Friday, June 12, 2009

The Uphill Battle of the Fresh 80 Tank

Wrath has been out about 7 or 8 months now. Some players are just now reaching level 80. Whether it’s an alt, or someone who is new to the game, it can be rough on these fresh 80s, especially if they are tanks.

Tank is probably the toughest role to be under geared at, followed closely by a Healer. You can get away as an under geared DPS a little easier simply because even in a 5 man, there are other DPS players to help take up the slack.

Now an over geared tank can do wonders for a under geared healer, and vice versa, an overgeared healer can do wonders for an under geared tank, but even an over geared healer isn’t going to be able to make up for a tank that gets one shot.

A fresh level 80 Warrior or Paladin is going to be sporting about 18-20k unbuffed. I hate to break it to you, but there are well geared mages who can hit that. A new tank needs gear and Reputation and the fastest route to both is in Heroics. But even getting in Heroics can be difficult for a new tank.

Because you level so quickly, people tend to run very few instances. In the time it takes you to put the group together you could have almost outleveled the instance. In additon, most 'leveling' specs are not idea or tanking or healing an instance. This means that Tanks and Healers don’t get a lot of time to practice and hone their skills. So not only is the fresh 80 tank under geared, but she is also still learning the basics. This can lead to some really negative early experiences and may discourage the new tank.

At this point in the expansion there are going to be a number of well geared tanks. PuGs want over geared tanks; they always have, even in tBC, and maybe even earlier.

You can do Heroics, but it will be harder for the group. If they are in Heroics, there’s a good chance they are under geared as well. There's basically very little reason for a Raid geared toon to run a Heroic anymore. The only time I run one a Heroic on Honorshammer is if I'm helping out a guild mate gearing up an alt. I joke sometimes that I should flag Honorshammer for the LFG channel just to see the reaction of the PuG when they realize they just got a T8 geared Tank for their run.

So what can you do if you are a new tank? PuGs want geared tanks to run Heorics, but you can’t get geared unless you get the gear from Heroics. So you need to run Heroics to be able to tank Heroics. It’s something of a Catch 22.

Here's what I would do:

First, try to run with friends whenever possible. They tend to be more forgiving and gentler with their advice.

Second, make friends with a healer, someone who knows you and trusts you as a tank. On most realms, it's very, very easy to get 3 DPS for Heroics if you already have a Tank/Healer combo. Then if one of the DPS has a problem with you as a Tank, politely tell them they are free to leave the group and you'll replace them with one of the many DPS in the LFG channel.

You could also run as your offspec, DPS or Heal (if available to your class), which ever you prefer. It would be polite to tell the group in party chat you are rolling on Tank gear, as a courtesy.

Whatever you do, you need to farm gold like its your job. The best gems and enchants can go a long way to getting you to feel 'geared' to your PuG healer.

I’ve got a ‘shopping list’ below that can help bridge the gap a little bit.

Run double stamina trinkets. Raid geared tanks run around with 30k unbuffed HP. Most DPS is approaching or over 18k. Right or wrong, PuGs tend to judge you by your HP pool. Double stamina trinkets are a great way to get into a group. Once you are in, you can swap your trinket to an avoidance, or defense trinket.

Run a Normal. You are likely going to need to farm Seal of the Pantheon which drops in Normal Halls of Lightning. By running Normal dungeons, you can get valuable practice in your Tanking skills as well as to start learning the pulls and gimmicks of the bosses. As a level 80 running a Normal, you actually might overgear the place a bit, which will make your PuG partners very happy. This is also a terrific way to make some friends, and maybe even find that ‘pocket healer’ we all know and love.

Try to get your guild to take you on their Naxx10 runs if they still do that. If they don't try to organize an Alt Naxx10 to get some gear. Most Raid geared toons have been playing for a while, they may have multiple level 80s.

Finally, try targeting the 'easier' Heroics like Nexus, Utgarde Keep, etc. My first Heroic was Utgarde Pinacle. Not the ideal place to try to start out.

Do everything you can to improve you gear outside of dungeons and drops. Here is a quick list of gear you can buy with enough gold. Everything you see here is a Reputation Reward, a BoE drop, or a BoE Crafted item.

