Tanking is a different kind of thing. It takes a different kind of person to do well. It requires insight, anticipation and deep knowledge of your class and the encounters to shine in. Here are some helpfull words to get you started. The articles involved talk mostly about normal/heroic 5 man dungeons.
Very simple put, there are two different kind of encounters in this game. Either you are fighting trash mobs, or you are fighting a boss.
Fighting Trash mobs.
These mobs are Blizzards way of making sure you know what you are doing. Often these encounters are looked over by a lot of players, like they don’t even count. Don’t be fooled, these trash mobs usually pack a decent punch and will take you down if treated without respect.
You see, Blizzard nowadays makes sure to add a little challenge to trash mobs. Usually the pack of mobs has one or two ‘big hitters’ you need to worry about first. Take for instance Shado-Pan Monastary. During the dungeon, you will encounter several packs of mobs that will have a Regenerating Sha and a Destroying Sha in it. The Regenerating Sha uses a Regenerate ability that heals all nearby mobs, and the Destroying Sha uses Shadows of Destruction, an ability that hits you for 55.000 damage every second it touches you (It’s a channeled cone attack!).
If you rush in the pack unprepared, that means, you have no idea what to interrupt, when to interrupt, and on top of that you don’t turn the Destroying Sha away from the group, that means everyone will take 55.000 damage every second.
Again, trash mobs for sure, but they can make you bleed. Add to that the fact that your fellow group members are often ignorant of these things, they do not interrupt mobs, they do not move out of things, and the healer may be a bit distracted. Yeah, you’re in for a rough ride.
So don’t disregard trash mobs, never do. They are the perfect way to show off your tanking skills. Often how a tank handles a trash pack like the above is an excellent way to evaluate him. Is he lazy? Does he position the mobs propper? Does he interrupt? Does he use defensive cooldowns? Does he care the DPS members are standing in bad stuff because he didn’t position the trash pack well enough …
Fighting a boss encounter.
These days, boss encounters are all about spike damage and avoidable damage. Spike damage means the boss uses big hitting abilities, you often see it coming because it is a 2 second cast ability, or the Blizzard interface gives you a big warning. Avoidable damage usually means big bad stuff you’re not supposed to be in, either on the ground of in your direct area.
The most important tool in your toolbox here is … knowledge. Knowing the fight is 50% of overcoming the encounter. If you know what the boss does, what abilities he uses, you can anticipate. You know where not to stand, and when to use your defensive cooldown to help out your healer by migitating damage.
What is often to most difficult part of tanking?
Group members. Plain and simple.
You can anticipate the scripted encounters from Blizzard, but you cannot anticipate other human beings, especially in random groups with strangers.
More for the next article on that last topic.