Tank choice guide for new players

Howdy new players and/or prospective tanks, I’ve been a tank main for many years and earned aotc experience on every tank class as I bounced around servers. I also decided to get ksm on every tank this season where most of the tanks were fresh 70s that I leveled up during the season so I could get more of a feeling of what the new player experience in low level keys and low gear levels feels like. I Love the role, want to share my experiences with those who are interested in trying their hand at tanking, and hopefully help them find their class.

First things first, I’m going to list the tanks in order of easiest to hardest to play for those new to tanking and then give the general playstyle and feel of each tank and some pros and cons(the pros and cons are NOT limited to the current season but are traits that the class has had for long enough to be baked into their identity). This is NOT a tier list for the current meta and I will not give a full in depth guide for each tank but I can answer questions on specifically to play and/or where a class feels in terms of strength in the meta, what builds are easier for new tanks,…etc if you have any. I will also give general advice for all new tanks at the end.

My goal with this post is to help new tanks figure out what tank to play in raids or mythic+ based off of what each tank will feel like and if it will fit their playstyle, not merely point out what tank is the strongest when played optimally. The list combines both raid and m+ when considering the difficulty, playstyle, pros, and cons.



  • Warriors are the standard sword and shield tank from general high fantasy. They don’t use any magic and get through content by getting hit hard and hitting back harder. For new players, this is most likely the easiest starting point.

  • In terms of gameplay, that means you will focus most of your damage reduction by blocking physical attacks with your shield BEFORE it happens. Warriors survive on mitigating damage not reacting to it and have very few options of healing themselves quickly. Your main two abilities for mitigation are called shield block and ignore pain.

  • The first mitigation works exactly like it sounds it would. You raise your shield and block all incoming physical attacks. You will naturally have shield block running a lot so it would stop a lot of incoming damage for you. Ignore pain will allow you to dump your primary resource, called rage, into a shield that blocks 50% of all incoming damage up to a point that is determined by how much rage you spent. By using those 2 abilities, you be able to handle the bulk of damage that comes your way

  • Warriors also have a multitude of other strong defensive abilities such as demoralizing roar, last stand, and shield wall, and spell reflection which all help round out their damage reduction so they don’t fall over the second someone casts a strong spell at them or when damage gets particularly high.


  • Easy rotation - There are very few abilities to track in your general damage rotation and you can choose how many burst cooldowns you would like to bother with in your talent tree selection. Additionally your main defensive rotation consists of two buttons and just reacting to big incoming damage by using extra defensive cooldowns when needed.

  • Positive feedback loop - Playing actively and aggressively will cause your offensive and defensive cooldowns to be available faster, which encourages you to not pool resources. This leads to a fun series of positive feedbacks where you are rewarded for pressing buttons which allows you press other, even more fun buttons more often.

  • Impactful abilities - Warrior is a class that when you press a button, you feel it. Shield slam can often hit for over 100k damage. Thunderclap and revenge crits will light up the screen with big numbers. Last stand will give a massive amount of hp when pressed and shield wall will make you feel like you can survive anything. They also several powerful offensive burst cooldowns.

  • Very high mitigation - They wear plate armor and carry a shield, which they use to block a lot. They naturally get hit by autoattacks and other physical strikes for less damage than many other classes. They also have good cooldowns for spikes of magic damage. Their high mitigation means that don’t require tank trinkets for most content and can instead get double dps trinkets to do more damage and have more fun.

  • Mobility - They have several options for mobility between a leap that can quickly send them wherever they want to go, a charge the has them sprint to an enemy, and another charge that can be used to run towards allies and will even soak up some of the damage that ally takes.


  • Healer reliant - They have a talent called indomitable that heals you whenever you spend your primary resource, rage, and a talent called impending victory that lets you heal for 25% of your maximum health every 25 seconds. Although they add up to a lot of health through a fight, they won’t quickly top you off in an emergency so if you miss your mitigation window and take a big hit, you are at the mercy of your healer to get your health pool topped off.

  • Stance dancing - Warriors have two stances called combat stance and defensive stance. Combat stance will increase your damage done by raising your critical strike chance. Defensive stance will reduce the damage you take by 20% and reduce all damage you do by 5%. It is a little unwieldly and adds extra keybinds for new players since you want to be in combat stance to increase your damage contribution but you can die in that stance if you aren’t familiar with how much damage you can take. If you are new to the class, you can just stay in defensive stance all the time without being nuisance but your parses will increases noticeably if you learn to stance dance(the act of switching stances to the one that best suits the situation).

