Note: unless otherwise specified, the statements on this page assume the warrior is tanking, and may not be relevant for DPS warriors.
Things warriors want non-warriors to know
- Don't run away from us if you have aggro.
- Let the warrior do the initial pulling unless you are using a hunter to create the Perfect Zone of Ultimate Safety. It's easier to hold the aggro when you start with it, than trying to pull it off someone. Sure mages have some amazing ranged spells, as do many others, while the warrior's ranged ability is mediocre at best. If a mage opens up on a mob by doing a couple thousand damage, its hard for a warrior to overcome the aggro that creates in the mob. In the event it appears that the best tactic would be to have someone else pull, use a low damage low hate spell. Whatever you have that does the least damage is good. A Mage's Level 1 frost bolt; for example, would be perfect - only doing a little bit of damage, and snaring the creature for a few seconds, allowing the warrior to grab the monster, fairly easily.
- Wait to start fighting mobs until the warrior has their attention with a shout and swing or two. Stunning or immobilizing an enemy while we're trying to drag them all into a nice spot can easily lead to us missing them, and starting to unload damage before we've hit them often means they'll start running at you.
- Don't forget [Vigilance]. Placing Vigilance on another player helps you maintain threat effectively. If placed on a healer, you can acquire aggro easily. If placed on ranged DPS, the boss is less likely to attack them and make it more difficult to reacquire aggro for you. If placed on melee DPS, your Taunt will always be available to reestablish aggro. Don't forget to put Vigilance on someone before you start an encounter.
- Melee DPS, do not attack a mob from the front. If a mob parries one of your attacks, the tank will take extra damage as the mob's next melee attack will come faster. There is very little chance of you being parried from behind, and should only occur as a bug. Making sure to stay behind a target is crucial for endgame instancing/raiding, especially on bosses. Most bosses in dungeons or raids have frontal AOE abilities. It's the tanks job to receive these attacks. So, when in doubt, turn the boss away from the group.
- If we're not in melee range, we're not doing damage, we're not generating rage, and most important of all, we're not getting aggro. Please do whatever it takes to force the mobs into close combat. Never think it's acceptable to trade fire from across the room. Mages can use Counterspell to stop a mob from casting. Normally they only have one school, so after the interrupt they will run into melee range. Be careful though as Counterspell generates a good amount of threat. It's common for a mob to run straight for the Mage when counterspelled, particularly if it was used earlier in the fight.
- If we are holding aggro, healers, your first priority is to keep us healthy. When the tank dies, the party dies. Tell us if you are getting Out of Mana and the end of the fight is not yet in sight. Then we can use abilities like Shield Wall to stay alive. Often we are so busy with tanking we forget to mind our health.
- We can tank without a shield. It does require us to have better gear than the average warrior at that level or to only do it on the easier section of the instance, but it can make things quicker and lets us hold aggro better (assuming we're still in Defensive Stance). If you're getting bored healing, let your tank know — it can make clearing out the trash mobs a faster and more painless process.
- We CAN do DPS in groups. Lose the "tank or go away" attitude. A well-geared, intelligently specced warrior can do damage that will make rogues cringe.
- Arms spec is no longer only viable for pvp. Its instance/raid damage and utility has been increased drastically.
Some class-specific notes--
Paladins - Make good use of your auras. If we're dying, Resistance or Devotion Auras are nice, but if we're losing aggro, Retribution Aura might be nicer. Tanking warriors tend to prefer Blessing of Kings due to the increased Stamina - and Sanctuary is nice but we don't get the resource benefit, so it's not as useful for us.
Hunters - We know you're good at pulling, but it's a lot simpler to let us do it in most situations. Offer to pull in dangerous situations where there's a big chance for problems (lots of or fast moving patrols, many close enemies) but please don't be too offended if we'd rather do it ourself. If you really want to pull and you have the misdirection spell offer a misdirection pull as that will dump all aggro on us. Also, please keep Growl turned off, and remember that our main responsibility is to keep the party alive; your pet comes last. If your pet keeps drawing aggro when everybody else is fine, don't blame us. Misdirection's short cooldown lets you use it often - please do.
Druids - Thorns is nice, please don't forget to cast it on us. Also, even if you aren't the healer, if you aren't the tank please resist the temptation to turn into a bear and use Growl/Maul on everything. It makes it much more difficult to hold onto the mobs, since you have naturally increased threat in that form.
