New to WotLK: The Group or How Not to be ‘That Guy’

Now keep in mind that WoW is not a first person shooter game, and it isn’t a game where you only interact with or work with NPC’s. WoW is a game where you regularly interact with actual people. I know, scary isn’t it? Ok, maybe that’s just me.

So here’s the deal, to kind of make it so that folks work together and are actually successful when they do work together, the classes in WoW are centered around, the proto group.

There’s 3 roles in the proto group. There’s the Tank, the Healer, and the DPS. Each of these three roles has their own job to do in the group.

If you want to make friends and influence people in WoW, you need to know your role.

If you don’t know where you fit in a group and you do all the wrong things, or even some of the wrong things at the right time, you wipe the group, and everyone’s mad at you. There’s also a good chance that if you do it enough times, you’re booted from the group. Now you’re totally ‘that guy’. No one wants to be ‘that guy’. Yes even if you’re not male, you still do not want to be ‘that guy’, trust me.

So now your asking, ok, I need to know my role but which role is mine? Well don’t get you’re undies in a bunch because I’m getting to it. Today we’re just going to go over the 3 roles, in the next post I’m going to write about how the classes fit into the roles. For now though, let’s focus on what are the roles and how they work together to not die, actually kill stuff, and get the phat lewtz.

Here’s the 3 Roles:

  • Tank
  • Healer
  • DPS (which stands for Damage Per Second, but really these are players that do damage)

Ok so how do these roles work together? Well you start with your tank.

The Tank

Tank + Threat + Healing = Win

The Tank is they member of the group that has the toughest armor and usually lands some pretty hard hits. Classes that Tank also have special abilities that increase Threat.

Threat is that part of the game that sends mobs running in your direction. When you’re running around questing solo, you don’t want increase your Threat because you don’t want an entire zone of mobs headed your way right? But Tanks WANT to build Threat because they want the mobs to focus on them. This is because the Tank has 3 things going for them. They have heavy armor, they have someone healing them like crazy, and they have a team of folks standing behind him blasting the crap out of stuff.

It sounds crazy, but here’s how it works. The DSP and Healer in the group generally do not have as much armor as that guy standing front and center. Not to mention the fact that if you’re a casting class, each time you get hit by something it increases the amount of time it takes to get that spell off. So the Tank takes a beating to give everyone else a chance to get some hits in. The downside to this is that if the DPS does more damage than the tank and the Tank doesn’t hit harder or use a Threat building ability soon enough, the mobs will go after the DPS faster than a little kid chasing an ice cream truck, but we’ll get into that later on.

The Healer

Healer + Mana – Threat = Win

While the Tank may have a tough outer shell, there’s still a limit to just how much damage that shell can take before the Tank takes a trip to the grave yard. As we just learned, Tank + Grave Yard = Dead Group. This is where the Healer comes in. The Healer’s main focus in any group is to keep the Tank alive. They may heal other folks in the group as they need it, but their main priority is the tank. End of story, no wiggle room, no exceptions, do not pass go, do not collect 200 silver.

The Healer also does NOT want to generate any Threat. Unfortuntatly Healers generate a lot of Threat because they patch up they guy that the mobs are trying to kill. When you’re taking out mobs you always want to take out the mobs that heal before you take out anything else. Other wise they’ll just keep healing everything you’re trying to kill and you’ll end up running out of health before you run out of mobs. The mobs in the game follow this rule too. So the Healer wants to make sure that the Tank has the full attention of any mobs in the area before healing the Tank and the Tank wants to make sure that the Healer has a full bar of mana before charging into the next group.


DPS + Damage – Threat = Win

Here’s why the DPS is along for the ride. DPS makes things dead, pure and simple. The goal for the DPS though is to try to make things dead before the Healer runs out of Mana. The healer needs Mana to heal the tank. If the Tank gets no heals, the Tank dies. Then the mobs run to finish off the Healer and finally the DPS. Since the Healer and DPS aren’t as tough as the Tank, this would be a very very bad situation.

You’ll also notice that Healing is not part of this equation. Why is that? Well because the DPS shouldn’t need healing. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t get healed if they need it, but that for the most part, they shouldn’t be taking enough damage to need healing. Why? Because the Tank should be taking that damage for them, that’s the Tank’s job.

