Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

The Light and How to Swing It: Tanking the first three bosses of Throne of Thunder

Matt Walsh

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

Like jumping into a cold pool after spending too much time in the hot tub, tanking Throne of Thunder after weeks of tier 14 may be a bit of a shocking experience. (Sorry, had to.) This place is no joke -- the health and damage requirements are ratcheted up severely from the previous tier of raiding. The bosses will hit harder and the mechanics will be tighter, but on the other hand, the loot will be even shinier. Honor and glory awaits in the halls of the Thunder King.

The first quarter of the dungeon is designated as the Last Stand of the Zandalari, and you'll be seeing some old, tusked faces. Let's talk about what you'll need to do to withstand everything that the finest warriors of that dying land can throw at you.

Jin'rokh the Breaker

The crux of this fight is the soft enrage mechanic involving the four statues standing at equal points around the boss' area. At set points he will pick up the current tank and Thundering Throw them into one of the statues, smashing the edifice and releasing a pool of water for the DPS to stand in. The active tank should then drag the boss close enough to the pool that melee DPS can get the Fluidity buff and still reach the boss.

There is a tank switch mechanic in this fight, Static Wound, which ideally you should be afflicted with while tanking the boss. Unfortunately, timing isn't always your friend in this regard. Eventually it will line up where Jin'rokh will want to toss the fresher of the two tanks away and turn his focus to a tank that has an uncomfortable number of stacks. To combat this, have the tank with Static Wound taunt the boss back about three seconds before Thundering Throw is going to occur (obviously you'll need DBM to figure out the timing).

If this swap trick doesn't happen and you find yourself tanking Jin'rokh with stacks of Static Wound, you need to blow a serious cooldown.

When the raid stacks up for Lightning Storm, make sure you offer the use of Devotion Aura. This is a good time to use Divine Protection as well, to partially lighten the load for your healers.

Glyph recommendations: Leave Divine Protection glyphed, Jin'rokh's melees hurt; he is a bruiser. Focused Shield can be an good choice if tank damage is crucial to beating the soft enrage (same with Alabaster Shield). Battle Healer is really helpful for Lightning Storm stacking.

Talent recommendations: There are no real opportunities for Hand of Protection to shine here and no DoT mechanic to speak of, so Clemency and Hand of Purity are unnecessary. Go with Unbreakable Spirit to have Divine Protection up more often. Speed of Light can help for quickly moving Jin'rokh to a puddle. Light's Hammer is helpful for Lightning Storm stacking.


Perhaps my least favorite iteration of an add fight in recent memory. When on adds, be prepared for the helter skelter nature in which they enter the fight and try to stagger your ranged attacks so you can pick them up quickly before they cause unnecessary damage of the healers they'll try to eat the face off of.

This fight also has a debuff-tank swap mechanic, Triple Puncture though the swapping will be much slower than on Jin'rokh. You and your co-tank should only be swapping after every door. Keep in mind that Triple Puncture can be taken off with Hand of Protection or Divine Shield, so you can game stacks for yourself and your co-tank for the most part, to avoid damage from stacking up too much.

When you're the tank on Horridon, you need to position the dinosaur so that its side is facing the door, and its head and tail are pointing nowhere near the raid. Occasionally it will Double Swipe at its front and back, which even as the tank you should strafe out of. You can see the range of the attack from the dust kicked up from the ground. In addition, Horridon will intermittently Charge at a random player and Double Swipe soon after. You will need to reposition after this.

All in all, the Horridon tank has by far the simpler job. The damage will be more intense, however, so make good use of your cooldowns when needed.

When you're the shmuck on adds, get ready to feel like someone with a saucer for a plate at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The adds keep coming and it's your job to manage them in a way that won't get a healer killed. I'll break this all down by what's unique for each door.

Door One, the Farraki: No matter what you pick up, keep the Sul'lithuz Stonegazers targeted and interrupt them anytime they cast Stone Gaze. If they hit you with that spell, you can be stunned for ten seconds. Make sure to catch it. Kite all adds out of Sand Traps for the benefit of melee.

Door Two, the Gurubashi: Focused the Venom Priests and try to interrupt Venom Bolt Volley whenever possible. Kite adds out of any poison puddles.

Door Three, the Drakkari: Your main focus will be the Frozen Warlords. They will occasionally hit you with a Mortal Strike, which hits for a good amount and applies a healing taken debuff. This is an excellent time to keep your cooldowns close while you wait the 8 seconds for the debuff to fall off.

Door Four, the Amani: Tank the Warbears facing away from any raid members, so you don't catch them with the Swipe. Kite adds away from any Lightning Nova Totems. If you can get interrupts off on the Flame Caster, then mores the better.

Across all four doors, after a set amount of time, a Dinomancer will jump down. You'll probably want to switch focus to him, as he will attempt to channel a heal on Horridon which must be interrupted.

After working through all four doors, War God Jalak will enter the arena and bring the fight to its denouement. The tank not on Horridon will pick up Jalak. If you're the tank on Jalak, you'll want to make good use of your damage cooldowns (Avenging Wrath and Holy Avenger) and it's critical the raid gets him down ASAP.

Once Jalak is dead, Horridon will finally be killed. Tank damage will be very high at this point, as the dino will enrage when Jalak dies. You'll need your best cooldowns for this last portion of the fight.

Glyph recommendations: Keep Divine Protection glyphed (lots of physical damage) and don't even think about going near Focused Shield.

Talent recommendations: Clemency is a must, to make the most out of using Hand of Protection to game the Triple Puncture debuff. Light's Hammer can be a big help with add pickup.

Council of Elders

The way to split up the tanking in this fight will be to have one tank on Sul the Sandcrawler and the other on High Priestess Mar'li. The two will then pass Frost King Malakk back and forth before he can stack Frigid Assault to 15 stacks on his current target. Otherwise he will stun his active tank.

Sul tank will want to interrupt Sand Bolt as much as possible. Mar'li tank will want to do the same for Wrath of the Loa.

Sul has an ability that will summon adds called Living Sands. The tank that is not holding Malakk currently should pick those up. Keep in mind that towards the end of the fight there will be a lot of these adds, so you and your co-tank may need to split them up rather than one taking all of them.

Lastly, watch out for Reckless Charge if someone in your melee contingent is targeted by it.

The empowerment mechanic does not significantly change how the fight is tanked, outside of potentially creating an exceeding quantity of Living Sands when Sul is empowered.

Glyph recommendations: Keep Glyph of Divine Protection enabled for physical damage. Battle Healer is a good choice since you'll be generally stationary with some melee nearby.

Talent recommendations: Unbreakable Spirit is a good default, since you won't need excess Hands of Protection. Light's Hammer can help with picking up masses of Living Sands.

The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to combat the Sha in the strange new land of Pandaria. Try out the new control gearing strategy, learn how to make the most of the new active mitigation system on your tankadin, and check out how to deck out your fresh 90 tank to get ready for any raids!

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr