A Tanking Primer: The Pull

July 21, 2009

hey bearWelcome to a brand new series I’ll be starting here on Going Bearfoot, a tanking primer! Here we’ll explore a new aspect of tanking each week for the next several weeks, starting with today’s topic, the pull. My hope is that I’ll manage to stay objective enough to cover tanking aspects without making this a “druid only” resource, and even include things specific to my warrior, paladin, and death knight brethren.

Tanking Primer Table of Contents

1. The Pull

2. Tank Talk

3. Adaptability

4. To be continued…


As a tank, you have a responsibility to your group to always make sure that everyone is with you, has mana, is back from their AFK, etc. before you engage the enemy. Always keep an eye to your party unit frames in between trash pulls, if someone is less than say 40% or 50% of their mana, try to stop and wait for them to drink. If you’re at a boss, the /readycheck command is a beautiful thing to make sure that everyone is still on the same page.

Once you get to that point where everyone is ready though, you have a number of options for how you should enter combat and they all depend upon the situation.

  • The standard charge
  • Ranged pull
  • Prox pull
  • LoS
  • AoE pull
  • Specialty pulls specific to party make-up.

The Standard Charge

As the name implies, this is your standard “barge in and start beating on stuff” method of entering combat. Simple and efficient, particularly for warriors and druids who actually have the charge spell. This is a nice way to do it, because it’s an easy way to start combat by running through the mob or group of mobs and tank from the other side to ensure your melee DPS is working from the back of the mob.

The problem with this pull is that particularly where you have large groups of mobs, this can be a bit messy and pull other groups to you that you aren’t prepared for by proximity and/or leave you fighting in the path of a patrol. When you don’t have a lot of room up there to work with, you might try the…

Ranged Pull

Also a relatively standard method of pulling. Warriors can use a ranged weapon, Heroic Throw, or Taunt; druids can cast (so long as you’re very quick back into bear form), Faerie Fire, or Growl; DKs can use Icy Touch for some distance or use their Death Grip; and pallies of course have their crazy shield throwing thing and their Hand of Reckoning.

This pulls the group back, out of direct contact with other groups and out of range of patrols. The problem with this one being that you’ve only established threat on one (or with pally shield throw, three) of the group of mobs and if any of your party members jump the gun on their DPS or your healer throws a HoT, you’ve got mobs running amok on your party. Therefore, you either need to make sure your group knows when to start in on their rotations (which is really hard to manage in a PuG), be ready on some AoE beforehand, or try a different pull.

Prox Pull

Also called “face pulling”, this is another way to pull a group back some but in situations that require an even more delicate touch due to the density of mobs in the room you’re pulling. There are a number of different spheres of aggro to be aware of. There’s the circle of distance around a mob that isn’t engaged yet that causes it to start attacking you if you get too near, and the expanded area around an engaged mob that pulls in other mobs to fight. (There’s also “chest aggro” that’s a ridiculously large circle around a chest that if you try to be sneaky and open it, you’ll end up fighting the whole camp… but this isn’t that blog entry…)

The nice thing about the prox pull is that what you’re essentially doing is careful stepping to the edge of the first aggro radius and backing away. This causes it to shift into the slightly larger “engaged” circle which touches on the unengaged circles of it’s buddies. They in turn pull as well, but often keep their smaller unengaged circles until they come within range of you. Ranged pulls, on the other hand, open all the mobs in the group into their engaged circles right off the bat and can sometimes pull groups you didn’t want. Also, you’re very near to melee range this way, and can throw some damage up on your mobs so they have a bit of a larger threat margin before they go running amok on your group.

Line of Sight

losAh, one of the most underused and safest methods of pulling know to tanks. This pulls mobs way back and allows for pulling back casters and other ranged mobs. Essentially what you’re doing is a ranged or prox pull with some fancy footwork. When you’ve got a room or hallway with groups of mobs pressed in together that have casters in the mix or some sort of fear effect that makes fighting in place dangerous (I’m looking at you, Utgarde Pinnalce), the LoS pull is your best friend.

LoS can be broken by a number of things: a wall, a pillar, the top of a staircase, etc. What you do is leave your party where they are not in line of sight of the group you’re pulling, engage said group, and run back to your party. Like the ranged pull, your group needs to know not to jump in as soon as they see stuff, but you’ll often have the travel time to do something to the mobs and give yourself a starting threat margin.

The picture I have here is a common set up; a short hallway between two rooms. The next room often has a number of mob groups milling around and the hallway and room you just came from allow an excellent oppertunity for breaking line of sight to get the mob to come forward.

AoE Pulling

This is, I think easiest for death knights and paladins to do, followed by druids, and then to warriors. AoE pulling eliminates (or attempts to eliminate) mobs on the pack without damage that run amok on your healer and party. You join this with a standard charge, ranged, or LoS pull and it helps immensely.

Like the name implies, you’re just adding AoE into your pull. DKs and paladins can ranged pull back through/to an area that they’ve made the ground burn underneath. Warriors… have Thunderclap. I won’t claim to know enough about them to know if Whirlwind or Shockwave is good for this application. Bears have a couple options depending on the mobs in question and the situation. The safest thing is to walk backwards spamming swipe or execute a flying bear maneuver, but if you need to grab threat on them before melee range and are feeling lucky what you can do is drop a hurricane on top of them, wait one or two ticks and then retreat back down into your safe, fur-covered bear body and hope you didn’t get beat on in caster form. Before the AoE, unlimited target swipe, hurricane pulls were a very important part of a bear’s skill set but sadly, have gone the way of Seduce, Ploymorph, and chain trapping.

Specialty Pulls

Creativity is the name of the game, my friends. From the very simple to the more obscure, here are some additional ways to pull depending on your group composition. The sky is the limit though, so always be thinking about new ways to use your party to your advantage.

  • DKs can use death grip to pull groups with only one caster. Just use it on the caster and the other mobs in the group will follow.
  • Hunters can Misdirect to the tank.
  • Rogues can Tricks of the Trade to the tank.
  • Shadow priests can perform a mind control pull. These can be useful to knock out the kinds of mobs that summon things. Just let the rest of the mob group kill off the one you don’t like.
  • Most classes have some form of crowd control, it’s horribly under appreciated these days, but you could always rock it old school.
  • Leeroy Jenkins pull. Don’t try this one at home, it’s only for the very top tier of players that REALLY want to spend a lot of gold repairing their armor.

One comment

  1. […] Bearfoot The randomness of a roleplaying druid. « A Tanking Primer: The Pull A Tanking Primer: Tank Talk July 28, 2009 Welcome to a brand new series I’ll be […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: