5 Steps to Raid Tanking Assignments

Congratulations, you’re in a raid. Someone has asked you to organise the tanking assignments. Don’t panic if you’ve never done this before, it’s pretty simple compared to sorting out the heals 🙂

This is assuming a PvE raid. You can assign tasks in PvP too but it’s more likely to change on the fly. Assignments are based on managing a large complex task by splitting it into smaller, more manageable tasks, and assigning them to appropriate people.

In RL we call this (an aspect of) project management, but tank management sounds dull … I’m going to sleep even typing it. So we assign roles rather than managing tanks, and that sounds more interesting already!

Hopefully you will have a separate tanking channel in which to instruct the other tanks without spamming everyone. If not, just go ahead with the spam, because assignments are important.

1. For each boss fight, work out how many tanking tasks there are. How many mobs need to be tanked? Does the fight have phases that have different tanking requirements?

2. Analyse what each task involves. Does any task require specific gear or class skills to perform? (eg. does a tank need more than X health to tank boss Y?) Does any task need any specific player skills (eg. boss Z needs to be kited, or has adds coming from random directions that need to be picked up fast?) Are some more difficult than others?

3. Check tank capabilities. Which tanks do you have available? What is their gear like? Is anyone particularly good or bad at any game mechanic? Are you trying to train a player in some particular fight?

4. Assign each tank a task on each boss, based on the task requirements and tank capabilities. What I usually do is give out assignments at the beginning of each Naxx wing (ie. every 3-4 bosses). I’ve seen raids where assignments were done via bboards also. I think the main thing is to remind people before every boss fight, because they will forget.

5. Ask if everyone is OK with the assignments. Listen if people tell you that they’d prefer a different assignment, they may know the encounter better than you or have more information (eg. maybe someone has bad lag, or really wants to try tanking a boss they haven’t tried yet). Listening doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them but in either case, it’s best to discuss it before you start.

After the tanks are sorted out and everyone knows what they are doing, the healers will make their assignments. This is because they need to know who is taking which damage to know how many healers to assign. Whilst healers are smart and can adjust mid-fight, it makes their lives easier if they can at least start from the same assumptions.

Note: You may need to make assignments for trash (ie. non boss pulls) as well as bosses. Just treat each type of trash pack as a separate encounter, again it is important to remind people of their assignments just before the first pull. In Naxx when starting out, we assigned each tank to a raid mark and marked the trash up quickly before pulls. Now everyone knows it so well that we mostly don’t bother.

Learning new fights

When trying a new fight, keep an eye out for how many tanking tasks are involved. How many people are needed to tank the boss? Is the fight in phases which need different numbers of tanks? Are there adds? Are there different ways to beat the fight, which might vary the tank assignments or favour different classes?

Example Assignments in Naxxramas


  1. Tank main boss. If he is being kited then needs a tank who can kite. If he is being tanked in the doorway, needs a well geared tank.
  2. Add tank 1: Pick up initial add. Be ready to pick up subsequent adds which appear one per locust swarm.
  3. Add tank 2: Pick up initial add (there are 2). After that is dead, switch to dps for rest of fight.


  1. Tank main boss. If going for brute force method, needs a well geared tank.
  2. Add tank 1 (followers): Tank these away from casters (AE silence), aim to kill them fast. Then switch to dps for rest of fight.
  3. Add tank 2 (worshippers): These are casters.


  1. Tank main boss. She puts out a brutal amount of damage when she is enraged and the tank is webwrapped which will happen at least once. Needs well geared tank (pref. high health)
  2. Add tank: Needs to pick up spider adds quickly. You can do this fight without an add tank if you have good AE.


  1. Tank main boss. Easy assignment, remember to grab him when he teleports away.
  2. 1-2 Add Tanks: Need to grab adds which come from various points around the walls and hold them.


  1. Tank main boss. Does not hit hard, but pref someone who knows the fight.


  1. Tank main boss. Does not hit hard, and because of restrictions on healing, this is best done by whoever takes least damage. Usually a shield tank.


