A Tanking Primer: Tank Talk

July 28, 2009

heartrazorWelcome 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, continuing with today’s topic, Tank Talk. 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…


One of the strange things that has evolved over time in this game is that the tank is the leader. It’s entirely possible for a healer or a DPS to take charge and direct a group, but it’s a lot harder to do so. One reason for this is that it generally falls to the tank to be party leader for the sake of using raid markings to show priority kills. (Raid markings can be used for a strange concept called “crowd control” too, but this is a very ancient concept that no longer seems to apply to the world…) Because it falls to the tank to lead 85% of the time, it’s important that you find a way to establish yourself as the leader right off the bat, and remain in that position for as long as you need to work with your group.

Enter the Tank Talk.

Tank talk happens before you go into the instance and during as well. As soon as you have five people together it is your responsibility to type out a somewhat large block of text that greets everyone and covers the most important highlights of your tanking strategy. Something to the effect of:

Hi there! I’ll be your tank today, and Holyroxzorz will be healing. Skull is the first priority kill, and I’ll throw an X if we need a secondary target as well. Please follow the kill order, have taunt turned off on pets, and remember not to stand in fire.

If you’re going to be doing bosses out of order, going to try for achievements, or have anything else that’s pertinent to your run, this is the time to say it. Immediately following that block of text you should determine if you have an enchanter and lay down your loot rules before anyone engages the first mob. This is very important to do! It might seem silly, or something that can be easily skipped but you must establish yourself as a leader before anything gets going or you’ll look like a weak leader. Weak leaders don’t get respect, and when your group has no respect they will most likely ignore your directions, your kill order, and just generally run rampant and cost you a lot in repairs.

At this point, you can happily go charging or face pulling and what have you until you get to the first boss. Pay attention during these first few pulls. Make sure everyone is still following the kill order, staying behind you, etc. If not, you’ll need to reiterate the kill order. Don’t call out anyone specifically unless the same person disrespects your orders several times in a row. I.e. They either didn’t read what you’ve been saying or don’t care. Neither of these is acceptable.

Once your at the fist boss the tank talk continues. You’ll need to ask if there is anyone who hasn’t done this before (or hasn’t done it on Heroic), check for mana, check the buffs. If there is one particular thing that can wipe a group (Like the “Pound” on Anub’arak at the end of Azjol Nerub), remind people about this whether they’ve been there or not.

Then just keep it up the rest of the instance. Keep an eye on everyone, keep marking targets, keep reviewing bosses. /Readycheck when needed.

Some very important things to remember about Tank Talk are:

  • Your goal is to be respected. Don’t be too friendly or too harsh. If you keep wiping on the same thing, make sure you do a good coach-y pep-talk and get them raring to go beforehand. Try to be understanding of people who have problems they can’t help. Don’t be entirely disciplinarian, but make sure you stay in charge. I.e.- When someone’s mouse breaks halfway through a fight… it’s not like they could help it, and chewing them out will only make your group resent you. If someone wants to take a 45 minute AFK without telling you why or keeps intentionally working on an unmarked mob first… this isn’t okay, it wastes everyone’s time and money and has to stop.
  • Do your research. Don’t come to an instance you’ve never been to before without reading up on it and how the fights go. Either go do your research or make somone else lead. Pretending to know what you’re doing to keep up the intelligent and fearless leader fascade will only hurt more than it helps, and usually destroy your credibility. It’s okay to let someone else lead, but make sure you let them do the tank talking and do what they tell ya to!
  • Admit when you’re wrong and/or don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, it’s bad for you to look like you don’t know what you’re doing… but it’s worse to go forth in ignorance. Don’t be afrain to stop a boss explaination to clarify exactly how many adds there will be, or whether it’s a curse or a poison effect. As with walking the fine line for respect in number one you also can’t take this too far. Don’t substitute asking for real research. Also, if you know that you positioned the mobs wrong, forgot to throw up a shield wall, forgot to use a potion, or whatever… admit to your mistakes. Don’t blame evrything on your teammates, even if they “deserve it”. Granted, if someone was standing in fire, they need to know not to do that, but make sure you own up to your mistakes. The respect for you will grow.


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