Pet Tanking Heroics in MoP

Posted: by Arth

Let’s start with the good news: Pet Tanking is doing very well!  Tanking heroics should be doable by numerous hunters.

For those who need the refresher on tanking strategies, the links are here, here, here, and here.  This article assumes you’re versed in each, and will go into some particulars of my heroic tanking experience.


Hunters have a lot of new dps abilities.  They’re all important…if you’re dps’ing.  When tanking, you have to prioritize.  Things like keeping Mend Pet up and target switching are more important than an extra Arcane or Glaive Toss, for example.  As such, this being my first heroic tanking in a while, I did things like macro Fervor to Kill Command, and I ignored our Level 90 ability altogether (in my case, Glaive Toss).  There’s such a thing as too many abilities, and your first and sometimes only goals should be tank threat and health.  With Mend Pet, occasional Misdirections, Blink Strike, etc. effectively becoming part of our standard tanking rotation, less is more with certain abilities.

Bestial Wrath

So ok, cards on the table, I’m convinced something is bugged here.  Sometimes it drops the pet’s aggro, other times it doesn’t.  I can’t seem to nail down an internal cooldown either; it seems entirely random.  I played around with it in my instance runs.  Sometimes I’d glyph for it and use it as a mitigation cooldown.  Other times I’d cast it just to test the aggro drop (which it did a couple times on bosses…fun times).  On most pulls, though, I simply ignored it due to the possibility of an aggro drop.  It’s an unfortunate dps loss, but our single target threat is more than ok even without this.  Use at your own risk, and if someone can explain what’s wrong in the comments, you’ll have my thanks.

[Edit]:  Looks like we have a winner in the comments.  The aggro drop is apparently only when glyphed.  Bosses/mobs ignore the pet once they can’t be killed.  I will test to confirm, but this likely removes Glyph of Endless Wrath from consideration.

Gear and Execution

I’ve been tanking long enough now that even bad runs are pretty solid, but the runs in the videos below aren’t necessarily entirely min-maxed.  I forgot to wear my tanking gear (dual stamina trinkets and a helm with a tanking meta gem), and occasionally I was testing strategies or abilities (like the Bestial Wrath tests mentioned earlier).  I have a feeling that the gear would have prevented one of two pet-deaths in the Shado-Pan run, as it boosted my pet’s health by about 40K.  I generally only have one take to get these runs “right” for video, so there’s rarely such a thing as a perfect run, despite the fact that I’m comfortable in a tanking role.

Pros and Cons

Some of this is review, but…

  • Pro: Pets still ignore 90% of AoE damage, effectively negating AoE damage mechanics in fights.
  • Pro: Pets still take the largest heals in the game.
  • Pro: Single target threat is amazing.  Growl-taunting is a revelation for our threat, and we may not even need it for most single target fights.
  • Con: Pet health is still noticeably smaller than regular tanks.  As such, small and medium-sized heals, or absorbs, are ideal.  Larger healing spells will result in a lot of overheals.
  • Con: Magic Resistance is gone, which means we no longer have that as an “edge” over regular tanks (pets used to have higher base resistance).
  • Con: AoE threat remains an issue.  For most trash pulls in the videos below, we just bludgeoned our way through and our dps pulled occasional aggro.  If this is not possible, use CC abilities liberally.
  • Both: Pet armor still isn’t as high as regular tanks, but the gap is smaller than it has been in the past.  We’re still on the lookout for fights with lots of magic and/or AoE damage.  Those are our friends as hunter tanks, since melee swings will still hit harder.  This will be more of an issue in raids, but can affect your survivability in heroics as well.

Temple of the Jade Serpent

This is considered by most to be the “easiest” heroic.  I started here to get my feet wet.  As expected, it was quite easy.  A smooth run, though you’ll see the result of my pet’s low AoE threat a few times, as the Warlock and DK pulled occasional trash aggro.

Shado-Pan Monastery

According to my guildies, this is probably the hardest non-Challenge-Mode heroic out there right now, so I wanted to see how I did.  Predictably, it is somewhat rockier.  My pet couldn’t properly attack the flying serpent in the first boss, my pet died twice, the group wiped once (pulled a PAT during trash), and in general we moved more slowly and had to concentrate on what we were doing (as opposed to Temple, which was easy-mode facerolling).  Some of this is cut to make the video more smooth, but the takeaway point is that it’s difficult but doable.

