PUG Tank Brutality Part 2

Why are players so hell bent on verbally bashing and crushing newer or lesser geared tanks?  I mean, it’s only a game, right?  How come you can literally look at a tank, see his or her gear, and determine every aspect of their tanking performance that very second?  Because we’ve all learned that a bad tank is the bane of all things that are 5-man PUGs.

Tanking on my scrub Paladin for more emblems to gear up quickly seemed like a good idea…right up until I was getting scolded every other run for this reason or that.  Most were unfounded, usually due to other player actions.  And some were legit, just coming with the territory of having mediocre tanking gear and lower HP.

But in 5-mans, I’m a decent enough tank.  I know what I am doing.  I know how to control a run at the quickest pace possible, without leading to wipes.  I can pretty much decipher my healer’s capabilities within a couple pulls, and I can definitely tell the capabilities of my DPS within the first 2 pulls.  With my uber Paladin or scrub Paladin, it makes no difference.  I can adjust my style of play to fit my PUG.  But are they willing to do the same for me?

Better question…when I am on my Ret Paladin, am I willing to adjust my style of gameplay for the under-performing tank?

I’d love to say yes on every occasion, but I have to be honest…no.  PUGs are ultimately controlled by tanks.  The speed of the run, ability to hold threat on all mobs, choice of pulls, etc.  Where you go and what you do relies entirely upon their gameplay and performance.

PUG Tanks…to Kick or Not to Kick?

Let’s face it, not everyone is a decent tank.  Not everyone can run with their second Paladin, bringing hours and hours of tanking experience behind them.

There are players fresh to tanking…

There are players with scrub gear…

There are players who pull with mind-numbing slowness…

There are players who can’t seem to comprehend that taunting and threat are related…

There are players who ignore loose mobs as they batter the defenseless healer…

There are players who cannot and will not listen to advice…

It’s just too easy to find fault in tanks.  But can we really tell if the tank is truly learning the ropes, or is the tank just half-assing an instance for quick badges?  From my experience, it woefully seems to be half and half.

I have found myself doing any number of the following, often multiple times in the same run:

  • Pulling mobs myself because tank was pulling too slowly.
  • Pulling mobs myself because tank was pulling ONE mob at a time.
  • Intentionally pulling threat to better control a pack of mobs.
  • Scolding a tank for repeated threat issues. (Only when they get combative and argumentative)

Was I being fair to the tanks?  Honestly, I don’t know.  All I know is that my patience with tanks in 5-mans wears very thin.  That doesn’t make it right.

Being Nice to Tanks

So if you find yourself stuck with a tank performing under par, these are my suggestions:

1.  Keep Quiet

If your tank is struggling, be it innocently or by negligence, keep your thoughts to yourself.  It’s nearly impossible to determine if they just plain stink or are really trying to learn.  Constructive advice is, of course, welcome.  Shooting your mouth off only creates longer runs, generates a bad rep for you, and can possibly hurt another person’s feelings.  I know, I know, that’s corny as hell, but some people don’t take abrasive criticism too well.  Think about how it feels to have someone mouthing off at you next time you fell the urge to verbally slap someone.

2.  Pull With Caution

If a tank is awful at holding threat, we as Ret Paladins can help.  Taunt loose mobs back to the pack with Hand of Reckoning.  Stun and lock ‘em up if need be.  Just be careful not to pull mobs already on the struggling tank.

3.  Pull Within Your Limits

If your tank is pulling slowly (and by slowly, I mean one at a time, or prolonged lapses between pulls), feel free to pull in an extra mob or two, just so long as you can handle them.  Stun, repent, whatever you need to do.  Chances are the tank will grab the mobs if they see them coming close.  Just make sure to stay within the healing abilities of your healer.  Don’t pile on additional undue stress for them, as they may already have their hands full with the tank.

4.  Delay Combat, Don’t Muffle Combat

My Ret Paladin, Khor, hits like a truck in 5-mans.  I can pull some nasty threat, yanking 8k or more DPS on packs of mobs at times.  Even a decent tank may have trouble holding threat.  Should we back down and tone down the DPS?  No, I don’t think so.  Instead, delay combat by 5 seconds or so, and let the tank get some decent threat.  Then run in and wreak havok.  This is particularly true for Warriors, and sometimes Druids as well.


  1. Arkanii says:

    Good tips as usual! The one about not being afraid to pull extra mobs makes me nervous though. I don’t want people to take it the wrong way and start seeing ret paladins pulling extra mobs for the undergeared tank. Just remember, don’t drink and pull!

    On a more serious note, I hope everyone is nice to undergeared tanks. Usually you will find they are nice people that are willing to learn, or are already pros in poor gear. The rougher we are on new tanks the less tanks we will have Qing up to make our Ret Q faster :)

  2. Xav says:

    I must admit that I usually don’t pull fast because I’m squishy as tank (DK) at the moment and want to have all my CD available and healers CD in case that something goes wrong.

    As DPS or Healer I never pull unless is done by accident, like when I’m casting interrupting my frostbolt as mage and latency gives me a good one. I consider pulling slow or fast, a tank’s job exclusively.
    I liked both parts but I think that first one is better.

  3. Cloudruler says:

    On my warlock i tend to need to wait a few seconds before i do anything with any tank. It never hurts to give a tank a few secs to gen some threat before going all out on an AoE pack or even Boss. Tanking on my paladin i too have had a few issues with uber geared DPS going all out before my shield even hits the mobs. This always annoys me as it makes a tanks job so much more difficult. My tank gear is mostly T9 isnt great but it works ok. Just some people have Zero patience.