Helm - Tempered Titansteel
Neck - Burning Skull Pendant or Titanium Earthguard Chain
Back - Cloak of Peaceful Resolutions
Shoulders - Crusaders Square Pauldrons
Chest - Icebane (lots of stamina and you'll need it for Sapphiron/Hodir as some point)
Bracers - Bracers of Dalaran's Parapets
Hands – Daunting Handguards
Belt – Waistguard of the Risen Knight. If you really want to spend some cash Indestructible Plate Gidle
Legs – Daunting Legplates
Feet - Tempered Titansteel. Again, some major league cash will get you Spiked Deathdealers
Ring - Signet of the Accord
Ring - Titanium Earthguad
Shield – Titansteel Shieldwall

Addendum: As far as weapons go, I hope you did Ragemane's Flipper, a quest in Zul'Drak. It rewards the best tanking weapons you can reliably get. After that, you really need a drop. You can also try to get by with a Fang of Truth, or a Titansteel Bonecrusher. Those aren't ideal, but should be options if you vendored the quest rewards from Ragemane's. They should hold you over until you see a drop. You can also start the Argent Tournament as early as 77. There is the Axe of the Sen'jin Protector which you can purchase with Champion's Seals. From the Comments: Blade of the Empty Void, it's a quest reward from an Icecrown quest (Tirion's Gambit), and it provides +19 def.

Hopefully some of this advice will help you fight the uphill battle of a fresh level 80 tank.

If you happen to be grouping with one of these guys, let me encourage you to cut them a little slack. They are trying to gear up just like you.


Molsan said...

Great, realistic advice here. As a fresh tank, you should focus on getting geared for your defense cap (540). What's nice is that the Tempered Saronite Blacksmith/BoE crafted gear gets you there quickly.

As mentioned, try to get a spot in 10-man Naxx as an OT. Being the OT in a raid is the best way to gear up.

AHAntics said...

"A new tank needs gear and Reputation and the fastest route to both is in Heroics."
"Run a Normal. "

I would modify that a little to "Run a Normal Level 80 Instance."
That way your Tabard still gets you rep for gear. I recommend starting with Wyrmrest for the Cape and Boots.


Galoheart said...

From a Tank that's been there and done that and chosen both time in tBC and WotLK to gear up the hard way by gearing up in Heroics always pre-raid I can give a few tips.

Just like Honors mentioned a few times above it's ideal if you can find you a pocket healer at your same gear level or close that needs gear as much as you do as a tank. That's a marriage made to get running instances done. But get one that fairly good at healing as well most likely they also leveled as a healer or done some leveling.

I remember doing that back in tBC. I found a good resto shaman "Tonic" in a pug. He needed to get healing gear and I needed tank gear. Whenever he was on we knocked off instances. We helped each other out. He eventually secured himself a great spot in a top guild eventually. But we always had time to help each other out.

Tank with confidence your first few runs if your green or new as a tank. But don't be a ass and be all arogant either. If your new listen to people that been to the instance before and giving you tips. You may learn something you didn't know. Many times I picked up things that way because I choose to listen and not act like I knew it all. Especially tanking a new instance for gear.

If you new to a instance once your there make it known if you can. Some people will give you the benefit of a doubt if you move slow, cautiously or just not sure how or what to pull. If you not sure what to pull as your group. Especially if it goes wrong it's not entirely your fault after.

Use CC for complex pulls to make it easier on your group just starting out if your not a confident tank running Heroics trying to get gear. When I was lesser geared in tBC I used to do that in PuGs especially If unsure of the healer. If healer could heal me fine I used less CC back then but it builds confidence in the healer with you tanking. Just don't give your healer a heartattack. If I was going to do something crazy I gave the healer a heads up so they ready for it.

If you find good healers gearing up put themon your friends list and build up a roster of healers. As you need to run Heroics for gear the more healers you know the more you have to choose from if they are logged on to help you out running Instances for gear. As well put good dps players on your list as well chances are they need gear up too If they at your gear level.

If you make abad mistake tanking and learning fess up to it and don't act stupid about it. You get more forgiveness that way. And don't ever be a jerk, you loose more potential friends that way that could easily help you gear up running more instance for gear.

Don't be afraid to practise running regular instances if your gear is just not as yet ready for heroics and more. Try tanking the easier heroics first and build your confidence in what your gear can handle and work up from there.

Do a few of those things it makes it easier learning how to tank and finding people to help you gear up for gear. Afterall you can't do it alone. As well get crafted gear crafted if you can to fill the voids for gear.