  • Unimpressive utility - Their raid buff, battle shout, only provides a 5% bonus to attack power, which isn’t anything amazing. It isn’t bad, it just isn’t great. They also have rallying cry which is sort of like your last stand ability, but functions for the entire raid/group and gives an extra 15% max hp to every one, which is a good defensive ability to help a group survive a large aoe attack. Otherwise they have a few stuns(thunderclap and storm bolt), and aoe fear(intimidating shout) and an aoe interupt(disrupting shout). They aren’t bad but several of them are talent options that take away from other powerful talents or abilities and other tanks bring more to the table or they bring utility that is useful more often.

  • Bleeds - Bleeds and to an extent, dots in general, are very difficult for warriors to deal with because they hit very hard in higher difficulty content and the warrior’s defensive kit has little it can do to deal with it since they can’t be blocked. Bleeds almost always last longer than a shield wall, at higher difficulties ignore pain won’t mitigate a lot of it. Last stand can give you more hp to deal with it but it won’t reduce the actual damage you take. If you are getting hit hard by bleeds, your best bet is to go into defensive stance and burn through as much rage on ignore pain as you can spare so you shield and heal yourself to give your healer less to deal with.



  • Druids are the class that is in tune with nature and shapeshift in various animals forms to do combat. In their animals forms, they mostly use nonmagical abilities but they also have access to some spells. They are a mix of mitigation and self healing so they can prevent damage and respond to it.

  • For gameplay, that means you will shapeshift into a bear whenever you are taking damage and into a panther when you are not(typically only when in raids when your cotank has aggro). It is worth mentioning that there have been some metas where druids would shift into a moonkin, sort of an owlbear looking creature that casts spells, instead of a cat, but the cat is generally considered easier.

  • As a bear, you have high health and armor. Your main sources of mitigation are ironfur, which is a large buff to your armor that can stack, and frenzied regeneration which heals back a very large chunk of damage taken recently.

  • Your primary resource as a bear is rage, same as the warrior. It can be used for the two mitigation abilities mentioned before and for some damaging abilities, maul, for single target, and raze, for aoe, if you have the talent for it.

  • For dealing damage, cat form is the usual choice and it uses energy and combo points, like a rogue. You will stack various bleeds onto the target, dump whatever energy and combo points you still have left into burst, and they swap back to bear to stack up enough rage for whenever you start taking damage again.


  • Easy rotation - Similar to the warrior, you don’t have many abilities to keep track of for your standard defensive and offensive rotation and they don’t get much more complex even if you take the meta talents instead of the easy option. A large chunk of your defensive mitigation can come from “rend and tear”, “ursoc’s fury”, “earthwarden”, and/or “scintillating moonlight” which are all talents that reduce damage taken by a decent amount for using your normal offensive abilities.

  • Multiple playstyles - Druids can go with a physical focused build, a magic focused build, or a mix. The physical build is currently the strongest build but the others are definitely strong enough to do aotc and +20 keys at a minimum, in addition to being a little easier with fewer keybinds. Druids also have the choice of whether to swap to cat for a rogue playstyle, moonkin, for a caster playstyle, or stay in bear form to do damage when they aren’t supposed to have aggro. This gives the druid flexibility with their playstyle.

  • Cooldown variety - Druid have access to several cooldowns that are strong and can be used every minute or sooner which can be staggered to smooth incoming damage or stacked to halt damage almost entirely. They also have powerful cds on longer timers such as berserk and survival instincts, which are extremely powerful on their own. They are second only to warrior when it comes to strength and variety of their defensive cooldowns.

  • Semi self sufficient - Druids have lots of mobility and healing options to make it so that they don’t need healers to keep them topped off in most content and/or raid utility to get around.

  • Utility - Druid’s raid buff, heart of the wild reduces all damage taken by the raid by 1.5% as well increasing all damage and healing done by 3%. They also have an ability that increases the entire raids movement speed which is good for many mechanics and for moving between packs in dungeons. They also have access to a knockback and an ability that will pull enemies back to the location when they leave its radius. They also have a combat resurrection, which can be invaluable if it starts to hut the fan.


  • Stance dancing 2.0 - Similar to how warriors had to swap between combat and defensive stance, a good druid is expected to swap between bear form and a dps form when the content permits it. In addition to swapping forms, you will have entirely different abilities in your new form so you don’t just press the exact same buttons that you would in bear form. So you have to learn 2 rotations to perform your best dps in raids.

  • Jack of all trades - Most expansions, druids don’t really specialize in any one area of tanking. Most tiers if you want super high damage, monk or pally are often the choice. If you want mobility from your tank, demon hunter is the usual go to. For self sufficiency, death knight is the play. For utility, paladin is the goat…etc. They do plenty of things well but they are rarely best at anything, and if they are a nerf is inevitable. They are still often good or at least passable at every metric that matters so don’t let it get you down. Can’t be the best at everything, after all.

