Elite's Warrior Tanking Guide


Elite’s Classic Low Level Warrior Tanking Guide


There seem to be a lot of people getting frustrated with tanking, threat control, and confusion as to what items a warrior should have equipped while tanking lower level dungeons. This guide aims to offer advice, and a starting point for warriors who are leveling, and wish to tank, while in a DPS spec, like arms, and is completely viable at least up until RFD BRD. It will be updated based on feedback, and experimentation, if needed.

Recommended Addons

Threat Plates (Classic) is the only addon that I would consider non-optional for tanking, as it displays colors (green, yellow, red) on the health bars of mobs, depending on threat levels.

Sword & Shield Tanking vs 2 Handed Tanking

Whether to tank with a 1 hander and shield or a 2 handed weapon is, at least in my opinion, a personal preference, and not to state the obvious too much, but it’s also dependent on the confidence levels/comfort of the rest of your group. Something that I have found useful is to say something like, “I’m going to be tanking with a 2hander. Let me know if you’d prefer me to slap on a 1hander and a shield.”

The advantages to tanking with a shield include not having to weapon swap to interrupt with Shield Bash, or block an attack with Shield Block, as well as taking less physical damage, and gaining the stats from your shield & 1hander (obviously). Advantages to 2handed tanking include higher damage, more rage generation, arguably more fun (depending on preference).

Core Tanking Abilities and Uses

  • Charge - cannot be used in combat. Generates 15 rage (learned at level 4)
  • Demoralizing Shout - costs 10 rage (learned at level 14)
  • Revenge - must follow a block, dodge or parry - costs 5 rage (learned at level 14)
  • Sunder Armor - reduces targets armor, causes high threat - costs 15 rage (learned at level 22)
  • Defensive Stance - 130% base threat (learned at level 10)
  • Tactical Mastery - Talent - requires 5 points in Arms to learn (optional)
  • Taunt - Taunts target to attack you - melee range, 10 second cooldown (learned at level 10)
  • Mocking Blow - Forces target to focus attacks on you for 6 seconds - melee range, 2 minute cooldown (learned at level 20)
  • Blood Rage - Gives 10 Rage - 1 minute cooldow (learned at level 10)

There are some others, as mentioned above, such as Shield Block or Shield Bash, but these are not particular relevant for maintaining threat, which is the primary concern of a low level tank, and the focus of this guide.

A note on Demoralizing Shout: There was some talk about reducing the amount of threat generated by Demoralizing Shout. While I am not sure if this has been implemented or not, Demoralizing Shout should still be an excellent skill to keep up for maintaining AoE threat.


Note: If you have 5 points of Tactical Mastery, you will keep up to 25 points of rage when changing stances. If you don’t have Tactical Mastery, you will want to make the best use of your rage prior to changing stances.

Ideally, open out of combat, so you can charge (generate 15 rage). This means you’re in Battle Stance, and have 15 rage. Sunder Armor costs 15 rage, Demoralizing Shout costs 10. If there are multiple targets, get all with Demo Shout then proceed to sunder your kill target and/or off targets, as needed. White hits also generate a good amount of threat. If you are in Battle Stance, and find threat is too low, swap to defensive stance.

If you face pull, someone else pulls on accident or intentially, you may be in a situation where you cannot charge, have no rage, and don’t have aggro on anything. This is a good time to use Blood Rage, and Demo Shout, in combination with white hits, which may be enough to pull aggro, esp. if you are in Defensive Stance.

If you still don’t pull aggro, Taunt is useful, however if there are several mobs, keep in mind that the healer will be generating high amounts of threat by healing, which is likely happening, while you are casting Demo Shout and moving to collect mobs. If none have targeted the healer, they almost certainly will the moment you taunt off the DPS, so use this sparingly, favoring a Demo Shout/White hit combo, and watching the colors of threat plates, to prioritize taunting off your healer.

Also note that in addition to Taunt, a 10 second melee range CD (which requires defensive stance), you have Mocking Blow, a 2 minute melee range CD (which requires Battle Stance).

