How to Tank as a Warrior in Instances -
All credit goes to original poster "Zarek" on the burning legion
There's been a lot of talk about warriors not knowing how to tank,
so this is my take on how to tank in an instance. All constructive
criticism is welcome, all flames will be replied to with a "well
write your own guide then" so save both of us some time and don't
Before I start, you need to realize this is
not a 1-90 leveling guide, it's just a guide that will help you understand
how to tank as a warrior, if you need a leveling guide, the best
one is Joana's 1-90 WoW leveling Guide.
I'll be thinking mainly about 5 man instance groups, although a lot
is still more than relevant in the raid instances, what you learn at
low level will see you through to molten core with ease.
I'm not going to go into tanking talent builds, as my views are that
31/20 is just as good as any other and that prot isn't needed it
just helps a little, I'm just going to cover the absolute basics
that will give people a good basis for them to start on. However, I
do make a few assumptions, mainly that you have tactical mastery,
which if you don't, you will need to go and get. You cannot tank
without it. Actually, you cannot do anything as a warrior without
it. (well, you can, just not efficiently)
Firstly, we have the 3 most important aspects of tanking.
1 - First and foremost, use a shield!
This may seem like a given, but you'd be surprised at how many
people try to tank with a 2 hander. The excuses for this range from
"I do more damage like this" "I don't have a shield/one hander" or
"I generate more threat with a 2 hander". All of these are rubbish.
Firstly, you are a tank, not a rogue or mage, you're not there to do
damage. If you don't have a shield or a one hander then do not try
to be main tank. As for generating more threat, that's the worst
excuse as shield bash generates way more than any attack with a 2
hander will, and as the name suggests, it needs a shield.
The main reason why you should always use a shield is the damage
reduction. A priest will have a hard time keeping up with the heals
if you insist on using a 2 hander. At 60 my shield adds around 12%
extra damage reduction.
Secondly, revenge, I'll cover this skill in more detail later, but
needless to say shield = block = revenge.
(I know that when you're a pr0 ub3r tank you can use a 2-hander and
think you're just as good as anyone else, but really, you're not.
Lets leave it at that and no "I cn tnk wid a 2hndr" posts please)
2 - Be defensive!
Defensive stance is a must. Not only does it reduce the damage taken
by 10%, it also generates additional threat, and has a few nice
abilities that are great for holding agro. I've grouped with many
warriors that refuse to tank in defensive stance, to them the 10%
less damage they give is more important than the 10% less damage
they take. These are bad warriors. Most of your time should be spent
in defensive stance. As a general rule, if you can do it in
defensive stance, then do it in defensive stance. This goes for
everything from sunder armor to demo shout. While it may not be much
doing these in defensive stance adds extra threat that makes it
harder for you to lose agro.
3 - Protect your priest.
If something is beating down on your priest, get it off them, your
sole job when your priest is losing health is to get whatever mob is
on them off them and onto you. If the priest goes down, you go down.
The ways of doing this vary greatly, and depending on the situation.
If your priest is close you can just switch target, taunt and then
build agro on that mob until you're sure it's on you. If your priest
is far away your main goal is to get to them as soon as possible. My
favoured technique is to switch to berserker stance, intercept, then
back to defensive and taunt. If there are multiple mobs on your
priest you're going to want to follow this with a battle stance,
mocking blow, or in worse situations, challenging shout.
As a warrior your priest will be relying on you to keep them free
from agro, just as you will be relying on them for healing. If they
have agro, you can't be healed.
Once you know the 3 basics you have the foundation of knowledge you
need to enter the world of a tank. However, that's just the
There are 3 stages in tanking that you'll encounter, each of these
is as important as the next, and to be a complete tank you will have
to master them all.
Getting initial agro
There is nothing more important than getting initial agro on a group
of mobs, without agro you gain less rage, which makes it harder to
get agro. It's a viscous circle that basically means that a bad
start can mean a bad finish.
