I. Classes and Specializations
II. Choosing Gear and How to Spot Upgrades
III. Abilities and How to Use Them
IV. Talents at Level 15
V. Preparing for Your First Dungeon
VI. Helpful Settings and Resources
Welcome to my guide! This guide may also be found in a document form on Google for easier reading.
This is something I’ve wanted to write for fledgling players for a long time, but thought now would be an especially good time to write it, seeing as how many new players are starting their adventures with the Mists of Pandaria expansion. Even if you’re not totally new to the game, you may find some use in this guide if you haven’t tanked before, or are unfamiliar with the new changes to the game. Whatever your experience, if you’re starting up a brand-new character and want to tank for the first time, this guide will help you be prepared so you are not so stressed going into your first dungeon.
What’s tanking? Tanking is a role in an instance group where your job is to keep the attention of enemies and absorb all their attacks. You will be more durable than your other party members, and so will be the best choice to lead the charge and take on those monsters. The healer of the party will be able to keep you healed and not worry about everyone else taking too much damage, and the DPS (damage-dealers) will be able to focus on killing the monsters.
This guide is oriented towards characters of level 15-20 only, which is probably when many players will try their very first dungeon (as the Dungeon Finder tool becomes available at level 15). I also focused on these levels for the benefit of trial account players, who are capped at level 20. This guide will not cover end-game tanking or abilities/mechanics beyond level 20; these basics should help you figure out how to integrate new abilities and talents as you learn them into your rotation, and by the time you reach end-game you’ll have a lot of resources available to help you! There are plenty of blogs, guides, and forums that can help you learn more about the specifics of tanking.
Without further ado, let’s begin your adventures in tanking!
I. Classes and Specializations
In the World of Warcraft, there are a total of five classes that can tank—warrior, paladin, druid, death knight, and monk. Of these, death knight is not available as a class choice until you reach level 55 on another character, so we won’t cover death knights in this guide. (They are considered a “hero” class.) The monk class is only available to players who have the Mists of Pandaria expansion on their account.
At level 10, class specializations become available; this means you pick a path for your character to follow as they level. Depending on the specialization you choose, you will learn a different set of abilities than the other specializations. Specializations are also categorized according to the role they perform—tank, healer, and DPS (damage-dealer)—which was briefly explained earlier. If you’re reading this guide, you will want to choose the specialization that makes you a tank!
What are those specializations? If you look at the Specialization and Talents page (N key; first tab on the bottom), you will see 3 choices (4 in the case of druids) on the left side of the window. Click on each one to read a description of them, and also see a handful of abilities that you’ll receive in that specialization. If you want to be a tank, you’ll want to pick the specialization with a little blue shield icon on it. That stands for tanking! (The green and white cross icon stands for healer, while the red sword icon stands for DPS.) Once you choose the correct specialization, click the Learn button to learn it. You’ll automatically get all the abilities associated with that specialization at your level. If you need to change your specialization, just visit a class trainer in a city and ask them about changing your specialization. For a small fee, they’ll reset your choice and you can pick a new one. :)
Let’s take a look at each of the tanking classes and specs.
The classic tank of the original game, warriors use rage as a resource to power their abilities. Some of their abilities generate rage, which are then used to power their other abilities. As a warrior, your tanking specialization is Protection.
All races are capable of becoming a warrior.
Noble warriors of the light, paladins use a mix of physical and magical abilities to fight; thus, they use mana as their resource. As a paladin, your tanking specialization is Protection.
On the Alliance, humans, dwarves, and draenei are capable of becoming paladins. On the Horde, blood elves and tauren may become paladins.
Guardians of nature, druids take the forms of various animals to help them in battle; as a druid, your tanking specialization is Guardian. Guardian bears are somewhat similar to warriors, and use rage as their resource.
On the Alliance, night elves and worgen may be druids. On the Horde, tauren and trolls are able to be druids.
The ways of the monk were introduced only recently by Pandaren allies, and make use of fists and feet to attack the enemy. For resources, monks use a combination of energy that constantly regenerates, and chi which is generated by certain abilities. As a monk, your tanking specialization is Brewmaster.
On the Alliance, all races except for worgen may become monks. On the Horde, all races except for goblins can be monks. Monks are only available to players with the Mists of Pandaria expansion.
A common question I often see is “Which race is best for (insert class here)?” The answer is that there is no “best” race. While each race has a few special racial abilities, none of them are particularly game-breaking. A few of the racial abilities might be better for certain situations or provide a tiny advantage in numbers, but overall they are not significant. You would do best by choosing the race you like personally; you’re much more likely to enjoy playing that character if you actually like its appearance. :)
Another common question is “Which is the best tanking class?” There is no such thing as the “best” tanking class. Each class is perfectly viable at tanking and you will see players of all the available tanking classes at end-game, successfully tanking dungeons and raids. Each class has its own flavor and playstyle; pick the class that you “click” with best. For example, I personally like tanking on my warrior, but another player may hate tanking on warrior and prefer playing paladin instead. Read the descriptions of each class and choose what sounds appealing to you. If you end up not liking that class so much, you can always make a new character and try out a different class. That’s part of learning—trying everything out!
Now that you’ve decided on your character and class, it’s time to play it! For your first couple of levels, you’ll probably be questing on your character and slowly learning a variety of abilities. Once you hit level 10, you’ll be able to choose your specialization (remember how I explained how to choose your specialization?). And at level 15… the Dungeon Finder tool will open up, allowing you to queue for a dungeon for the first time!
But wait! Before you dive in, you’ll want to be prepared first. The next part of my guide will cover gear and what you’ll want to equip.