I’d like to spend today opening the floor for telling stories about tanking or playing as a member of a team. This is a very long post, very long. So just do what Cassie does when I post one of these… mark it read in your feedreader and move on. :)

There will be some crankiness about tanking, a lot of talk about leading and tanking and AoE pulls versus crowd control, and teamwork and fun, ’cause… well, that’s me.

What’s ahead in the post;

I will babble on for awhile about the idea that tanks must be group leaders, that tanks are the special rockstars of a party, speculate on causes, challenge the concept that tanks are the most important people on a run, and pee all over the idea that crowd control is old fashioned and possibly for sissies.

I’ll then tell a story about playing in a 5 man group as part of a team and having fun.

After that, I’ll ask for people to offer their personal “Favorite story of a fun fight where me and my friends did x and x and x to handle a tricky pull or fight with everyone working together and having a great time” story.

I’d love to hear other bloggers share their stories of great experiences in 5 man groups on their blogs, as well. Since I bash Paladin tanks in this post a little hard, I’d especially like to invite Blessing of Kings to share a story of his own, a fight he personally enjoyed when playing with friends, just to help show that I am well aware that not all Paladin tanks act like self-important rockstars without consideration for players in the group. 

Where is this call for teamwork stories coming from?

I have talked to more than a few people that tank over the last year or so, people that discuss how to handle a pull, how to run a fight, or how to run a raid or instance in a certain way.

It became pretty clear that, as far as some of those tanks were concerned, it’s a one man show. The tank is the all-important rockstar, and the rest of the group are just there to keep him alive, as if he needed it, and to provide some vague DPS to kill the mobs faster so they’re not there all day. But the tank could so totally do it by himself, really.

The tank who is a soloer at heart, and the rest of the group is there as an audience or something. And I’ll not mince words; I’ve encountered it as more of a Paladin attitude than from any other class, often enough that I’ll single them out.

But they are not alone, it just started with them. I’ve certainly seen it among the feral types, as well. It has rapidly grown out of the rise of the AoE tank, and with Blizz deciding to add AoE tanking to all tank classes rather than remove it from Paladins, this attitude has just gotten more common.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the problem is AoE tanking. I love AoE tanking. I love having more tools available to help me keep aggro off the rest of the party, I love being able to handle more mobs without tab targeting or mouseover macros all the time.

I also love my ranged Growl, and I’m enjoying the extra thrill or having CC up and trying to reposition myself on pulls so I don’t break it, a challenge I’m facing and sometimes failing at because I keep underestimating my Swipe’s range and arc.

No, the problem I have is with any player that has the attitude that what they themselves enjoy in the game is somehow more important than what anyone else in the group enjoys.

And I’m drawing the focus on this, because with the rise of AoE tanking and the way most tanks are expected to lead a party by default, the rockstar tank with entourage is becoming a common sight to see.  

Teamwork.

Once upon a time, single target tanking was the gold standard, and having players that could effectively Crowd Control were critical for every run. Mages were cherished for Sheep and Hunters were slammed, and slammed HARD, if their chain-trapping skills were lacking in a group. Classes complained if they didn’t have CC abilities, saying it left them excluded from runs, and with good reason.

As recently as Magister’s Terrace, crowd control was king and teamwork a mandatory part of playing well.

And boy, did we hear complaints. Have a group lacking in one form of CC, and the run would turn into a nightmare… unless you had some blessed AoE tanking available that overgeared the run.

But it did serve to force some players to go back to using CC, at least until they overgeared it again with new Badge rewards. And players that were very skilled at CC were remembered, cherished, and invited back again and again.

Think about it. Good teamwork and team players shone again, for a golden brief moment in the sun.

Blizzard responded to many complaints about the CC imbalance by adding the ability to a class that lacked it, like Hex for Shamans, or by widening the number of mobs that could be affected by it, like the Rogue’s Sap, or by letting it be used indoors, like Entangling Roots.

Outstanding.

But even so, with all of these widened crowd control abilities, many tanks seem to feel their goal is to improve their gear to the point where they can eliminate all use of crowd control as soon as possible, so everyone can stand back and watch as the tank takes on the full group… and oh yeah, you are allowed to provide MQoSRDPS, too. What? I died? The healer sucks, man.

People tell me so many stories about this still going on, rushed chain pulls and AoE tanking whether the rest of the group likes it or not, and to heck with CC. I really expected us to be relying on CC more than ever in Wrath.

So I wonder, maybe part of the problem is… the rockstar tanks are just very, very visible, and such tanks are quick to share stories of their leet uberness… but people aren’t sharing the stories of having fun playing the game, playing their class, using CC or class abilities in groups, and having fun. Maybe folks just don’t think it’s interesting enough to talk about.

How fast things changed.

It’s crazy how fast the focus shifted from teamwork to rockstar tank during the last year.

It’s hilariously like the front runner of a band that suddenly thinks he can pursue a solo career with a pick up group of musicians grateful to sit in the shadows and play instruments while he shines on the stage in the spotlight.

It didn’t start in Karazhan, but the AoE tanking thing, and the outgearing of existing content making tanks more survivable certainly played a huge part.

When excellent Badge rewards and the vast number of Badges available in Karazhan made running that raid a regular part of even Black Temple guilds, the focus inevitably changed to speed runs. And an AoE tank that could hold aggro on massive groups of mobs and live became a very potent symbol of success.

People began discussing how a Paladin really shone in that raid, because of AoE tanking.

Some people began specifically trying to build raids based around Paladin tanks and lack of CC.

Our guild even took advantage of it to some extent, simply because it was faster, and Karazhan complete clears for a casual guild is a very, very large time commitment.

