Is Your Tanking Team A Partnership?

I’ve mentioned before that my sister is one of our main tanks in the guild.  She wasn’t always a tank, rather her main toon is a hunter that she desperately misses.  But, simply put, her tanking skills are second to none.  She tanks most often in our raids with another of our main tanks, Mawl.  (Yes, I am shamelessly calling you out here!)  At first, the tanking relationship was a rocky one.  There was a bit of squabbling, but very quickly they became a star tanking team.  So much so, that even on new encounters, there is very little chat back and forth between them.  She had even mentioned to me once that “Tanking with Mawl is so easy, its like we fit like a glove together.”

However, on days that Mawl was gone, or chose to DPS or heal, those days were difficult for her.  It was as if I were pulling her teeth.  And the play showed – pulls were rocky, aggro was tricky, one tank often pulled too many, or in a direction that was unanticipated, and we would wipe.

One of the best tank teams I have every played with was a family tank team.  I had pugged a 25 man and the tank team was a Husband, Wife, and Son (bear, pally and DK, respectively).  I specifically payed attention to how they operated, expecting squabbling and such, but there was none.  In fact, it was the smoothest run I had ever pugged.  Watching the three of them operate was watching a well oiled contraption finely tuned for its purpose.  Each move was fluid, calculated, and overcome.  And you know what?  They weren’t even in the same city, so it wasn’t like they were all sitting around chatting to each other.  The son was off in college, mom was away on business, and dad was at home with the other kids.  They were similar to Mawl and my sister – they didn’t chat much, only to relay the most important information.

Shortly before I went on my two week wow sabbatical (I’m back, with the teaspoon of sanity I used to posess!), I had taken my woefully undergeared DK tank into a 10 man ICC run with our second raid group.  I couldn’t help but be completely nervous, expecting my little neglected tank to be the cause of most wipes.  But lo and behold, we actually did very very well! (If I recall correctly, I helped them down rotface for the first time, after only 3 wipes).  I was stunned – surely Mr. Undergeared and completely noobish DK tank that I was would have caused serious tanking issues.  But alas, it was not so.

Later, my co-tank pulled me aside and told me that for the first time she truly felt like she had a partner tanking with her, rather than “just some other tank.”  And it dawned on me – that is what the two examples I mentioned above had.  They had developed a partnership – one where it wasn’t a situation of one tank leading, the other following, rather, the tanks operate as a cohesive unit, instinctively reacting to each others actions.

And it surprises me how few tanking teams actually have this.  Of all the pugs I have been in, I have only seen this level of tanking with a very small handful  of teams.  Guilds I know, and love, who have had their tanks for months and months (if not years) have yet to experience this level of tanking.

So the next time you have issues with tanking, take a step back.  Look and see if you can see the partnership forming, and nurture it in any way possible.  The best tank teams are like marriages – one partner reacting instinctively to the other without thought.  When you honestly cannot answer the question “Who is the main tank?” you are fortunate enough to have found one of the true gems in tanking – a team that has formed a partnership.

2 Responses to “Is Your Tanking Team A Partnership?”
  1. My husband and I are like this for our ten man… and in our 25s. We know what the other is going to do before it happens. We’re also developing that with the other guild tanks.

    For example, we were 4 tanking RS25 the other week… myself [dk tank], hubby [pally tank], our guild’s warrior tank and our guild’s druid tank. We were seamlessly making pulls. When our adds were down, yanking one off of the other tanks who had 2, just seamless partnership and it was just amazing! We swapped in and out as dps on boss fights… depending on what the fight needed and 4 tanked trash.

    One pull in particular comes to mind, we had sleeped the commander [excellent way to pull with a druid tank btw] and we were all tanking our adds.. The commander came loose and I knew hubby would go pick it up, so I yanked his add over. He started laughing IRL and said “You knew what I was going to do, didn’t you?” Funny part was, I barely thought about it. 🙂 True tanking partnerships are amazing!

  2. leah says:

    its not just tanking that can benefit from it, its also healing.

    First time I experienced it was back in BC, 2 healing Karazan with one of my first in game friends, on her priest. I was pretty new to healing at the time, but she made it so easy and smooth and enjoyable, I was completely hooked. She’s part of the reason I ended up healing as much as I do nowadays. this sort of rapport doesn’t happen as often as I like though. last time I remember true partnership run (that was not with my husband) was back when ICC just came out (so no buffs and we were in ToC gear, 25 man ToC yeah, but not heroic stuff) and on a whim, we decided to run a quick 10 man after main 25 man raid. I was healing on a shaman with holy pally, the only holly pally guild had at the time. it was absolutely amazing. I miss that feeling 😦

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