World of Warcraft — Best Tank Spec for Beginners

Are you thinking about tanking for the first time when WoW's next expansion releases? We've ranked the specs based on simplicity, general feel, and how well they teach you tank mechanics.
Guardian Druid using the Fel werebear appearance.
Guardian Druid using the Fel werebear appearance. /

What makes a tank spec easy or hard?

These rankings are based on how simple the dps rotation is, how much thought needs to go into staying alive, some other miscellaneous things, and how punishing making a mistake is. There is some nuance to it, though.

Tank Specs Ranked By How Friendly They Are For Beginners:

If you're just here for the rankings and not the analysis on why, here you go.

  1. Guardian Druid
  2. Blood Death Knight
  3. Protection Warrior
  4. Protection Paladin
  5. Vengeance Demon Hunter
  6. Brewmaster Monk

Guardian Druid

Bear druid, guardian druid, combat, tank druid

Guardian druid is the most beginner friendly tank spec in World of Warcraft. One of the things that draws a lot of people to playing the spec in the first place, is its simplicity. It currently offers two different build archetypes. One that focuses on dealing physical damage and one that focuses on magical damage.

Guardian Druid Talent Tree
Example build for Guardian Druid. /

Guardian druid is far and away the least punishing tank. If you make a mistake, even in a big pull, it's not a guarantee you die. You have plenty of powerful defensives (both actives and passives) that will help bail you out of a mistake. This is a crucial part of what can make one tank spec easier than the others.

The ability to make a mistake and not get punished horrendously for it is a massive bonus to any spec that has it because everyone messes up from time to time and being able to survive those mistakes is a big deal.

Guardian druid talent, well-honed instincts, tank druid passive
Example of a powerful guardian druid talent. /

The above picture shows the guardian druid talent "Well-Honed Instincts" and is a perfect example of a powerful talent that can help bail you out of a tough spot when you make a mistake without you having to even think about anything.

When you put it all together, guardian druid provides you with a simple damage rotation, self-healing that doesn't require you to think very much, and is very forgiving when you make a mistake.

Blood Death Knight

Blood, Blood Death Knight, Death Knight Tank
Blood Death Knight Gnome /

Blood death knight (DK) is a prime example of how these sorts of rankings can be nuanced. It boasts an incredibly simple dps rotation and one of the simplest self-sustain concepts out of any tank spec. In order to stay alive as a blood dk, you keep stacks of Bone Shield up and use Heart Strike after taking a big chunk of damage. There's more to it than that, of course, but that's basically 95% of it.

Blood DK is also completely self-sufficient. By that, I mean you never need the healer to give you any sort of attention. You are in complete control over what happens to you, whereas other tanks need some love from the healer every once in a while.

It can be punishing if you make a bunch of mistakes. Since death knights use a two-handed weapon instead of a shield, death knight tanks don't have high armor values and are one of the squishier tank options. This results in blood death knights getting one shot by enemies sooner than other tanks. The spec does have a cheat death talent called "Purgatory" which can bail you out of a tough spot.

Blood Death Knight Talent, Purgatory, Death Knight Tank Talent
Blood Death Knight Talent 'Purgatory' /

Despite having the potential to be punishing from compounding mistakes, blood death knight ends up being one of the easier tank specs to play in World of Warcraft due to it's straightforward healing rotation. One downside is its lack of mobility (they are very slow). However, once you get fighting, it's a very straightforward spec.

Protection Warrior

protection warrior, warcraft dwarf, wow prot warrior, warcraft warrior tank
A Protection Warrior Dwarf /

The quintessential 'fantasy tank' with brutal warriors wielding a weapon and shield. Protection warrior, in its most basic form, is designed around staying in Defensive Stance to reduce damage taken, keeping Shield Block active, and generating rage to spend on Ignore Pain.

Prot warriors also have a couple great cooldowns available to them. The dps rotation is not super complex for newer players and with a wide variety of defensive utility at their fingertips, protection warrior is a solid choice for players new to tanking.

If you're looking for a midrange tank that isn't super easy but isn't hard either and has a nice learning curve attached to it, protection warrior could be a great fit for you.

Protection Paladin

protection paladin, paladin tank, warcraft paladin
A Human Protection Paladin /

Protection paladin is designed around generating the class resource holy power and then spending that holy power on either a Word of Glory to heal yourself or a Shield of the Righteous to deal damage and increase your strength for a short duration.

In terms of dps rotation, it's nothing too difficult. The reason it can be considered harder than the tanks above it is because it can be punishing if you make mistakes and mismanage how you're spending your holy power. It does have a couple nice passives that can help bail you out of a tough spot after making a mistake but nothing as strong as some of the specs above it.

It has its strengths and weaknesses, and the latter of which could definitely give new players some issues while learning. Protection paladin boasts a lot of cc and interrupt potential and is a great choice for someone looking to lock down caster mobs without having to deal with the complexity of vengeance demon hunter. Speaking of which...

Vengeance Demon Hunter

Vengeance demon hunter, demon hunter, demon hunter tank, tank
A Night Elf Vengeance Demon Hunter /

Much like blood death knights, it's not uncommon for vengeance demon hunters to get chunked for substantial amounts of their health, but unlike DK's, it's not always as simple as pressing one button to immediately undo all that damage with a massive heal.

What makes vengeance demon hunter so powerful, is the variety of sigils they have access to. Sigils are spells placed on the ground that effect enemies within the area of effect range. Vengeance demon hunter does a lot of its damage through Elysian Decree and Sigil of Flame while also providing a substantial amount of its utility through the use of Sigil of Silence, Sigil of Misery, and Sigil of Chains.

The specs damage and utility revolves around its sigils and its damage mitigation involves juggling a few different cooldowns to reduce the incoming damage you're taking. It's also crucial to use your sigils at the most optimal times to maximize their value.

It can also be worth mentioning, that with some of the sigils being ground targeted abilities, vengeance demon hunter benefits from the use of macros more than most of the tank specs. That's not a huge deal but it may be worth mentioning since as a beginner player, the less setup that is required for you to hop in and start tanking, the better.

/cast [mod:ctrl, @player] Sigil of Flame; [nomod, @cursor] Sigil of Flame

An example of a sigil macro

Vengeance demon hunter has everything a tank player could ever want, but each of those tools must be used correctly and requires a good understanding of the game's mechanics and how tanking works. If you're new to tanking, it's recommended you avoid vengeance demon hunter initially and try one of the easier specs listed above.

Brewmaster Monk

gnome, monk tank, tank, brewmaster, brewmaster monk
A Brewmaster Monk Gnome /

Brewmaster monk is an incredibly difficult spec to play. It's arguably the hardest spec to play in the entire game, regardless of role. Some of this has to do with button bloat (an issue some specs have where there is just a needless amount of active abilities) which is an issue that Blizzard has slowly been working to address.

Brewmaster monk is known as the damage dealing tank, often having the highest damage potential out of any tank spec. Due to their high damage, Blizzard has balanced/designed them around having to work the hardest to stay alive and being the most punishing tank spec to play poorly.

You will not be getting any cheat deaths or any passive talent procs to miraculously save your life if you make a mistake. If you want to survive on a brewmaster monk, you have to play well. Due to its complexity, brewmaster is the least played of any tank spec. The people who do play it, however, love the higher skill ceiling it offers.

Brewmaster monk can be a phenomenal way of testing how far you've truly come as a tank player. It can be used to great effect in mythic plus dungeons by dealing insane damage.

With it being overwhelmingly more complex and difficult than all the other tank specs, unless you're demanding a severe challenge, brewmaster monk should be avoided as a beginner tank.

Ben Fitzsimmons