Note: This article is a part of a much larger and continually growing collection of useful World of Warcraft Guides, information that we keep a current list of and update constantly. Take a look at the World of Warcraft Guides Index for more WoW hints, tips, tricks, tactics, and walkthroughs.
World of Warcraft is ultimately a social game. It aside from questing and grinding leans heavily on group play. In group play three player roles come up in a holy trinity of sorts: the tank, the healer, and the DPS. Tanks soak the brunt of a monster's anger and takes heavy hits that would flatten a non sturdy player. Healers well heal; they keep the tank topped off to take more punches to the face and keep the nuking dps alive to whittle down the boss. And the dps are what ultimately kills a creature off, all while it's distracted by the tank.
It's a great system, when people work in unison. Seeing World of Warcraft raid videos of top world guilds show this clearly with well executed strategies and world first kills. But this can show poorly in 5 man to 25+ play: dps pulling off the tank, tanks failing to keep agro, healers being unprotected. These rules listed here during a run can mean the difference between one shots and a night of wiping on a simple entrance level boss.
Do your set role.
Do not demand to play someone's character for them, or badger them with tips they do not want nor need (unless they ask). It's one thing to offer tips to a struggling tank who may not know where to go, but to badger them because they are not pulling fast enough will not endear them to you.
Everyone should know what role they plan on being inside. Do not change your mind mid run, nor gimp the system with high item level gear only to have a crappy set for your chosen role. This WILL anger people especially when you fail at said role.
If you're a hybrid class note your main role (and not if you can back up as a secondary).
Defer to the tank.
The tank is your meat shield, the bunch of pixels that will decide if that beast will drop loot, or will eat your party for lunch. Pulls and the general speed and direction of a run is set by the tank. Do not try to speed the tank faster than they can handle. It's better to go slow and complete a dungeon, then wipe due to sloppy or too fast for the party pulls.
Let the tank get agro. I usually go by the rule of 5 hits for a pug, 3 for a MT in a raid guild geared tank. Usually within the first hit the tank has already used agro causing abilities and has the mob's hate on them. Aside from letting them position a mob in a set area this is when you attack no sooner. Mind you if you see the mod targeting someone else or you (there is a setting in the options that allow you to see the target of a target very helpful to see if a mob is either on the tank or on someone else namely you) cool off.
Do this or risk pulling off the tank. The tank can try to get agro back on themselves but this causes more work the tank doesn't need. And if you keep dpsing despite the agro clearly on you, don't complain when you go splat seconds later.
Protect the healer.
Healers have arguably the hardest job of the three types of dungeon goers. They definitely have the most stressful. While the tank can simply keep agro and watch mobs hit them, and the dps can spam spells to nuke it down, the healer must watch upwards of 25+ people at once. They are what keeps the tank from dying to large spikes of damage, they keep dps from dying to incidental damage.
Make life easier for them by avoiding taking unnecessary damage - don't pull agro, don't stand in bad things, don't play hero if you are a clothie (or can't vanish, invisibility, ect.). But most importantly if you see a healer is being attacked do not stand there! Go save them. It is better to pull a mob off a healer and die they let the healer die. The healer could rez you, or be that little bit to prevent a wipe with whose left.
This guide seems mostly catered to DPS. It mostly is - the DPS contingent is the biggest in World of Warcarft. All those big numbers, the damage...the destruction. Glorious isn't it? Not if you pull the big bad onto your face it doesn't.
Keep a decent distance between your threat and the tank. Use periodically agro dropping abilities to keep the gap. Switch targets if one mob's threat is too high. Do everything in your power to keep the big bad off of you while taking pot shots at it.
If a mob wanders to the group especially to a healer try and crowd control it (unless told otherwise). If you do this make sure it is not dotted or in the area of an aoe, or do said things near it.
Also many classes posses a fear type of spell. Unless it is part of the encounter: fearing classes...don't. Just don't. Fear outside or in PvP can be a hilarious and humiliating thing. Mobs tend to be spaced apart and generally manageable.
In instances...they tend to be in packs, clustered in tight corners/rooms, or are in patrols. Almost always a seemingly well timed fear of a mob usually leads that mob to more mobs, which leads to them all coming back to say hello to the group. Rarely does a fear turn out well. So restrain from it. The group will thank you.
Be social! Some groups are just stone quiet, but some once a conversation has started can make what could be a boring run into a fun filled entertaining ride. Sometimes group chemistry can save what would have been a terrible wipe fest.
Say a party member is feared by a mob into a deep pit making them non resurrectable. A funny outlook can make the difference between a rage quit of all party members to the group cracking jokes at the event and pushing on. And yes this did happen to me. During a server lag spike...in the middle of a Black Wing Lair run. Fun times that friends from back when still joke about to this day.
Now keep in mind your group. Unless you are amongst close friends/guildies that accept such humor, keep the jokes PG unless the group is open to that. Nothing like joining a pug and hearing a slew of racial/sexist/orientation ect. type jokes, only to find one or more members were offended.
Having members angry, uncomfortable, or just plain not wanting to be their due to someone putting their foot in their mouth can and will affect group performance. In fact if you join a group and this is the standard banter, call them out on it. If a group persists, leave. The beauty of the queue system is groups are a dime a dozen to find.