And I think it sent the wrong message.

The tank is not the super special rockstar of the group. Every player of the group has an equally valid right to have fun on the run. It’s one team effort. Every single member of the group is important, not only because of the role they play, but because each and every one is a player.

Every class has a right to shine.

Everybody chose their class for a reason, and maybe part of that reason was to provide something to the group on a run. Whether it be to heal, or trap, or sap, or spell interrupt, or sheep, or drop totems, or mana recovery, or explosive AoE damage, or healthstones and soulstones and fear and drain tanking, or even just to wear feathers and dance.  

Everybody chose their class for a reason. And to tell someone that you don’t care what else they brought to the party, you’d just like them to stand back and DPS is irritating.

Maybe, and this is crazy talk I know, but maybe they were a Hunter that didn’t want to be considered a huntard, went to BRK’s website and obsessed for hours over how to chain trap, watched the videos, practiced it, macroed focus targets and pull shots and went and kited their butts off…

And now, excited and with sweaty palms, they got in a group, only to hear, “Okay, I’m going to pull the group and you’ll all open up on the main target. As soon as Skull dies switch DPS to X.” “But, I can trap one, I’m all set.” “No, that’s a waste of time, we’re gonna chain pull, it’s too much trouble to try and have CC when my Consecrate is just going to break it anyway.”

Just because a tank CAN pull the entire group of enemies and survive, does not mean that this is how it has to go. Not for Bears, not for Warriors, not for Paladins, nor for Death Knights. Period.

If you are the tank, and you sneer at the use of Crowd Control or other classes’ special abilites as being somehow beneath you or as a waste of your time when they want to use them… you need to re-examine your attitude.

The need for speed.

Chain pulling, fast pulls, pulling the entire group and beating them down and moving on… yes, these pulls are lots of fun, faster, exciting, yes. Yes, indeed. Everyone is overgeared, and the group decides to destroy the instance or raid. Just crush it. Steamroll the bloody thing and leave the remains a steaming pile of rubble under your booted feet.

That’s fine. As long as that is what all the people in the group actually want and know about it in advance, hey, go for it.

But if people in the group want to take more time in the run in order to get the chance to use their abilities, or to learn a new aspect of the game or their class, then how do you justify telling them no? By telling them it’s more fun for you to do it your way?

Who died and made you Captain Bipto?

Leading by default.

Speaking of Captain Bipto, I find most groups usually expect the tank to lead the group and mark targets automatically. It’s the rare run I’ve seen where the tank is not given group lead to mark.

The assumption, as far as I can see, is that it is the tanks’ job to lead the run properly.

Leading a group does not have to be the tanks’ job. It really doesn’t. It’s fine if that’s what you’re used to, and you work at doing a good job of it, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. And I think having that expectation be the norm really contributes to the problem of rockstar tanks.

In a perfect world, everyone knows their own roles in the team, everyone understands the fights, and any one of the people could lead the group, but one person is chosen to actually lead the team out of convenience. Perhaps one person does a better job at staying focused on priorities, or perhaps one person has more experience on that particular fight than the rest.

But in that perfect world, the role of leader is not a dictatorship. Everyone is equally engaged and driven towards success, and feels quite comfortable in offering their own suggestions as to what they could do, especially when the player feels their class has something special to offer.

The person that ends up leading the team should be the one that has the best handle on the abilities of all the classes in the group, has the most experience with the weaknesses of the enemy (if possible), and does a good job of selecting a strategy that best uses the skills of the group to take down the enemy in a safe, smooth, efficient and fun manner.

I honestly think that the utopia I describe is what the majority of runs out there are like.

We just don’t hear about them. They don’t provide the same opportunity for self-promotion or boasting of how leet and uber someone is. Just having fun together as a group must seem so boring.

Leaders of groups shouldn’t expect themselves to be infallible.

I have to wonder how much of the rockstar tank situation comes from a simple fear of failing as a party leader, and being afraid to ask questions and reveal there might be something in the game you don’t actually know.

The secret is, you can lead a run without knowing everything about every class, so long as everyone works together and is comfortable in speaking up. You really can. Innocent mistakes can happen, sure… but they happen a LOT more often if you don’t open up and make sure everyone is comfortable talking in the group.

As an example of an innocent oversight, if a leader hardly ever plays with a Priest in the group, unless the Priest speaks up, it may never occur to the leader in a run that the Priest could have been Shackling undead mobs. Intellectually, the group leader knows Priests can Shackle, but emotionally he’s not used to including that as a strategic option. But hopefully the Priest will see that undead mobs are not being Shackled, and will feel comfortable enough with the leader to gently remind him that Priests can, like, do that.

“Hey, is there a reason you’re not marking a Shackle, dumbass?”

I think that shows an admirable level of comfort with the group leader, don’t you? 

Sometimes it’s not just fear of speaking up that prevents a discussion. You can’t just put people at their ease; you need to encourage people to speak up and offer ideas.

I know I have tried to learn as best I can what the various classes can do, but I have my blind spots. The Warlock class is a huge black hole to me. I just don’t keep their abilities in the front of my brain, even after all these years. Nobody ever plays one near me consistently, and mine hit level 20 and stalled. I know they can Banish… but it’s not the first thing that springs to mind when I finally have one in a group.

I’ve been on a run in Burning Crusade where we had a Warlock in the group, and as we ran back from a wipe on the end boss, it occured to me, “Damn, we could have had a soulstone!” I asked the Warlock why he didn’t put one on the healer. He said to me, “You never told me to.” 

That’s the kind of passivity you should want to discourage. You should want everyone to want to chime in on suggestions. If you are playing with friends, you need to openly encourage everyone to engage in the group and offer suggestions, and to make sure they don’t expect to be slapped down for it. I love vent, it makes it so much easier to chat about pulls and how things are going.

