In the course of running my many, many heroics on my druid, I’ve noticed something. Many of the people who sign up to tank the run can hold aggro fine. But beyond that, there’s a whole bunch of finesse missing from their game. Tanking just isn’t about holding aggro, though of course that’s a big part of it. There are huge amounts more that you can do to improve your group’s chances of beating an encounter. Inspired by a cookbook I recently rediscovered, I think that it’s time to cover the basics that I’ve never really seen discussed anywhere.
One of the first, and most important, is positioning. The most important rule to follow here, I think, is:
Always face whatever you’re fighting away from the group.
There are far and away huge numbers of abilities which can be used by both bosses and trash mobs which only attack the front of the enemy. Examples include:
- Fire breaths
- AoE attacks (such as Dark Smash)
By facing the boss away from where the group starts, you also gain two extra advantages – firstly, they don’t need to move before engaging, and two, melee dps can position themselves faster, contributing to group dps. In addition, they’re unlikely to be parried, gaining you that extra bit of survivability.
This doesn’t just apply to bosses, though – in fact it can be useful on trash just as much, if not more so. By facing a trash pack away from the group, you can immediately see when one turns around and starts aiming for someone other than you. In addition, because you’ll usually have cleared up to where you’re currently standing, the only place patrols are going to come from places you sqaurely between them and the rest of the group. A quick AoE threat effect, whether it be swipe, thunder clap, consecrate, or whatever, will pick them up before anyone else has a chance to get eaten.
As tank, there’s another important point about positioning – keep out of the AoE. it sounds simple, but time and again I’ve seen tanks stand in the AoE oblivious to the fact that they’re getting the melee dps killed slowly (or not so slowly). Always keep an eye out, and move away. This especially applies to delayed-action effects, such as landmines, which will kill dps if they don’t notice it’s been laid. It’s a guarantee that they won’t, too, if the mine’s in the middle of a whole bunch of other things they’re still trying to kill.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Certain bosses in Ulduar require that the entire raid stand in fromt of the boss, for example. Some other bosses need as many people as possible in the AoE because its damage is divided between everyone it hits. On the whole, though, keeping whatever you’re fighting facing away from the vast majority of everyone else is a habit that everyone should be in.
Next time (whenever that is), I’ll try to talk a little about target prioritisation.