And don't ever be a broke tank. Being a rich tank is better. You can better afford all your repair bills as they will surely add up. Gear change is constant and expensive and you need gems, enchants and mats. You have to afford all that. So find some way to make money and a good amount of it.

Suniojii said...

Cool post, thanks. I think my new main will be a tank... Did hunter and rogue forever and want to change it up.

Ruhtra said...

This is great man. We were actually talking with a couple brand new 80 tanks tonight who are working on their gear.

Your post could not have been more timely written than if I had sent you a request for something like this.

Thanks on behalf of our new tanks who will be sent directly to your post!

Razvan said...

Thank you so much, I thought I was disfunctional when the people in low HC PUGs such as Utgarde or Nexus would ask me if I was hit capped. Just yesterday I was kicked out for lack of 20 def points from a Nexus PUG, even though I've done this before with even lower def. "go get hit capped noob" ruined my wow mood for the rest of the day.

whatsmymain said...

Crafted gear goes a long way. I had a bunch waiting on my paladin when she hit 80 and was sitting right at 23k hps. Some more advice... enchant your gear. Enchanted gear can easily net you another 1k health and some solid defense. If you are still fairly low don't be afraid to use consumables to get you a bit more. 30g on a flask isn't much when you can get that from the trash you collect.

A little prep on your part goes a long way for a group taking an undergeared tank.

Josh said...

Not that I'm actually soliciting gear advice as I'm sure as hell not rolling another character to tank with, but what about weapon slots Honors?

Anonymous said...

@Razvan: Sorry for being harsh, but these pugs were right. If you are not crit-immune you have nothing to do in a heroic! The one-shot would be your fault.

With the quest rewards from normal instances and the blue crafted def armour you can easily hit the 540 limit without investing tons of gold.

Furthermore if you don´t have much money go for borean leather (+12 or +18 Stamina) and food to increase your health. For def use the old bc-flask of fortification (health+def) or a def-potion.


Honors Code said...


I added an Addendum to talk about Weapons.

Anonymous said...

@Molsan: 540 is not a defense _cap_; it's a defense _minimum_. Defense continues to be an efficient way of stacking avoidance and mitigation long after it stops reducing crit chance against you.

Dorgol said...

Also remember that 540 is the RAIDBOSS minimum. For heroics, it's 535. Not a big difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Galo made a really good point on the use of CC to minimize tank damage. This helpful to an undergeared tank (less incoming damage), an undergeared healer (less to heal), AND undergeared DPS (poor DPS will mean the mobs live longer which can start to stretch healer mana).

People may initially balk at the idea, but if you explain the reason for needing CC, most people are (in my experience) very understanding.

Lightsbane said...

I dont know if its been mentioned yet but you can do Argent Tourney Dailies to get some decent starter weapons, in the case of tanking a nice tanking axe with lots of defense and some avoidance (Parry). its not quite as nice as a slayer of the lifeless or Red Sword of Courage but its certainly an upgrade over the Gundrak weapon (as nice as that is)

Fish said...

I've gone this route and I would add something to it: BECOME A JEWELCRAFTER! Although I wouldn't consider myself "well geared" by any stretch, I'm at the defense cap, have around 26k HP and I did it with no heroic drops. However, I am using 2 JC trinkets and I have 2 solid dragon's eyes socketed and that went a HUGE way to buffing stam (and I socketed the green tanking gems instead of reds in the rabbit trink to hit def cap).

I'm not up to tanking hard heroics or raids, but I can always pick up a sport ret spec or tank an easier heroic for emblems and maybe hope for a drop.

PS - no earthguard necklace in your list?

Mister K said...

Great advice and some great comments too. One thing I would add is don't be too afraid to screw up. If you have a group of friends or people who trust you try to push your limits, always let them know beforehand though because some people don't like to be surprised :). Its always good to know how much you can take and how good you are at reacting when stuff doesn't go by the book

Alden said...

Quick comment I haven't seen yet:

Read the strats for the different dungeons. People will be a lot more confident if you aren't asking "So... what do I do here?"

Also, you CAN be defense capped when you ding if you pick up all the BoE/ Crafted stuff available and carefully choose quest chains to complete. Shop around, have people help you out, and you could get the gear and the enchants easily for 5k on most servers.

Darth Solo said...

Great stuff here, even for a solo player like myself who doesn't do raids or instances. I'm almost at 80 with a Prot Pally that I plan to use for AOE grinding and I had totally skipped Zul'Drak. If I hadn't read this, I wouldn't have heard about that awesome tanking weapon. 5 minutes after reading this I went, soloed Ragemane and got myself a new weapon.