And if you are made group leader and someone else clearly has more experience than you in the instance, and has a good handle on the classes and is willing to try… pass the lead on to them.

Pulling these many threads together.

What if you have a tank that is ignorant about any class but his own? What if that tank is automatically expected to lead the group on every run? What if that tank doesn’t want to admit there is something he doesn’t know? And what if that tank reads all these wonderful stories featured on WoW Insider about the latest uber-soloing rockstar AoE tank, and what he soloed this time?

I would imagine the temptation of the player of this tank, when invited into a group and lead is passed to him by default, is going to be to go with what he understands best, his own class, and mark kill targets 1, 2, 3, 4 and then pull. It’s easier than admitting to people that you don’t know that much about the other classes, that you haven’t run much before, that you haven’t really done this kind of thing much… and if the tank lives through it, even if there is the occasional wipe, it just reinforces the idea that you can do it and get away with it.

I haven’t really focused on it as much as I could, but there are also those players that want to be the tank because they crave the power and attention. They want to be the rockstar. That’s the whole point of being a tank, to them.

I have actually talked to some tanks in the past, thankfully not in my guild, trying to get the idea across to them as to why their method of pulling and running a group was unpleasant for some of the other players involved, and that when done regardless of what anyone else in the group wanted, it showed a lack of care or respect for the other players.

And I discovered to my amazement that the reason I just couldn’t get through was that they didn’t get my point. Because they were the tank, and therefore the leader, and that’s how they liked to play, so why were the wishes of the rest of the party of any concern? Where was the problem? 

As far as I can see, all you can do is make a mental note to run far, far away from any group run by that person. And from the guild too, as far as I’m concerned.

No, I’m not declaring war on Paladins. 

It’s not all tanks, it’s not all Paladins, and it’s probably not very many Paladin tanks at that. They just are so darn visible.

I have the perfect example of the other side of the spectrum on Paladin tanks. 

Graimerin, treasured Paladin tank. He is the least likely Paladin tank in history, if you go by what I just finished writing, because he cares about everyone else in the run BUT himself. I keep threatening to pull his punk card if he doesn’t start acting more like a typical Paladin. It’s unsettling.

My favorite Graimerin quote when we run an instance; “If I keep offering suggestions or ideas and it gets annoying, just tell me to shut up, I don’t want to butt in.”

Dude… you’re too nice of a guy to be a Paladin. You’re killing the stereotype I’m trying to build, here.

Storytime!

Here’s where you folks come in. I think the stories of runs where folks all have fun together as a team don’t get enough attention, and it’s time to change that. All I hear about are speed runs and I’m tired of it.

So here’s your chance.

Share your story of a 5 person group fight that stands out in your memory. Tell us of a time where you really enjoyed playing your class, and had fun working together as a team. Win or lose, trash pull or a boss fight, I don’t care. The key is that you felt, walking away from the fight, that by God everyone had fun and played their class well together. 

