Mythic+ 101: Tanking

Mythic+ provides a way for players to engage in progressively more challenging content to have fun, to earn better loot, and to improve their skills. While the system is officially called the Mythic Keystone system, the community has latched onto calling it "Mythic Plus", "Mythic+", or sometimes just "M+".

The goal of our Mythic+ 101 series is to provide new players with the foundation they need to get started in Mythic+. This series is a collaboration between Raider.IO and the Mythic+ Friends Discord.

In the previous chapter of this series, we briefly discussed each role and how they operate in Mythic+ dungeons. In this chapter, we will elaborate on the role of tanking in Mythic+.

Table of Contents

  Leadership and Preparedness [back to top]

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the tank is frequently viewed as the group’s “leader”. This is primarily because the tank will control the pace of the dungeon and be the person to initiate the pulls. In a pug setting, the tank will also often dictate the route that is taken, so they have a bit of a spotlight on them that can be intimidating for newer players.

One way to counteract this concern is to show up to the dungeon completely prepared. We touched upon this in Chapter 2; however, preparedness is of particular importance to the tanking role. This is especially true when it comes to knowing the route and having a plan ahead of time. Since pugs tend to have less communication, most groups will simply just follow the tank and fight whatever enemies the tank decides to pull. Therefore, skills like keeping careful track of mob count and finding efficient routes are important to the budding tank.

While these things do take some practice, there are many tools available such as the Weekly Route and Mythic Dungeon Tools (MDT). Additionally, there are some useful Mythic+ tracker addons such as GottaGoFast or the Mythic+ Timer WeakAura by Reloe (shown below) that can help display this information even more clearly than the default WoW interface.

Keep in mind that not every group will be comfortable with or have the tools to perform skips or fight certain enemy packs. Be aware of your group’s comfort level and composition when deciding what your dungeon path will be. This is less of an issue in a premade group.

Premade groups may not even have the tank as the group leader. In fact, the maintenance of interrupts and CCs are not only the tank’s responsibility. However, it will still be very important for the tank to be aware of pathing and group cooldown usage inside of the dungeon. Regardless of whether or not the tank has the sole responsibility of devising the plan, they still have to execute it and are still generally in control of the pace. Therefore, be mindful of things like your DPS player’s cooldowns and your healer’s mana when setting the pace of the dungeon. Communication is key here, and with a premade group, communication will become even more prominent.

  Tracking Group Cooldowns [back to top]

Something that can really make a good tank stand out from a GREAT one is to track the group’s important cooldowns such as interrupts, crowd-control (CC) abilities, and other utility. Additionally, some of the top world tanks like to track their healer and DPS’s major cooldowns.

There are several useful addons and WeakAuras that you can use to track interrupts and CC, which we discussed in Chapter 2. Let’s take a closer look at how to optimize these addons for tanking.

An interrupt tracker such as Nnoggie’s ZT Interrupt and Cooldown Tracker is a useful tool to show when your group’s interrupts are available or on cooldown. In Mythic+, it is common for the tank or another DPS player to call out when they are kicking a spellcast. With an interrupt tracker, the tank or another player can also call for someone else’s interrupt next or instead. Calling out interrupts accurately and decisively can sometimes be the difference between a clean dungeon, or a key-breaking wipe.

A popular cooldown tracker addon is OmniCD. OmniCD is a customizable addon that can be used to track a group’s utilities (e.g. stuns such as Leg Sweep or disorients such as Dragon’s Breath), external cooldowns from the healer (such as Guardian Spirit or Ironbark), and DPS cooldowns. Every DPS class has at least one big damage cooldown. Sometimes, it can be nice to know when the DPS players are using their big cooldowns to plan the size of your next pull (especially if the group is not in voice comms like Discord!)

In the image below, we have an example of Tomoboar’s (Dorki) user interface. With the light pink labels, you can see how he uses the ZT tracker WeakAuras and OmniCD to track pertinent information customized to his needs:

Source: Tomoboar/Dorki, top Mythic+ Guardian Druid

It is up to you to decide what information you want to see in your OmniCD frames or ZT trackers. Some tanks prefer to track more cooldowns than others, so it is entirely up to your personal playstyle. You will need to find your own unique balance between tracking important cooldowns without going overboard. By tracking too many group cooldowns, you can run the risk of information overload with a cluttered user interface!