  • Unfashionable - Since you spend a lot of your time shapeshifted as an animal, you will not be able to see your gear or transmog, which leads to druid tanks being a bit plain and boring to look at. There are many different customization options for your bear form but at the end of the day, you still have to stare at a bear’s posterior every time you tank, which can get irritating for some.



  • Death knights are heavily armored undead champions who are meant to be nigh un-killable, despite forgoing a shield, by afflicting their enemies with various diseases and leeching their lifeforces to bolster their own.

  • Translated to playstyle, it means that you put various debuffs and damage over time effects on enemies while using their abilities to heal back the damage that they take. Although they do have a few defensive cooldowns, their kit is primarily focused around responding to damage by healing whatever damage they take as opposed to a mitigation tank, like the warrior.

  • They have two resources to manage rather than one. One is runic power which is a blue bar that fills up when you use certain damaging abilities and is consumed when you use death strike, which is your main source of self healing. It is essentially your second health bar because when its empty, your are in danger of dying. The second are runes, and you have 6 of them. Many of your damaging abilities will consume either 1 or 2 runes and they have a rolling cd where only a max of 3 of them can regenerate at a time.

  • Their primary mitigation comes from two sources, bone shield and blood shield. Bone shield is an ability that increases their armor by a massive amount when you use certain abilities, mostly it will be applied through marrowrend and dancing rune weapon. It can be anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of your armor, so do not neglect it. It is a buff that stacks up to 10 and every few seconds you will lose a charge when you get attacked. You NEVER want to be without bone shield if you are going to take physical damage. Blood shield is a physical damage absorption shield that gets placed on you whenever you heal with death strike, which is you main healing ability that heals for a portion of the damage you have taken recently.

  • Death knights have very large pools so basically the flow is as follows: take damage > death strike to heal the damage > gain blood shield shield from your heal > deplete shield and take damage > …etc


  • Self sufficiency - Death knights do not need healers at all unless it is a movement speed buff. They are entirely capable of keeping themselves from dying in basically any pull and/or encounter if they know what they are doing. In most fights, the death knight tank will have more total healing done than any of the healers. You also have small selection of powerful cooldowns to use for when it hits the fan. This also means that tank trinkets have no point for them so you can safely go double dps trinkets. Be warned that healer who aren’t used to healing death knights might have a heart attack watching your health jump up and down constantly. It helps to have an explanation ready that death knights are meant to manage their own hp pool so they can safely ignore it at all but the hardest content and focus on the rest of the group instead.

  • Utility - Although death knights have no raid buff, they have some of the best utility for tanks. There is a spell called death grip which will pull a target to you. It is very useful in a variety of situations such as grouping up adds, preventing enemies from running away, trolling melee dps by using it to pull the enemy away from them,…etc. They also have two abilites that apply death grip to a group, abomination limb and gorefiend’s grasp. They can also put up a magic damage absorption shell. If you have seen a discipline priest use their bubble spell, you know how it functions, as in the group stacks underneath and they wont take much magic damage until the shield breaks.

  • Cheat death - In case you screw up really bad and die, you wont actually die if you take the purgatory talent, which you should. When your health hits 0, you will instead take an absorption shield against the damage that was mitigated when you died(aka whatever amount of damage was overkill), if you heal yourself back up to positive numbers again, you survive and the ability goes on cooldown for seven minutes. This is a lifesaver for newer tanks in all content and experienced tanks in very difficult content.

  • Save gold - Death knights can enchant their own weapons with exclusive weapon enchants call runeforgings, which are much stronger than regular weapon enchants. So save that couple thousand gold that you spend on enchants on something nice instead.


  • Pitiful damage - For a while now(as in years, not months), death knights have had very lackluster damage in raids and okayish damage in mythic+ when compared to other tanks. For many tiers, it is common to find them at 5th or 6th place at tank damage logs for the current raid. Do not pick this class up and expect to do blistering damage. You will do enough to maintain aggro, once you are appropriately geared and know the rotation, but you most likely won’t pump unless you become an expert in the spec or it is a rare season where blizzard buffs dks enough to do competitive damage.

  • No mobility - they have two mobility abilities and they are both vastly inferior to the other options available to other tanks. One of them is so bad that is rarely even selected, wraith walk, which is a short 4 sec movement speed that is canceled if you use any other ability or attack anything. The other is baseline for the class and is most often used to ignore pushback mechanics since it makes you immune to any mechanic that would cause your character to move outside of your control. The lack of mobility also hurts because death knights cannot heal themselves unless they can hit something so if they are taking damage from range, they are squishier than most tanks until they are back in melee range for a death strike.

