And I figured out the trick.
You see, it doesn’t matter at all how good your gear is, or how well you keep aggro. No, tanking is all about knowing how to communicate with and manage people.
I’ll use my experiences as an example. The first run I did was Deadmines. I zoned in, grabbed my quest, and began to explain to the group that I was new to tanking, but before I could finish a dps pulled and I dashed off to get aggro.
The entire dungeon went like that. Me frantically trying to keep up with this rather rude heirloomed monk and keep the aggro. It was stressful, tense, and frankly crappy. At the very end of the run, I asked the dude why he pulled like he did. His response was noncommittal and brief before he left the group. So, I was shaken and nervous to say the least. That had to have been one of the worst experiences tanking I’ve ever had, and it sucked that it was my first one.
However, I could not wallow in self-pity. I had promised to you blog readers and to the Internet that I, Fussypants the Holy Pally, was going to tank. So I gave it another shot. This time I zoned into The Wailing Caverns. The big difference from the first time though, was that I was able to get that first message off. I was able to explain to the group that I was new and that I would probably be slow. They were perfectly fine with it. We ran the dungeon, and while it was still difficult for me, it was nowhere near the level of panic in the first dungeon.
The huge change between dungeon 1 and dungeon 2 was communication and management. The first dungeon was terrible because I did not explain to the group my predicament. I did not inform them of my need to go slower. I had no management over the group. The second dungeon was just the opposite, I communicated and could manage the situation pretty well.
Another big part of tanking, is realizing that you are the defacto leader. You set the pace, you pick the route and the bosses hit, and you ultimately make any executive decisions for the group. With my healer mindset it is very hard for me not to take the backseat and just follow. For, as the tank, I am the leader. I choose when to engage in every mob and I get to decide how fast or slow. Knowing what I can handle, and more importantly, what the group can handle is key. If I am going too slow the dps will start pulling. But if I am going too fast I will lose aggro or my healer. Balance is vital and as the leader you must maintain it
Going back to my dungeon runs, in the first one, I did not take leadership, and basically was not able to tank effectively. But in the second run, I grabbed leadership and was able to control the run significantly better.
The last important part of tanking is rhythm. This is the one part that I still struggle with, and I think will come with time. As a tank, I found it important to maintain a certain speed with my attacks. Okay, Charge in, spin the mobs so that their backs are facing the dps, Shield Slam, tab, Thunderclaps, start walking back to the next group while I spam my other abilities. This was my ‘rotation’ of sorts, and once I figured it out, I was golden. No, I am nowhere near perfect in execution, but I know what I should do and when. As a tank, it’s important to know what your rhythm is, and if it will mesh with the group.
At this point, I’ve leveled from 24 to 34 purely by tanking. I’ve figured out the basics and have gotten pretty fast and relatively good. And most importantly, I’m having fun. I love the flipping animations of undead females as I bounce from mob to mob. I crave the exhilaration when I charge into a group, knowing full well that I’m not going to die. I revel in the speeds at which I can run a dungeon.
So, this is your advice from a noob warrior tank. You are the leader as a tank, so you must communicate, manage, and control the others in your group and the speed at which you go. Do this, and the experience will be far less stressful, and much more fun!