Belicia said...

You might want to add Blade of the Empty Void,, to your weapons list. It's a quest reward from an Icecrown quest (Tirion's Gambit), and it provides +19 def. I found it helpful while gearing up for 540 (which is really very, very, very easy to do just with the Tempered Titansteel gear). I was incredibly lucky and had the Red Sword of Courage drop on my first H UP run, but that should be a top priority when starting to run heroics.

Also: it is absolutely imperative to level your rep with Hodir (defense shoulder enchant) and the Argent Crusade (defense head enchant). Getting rep with Wyrmrest is nice for the cloak, but you will use the head/shoulder enchant forever (they're still the best enchants for an Ulduar raider).

luke said...

I wish you wrote this when I was gearing up my tank :)
I can totally understand this catch 22 situation for fresh tanks. No one wants to run with you if you have no gear yet you need runs to get gear.
Basically I started out as DPS then switched to tanking - this allowed me to learn the fights albiet from a DPS perspective - but at least I wasn't totally clueless about what to expect. As a DPS I managed to get rep for Wyrmrest and some offspec gear so that by the time I was ready to roll as tank, I could just buy their tanking gear.
I had helpful guildies who crafted purples to help me reach the def cap as well.
I tried running regular instances to start with but I had trouble finding groups for it. In the end I just ran H UK, nexus and VH ad nauseum.
But most helpful was my group - patient and understanding. We went from wiping repeatedly to doing heroics for achievements. They invested a lot of time and gold for repairs in me. It was a long journey but it was worth it - we will be doing Ulduar soon! :)

Firespirit said...


Linkage love coming:

"...with as much wisdom as Honor’s from Honor’s Code will lend me..."

Light said...

From a overgeared healer, I don't mind helping out young tanks. The biggest problem I have with them is that they are sometimes unwilling to listen to strategies on how to tank bosses.

Listen to other people who've done it a thousand times! That is probably the biggest piece of advice.

SimonB said...

"Also: it is absolutely imperative to level your rep with Hodir (defense shoulder enchant)"

Rightly or wrongly I don't think it's fair to have an exceedingly tedious grind as an *imperative* step to becoming a good tank.

Surely you can go and grab the stone keepers shards ones from Wintergrasp? They must be a +stam +res one lurking around somewhere. What I'd lose in the slight avoidance stats between def and res I'd gain in the sanity department by not having to do that grind.


Zothor said...

I know this is almost assumed given that your readers are well... your readers.... but I think you left out the single most important thing that separates good tanks from bad ones: preparation. Read. Read everything. Learn the game mechanics. If you are tanking, you are the central pivot of the encounter. Anyone else can fail and have the slack picked up, but you can't. If you don't know that a boss is going to hit you with a big nuke that needs to be interrupted, well, that wipe is on you.

Read tanking blogs. Read Tankspot, Maintankadin, any forum you can find where educated debates go on about content and mechanics. Learn everything you can so you can make informed, intelligent decisions. I almost hit the roof when I was sitting with 3 debuffs on Kologarn the other day, and my taunt partner was chaining trinkets trying to get his debuffs to drop off so he could say he solo tanked it. Well, the random number generator didn't play nice with him and now he had two debuffs while I couldn't taunt back, no cooldowns to save him. If he had known the fight mechanics better he might have realized that I wasn't going to be able to bail him out.

Finally, to one commentator, Hodir Exalted is excellent to have but in no way your only option. Both for stacking stamina to get into pugs and, depending on your class mechanics, as a considerable alternative, I often run with the inscription of the gladiator (30 stam 15 resil) to shoulders - 10k honor at the stormwind vendor. The resilience DOES stack with your defense for becoming uncrittable, although it doesn't offer the extra avoidance defense does. Still a great option if you want to get a little beefier at the cost of some avoidance.

Galoheart said...

I would say it's most preferable if as a Tank you do things the right way and get yourself the Hodir Exalted Shoulder Enchant. Getting to Honored at least with the faction is not hard fir the lesser shoulder enchant if you need one. But getting the exalted one is much better.

It just help to do thing right gear wise and enchanting your gear properly as is the case here. Really... to not do so is just slacking in my opinion.

Yet their is a alternative is the if you can't as yet get the Hodir enchant and not doing inscription. You can stillget a helpful and good shoulder enchant from Outland from the Scryers or the other one. That's what I did lvling up from tBC to WotLK for shoulder enchants.