That’s where the ‘- Threat’ comes in. DPS wants to make sure that they do as much damage to the mobs as possible, but they don’t want to attract attention to themselves. Why? Because they are not the tank. When you’re squishy you don’t want something running after you with two blades and a foaming mouth. Otherwise you’ll be on a corpse run before you can yell ‘dang it’.

Where Things Break Down

 Ok so everyone has been in a group that was just awful. Admit it, you’ve seen one. No? Well I’m sure you will eventually. Here’s a few things that usually happen that cause the group to go down in flames.

1) The Squishy Tank – If you’re in a fight and the Tank is taking a dirt nap after three blows from the boss, chances are you have a squishy tank. Tanks need to make sure that they have a lot of armor and a lot of stamina. Stamina goes right to the health bar. The more Stamina you have the more hits you can take without hitting the floor. Tanks can usually also use talents that keep them alive longer, shields, +Defense, and other stuff like +Block etc. If you’re a tank and you’re taking a lot of damage in dungeons, take a look at your gear and spec so you can beef yourself up to keep yourself alive.

2) Out of Mana – Running out of mana at a crucial time is every healers worst nightmare. There are things however that healers can do to help them out too. First of Intellect, you want to have a lot of Intellect, this will give you a fat and happy mana pool to draw from and give you a chance to keep plugging away. Spell Power, you also want to look for gear that gives you + Spell Power. While yeah it looks like that stuff is helpful for making big booms, it’s also good for heals. Healing spells are spells too and when you lump on the + Spell Power it helps you to squeeze a few more points of health out of every heal. So if you heal bigger, you don’t have to heal as often. Healers can also conserve mana by using quicker heals that cost less mana. While they’d have to cast these more often, they’ll still be able to heal over a longer span of time, and sometimes that’s what matters.

3) The Tank Pulls – Ok so we know that the Tank is the one that goes in, gets the mob’s attention and tries to keep it right? So what happens if someone else gets the attention first? Well then the Tank has to work extra hard to get that attention away from whoever managed to torque the mob. We also know that the Healer’s main focus is keeping the Tank alive, so if the DPS folks start taking a lot of hits and a lot of damage, chances are the healer may not be able to heal them AND the tank too. So it’s a good idea to let the tank do their thing and then hit the stuff the Tank is hitting.

3) Pulling Too Soon – So chances are even if the Healer is careful with their mana and has all the Intellect they could find, they’re still probably going to run low on or out of mana each time the group enters combat. This is just the nature of the game. This means that the Healer’s going to need to stop and take a drink (likely some of the DPS will need to do this too). So if our Tank decides to go ahead and get the next group nice and angry before everyone is ready, well things will get real ugly real fast. Remember (Tank – Heals) + Grave Yard = Group Dead. There’s times that I’ve played a healer where I’ve actually let the Tank sweat it, and held off healing until I was done drinking. I figured, hey if we didn’t make it HOPEFULLY he’d get the message. Let me tell you he did.

So to all the Tanks out there, If you want your bar to stay green, make sure that you’re healer’s bar stays blue. Got it? Good.

4) Pulling Mobs Off the Tank – This is usually where DPS ends up taking a dirt nap. The folks rolling in to be the DPS of the group aren’t set up with a ton of hit points. That’s just fine, they aren’t supposed to have a ton of hit points, that’s the Tank’s department. They still need to have a lot of life, but not as much as the Tank. Every once in a while though the DPS hits the wrong target or lets out a spell that hits more than one target. If the Tank hasn’t had a chance to get these guys good and angry, then they’ll run right after whatever hit them.

Wrapping it Up

Ok so these are really just the most basic bits about grouping. There’s really a lot more to playing your class in a group. There’s all kinds of resources out there though that will help you pick the right talents and use the right spells or abilities. I always encourage folks to take a look at blogs and forums that focus on their class to get the real scoop from folks who play one class exclusively. In my next article I’ll go over classes and how the classes fit into each of these roles. So for folks that aren’t sure if their class is right for them or they’re still picking out a class, that will hopefully be a helpful article for them.



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13 years ago

Thank you for this information – it is helpful to some one who is brand new to the game and who hasn’t played mmo before either. Appreciate you taking the time to write about this topic!

13 years ago

Cool, I hope it helps.

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