  4. Khor says:

    @ Xav – Yeah, the first part hits home for me a bit more, too. I guess I should have clarified here that what I was recommending was in reference to being stuck with a stank that just wasn’t up to the dungeon. If you tell a tank, “go ahead and pull a couple more man, we’ll keep you up”, and they still don’t after several /tells, then you may be forced to help speed the run up yourself, or risk potnetial wipeage, or runs that are twice as long as they shoule be.

    You always have to be careful with DPS as a Ret Paladin. My goal is to help tanks without being a nuisance. For the most part, it works pretty well.

    @ Cloud – In instances where I am tanking and get a superb DPS, especially a Ret Paladin, even with my high threat, theres a decent chance I will get aggro stripped from me on a mob or two in AoE packs. That’s okay, because I’d rather have the high DPS pull off me and get a faster run. I can easily taunt loose mobs back quickly without DPS taking too much punishment.

    I know your DPS well, and even if you did pull off me (which is likely in some AoE situations), I wouldn’t worry about it at all. It’s really not me, and it’s really not you doing anything wrong. You just have very high DPS. I’ll take that trade-off any day :)

  5. Boumxyz says:

    I don’t raid and I don’t wanna raid. So My Tanking and Retribution gear aren’t optimal.

    But I’ve struggled at first with tanking because of my blue gear and getting some overgeared DPS in the group.

    Here are the small things I did to help with tanking in heroics with “sub-par gear”.

    First of all get Reckogning. If you’re not defense capped you’ll get hit and Reckogning is better in that case. If your defense gets high, then respec and drop reckogning since you get less hit and you avoid dmg more.

    Also get Seal of Command. It is king on AOE situation it does Holy dmg which gets Threat boost.

    Do not on heroics get Pursuit of justice it is pointless in heroics. The fight mechanism don’t require that much moving around. When you do move around, always strafe with mobs in front. You can’t parry, dodge, block when the mob is behind you.

    Blessing of Sanctuary and Spiritual Attunement to ease you mana problem ( more mana = more threat ).

    Vindication = nice to have since it gets your mitigation higher.

    Bosses are only level 82 and the Caps are lower

    Hit rating cap = 198
    Expertise = 22 (dodge AND parry)


    Seal of Vengeance (for bosses only)
    Hammer of the Righteous ( for aoe )
    Divine Plea (for more mitigation)

  6. Boumxyz says:
  7. George says:

    I am a retribution paladin but i want to put my offspec protection.Because i have just hit lvl 80 i want to know what tanking gear should i get.

  8. Boumxyz says:

    You should get to 535 Defense ( and not Defense rating… 665 defense rating = 135 defense but you have 400 defense skill).

    Then for threat, Expertise, strength and hit rating.

  9. George says:

    @Bourmxyz thank you.do you know what is the BiS BoE tank gear?

  10. Khor says:

    @ George – Yeah, gettign defense capped is #1 priority. You won’t get there right away, but in time, with emlbems, it should be an easy transition. Boum ^^^ has the info for ya :)

  11. George says:

    Ok thank you!

  12. Frozoma says:

    lol Khor i know that a fresh tank is hard to deal with myself and i do get mad but when i get killed i try to avoid blaming the tank and i make fun of myself for it. this works for me and makes the tank feel better since i am always running with my friend and he makes fun of me too =P

  13. Khor says:

    Yeah, in my mind I know I may or may not have a struggling tank, but if I die…I die because I usually over-DPSed the tanks threat abilities. Such is the curse of 5-mannig with a Ret Paladin.

    We are potentially the strongest DPS class in 5-mans. Fury Warriors and Boomkin are the only ones I have seen come close to touching my DPS. (Yeah, I said Boomkin!)

  14. Boumxyz says:

    if you’re just starting or still leveling this is a quick way to get defense capped


    this is a BiS list without Raiding.


  15. Kellenn says:

    hey guys….just had to chime in on thread as I have been playing as a tank since I started playing WoW a few years ago. Simple question I have for anyone in 5 mans wanting to bash on or make life difficult for a tank noob or not:

    How long did u sit in the que waiting for a group? Do you really want to assume the tank is bad because of your quick scan of his gear or 5 minutes of playing with them and sit in that que again waiting for a “better” tank?

    If you answered YES….drop group…there are thousands of DPS online drooling for your spot.

    If you said NO….assume the guy/gal is trying and think about how you can help another player out rather than jump his butt about his gear/gameplay. We all start somewhere don’t we? Do you have any abilities to make his life easier? Use them. Are you an uber geared ICC25 raider just trying to get his 2 free Frost Emblems? If so…shut up and understand you are in the wrong place to begin with. Nothing makes me angrier than some raider with a 5.5-6k GS and shiny ICC25 gear griping about the tank in quest blues and rep gear. That is what I wore when I levelled my main when WOTLK dropped and it is sufficient to complete the instance. NOT EVERY 5 MAN IS A SPEED RUN TO GET 2 MORE FROSTIES FOR RAIDERS. Ths sooner people understand that some players are actually there to level their toons and get gear to progress to the next level the happier they will be. If your main goal is a lightning quick run skipping straight to the end for emblems run it with guildies.

    I got bored with my main pally tank so I started playing around with a DK (hate level grinding so y not start at lvl 55?). I had run every ICC 5 man ad nauseum on my main but still caught grief because my DK wasn’t uber geared. I usually started any PUG that I was tanking (before I said the heck with it) with the statement “New to DK tanking not new to tanking or the instance” and that seemed to help some. It helped some but it was still such a pain that I made the decision that I would just roll OS on tank drops in ICC/RS/VOA and be patient with the fact that I would have to settle for table scraps to fill out my off set rather than deal with the aggravation again.

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