Rogues - If you use Expose Armor, we can't use Sunder Armor on that target. If we can't put up the Sunder Armor debuff, our threat is slightly reduced due to a loss of Devastate damage. Our debuff is typically easier to put up and is up quickly enough for anything but short burn fights (i.e. Heart of the Deconstructor). Also, be aware that stunning a mob means it isn't hitting us, and not giving us any rage or lighting up Revenge. While it won't be a danger to anyone, there's a good chance that it'll turn to you when the stun wears off. And please resist the urge to stun mobs during the pull it makes tanking a lot harder for us.
Mages - Please don't Blink away when you pull aggro. We can't move that fast, and it tends to make it difficult to get a hold of all the mobs again. If you do happen to pull aggro, don't forget the other tools you have available, such as Frost Nova! If possible, don't rely on a macro that says your target's name when you Polymorph. We don't usually have time to read names in 1.5 seconds, and sometimes there's more than one of them anyway. Visual clues are a much bigger help. Raid icons are useful too; i.e. Moon gets polymorphed.
Warlocks - When in doubt (and if you're not Demonology with a felguard), please bring your Imp. Blood Pact is a really awesome buff, giving healers more time between us being at full health and us being dead, and allowing us to use Battle Shout for increased threat generation, even if Commanding Shout does provide slightly more health. If you have the Master Demonologist talent, your imp will also reduce the amount of threat you produce. At the same time though, don't be afraid to pull out a Voidwalker, Succubus, or Felhunter if you think their skills will be useful in dealing with the mobs. If you're going to use a Voidwalker though, please keep Torment turned off. Also, we'd like a healthstone if you've got shards to spare.
Priests - With the changes to rage generation and absorbs, Power Word: Shield provides us an early bit of absorption without stifling our rage generation. With the shift of threat to the healing priest, Prayer of Mending can cause a priest to pull threat on a new target, so when there are new targets showing up it can be a bit of a liability, though this is not typically a huge problem if you keep your warrior between you and new targets. Renew also helps mitigate your initial threat, and should be applied as soon as we engage the enemy.
Death Knights - Use Death Grip only in special situations, only to pull Mobs off a healer or to pull in ranged attacking mobs. Death Grip is a fixate, causing the mob to stop attacking the tank and to place you at the top of the threat list. NEVER use Death Grip on a mob that the Tank has aggro on.
Things non-warriors want warriors to know
- Be humble. Don't hold the attitude that you and the healer are the only legitimate members of the group, and that the DPS classes are merely dead weight. If you're Protection spec and doing your job as a tank, you will find that the DPS classes are greatly necessary, because you simply can't produce the amount of damage necessary to kill mobs on your own. Also, do not hold the attitude that you as a class are indispensable; Druids and Paladins are entirely viable options for tanking, and members of those two classes generally don't make as much noise about how much the group needs them.
- Remember that, when you are tanking, it is your job to protect the rest of your group. However, when bad things happen (and they always do), it is important to know which party members need saving first:
- Main Healer - Always, without fail, protect your healer above all else.
- Cloth Wearers - They die fast and need attention before their mana is depleted.
- Druids/Shamans/Rogues/Hunters - All of them have better damage mitigation than the clothy.
- Paladins, Death Knights or DPS warriors - All can wear plate. Though, if the paladin is the main healer, help him first.
- While it can be argued that you are perfectly capable of pulling, you are not going to be the best puller in every situation. Basically, a hunter or even a rogue can attempt a pull while the rest of the party is standing out of aggro range, then if it works they will be able to hand aggro to the warrior. If the pull goes bad, they can abort it or just die and be resurrected later. This method is useful for those difficult pulls.
- If you are tanking a mob near a shackle, sap, polymorph or otherwise incapacitated mob please consider pulling the active mobs away before using any AoE abilities like Thunder Clap. Also consider moving away so that other members of the group with AoE will not hit the crowd controlled mobs.
- Do not become overly aggressive. Don't go rushing into battle whenever you see a mob. Let casters recover mana and allow for rebuffs. You can't last long if healers and damage dealers are tapped out and can't recover while in combat.
- Some rogues will stun a mob to trigger the Assassination Armor set bonus. Good rogues will wait until you have a healthy amount of rage.
- Please keep in mind that you are not the only class that can use plate. Depending on spec (Protection or Retribution), paladins can benefit similarly from most tanking or DPS plate that warriors can use.
- Every warrior tank in an instance group needs to accept the fact that he is not there to do damage. No one will look down on you if you have lower damage than all damage dealers, because this is what it is supposed to be!
