Tank Comparison: Patterns Emerging from the Legion Previews

With the simplified versions of tanking specializations that we had the privilege to preview a few weeks ago, we now can compare each class and analyze the patterns that emerge. For this round, I’m focusing on the resources and utility of active mitigation abilities, primarily from the information provided by Blizzard and excluding talents and artifact bonuses.


  • Classes as previewed in the official blogs are baseline. Talents and artifacts will add complexity.
  • A tank’s toolset must be evaluated together, it doesn’t make sense to compare on a skill by skill basis.
  • This is alpha; things change.


  • “proactive” – ability that is used before a dangerous event, usually damage reduction
  • “reactive” – ability that is used after a dangerous event, usually healing
  • “AM” – active mitigation
  • “smoothing” – makes the tank more healable by reducing burst damage, but does not reduce damage, e.g. stagger or a health increase
  • “burst healing” – instant healing, as opposed to healing over time
  • “damage absorption” – a Power Word: Shield-like effect that absorbs the next set amount of damage
  • “primary AM skill” – the most important AM skill that the rest of the toolset supports
  • “damage reduction” – unless otherwise specified, reduces both magical and physical damage


  • Shared resource AM (brews):
  • Unshared resource AM:


  • Shared resource AM (rage):
    • Ironfur: proactive physical damage reduction, 40 rage, 6s duration, primary AM skill
    • Mark of Ursol: proactive magic damage reduction, 40 rage, 6s duration
    • Frenzied Regeneration: reactive healing over time, 10 rage, 20s recharge, 6s duration


  • Shared resource AM (rage):
    • Shield Block: proactive physical damage reduction, 10 rage, 12s recharge (50% max uptime)
    • Ignore Pain: proactive damage absorption, 40 rage, primary AM skill
  • Unshared resource AM:


Death Knight

  • Shared resource AM (runes):
    • Marrowrend / Bone Shield: proactive damage reduction, 2 runes creates 3 Boneshields, primary AM skill
    • Blood Strike: proactive healing over time, 1 rune, very small heal, mostly serves to generate runic power for Death Strike
  • Unshared resource AM
    • Death Strike: reactive burst healing, proactive damage absorption, 40 runic power

Overall Thoughts

  • Warriors, Druids, and Death Knights have a primary mitigation (Ironfur, Ignore Pain, Marrowrend) that is expensive, and a supporting or secondary mitigation that is cheap (Shield Block, Frenzied Regeneration, Blood Strike). There is a main skill that clearly takes priority over others, but is never really at odds with other skills.
  • Monks also have a clear primary mitigation (Ironskin Brew) and secondary mitigation (Purifying Brew), though they have the same cost. However, the secondary mitigation is nearly useless without the primary.
  • Paladins are special in that their two AM skills (Shield of the Righteous and Light of the Protector) are completely separate, and there is no clear primary or secondary distinction because they do completely different things and have their own separate resources (charges).
  • There are not many competing mitigation choices for where to spend resources (e.g. no more Shield Block vs. Shield Barrier), but on how to time your primary and secondary mitigation (e.g. how to weave your Shield Block around your more important Ignore Pain).
  • Monks, Paladins, and Death Knights have heals that are decoupled from their primary AM and use a different resource.
  • Only Druids have a heal that shares a resource with their primary AM, but it’s cheap.
  • Warriors have no heals in their default AM package.
  • Only Warriors and Death Knights have damage absorption.
  • Druids are the only spec with a magic damage reduction skill (Mark of Ursol) that directly competes with a physical damage reduction skill (Ironfur). Ironfur and Mark of Ursol compete over resources and effect, but have clearly differentiated niches of use so it’s rarely a “difficult decision”. Monks, Warriors, Death Knights, and Paladins have magic reduction built into their primary AM skill, and some secondary AM skills.
  • There are no active avoidance abilities in the default packages, though talents offer some avoidance-type AM. Everything is either damage smoothing, damage reduction, healing, or a damage absorption. Passive avoidance still contributes in other ways, like directly or indirectly generating resources or influencing AM timing (like Elusive Brawler).
  • Jay

    From the current information available, it seems Paladins will once again be the “low difficulty” tanks, with only one AM skill and a “oh s**t!” button, neither of them competing against each others.

    Druids look interesting, although that FR looks like a turbocharged version of the DK’s Death Strike. Brewmaster was my favorite tank during WoD, but their new skills arsenal fails to convince me.

    All in all, all tanks look similar in many ways and pretty much balanced in the survival department, although some skills look a bit OP in the paper, like using Ignore Pain to gimmick a mechanic that should be avoided.

    I’m sure there will be many changes before we see the tanks’ final version. Thank you and great post!

  • Feracitas

    I can certainly see what Blizzard is trying to achieve with these changes to tanks. It seems to me that most tanks’ primary AM will be a high uptime buff, with a secondary skill that complements the former if used intelligently.

    The gameplay for monks will be in maintaining your Ironskin Brew, and the complexity will be in timely use of Purifying Brew. This is a return to how Monks originally played Mists, but with charges replacing chi. I thoroughly enjoyed it myself, and I’m excited to see this being adopted by the rest of the classes.