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WoW Classic Tanking Guide for Beginners

WoW Tanking

Being able to absorb massive amounts of damage has always been quite alluring to many players who are into World of Warcraft. There’s just an undeniable appeal to spearheading a raid or party and protecting all the damage dealers and healers from harm’s way. Still, it takes some learning and practicing to be a perfect tank. And that’s why we’ve created this WoW Classic tanking guide for beginners!

Now, it’s worth pointing out that the way tanking works in Classic WoW is somewhat different than what you might be used to on retail servers.

Things in Classic are much more straightforward in terms of game mechanics but don’t instantly assume that this means tanking in vanilla is easy. There are plenty of core mechanics to master to become a great tank, so read on to learn more!

What is Tanking?

Tanking is a gaming term for a character whose primary role is to absorb most of the damage by generating enough aggro (or threat). Essentially, the tank in a group is the player who must keep his fellow party members from being attacked by the enemy.

By default, tanks have to throw themselves at the forefront of the battle as a sort of a meat shield that protects everyone else in the group by taking all the damage.

Being a good tank revolves around being capable of holding aggro well enough. This is crucial since when the tank fails to generate enough aggro and other party members generate too much of it themselves, chaos ensues, and that’s how groups wipe out most of the time.

What Are Main Tanks in WoW?

Main tank refers to the primary tank in a group, although it’s mainly used in raid scenarios where there are typically multiple tanks. Thus, one of them (usually the most skilled and beast-geared) is considered the MT (main tank) to lead the line and take the most damage.

Tanking Strategies and Pros/Cons: The Best Tanks for WoW Classic

To complete our WoW Classic tanking guide, we’ll now focus on some nifty tips and strategies for each of the three tanking classes. Moreover, we’ll give you the pros and cons of each so you can choose the suitable tanking class for your needs!

Protection Warrior

Pros:

  • Second-to-none tanking abilities such as Shield Wall & Last Stand
  • Exceptional mitigation and threat-generating abilities
  • The go-to class for tanking in Classic WoW

Cons:

  • Not as good as Paladins at generating AoE aggro

The Warrior class is considered the only real tanking class in vanilla WoW for several reasons. Warriors have superb mitigation and aggro-generating capabilities. Still, they also rely on the most potent type of weapons for tanking (as well as Paladins), which is a 1H weapon and a shield.

Now, since Warrior tanks always have most of their talent points in the Protection tree, here are the most valuable things to remember:

  • Go for a deep Protection build of 11/5/35 (Arms, Furt, Protection)
  • Improved Revenge, Taunt, and Sunder Armor is a must
  • Always go for Deflection (5/5) in the Arms tree instead of Rend, as it’s better for tanking

And these are the best races for a Protection Warrior in WoW Classic:

  • Alliance – Humans (due to Sword Specialization and Mace Specialization)
  • Horde – Trolls (due to Berserking as it gives you two extra Heroic Strikes in the opening rotation)

Feral Druid

Pros:

  • Aggro-generation that’s comparable to that of Warriors
  • The highest armor values from all tanking classes

Cons:

  • Lacks defensive cooldown abilities, e.g., Shield Wall

While Druids are inferior to Warriors regarding our endgame tanking, they still offer similar threat-generation and even higher armor levels than Warriors. Thanks to utility abilities such as Leader of the Pack, Druids can be the best tanking option for specific end-game encounters.

Now, this is what to focus on when it comes to Feral Druid talents:

  • Your best bet would be to go for an 11/33/7 (Balance, Feral, Restoration) build
  • The Bear Form is your most essential tanking ability
  • The Ferocity and Feral Instinct both complement Maul that costs less rage while providing even more aggro

And when it comes to the best races (only Night Elves and Tauren have Druids) for Feral Druids, here is the best one:

  • Night Elf – Because they have Quickness and the most base agility among all Alliance races

Protection Paladin

Pros:

  • Brilliant at generating AoE threat
  • Self-heal, self-preservation abilities

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have Taunt
  • Not a viable option for endgame tanking 

Protection Paladins can often be found as supporting (or secondary) tanks in party and raid groups, and on rare occasions, they can even be seen as main tanks. However, even though Paladins carry plate mail like Warriors, they lack crucial threat-holding abilities such as Taunt.

Still, Paladins have plenty of valuable abilities and talent specs to help them in tanking scenarios, and here’s what to keep in mind when it comes to Prot Pala talents:

  • Opt for an 11/31/9 (Holy, Protection, Righteousness) build
  • Don’t neglect Consecration in your Holy talents
  • Divine Strength and Improved Seal of Righteousness are a must for a Paladin tank

And when it comes to the best race-class combo, here is the clear winner (note that Paladins are only available to Alliance players on Classic servers):

  • Humans (due to Sword Specialization and Mace Specialization)

Recommended Dungeons for Beginner Tanks

If you’re an up-and-coming tank still getting to grips with how to be a decent tank, then the most optimal dungeons to visit would be low-level dungeons such as Ragefire Chasm for Horde and The Deadmines for Alliance players.

These two dungeons will allow you to experience tanking at a party for the first time since you started leveling. And since they aren’t as complex and engaging as higher-level dungeons, you might get away with some blunders as you better understand how tanking works.

Tanking is Easy to Learn But Hard to Master

Although tanking is relatively simple in its core principle, there are a lot of core mechanics that one should learn to become truly good at tanking. Being able to absorb massive amounts of damage has always been quite alluring to many players who are into World of Warcraft. There’s just an undeniable appeal to spearheading a raid or party and protecting all the damage dealers and healers from harm’s way. Still, to be a good tank takes some learning and practicing, and that’s why we’ve created this WoW Classic tanking guide for beginners!

Now, it’s worth pointing out that the way tanking works in Classic WoW are different than what you might be used to on retail servers. Things in Classic are much simpler in terms of game mechanics but don’t instantly assume that this means tanking in vanilla is easy.

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