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Raid Tanking: Main Tank vs Off Tank in ICC
Priorities differ based on your tanking role in each raid, here is a little guide to help prepare
Last updated March 5, 2010 @ 6:37:46PM
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This guide is written from a Protection Warrior perspective specifically looking at entering into Ice Crown Citadel.

It used to be that the MT/OT roles were very different in raids, but within ICC so far there has been a lot of tank switching. This means that Main Tank is not whoever is most geared and handling the big boss. MT is now the person who has aggro and is taking the brunt of the damage. Lady Deathwispher, Deathbringer Saurfang and Festergut are all exampled of this type of fight.

Because of these mechanics I wanted to outline how I view the roles of each tank in each position. Not all people who tank view everything in this manner, but it is a good guideline to get you started. Obviously discuss, discuss, discuss with your fellow raiders and other tanks to work out the best strategy for you!

Main Tank
This is the tank holding the bad guy, on Marrowgar this is your best geared tank full time, on Lady it is both tanks due to the mechanics of the fight. On trash it is generally your best AoE/Threat tank, for Deathbringer Saurfang it switches back and forth again.

Priorities in order of importance

  • Stay Alive
  • Maintain boss positioning
  • Generate threat
  • Minimize incoming damage
  • Maximize personal DPS

Let me break those down:
Stay Alive - Obviously if the tank doesn't stay alive the rest doesn't really matter.
Positioning - Placement of the boss is key to avoid extra damage to the raid, keeping people alive, avoid boss mechanics, LoS issues and staying out of the icky stuff on the floor. It also helps the DPS by allowing them to focus on their DPS and rotations not chasing after the boss.
Threat - The more threat the MT generates the harder the DPS can go. Not limiting the DPS is key to speeding up encounters and hitting enrage timers.
Incoming Dmg - Tanks have a lot of tools to slow down the dmg coming in from the boss. This helps with #1 as well as lightening the load on the healers giving them time to keep raid members up. Commanding shout is a biggie here as well
DPS - Tanks contribute to DPS, while we will never approach the levels of any DPS class we still add some. It is important that we try to maintain a high level of DPS to help meet enrage timers, specific mechanic encounters, etc.

Off Tank
This is the tank who there to soak up the hurt, manage the adds or take over at the appropriate time.

Priorities in order of importance

  • Stay Alive
  • Minimize incoming damage
  • Control Adds
  • Use abilities to increase raid DPS

Stay Alive - Obviously if the OT doesn't stay alive the MT is likely going down on any fight involving shared damage (most in ICC)
Incoming Dmg - Focus on keeping up abilities like Thunder Clap, Demo Shout, disarm, etc. If the MT is burning excess rage/cooldowns on these then their threat will suffer as a result.
Control Adds - As the MT is focused on mob positioning the OT should round up those adds that get away, pop up or are generally harassing those they shouldn't. The Essences on the Val'kyr trash is a prime example of the important of solid add management. Silence those casters (Warriors use Heroic Throw if you have 2 points in Gag Order), disarm the ranged, draw them into the group so the MT can pick them up and so the AOE/DPS can take them down.
Raid DPS - Abilities like Battle Shout, Shattering through, improved disarm, etc. can help push up the over all DPS #. If you are waiting to taunt and you know Heroism is about to come toss out a Shattering through. Combined with Hero this is a big DPS jump.

Examples of little things that help:
Marrowgar - Watch the bone spikes, see a healer spiked? Be ready to blow a cooldown to stay alive. Keeping up TC and Demo can really reduce his overall dmg.

Lady (trash) - Is a caster lagging behind? Did a big guy get away? Silence or taunt them and bring them back into the fold.

Saurfang - When not tanking try to pop off a shattering through, keep up TC/Demo, bleeds, etc. When tanking if the adds are overwhelming the DPS taunt one off, make it travel back to you giving the DPS the extra time need to finish it off.

Plague Trash - Are there 80 zombies up? Not tanking Precious? Run back to the healers, TC, grab some adds and pull them into the fold. Or shockwave, stun them and then move back into position.

All Trash - 90% of the time stacking the tanked mobs on top of each other can help the DPS via AoE and reduced movement. If both mobs are facing the same way at the same place switching becomes very easy and any damaging abilities are focused in a very small area.

Note: Specific examples in this guide may become outdated, however the general concepts and priorities outline still remain.
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