This guide is created for those who may be new to tanking in a raid setting. Because I am not into hardcore raiding, the new World of Warcraft Looking for Raid (LFR) feature works for me, perfectly. I raid Dragon Soul (LFR) regularly with multiple characters taking on three different roles. I enjoy LFR tanking the most and wish to pass on the experience to those whom are interested. As always, your constructive comments are welcome.
Because LFR put together potentially 25 strangers in one group, as a general rule, always communicate to the other tank. For trash mobs, always pick a different target from the other tank. Install Deadly Boss Mods so that you know precisely what is to come. When you take over the aggro, do so without turning the boss around (and ask the whole bunch of people to shift for you). Be steady and don’t make unnecessary movement. One thing to remember (and to communicate) is: trade threat at three stacks!
The Art of Threat Trading
You can read all you can on how to trade threat, nothing beats hands-on experience. For a long time, I have been puzzled about what it means. The idea is simple. When it is your turn to tank the boss, taunt him over. In reality and from my experience, it is a bit trickier than that. First and foremost, different tanks may have different gears. The more different the gear levels are, the harder it is to grab aggro and make it sticks and similarly, the harder it is for the other tank to drop aggro. You can see the threat level by the boss’s portray. The moment you taunt, the boss may not focus on you first (or for long). The meter turns white and then only when it hits a red 100%+, you have momentarily grabbed the aggro. You may still lose it so when the moment comes, try to grab aggro at the soonest. As for the other tank, there are ways to drop aggro. I find that the easiest way is to step back and stop hitting. Or just auto-attack till the threat comes down. Usually that should do the job.
I also find that different classes may have a different threat build up cycle. Hence, it is important to observe and see how ‘hard’ you should tank the boss in comparison with your tanking partner. A perfect balance would be one that both can trade threat at ease.
In LFR setting, I find that the concept of main tank and off tank is vague. What usually happen is that whoever get the threat first will be the one who pass the threat over in next threat trading opportunity.
Now that we are done with the general stuffs, let’s go into the specifics!
The elemental trash mobs leading to the boss are hardly memorable. If your tanking partner grabs the threat for all the mobs, try to taunt one to tank. If you pay attention to the raid layout, you should be able to see the tanks’ targets.
Tanking Morchok is pretty straightforward. The two tanks should eat the stomp and take the most damage. So don’t run away from it. Trade threat initially at three stacks of de-buff. Thereafter, taunt the boss as soon as your de-buff fall off. Since de-buff usually take time to wear off, don’t taunt prematurely or your de-buff will be refreshed. When you see the black blood spills, find somewhere to hide. Rinse and repeat. Make sure that you tank this boss at the center. Or else, you may get too close to the adds in phase 2.
The trash mobs of the next boss consist of a claw, an eye, and a few frails. Frails cannot be tanked so ignore them. One tank should be on claw and another tank on eye the whole time. Threat meter is useless as you have to be physically close to the mobs to hold it. Communicate before the encounter. The kill order should be eye first, then frails, and claw last. Because claw may throw the tank 40 yards or so, I would suggest that warrior or druid or worgen are better choice in tanking the claw (due to charge and sprint abilities).
Warlord Zon’ozz is the ping-pong boss. You can tank the boss with one tank. I suppose the second tank can be a backup, just in case. If you are tasked to tank the boss, it is tank-and-spank throughout. Nothing memorable. If you are tasked to play with the ball, it can be quite confusing. The ball always spawns facing Zon’ozz. Your job is to keep the ball away from the group and not letting it to touch the walls. Each time you hit the ball, it changes direction and grows bigger. Once the ball grows to ten stacks of de-buff, it should be bounced back to the boss. Rinse and repeat.
Yor’sahj the Unsleeping
The trash mobs leading to Yor’shaj can be quite challenging. I have often seen groups wipe on trash mobs. On first pull, go back to tanking 101. Don’t charge in and potentially aggro another group. Pull one group from range. I have seen tanks pulling two different groups at the same time (and then a wipe). So do the sensible thing and communicate. Different people have different opinion on trash mobs kill order. My preference is purple, blue, and red (while at boss, my preferred kill order is purple, yellow, and green). Because I am more healer friendly.
Tanking Yor’sahj is like tanking Morchok. Trade threat at three stacks, and then taunt whenever the de-buff is off. You may participate in killing one of the three oozes. Or you may continue to build threat with the boss. I prefer the latter.
Hagara the Stormbinder
There are groups of humanoids and elementals trash mobs to clear before facing Hagara. Communicate with the other tank which side you are taking – left or right. If you are tanking the elementals, you may bring them over to the other tank’s side. If you are tanking the humanoids, don’t stand on the blizzard affected area marked in white. Tank the mobs away from the circle or your melee players will take tons of damage (and your healers will curse you).
Hagara does focus assault. Don’t stand there and eat it if you are tanking her. Run pass her or walk away. Alternatively, the other tank can taunt from a distance (and not at melee range!) and break the assault. Either way, towards the end of the phase (as you can hear from the Deadly Boss Mob), move the boss away from the center. You will be surprised how many players just stand in the middle and die when phase 2 starts. Also, burn some cool-downs if ice lace is on you.
For frost phase, keep going in circle and avoid the moving frost spikes. For lightning phase, tank the add, follow the rest, and move round the circle. Rinse and repeat.
This concludes part one of Dragon Soul. Part two is substantially more challenging and exciting, I must say.
Dragons are the trash mobs that need to be brought down from the sky. Or else they spray purple gas onto the platform. As a tank, you could go around and bring down the dragons (while tanking the dragons on the platform). Or if some damage class players manage to bring them down, tank them immediately. It can get chaotic. You and the other tank will have to run around like headless chickens trying to grab as much threat as possible. One strategy I have seen working is that one tank is assigned to tank the mobs in the middle while the other tank go around and taunt the dragons down.