  • Weak aesthetic implementation - Most death knight abilities do not feel impactful except for the healing done by death strike and their animations are really lame. You won’t see many large numbers either since most of their damage comes from damage replication of their rune weapon and their damage over time spells. Despite having such a cool theme, their actual in game aesthetic in combat leaves much to be desired as they are boring to watch. Many of the animations for this spec are the same or substantially similar to when the class was released back in wrath of the lich king, over a decade ago. I would argue they are the least interesting tank in terms of combat animations. BONUS COMPLAINT They used to be able to dual wield but for a couple expansions now, they can only use 2handers since some of their core spells requires a 2 handed weapon. BLIZZARD PLEASE GIVE US THE ABILITY TO DUAL WIELD! You gave frost the ability to choose dual wield or 2 handed weapon this expansion, please give it to us as well.

  • Confusing mistake feedback - Unless most other tanks, death knights have two resources to manage, runes and runic power. Runic power is very simple to understand but also easy to waste, leaving you unable to heal yourself. Runes are also easy to understand but they are also easy to waste, leaving you with no ways to generate runic power. The mistakes that you make to create runic power/rune shortcoming often do not materialize immediately, and take several seconds to be noticeable, which makes mistakes difficult to recognize for beginners. Optimal rune and runic power management takes a lot of time to master.

  • Healing reductions - If you are hit with a healing reduction debuff, you will feel your soul leave your body. Since the bulk of a death knight’s ability to stay alive revolves around healing themselves instead of mitigating damage, they are by far the most effected by these types of debuffs. Cross your fingers you get a dispel or be prepared to use a major cooldown.



  • Paladins are the heavy armor wearing men and women of deep faith. They use the light to damage their enemies, shield themselves, and bolster or heal their allies.

  • In game they are the utility kings and queens of the tanking roster. They can give a large number of buffs, damage reductions, heals, movement speed reduction immunities, damage immunities, and cure poison/disease debuffs. They use a shield and have high physical and magic mitigation before they even factor in cooldowns.

  • Like death knights, they have 2 resources, holy power and mana. Mana is the easier one to explain, most of their utility and heals costs a small amount of mana and the mana will regenerate over time. It is possible to run out but it isn’t easy under normal circumstances. Holy power is sort of like combo points. Many abilities will give the paladin a point of holy power, which can be used to cast certain spells, mostly a heal or a damaging ability that buffs the paladins armor rating.

  • Because of their very high amount of abilities which combines a lot of game knowledge to use well, this is the first tank on the list that I would not recommend to beginners.


  • Sturdy - Paladins have a ability called consecration. It is a low cooldown spell that places a large yellow circle under you that last for several seconds. While you stand in that circle, you have a decent % damage reduction buff. The buff scales with your mastery stat. Because paladins can get an easy 20% damage taken reduction from standing in the consecration, plus and easy 10-15% from versatility, they have a lot of built in damage reduction before you even factor in their armor, blocks, parries, and defensives. They can increase their armor by spending holy power or they can spend holy power to heal themselves. Their cds are impactful, which leads the them being very tanky if you can actually stand in consecration.

  • Bubble- They are the ONLY tank with a full damage immunity in divine shield(usually just called bubble). You can take a talent that will make it so you auto taunt everything around you when you bubble so you don’t lose threat. It is the ultimate “Oh no!” button that you can press to just reset all damage intake for the next 8 seconds and it can entirely ignore or cheese mechanics.

  • Fun animations - They can throw their shield which will bounce around with a flashy golden spell effect. Their consecration also has a dramatic effect when it comes out. They can throw hammers that spiral outward in a circle around them. There’s also a handful of spells that have light radiate outward from them. One of their defensives has a suit of angelic armor protect them. They are the polar opposite of death knights in this regard. They feel EXACTLY like their class fantasy and they have a plethora of fun ability animations.

  • Utility - It would take too long to list even most of the utilities but they have numerous ways to protect their allies and hamper enemies. It takes time to figure out what should be used and at what times, but when you get it down, you will be able to protect your group in ways that no other tank can come close to matching.


  • Micromanagement - “With great power…blah blah blah” Since you can do so much to aid the group, you will be expected to do so. That means you have to pay attention to a lot more than the average tank. For example, if you are playing a tank without this utility and you see some standing in fire, you just shrug and think that its the healer’s problem. When you are the tank that can heal the dps to full health, you have to check the healer’s mana, positioning, and see if they are already trying to heal the dps before you waste your mana and resources on a heal or continue with your normal rotation. This means you have to focus on everything, not just yourself which can be tiring and complicated for some, but invigorating for others. In any case it is a lot to expect of a new tank.