- The healer knows you need heals, and is aware that if you die, the whole group will, so screaming for heals is only likely to annoy your party. Always ensure the healer is ready, a full mana bar does not mean they are prepared. If they pull aggro, they will be trying their best to remain alive, and probably not have the time to heal you much, or at all during this time. Removing aggro from the healer should always be the party's main priority. Their life is as essential as yours.
- Due to patch 3.0.2, Protection specced warriors gain the ability Vigilance. We'd want you to cast this ability (if you have it) on the main healer. This will really benefit us, especially you, so you can get the mobs off the healer quicker (due to Vigilance refreshing your Taunt ability and their amount of damage taken reduced by 3%) if the battle turns very nasty! You can also cast this on the DPS group members (Mage, Rogue and specced hybrid classes) but just be sure cast Vigilance on the healer(s).
- Don't try to tank while dual-wielding and with Berserk Stance (the extra damage might help you keep aggro, but you'll take more damage than normal, meaning you'll die faster); Use Battle Stance or (preferably) Defensive Stance, and try to use a 1-handed weapon with a shield whenever possible (most healers will like it much more if you use a 1H weapon and a shield; some might be willing to let you do it with a 2-handed weapon or dual-wielding, but you will need more healing than if you were using a shield). Defensive Stance might decrease your damage output, but it also decreases the damage you take and increases the threat your attacks cause. Besides, tanks are not meant to do insane amounts of damage that would put a Mage or a Rogue to shame; they exist for almost no purpose but to hold aggro and get smacked around by the mobs so that the less sturdy party members can kill them without dying (I'm sorry if this offends you, but that's more or less the truth).
Things warriors want new warriors to know
- If there is no other tank in our party, you need to tank. Get used to it. Always keep a shield in your pack.
- Do not, I repeat, do not try to tank with a two-hand weapon or two one-hand weapons unless the healer(s) agree with it.
- Only pull with Charge if the target group does not need to be repositioned. Pull with a ranged weapon or Taunt. If you have the Warbringer talent(level 50 at the earliest), Charge as they close in.
- If there are multiple warriors in a group, make sure that everyone knows who the Main Tank is and don't Taunt a mob / boss off the Main Tank unless asked to.
- If a mob starts hitting the main healer and the Main Tank is busy or running after another mob, start tanking it, the healer will be grateful and will often give you a heal or two.
- If you Taunt a mob off a healer while fighting with a two-hand weapon or two one-hand weapons and the Main Tank isn't picking it up take out your one-hander and shield and switch to Defensive Stance. Your healer will be very grateful and, if he has mana, will heal you.
- Do not focus on one mob only. Look around you and make sure there are no other mobs hitting the group
- Keep an eye on the status of the group and act on it. If the healer is out of mana, do not start pulling.
- Have faith in your group. Do not start yelling for heals or get excited when a rogue pulls aggro on an almost dead mob.
- Bladestorm with care! This ability creates massive amounts of threat and you can easily outstrip your tank at the start of a fight.
- If you are not tanking, be careful when using Heroic Strike. Even though it may cause high damage, it also causes a hefty amount of threat. Abilities like Slam and Overpower are more useful for warrior DPS. Also remember, while the tank is focused on keeping threat, it might be a good idea to use DeBuffs like Demoralizing Shout, Rend, and Hamstring that the tank might overlook. Avoid Thunder Clap and Sunder Armor though.
PvE pull the aggro, if the rogue doesn't remember to get behind the mob, you go behind it (turning the mob around), maybe the rogue will figure it out and Backstab.
If you notice that the rogue is wielding some weapon other than a dagger in his/her right hand, he won't be able to Backstab. However, even if the rogue is built off of the Combat tree and doesn't need to be behind the target to Backstab, maneuvering the mob so he is behind it will make him more effective, since mobs can't parry or block attacks from behind (mobs can still dodge).
In short always try and keep the mob facing you (the warrior) and have its back to the rogues.
When grouped with another warrior, it is vital that the two of you agree who is to be "main tank", and who is to be secondary. Even if it's just the two of you alone in a big open field of wandering mobs, grinding for XP, it is still helpful to have these roles. In instances, it is vital.
Secondary Use Battle Stance or Berserker Stance and dual wield or use a two-hander. Focus on low or no threat specials, such as Rend, Hamstring, and the Shouts. Be aware that you will generate much less rage, not being aggro. Use Bloodrage and Charge to compensate.
See the "As a warrior" section of the Instance Grouping Guide for more details.
