Shadowlands Tank Rankings - Best Tanks for Mythic+ Season 1
Since it is the beginning of an expansion, the six tank classes have seen countless changes since season 4 of BFA. Many players wonder what tank class will perform the best in mythic+, and whether they will need to change classes (or covenants) to time higher keys. In regards to anticipated tuning, all 6 tanks are capable and will likely do within 1-2 key levels of each other (at the highest mythic+ level achieved) by the end of the season. If you are looking to do +15’s for weekly loot and achievements throughout the season, any tank class is perfectly fine! Each class brings advantages in certain situations and weaknesses in others, and this article will dive into those.
Need help picking a class? Check out the articles in our Shadowlands Season 1 series!
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Shadowlands Dungeons and New Affix - Prideful
There are 8 new dungeons in Shadowlands! Whether there will be more dungeons released as the expansion goes on is yet to be known. But for now, enjoy these 8 dungeons and have fun exploring what you can do as each of the 6 tank specializations to conquer them. There are two dungeons in each of the 4 Shadowlands main zones, and each have covenant specific bonuses based on the zone they are in (i.e. Halls of Atonement has Venthyr bonuses).
The first seasonal affix of Shadowlands is
! This has been a very fun and rewarding affix through beta testing and I’m excited to see what people do with it by the end of the full season. Unlike the
seasonal affix of season 4 BFA, this affix doesn’t heavily favor the utility of different tank classes, each of the classes is able to deal with it in similar ways. There is some advantage to tanks that provide group healing or damage reduction such as
conduit. It should be taken into consideration that the melee attacks and pulsing magic damage do ramp up from the
over time, so hold defensive cooldowns for later in the fight if possible.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Trell. I am a writer for tanks in Mythic+ for Wowhead, and a host of the
Podcast. I started playing WoW in Legion and have loved it ever since. I have been a top ranked tank player focused on high Mythic+ since the launch of BFA. I enjoy competing for the highest keys possible on live servers, and competed on several MDI teams throughout the BFA seasons. I am a monk player at heart so you can be sure to find lots of Brewmaster-focused content on my
My Youtube channel
Live on Twitch
. Feel free to stop by and say hello!
Halls of Atonement
Halls of Atonement is a Venthyr dungeon.
are scattered around the dungeon, if you are near them as a venthyr, a special action button will appear to control them for a short time to help deal some damage.
Halls of Atonement is filled with
s that do high tank damage. Kyrian Tanks will shine in this dungeon to remove the nasty
bleed they apply every few seconds, and tanks with good kiting options have an easier time surviving as well, since Gargons are some of the few mobs that don’t instantly kill your group when you kite. There are some minor magic damage hits to be aware of from the
s, but mostly focus on surviving the gargons and stopping the
cast from the
Classes with curse dispels or immunities help quite a bit on the 2nd boss -
, with removing the Curse of Stone to allow more time to move the
onto the adds, and allowing for more uptime on the boss. This makes Druid a very useful tank. If there is no curse dispel in the group, use heavy mitigation when the imps are alive and all casting at the tank. Also worth noting,
fairly often in the final boss fight. Use any magic damage mitigation possible after the first few ticks to catch the roughest part of the DOT, as it ramps up over time.
Halls of Atonement Guide
Sanguine Depths is the 2nd Venthyr dungeon which allows Venthyr players to activate one of the 5 lanterns while fighting a pack near them to receive damage and healing increases that stack (
). This buff is cool to play around, but the tank can’t activate them because the cast is broken by damage, and I’m sure you can’t dodge/block/parry while casting anyway so it’s really not a great tank job.
Watch out for the
mobs, as they cast a nasty bleed in the form of a frontal that can be outranged or removed by
mobs in here are pretty interesting for tanks, be sure to either stack their
frontals in one location or move slowly and fan out the frontals around the group to keep some safe space.
The gauntlet at the end of the dungeon is probably the most challenging part of the trash pulls, especially on the
s continually spawn for 5-6 packs in a row and will refresh stacks. Brewmaster’s
can help the group survive the
boss fight by taking out one of the
adds very quickly. Paladin's
can also prevent a party member from going down to the dangerous
cast as well.
can greatly help the group survive the first and third boss’s large AOE magic damage casts. Paladin utility can also be capitalized by using
on several hard hitting boss mechanics as well, namely
on the first boss and
on the last boss. The bosses in this dungeon are very dangerous and any utility to help the group survive them is top tier.