  • Mobility - Paladins are at the bottom with death knights when it comes to mobility. Their mobility spell is slightly better. With it, they temporarily mount up and get vastly reduced movement speed but it is noticeably weaker than most other tanks in the majority of situations.

  • Punishing - Not many tanks think of paladins when they think of punishing but taking damage when they aren’t standing on consecration, wasting their holy power, using their utility at the wrong times…etc are all heavily punished as paladins aren’t particularly tanky when not benefiting from the mastery stat in consecration, they don’t have much active mitigation when they aren’t using their holy power effectively, and if they aren’t using their utility effectively or at all, there’s not much they offer to a group that other tanks don’t already provide, often times better.



  • Monks are a sort of drunken master of martial arts. They take hearty swigs from their kegs, move erratically to dodge incoming attacks, and are drunk enough to ignore a chunk of the damage that they don’t dodge.

  • For defensive gameplay, they have a unique mitigation mechanic called stagger. It takes a % of the damage that you would take from a hit and basically converts it to a damage over time effect so you take that damage in chunks instead of all at once with the rest of the attack. You don’t have to take this damage over time as one of the brews that you drink from will eliminate half of the stored stager amount and heals you for a portion of what gets cleared. Sounds complicated but it is fairly simple. When they would take damage, a portion gets saved for later and monks can choose when/if to get rid of that damage they saved for later. They also have very a high dodge chance for a tank, the highest when factoring in their mastery stat that increases their dodge chance if they get hit. Their defensive cooldowns are not that strong when compared to other tanks, but their stagger mechanic practically functions as a full time cooldown so it makes sense. It should go without saying that they are a reactionary tank, like the death knight, as they primarily respond to damage rather than prepare for it and mitigate it before the attack.

  • For offensive gameplay, they will honestly feel more like a dps. Their resource is energy, similar to a rogue. Most of their cooldowns are actually offensive abilities that have a defensive component attached so they feel like a dps that just ignores damage.


  • Fun - Simply put monks are fun. They have flashy spell effects and they play more like a dps than a tank. This can be a breath of fresh for tanks that are swapping from a different tank or a bridge of familiarity from someone swapping from a melee dps class.

  • No haste breakpoint - Most tanks have a certain amount of haste that they want to hit before their rotation, both damage and mitigation, becomes fluid and comfortable. Monks do not have that issue and haste is basically a dead stat to them. A fresh level 70 monk with questing greens will have the exact rotation timing as a 3k io cutting edge monk with 445+ item level because they have the same haste stat(should be under 5%)

  • Mobility - Monks have one of the better kits when it comes to handling movement. They can use their standard rolls for frequent short distance mobility. They can swap to a long range dash when they need to clear long distances. They have an ability to removes snares and increase their movement speed. And they have a teleport like effect where they can leave part of them behind and swap places with it as they choose.

  • Damage - With very few exceptions monks do a lot of damage in pretty much any season. They seem to be been more balanced around having mediocre mitigation but doing lots of damage to compensate since their cooldowns are mostly offensive cooldowns with a defensive component attached. It is not uncommon for me to end a mythic+ run as the top damage dealer or second as a monk can easily do 80-110k dps throughout a run. They are no slouches in single target either and you can pull aggro away from under-geared or less experienced co-tanks if you don’t pay attention.

  • Easy to heal - Even though monks take a lot of damge, much of it is smoothed out through their shields, stagger, stagger cleanse, and self heals. In addition to that, when healers heal them, their heals have a good chance to be replicated at almost full effectiveness based on the monk’s critical strike chance. This means that a heal that would normally only dent your hp pool, will instead top you off.


  • Spiking health pool - Monks have the smallest health pool of any tank in the game, they are often nearly matched by some dps classes such as warlocks and death knights. At similar ilvls, other tanks can easily have 50k-200k more hp than you as a monk. This means smaller amounts of damage will move your hp bar more than it would for other tanks.

  • Inconsistent damage intake - Most of a monk’s mitigation kit is built around stagger and dodging, when they fail to dodge or their stagger bar is full, they take a lot of damage that they have to deal with. All this means that your hp can go from barely moving at all to yoyoing depending on dodge rng and brew management. This can feel bad for new tanks because they won’t know how to deal with this and it can feel out of their control, even though much of it can be dealt with if they were more experienced.

