If you've been away from World of Warcraft for a while, you may have noticed some things have changed. Each spec in the game is unique and it can be hard to figure out which one to play. If you need a primer, we have an all-inclusive guide to the game's different roles and picking the best role for you. If you're sure you want to tank, then this guide is for you!
There are more classes that can tank in Legion than ever before, and each has a different feel to it. And it's harder to suss out which is the 'best' tank class since there are so many mechanical factors to account for. Although there's not one tank that's better than the rest, each players differently.
Part of that is because different tanking classes and specs feels particularly unique in Legion now that Artifact weapons (and shields) are tied to your spec via individual acquisition quests. Your Artifact is now the best weapon you can get, and you'll be spending your time making it as amazing as possible for tanking. But if you're not sure which tank class is right for you, we have a rundown of all the different tank classes to help you decide!
Artifact weapon: One-handed sword and a shield
Play Protection Warrior if: You want a classic and iconic intro to tanking
Protection Warriors embody the classic sword-and-board archetype. They literally charge into battle by rushing straight for their enemies and then use their shield to block incoming attacks and slam enemies in the face.
Warriors' heavy plate armor makes them incredibly durable against physical attacks but they end up slightly more vulnerable to magic than some other tanks. They're a solid all-around tank option and likely a good choice if you're new to tanking.
- Good for first-time tanks
- Classic sword-and-board feel
- Consistent damage intake makes healing easier
- Fairly vanilla class fantasy
- Not as good against magic-using enemies
Artifact weapon: One-handed sword and a shield
Play Protection Paladin if: You like your sword-and-board tanking with a bit of Holy magic spellcasting
Protection Paladins are the other tanking class that utilizes swords and shield, but they are more magic oriented. Paladins focus on using the Light to attack their enemies and have a small amount of healing spells that they borrow from their healing counterparts.
One of the coolest parts of Protection Paladins (in my opinion, anyway) is the ability to pull a Captain America and throw your shield at enemies and watch it bounce from mob to mob before coming back to you.
- Has the notoriously powerful "bubble" defensive spell
- Throwing your shield never gets old
- Relatively simple rotation
- Group buffs to keep track of
- Some complicated synergy with personal cooldowns
Blood Death Knight
Artifact weapon: Two-handed axe
Play Blood Death Knight if: You like your tanking with a side of evil and the ability to solo tougher content through self-heals
Blood Death Knights are the polar opposite of Paladins. They eschew any sort of defensive weapon in favor of a two-handed axe that will hit much harder, though less often.
They utilize different sorts of dark magic to provide themselves with defensive spells as well as offensive ones used to gather enemies. The biggest draw to Blood Death Knights is their self-healing. While it has been slightly toned down in Legion, Blood Death Knights have been notoriously recognized as the class that can solo almost anything.
- Strong self-healing
- Several cooldowns to reduce damage
- One of the game's best introductory zones
- Cooldown management is imperative to successful tanking
- Debuffs on enemies must be kept track of
Artifact weapon: Dual fist-weapons*
Play Guardian Druid if: You like a unique tanking style, being a bear, or having off-specs that cover all the game's role
Guardian Druids are one of the game's most unique tanking classes. While they wear leather armor and utilize fist-weapons, it doesn't show while they're tanking.
Because they turn into a bear.
Yes, one of the hallmarks of Druids is that they can shapeshift — sometimes into cats, sometimes into owlkin, and sometimes into trees — which means tanking Druids end up charging into battle in the form of a bear. Tanking on a Guardian Druid is all about using your claws to get up close and personal with your targets.
And if you were wondering about that asterisk, it's because Druids' bear forms are altered depending on what Artifact variant they're using. So even though you can't see the Artifact weapons themselves, they'll be visually represented in whatever sort of bear you happen to look like.
- You are a bear
- Provides extra utility to your groups
- High health pool
- Full range of off-specs if you get tired of tanking
- Actual armor is obscured by bear form
- Defensive cooldowns can be ineffective if timed improperly
Artifact weapon: Staff
Play Brewmaster Monk if: You're a fan of martial arts, beer, and highly mobile classes
Do you like throwing beer at your enemies and then setting them on fire? If so, seek help. Also, Brewmaster Monks may be your cup of, erm, beer.
Monks are the masters of martial arts and this is represented in Brewmasters' tanking style. Brewmasters avoid damage primarily through their passive ability, Stagger, which causes them to take a portion of damage up front and the remainder over the next 10 seconds.
In addition to their ability to Stagger damage, Brewmasters have high mobility compared to many of the other tanking classes. Plus, their damage output is solid for a tank.
- Throwing beer at enemies is fun
- Very mobile
- Solid damage output or a tank
- Stagger makes your healers' lives easy
- Slightly squishier than other tanks
- Does not offer much raid utility
Vengeance Demon Hunter
Artifact weapons: Dual warglaives
Play Vengeance Demon Hunter if: You like occasionally turning into a demon, strong self-healing, and a melee-DPS feel to your tanking
Ah, Demon Hunters. The newest addition to World of Warcraft debuts as a strong, enviable class capable of tanking or dealing damage. And as far as tanking is concerned, Vengeance Demon Hunters are a blast.
Vengeance Demon Hunters often feel more like a durable melee DPS class than a tank thanks to the way they dual-wield weapons and deal area-of-effect damage. They (literally) leap into battle and utilize their demonic influence to engulf enemies in flames while also ripping soul fragments from them that provide self-healing.
To me, Vengeance feels like a cross between Blood Death Knights (self-healing) and Rogues (dual-wielding melee). They're a blast and, while a bit complicated, are worth learning. They're also very solid options for questing and leveling, which makes learning how to play Vengeance something you can do both in and out of group content.
- Great damage output for a tank
- Self-healing comparable to Death Knights
- Can sometimes feel like a DPS class
- Not as beginner friendly as other tanks
- Newer classes are more susceptible to tuning adjustment
- Several abilities to keep track of
That's it for tanks! Hopefully this has helped guide you in the right direction. Tanking really isn't too bad once you get in the swing of things, but it can be intimidating to start. My advice is to run your first few dungeons with a group of friends or make sure your group knows you're a beginner — if they're anything but sympathetic, they're not a group that deserves you tanking for them anyway. Legion is a blast to level through, and you'll certainly enjoy your class Order Hall quests regardless of the spec you choose.
And if you've made it to the end of this guide and decided tanking isn't for you, be sure to check out our central role guide, which breaks down each of the game's roles in more detail.