Post it on your blog, write it in a mile long comment, I don’t care. I’m going to read every one.

~~~~~

I’ve got one story to get the ball rolling.

Earlier this weekend some Sidhe Devils went into Heroic Nexus.

We had Windshadow as feral furry tank, Sinnas the Hunter with his kitty, Critics the Warlock rolling Demonology, Cassieann the Rogue specced Combat Swords and Nighthawque the Resto-specced Tree.

I was the group leader.

On the run, Nighthawque had warned us up front that he couldn’t stay long, he had to leave soon for work on the night shift. So we were moving kind of fast, and I was doing some quicker pulls than I’d normally like. A lot of “Sinnas, please Misdirect the mob onto me while I hide around the corner to bunch up the casters” kind of things.

But when we reached the corridor just after the frozen mobs, and right before the second Heroic Nexus boss, Grand Magus Telestra, we had a group of four mobs standing all in a pretty line against the left wall. Apparently enjoying a smoke break, I dunno.

And the pull seemed to be the perfect opportunity for us to have some fun.

Nighthawque had been healing great, I certainly had no worries about the pull. Furthest thing from my mind.

But here we are, a group of four HUMANOID mobs, a handy corner behind me to the right, and there they stand in a line stretching away from us.

Oh, c’mon, let’s have some damn fun!

So I marked them up… marked the closest mob as a Sap target for Cassie, and the farthest target as an Ice Trap… and asked Sinnas if he could throw Misdirect on me, and then use a ranged Freezing Arrow to nail, as close as he could, one of the farthest mobs in a trap.

Sinnas… Sinnas, who has been to 25 man Naxx pugs and gotten great loot drops, who has done Heroics, who has been playing lots since hitting 80 and is a wonderful Hunter… he has never used Freezing Arrow in a pull before, he tells me.

I’m serious, doesn’t that make you sad? The guy gets this great fun ability at 80, and hasn’t been called on to use it before in a group?

Now, I’m sure Sinnas felt that he was put on the spot being asked to use an ability for the first time in a Heroic setting, being watched by everyone and all.

But I knew we could do it.

So I asked Cassie to go in to Sap, and that once Sinnas saw that the mob was sapped, he should Misdirect onto me and then fire off his Freezing Arrow, so the pull threat from the arrow would go to me, hiding around that corner, and I would end up having one mob sapped, one mob trapped, and two mobs in my face whether they were a caster or not.

Everyone agreed, sounded like a plan, so we went with it.

Everything rolled just like clockwork. Distraction and Sap, boom! Misdirect the Freezing Arrow, boom! And here they come…

The fight was very, very easy. Ice trap came running to us around the corner just as mob two died, then Sinnas laid down an ultimately unnecessary but smart Ice Trap in front of the Sapped mob while we took down number three, keeping the extra totally controlled until we felt like handling it.

It was not a hard fight. It was not a panicked fight. It did not challenge Nighthawques’ +Healing or Mana pool and it did not bring me to the edge of low health and popping Frenzied Regen. It was totally unnecessary and it took longer than face pulling the four and laying down Swipe.

But it was very, very fun, because everyone contributed to the fight in some way other than just DPS. You could feel the mood over vent lighten and cheer up as folks felt the pride of doing something other than just attacking, and doing it damn well. Rather than being passive travelers, we all became active adventurers. It engaged everyone to think tactically and offer suggestions.

Okay, on that pull Critics didn’t have a special role, but I am totally not used to running with a Warlock. Ever. Our guild just doesn’t have any active Warlocks. I’m hoping Critics hitting 80 will cause that to change, they are tons of fun. But he more than made up for my ignorance by reminding me of some of what he could do, and he Banished Elemental mobs frequently later in the instance.

A simple trash fight, but that set the tone for the rest of the run. We discussed how to do pulls, we used Freezing Arrow and Sap and Banish where we could, and while it was rushed as hell because Nighthawque had to leave… in the end, even though we were rushed we took our time with most of the pulls, and we still ended up clearing all five bosses together in less than two hours before he had to leave, and I swear we never wiped. Ever. As far as I know, that was our groups’ first ever Heroic Nexus.

And instead of being a serious, ‘game face on let’s get this sucker’ kind of run, or even feeling all that rushed because we knew we were on the clock… it felt fun, light-hearted and a pleasure to do.

Hell, I’m thinking about the Heroics we could do, and the Instances we could do, and I find myself really wanting to do Nexus again… even though there are no drops for me in there, simply because of the great feeling left over from that one run. I want to experience that again. Because it felt great to feel that everyone on the run was having fun.

Okay, there we go. That’s my team story, and a very simple story it is, too.

What’s yours?

69 Responses to “Share your fun five person group story!”
  1. rakhman says:

    Personally I can’t stand rushed runs, I’m not playing to be the best and compete against everyone else, I’m playing to have fun for a leisure activity. I want to take a look at the instance, the architecture, the little corners, the grand scenes… see what the mobs are doing before we smash them into the ground. Not rush to the end for phat loots and badgers tyvm. We have some of that sort in our guild now and they basically alienate those who want to do more of the “Roleplaying” in MMORPG.

    Last night we did have a very good run with a pally tank. He took his time, marked up the primary, secondary kills etc and even used some crowd control. Because none of us knew the instance there was a fair amount of discussion about bosses, and no recriminations when we wiped. The hunter asked if he could try out his frost arrow and was duly given a symbol to try on, I got to hex something for fun. We even discussed doing the achievement on the big dinosaur in Drak’Tharon Keep, but decided against it because we were playing for fun and wanted to take things easy, instead of being pressured into trying something very hard just for the sake of it.

  2. Barix says:

    It was my first time in HoL, and things had been going very smoothly for a PUG. We cruised through Volkhan and Ionar… and then we reached Loken. Loken, as is his wont, beat us brutally the first two times. Then came the third attempt.

    We still didn’t really have the timing down for balancing the back and forth between Loken’s two AOE effects. I personally died with about 40%. Another DPS went down even sooner, and when our healer bought it with 10% left it looked like Loken had our number once again.

    But what Loken didn’t count on was: The Greatest Death Knight Ever.

    The DK had pretty much been our shepherd the entire run, but what he did on the third Loken attempt goes way above and beyond in my book.