Sanguine Depths Guide
The Necrotic Wake
The Necrotic Wake is a Kyrian dungeon. Activate one of the 3
s by summoning your steward near one of them and asking the steward to activate the golem. Grab one of the 5
orbs for a pulsing damage and healing AOE for 1 minute.
Classes with grouping tools will have an easier time putting pulls together in here. Lots of mobs will plant and cast immediately after pulling them. There are several hard hitting physical damage mobs especially the
, and hard hitting caster mobs (
and other similar casters) in different parts of the dungeon. The notable theme in here is that the big tank buster mobs all have anti-kite mechanics - they will take out members of your group when you are forced to kite by their other, contradictory stacking damage debuffs that forces you to kite in the first place. Warn the group if you are about to kite.
Avoid the mini-boss
if at all possible in your runs, as this mob and the 2 other casters in the pack will destroy any tank class.
There are extremely powerful items (
s) around the dungeon to be used on trash or bosses. I would recommend using the spears on large trash pulls, especially on
weeks. Each tank is weaker against some types of pulls in here, and should be played around with these items, as a good spear or orb cast can make a pull 10x easier.
This dungeon is filled with patrols, it is generally easier to take out patrols first when entering one of the trash areas, as to avoid pulling them halfway through a pull. The scariest boss fight for tanks in Necrotic Wake is
, pop cooldowns as soon as a party member successfully lands a hook on the boss. Tanks get hit by 2-3 large physical damage hits shortly after the boss comes down.
Necrotic Wake Guide
Spires of Ascension
Spires is the 2nd Kyrian dungeon. Pick up one of the 3
items laying on the ground throughout the dungeon, use them on especially hard trash packs to stun and amplify damage by 20% on them for a short period of time.
Spires is full of caster mobs and difficult-to-group pulls. Tanks that can stop more casts than others excel in here, namely with abilities like
. Adding on to this, tanks that have better magic damage mitigation will shine, namely Vengeance Demon Hunter.
The first boss
is probably the scariest for tanks, as the
cast does a huge amount of damage and casts very fast, not allowing a lot of time to outrange it. During the
fight, magic damage immunities are especially noticeable when soaking orbs during the
intermission, such as
. Monks can now soak this mechanic while channeling
and moving too!
Be careful of the invisible
s in the areas after the first boss, break them out of stealth with AOE abilities or
to avoid their stun mechanic.
Spires of Ascension Guide
Mists of Tirna Scithe
Mists is a Night Fae dungeon. Night Fae players can interact with
walls at the beginning to open a shortcut, another root wall shortly after, and 2 giant
acorns to activate checkpoints. The wall after the first few trash packs opens up to give the group 10% mainstat buffs for 10 minutes, by eating the
s (the purple mushrooms give stamina but I would recommend getting main stat instead).
Mists of Tirna Scithe has a fairly straight forward damage profile, with some heavy magic damage hits to the tank in the first wing of trash, and then mostly physical damage to worry about for the rest of the dungeon. The mobs to watch out for near the beginning are the
s. They cast
and then buff themselves right after, so the ideal play is to mitigate the soul split and then kite for a few seconds. Tanks with multiple stops and CC’s for the trash mobs in the maze area will have an easier time taking care of the more dangerous casts, such as
. In addition, Tanks with poison dispels will help the group in the last trash wing, as the
s apply dangerous
to random party members very often.
Mists of Tirna Scithe Guide
De Other Side
De Other Side is the 2nd Night Fae dungeon. Click one of the 4
s scattered around the dungeon to stun all enemies nearby for 10 seconds. This is another dungeon where using the covenant bonus as a tank is difficult as it takes a long cast to activate the urn.
This dungeon has quite a spread damage profile, with packs that apply a nasty disease (the raptors in the middle ring), to heavy magic damage packs, to purely physical damage pulls in the Ardenweald wing. Tanks with multiple AOE stops will shine in the
wing to prevent the
level 1 is all that is needed to turn off the blob maze in the Mechagon wing, which I would highly recommend taking as a tank player. The bigger packs of mobs on each of the 4 platforms around the main area are the most dangerous pulls, try to go into those pulls with one or two big defensive cooldowns ready.
The biggest threat to tanks from bosses will be surviving
's tank hit called Soul Crusher, be sure to put up strong mitigation for every cast if possible. Each phase typically has 4-5 casts of this, so watch out!
is also worth noting and does a physical and magic damage hit every time it is cast. The
also does a good deal of bleed damage, and can be removed by the usual bleed removal tools.