  Threat and Damage [back to top]

Threat and damage generally go hand-in-hand for a tank. Since Mythic + is on a time limit, it is important for every member of a group to do as much damage as possible while still performing their jobs. As a tank you want to be able to do enough damage to maintain threat over enemies while they are being attacked by high output DPS, and your damage will also help the key move along at a faster pace. A threat meter can help in this area, such as Omen or a nameplate addon such as Tidy Plates Threat Plates, Plater, or ElvUI’s built-in nameplate options.

There is a bit of a balance to strike when it comes to damage output versus damage mitigation. Generally speaking, the sweet spot is doing as much damage as possible without dying or putting your healer too far behind in their throughput or mana consumption. If you are taking very little damage, then perhaps you could be dealing more damage to enemies. In contrast, if you are frequently sitting at low health, you may want to focus more on mitigation. This is frequently handled through secondary stat adjustments, talent builds, and defensive trinkets. Guides for individual classes provided by Wowhead or Icy Veins can help you find some mitigation recommendations for your specific tanking class.

  Mitigation and Kiting [back to top]

Much like how threat and damage go hand-in-hand, damage mitigation and kiting are a perfect pair as well. Up-front damage mitigation is very important at the start of a pull. This can be achieved through your class’s active mitigation skills, cooldowns, external cooldowns from your group, and trinkets. For bosses, you will want to know their key abilities and “tank busters” (heavy-hitting abilities) so that you can rotate or cycle between these types of mitigation. On enemy packs, you also want to rotate or cycle between mitigation, however this varies from pack to pack depending on the enemies you are facing. The tank needs to be able to establish threat by doing enough damage, and in turn will be taking damage during that time. The amount of time a tank needs to take damage may vary depending on the group, and group skills such as a Hunter’s Misdirection or a Rogue’s Tricks of the Trade can increase a tank’s threat and facilitate more effective kiting.

Kiting is a technique that is used by most tanks to help prolong their lives in higher dungeon levels. Kiting involves establishing a high threat on the enemy pack, then running or using movement abilities to leave melee range. Once out of that range, the tank may run in circles or make use of the group’s crowd control abilities to extend their time away from the pack. While this is a common technique, it is important to remember that while you are away from the enemies, you are not doing damage. Therefore, your threat will be something that needs to be monitored to varying degrees depending on what tanking class you play. This lack of damage is also important to how quickly the key is timed. There is a balance to strike between doing a large pull with kiting and a smaller pull but staying in range to continue to contribute damage output. This will vary from group to group depending on many factors such as key level, item level of the group, and group composition.

Let’s look at an example of kiting. In the clip below, you can see Equinox, a top world Brewmaster Monk, use Ring of Peace and movement abilities such as Roll to kite out of melee range of the Frenzied Ghouls in Sanguine Depths. These ghouls do a substantial amount of damage to the tank between their Shadow Claws and Frenzy abilities. However, the Frenzied Ghouls can be effectively managed if the tank can kite out of melee range — especially when they are buffed by Frenzy. In the following clip, notice how Equinox weaves in and out of melee range to do damage (maintain threat) while still reducing incoming melee swings:

  Key Takeaways [back to top]

Tanking may seem intimidating at first, but a bit of practice, confidence, and communication can go a long way. The tanking job can be summarized as striking a dynamic balance between managing your incoming vs. outgoing damage, and maintaining a good pace in each dungeon. Showing up prepared with an effective dungeon route and demonstrating strong leadership skills will help your group succeed in Mythic+.

Up Next

Chapter 7 is filled with tips and tricks on how to become an effective DPS player. Topics include how to do meaningful damage, how to make the most of your utility, and how to become a DPS that everyone invites back!


About the Authors

MarianasTrench (Mari/Marinara) is a Marksmanship Hunter main who loves to play all classes in Mythic+ and raiding. He is a staff member at Mythic+ Friends, and the Guild Master of Dualism. While he loves Mythic raiding and higher Mythic+ content, he also enjoys helping other players get involved and expanding the Mythic+ community through the Mythic+ Academy at Mythic+ Friends.

Vitaminpee specializes in tanking classes in WoW and other MMORPGs and loves doing competitive Mythic+. She is the Editor and Assistant Producer of Raider.IO and is currently pursuing her Masters of Business Administration. She is a partnered Twitch streamer and Discord Partner. Feel free to message her via Twitter for any business-related inquiries.