Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Healer By Day, Tank By Night


Ah, the warrior. Do you see the sharpened sword glinting against the snow? The ferocity of her stance? The bloodthirst in her eyes? Great. That's not what this is about. This is about getting smacked in the face. Voluntarily. By conscious choice, at the risk of sounding masochistic.

Let me tell you of my experience on the dark side....

Warning: This post is not a sugar-plum-fairy-peachy-pie kind of post. It might even be considered a bit ranty. Enter at your own risk.


So I picked up tanking a little bit ago out of pure curiosity. I poodled around with different classes and found that I liked warrior tanking the most. It was engaging, challenging and most importantly, new to me. It was fun. There was the occasional bad run ofcourse, but nothing to leave me completely speechless as last night. Last night, I think, I really did see the dark side - and if any of you readers are seasoned tanks of old, you'll probably have that knowing grin by now.

I've learnt quickly that as a tank you will always get the one guy whose mission in life is to pull offa you - be it the mage who pulls a mob before you've charged them, the ret paladin with righteous fury or the hunter who refuses to take growl off their pet. While this initially used to irk me as a tank, I gradually got used to it and began to see it as more of a challenge to keep threat than anything - like a little mini-game if you will.

In the prelude to my scarring pull, I had a DK who refused to change presences from Blood for whatever reason, and I saw the heartsinking "Changed Target" message a lot. By the time we got to Tharon'ja, there were 3 other taunts on him apart from mine. Ultimately back in flesh, I taunted, rended, threw my damage at him and hoped for the best. What else could I do?

And now, the real deal. All of that is nothing compared to this. It was Old Kingdom - I know right, that place is cursed. Having never tanked the dungeon before, my healer buddy put out a little disclaimer to the group asking them to patient and supportive. Things were going well, and there came the tricky group. I waited, and took a good look at the mob - noting the caster and the other patrolling mob that could add on to these nasties if they were in range. I decided to range silence the caster and pull this group a bit back to avoid grabbing both groups at once. Well, that was the plan....

I did the Heroic Throw to the Spellflinger as planned, and charged my secondary target.

The heroic throw missed. Plan B. I taunted but ofcourse it didn't help - the guy kept casting.

I decided to leave the guy for the time being and keep the two who were currently on me there to burn them down since the patrol was close by and I didn't want a bigger pull when I barely had threat.

I also hoped that one of the party members would notice that my ranged silence failed and since I wasn't charging him, would CC him.

Nope. I saw the rogue go to the caster and thought he might sap. Nope, stab stab stab he went.

Saw the patrol closing in....3....2...1...on the rogue.

Just when it couldn't get worse, it did.  Each of the dps decided to pick a target for each of themselves - the hunter picked one, the shadowpriest DoTted up another and the rogue, not to be outdone went with a third.

I Rended, Thunderclapped, Cleaved and even used my super-awesome-aoe-threat ability for dear life.  

Nothing worked and they were everywhere. And honestly, I was in shock for a moment or two.

I was shocked not at my terrible pull (although if there was ever pull in the history of sucky pulls, this one would take the cake), and not at my being overwhelmed by the seeming impossibility of the situation either. No. It dawned on me that as a tank, my fight is really against my own party members and not the NPC baddies who are meant to die by our hands. And that to me, is depressing.

Perhaps I'm just naïve but I thought that was the point of telling people you were new. Instead, it turned out to be the most nightmarish pull ever. There were no freezes or saps to be made. Heck, not even an interrupt to get Mr. Failed-Ranged-Silence to me. When the other group pulled, the worst thing to happen was for people to pick targets and unleash hell on them before I could even thunderclap. I'd like to think everyone's on the same team here. Me good, ugly faceless one bad. Easy.

I'm one of those who think back on things and play it over and over in my head to see if I could've done anything differently. I probably should've done a million things differently - example, have the caster CCed from the get go to avoid the issue all together. It somehow never occurred to me to do so in a Wrath dungeon and perhaps this is a well needed reminder. Still, it would be nice if I were fighting with my party members instead of against them. And it would be nice if they did the same too.

Am I still going to level my warrior? Hell yes. Matter of fact I tanked this morning and had a trigger happy mage who thought pulling a mob with pyroblast was...well, a blast. C'est la vie. Why am I tanking despite the frustrations and albeit depressing side? I'd like to say something noble like bravery or perseverance but I'm not ashamed to say at this point, its probably just plain old foolishness. My experience almost feels like a tank rite of passage - much like the healer's rite of passage where you let someone die for the first time or something similar. It sucks, sure - but it always offers a new perspective which I'm a fan of.

Finally, hats off and extra hugs to all you full time tanks out there. I don't know how you do it, seriously, but let me say that getting smacked in the face for a living is not as easy as it sounds and it certainly isn't for everyone. And for everyone here who's not a tank, take the time to give your favourite one a hug <3

3 comments:

  1. Isn't this the truth! I've been messing with a tank-alt on Azuremyst(US), and it has been a blast. But, I've ran into those groups as well. My soul dies a little inside when I run into these pugs. I want to scream at the dps, not as a tank, but as a fellow dps. "You're Giving Us Bad Names!!!!"

    Oh well. But, I've been enjoying it; so I'll keep on doing it.

    Zwingli

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  2. Haha - glad its not just me! =P

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  3. As a fellow healer-turned-tank, I can totally empathize with the shock of actually tanking versus watching the tank do his job. It's like controlled chaos in the very best of situations. And in the worst, well, it's a tooth and nail battle of survival. But that's also kind of the rush and draw of it, for me.

    Most of the time, hehe. I have been in so many similar situations where everything just slips through my fingers and I'm at a total loss. It can be so so frustrating. Especially when you get blamed for it! >.<

    Something I have started to do that helps me is to look at things from a worst possible outcome perspective - thinking for instance as you are tanking and surveying what's around you, "Ok, if that other group is somehow pulled, how would I deal with it?", you know, and kind of plan ahead. And when that crazy silly DPS does just the thing to make that situation happen, you are ready to be there and cover for his sorry butt. Undeserving as it may be. =P

    In the end, I think it really is about the rite of passage you mentioned. Behind every confident tank, every decision they make, is an experience where it all went wrong and they had to learn through sweat and blood. Or maybe more like a hundred of those experiences, hehe.

    I do still remember each and every amazing tank friend I've had as a healer, and I have so much respect for them. They are all my heroes!

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