  • Mediocre utility - Monks provide a debuff on all enemies they hit that increase their physical damage taken by 5%. It sounds nice but typically a lot of the dps will be casters, such as warlocks or mages, or a hybrid, such as retribution paladins or enhancement shamans. Similar to warrior’s battle shout, it ends up providing less benefit than its magic counterpart more often than not. They also have an aoe stun and short duration ring that prevents all enemies from entering. It isn’t a terrible kit and sometimes their utility is nice to have, but it isn’t amazing either.

  • Button bloat - Monks have more buttons to press than pretty almost any other class in the game. These aren’t buttons that you put on our action bar and press once in a blue moon, but buttons that are pressed often. Playing a monk is often compared to playing a piano. If you are coming from a simple class such as fury warrior, assassination rogue, beast mastery hunter…etc, then the sheer number of buttons that you have to keybind and use often will probably intimidate you.



  • Demon hunters are a group of elves who have forsaken part of their humanity to ingest demon blood, becoming part elf and part demon, borrowing powers from both. They fly around a battlefield using fel magic to rip portions of enemy’s soul from their body to both deal damage to enemies and heal themselves.

  • Actual gameplay has them smacking enemies to generate soul fragments which are then absorbed to increase the demon hunter’s mitigation and heal themselves. Thye also have a unique mechanic. They function basically like traps since you place them on the ground and they activate and put their effects onto enemies. Although the heals from consumed souls provide a large amount over the course of a fight, they are a mitigation focused tank, like warriors, and rely mostly on preventing and smoothing damage intakes rather than out-healing it.

  • They have two resources, pain(technically it was renamed to fury but I’m old school and still call it by the old name) and soul fragments. Soul fragments are simple as you go through your rotation and you will naturally generate and consume them. Pain(aka fury) is generated by your abilities that create soul fragments. Those soul fragments are consumed by the abilities that require pain to cast.

  • This class is only available to night elves and blood elves. I wanted to put in the con section but then I remembered that some people actually like elves so I moved it here instead.


  • Easy rotation - Demon hunters have the fewest number of buttons to press of any tank. Their mitigation is almost entirely generated through their normal rotation as they have next to no defensive cooldowns.

  • Mobility - Demon hunters are arguably the most mobile class as they can leap far away up to twice on a short cooldown, they have an ability that causes them to jump back, similar to a hunter disengage, and they can double jump and glide. The last two are not available to any other tank specs as the double jump is really useful at avoiding any mechanic that requires you to jump, giving you double the wiggle room to avoid it. Glide means you never have to take falling damage unless you want to.

  • Theme execution - similar to paladins, the ability animations and overall playstyles really nails the them and aesthetic of the class. Everything feels like it belongs and the animations are flashy enough to keep you interested.

  • Passive mitigation - Demon hunters have naturally high health pools, rivalling death knights. They also have a baseline % dmg reduction with the runes they have on their body, making them easily one of the best tanks at eating magic damage. they also have an active mitigation armor increase and their mastery increases their armor by a % of their agi(their main stat). This mean that a demon hunter with no mitigation running is a little more tanky than other tanks with no mitigation active and they don’t have many buttons to keep track of when it comes to cooldowns

  • Cheat death - Similar to death knights, demon hunters have access to a cheat death called last resort. When they would take fatal damage they gain a bit of health and are put in their demon form, which is their main powerful defensive cooldown.

  • Utility - Demon hunters have a magic dmg counter to the monk utility in that all enemies take 5% more magic damage after they have been damaged by a demon hunter. Demon hunters alos have access to an aoe silence which is very helpful in many raid fights with caster adds but is also useful in mythic+. They also have an aoe stun on a short cooldown. They also have an ability called darkness but it is kind of unreliable so I only mention it because it is technically group utility. It puts up an area where allies have a chance to avoid all damage from an attack. Its amazing fi everyone gets lucky but it can also be absolutely worthless since it is only a 20% to avoid a large attack.


  • Painbringer - Now their mitigation is very strong, BUT it is sure to be confusing for new tanks, which is why despite all of their pros suggesting they are easy to play, I have them listed as the hardest tank for those unfamiliar with the role. As mentioned, most of their mitigation it passive, in the sense that you don’t have to press a button to get it rolling, like shield block and last stand for a warrior. Demon hunters have something more unwieldy for new players in the form of stacking buffs. Whenever a demon hunter absorbs a soul fragment, they gain a 1% damage reduction that last 6 seconds and can stack. The duration of the total debuff does not refresh with new stacks which means the number is constantly fluctuating. This leads to players having to grab a weakura to track a buff so the player can see if they have adequate stacks to deal with incoming damage. It also causes players to think ahead if they want to pool up their soul fragments for an upcoming burst of damage reduction or use them fluidly for a consistent damage reduction.