If DPS is regularly pulling mobs, tunnel visioning 20 yards away, rogue tanking, etc. you can just let them. Likewise, if a pet is taunting, pulling, etc, rather than go out of your way, you can just let them. In these cases, what tends to happen is either:

  • Nothing: Everything is fine, and the dungeon goes smoothly
  • Healer Stress: The healer tries to heal the DPS, and prioritizes them over the tank (inexperienced healer)
  • DPS dies: The DPS or pet dies, and that person either continues doing the same thing later, or learns from their experience
  • Communication (optional): You can try to discuss things with the group. Often, (of course, this is totally just my opinion), if people are not playing their roles properly, they either feel that they know what they are doing, and you don’t, or they have no clue (often both). This option is generally not required. I will typically communicate if I see a healer prioritizing healing a life-tapping warlock over a tank with low health though.

Tips: Keep Demoralizing Shout up at all times, Sunder your kill target, and off targets, if possible, always prioritize Taunt and Mocking Blow for pulling from your healer, avoid moving away from a group of mobs you have a good amount of threat on to Taunt a mob off of a DPS.


Macros can be very useful for changing stances, using different skills in different stances, or even saving messages to spam looking for group channels with. Here are some of the basic building blocks to make macros with:

  • #showtooltip is used with the ? macro Icon to display a skill’s icon depending on options
  • [stance:1] Battle Stance ([stance:2] Defensive Stance, [stance:3] Berserker Stance, [stance:1/3] Battle Stance or Berserker Stance)
  • [equipped:shield]/[noequipped:shield] - self explanatory

Here’s an example of a macro for of a Shield Bash macro. If in stance 1 or 2 (Battle Stance or Defensive Stance), and a shield is equipped, cast Shield Bash, otherwise cast Battle Stance. /stopmacro says don’t do anything more here here, if the condition is met, which is [equipped:shields]. So the macro will stop if a shield is equipped. If a shield is not equipped it will run the next two lines to equip Shield_Name (replace this with the name of your shield), and 1Hander_Name (replace this with the name of your 1 handed weapon):

#showtooltip Shield Bash
/cast [stance:1/2, equipped:shields]Shield Bash; Battle Stance
/stopmacro [equipped:shields]
/equip Shield_Name
/equip 1Hander_Name

Marking Targets

Assigning raid markers and letting the group know what they mean can be a good tool in your arsenal, and quite helpful. Here’s a priority list macro for telling your party the markers and their assignments that you can customize however you’d like:

/p Markers and kill priority
/p {skull} primary kill target
/p {cross} secondary kill target
/p {moon} sheep target (please mage)
/p {triangle} hibernate or roots (please druid)
/p {square} distracting shot to frost trap (please hunter)
/p {star} twinkle twinkle

You can also assign these though the menu under key bindings > target markers. Or, you can create macros, e.g.

/script SetRaidTarget("target", iconNumber);

where iconNumber is:

  • 0: no marker
  • 1: Star
  • 2:Circle
  • 3: Diamond
  • 4: Triangle
  • 5: Moon
  • 6: Square
  • 7: Cross
  • 8: Skull

It is helpful to know a bit about the CC (crowd control) your group may have. As an example, mages have a 1.5 second skill Polymorph that can be cast on Beasts, Humanoids and Critters, will turn them into a sheep for 20 seconds, and can be recast.

This hopefully gives a good starting point for low level warrior tanking for anyone who does not have experience with these things. If you have any suggestions, or would like to point out any mistakes, please do so, as any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Tanked first dungeon tonight
So arms fury or prot
Lack of tanks?
Warrior Tanks, I could use some advice
Understanding a Classic WoW Warrior Tank
Enough with the 2H Tanking!
Enough with the 2H Tanking!
Daily reminder for tanks/healers
Is there a way to deal with idiot DPS without getting blacklisted?
Dual Tanking?
So arms fury or prot
Lack of tanks?
Tips for tank Warrior for dead mines?
Warrior tanking question while leveling
Prot Talents
Macro is life?
When should a tank stance dance to thunder clap?
Leveling a warrior

Very useful for new tanks! Thank you very much.


This has alot of good information, but I would add group dynamics and speechless communication to it. The easiest way to start tanking is to take it pull-by-pull, mark kill order, and pull mob back to reduce extra aggro.

