Skulls and how to use them

I’m not talking about actual skulls here, but rather a Skull mark.  But you probably guessed that already.  I’ve been running normal instances on my death knight Arianrhodd recently and I’ve noticed one trend – Skull usage is poor.  Some players use them wrongly, some players don’t use them at all.  So I’m going back to basics here.

*Warning: This how to guide contains ranting*

What is the point of a Skull mark?
A Skull is used by the tank to tell the dps which mob to hit first.  By using a Skull, the tank is telling the dps two things.  Firstly, its important to kill this mob first.  It might be the healer, or the one with the ability that does terrible damage.  It needs to die fast.  Secondly, the skull denotes which mob the tank will be concentrating their threat on so that the dps can hit it safely.

What should a tank do on a Skull mark?
Well hitting it helps.  Being in the general vicinity also helps.  If your on that group of mobs over there and your dps is hitting the skull you marked somewhere else … well lets just say that doesn’t work very well.  A Skull is a commitment.  Tank it. (Based on at least two runs recently where the Skull was marked, but not actually tanked.  I’m sure it wasn’t tanked because the tanks in question were nowhere near it after the first hit.  In defense of at least one of them the healer was front loading his heals and tended to get aggro on the pull.  Healers – relax, take a breath, let the tank at least hit all the mobs before you start to heal if possible.  Unless you have Fade, then stand near a mage and use it …)

Wouldn’t it be better not to mark a Skull then, in case I change my mind about what to tank first?
That depends.  If you can tank without the dps pulling aggro from you by hitting different mobs AND your healer is not going under half mana even on hard pulls, then you can dispense with the Skull.  If you can hold the aggro, a Skull is still useful to get one mob down faster and relieve pressure on the healer.

Shouldn’t people know what to hit?
Different people kill different mobs first for different reasons.  The Skull tells us which one it will be today.  The first pull in Halls of Origination is a great example of this.  I’ve killed that big mob that spews fire first, second and last with different tanks.  Unless the tank states that they want to pass the responsibility to someone else, the tank should mark because only they know what they plan to hit. Assuming a tank will follow a Skull you put up is a great way to kill your dps.

I’m too lazy to mark
Then you shall be told to learn to play.  Bad players are not inexperienced players.  They are lazy arrogant players.  You shouldn’t insult an inexperienced player.  You should offer advice if you have it and try to help them out.  If I ask for a Skull because on every pull each of the dps have aggro on a different mob and you respond with ‘I’m too lazy’ then you are a terrible, terrible player and should be told so.  If you can’t be bothered to manage your aggro through use of a mark then you had better learn to hold aggro another way.  I’m fairly tolerant as a player but there are two things that will make me tell a player to buck up their ideas and learn to play properly.  This is one.  Pulling when I’m the tank is the other.

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