This post was published long before the Mists of Pandara Expansion.
The tips and techniques explained here may be outdated.

Raiding 101: AGGRO!

aggro_i_has_it_sWe have new players coming up in the world.. and for the most part they’ve solo’d their way to 80.. and now they’re starting into raids.. so I wanted to run through the basics of Aggro (and maybe more to follow). If you already know it all.. move along, this topic isn’t for you.

Aggro is a measure of how much a mob hates you (aggression)
An Aggro Table is a mob’s list of who it hates and how much it hates them.
In most cases, the Aggro Table governs who the mob will attack.
If the mob knows you exist, and the mob is aggressive to you, then you are probably somewhere on its aggro table.

MOST OF THE TIME the mob will hate the TANK the most. That’s not always true.

Proximity Aggro
If a mob is red to you.. and you walk near the mob, -normally- the mob will attack you. This is because of the mob’s aggro bubble. The aggro bubble varies in size depending on YOUR level versus the mob’s level.

If you are level 80 and the mob is level 5, you will practically have to kick the mob in the knees to get it to notice you (this is sometimes referred to as “80 stealth” when the mob’s aggro bubble is very small and you can “stealth” past them).

If you are level 20.. and the mobs are level 60.. the mobs will practically fly at you from the other side of the horizon to eat your face.

Healing Aggro
When I heal I build up healing aggro. I believe healing threat is lower than damage threat. I seem to remember that pallies build 1 point of healing aggro for every 2 points healed. I’m not entirely certain of the healing threat levels of the different classes.

“Actual” Aggro
If you hit the mob or use a “threat buiding skill” you build actually aggro against the mob. Tanks also have added threat skills or threat only skills that build up their actual aggro. In some cases the Tank can make a mob hate them even thought he tank has done very little actual damage to the mob.

How it works

Proximity Aggro is -nearly- 0. What this means.. if Jane runs up to a mob.. and the mob hits Jane.. and then the Joe the healer -way- in the back heals Jane… unless Jane has done something to keep the mob’s attention, the mob will probably turn and run off to eat Joe’s face. This is especially evident in multiple-mob pulls.

Example 1: Jane runs up to a group of two mobs and hits one of them with her sword. Both mobs run over to Jane and hit her so she is damaged. Joe, way in the back, casts a big huge heal on Jane. The mob the Jane -didn’t- hit with her sword turns away from Jane and runs off to eat Joe’s face. Jane had only proximity aggro on mob #2 and Joe’s healing aggro was greater than Jane’s proximity aggro.

Most tanks will cycle their threat building talents through all the mobs pulled or will use AOE threat building talents. Still, be very careful at the beginning of a pull when the aggro isn’t yet firmly established.

Example 2: Jane runs up to a group of two mobs and hits one of them with her sword. Both mobs run over to Jane and hit her so she is damaged. Bob the mage winds up a big huge fireball and lands it on Mob #2 (the one Jane didn’t hit). Mob #2 turns away from Jane and runs over to eat Bob’s face. Joe lands a big huge heal on Bob (saving Bob’s life) and the mob now turns and goes to eat Joe’s face. Joe dies and the mob goes back to eat Bob. Bob dies and the mob goes back to Jane. Jane has no healer so Jane dies too. Mobs reset (clearing their aggro table).

Bob was targetted on the wrong mob. If Bob had instead targeted the mob Jane was hitting there would have been much fewer problems.

Make sure you’re targeting the right mob so you don’t accidentally steal aggro.

If someone has aggro.. then another person can “steal” aggro by exceeding the first person’s aggro. If you are in melee range then you need to exceed 110% of the current target’s threat to steal aggro. If you are at range (ie, outside of melee range) then you need to exceed 130% of the current target’s threat to steal aggro.

Example 3: Jane runs up to a mob and hits it for 100 points of damage. The mob turn and begins attacking Jane. Bob the mage winds up a fireball which hits the mob for 120 points of damage. The mob continues to attack Jane. Bob’s fireball ticks for 15 points of damage (135 points of damage total)(That’s 135% of Jane’s aggro). The mob turns away from Jane and runs over to eat Bob’s face.

As a good DPSer it’s in your best interest to let the tank build up sufficient aggro -before- you go bug nuts on the mob. In Wrath currently tanks build up fantastic threat leads so it’s a lot harder to do.. that doesn’t meant it’s impossible.



Each of the tanks have a “taunt” ability. The taunt is used to snatch aggro of the mob back onto the Tank. This ability ONLY works on mobs where the Tanks isn’t the top threat target. That is, if a tank is tanking a mob it’s silly and useless to taunt that mob.

Example 4: Jane runs up to a group of two mobs and hits one of them with her sword. Both mobs run over to Jane and hit her so she is damaged. Bob the mage winds up a big huge fireball and lands it on Mob #2 (the one Jane didn’t hit). Mob #2 turns away from Jane and runs over to eat Bob’s face. Jane targets the loose mob and hits her taunt button. On that mob Jane now has the most threat and the mob runs back to Jane.

Keep in mind: taunts have cooldowns and somewhat limited ranges. Sometimes it’s easier to just let the mob kill you than to spend the energy taunting it back.

Any questions? Did I miss anything?

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7 comments to Raiding 101: AGGRO!

  • Roose

    Where does your pet play in “You” generating aggro if any?

  • Nibuca

    Good question.
    I know when you pull with your pet, regardless of how far away you are you are automatically put onto the aggro table.. but I think it’s like proximity aggro at that point. After that I think you and your pet are separate targets as far as threat is concerned.

  • This is wonderfully clear… but basically I’ve come to be shallow. I *love* the illustrations. Although somebody should tell Capt. Jack to run *towards the tank* – noob ;)
    .-= Tamarind´s last blog ..Nostalgia Sceptic =-.

  • Great post for new raiders RT @Nibuca New blog entry: Raiding 101: AGGRO! #warcraft #raiding #basics


    Raiding 101: AGGRO!…

    As a tank, I love this post by Nibuca on aggro for newbies!…

  • Yep, pet and hunter are separate on the aggro table – which is why perhaps a special note for new hunters could be needed, explaining pets have Growl (which is a threat-generating spell) and some even a proper Taunt – these should never ever been turned on while grouping with a ‘real’ tank. The Taunt is strong enough to sometimes pull aggro, and while the tank usually have no problem getting it back with the next swing, I know at least I always feel a moment of panic when I see my target switch target.

    Pets do have Cower I might add, which lessens threat.

    uhm..perhaps something about what the different classes should do if they do get threat? Just suggestion, love the post, learning2tank myself so I’m back in the newbiesaddle :)

  • Nice beginner article, well explained.

    Some classes and indeed some individual abilities generate threat much faster than others. Warlocks tend to have higher tps (threat per second) per dps (damage per second) than most other classes, and tend to top the aggro tables even if they are under the hunters and mages on the dps meters.

    @Bluetiger: Most classes have at least one threat-dump (aside from death) like fade, invisibility, feign death, soulshatter etc. How to deal with aggro when your dump is on cooldown (yes, I’m a warlock) is a subject in itself. Most people I group with run toward the tank, especially if it’s a paladin or deathknight, as their AoE threat generation can sometimes taunt it back off you. Running towards the instance exit (as some noobs tend to do) is a bad idea, as if you’re out of range of the tank, taunting isn’t going to work.
    .-= Everwrath of Silvermoon´s last blog ..Been a while… =-.