I've spent a couple posts now talking about some specific skill areas to focus on as a new tank. (And had I planned this whole series out better, I probably would have broken that last one into two.)
Today I'm going to talk a little bit about the tanking mindset.
At its core, Tanking is not a hard job. Roughly 80% of the time, you just need to stand in one place and do your thing. Occasionally you might have to do something extra like taunt swap, kite, pick up some adds, break LoS...but mostly it's just tank.
Here's the thing about tanking, though, and the mentality you need to get into. Despite what it may seem like, tanking is not a PvE activity. When you are tanking, you are not competing against NPC mobs. You are competing against your fellow group members. It's an indirect PvP battle. Like my two attention-starved dogs (not!) who constantly compete for my affection--especially when only one of them is getting it)--you are making sure that anything attacking anybody hates you so much that it wants to attack you more than anyone else.
If you're going to tank well, you need to approach it with that mindset.
It's a hard adjustment to make, regardless of whether you're making it from a former DPS (which includes leveling) or Healer perspective. But keep that thought in the back of you mind the whole time.
The other mental hurdle you have to be prepared for is boredom.
What? Tanking is boring, you ask?
It's not. At least, it's not for me. I find tanking to be extremely fun and challenging. But there are times when it's easy to get lulled into a feeling of complacency on long fights, especially when you have a huge threat lead. You kinda go into a glassy-eyed auto-pilot wherein you're more focused on that delicious burrito you plan on having for breakfast tomorrow than you are on the actual fight.
But then something goes horribly wrong. You take an unlucky string of 3 consecutive hits while your healers are incapacitated or otherwise occupied. You don't blow any cooldowns and then you die because there just wasn't enough time to save you. Or that patch of burning ground under your feet that looks like it might have come from your mage is actually an enemy's Flamestrike. And now you're burning up. Or the Lich King dropped a Defile on you. And now you've wiped your raid.
The point is, you have to stay focused. Just because 80% of your time is spent standing in one place going through the same familiar rotations, doesn't mean that things aren't going to happen that require your immediate reactions. Stay sharp and prepared. Watch your health. Know when your healers are going to be putting a lot of effort into keeping someone alive that isn't you. Be ready with cooldowns.
Knowing the encounters is a huge part of this. If you know the kind of damage everyone else in the raid will be taking, you can plan to help your healers at those times. If you know certain events are going to cause you to have to react, you can be prepared to deal with them.
The rest is simple attentiveness.
That pretty much covers it for the things you need to do while you're actually tanking. On Monday (or over the weekend if I'm feeling particularly motivated) I'm going to wrap all this up by giving a few pointers on the actual learning curve and some of the things you can do to make it a little easier on yourself.
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