  • Calcified spikes - As if painbringer wasn’t frustrating enough for new players, there is another practically mandatory mitigation talent called calcified spikes that gives a 12% damage reduction the fades by 1% every second. You get this buff by letting demon spikes, the ability that increases your armor for a set duration, fall off entirely. In practice, the durations are pretty close so if you don’t refresh your demon spikes, you will have high uptime on calcified spikes but since the damage reduction falls off over time, it can be tricky to time to where it is at a high % when you need the extra mitigation.

  • Demon form - The most powerful mitigation available to demon hunters is their demon form, which increases their already huge hp pool by an extra 50% and triples your armor and can give you versatility if you take the corresponding talent. In demon form, you are VERY hard to kill. The problem is that the cooldown is long at 3 minutes, the standard for major defensive cooldowns. Because of the buff minigame revolving around getting high passive mitigation, if you mess up or just don’t know how to do it well, the only ability you have that can save you is demon form, which again is on a long cooldown. It’s more punishing than other specs who have multiple damage reduction cooldowns. The other way of entering demon form revolves around taking a talent that allows you to enter the form for 6 seconds at the conclusion of a channel that is on a 60 seconds cooldown, which is unwieldy to use for new players.

  • Self healing - As mentioned earlier, a demon hunter has a lot of self healing, but they are incapable of topping themselves off. They have the worst burst healing kit out of all the tanks and it isn’t particularly close. Warriors, their fellow mitigation tanks, can heal themselves for 1/4 of their max hp every 25 seconds. The demon hunter has nothing similar and can only get modest passive healing and no way to quickly top themselves. The closest would be fel devastation, a channeled ability where you do aoe dmg and heal for a chunk of it, which can be increased by a sizeable amount with the right talents. So if you mess up, you are pretty much going to have to rely on a healer to top off your health.

  • Combine the 4 previous points - When you take the two minigames of constantly fluctuating mitigation with the lack of ways to bail yourself out in the fact that you have very little major defensive use and burst self healing, mistakes are plentiful and very punishing for new demon hunters. The timing is daunting because you won’t have those passives rolling when a fight begins so you are squishy for several seconds until you can get your buffs rolling. Trying to manage that on top of all the other things that any tank has to deal with and it’s too much for most newcomers to handle. This leads to them being the hardest tank for anyone new to the role. To clarify, they are NOT a bad or weak tank. They are just a bad choice for new tanks.


  • Learn the fights. If you are role swapping, you may think you know the fights but tanks have to think about things very differently than other specs so the process ends up being differently for us. Be ready to relearn it. Should be obvious but do this BEFORE showing up. Nobody wants to down bosses or run mythic+ with someone who will ask to be shown what to do.

  • The training dummy is your friend, your companion, possibly even your lover. Seriously though, there are training dummies for both dps and tanking. Go slap the dps ones for a while until you are comfortable with your rotation in both single target and aoe. After that, practice your mitigation rotation on the tanking dummy. As you get more gear and more comfortable, move up from the normal tanking dummy to the raid tanking dummy. Until you are confident that you have it down, try to do that for a few minutes daily and you will notice considerable improvements in very little time.

  • When gearing up, taking the largest item level increase will very often be the best option, notwithstanding rings and necklaces. This is because having higher stamina and either strength or agility usually outweighs the secondary stats of versatility/haste/crit/mastery being unoptimized. This is especially true with large item level increases.

  • Get your two embellished items as fast as you can. They should be free and very quick 424 item level gear for you. They often contribute around 3-4% of your total damage so getting both quickly can increase your dps by 6-8% very easily.

  • For secondary stats, almost* every tank can comfortably slot haste and versatility as their main targeted stats while gearing, even death knights and paladins who gain a lot of benefit from mastery(still grab some mastery, especially once you get comfortable, but versatility will help you settle in to you new tank role a lot easier). Haste is important because it increases your resource generation, which in turn fuels your active mitigation. Therefore it has offensive and defensive benefits. Versatility will give a flat increase to damage and healing while also giving half of that amount towards damage reduction. It is free passive damage reduction just by grabbing the right piece of gear. *monks are the exception, as stated earlier. Don’t get haste on a monk

  • For upgrading, getting your tier set is often your priority, although some are better than others. After that, weapons and trinkets are your priority. Helm, chest, and legs are highest in terms of stats provided, followed by rings and neck. For upgrades, it is safe to go with weapon > helm/chest/legs > rings/neck > embellished pieces > shoulders/boots/gloves > everything else. The only exception would be for druid since their damage doesn’t scale with weapon damage. Two handed weapons still have a high stat budget so they are before ring/neck

  • Do not pug on Monday nights. It might sound silly but there is a good reason for that. Many people running content on Monday are the folks who put it off all week. That means many are a little rusty after having not played for a week or are otherwise impatient and difficult to deal with. If you are going to pug, do it on Tuesdays - Sundays. Save yourself the headache of dealing with stressful last minute rushers.