If your dps aren’t mindless tunnel-cakes they should know what to kill first, unfortunately I rarely see this.

My standard for marking stands on a few tenants:

  1. Kill in order of armor class. A mage mob that’s wearing a robe will normally die much faster than a tank mob in mail or plate. Their damage output, especially against you, is tied directly to their health.
    /armor class. A mage will hit you like a truck, most melee won’t because of your high armor/shield.

  2. In the event of duplicate mob types, kill the one that’s lower level first, less HP/less dodge/parry/etc. If you are unsure of what a mobs class is, kill anything with a mana bar, cc any others with a mana bar.

  3. Overriding protocol. Everything that heals dies first. If you know it heals, kill it. If there are two, CC one, melt the other. Ignored healer mobs can make a pull a nightmare.

Example: 34 mage type mob. 35 paladin type mob, 35 mage type mob

You can either CC the paladin, kill the 34 mage, then kill the 35 mage, or

CC the 35 mage, kill the paladin at the expense of 1-2 extra fireballs, then kill 34, then 35 mage.

Regardless of if you even do this correctly, marking kill order and CC will essentially remove alot of chaos from each pull, making it much more orderly and safe for a learning experience.


Thanks for the comments Mokthug! I added a section on marking targets.

This also made me think of tanking RFD, where I’d regularly have a 4 mob pull, one of which is clearly a caster (wearing a robe), 2 melee, and 1 hunter.

In this case, I would start by charging the hunter to get in the melee zone, demo shout to get the attention of the others, then pull them all to the caster, so they are grouped up. I was running with a mage, so they were able to freeze them in place then, before the hunter could disengage, and that worked well.


Honestly it’s super dependant on group comp, and after you get smooth with tanking CC seems to rarely come up. In a perfect world I would charge, bloodrage, tclap, demshout, switch to def, pop a sunder on caster (skull), sunder hunter (x), then try to squeeze some revenges/sunders on the melee while I wait for the caster to inevitably switch aggro.

Once swapped, taunt caster, immidiate sunder to lock threat, continue to spread the love.

Thats a big one too, I’ve noticed if I lose aggro and just try to sunder it back, it works 25% of the time, requiring multiple sunders. But a taunt/sunder combo inexplicably works as long as taunt wasnt resisted, and holds forever.

Don’t ask me why this works. It makes no sense to me.


Ah yeah, I forgot to mention that Taunt gets resisted a lot if mobs are above your level.


For sure, but I’ve found most healers/dps able to hold their own for 10s while I wait for it to come back. Can also default to mocking blow and challenging shout if desperate.


Yeah… I’ve actually been playing around with just white hits, watching Threat Plates, and cycling targets (of course, with Ravager proc’ing Bladestorm), and that alone seems to almost generate enough threat in a lot of situations (esp in a decent melee cleave, if people are FFing targets). I may have 1 sunder on the FF target, or pop into def stance to generate more threat, but it doesn’t really take much.

However, where I really notice threat being an issue is with ranged DPS doing AoE. Spamming Demo Shout, getting some Sunders in, and then Cleave and/or Sweeping Strikes (with Ravager) in Battle Stance works pretty well here, but I also focus more on initial grouping, then cleaving, than on holding threat, in these cases, since Mages will be freezing.


Im always leery of using cleave because of it’s high rage cost and only kind of predictable targetting.

When it comes to mage AOE that is definitely why i tclap/demshout then sunder main targets. Tclap/demshout is layered active mit, usually has enough to hold against AOE pretty well, and by the time a mob changes aggro I have plenty of rage to wrangle them back.

White hits are a big deal, there’s an instinct to constantly be using your toolkit, but what I figured out is you want just enough threat on a mob to keep it from going after the others, then afk. Builds rollover rage for next pull.

Since I started doing this I get a ramp up effect where after three pulls balancing rage gen for a net gain, I’ll be pinned at 100 rage.

Each pull after topping the bar, 80% goes into sunders, maybe a dem shout, but by the time everything is dead, im back up to 90-100 rage. Often with charge and bloodrage just waiting for me to need them for multiple pulls.