-Start with a charge if you can - This doesn't just give you rage,
it has a stun chance, which = threat. If you can't start with a
charge (like if you have to pull mobs towards you) then blood rage
is a good skill for getting you some much needed rage to start
throwing out the agro building moves.
-Follow up with a demo shout - This doesn't just reduce their attack
power, it allows you to get a little agro on each of the mobs so
they are less likely to take an immediate interest in your priest.
-Try to fit in a Whirlwind - don't overlook this skill. It may be in
berserker stance, but attacking 4 mobs = threat on 4 mobs.
This should take around 5 seconds, and then and only then should the
rest of the group attack.
Once you have the initial agro on each of the mobs you're going to
want to keep increasing your threat so as none of them come off you
and attack someone else. Luckily as a warrior you have several key
skills that are useful for building threat.
These are the 4 key agro building tools you have available to you,
and you should have everyone on your hotbar in easy to use
Sunder is our spammable skill that builds a fair bit of threat,
you'll find yourself using this a lot as it has a low rage cost, and
builds a nice amount of threat. All the mobs that you are tanking
should have sunder on them.
Revenge is a great skill that builds a lot of threat. It can only be
used after you dodge, block or parry, but after a couple of revenges
Ragnaros himself won’t be able to pull a mob from you. This should
always be used on the main target when it's available. It'll make
them stick to you like glue.
Shield bash doesn't just interrupt spell casting, it makes them hate
you as well! It builds threat on non-casters just as well as
casters. This is another skill that you should be using mainly on
the main target; it'll keep them on you even when you're building up
threat on the other mobs.
Disarm is great for reducing the amount of damage you take, but also
for building threat. There's a lot of mortal strike speced mobs out
there, and we all know how nasty mortal strike is, disarming them
stops them from using it on you, and also makes them hate you for
To make sure you keep enough agro on the main target you need to
spend most of your time building threat on that. However, you cannot
ignore the rest of the mobs.
Between each threat building attack on each of the mobs not being
attacked, you should do at least one on the main target. That means
no matter how many mobs are on you, you still spend half your time
making sure you can keep the main target on you, and the other half
building threat on the others to ensure your priest doesn't pull
agro with a heal.
You may be wondering how you'll keep track of which mobs you've been
building agro on and which you've let slip. For this I recommend the
sunderthis add-on. It allows you to show the currently sundered
value above a mobs target box. That way if every time you cycle
through a mob to build agro on it you sunder you can keep a count on
which mobs have had more of your time than others, and keep your
threat level pretty even on each of them.
Getting back the agro
At some stage or another, either through a trigger happy mage,
gung-ho rogue, or you not having enough threat to cover that big
heal from the priest (it's never the priests fault, if the priest
gets agro, it's your fault), you will lose agro. It's no big deal,
as long as you know how to get it back.
The obvious choice here is taunt. It does exactly what it says on
the tooltip and makes them attack you again. If it's just one mob
that turned away then all well and good, a quick taunt and back to
threat building we go.
However if things have gone more wrong than that you may need to
draw on a couple of other skills.
-Mocking blow, in battle stance forces a mob to attack you for 6
seconds, just enough time for you to get off a few sunders, maybe a
revenge, and a shield bash.
-Challenging shout makes all mobs attack you for 6 seconds, in which
time you'll need to cycle through all of them and fire off those
-Or, in the worst possible situation, where everything has gone
wrong and it looks like nothing will get all the mobs on you, we
have the patent pending "oh !&$%, everything’s gone to $!@%" method
of getting agro back, the one chance only, no turning back, uber
threat building combination of... challenging shout retaliation!
That's right folks, if things go wrong we don't go down without a
fight, warriors never say die, back against the wall, or a corners
even better (we don't want any attacks from behind now) and hit
challenging shout... then retaliation, then sit back and watch the
numbers fly, and imagine your threat level skyrocketing. If that
doesn't save your group from a wipe on a bad pull when your cloth
wearers are all taking hits then nothing will. (try not to make a
habit of that though... at once every half hour it's not really a
A lot of people seem to have the idea that the main tank should also
be the main assist, the guy everyone assists to find the mob that
people should do damage to. This isn't true, in fact this is
probably the worst way of doing things.