De Other Side Guide
Plaguefall is a Necrolord dungeon filled to the brim with poisons and diseases (huge surprise I know). Tanks that can dispel one or both types of debuff excel here. The
is also very impactful for tank specs in here for the same reasons. Necrolords be sure to
on top of any of the 3 types of slimes (
) after they are defeated throughout the dungeon. After doing so you will get an aura buff around you for the group that increases damage, Damage reduction, or haste to players near you.
Tanks that have higher self sustain against constant magic damage will handle the 2nd wing of trash better than others. There are lots of heavy magic damage hits here such as
that also apply a poison or disease. Try to avoid the
mobs around the first 2 trash wings, as they apply
, a stacking disease that reduces all stats, and hit very hard. Be careful not to be in melee range of the many
mobs at the end of the dungeon when they become active. They stay inactive for a few seconds but then will melee the tank all at once, and they hit extremely hard. Try to get threat early and then stay slightly out of range shortly after pulling them.
can essentially be carried by the faster tank specs by breaking the 4 assassin mobs out of their webs as fast as possible during
. Monk and Paladin can greatly reduce group damage on
by dispelling the diseases from the boss mechanics.
Theater of Pain
Last but not least, Theater of Pain is the 2nd Necrolord dungeon. There are 3 banners, one at the start of each boss wing that you can grab to give the group
There are heaps of casters in the
wing in Theatre,
is very impactful here. The damage profile in Theatre is all over the place similar to De Other Side, there are lots of diseases in the
wing, and straight up high physical damage in the
wing. Tanks be sure to pull the
mobs out of the gauntlet area away from the constant swirls that appear, to give the group an easier time while fighting these.
The last boss,
is the scariest for tanks, as the
will deal very high magic damage as key levels go up. Be sure to pop some form of mitigation and/or cooldowns before each scythe. In addition to Mordretha's large magic damage hit, be aware that
the tank for a large physical damage hit.
Theater of Pain Guide
Maintaining Threat in Shadowlands Dungeons
At the end of BFA tanks were generating 7.5x threat due to the
modifiers. Tanks now generate roughly 5x the threat of a DPS player (recently buffed from 4.5x and will be buffed to 5.5x soon). This was a good change but I personally would have liked to see a little more because of the elephant in the room. Shadowlands brings a new challenge to tanks: the dreaded Target Cap. This is a very frustrating thing for tanks to deal with-- watching a mob run away from you because your capped AOE ability happened to miss it in the group of mobs. Though there was a recent threat buff, it will be more difficult to gain threat on average because of the new target cap and loss of the Heart.
Many abilities such as
are now capped at 5-8 targets and do either 0 damage beyond that or a smaller amount of damage to more targets when pressing that ability. You may think “well this doesn’t matter because surely each pull is 5 mobs or less right?” That is not the case unfortunately, many regular pulls in the new dungeons have 10+ targets by default. To work around this, keep in mind which abilities in your tank spec do the most AOE damage to the most amount of targets, when to save your burst AOE damage for an upcoming pull, and how to actually group the mobs to get threat reliably in the first place. Always make sure you group mobs in a way that allows your uncapped AOE ability to hit every mob as soon as possible (keg smash, blood boil, thrash, etc).
Creative ways to get threat will be more necessary than before. Once you are sure you are doing everything in your power to get threat, start thinking about the rest of your group helping you as well. Make sure rogues or hunters in your group use their threat directing abilities on you. As long as the tank is the leader of the group, one of these macros will make it much easier for the rogue or hunter to simply press a button and then start damaging:
/cast Tricks of the Trade
You can use group play to do interesting things, such as sending a hunter player in with
to gather the 20
's room without taking damage. Then afterwards running in yourself and pressing your uncapped AOE ability to hit every mob at once to make it easy. Unfortunately, running around pressing swipe, spinning crane kick, etc, does not guarantee you hit the intended targets around your character like recent expansions, because of the target cap.
Overall Tank Rankings (pros/cons)
There is an infinite amount of new information and interactions between the 6 tanks and the new dungeons. I’ll briefly cover the pros and cons, as well as covenant abilities for each spec that specifically bring extra utility to the group. I'll be talking mostly about the pros and cons of each tank regarding doing high keys (18+ once the season gets going), but the strengths and weaknesses talked about below will not hinder you much at all if your goal is to knock out weekly +15's. Note that any covenant ability not mentioned below is mostly flat damage, healing or a damage reduction but should still be considered when picking a tank class and covenant.