  1. Tank main boss.
  2. Hateful Strike Tank.
  3. Hateful Strike Tank.

OK, this needs a few more words. Patchwerk is a stress test. He always hits one of the top three people on his aggro list. He will always hit whichever of them has the most health at the time. He hits hard. Whenever he hits any one of the tanks, all three spots on the top of the aggro list will gain more threat.

So usually, whoever has least health is the main tank and tanks with more health/better gear are hateful strike tanks. If all tanks have similar health, then whoever does the best threat is the main tank.


  1. Main tank. Tank boss, kite him around the room backwards. (As an aside, this is the least popular tanking assignment in Naxx in our raids, no one ever volunteers to tank Grob 🙂 )
  2. Add tank/s. Pick up slimes when they appear, and move them safely away so that they can be killed.
  3. Emergency Add tank. We sometimes have a spare feral on hand to help if a lot of slimes turn up. Sometimes bad positioning or lag can cause this.


  1. Main Tank 1. Tank boss, taunt from other main tank when debuffs build too high.
  2. Main Tank 2. As above.
  3. Zombie kiting! Kite adds around, pick up zombies, keep them away from the boss until the decimate. May not be an actual tank since this can be done by other classes.


  1. Main Tank. Tank miniboss, then jump to main platform and tank boss in phase 2.
  2. Off Tank. Tank second miniboss, then jump to platform and switch to dps for phase 2. If the main tank fails the jump, then off tank tanks the boss. This is a dps race so the role is better for a tank who can do good dps when off tanking.


  1. Add tank. Main tanking here is done by priests. Add tank holds any spare adds and picks up any who resist mind control so that the priest can pick them up again (and not get splatted, funny as it may be).


  1. Live side tank. Pull boss. Tank lots of adds at the live side. When door opens, tank boss when he appears.
  2. Dead side tank. Tank lots of adds at dead side. When door opens, tank boss when he appears.
  3. Dead side off tank. Help tank lots of adds at dead side. Then switch to dps when boss appears.
  4. Live side off tank. (Where available). Assist the live side tank, as above.

4 Horsemen

  1. Thane tank. Tank thane. If using a tank swapping technique, needs to be able to watch meteors and strafe forwards after every 3 marks to swap bosses with the Baron tank. If using brute force technique, put best geared tank here.
  2. Baron tank. As above, except Baron is a wimp so if using brute force method, this is an easy assignment.
  3. Blammo tank. Can be done by a ranged class. The 2 rear bosses are tanked by proximity.
  4. Zeliek tank. As above. Remind melee to spread out.


  1. Main tank. Pick someone well geared, he hits hard. Does not require frost resist gear.


  1. Main tank. Help pick up abominations in phase 1. Tank boss in phase 2. Prefer tank with interrupts to help interrup frost bolts.
  2. Add tank 1. Help pick up abominations in phase 1. Either dps or keep out of the fight in phase 2 (depending how good they are on keeping distance from other melee). Pick up add/s in phase 3.
  3. Add tank 2. As above.


6 thoughts on “5 Steps to Raid Tanking Assignments

  1. Just an extra point on Maexxna – I have heard (and I believe to be correct) that you cannot avoid (parry, dodge, block) damage while under the effect of web-wrap. So certain cooldowns (like Shield Block) won’t work to help you avoid damage.

    • Yeah, I think you’re right. That must be why I had a mental note of ‘pick tank with high health’ (I was a bit slack and did this from memory). I know we usually get a druid to do this one.

  2. I really like the point about being aware of a tank’s lag when doing assignments. A key player with nearly unplayable lag can create a domino effect throughout your entire assignment setup.

    An important point I would have mentioned as well is how long the tank is going to be there for the attempts. It’s not worth putting even a great player into a key role if they’re going to only have an hour to do the actual fight and once they leave you’ll have to completely redo tanking assignments forcing a number of people to learn dramatically different tasks.

  3. Very well spoken blog, and sure to help out a lot of people.

    We generally only run with one or two full time tanks, and that’s something to always remember, too. Try not to overload on tanks, or there’ll be a lot of tank envy.

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