down together.

However, if you are pulling multiple packs of enemies, it will be harder to do if there are multiple ranged enemies.

What you want to do is to pull all the enemies and go to a corner where they won’t be able to see you. They will have to run to you until they have clear sight to cast or attack.

When you are using this strategy, it is up to the DPS to refrain from attacking immediately, so it won’t be hard to keep aggro as a tank while you are rounding them all up. If they don’t know, you can let them know beforehand about your plan.

Use Addons

There are addons out there you can install to help you become a better Tank. Addons like Threat can help you identify how much aggro you have on the enemies with a little tooltip.

Addons like DBM or Deadly Boss Mods give you the ability to do a countdown when you are about to pull a boss or any enemy. You can type ‘/dbm pull 5’ and it will initiate a 5-second countdown for your pull.

Almost everyone has DBM, so this will work with most players in World of Warcraft.

If Unsure, Face Enemies Away From the Party

If you don’t have time to read and just want to play, you can learn by playing. Generally, most mechanics that involve a Tank taking on bosses have attacks that sweep a large area against the tank.

Once you have finished a dungeon or raid boss once, you should try to remember how it goes if you don’t like reading the Adventure Guide.

Always Bring Potions

While this tip is true for every single role in the game, it is important for the Tank to have emergency health or utility potions.

You can treat health potions as an extra defensive cooldown as a Tank since Tanks have more effective HP than the other classes or roles.

Utility potions that increase your armor can also help and can act as another defensive cooldown.

Use a Bird’s-Eye View Occasionally

When you are tanking, you rarely see the whole area or group, especially if you’re in the middle of the fight.

You can rotate your camera angle by using your right mouse button and dragging it for a bird’s eye view. It helps you look at the situation from a different angle, so you know where to position yourself or the enemy.

What to Do Next

If you’ve just rolled a tank for the first time and you’re approaching max level content, check out the easier M+ dungeons in the rotation so you can start off on a good foot. Some M+ dungeons are much harder than others, so it’s good to practice Tanking in the easier ones.

For those of you who think Tanking might not be your speed, why not look at how to play a DPS or Healer effectively? These roles can also be a lot of fun and they offer an experience that can completely change how you view the game.

Check out the aforementioned addons to help improve your runs.

If you’ve been enjoying Tanking but want to switch up your experience a bit, consider changing specializations and experimenting with a new aspect of your class. This can help reinvigorate you if you’re getting bored of a class and it can bring good results, too.