    I’m just getting ready to release when suddenly I notice I’m getting rezzed. Yes, the DK actually had the presence of mind to use Raise Dead to get me back in the fight for one last stab at finishing off Loken.

    Then the DK fell. But, sure enough, Shadow of Death kicked in, and now it was two zombies vs. Loken at 5%.

    Loken went down, and it wasn’t even close.

  3. Hugmenot says:

    I love running totally unbalanced parties in level appropriate content, especially with guildies on Vent.

    The most fun instance I ever ran was Deadmines with five level 18-19 mages 3 1/2 years ago. We did not complete the run – Mr Smite (sp?) just owned us – but playing ping-pong aggro and using a bandage rotation healing startegy was just priceless.

    The most fun instance I had last year was heroic Slave Pens with my protection warrior tanking, a restoratiion druid healing, and 3 warlocks fearing EVERYTHING in sight. Trash pulls lasted forever because adds would inevariably come. The idea was for each warlock to fear one mob and then fear the closest mobs when adds arrived. Total chaos by design! I used intervene, intercept, mocking blow, and taunt more often than I did in any other instance or raid. One wipe and a few additional warlock deaths only. This run was publicized on the guild MotD a few days in advance and many guild members contributed mana potions to help with the expected longer than usual pulls.

    The best CC pulls we’ve had last year was with a 10k health, 11k armor, ~410 defense paladin tanking Heroic Botanica in 2.3. I was healing with my holy priest, and DPS was one beast mastery hunter, one survival hunter, a and enhancement shaman. We moved slowly because of the fragility of the tank. We discussed startegy before most pulls and tried various strategies such as dual pets with growl on off tanking the same mob, misdirecting to a pet positioned away and doomed to die, both hunters kiting the melee group with the paladin peeling one off at a time, and other fun stuff. We wiped twice early in the run but we became more proficient working as a group and managed to to complete the instance with no more wipes. It was in a way the most satisfying heroic I ever ran because only my priest and the beast mastery hunter were really geared for heroics, the rest of the group should have been running normal instances at their gear level.

  4. Goldengreen says:

    I am an uber-casual feral druid, with about 5 hours per week of play time, in a pretty big guild with about 10 of my RL friends who are in the leadership. Whenever I wanted to run an instance I would either be “run through” or would be told that I should just concentrate on levelling. Now, I’m finally level 80 and am slowly gearing up for “heroics” for my first time. I also just bought the cold weather flying and artisan riding skills for all of my gold and was really surprised that I have to go through a quest chain that will take me multiple days worth of play time to finally fly fast. Somehow, I was under the impression that paying that much entitled me to flying fast in birdie form. It was good though, that I actually had to do more and figure more out, it makes the result worth more. The same is true of instances, I know that my buddies will be kind as I mess up in heroics, but I have never done an instance for real before so it would be very disappointing if they only do “speedruns.” It’s the struggle to do instances well that makes me want them, if they are too easy then the end result isn’t as … well… epic.

    To be honest, I probably read this blog for more time per week than I spend actually playing WOW.

  5. Xathras says:

    Looks like you hit a nerve with this one John. I’ve been fortunate to only have run into a single tank as you describe. Most of the tanks I deal with are nice folks who take the meat shield job seriously. I have a friend who plays a feral tank and I love running instances with him.
    The highlight of my instancing career was heroic botanica, my group from the guild got it to the point where we only CC’d 2 mobs out of a four mob pull. This because the tank wanted a second mob for rage generation and the healer could handle the damage. We got so good at that instance we could clear it in under an hour.
    More recently, heroic HoL. Pug group, no one from the same guild, DK tank. We go for the “Kill him, kill him, kill him some more” method for Loken. I put up Aspect of the Wild, ele shaman helps with healing. When he fell over only the DK tank and a DK DPS were still alive, but it was awesome.
    The only jerk I’ve really dealt with was in heroic UK. We went in, he pulled two groups and promptly died because the healer couldn’t keep up. He called us all names and then left the party. We got another tank, used a little CC (Freezing Arrow FTW) and completed the instance no problem.
    I like tanks to be party leads simply because they know how many mobs they can handle at any one time. If they want me to trap a mob I’m happy to oblige. If someone other than the tank marks targets things tend to be worse since a DPS has no idea how many mobs the tank is able to handle at one time until it’s too late.
    My 2c.

  6. Bitterleaf says:

    First off, I love the tripple B…

    I’m a bear tank doing heroics and gearing up for someday raiding. As many posters have noted, I tend to be the de facto leader of whatever party I’m in. My bff is a discipline priest and we generally pug our DPS when we run heroics, so we have a grab-bag of CC and competence each time.
    I usually use CC for ranged mobs because they annoy me and I don’t want to deal with them. I like to keep the runs moving quickly, so I generally designate symbols and mark up while people loot and drink. I am pretty well-geared for the heroics I run and my healer is just about there, so CC is not really neccesary most of the time. I still like to use it though. The fights tend to be quicker and less stressful.

    Odly enough, some of my favorite fights have been the ones when CC failed. A rogue we were grouping with was going to sap a mob in AZN and hardcore failed. While running back with like five guys on her she somehow managed to type, “We’ve been discovered!” Gathering up the mobs and trying to survive while the priest kept me and the poor rogue alive was crazy fun. Especially because I was laughing so hard I could barely type.

    One of my new loves (though it pushes me towards solo-tank-from-hell status) is pulling with roots. I love to watch the mob sit their seething at me while I pound away at his buddies. The first time I did it was at the instruction of another feral who was running as DPs with us. Of course, the mob resisted my root and we had to scramble to survive, but it was fun.

    I always feel bad when I run with hunters. Many of them have no idea how to use their abilities. A friend of mine is an 80 BM hunter who has never cast misdirect or successfully trapped in an instance. I know there are some amazing hunters and I’ve probably run with them and not known it. I don’t trust them to use their traps. On some runs, I’ve asked hunters if they would be comfortable trapping and I’ve yet to get more than an “I could try…” It’s a shame how many players are not comfortable using their own abilities.

  7. Friday says:

    Great post!

