This article will cover all things directly related to your hunter for tanking in Cataclysm.  Please refer to the main guides page for all other general tanking articles.

Please keep in mind, raid tanking IS different than instance tanking.  This is a primer for all tanking endeavors, but specifically for instances.  Certain exceptions may apply for raid tanking and will be covered in future articles.

And for any pet tanking questions that aren’t answered in articles or comments, feel free to email me at  Keep them tank-related, however.  For anything else I’ll just refer you to one of Frostheim’s articles.

Hunter Spec:

Most of the points are fairly obvious, and the talents that don’t help our tanking are simply to get to a later tier.  Keep in mind that in a tanking build we are ONLY concerned with talents that help our pet either survive or keep aggro.  Which is why, for example, we do not take Focus Fire.

One point in Imp. Mend Pet is a must.  But two is overkill.  Spend the point elsewhere.

Spirit Bond is part of why our pet takes such big heals, and it also gives you the hunter bigger heals as well.  This talent is a great way to get used to the idea that staying alive is more important than dps.  Your life is your pet’s, so your life is your tank’s life.  This bit of advice should be true for non-tanking roles as well, but is often ignored, and is doubly important in tanking.  Feel free to use this fact to annoy your healers into prioritizing you to #1 in the raid, which may be the first time this has happened in the history of healing.

Prime Glyphs:

Glyph of Kill Command

Glyph of Arcane Shot

Glyph of Kill Shot or Glyph of Serpent Sting

Kill Command is obvious, and the other two are only because we don’t have other glyphs directly helping our pet.  If you do drop one of them, make it Glyph of Kill/Serpent, only because we’ll want to lead with arcane shots for single target MD’s, so the extra damage isn’t totally without tanking utility.

Major Glyphs:

Glyph of Bestial Wrath

Glyph of Mending

Glyph of Misdirection

Remember that MD threat will fade after 30 seconds, so don’t lean on the MD glyph to save you.  Rather, use it 2-3 times in rapid succession when one of your dps’ers is close to overtaking you, while simultaneously informing him to slow down his attacks.

Minor Glyphs:

Glyph of Mend Pet

Glyph of Revive Pet

Glyph of Feign Death

None are terribly useful, but none of them can be said to be useless either.

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  1. Kazador says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’m curious to hear what sorts of things you feel are currently doable by hunter tanks. Some or all Heroics? Any raid bosses? Should we be using the best standard hunter raiding gear, I assume? Or is there some gear specific to tanking that you recommend?

    Also, I’m surprised to see you recommend Glyph of Steady Shot. Does this mean that you recommend that we use Steady Shot instead of Cobra Shot?

    Sorry for all the questions, and thanks again!

    • Novean says:

      Kaz, I don’t recommend doing any Lvl 85 Normal dungeons.
      I tried out a few to Rep grind myself up to exalted, but it didn’t go so well as my pet just couldnt take all the hits.

      Also, some bosses have a lot of add mechanics which your pet (And it’s weak sauce Thunderstomp) can’t hold on to.

      But on the plus side!
      We can easily solo the stone drake in normal Stone Core for the mount.
      And the Drake in Vortex Pinnacle.

      • Justa says:

        I’ve soloed my way thru normal Stonecore, with the exception of Corborus which i skipped. I did the last boss as SV for the AoE blasts and died a bunch of times before i got lucky with void zones/traps/focus. Slabhide and Ozruk are stupidly easy on normal, i took 0 dmg last time on Ozruk.

        Agree that some boss mechanics are just too awkward/hard to pet tank atm.

      • Was trying Stonecore today, seems you cant sneak to the Dragon boss, so… How do I deal with Millhouse? him and those AOE earth thingies are killing me.

      • Justa says:

        @ Baldriano

        For Millhouse i skip to the 3rd pack first (the last one in the chain he runs to) and then work my way back up. Liberal use of MD, traps, wyvern sting (i do this part as SV with the turtle) and FD. If you can make sure you’re well back from the AoE and dont worry if your pet dies as long as you get the first mob down. Once you have 1 mob in the pack down it’s becomes a LOT easier to deal with the others. So, clear the last pack, then the middle pack, then the first pack just inside the instance. I focus down Millhouse then until he runs and because the other 2 packs are dead he just goes straight to the end.