Vengeance Demon Hunter
: Vengeance is in a great spot right now, with very high damage output in dungeons mainly from
. Vengeance mitigation improved from BFA with the addition of
baseline, which when paired with the
talent allows more uptime on meta alongside
charges as mitigation options. Vengeance is the highest damage tank class and has quite a bit of self healing like usual. Vengeance still has high magic damage reduction built in, with more being available through conduits, something that not every tank has access to. It is a high mobility class that brings a mass silence in the form of
for grouping as well. Both sigils are strong in mythic+ (
is also great for stops). Vengeance also brings
, a flat damage increase for the group depending on their damage profiles.
: On the flipside, DH still has gaps in mitigation still, and may need to play a lower damage build with higher mitigation in super high keys (this is usually the case with Vengeance). The combination of
, and the
legendary allows a build where fiery brand is active on several mobs in the pull quite often.
: Aside from the popular
for damage and soul generation, Demon Hunter has access to some unique utility in the Venthyr ability
. This ability is very interesting and can change the entire spell queue of a boss by slowing its attack and cast speed at the right time. It also can be applied to an entire pack of mobs by entering
and could be quite impactful on what is possible to pull without running out of interrupts or stops in my opinion.
Vengeance Demon Hunter Guide
: Bear is the most sturdy tank in most situations in dungeons currently, especially during major cooldowns.
is now baseline, with the talent
as an option to make it last longer and more powerful. Bear has several great legendaries and conduits to choose from (some tanks suffer in this area). Druids in general have pretty solid endurance and finesse conduits compared to most classes as well, such as
. New utility can be brought to the group with the return of
(or damage in
). Much of the same utility still exists for bear as well: access to a battle rez with
, and a poison/curse dispel:
. Guardian is looking to be a very well rounded tank for many dungeons.
: Bear lacks damage outside of Berserk or Incarn. It’s not terrible damage, but it’s not Vengeance levels. As usual, bears are vulnerable going into a pack or boss, but after the first 10 seconds or so of combat they have full resources flowing for
uptime and full stacks of
on the targets.
: Kyrian and Night Fae both give Guardian new and interesting abilities that help the group in different ways.
can save a party member's life quite often, as well as increasing damage output.
is a very flexible ability and can be used for damage or healing in large numbers, and can be cast in different forms to produce different spells.
Guardian Druid Guide
: Brewmaster got some good stuff going into Shadowlands. With the addition of
to the base kit, Monks have a powerful shield to pop once or possibly twice every pull. Monk damage in mythic+ is currently looking above average after a few buffs and changes namely to the
ability. Brewmaster now has more tools to attain threat at the start of pulls with the addition of
baseline, and the revamped
playstyle feels great (I’m a little biased). Brewmaster continues to be a very strong utility source with
, as well as bringing
, and a poison/disease dispel in
. An attempt was made to give Brewmaster a death grip, but unfortunately
is extremely buggy and doesn’t really move the targeted mob far at all. It’s better used as a short mass root on the mobs near the targeted mob.
values are lower in the first season, and will be pretty noticeable until monks are geared around heroic raid item level (210-213ish). Early on, monks will take a lot of damage and might not seem great, but after some time and more stats they will likely flow better defensively and be able to get much better use out of Celestial brew on any given pull.
: Brewmaster covenant active abilities don’t add a ton of utility, only damage and healing in different forms. When using
, try to hit some of your party members as well for some extra group healing.
Brewmaster Monk Guide
Middle of the Pack
: Prot Paladin was changed to use holy power again, and in doing so gave much higher uptime on
(SOTR). Prot pally remains similar to BFA otherwise but the big change is that instead of having gaps in mitigation by default, the paladin can choose whether to drop SOTR to use more casts of
(WOG), or to keep SOTR rolling and only use the free WOG from every 5 SOTR casts. I think Pally is in a great spot rotationally, and brings a lot of utility to the group like usual. Every Paladin spec now has
(and other auras) as well.
remain powerful tools, as well as having a personal immunity to solve some dungeon mechanics:
. Paladin excels in many dungeons with more interrupts than the average tank because of
, brings a disease/poison dispel with
, and currently does quite a lot of damage during cooldowns as well.
: The downside of Paladin is the base mitigation. Even though is up almost full time now, the armor it gives is fairly low in the grand scheme of things. Paladin received an armor nerf a few weeks back and I think that will cause it a struggle to survive higher level keys.
is a very flexible active ability, and can be used as a mass silence on several caster mobs. This is pretty big for Paladin to have access to for mythic+. The Night Fae ability
may be pretty impactful by giving cooldown reduction to a party member. If there is another situation where one DPS spec is extremely powerful (late-BFA fire mage) in high mythic+, this has potential to be very good when paired with that specialization.