    While I have fun doing instances in Wrath, I do feel the AoE strategy lacking. Just stand back and dps whichever the tank is targeting. It gets rather boring. I miss the strategy and CCs. I miss seeing somebody step up and really play their class well when things go down the crapper. DPS wasn’t always “just the dps”. You’re right, one used to be able to stand out, not just for massive damage, but for being a good team player. Now that doesn’t come into play and people have become very disposable if one is not a tank or healer. And that is just sad.

  8. Slam says:

    Just thought I’d share my experiences on this topic.

    I’m new to tanking. The guild I’m in is small and throughout Burning Crusade we mostly ran with a pally tank. I was playing a warlock back then and was amazed that we could run Botanica easily for 5 badges and all the time we used aoe, not because the pally was a rockstar, simply because it was the easiest and quickest way to get through and get the badges we needed to upgrade gear. The pally however didn’t really want to be a tank. He enjoyed a retri spec and doing pvp, so I decided that I’d level a warrior and offer to tank instances for the guild.

    I managed to get to 70 a couple of weeks before Wrath came out. Did a couple of easy instances to get used to some of the tanking rotations then went into Northrend. On the way to 80 I tanked a few instances with guildies to get the gear I’d need to help me become uncrittable, to learn the proper way to tank and keep aggro on groups of mobs. At no point did I mark for CC. I marked for a kill order, to help us get them down most efficiently, but I’d been so used to running heroics and even Kara without using much CC that I just didn’t consider it and it wasn’t needed. Some of the guildies I ran with wanted it done quickly so pressed me to keep going. I found it a good test of my tanking skills and no one really piped up much about CC.

    Fast forward to heroics and thankfully things have changed. Because of the jump in difficulty and because we’re taking in undergeared dps and healers we have to use CC and I like it. I like it being easier. I like that people have other roles to consider. Sure it’s slower, sure it doesn’t make me the centre of attention, but it works and it’s fun. Everyone’s enjoying the runs, people are getting badges and buying rewards. The pally who used to tank is sublimely happy using his retri spec to dish out a ton of damage. Life is good, and that’s what the game is about for me. I do run the instances, I do tend to tell people the strategies because I’ve read up about them in preparation. I do however always encourage people to feedback their thoughts about things and tell me if they reckon they have an ability that’ll help.

    A lot of people want to speed through instances, they want aoe pulls and they want them quick to get the maximum amount of badges. Good luck to them, but for my money they’re missing some of the fun parts of the game. They are also one of the reasons I don’t do PUG groups, because I simply don’t want the pressure and abuse that comes from that kind of instance run.

  9. Gerronimo (Gul'Dan) says:

    Thanks for this article and your site in general. I decided to switch to a Feral Druid tank for Wrath having spent my raiding career as a Holy Priest healing through BT. I am still levelling and learning as a tank, having fallen completely in love with AoE tanking. So much so, that I just assume that everyone wants chain-pulls and speed runs. I have fallen victim to the insidious rockstar tanking philosophy, without even knowing it!

    The primary goal is for everyone to have fun. My first main character was a Warlock so I understand completely the point about utilizing everyone’s abilities. I was proud of the fact I could effectively seduce CC raids/heroics, yet few raid leaders used me for that. Hardly at all. And even the Banish didn’t come out as much as I would like. I know what that feels like, I should know better. It’s just been a while.

    My guild has surpassed me and doing heroics and raids already and I’m trying to catch up. That means the dreaded PUG life for me! And yes, most of the time I am expected to lead the run. Mark it up, tell them what to do. I have MT’d several instance runs, and I have just assumed that people want to get in and out as fast as possible. So far, I haven’t heard any complaints yet, but perhaps they were just silently being frustrated about not being as utilitarian as they would like. Maybe they’re just afraid to speak up in fear that everyone else on the run just wants in and out fast and they don’t want to be the one that slows the machine down. Maybe if they just had the opportunity to speak up the group would find that’s not the case.

    This article has given me enough pause to at least ASK what the rest of the group wants at the start of a PUG run. That’s fair, isn’t it?

    Thanks again BBB. I subscribe via RSS and I enjoy all of your articles and personal experiences. I feel like I have learned a lot from your sharing them. Keep them coming!

  10. Rabidfox says:

    Tanking on my druid in BC, I became skilled at holding large groups via swipe/tab attacks while carefully positioning mobs to not break CC. Tanking felt like an art form, with subtly and finesse. I know a great paladin tank that can place a consecrate perfectly next to CC’d mobs without breaking them. Now I see CC getting broken by tanks left and right. Even when marked, seconds later its broken. The button mash, I win, AoE tanking makes me sad. I think its the new tanks that are making it less fun, and the old tanks that miss the way it was.

    I could recount many stories of great teamwork and skill in BC. Healing a heroic UK is most notable instance I have in WotLK. We had a prot warrior, ret paladin, rogue, hunter, and my holy paladin. The RET is tossing down consecrate in his rotation to pull maximum DPS and somehow we wind up pulling adds. The adds agro on and burn the RET down almost instantly and tank right after. The rogue, our guild leader and wickedly good player, throws out all the stops. Kidney shot, blind, evasion tanking. The hunter’s pet goes into off-tank mode and traps go out. I toss out my hammer of justice for a short stun. When the dust settled the mobs were dead and the 3 of us were still standing. It seems like the only time our skills get pushed like this now is when things go wrong, but its fun when it does.

  11. Morthog says:

    Howdi – I’m a paladin – and I like to use whatever tools are available – and that means CC/slow pulls…until such time as the GROUP….decides it’s time to move faster. :) Seriously – I can not stand PuG’s where one person – tank or not – enforces their will above the others.

    Seriously tho… I’ve said this alot to anyone that’s been in a group with me, consecrate has sometimes made me a lazy tank – and I can definately see bad habits formed when someone ‘relies’ on consecrate for CC. Consecrate is great for dealing with mobs that co-operate and stay bunched, keeping aggro on the tanky. But it also shouldn’t become a crutch that enables a tank to ‘hey yall, watch this pull’.

    I agree 100% with what BBB put down here. Guess what, our hunter trapper in our guild…loves to trap. The new remote method, chain traps in front of our healer etc. Our mage…sometimes likes to sheep -when he’s not competing on DPS meters ;) ….all kidding aside ..ALL classes like to feel useful and contribute in whatever way they can. If than means CC- a good player, and more important..smart tank…should let his entire team shine.

