It is often useful to be able to check who your target in a MMO is attacking. If you are soloing and don’t have a pet, it’s pretty much a given than anything you attack will be hitting you back.
But there are times when that won’t be the case. Keeping an eye on your target’s target will help in these sorts of situations:
- You have some ability to control threat. For example, if you are a tank and your mob switches target to someone else (a healer, maybe), you can quickly taunt them back.
- Your group is using a main assist – i.e. everyone else agrees to let one player pick a target and then will all switch to the same one. This is often a useful PvP tactic.
- A boss can cast a spell on a random member of the raid. If a healer can keep an eye on the boss’s target, they will know to start casting a heal as soon as the target switches from the tank.
- A boss puts a debuff on the tank every X seconds. The debuff makes tanking very difficult (maybe it reduces tank threat, or increases the amount of damage that the tank takes) so a second tank must taunt as soon as it is applied. If you can see the debuffs on your target’s target, then you can attack the boss and taunt as soon as the debuff goes up on the current tank (ie. the target of the target.)
In a game like WoW with huge numbers of available addons, there might be specific ones to make this easier in different situations. A boss mods addon might plaster a warning across your screen when you need to taunt, or highlight the players who are about to get nuked randomly. There are also addons which quickly show you who has threat, intended to help tanks figure out when to taunt.
But keeping an eye on the target of your target is a solid, reliable, basic way to make sure that you have the information that you need.
Setting up Target of Target
To set this up in WoW, press ESCape to get to the game menu, and then select Interface. Pick combat in the right hand menu and you’ll arrive at this screen.
In the standard UI, the target of the target will be shown just to the left of the target window. You can experiment a bit with checking who your friends are looking at.
In a unitframes addon such as Pitbull, xPerl, or Shadowed Unit Frames, you will have a lot more control over exactly where the target and the target of target window appear on your screen.
Put them somewhere easy to see. And also set things up so that you can see buffs and debuffs on the target of target (at the very least you need to see which of the debuffs is stacking, which will be marked by a number in the corner.)
Taunt on Three Stacks
The inspiration from this post came when I was tanking a VoA run alongside an inexperienced tank. We had agreed to taunt on three stacks for Toravon, and as I saw my stacks hitting 5 and then 6 I realised he was waiting for me to tell him what my debuffs were doing. (So I typed TAUNT into raid chat, and then he did it.)
But you don’t need to wait for the other tank to tell you. You can keep an eye on their debuffs yourself. Also, taunting very neatly when the debuffs pile up is a useful raid tanking skill in current WoW raid content.
This is a screenshot from where I was tanking Toravon with a friend (note: she is NOT the inexperienced tank I mentioned above, this was a different run). She’s currently tanking him, and I’m looking at her debuffs via the target of target frame. This is not the world’s best example because I have the debuffs set to show very small – but the point is that one of those debuffs has a number in the corner.
This is another section of the same screenshot, showing that I have a double check. Deadly Boss Mods also prints up the current stack of debuffs on the tank in the middle of the screen.
But if it was a new boss, or DBM had not yet been updated, I would have been watching the debuffs stack on the target of target frame.
I’m not sure these screenshots prove much except how non-optimal my UI is. I’m sure you can do better!