Dual tank: If you are paired with another Warrior and you cannot decide on who will be the Main Tank, you may also attempt to aggro a group of mobs or a single boss amongst both of you, splitting the amount of mobs a single tank must deal with, making the group stronger. It is suggested you use Defensive Stance for this. When the main group of mobs is done, the last remaining straggler can be "dual-aggroed" by both tanks, causing the mob to constantly turn around on whoever just used the higher-threat-inducing skill. This will cut the damage on each tank by half, and double the damage upon the mob. This is especially useful on bosses, and can increase the aggro on the warriors and remove some responsibility a single tank must have to defend his/her group.
Any time you're grouped with a priest, keep the following in mind:
- If you die, but you've eliminated and weakened enough enemies for the priest to be able to finish off the rest, the priest can simply resurrect you.
- If the priest dies, but you finish off the enemies yourself, you're stuck waiting for the priest to run back from the graveyard before the group can continue adventuring. You may even have to start over, if you're in an instance dungeon, for example.
Always, always protect the priest, even if he's an idiot. Especially if he's an idiot.
The warlock is yang to your tanking yin. If you do your job well, they can do their job really well. Their high DPS is achieved through damage over time (DoT) spells. The downside is that they generate a moderate amount of threat, so warlocks can't fire-and-forget unless someone is holding aggro for them. It's surprising the number of warriors who will whack away at one mob and do very little to hold on to the rest of the group until the you-know-what hits the fan and something starts to charge a cloth wearers.
A level 50 warlock can easily do 200-300 net DPS on three or four mobs by switching targets frequently and recasting DoTs. However, if the tank is not actively holding all three or four attacker's aggro, the Warlock would be foolish to try this tactic and will just sit there wanding the main target while you get hammered by three full strength mobs. It's much more effective for the Warlock to DoT all of the mobs while you keep aggro, so when the final boss is dead, the secondary mobs are already at 50% health.
In some situations Fear can be a good crowd control ability, remember to pull the mob group back into the previously cleared room if this is going to be done. If the warlock decides to solo said mob Via fear and dots, Please don't go hit crazy on it. Direct damage has a higher chance of breaking fear then dot damage.
Do not attack the sheep. In addition, avoid area effect attacks like cleave and whirlwind while sheep are near. Do not slap down a rend on a creature the mage is trying to sheep. Avoid weapons and items with uncontrollable Area of Effect chances like Skullflame Shield, as they will randomly break sheep and other crowd control effects.
In order to keep aggro away from a mage (especially pre-60) you both have to work at it. A mage has higher DPS than a warrior so naturally he'll pull the aggro unless you use your special aggro generating abilities. Sunder Armor works very well pre-60, even after it stacks 5 times keep on using it, because it still causes aggro even if the armor debuff isn't stacking (unless you have Devastate, which will refresh the sunder armor and cause additional threat and damage). Also make sure the mage actually gives you some time to get aggro. A skilled mage will always wait for you, but there's lots of mages who will just start using their biggest burst damage spells from the beginning.
Do not remove their Intellect buff. Although it won't increase your mana, it will increase the damage done by your Thunder Clap ability.
In PvE, it's great to have a druid healer, but you need to manage the aggro because you might lose a mob from some of the higher damage druid spells. Be ready to pull any mobs that attack the druid so that he/she can focus on your HP, otherwise you might be waiting for your partner to get back from the graveyard. Note that around level 20 druids gain the ability to resurrect, so find out if your partner can perform this function and defend accordingly. Also, it is important to remember that while you may benefit from running from one mob to the next, your caster friends are going to need mana at some point.
A bad, immature, or egocentric Hunter will be a nightmare for a tanking warrior, but after the healer, an intelligent one will be your best friend. A skilled hunter can control the number of mobs you have to deal with simultaneously, and in addition to a mage if you have one, can also use crowd control to ensure that you are not overwhelmed with more mobs at once than you can handle. A hunter can also use Misdirect for situations where you need a large amount of aggro with a given mob simultaneously. A skilled Hunter can essentially work as a secondary tank, protecting cloth wearers behind the front line so that you only need to worry about the mobs immediately in front of you. If one of them manages to slip past you, the Hunter can deal with it temporarily and protect the healer and other DPS until you are able to intervene. Finally, a Survival hunter can act as a form of insurance for you, using Deterrence offtanking to save the healer and potentially prevent a total wipe in the event that you die.
Realize that the hunter can create a Perfect Zone of Ultimate Safety and you cannot. When there is a healer in the group that can res the hunter, let him pull without giving him crap about aggro management. In cases where there is no healer, the hunter might still be a better choice of pulling, as he is much less likely to die on a bad pull than you are, as he has ways to abort the pull, while you do not. In such cases, you need to recognize when his tactics fail and you need to step in. The hunter has ways of giving up aggro from a pull, so you should have no trouble taking the aggro from him. Just make sure he is using them.