      • Factoid says:

        Some of the Cata bosses are incredibly easy to solo. I am curious as to how you are able to deal with the AoE damage (Chilling Breath) that the drake Altairus in Vortex Pinnacle does. For me the intervals between them are too short to bandage and/or deterrence through. If anyone with an effective strategy on this would mind sharing it would be awesome.

    • Arthemystia says:

      Gear will be coming soon, but for the most part your raid pieces can double as tank pieces, though our stat priority will change considerably.

      Normal instances are easy to tank with the right preparation, and certain heroics should be possible. Videos of regular instances will be going up soon, and I’m going to be attempting a heroic within a week or so.

      SS glyph was an error, apologies for that.

      • Tsja says:

        The strategy for altairus in Vortex pinnacle i use and wich worked pretty good… less effective when drunk :P…

        I did it with the solo MM spec and timed my Chimera shots right after the breath.. + you can neglect one breath with deterrence.. and when you can also cast mend pet right before he does the breath and feign death.. he wont cast the breath until you stand up… so i usually wait till my pets health goes down to like 25% chimera shot and mend pet.. he does a breath right away then.. but you get the time to wait for bandages, and deterrence cooldowns… pretty easy this way.. hope it helped! happy huntin

      • Tsja says:

        The strategy for altairus in Vortex pinnacle i use and wich worked pretty good… less effective when drunk :P…

        @ factoid I did it with the solo MM spec and timed my Chimera shots right after the breath.. + you can neglect one breath with deterrence.. and when you can also cast mend pet right before he does the breath and feign death.. he wont cast the breath until you stand up… so i usually wait till my pets health goes down to like 25% chimera shot and mend pet.. he does a breath right away then.. but you get the time to wait for bandages, and deterrence cooldowns… pretty easy this way.. hope it helped! happy huntin

  2. Mogog says:

    Nice guide!
    But I too am curious as to why you went with the SS glyph as opposed to the CS glyph.
    Just a mistake? Or is there a reason I am not aware of?

    • Arthemystia says:

      A mistake while writing these guides at far too late at night (or early in the morning). Thanks for catching it though.

  3. Wisent says:

    Glyph of Chimera Shot would be useless since a BM hunter doesn’t have chimera shot. I’m also curious about the SS glyph though. Wouldn’t Glyph of Serpent Sting or Kill Shot be more useful, even if it doesn’t directly help your pet.

    Can you give some more insight on why you spend a 2nd point in invigoration (3 focus for the hunter when the pets crits) instead of Focus Fire?

    Focus Fire gives your pet 4 focus (or is it 4 focus per stack of frenzy ?) but it also increases your auto-shot speed which increases your pets focus regen through “Go for the Throat”.

    I would assume that more focus regen means more pet dps and thus more pet aggro.

    • Arthemystia says:

      When we activate Focus Fire we’re robbing our pet of attack speed, potentially up to 30%. The net gain from Go For the Throat does not make up for this. It is a total dps increase, but not a pet dps increase.

      I’m sure everyone will catch the SS glyph, and it was indeed a mistake.

      • Taira says:

        Given that we’re taking the glyph of MD, wouldn’t the net increase in DPS from taking Focus Fire actually be a threat gain for our pet, since we can continually MD to it without a cooldown?

        The only reason I could see for not taking the talent is that the point you would spend here is better spend elsewhere.

    • Mogog says:

      Read that as Cobra Shot not Chimera.

  4. Ketaralethar says:

    We ran a normal Grim Batol last night and had our tank die on the last 10-15% of Forgemaster Throngus, so my Loque’Nahak was able to hold him off for the last burn down. It was the first time that I had a pet be able to hold a boss that long. I have to give kudos to our pally healer on it as well, since I probably couldn’t have been able to keep him up for that length of time on my own. While it wasn’t in a heroic, I was quite pleased to see him hold his own. It was also the first real time that I’ve made a serious effort to finish off a boss with a pet tanking in a “O.S.” moment.