  • Expect mistakes but don’t accept mistakes. If you’re new, you’re gonna screw up. Don’t take it to heart but take it to your head and analyze what wrong and figure out what you need to do to fix it. If you don’t know what to do, ask an experienced tank or look up guides online. Be extremely cautious about advice you hear in trade chat or from pugs. It’s a 50/50 as to whether they are knowledgeable or talking out of their rear end.

  • Consumables are not just for pros. If anything, someone with low gear is going to benefit more from many consumables than a highly geared player would. The flat versatility on a flask/phial will go a lot further when you’re low geared than when you’re at near the maximum item level. Same concept with your runes and health potions. Spend a few hundred gold at the beginning of the week to stock up, you’ll thank yourself before long.

  • Don’t go crazy with addons. Don’t try to chase some flashy ui you saw some streamer using. You have enough on your plate so go with the essentials for both raiding and mythic+: Details, bigwigs, weakaura. Those three alone can carry you to the highest echelons of pve content on their own.

  • Have a simple ui. The main things you need to be able to clearly see are the center of the screen, where the bosses/adds will be, your health bar, your healer’s mana bar, boss ability counters, and the hp of your allies. Everything else should be out of the way until you are comfortable enough with the content to add something else to your focus.

  • Damage is important for tanks too. We are not just about staying alive. If you are just barely doing 25k dps on a boss, the dps is having to work extra hard to carry you and the fight is taking longer because of it. If you can increase that to 40k dps on the boss, you can shave a minute off a fight in some circumstances, which helps everyone. It matters much more in the mythic+ environment but don’t neglect it in raids either.

  • If you find yourself pugging a lot instead of running with friends/guildies, I recommend an addon called premade regions. It will show what region a group is from so you don’t end up joining a group led by someone on an oceanic server on accident and wonder why your ping spiked up to over 100ms. The raiderio addon may also be helpful if you are adding people to your group since you can see their accomplishments not just on that character but on their main as well.

  • Trinkets that have a large amount of stamina on it are almost always a TERRIBLE option. You will get enough stamina from your gear to survive if you play well and in almost no situation will that stamina trinket provide more than the other options. Get trinkets that provide strength/agility or secondary stats such as versatility. There’s a large number of websites that can give trinket tier lists and breakdowns if you’re interested.

  • Racials don’t make a huge difference. You can succeed on whatever race you want to play. With that being said, I would suggest a race with a larger character model such as tauren, orc, or draenei. Many bosses and other elites are very large, you want to be able to see your character at all times because positioning is important as a tank. Smaller races are okay but if you go with one, I would suggest using an addon the puts a mark right at your character’s hitbox so you don’t lose track of yourself when a large mob clips over your character model.

  • If you’re really concerned about racials or are on the fence about what race to play then I would suggest both varieties of tauren, both varieties of dwarves, vulpera, mechagnomes, and kul’tirans as the races with the strongest tanking racials. Again the benefit is not huge so don’t let it make or break your decision. It’s better to just choose what you actually enjoy looking at and playing as.

  • Don’t neglect enchants, armor kits, and gems. Yeah they can be a little pricey but they are guaranteed stats and you don’t have to rely on rng for what you want.

  • You don’t need to level a profession or two. It won’t make or break your time in combat. If you feel like you have to have one, I recommend alchemy because it will save you a lot of gold in the long run by giving you double duration phials/flasks and you can create your own consumables. If that isn’t your cup of tea then go with lw or blacksmithing so you can craft some of your own gear. If that doesn’t do it for you then the only options are engineering for fun nonsense in open world content or enchanting to make your own enchants.

  • Focus on one toon at a time. Yeah I was simultaneously balancing 5 tanks at a time for a while there and running 40+ keys a week for a time while farming ksm on a bunch of fresh-ish tanks, but that’s not a good idea. It only worked for me because I already knew the content and how to play each of those classes. Find one tank you like and stick with it until it becomes second nature THEN you can branch out without hurting your overall progress as a player.

  • Most importantly, have fun. Seriously, this is a video game, not a job. Let your hair down, let go of your stress, and have a good time, even in challenging content. It is definitely easier said than done sometimes but always give fun a chance.

Hopefully this guide can help you get your footing as a new tank. Good luck out there!