Do not roll on high level ranged weapons if you have a Hunter in your group, unless you have made sure that the Hunter does not need it first. You might use a ranged weapon purely for the stats, or for initial pulling, whereas a Hunter uses them as a primary weapon. By the same token, however, you should not tolerate ignorant hunters in your group who roll on melee weapons with +Strength that you need.
If paired in a duo with a hunter, make sure you (and the hunter) understand how his pet fits into the overall strategy. Generally, PvE characters will use pets like tanks, so they should be used to working with one. PvP hunters tend to have pets that deal damage which, combined with their taunts, can pull aggro off of you and lead the hunter to overestimate what a talented but merely human tank can do to keep aggro off of them. Poorly run PvP hunters tend to sprint around the battlefield, forcing you to take a beating if they've drawn more aggro than they can deal with instead of using the abilities they have that shed aggro.
If your hunter is Survival, and/or their favorite pet is a boar, bear or scorpid, you'll likely feel right at home. If on the other hand her favorite pet is a cat or raptor, you may be in for some frustration before the evening's adventuring is done, unless the hunter remember to turn off the taunting ability.
Working with a paladin comes down largely to whether or not the paladin is serving as the party's main healer, the main tank, DPS or some combo.
Paladin as healer
Treat the paladin same as you'd treat a priest or druid - sure they can take hits better than those other two classes, but any mana they spends healing themselves is mana they can't spend healing you. Keeping the mobs focused on you also reduces the amount of aggro they will create with their healing spells, since they're only casting spells on one character (you) rather than two (you and themselves).
Paladin as tank
If the paladin is protection spec, they have better initial-aggro gaining abilities than a warrior due to Avenger's Shield and Judgement of Righteousness. They can hold aggro on lots of mobs with ease with their Consecration and reactive damage. If a paladin loses aggro, it's much easier for them to regain it than it would be for a warrior. Warriors can peel off individual mobs with a taunt, but a paladin taunts 3 mobs at a time from a much farther distance. On the other hand, warriors can tank casters or fear-bosses far easier than a paladin could.
If you are in raid with another paladin tank, no matter who are the maintank or off-tank, let the paladin pull with Avenger's Shield first, then taunt your target off him! Reason: Avenger's Shield is a very good preload of threat. If you taunt your target after it is hit by the Avenger's Shield, you also share that good initial threat load. Besides, if it is done reversely, it is actually harder for a paladin to get a single target off you, because Avenger's Shield and Righteous Defense both affect three targets. Therefore, he can only rely on a very short ranged Judgement of Righteousness to get his mob off you. As you can see, if you do it correctly, it is a win-win situation for both!
Paladin in general
Like a priest, if you go down but have eliminated enough mobs for the paladin to survive, you'll be shortly resurrected. If the paladin goes down, you're going to be waiting for him to come back from black-and-white land. So if it looks like if only one of you is going to survive, make sure it's him, meaning you have to pull all the aggros off of him as he heals himself and you take one last stand against the mobs.
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Watch that the shaman is avoiding the use of Frost Shock (unless he's kiting), as this generates extra threat. Windfury procs can also pull aggro, so be alert.
Shamans are a hybrid class which wears mail and can heal. The main thing you are concerned with is totems which are stationary AoE buffs, the ones you would like are
- Strength of Earth Totem - Adds an amount of strength and agility, making life easier (adds avoidance and DPS too)
- Stoneskin Totem - Reduces the amount of melee damage from a mob before AC
- Grace of Air Totem - Removed after Wrath of the Lich King
- Windfury Totem - Gives 16% melee haste, allowing for greater rage generation. (20% with talents in Enhancement Improved Windfury Totem)
As they can only have one totem of each element up it is recommended you go for Windfury and Strength of Earth unless the mob deals a lot of damage then maybe Stoneskin is a better choice.
- Note from a shaman: Strength of Earth is almost always the better choice due to the extra block value it will add to your shield. The only time Stoneskin is remotely useful is on non-elite AoE pulls. The extra damage dealt by Windfury will augment your ability to generate threat. Choose based on what you're having more difficulty with.
Note: Strength of Earth Totem won't stack with Death Knights' Horn of Winter.
Since Wrath of the Lich King, shamans have nice aggro-reducing abilities (Wind Shock, Nature's Guardian). Wind Shock is useable by all shamans and remove a nice amount of aggro but don't rely on it, save the shaman, especially if they are the main healer. Nature's Guardian is also very effective, but it's a deep nature talent.