This only resets if I go faster than the healers mana regen when we have to stop to drink. Even then the decay (especially using bloodrage to stall while waiting) after a drink is still 50-75.

It’s been sooo smooth


^ this. Yeah, I definitely appreciate some rage pooling. You also want to keep in mind that if you’re stance dancing (changing stances), you’ll only be able to keep 25 rage, when doing so, provided you’re 5/5 Tactical Mastery.

I don’t pop into defensive stance that often when I’m using Ravager.

I have my Thunder Clap set to this macro:

#showtooltip Thunder Clap
/cast [stance:2/3]Battle Stance; Thunder Clap

I didn’t mention it in the guide, and frankly don’t use it that much, as it just doesn’t seem to generate a lot of threat, and dmg mitigation simply isn’t an issue (except for when it is, and then I use it), which tends to be in the exact situation you’re discribing, when you are pulling large groups, and taking less damage is helpful. So, in that case, I’ll typically charge in, demo shout (maybe tag with sunder), tclap, then swap to defensive stance and sword & board even:

Weapon swap macro:

/equip Heart of Agamaggan
/equip Sword of Omen
/equip Ravager;

Def Stance /Shield Block macro:

/cast Shield Block
/cast Defensive Stance

Then it’s Demo Shout and Sunder Spam. I typically only use Cleave when I’m topping DPS with my two hander, and our pulls are smaller (3~6).


I can definitely see the downside to ever going derensive using a 2h, half of the abilities in def require a shield, and yeah you might gen a bit more threat, but you have to weigh the lost threat from lowered dps, lack of damaging abilities. As a 2h tank you’ll get most of your threat from just keeping up with dps and sprinkling in some higher threat abilities.

Using 2h would also boost cleave by a wide margin as you aren’t cleaving with a fast 1h that will spred 20dmg to all targets, you’re smacking a bunch of mobs for a high threat 200-250 damage easy. And if you’ve balanced agi into your gear there’s a good chance for crit which makes cleave practically a sunder by itself, two on crit.

Although at higher levels this will probably cause some MASSIVE healer stress.

Proper aoe tanking?

Great information here. Thanks!!


Not bad my friend. Only thing i would add is LOS pulling.

This skill is a MUST for tanks.


That’s a good point; I hadn’t really thought of that, and it’s pretty helpful for some pulls; I can think of SM Cath as an example…

You don’t even need a great ranged weapon to do it, but as an aside, I got a green +5 agil bow from trash in Cath last night :wink:


I wondered how tanks did this. Now I know.

I wonder about using Challenging Shout (is that right ability?), the one that makes all nearby mobs focus on tank for 6 seconds?

And what about in a pinch using Intimidating Shout (is that the right name?), the one that puts fear on the selected mob and sends the rest running? If they run, do they lock onto healers on the way back??


Intimidating Shout is pretty dangerous to use, as you may (probably will) end up pulling a lot more mobs. I’ve seen people use it to avoid a wipe, then run out of the instance, but that’s generally something that you can avoid.

With regards to Challenging Shout, sure it’s awesome, but it’s also somewhat expensive while leveling/saving for a mount, and has long cooldown, so it’s not really something you can rely on regularly if you are spamming runs, and for the most part, isn’t strictly necessary.


Really good to know. TY


I learned the hard way, lol, about Intimidating Shout. Now I moved its location on my key bindings and basically use it only in bad situation in a solo cave, etc


Great info. Thanks for taking the time.

As a new tank coming back to classic after quitting the game around 2007ish, can you explain a little bit about how you would use the target keybindings vs the macro you outlined? I guess I’m asking, if you set up your target keybindings, in what situation would you need a macro? Meaning, when are you using a macro vs just using keybindings? Aren’t they doing the same thing?


Great question.

Since you can bind a key to a Target Icon, why would you ever want to use a macro?

There are 2 reasons I can think of:

  1. You may wish to move it around without opening your interface settings (idk why, but maybe).

  2. (more likely) you want to add other things to that macro, like perhaps something like:

/script SetRaidTarget("target", 5);
/p this {moon} is your Polymorph target. I'm counting on you!