Since I recently posted on what "not" to do or rather "how not to act" as a tank. I decided to put a post together on "how to act" or "how to tank". First off there are so many varitions to tanking depending what your doing... ie 5 man heroics, 10man raids, 25man raid...
I'm going to focus mainly on general rules, then throw in what I do, and some tips for the differences between the 5mans, 10mans, and 25mans.
Non negotiable rules
#1. Say "Hi!": to the group/raid- a simple /p hi or /raid hi goes along way even before you've started. I do this in every run, heroics, raids, doesn't matter it sets the tone for the group that I'm ready. I'm in a good mood. I want to succeed.
#2. Be prepared: Repair before all runs regardless of type. Buy buff food, buy flasks or Elixir's, before your raids. I use Flask of Stoneblood, and Dragonfin Filet, for my buffs on all my raids. For heroics I don't use any food or Elixir's. They are kind of expensive and not necessary, usually for a random heroic.
Other rules, in no particular order.
#1. know your instance/raid: Read a guide, watch a video, ask around your guild, ask your friends, ask a tank. Do anything you can to learn more about what your running. That being said some people learn by doing, like me, but there is still value in getting as much info as you can before attempting an instance/raid.
#2. Know your pulls: Pulls vary by a large amount depending on what your running. Your basic heroic trash pull is obviously much different than a 10 man raid boss. Learn about it. Ask other tanks, friends, and guildies what they do for certain pulls. Join a group as dps a few times and watch the tank, make notes about what they do. Or you can email me and I'll give you a few tips ;).
For me as a Blood DK tank a typical trash pull in a 5 man heroic goes something like this...
First pull: Say hi :P. Check to make sure I'm in the right spec, and I'm in Frost Presence. I ask if everyone is ready? 3-4 of them say yes. I say pulling and go. After that first one and all consecutive pulls I follow the same er... template, basically this
Is everyone alive?>Does the healer have over 60%`ish mana?>Does the other dps have over 50%`ish mana? If all these are yes, we go on to the next pull.
If any are No, you obviously take appropriate actions; IE wait for mana regen, rez the dead. etc...
Now checking these things should only take you a few seconds. This will not drag out your total run. Many people want very quick runs, we all do. So doing this should not take away from your pace at all. Don't waste time looking around or whatever... simply put "just go".
pull>rotation>check...pull>rotation>check... etc... get into a rhythym and you'll see things will go very smooth for your group. If any DPS has Energy, Rage, Runic Power, that is of no concern. Those classes that use these instead of mana have other ways to get them built up or gain more. We don't have to wait for them to regen like we do for mana.
My typical pull/rotation: find the caster/Ranged in the group and Death grip him to me, drop Death and Decay, Plague strike, and Icy touch my target, wait a tick, then pestilence to make sure all the MOB's in that group are in range. This is usually enough threat that I could not attack again and they would all die before anyone pulled aggro off me. But, I don't do that I tab to another target in range and hit it with a Heart strike, another target, Heart strike, Rune Strike, Death Strike or Death coil whatever I have available. I pretty much just roll this way through all the trash targets until they die.
If there is more than one caster, I'll target one caster move closer so that the second caster is in range of strangulate. Then follow my rotation and after I have dropped my pestilence I then strangulate the second caster so that he gets silenced and runs into melee range. I then tab back to a target which has diseases ticking and pestilence again so that the new caster has some ticking on it as well. Now I return to my pattern, tabbing through targets and applying threat via spells and strikes as they are available.
#3. Kill order: This is pretty standard for all pulls. Healers first, CC (if any), dps. Most trash pulls now-a-days, just get AOE'd down all together. But there are still some exceptions. And it nevers hurts to keep up your skills for new content.
#4. Track healers mana: Always check this, check it frequently, basically for trash pulls unless you have a brand new level 80 healer, anything about 60% and your good to go.
#5. Positioning: Simple, when in doubt turn the MOB's away from the raid/group. Or always turn them away. On trash pulls this is not always madatory but it's good practice and to get in the habit of doing it. I do it anyway on all pulls. I run through the MOB's after they get to me usually I do this after i drop DnD, and during my plague strike and Icy Touch hits.
#6. Rotation: As about its pretty much the same DG, DnD, PS, IT, Pest, HS/RS/DC/DS... repeat
I even use DnD on single target pulls for trash and boss pulls. It lays down huge threat and pulling adds is not a risk or a problem.
#7. Threat: There no reason to hold back laying down threat. There is no excuse for not laying down as much threat as you can. For these reasons I use all my threat abilities all the time not matter the pull, trash or boss. Why not? are you waiting for something?... a rainy day maybe?... it's not like you can save it up or something. You have taunts if things go awry. So plain and simple throw down, everytime. Use DnD on single targets.
#8. Pace: Keep things moving. Don't waste time, unless it's new content, you've seen it all before. So get your butt movin'! Pull>kill>check>go>repeat.
Other info which are not rules but good to know
Confidence: Show this by knowing how to pull, and doing it. If it's your first time tanking say that out loud to the group. most groups will not have a problem with this and give you some slack for some foul ups your bound to do in your first time. Respect your group/raid members. Show this by staying quiet when they are acting like fools. ;) This is about actions more than words. Let them speak for you.
Cocky: There is a fine line between cocky and jerk. Cocky is fine when mixed with humor and most people will "get" that. But if your acting serious and cocky then it comes off as jerk. Keep it to a minimum also. This isn't so much what you say but how you go about your job as tank.
Fun: Simply put have fun. This is still a game. Laugh off mistakes, mix ups.
Attitude: Have a good one. Say "Hi" to your group/raid this will really help smooth over the run as a whole and lighten things up for everyone there.
Stick to doing your job as tank, let others do theirs. Don't get bossy, or rude, and you'll find many more fun, and successful runs. You'll also find others clamoring to get you to tank for them, as they will know what your about. That you are good, and fun to play with.
Feel free to email me with questions, or you can make comments with your questions. I'll answer them best I can as time permits.
Thanks for reading!