  5. Arthemystia says:

    I told Frost that I’d donate a dollar to the WHU every time I made a mistake in an article. The SS glyph definitely counts as one, but at least it helps the WHU cause in a roundabout way.

  6. Novean says:

    If anyone finds a way to solo any Lvl 85 Dungeon Boss, please post about it :P?
    I’d like to grind out my reps by soloing bosses over and over.

    And as an Fyi:
    Lvl 85 Dungeons give rep, Sub-85 (Like Vortex and Stone Core) do not.
    just saying.

  7. Jaeger says:

    Very cool. Looking forward to more pet tanking info. Thanks.

  8. Taira says:

    Arth, would you happen to have a pet spec to go with the player talents above?

  9. Omogon says:

    I have tanked a couple of normal cata 5 man bosses with my turtle. Not because I wanted to but because the main tank was BAD and the group was dying. Ended up on the last boss of Lost City with just me and the healer alive and the boss at about 60% ……Harry (my turtle) did just fine and we burnt him down. I was in MM spec but Harry is spec’d purely as a pet tank. i use him on my dailies as well.

  10. Fixation says:

    Thanks, I think that spec would be essential if you were to try soloing HCs, but as for normal stonecore, I did it with just my raiding spec and gear, no glyph of mending and a boar (no defensive shell CD). Had to rez him once during the flying phase of slabhide but that was about it. I didn’t try corborus, but in HC i can pretty much one-bomb the adds with multishot in SV so i doubt it’d be that hard. I’m guessing MM could be viable too, the chimera-self heal would come in handy, plus readiness for those tight situations. And ofc it’d allow you to still pick up those vital hunter vs. wild and spirit bond talents.
    Keep ’em coming ;D x

  11. ninjamoo says:

    I’ve tanked quite many Heroic 5 man bosses with my Turtle.

    Vortex Pin
    First Boss – Nothing special
    Last boss – Nothing special, haven’t tried to leave him in the lightning aoe

    Problem Bosses:
    Second Boss – Too many tornados. RnG is so bad here. If your pet gets knocked off it’s pretty much a wipe. I’ve tried many times and my most successful attempt was about 5% or so (dps died). All other times he would get hit by a tornado.

    Grim Batol:
    Have not tried 1st boss

    2nd boss is doable. Keep it on passive for when he’s encumbered and then just have it follow while you run around kiting it. Watch threat here.

    Third boss is ok, just move him out of the white circle on the ground and make sure not to die to the adds.

    Last boss is doable but the pet takes quite a bit of damage from the boss so have a good healer.

    First boss is doable but the adds are a major issue. Only really workable with plate dps to round them up and kill them.

    Second boss – doable for sure but you need to leave him on passive to nagivate him around the falling rocks. I’ve had him get trapped inside 4 of them, unable to move or be targeted before. Also move him out of the lava.

    Third boss – not a problem IF and only IF you camo and put your pet on the bosses side (right or left). The pet will move to the bosses back (turning him) everytime you get paralyzed. This is extremely bad in a melee heavy group.

    Last boss – never successfully did it. Got overrun by adds and a failure to interrupt force grip caused wipes.

    Lost City
    Haven’t tried first boss

    Second boss is managable with high dps on adds and a plate melee to round up strays. Augh needs to be kited for the second part as taunt is on CD.

    Third boss – never attempted

    Last boss – doable but incredibly difficult to keep agro due to moving him around the platform to avoid the green swirlies.

    Trash is brutal. Would not recommend tanking the trash.

    First boss is tankable with interrupters.

    Second and Third bosses were too difficult for me. Too much movement and adds.

    Fourth boss – doable if kept on passive when the green slime is out.

    Last boss doable with interrupts and high dps on adds.

    Trash is too hard unless you have a lot of cc.

    First boss doable with plate dps to pick up adds.

    Second boss – a lot of rng where the bombs fall. Manageable but threat is an issue.

    Third boss – easy as pie. Takes hardly any damage from the foe reaver.

    Forth boss – haven’t tried.
    Fifth boss – haven’t tried
    Last boss – Haven’t tried

    Halls of orig.