Protection Paladin Guide
Blood Death Knight
: DK continues to be the most self sufficient tank in terms of self healing, but at the cost of low armor. Going into Shadowlands, DK was given
baseline and easier access to
to help with extra mitigation windows and some on-demand rune generation.
is also a welcome addition and will be quite impactful in many heavy group damage situations. DK utility has always been top notch, having
as great grouping tools. DK brings a battle rez in
, immunity to certain kinds of debuffs through
. DK also has a conduit that may scale well eventually to do some great group healing:
: DK is liable to get one-shot by high amounts of physical damage through
. This has been true for the last few patches and will continue in high keys due to the nature of how the tank spec is designed. It is very hard to balance blood dk to a point where it is sturdy enough to live tons of damage, but not too overpowered because of having an enormous amount of self healing through the synergies of
and cooldowns like
. DK lacks quite a bit of damage currently, especially burst AOE damage, and struggles to get threat on pull against experienced or well-geared DPS players. DK could use some love for dungeons! Until damage or threat is buffed DK's are mostly forced into running all offensive talents and options, such as
is definitely an interesting ability for mythic+ as it gives DK’s even more grouping utility. While it’s a little unreliable, it could be great for dealing with mobs that constantly jump away (example: half of the mobs in Spires of Ascension).
Blood Death Knight Guide
: Shadowlands Prot warrior continues to have the highest base armor, and when
is up has the highest physical mitigation by far. Warrior is quite a bit different now with the many talent changes coming out of BFA but still brings the unique and powerful
. Recent data has come out indicating that this no longer damages bosses in mythic+, but it will still allow warriors to ignore certain mechanics on bosses, and reflecting trash mob abilities is still very impactful as well. Warrior doesn’t do a ton of damage currently, but it does have some decent burst with
and covenant abilities. Warrior still has access to much of the same utility from BFA:
to protect party members from some physical attacks.
was added baseline in Shadowlands - use it on the
fight to shatter his shield).
: Warrior talents were completely changed around, ending the era of
to give nearly 100% uptime on shield block. This means that shield block has many more gaps in uptime now and it is very dangerous for the warrior when it’s not up. This will cause big problems in high keys, similar to the issues with Vengeance mitigation uptime.
is no longer a strong defensive ability without the synergy of the azerite trait
. Some threat issues now also exist for warrior because the playstyle is so different, but
was added at least to solve threat issues on some pulls.
: Warrior has some unique covenant abilities that add damage and good utility.
can stop many casts back to back if there are casters all grouped in the effect.
is similar to
and allows the warrior more freedom of kiting, as well as adding good burst damage.
can also help the group a bit by adding some HP to 2 other party members to help survive a one-shot.
Protection Warrior Guide
For the first few weeks of mythic+, 15’s will be very challenging to time regardless of tank class. Keep in mind that it is not only your gear and gameplay that matters in those dungeons, but 4 other players as well (don’t be discouraged if you deplete some keys!). Once geared out with heroic raid gear and beyond though, any tank class can time 15’s just fine.
The 6 specs defensively are pretty close in base mitigation, varying in how they mitigate damage (which is great to see from the balance team). Damage-wise there are definitely bigger gaps between the tanks ranging on the low end of Blood DK up to the extremely high damage of Vengeance. It is likely that the outliers will be brought more in line with other tanks, so keep that in mind.
By the end of season 1, top players of all 6 tank specs will likely do within 1-2 key levels of each other, but my guess is that Guardian or Brewmaster will end up doing the highest level keys. Even though Vengeance is extremely powerful right now, it may fall off at very high key levels due to downtime in mitigation, though a fiery brand build may allow the class to keep going higher once spirit bomb is no longer an option. This is purely speculation based on how tanks will scale up to the highest possible power level achievable at the end of the season, and it is extra hard to say because it’s a completely new set of dungeons AND new systems. I'm sure tuning will happen over the next week or so to completely invalidate this entire paragraph, but only time will tell. I think with a little tuning any one of these tanks could end up being very good in high keys, and as usual player skill impacts any given group in high mythic+ moreso than their tank class pick. Tank power comes from what healer and DPS classes are brought to the composition as well, and so many things factor into what makes a tank class better than another in high keys.
That being said, I personally am enjoying the revamped versions of all 6 tanks in Shadowlands (even Prot Warrior), and am looking forward to spamming dungeons! Happy keying!
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