Tanking Addons

We’ll be taking a break from our regularly scheduled program to bring you a brief public service announcement.

We were asked by one of our readers if we could provide suggestions as to specific addons that can be used to make life easier for all of the brave tanks the world over.

So for this week, we’ll be looking at several addons that will help you collate and track all of the information that you need to know mid-encounter.

For starters, I’ve always found that the default unit frames were a little bit of a problem. While the default frames are alright, it’s important as a tank to know your own level of health at all times as well as keeping track of when it dips and in my opinion, the default frames just really don’t cut it. I would recommend either something like Shadow Unit Frames or Pitbull to make your health a little easier to see and to keep better track of your health.

As a secondary part of your job, keeping track of the threat table for any given mob is utterly essential. Keep in mind that as a tank, it’s not enough to know that you have the threat lead at any given moment. You also need to be keeping track of who’s second on threat which will tell you who the mob is most likely to run to the second that you’re dead or if they get a lucky string of crits. That little bit of foreknowledge will help you react that much faster the second the mob targets someone else. While Blizzard has taken steps to include a rudimentary threat tracker on the tooltips for any given mob, this functionality is mediocre at best as all that you’ll ever see is your own threat in relation to the mob and nobody else’s. For this reason, having some sort of threat meter is also essential. There are a few of those out there to fit the niche, the primary one among them being Omen. Omen is a pretty widespread addon which is extremely good at what it does, which is tracking threat. For those of you looking for something with a little more functionality, I can recommend the Skada damage meter. While it functions as a damage meter, it also has an option where you can have it show a different table while you’re in combat. This can be used so that switches to the threat meter while in combat while switching back to the damage meter once out of combat for performance analysis.

OmniCC is an addon that I find extremely useful across all of the classes. It’s a very small and simple addon, what it does it add a numbered countdown onto your action buttons to denote the length of time before they’re back up for use. This is really useful for your longer cooldowns like the 3-5 minute abilities but also helps you smooth out your rotation with your shorter cooldown abilities as you can plan ahead a little bit if you know what’ll be available to use and when.

Finally, the last essential addon for tanking is something that will keep track of your buffs and debuffs. Like the unit frames, while the default Blizzard frames do an adequate job of giving you an overview of what’s happening to your character, there are other addons out there with a little more versatility and convenience that makes reading the information quite a bit easier, letting you react more quickly. For this purpose, I’ve been a big fan of Satrina Buff Frames. This addon features the usual host of functionality that accompanies most buff frame addons such as modifying it’s appearance and behavior but it also was easy to set up and use which is always a big plus.

Before we wrap up here, I do need to emphasize the fact that like everything else related to tanking, which addons you consider essential are very personal opinions. I’m not suggesting that you go out and pick up every addon that I’ve mentioned here today. If you can tank amazingly with
nothing but the default UI, by all means, avoid addons like the plague. Give them a try, see if it’s something that you can fit into your playstyle and make your decisions accordingly.



  1. Appreciate this. I had not yet downloaded any addons & was wondering what some of the better ones for tanking were. This was a big help.

  2. The addon I’d love to find would be “grid for tanks” – a grid of all the mobs in combat nearby who AREN’T targeting me, ordered by who they ARE targeting.

    It’s sometimes hard to spot the tiny little add attacking a tauren healer 30 yards away, or notice that a caster is not aiming at me :)

    Combine that add-on with clique, and you could taunt them off as soon as it happens.