Tanking Ultraxion is exciting. The margin of error is low. When Fading Light is cast onto you, your tanking partner has to grab the aggro. One second or two before your Fading Light de-buff expires, you must escape the Twilight realm by clicking onto the big button in the middle of the screen. Failing to do so results in instant death. When Fading light is cast onto the other tank, you have to grab the threat immediately or the boss will attack others. On top of that, you have to escape the Hour of Twilight a second or two before it arrives by (you guessed right) clicking onto the big button in the middle of the screen. The fight intensifies towards the end so save some cool-downs on that.
As a tank, you ignore the flying dragons and focus on the two melee mobs drop from the sky for a few rounds. Ideally each tank should tank one mob and bring them close to each other. But not facing each other as the mobs do cleave damage. When Onslaughter comes, run to the big purple circle to take the damage in order to save the gunship. This goes on for a while till Blackhorn spawns. This boss does sunder armor so trade threat at three stacks (or whenever your de-buff expires). Avoid shockwave, drag the boss out of purple stuff, and pray that the healers can keep up with the incoming damage.
Spine of Deathwing
Good new is, there is no more trash mobs from this point onward. This fight is divided into three stages. And the tanking strategy varies on these stages. Also, if the group is inexperience, this could turn into a tanking nightmare. Let’s break it down.
In stage one, the group is faced by four tentacles called Corruption. Kill one and it will spawn one Amalgamation and a non-stop flow of blood mobs. In this stage, the group may kill the Amalgamation much faster than the blood mobs spawn. Assuming that the group knows not to destroy more than one Corruption (usually the top right or left) and not to kill the Amalgamation until it has 9 stacks of blood, tank #1’s job is to tank the Amalgamation very near to Deathwing’s plate towards his head and to occasionally move around to collect blood (that drops from killing the blood mobs). Tank #1 also need to make sure that Amalgamation is tanked in the middle of the spine. Otherwise, Deathwing may roll if too many players stand off-center.
Tank #2’s job in stage 1 is to taunt the blood mob and have it killed near to the Amalgamation. Blood mobs always spawn from the destroyed Corruption. So grab the aggro before everyone does. On 9th stack, tank #1 hold the Amalgamation near to the plate, kill it, and when it explodes, move away from it. Tank #2’s job is to continue tanking blood mobs.
In stage two, another Corruption is killed and because the blood mobs are now spawning from two locations, the rate is faster. Tank #2 needs to continue tanking the blood away from tank #1. Tank #1 should start to collect blood when the Amalgamation is lower than 20% to 40% and not to collect blood too early. This should be fairly fast.
In stage three, same deal. But this time, there will be a lot more blood that tank #2 needs to tank and tank #1 needs to control the fight and know when to start collecting 9 stacks of blood. Doing so too early may wipe the group with too much area effect damage.
In the event whereby the group makes mistake and spawn more than one Amalgamation at one time, tank #2 will need to tank the 2nd Amalgamation away from tank #1 and the blood. Let tank #1 picks up the blood first. The worse scenario is have the two Amalgamations stacking blood at the same rate. Once the plate is gone and assuming that the group gets smarter, the 2nd Amalgamation can be used immediately for the next plate.
Madness of Deathwing
This is a gruesome 15 minutes fight. Also, the most stressful fight as a tank.
In LFR setting, it is usually 3-2-1-4 or left-left-right-right-right. It means start the fight on Ysera’s platform. And then move left to the next platform. Move left again when that is done. Then move all the way to the rightmost platform. After all four platforms are covered, move to where Deathwing is for the final showdown.
The first four platforms in general breakdown into several similar phases. It does get more and more difficult as we lose buffs.
Shortly after the fight begins, a large tentacle will spawn at the back in one of the three locations. As a tank, you need to grab aggro really fast or you risk to start losing people. The tentacle does Impale to the tank that drops your health by 80%. Also, one tank must not take two Impales in consecutive. That is where threat trading is crucial. Each tank should take turn to eat the Impale. Burn some cool downs if you are getting impaled (like using the dream button among other tricks your class may have). Ignore Elementium Bolt and focus on tanking the tentacle. Be prepare to live through Impale a couple of times per platform.
After the tentacle at the back is down, return to the limb of Deathwing. Regenerative blood will spawn and tank them where the yellow swirling light is. Kill those and return to the limb. Blistering tentacles will spawn and DON’T AoE or you may wipe the group. For the first three platforms, Alexstrasza will take care of them. On the 4th platform, make sure you focus on single target and kill them one by one (even as a tank!)
Once all four limbs are down, it is time to face Deathwing! Or rather, his face.
Since all the 4 buffs are return, use Ysera’s dream to mitigate damage when needed (big button in the middle of the screen). When the tentacles spawn on the platform, tank as many as possible. When two Terrors drop from the sky, tank one and leave the other to the other tank. They hit very hard and save your cool-downs for that fight. Tank them inside the yellow swirling light. If your group has one of the Terrors marked, you may need to help out in tanking the second one as the damage is quite unforgiving. Depending on your group’s performance, you may need to do this two to three times. If the group decides to focus on Deathwing towards the end and ignore the adds (usually happens when the boss is down to 8% as the adds spawn), let shaman’s elemental rocks do the tanking. But ready to grab the aggro back when that expires. With a bit of luck, you may not need to repeat the gruesome 15 minutes encounter again, till next week.
Tanking may sound stressful in Dragon Soul LFR. But it is insanely fun. Enjoy and good luck! All comments are welcome.