They work! But I guess it's probably not good to assume that new tanks these days have much faction reps with the two factions in Shatt to have the enchant. But if you were old school and playing tBC you should have good reps to easily pick up one of those to use temporarily till you get better with Hodir at least. Some could say well that may be expensive. Well welcome to the world of being a good tank and gearing properly using the right enchants. Tanking and gearing aren't cheap.

Cyrus said...

Here is a quick list of gear you can buy with enough gold. Everything you see here is a Reputation Reward, a BoE drop, or a BoE Crafted item.

Actually, the Bracers of Dalaran's Parapets are none of the above. They are BoE and are purchased with Emblems of Valor. This is just nitpicking - they are still BoE and worth getting, which is the basic point - but it'll make a difference in the best way to go about getting them, that's all. For example, if your newly 80 tank is an alt and your main is a dps or healer wearing a lot of Ulduar gear already, then don't waste your money buying the bracers from someone else, just get them yourself with your emblems.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list. It should be pointed out that since the addition of Emalon, fresh 80s have lost one of the best methods of gearing up (tanks, at least).
Archavon was one of the easiest and quickest ways to get badges and tier-gear, even for 80s who weren't geared all that well. But now that everyone wants to run Emalon, tanks who aren't raid geared have a really hard time getting slots.

SimonB said...

"I would say it's most preferable if as a Tank you do things the right way and get yourself the Hodir Exalted Shoulder Enchant. Getting to Honored at least with the faction is not hard fir the lesser shoulder enchant if you need one. But getting the exalted one is much better."

True, but keeping in with the spirit of this article I would argue that a brand new tank starting out would be much better off using a placeholder shoulder enchant and investing the time it would take to do the Hodir dailies into actually running some instances & heroics, learning and practicing how to tank at lv80, and gearing up through dungeon drops and rep items.

Of course if you play a high number of hours per day you can do both, but for those with limited play time, bear in mind that you will have plenty of time to bash out dailies in the game once you are fully kitted out and have nothing useful to do outside of raiding.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this very helpful and enlightening post.

As a new player reaching 80 for the first time, I found getting into instances, somewhat trying for my self-esteem. From the "go get geared noob" to the "you want to tank? you're kidding right?" comments, I've figured I would never get a chance. It's nice to know I'm not alone. :-)

Mister K said...

Another good shoulder enchant is the Greater Inscription of the Gladiator. Gives 30 stam and 15 Resilience. I find with the defense cap so easy to reach the extra Health from this enchant is great to help your health pool, also the resilience covers crit immunity too if you happen to fall a point or 2 short on defense

Corey Parker said...

My thoughts on shoulder enchanting: Your main options depend on who you and what you're starting with.

Are you playing a level 70 alt from BC? Toss on the Scryer/Aldor enchants, work on gearing. They're really bad, all in all, but they're better then nothing.

If you like doing PVP at all, hit up Wintergrasp a few times. 10k honor, which isn't hard to get, will net you Gladiator's Inscription for 30 stamina/15 resilience for some crit immunity.

Although if you're a fresh tank leveling yourself still, the Hodir opening quests are available at 77 so you can get yourself Honored by the time you hit 80. :)

Good luck!

Lightsbane said...

"Are you playing a level 70 alt from BC? Toss on the Scryer/Aldor enchants, work on gearing. They're really bad, all in all, but they're better then nothing."

I feel i should point out that if you did get to exalted with the Scyer/Aldor during TBC then there is nothing wrong with their enchants and they are not "reallly bad" in fact the exalted aldor enchants at lvl 70 are IDENTICAL to the honored Sons of Hodir enchants at lvl 80. Assuming you have the arcane tombs or Fel armorments there is nothing wrong in using those enchants till your Exalted with the Sons

msh group said...


rogue leveling guide said...

Aaah the struggle of an undergeared tank... :) I love it and hate it at the same time.

With my druid alt I did a lot of runs with undergeared tanks - all personal friends. If they weren't good friends, I probably wouldn't visit a single instance with them. No healer - no matter the gear - can keep a warrior without proper tanking equip alive.

Once every instant cast is on cooldown, the only question is - will he survive the casting time of a normal Heal? xD

Listen to this Honors Code! Get a shopping list and get yourself some better gear before visiting higher instances - you will save yourself and your guild mates lots of frustration.