This tanking business can be a bit hectic at times. I've said before that it requires assimilating and processing a lot of information at once, prioritising this and getting round to doing something about it in the correct order in approximately 0.5 seconds.
My poor little brain can't cope with this. I like to use the occasional addon to take the strain and there's none better than Tidy Plates.
What Tidy Plates does is replace the standard Blizzard nameplates that appear above each target; I have heard that not everyone who plays WoW has even the standard nameplates set to show. I can't imagine how anyone can play without them, although that would go a long way to explaining why a lot of people seem to be completely incapable of seeing or applying DPS/threat to slimes/oozes/gas clouds/overcharged Tempest Minions. Without the nameplates, you either have to randomly click on an indistinct mob, tab-target or set up some inane targeting macro. With nameplates activated, you see the plate, you click on it, you go to work.
As I've said, Tidy Plates replaces the default plates with something more appropriate to your tastes, several different skins have been developed, but the one that I'm most interested in is Threat Plates .
Ever been tanking a pack of mobs and not have a clue if any of them is about to take off after that DPS (90% of the time it's a hunter) because they wouldn't know a "/assist" macro if it smacked them in their squishy face? Skada is only going to show you how much of a threat lead you have on your current target, not the other six that you're trying to hang onto. Now, fair enough, normally if a DPS pulls, I'll let them eat it... but sometimes I'm in a benevolent mood and I'll save them occasionally.
Here's my friend, Mr. Reanimated Crusader, seen from afar. Small nameplate, white border... he's no threat to anyone, just minding his own business.
Let's see what happens when we give him a bit of a poke, shall we?
Okay, I don't think that he liked that...
The small bar shows that I have aggro on him, the green outline is showing that I've got him targeted. I know that the red hit box appears as default on my main target, but it's on the ground and I can never see it when there's a pack of mobs surrounding me. I've got it set up so that if my target is casting something, I get a cast bar too; if it's all yellow I can interrupt it, if it's stripey like the one above there's no sense wasting my time and I'll just have to suck it up.
Mr. Reanimated Crusader decides to bring one of his mates along to the party...
I've not targeted him and I don't have aggro on him. Result? Big, spiky nameplate. This serves two purposes: Firstly, it's totally unsubtle and lets you know that you might want to do something about it, secondly it's easier to mouseover and click the larger plate so you can put some threat on it. There is an inbetween plate that gives you a little hint that you might be about to lose aggro, slightly larger so you can pre-empt problems and generally look totally awesome.
The first time that I used this was in a Culling of Stratholme run and it made the job so easy that it almost seemed like cheating. It doesn't do all the work for you though, if there's another tank in the raid, you are going to be seeing big spiky plates all over the place - you're still going to have to check them out and look at the threat table to see if the other tank has them or if it's that hunter playing silly buggers again...
Threat plates can also be set to work in reverse if you're DPS, big and spiky means that you've pulled the target and you might want to stop attacking it and Feign Death or something. Small plate means that you can do what you do best - just keep an eye on the threat level, okay?
Oh yeah: 4418. Apparently the Addon That Shall Not Be Named thinks that I can do ToC10 now.
*Exclusions apply. Rachkalos Defense Industries accepts no liability should the information presented not result in the reader becoming "The Best Tank Ever". Exclusions include, but are not restricted to: Failure so setup and use addon correctly, lag, hardware performance issues, mouse turning, incompetence and/or being a gnome.