The main tank and the main assist should always be 2 different
people, generally a damage dealer should play the part of main
This is due to the fact that as a tank you will never be targeting
the same mob all the time. You will need to constant rotate between
each of the mobs on you to keep building threat on each of them. If
you sit there attacking the one mob that everyone is attacking as
soon as a heal goes on every one of the other mobs will run straight
at your priest, and remember what we said about protecting your
priest? And if you're acting as main assist as a tank then people
could have a different target depending on when they decided to
assist you, and there's nothing worse than trying to keep 2 mobs on
you that are being spammed with high damage attacks.
The way that I find a lot easier is if one of the other members of
the party is the main assist, and everyone has their assist macros
set to them even you) This way you wont have your party complaining
that you keep switching target and they don't know who to attack.
This is one of the most important parts of tanking. Pulling means
that the mobs will initially target you, it's easier for you to
build agro if they are already attacking you rather than having to
pull them off someone else. You will get to learn when and how to
The other main benefit of you pulling is that in the worst case
scenario, when a pull goes bad, when you pull the entire room
because you didn't see the patrol and you have 10 mobs beating into
you, you can die alone. It will save you from a wipe. However, make
sure your group knows this is the case, you don't want your priest
healing you on a really bad pull and the whole group having to go
down. Making a macro to say something like "bad pull DO NOT heal or
attack" to warn your group of a really bad pull will save lives.
When and where to pull
Always spend a moment to look for any patrols.
Only when you are sure that there are no patrols should you consider
Only pull things that have a clear path towards you. This is really
a no-brainer, but pulling through other mobs pulls them too.
Always try to pull around a corner. This stops any ranged mobs from
staying ranged on you, they will lose line of sight so will have to
come into your melee range.
Learn the patterns. There is always a pattern. Learning it makes
your job a lot easier, if you know when and where each patrol will
be coming, you know when to pull each group, or when to wait and
pull the patrol instead.
You and your ranged weapon
Get the fastest weapon you can, damage is irrelevant, stats are nice
but not needed.
Get to know your ranged weapon, this may sound strange, but you need
to know how long it takes from you hitting the button, to it
actually firing. Nothing is worse than hitting fire at that perfect
pulling position, then having to wait for your bow to fire by which
time that nasty patrol is back down this end of the room right next
to the group you were trying to pull. Knowing your firing speed can
be the difference between pulling a group of mobs, and pulling a
group of mobs plus a patrol.
It's easier as a whole if you take control of the group. You are the
one that should always be first into a fight, so you are the one
that should decide when and how that fight happens. Many a time you
will encounter people who want to be in command. People who will
want to pull, don't let them.
The most important aspect of being a tank is being able to control
your group. You need them to follow your lead, otherwise things will
go wrong. Once you have ran an instance a couple of times you will
be in a lot better position to lead than anyone else, use this to
You should be responsible for calling the shots, if you want a sap
you should say, if you want a shackle or sheep pull, you should call
it. However don't think that just because you are ready the rest of
the group is. We have no downtime, we can keep up with the Duracell
bunny, and unfortunately your casters can't. It's paramount that you
keep an eye on your casters mana bars. If it's empty then you're on
your own, and we all know how well a warrior does against multiple
elites with no healing. Always make sure that no one is sat down
drinking when you go off to pull the next group of mobs.
And that's about it. I'm sure there are some things that I've
missed, but that's all I have for now as it's nearly 4am. Feel free
to comment about anything or add to this with your own tanking tips.
Note on sunder - Alot of people have been saying it's been stealth
nerfed to generate less threat, I haven't noticed this, I generally
don't need to spam it more than 5 times on a mob to hold agro
anyway, and as such it is still working well for me.