DPS DKs: What happens when your raid needs another Tank?

Here’s a guest post from a reader, who became a regular commenter, then blogger! – G

I started my wow life as a rogue and loved putting up the huge dps numbers throughout the Burning Crusade. I found that as I progressed through BC raids and the expansion cycle, I enjoyed doing max dps with every class I tried and was really very good at it, whether I dps’d as rogue, lock, or enh shammy.

Along came LK and Death Knights. As I discuss in my blog, I wanted to have a class capable of tanking, but really, I just loved the mechanics and playstyle of DKs, so I became a DK convert. The guild I was in when LK dropped had a good number of tanks and I did top dps, so I was never asked to tank, and frankly, tanking made me very very nervous. I knew I was good at dps, but I also knew that at least initially I wouldn’t be stellar at tanking, so I never really ended up doing it. I still amassed some tanking gear when it would have been de’d otherwise though.

Lo and behold, when I returned to the game and found a new guild, they needed me to tank!

Now what?

Oh, shit…… they need me to tank.

Well, this isn’t a primer on ‘how to tank for noobs’.
You can find good basic primers here and here, at the tankspot and elitist jerks sites, or even lots of info here at Pwnwear. Go there. Research. Learn.

No, this article is more about the attitude and approach to tanking for dps DKs.

What follows are some thoughts and suggestions at making the successful transition to the tanking role from dps.

1. There is no “I” in epeen. Your dps numbers do not matter. DPS is only good in that it translates to threat which translates to baddies hitting you instead of anyone else (normally something that makes me /jump/IBF/AMS/run).
2. Keep your eyes front. And Back. AND BOTH SIDES. Now you’re paying attention not only to the mob in front of you, your rotation, and any potentially killer aoe/boss specials, but you also have to watch what’s happening to every raid member, position the boss to allow melee to keep dps, stay in range of healers, etc. If you tunnel vision as a dps, you’re probably succeeding, as long as you don’t die in a fire. If you tunnel vision as a tank, umm, yeah, that’s a wipe.
3. Use your cds. Inexperienced tanks tend to save their defensive cooldowns for if they’re about to die. It’s okay to have one cooldown in reserve, but generally you should be smoothing damage out by using your cds in an even fashion as they come off cooldown. Exception: known ‘big’ attacks by the boss – just make sure you have something ready to keep yourself up for the impale or w/e.
4. It’s all about the raid. Your repair bills will be higher, no one will stroke your ego after the fight and say, wow, great dps!!! You can expect the next tanking legendary to drop… never. If some healer or dps gets ganked by a free mob, you can expect to be yelled at, whether or not it was your fault. And when the mobs are finally all dead, you just shrug, slip your weapon back into your harness, and get your aching (much abused) bones ready for the next beating.
5. But know that if you weren’t there, taking the beating, the raid would simply not happen. DPS – sure, they’ll find more, but a good dps who learns what they’re doing as a tank, is willing to step in and take on the role, and make sure the raid succeeds, is an extraordinary raider indeed.

thanks to Gravity for giving me this opportunity to post.

- Hinenuitepo, DK Death Goddess

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7 comments to DPS DKs: What happens when your raid needs another Tank?

  • seraph47

    great first post

  • Ranoak

    Great Post! I too am learning to tank from a dps stand point but am coming from the ranged tunnel vision of a hunter. Learning to look at the whole screen has so far been my biggest foe. Finishing a fight to look around and say hey why did the squishy back there die? At the same time it is a great Challenge and has really changed the game for me when i was beginning to burn out.

  • Excellent first post, and this is a great look on the thinking behind the mindset to tanking, especially the last points.

    Quite a lot of this relates to healers too, especially about meter whoring and getting pats on the back.

    There is indeed no I in epeen!

  • Thanks all!

    I agree: even dps needs to have some of this mindset as well. When I’m dpsing I always run a meter – if I don’t I find that I tend to not perform my very best, but we still need to work on not getting caught up in the numbers or the competition.

  • Kurtosis

    Good post.  I rolled a DK at wrath launch, leveled w/ a tank build, and do nothing but tank on it.  It’s a whole nother game, and definitely takes some work, research, and lots of practice to develop the habits that good tanks have – situational awareness, anti-tunnel-vision, raid mechanic mastery, aggressiveness in going after mobs (rather than staying away), boss movement and positioning, etc.  But it also makes you a much better raider of any role.

  • Doc

    This is a very intersting thread.  Most of my raid experience started and has been on my tanks.   I cannot tell you the number to times I have seen a dps go “LOL  pulled from the tank.  I pulled (who cares) dps!!”  Me “Umm  you shot the mob before I could taunt it, and you lived 4 seconds.”  I have been recently trying out more pure dps and find that I’m much more cautious about how I put my numbers up.  Yes, I do like to see big numbers.  But not when the boss smiles at me and pulls out the lube.  I think that just for fun, most people that dps should try out the tank or heals hat.  Maybe we can all apreciate the guy who stands eye level with the bosses crotch more.

  • Derecho - Spirestone

    Most excellent post.  I love DPS.
    But I love it more when the boss falls over, the trash gets swept up with the garbage, half of the raid is in pain and I get to roar, “WHO’S HARD NOW!?!?!” Yes, as a tank I live and die by heals and well timed cool-downs and interrupts.  I catch crap when something goes wrong, even when it’s not my fault.  But at the end of the raid you know nothing would have gone down without the tanks.
    From what I have seen since Cata came out, there are a lot less tanks.  Yeah, sure, tanking got a little harder.  A lot of things got harder.  But don’t neglect your tanks, or sooner or later you’ll come up dry when you need one.  And that does suck.

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