So if that’s as hard as heroic tanking is, it’s within the realm of possibility for any dedicated hunter to do it (start with something easier though).  Anyway, enjoy!

Closing Thoughts

I was ilvl 470 in these runs.  Not wearing tank gear items.  And with a group of similarly-geared toons.

There are a couple boss encounters in other dungeons that set up poorly for us.  But none that I’d deem impossible.  I think it’s safe to say that hunters can tank any heroic at this point.

We know we can pet tank heroics.  And maybe it’s that I’m a better player or have more tanking experience than in previous expansions, but I’ve never had such an easy time tanking heroics this early in an expansion.  I think it bodes well for tanking in MoP.

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  1. Omogon says:

    Nice article. I’m not a dedicated pet tanker but do it occasionally for fun with my guild. I have not tanked an instance yet in MoP but I have ended up tanking several bosses in heroics when the “real” tank has gone down part way through the fight. My only strategy has been to turn on growl, misdirect to Harry ( my turtle ) and ask the healer to help heal him. I have also “saved” a few tanks from dying pulling aggro off them and allowing them to get healed. I do love that growl is now a real taunt and can be used to grab agg when required.

    Looking forward to your continued exploits…….Sha of Anger maybe ;-)

    • Arth says:

      Haven’t decided, though I may try to convince a mostly-guilded LFR run that I can tank one of the early bosses in Mogu’shan. My 10M raid team is still mired in progression (and wipes), so I’m not about to attempt anything with them.

      But thanks.

  2. Tharne says:

    For the drop of pet’s aggro, it’s because of the BW glyph, mobs think you’re pet is dead when you use BW because they can’t kill him.

    • Arth says:

      …that makes a lot of sense. I updated the article to include this statement, and will be testing to confirm. Anyway, thanks.

  3. shamrunt says:

    I was in LFR last night with a paticuler Derp group. At the boss with the flanking orders. Both tanks died about half way through the fight. I brought out my bear and was able to finish out the encounter. The healz got the point of keep the pet alive and I got a few “Woah did that really just happen” comments afterwards. Ran in SV spec. But it gave me confidence that pet tanking is most definitely viable.

    • Arth says:

      Yeah, I have absolutely no doubt that multiple LFR bosses are tankable. The trick is getting the group to go along with it. I normally run mine with no more than 2-3 guildies, since our “big” LFR night is a night I’m busy. So there’s not much chance.

      Still, cool story. Gives me hope for when I’m finally able to try it.

  4. hillbillyhatfield says:

    Good article, Ive noticed when doing senario especially, and a few heroics when the tank dies that if you misdirect to my pet and follow up with barrage, the pet has no problem with holding aggro on the mobs with growl turned on.

    Just be sure it’s not close to another mob or they will be pulled too. Senario is a great learner course for pet tanking. Ive had quite a few groups asking if Im tanking before I even pull out my bear. Now if bliz would give our ten pets a good AoF taunt we would be set. I run in my solo gear and tree, and Only use about 10 of my abilities while doing this. I’ve had no problems with tanking so far in both 3 or 5 man when needed.

    If only clothies would wait to Aof everything till after I set up my misdirect. Bad clothies, go set in the corner.

  5. guy with gun says:

    referring to Bestial wrath losing aggro. i do know why. when you use the glyph you pet becomes indestructible at same time all it losses aggro from all targets only keeps the one its hitting more sobecause we now have a ‘new’ taunt.

    in short bestial wrath glyph ditches aggro from pet.

    • Arth says:

      Yeah, I have the edited update in the guide when an earlier poster pointed it out. But you’re right – I found the same thing once I tested it. Thanks.

  6. Azatoth says:

    The music in the vids blocks me from watching them here in Germany.

  7. Anna says:

    I’m a multiboxer, and although that’s not strictly soloing I have had a lot of fun with the hunter class. In Wrath/Cata I ran 4 Hunters with a Holy Priest.

    I ran a 3 man grp in Mop leading with a holy Paladin, a Hunter and a Shadow priest.. multiboxed all scenarios fine.

    I now have the itch again and will run 4 hunters with a Disc priest this time.. always prefer the Priest as they have fade.

    Here is a little vid of my 3 man scenario team.. I also have Wrath/Cata instances on my channel.