Tanking Dragons

As a precursor to looking over the final boss of Blackwing Descent, we’ll take a moment to examine a pivotal aspect of dragon tanking.

This isn’t something that tends to come up too often and there’s a good reason for this lack. If you look at all of the recent raid dragons you’ll find that there aren’t too many occasions where the dragons will need to be turned in a rapid manner.

Look back at Halion, Sindragosa, Onyxia, Atramedes and you’ll find that as a tank, there’s usually little to no reason for you to turn her. True, there might be an occasion to move the dragon in a rapid manner, but there’s usually very little call to turn them.

All this changes with Nefarion where the tank dealing with Onyxia is responsible for turning her back and forth for the duration of the first phase and that’s something that can easily make or break the fight as too much raid damage taken from her can push your healers too far behind on mana to keep up for the rest of the phases.

Let’s take a look at the problem.

Most tanks will stroll up to the dragon, pull her to the proper tanking position and then stay at max melee range while tanking her.

The problem with that method is that for the purposes of turning a dragon, max melee range is absolutely horrible. You’re moving a lot of extra distance to get the boss to turn the same degree as opposed to if you stand inside his hitbox.

When tanking the larger bosses (but primarily dragons), you have to remember that their models don’t necessarily reflect their actual hitbox. Next time you tank a dragon, take a look. Most times, the dragon’s swiping at air and you’re flailing around hitting nothing but you’re technically inside melee range.

Think of the turning point of the boss as a dot in the center of a circle.

If you stand at max melee range, you’re turning the dragon by running along the very outside of the circle. While this works, it’s pretty slow and you’re travelling much more distance for the same amount of turning.

Now, instead, consider standing at a point halfway between the outer edge of the circle and the dot. If you stand here and try to turn the dragon, what happens?

You’ll find that you have to move a much shorter distance to achieve the same amount of turning from the boss. This point is a little hard to judge when you’re actually tanking. If you think about it, the turning point of any dragon is around the middle of it’s belly or so. Anything in front of that point is considered the front and anything behind that is considered the back.

For the most effective turning of dragons, what you’re going to want to do is to stand at a point maybe between the dragon’s claws, maybe a little inside its chest and you’ll find that when you turn the dragon from this distance, he’ll turn much faster, changing from an old pickup truck to a racy sports car.

Keep this in mind as we move on next week to Nefarion in Blackwing Descent and we’ll put our dragon turning lessons to good use.



  1. Excellent post. I recently had to brush up my skills in this area when we were working on Nef.

    A couple of corrections, though:
    1) Halion did need to be turned, though not very fast.
    2) Onyxia, not Nef, is the dragon that requires rapid turning. Nef can mostly be turned at Halion speeds.

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