As the dust from patch 4.0 settles, general consensus is that Blizzard have succeeded in making healing more fun, casters seem to be enjoying themselves and tanks are … having to work a bit harder.
This is very likely to mean that many people who tanked during this expansion will decide to pick a different role for Cataclysm, maybe a less stressful one that doesn’t require you to fight your whole group/ raid for much of the time. It may be that raid tank slots will be less hotly contested in future than they have been in Wrath because raiders will be so happy to have found a warm body with a shield/bearform/whatever DKs have that they’ll take anyone. But don’t count on it.
If you are one of the few, the proud, the crazy who are dedicated to assuming the role of raid tank, then you’ve come to the right place. Because the time to start your run at a raid tank spot is not after the expansion has launched (although you can do that too), it’s right now.
Spinks’ 3 Axioms of Raid Tanking
1. Prove that you like tanking and are good at it by … tanking. A lot. Use LFG to practice extreme tanking (because frankly if you can do it there, you can do it anywhere.) But for networking, focus on tanking for guild groups or PUGs who gather on trade chat. Any time anyone calls for a tank for a heroic (or raid if you are geared for it) and you have time, volunteer to go help them out. When the expansion drops, go help random people out with group quests in your zone; tank anything and tank everything with anyone and everyone. (A bonus to this is that you will get pretty good at your class and spec and pretty confident at your role too.)
This strategy works best for people who can put some time in online but even if you just have an hour or so, it’s enough time to yell, “Tank looking for friendly/ competent dps and healer to run heroics.” (You don’t actually have to invite everyone who replies, you can filter by whichever means you like.)
You’d be surprised at how many people will remember your name. Remember, tanks are scarce. Many players are also convinced that tanks are mean. So having access to a friendly, competent tank who likes tanking is going to get you onto a lot of friends lists. People looking for tanks for their raid groups WILL want to know that you like tanking.
2. Prove that you are reliable. If you do find a regular group, treat it like any group you actually care about. Turn up regularly, apologise in advance if you can’t make it, act like you give a damn.
3. Let people know that you’re interested in finding a raid tank spot for Cataclysm. People are not psychic. If you find a group you like, or people who seem cool, drop into conversation that you’re hoping to tank for raids. Again, if all other things are equal, people will remember when the tank they were counting on decides that they’d rather play their hunter and the backup tank switches to another server for PvP reasons.