“Oh shit!” Buttons

Do you know what’s a problem that I’ve seen so many tanks have?

Something unexpected will happen in a raid and they’ll drop dead. Immediately afterward, someone will always ask the question.

“Are your cooldowns still up?” And of course, the tank replies in the affirmative which means that the death and the subsequent wipe could have been avoided.

Do you know why this happens the way it does? It’s primarily because a lot of tanks out there don’t LIKE to use their cooldowns.

Yeah I said it. I’ll say it twice if it’ll get through to you guys. Most tanks, do NOT use their cooldowns properly.

See the thing is, a lot of tanks develop a certain mentality in the course of their lives. They have this packrat mentality when it comes to cooldowns where they always try to save it for a “rainy” day. They always think that even if their health drops down to under 10%, there’ll always be a situation right around the corner where they’ll NEED their cooldowns and THAT’S what they’ve been saving it for.

It’s important to understand that without using the cooldown that first time, that second situation will never come up. Your cooldowns should be used the instant you first get the feeling that you’ll need them. Whenever you see your health drop low, whenever you think your healer might not be paying attention, whenever you think that there’s even a chance that you’re about to eat dirt, pop that cooldown and revel in the fact that while you may not have needed it, you can be certain that you just prevented a potential death.

The problem’s deeper than just a single situation which is something that can be overlooked. The problem that most tanks don’t understand is that without constant and systematic usage of these cooldowns, you won’t have the proper instinct and muscle memory to hit them the second you do really need them.

If you’re one of those tanks that try to save all of your cooldowns for the ”real” emergency, do everyone a favor and start using them now. Put those cooldowns on an easy to see, easy to reach keybinding and hit it anytime you think you might be in trouble.

Do this for about a week and then see how much of a difference that all of that practice and muscle memory makes in the course of an actual raid. You’ll notice a very real difference in your reaction time and more importantly, in the sheer frequency of your usage.

You’ll find yourself using it more in the first moments of a fight where the healers might be caught napping and might not be quite ready to heal you. You’ll find yourself finally hitting that cooldown on time during a boss fight instead of fruitlessly smashing the key after you’re already dead. Heck, you’ll even find yourself using it more often on trash pulls and that’s perfectly okay.

Once you get into the habit of using those cooldowns the instant you need them instead of saving them for a rainy day, you will find many situations where the use of the cooldown saved your life where  you would have otherwise died and you’ll be a better tank for it.


  1. You know, the Blizzard design and the way the game has gone socially are the two main contributing factors in this particular issue. I enjoyed what you wrote and agree in the main (I’m really very liberal with my cooldowns), but “the rainy day” is typically built into an encounter.

    That’s what people are saving cooldowns for. They don’t have the same function as they used to back during vanilla or The Burning Crusade; heck, the length of the cooldown indicates that. Now, they’re a mandatory part of getting through particular mechanics such as Sartharion’s breath, Mimiron’s Plasma Blast, General Vezax’s Dark Surge etc etc. This also promotes the implication that outside of these occasions of large and bursty magical damage, tank survival is solely the responsibility of the healers.

    It’s a poisonous view, but one I keep seeing more and more often. In so many PuG’s (a reason I stopped doing 25 mans completely) you’ll see a tank bite the dust then immediately ask “wtf are the healers doing?” If it’s suggested that he could have used a cooldown, a retort will usually contain an insult and declaration that cooldowns shouldn’t be needed to survive.

    Cataclysm seems to be changing this, though – cooldowns are being brought down for more common use and encounters won’t have short intervals where you can get nuked to death in no short order.

    Hopefully, that’ll make tanks engage their cooldowns again and start viewing them (as we agree you should) as more common bedfellows.

    • My thoughts on the matter is basically that cooldowns are plentiful in most raid settings. Pallies and priests can throw one on you. Warriors specced for safeguard can Intervene you, and of course, there’re always your own personal cooldowns.

      While there ARE many fights that have a mandatory “use cooldown now!” moment, to GET to that moment, you need a living, breathing tank; which is something that you potentially won’t have if the tank is STUCK in the mindset that he needs to save his cooldowns for that moment.

      I’ve often found that if a tank blows his cooldowns early to get past a “just in case” moment, they can easily call for another raid cooldown to be put on them when the “use cooldown now!” moment comes.

      On the flip side of the coin, a tank that blindly saves his own cooldowns for that “just in case” moment can often end up dead and bitching at his healers as they run back together after the wipe.

  2. I think it is important for a tank to know the fight before s/he enters it and to know how many mandatory cooldowns will be required…

    I have three (including Glyph of Indomitability) and my Last Stand and Shield Wall are both specced and Glyphed as well. On most fights, I know exactly when to pop one (e.g. I alternate Shield Wall and Last Stand on ICC Gunship Battle just as I land on the opposing ship and have GoI just in case – I pop one each breath in Festergut and have GoI just in case – etc…) and then you know what you have left.

    I do this more to save the healers any hassle knowing that since I can survive one phase without a cooldown, if I need one earlier, the healers can just work a little harder at that time…

    When I started tanking I used to wait for that one “Oh Shit!” moment, but having a wife as a healer I soon learned that it was my fault we wiped if I had anything left unused. All I do now is let her know if I’m using a cooldown and when they are all free again and that way she knows she may need to work a little harder later on :)