Pull, pulling, etc. Generally used to refer to the act of starting combat, normally with the aim to single out one (or as few as possible) mob(s) from a larger group, with the intent to kill the pull target(s) without aggroing the other mob(s).
In Vanilla and TBC, skilled pulling was an art form, and in many cases the key to winning a fight. Garr and High King Maulgar were legendary for the difficulty of the initial pull, several 5 player instances featured very interesting combinations of trash mob patrol patterns. The question which class should pull is hotly contested, and probably has no correct answer. The most important factor is (as always) player skill. Nontheless in some situations, certain classes have abilities which predestine them to pull, but these situations have become pretty rare.
Standard ranged pull
The most frequently used method of pulling is having the main tank do the job. The advantages of tank pulling are:
- The tank gains initial aggro from all pulled mobs. This means they hit him first which helps build rage
- Quick and easy to perform, no fancy maneuvering or delays while people move to certain positions
- Warriors use Taunt or a ranged weapon.
- Paladins normally use Avenger's Shield, but Hand of Reckoning and Exorcism also work.
- Bear Druids use Feral Faerie Fire or Growl.
- Death knights use Icy Touch, Death Grip, Dark Command or Death Coil.
The disadvantages are:
- If the mob group contains ranged damage dealers, they usually don't by themselves move closer to the group to get killed (unless silenced by Avenger's Shield or moved directly by Death Grip).
- CC and AoE effects are mutually exclusive - one can be applied, not both
- Low margin of error - if the pull goes wrong, a wipe is highly probable
In summary, this is a simple and fast method for pulling, but a rather risky one.
In some cases (particularly when several patrols meet in complex patterns) a high amount of safety is required. The puller should then move further ahead of the party, at least 30 yards. This gives him enough room to abort the pull if something went wrong. See Perfect Zone of Ultimate Safety for a complete discussion.
Whenever a fight is started by a player moving into the aggro radius of a mob, this is called a body pull. In many cases, body pulls are not intentional. In situations where nothing can go wrong, warriors like to pull by charging the mob. This gives them a good amount of rage to start with. If there's more than one mob, they also stay close together, minimizing problems with ranged damage dealers.
A more subtle form of the body pull makes use of the fact that for many mobs the range at which they detect damage is larger than the range at which they aggro from proximity. Thus, entering the aggro radius of one mob aggros that one for sure. His friends though may stay behind if the first mob does not take damage, whereas they may join the fray if the pull is done with damage. Using non-damaging abilities like Faerie Fire also makes use of these different ranges.
In some situations, crowd control is the most important aspect of the fight, and the pull is conducted using some CC ability (like Polymorph or Shackle Undead). In such cases, the tank must immediately draw aggro from the puller. See Crowd Control for details.
LOS pull / Corner pull
When the mob group contains ranged damage dealers, very frequently the "round the corner" pull is used. After drawing aggro, the puller runs around a corner or behind some obstacle, so that the mobs can't see him any more. They follow and thus come close enough for the party to attack them. In this situation it is imperative that the party keeps strict discipline and does nothing to aggro any mobs while they are still moving. While waiting for the mobs to come, it is also common that the tank lays down some kind of temporary AoE-effect (such as Consecration or Death and Decay) which immediately generates more aggro on the mobs when they round the corner and step onto the AoE.
Be aware with any strategy that involves line of sight that healers need line of sight to their tanks to heal - if the healer is in the wrong place, the LOS pull can put the puller out of the healer's LOS too.
This is a very advanced pulling method. It's difficult, but very well possible to split some mob groups with precisely timed Feign Death/Vanish. This is achieved by having the hunter or rogue in question Feign Death/Vanish when one part of the mob group is close enough to another player to aggro him, while the rest of the mobs are not yet close enough, and thus return to their original positions. Some highly artificial forms of split pulling have been declared a bannable offense by Blizzard, but in the meantime most of these methods have been made impossible by patches. The standard form (as described here) is not bannable under any circumstances.
If there is a class designed for the pulling job, it's the Hunter class. Tracking helps a lot when evaluating patrol patterns, Hunters have ranged instant pulls, they can integrate CC into the pull (with their traps), they can transfer aggro with Misdirection, and can easily abort with Feign Death. An experienced Hunter pulling is a great asset for every group, especially in complex situations. Since good pulling is an ability which requires lots of practise, it is a good idea to let the hunter do most of the pulling, even if this makes things a little slower sometimes (when misdirection is on CD and the tank needs a little extra effort to transfer aggro).