    To be honest – AOE tanking, while an awesome tool, sometimes dumbs the encounters down too much . Once a group however is comfortable with how things are going, and everyone wants to just ‘blow the next group up’ – then go ahead and do it, if all agree. I greatly prefer to play with folks who’s know how to play the game, and when things go wrong – and that means each class knowing all their tools and having them at the ready.

    btw – again – long time no chat BBB :) hope all is well -

  12. Dzur says:

    I am looking forward to reading all the stories when I have more time. But seriously? QQ more! Whaaaaaambulance! I am a druid tank also, I pull everything all the time when it’s trash, if I see a hunter using single target dps, I tell them to freakin volley already. Is it because I’m “uberleet”? NO it’s because trash shouldn’t take 500 freaking steps to kill! Blizz has done a great job of making instances fun, challenging and FAST…..with the right group. All of the things you mentioned are still alive and well, but like the entire game, they’ve changed. AOE is a godsend for those of us who want to get in, get our badges and get out. It’s no longer trash pulls and cc that set players apart, it’s consistent high dps on bosses, good tanking, good healing, and handling of the crazy boss mechanics. And by the way, if your healer can’t keep you alive with 4 mobs on you for the 10-15 seconds it takes to AOE them down, they may not suck, (probably they do) but if they don’t, your gear does and wtf were you doing tanking heroics anyways?

  13. Merell says:

    Joys of being a druid.

    I am a cat DPS girl. I leveled my druid to be a kitty cat, when they told me I couldn’t raid I said watch me and became (I hope) a valued member of my raiding team. A couple of weeks ago I think we were running UP (though I’m not 100% sure). It was a PuG (I know it’s supposed to be a good story right? It is!).

    A couple members of the PuG were from one of ‘those’ guilds I’m sure every server has, the pompus I’m the best thing since sliced bread worship me kind of attitude and I was dreading what was to come.

    Our healer was new to pally healing but all the DPS was good on not screwing up the agro for the tank and the healer could just focus on him. There were a couple of times when things got really hairy and I pulled out the ‘swiss army knife’ joys of being a druid. Adds we didn’t mean to pull, beared out and took them, the healer was having problems, I popped out of cat form and tossed a couple HoTs on. The shadow priest took a moment to bubble me when I was in bear form tanking adds back to the tank to get from me. The hunter would lay an ice trap by the healer just in case something came after him.

    We all used little tricks of our respective trades and made the run a success, even when things blow up in your face and you still see the run as smooth becuase everyone did what they could do to make sure EVERYONE won.

    The healer had been from ‘that’ guild I mentioned earlier and I received a whisper thanking me for being one of the best druids he’s run with for making the most of what the class had to offer. Not only was I pleased on my behalf (who dosen’t like to hear nice things about themselves?) but on the guild’s behalf as well that just because something might have a less desireable rep, dosen’t mean that everyone is going to be an asshat.

    It is good to have expectations broken, to challenge the diversity of classes that don’t normally get challenged or used in quite the way you thought they would use them but work.

  14. Artorin says:

    Honestly the most fun I have in groups is going into runs when everyone is under level for the content. My first WotLK run on my hunter was Old Kingdom with an entire group of 70’s. Granted we were all well geared from BC but trash mobs didn’t die in 2 seconds and boss fights took a good 5-6 minutes instead of 1-2. Another memorable run was running Shadow Labs with a bunch of guild members and we were all 68.

    So as far as CC useage goes… I don’t like using when I’m tanking because it means I have to rely on other people to do their job properly and I can’t count all the times I’ve seen that end in disaster. If its too much for me to tank I’ll get CC or if its someone I know can handle it. When it comes to healing… again I don’t like using CC but for different reasons. Healing gets very very boring when the tank is just getting beat on by 1 mob at a time. If the incoming damage can be healed witha single renew and I have to read a book or lolsmite to remain awake its not fun. The only exception to that is if the tank is brain dead and can’t aoe tank and I get aggro. If dps gets aggro it doesn’t bother me it gives me something else to do. When I dps… I totally agree with you. I WANT to use my CC. Regardless of who I am on I will keep an eye on what is going on around me. If there is a ranged mob that the tank isn’t hitting I’ll trap/shackle/sheep/blind etc.

    Oh and Honors no hunter ever should have an issue pulling a mob off of the tank to trap it. Hunters are the only non tank class in the game with a taunt, those who don’t use it likely don’t know about it. Distracting shot doesn’t just generate aggro anymore its a full on taunt now.

  15. Visceris says:

    One of my favorite times was with my mage. We were about level 67ish and had two hunters (one level 70), a rogue, and a resto druid. All were guild members and looking for a tank to run Shattered Halls for quite a while, but could not find one. So I jokingly asked if I could tank with my mage. Well, they were either bored or intrigued enough to consider it. I was also kind of excited since I had never run that instance before. So there we were, lots of DPS, a Healer and no tank in sight. Well, we started off with a few saps and some ice traps, the occasional pig.(Much cooler than sheep). It wasn’t too hard since there were only a few mobs at the start. Well, then we started running into more and more mobs and it was getting very difficult to CC all of them. The only tanks we had were the two pets from the hunters, and while offering some protection, they didn’t have the armor needed to last very long. So we wiped. Several times in fact, while we had more CC than usual, the mobs were still over powering the pets.

    So, I offered to tank. The hunters would drop some traps, and I would hit the crowd with a blizzard and maneuver then to run over the traps. This would pull two out of the pack and the rest would follow me as I made my way back to the beginning of the instance, stopping every now and then to AoE just to make sure I still had their attention. Meanwhile, the rest of the party was able to tank them one at a time with the pet and burn them down before the other trap broke. I would hit the zone start, AoE, and then teleport though the mob running back to the party where I would find 2 fresh traps. A quick teleport through the crowd and I would repeat my previous trip while the party took care of their new guests.