    First boss – fine if you have a plate dps and heavy aoe for snakes.

    Second boss (marrowgar) – haven’t tried

    Third boss – fine if you move him out of void zoned.

    4 top bosses – no major problems besides the one that splits. Have dps hold off and maybe pop cower or shell shield.

    Throne of tides
    First boss – fine if left on passive to avoid tornados and cc on adds.

    Second boss – could be dangerous. Your pet disengages when you get picked up. 50/50 on this one.

    Third boss – Have not attempted the MC boss as tank.

    Last boss – not doable IMO. Too much time spent kiting and running and not enough dpsing.

    First boss – doable but adds will be a problem is dps is low.

    Second boss – doable with 100% interrupts on the fear or you’re screwed.

    Third boss – attempted but failed. Moving the boss in and out of the fire takes too long imo.

    Fourth boss – Doable with cc on adds.

    Last boss – never tried.

    All of the ones I’ve tanked on the list were as SV. No special spec. ilevel 352 right now but I tanked a lot around 346ish gear. Just need a pro healer and non-retarded dps to make it work.

    I tried tanking as BM but honestly I didn’t think it was that much better. Slightly more HP, a little more threat, but nothing that would make me say go BM for tanking or you’re going to fail.

    Haven’t tanked any raid bosses yet but he’d capeable of tanking single target trash. Some of the raid bosses said immune to distracting shot and seemed to be immune to turtle taunt as well :o

    • Arthemystia says:

      Lol, grats on so many tanking attempts. Single target tanking is, ironically, easier than trash tanking. So entire instances will be more difficult than bosses a lot of times. But we can tank any regular instance, scattered heroic encounters, though probably not raid bosses yet, but even that is only a matter of time. Baradin Hold is the easiest raid atm, but the Taunt swap is still a bit too quick for pets to take part in with our 42 second cooldowns on Taunt.

  12. Dagray says:


    I’m sure you’re aware of this by now, but the taunt swap issue on Argaloth isn’t actually an issue at all. It would actually be a downfall to bring a second tank when pet tanking argaloth. I’ve already given a long version on this thread, but I’ll explain again here.

    Why Pet Tanking Argaloth is so fun & you can theoretically do it w/ 9 dps (including yourself) and one healer:

    1. There’s no need to taunt.
    – Argaloth’s taunt requirement (200k aoe w/ 100% extra fire dmg debuff) is reduced to 20k or 40k w/ the debuff. This is exactly what a normal tank would be hit w/.

    2. Threat is a non-issue w/ the correct gear + spec.
    – Go BM if you have high dps, don’t use/spec Focus Fire. Gem Stamina/Mastery for extra heals/threat.

    3. Pet Heals
    – With a set of gear gemmed for stam/mastery, we can get our pets up to 150k health raid buffed. That’s a conservative estimate :D. That means our Mend Pet, Silverback & Spirit Bond will add up to almost 11k hps. Pocket Healer anyone?

    If you want the math, here it is:

    Taunt Swap Math:
    Pets take 10% of normal aoe damage due to Avoidance. Assuming you don’t tank swap and your pet always has the debuff, he will take 40k fire damage from meteor splash before resistances.

    Normal BH: 200k/5=40k per person (Each Meteor w/out Debuff)
    Bad BH: 400k/4=100k per person (“”)
    Turtle BH: 400k/10 (Avoidance) = 40k per turtle :D

    Healing Math:

    Mend Pet:
    25% over 10s unglyphed … 40% over 10s glyphed
    50% increased healing effect due to Blood of the Rhino talent & Spirit Bond talent.
    2% over 10s from Spirit Bond
    2% over 3.5s (Silverback BM)

    In easier terms (given 150k hp turtle):
    60k over 10s x 50% = 90k over 10s = 9k/s (ticks for 18k per 2s)
    3k over 10s x 50% = 4.5k over 10s = 450/s
    3k over 3.5s x 50% = 4.5k over 3.5s = ~1.3k/s

    Total = 10.75k/s healing given 100% Mend Pet Uptime and using growl immediately on CD.