To begin, this will be based on the fact that you DO NOT have heirloom gear. With that being said, if you do have heirloom gear, the gear aspect will not be for you until level 80 or 85 depending on your heirloom level cutoff. The tanking abilities layouts and suggestions will still work for you. Ok, continuing on.....
When you get your Bear Form at level 8, you are a tank in form and some stats but that's about it. You don't really start to get any good abilities until later levels. But, with that being said, you can still make good use of the abilities you have. Once you start to tank in dungeons, you will have Mangle (@level 6), Maul (@level 8), and Growl (@level 8)in your playbook. Until you hit level 22, you will be learning to hit a mob, tab to the next, hit that one, tab, move to the next, ect. This is because you have to AoE tanking attacks. This is actually a good thing since this really is a good habit to get in to, you can always relay on AoE attacks.
At level 10, you get to pick your role. This is where you start the true tanking path by selecting Guardian. You can now do one of two things. One, you can continue on questing, making your way across Azeroth and finding what it has to offer. Or two, you can queue in for battlegrounds now for a break from questing. As a tank, battlegrounds can be far more fun than you think. Its not so easy to kill you in general and, well, you are not questing, lol. The choice is up to you since there really is no difference when it comes to XP gains at this point.
Remember that until you are able to begin to queue in for dungeons, you don't need to worry about gear in any way. Sure, you might get an item here or there from a quest or a drop, but don't worry about them. The first time to really start to look at the gear is in Ragefire Chasm. Once you hit level 15, you can then begin to queue in for dungeons. This is also the point where you get your very first talent point. My recommendation is to go with Feline Swiftness. This will become obviously handy as you are tanking when you notice that although the dps likes to run ahead of you, you normally run faster than they do and will make it easier to keep ahead of them.
Since you are going to start looking at gear at this point, here is what you really want to look for in stats.
- Agility - This gives you dodge, which you want. The less they hit you, the more threat you build and the less the healers have to heal you (which makes them happier as you get higher in levels).
- Stamina - This will increase your overall health. This is a stat that many tanks and sites say should be one that you focus on. However, I have found that agility is really your prime stat to look for. (been tanking since the beginning of The Burning Crusade)
- Crit - This stat will help you hit harder which will build threat faster.
These are the main stats you want to look for as you are just starting to get stats on your gear.
Now, Ragefire Chasm is your first real dungeon and tanking challenge. Just remember, take a deep breath, you can do it, ALL bears have been there, done that and understand where you are. As you get through the dungeon, you will want to keep your eyes open for the following gear drops in there....
Chitonous Bracers off of Slagmaw
Hide Vest of the Shaman off of The Dark Shaman
Fang of Adarogg off of Adarogg
Dark Ritual Cape off of Dark Shaman Koranthal
Now you might be asking yourself "Why the hell do I want a dagger or a cloak with strength on it?". Well, firs off, the stats are nice as far as agility, which you want a lot of as you go. Plus, they are probably a hell of a lot better than the whites or gray items you are using. Congratulations! You just finished tanking your first dungeon! Give yourself a pat on the back!
The other dungeon you might find yourself in at this point is one that loves on in infamy....The Deadmines! Ok, seriously, this is probably one of the best and most fun dungeons of all time in my opinion. The same rules apply here as in Ragefire Chasm as far as tanking style goes. NOW, here are a few of the goodies you can find in The Deadmines...
Impaling Harpoon off of Helix Gearbreaker
Smelting Pants off of Helix Gearbreaker
Cookie's Table Cloth from an auto-accept quest in the dungeon
I highly recommend you make sure you do this quest on normal at this level simply because it can be a great time, and even if it is a rough run, remember that you will probably get to watch people getting knocked off a dock by incoming cannonballs that people tend to forget about, lol.
The other two dungeons you will run in to by level 20 is Shadowfang Keep and Wailing Caverns. Like before, the runs are the same as far as abilities to use to tank. By the time you hit level 20, you will have a good handle in the intro to tanking. Plus, by this time, you also have yourself a nice rez that you will hear people asking for time and time again.............walk back people, graveyards are so close to the instance anymore. But that is another subject for another post, lol.
So.....you have reached level 20, congratulations! You have made it past the first hurdle. Next? lvl20 through lvl30.