    This tactic worked great all the way up to the gauntlet where we were just overwhelmed by numbers. We did get to the boss at the end of the tunnel though, but by then we were hurting. It was a great run and forced us to use every trick we had to get as far as we did. I know we didn’t finish the instance, but each one of us counted it as a win.

  16. Malphailuron says:

    I don’t understand why Blizz has moved towards giving every class good CC options if face-pulling AOE tanking like this is viable.

    My gear never got past the Clefthoof set in BC, plus some nice quest blues and a couple of cheap badge items. I could OT Kara and tank some of the lower level heroics easily enough, but anything beyond that was really out of the question. But there were times when by buddies in their purples would need a tank for the daily heroic, and after waiting thirty minutes, decided that an undergeared tank was better than none at all.

    My hp would deplete scarily quickly and I’d be lucky to never lose aggro the whole fight, thanks to the T6 rogue spamming his DPS macros, but I didn’t mind that. It made me a better tank—forced me to remember every cooldown I had, bust out every trick I could think of, keep a close eye on the threat meters. What I did mind was the occasional kid who got pissed off when I COULDN’T speed run the instance, who insulted me and my gear if I marked and asked for CC. I spent a lot of time learning how to tank well, and now here they were insisting that I just get on with it … all the while insinuating that I’m a lazy chump ’cause I’m not sporting purples in every slot. I had owned the game barely six months. My /played was under two weeks. Screw off.

    Most fun I’ve had in a five-man wasn’t on my tank—tanking, especially in those days, was too damn stressful to enjoy, and I felt like I was being judged incompetent every time I missed a keypress or got the marks wrong. It was my fire mage. Level 66, in Mana-Tombs. It’s 2 am, I was about to log, but hey, I really need the consortium rep and my buddy recently respecced to resto and wants to try it out. So it’s me, the tree, a lock, and two DK’s. Now I’m wary of locks, and twice wary of Death Noobs, but what the hell, let’s give it a shot. First few trash pulls and they seem pretty competent. I’m tired. I begin to get lazy. It’s not too long before I realize that, even if I’m not watching Omen too closely and tabbing to the wrong target every now and then, the group is collectively good enough to handle it. And I think everyone else realized this too.

    And that’s when the fun began.

    Every pull, each of us would do something wrong. On purpose. And then everyone else would have to scramble to fix it. I yanked aggro every other pull. The tank would “forget” to see a pat or pull while the healer was drinking. The lock would fear for no good reason. But the real kicker? We did it all with style! One of the DK’s made a point of exploding every corpse on the ground (including mine, twice). After one death, the tree exclaimed “where’s your god now, mage??” We had a dance-off during the escort quest. The chatter was lively and entertaining.

    We never wiped, but we were on our toes the entire time, and everyone enjoyed the run immensely.

  17. roger says:

    I half agree with you.

    I had an elemental shaman all through BC and i always wanted a warrior so i leveled one very slowly. Infact i never reached 70 with him till just after the xpac.

    You probably never knew the frustration of trying to find a group as an elemental shaman. I would be in LFG for hours before i finally got into a run. Now im a valued member of a group, not a non-cc burden. Do i use Hex? Rarely, its not important anymore. What i do use is my totems. Poison on all groups, drop poison cleansing, disease, do the same. These mobs fear? drop tremor etc. I don’t think chain pulling and no cc is a bad thing, infact i think its the best thing to happen to this game.

    I liked to run instances with my friends. It was me, prot warrior, healing priest and 2 hunters. Try doing Heroic Magister’s terrace with that group. With certain combos in the pvp fight it was impossible. Wipes upon wipes. I want to run with my friends, not with some pug just because he is a mage and we need the CC.

    As for my warrior, I tank whenever a guildie needs one. And I do have the rockstar mentality sometimes. There are very few pulls that require CC. But if its needed, i use whatever is available. For example on the 4 pull before the 1st boss in heroic UK. I can tank all four without CC, but if one of the rune casters is hexed or sheeped it makes it a little easier. so if i have it available, i will use either of those.

    But i like being able to tank for my friends now, instead of having to go into LFG and saying “need 1 more DPS/CC” and not take my friends enhancement shaman because of the lack of CC.

  18. Druanna says:

    BBB, I think you’ve just come up with an idea for a post without even knowing it.
    Your blog is to help out your fuzzy fellow bear tanks be better tanks… how about a post outlining all of the other classes’ CC that they could make use of?

    I’ve pugged a LOT since Wrath came out, and haven’t seen one bear tank. But I have seen many, many tanks who flat-out didn’t know that hunters now had a freezing trap they could toss from afar. Who didn’t know that shammies could frog a mob and better yet, that that frog could stay CC’d through such abuse as Volley and Whirlwinds. Who didn’t know that druids could put beasts and dragonkin to sleep, or cyclone something, or slap down some roots.

    I love how Blizzard has changed all of the instances so that they all take almost exactly an hour to complete even if you’re a bit undergeared for them (except for H-VH… 20 minute badges FTW!). It makes it easier to get a quick group together and have some fun even if no one has three hours to commit to something. But like you say, it’s also encouraged the “AoE Zerg” mentality… and a lot of new tanks are coming into this atmosphere and never even learning that other classes HAVE these forms of CC.

    A “Here’s How Your Other Group Members Can Help You Out” post would probably be golden, eye-opening info for them.

  19. Sah says:

    I know this is an old post but I just found my way over here and I feel I want to comment, at least on some of the comments I’ve read.

    I usually run as a healer, I even was resto all the way from 1-70 and from 70-80, and I absolutely hate chainpulling tanks. The only reason at all for it is when we have to beat a timer but mostly it’s just a huge stressfactor for me trying to find the time to loot the mobs and still keep up with the tank. I just hate it!

    However, as you’ve said, not everyone is that bad and I gets so happy every time I happen to get a tank that give me that 1-2s break before their next pull. I’m not saying I like to wait on people, because I don’t, but a short stop to let everyone catch their breath and see where the mobs are before the pull does wonders. Hell, I even got a tank lately who, in addition to not chainpulling, both kept an eye on peoples mana and gave a warning when he pulled. Since he also were a decent tank he went straight on to my frineds list

    Btw, you’ll find me on Lightbringer EU if you look

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