Welcome to more reader mail, where I answer questions. It’s rare white elk day in Bearland.
I had a pretty nice email from Feraldawn, who had a number of excellent questions. The question I liked most was about gaining the confidence to tank for the first time.
First, the email;
I have finally leveled my druid to 80. I have always soloed with her. Now that she is 80 I would really like to run her into instances. I had intended to be the tank but I am not confident yet. I thought I would have her talented as a tank and run around in kitty form until I was more comfortable with playing her in groups.
Here are my questions:
- Should I keep the talents like a bear tank or should I duel spec; one for bear and one for kitty.
- How did you get comfortable tanking? My main is a holy priest, the tank and healer get the most heat from bad runs.
- Where should my gear be at to start tanking heroics?
Well thank you for the help. I really enjoyed your tank guides and the blog.
Those are really great questions, Feraldawn. Short and directly to the point.
Talents. My suggestion to you is, unless you are raiding as Feral Cat, to go ahead and use a spec tailored towards Bear tanking, and have no fears about your Kitty DPS in groups. If you’re not raiding, it’s not going to be a big issue. Soloing, you’ll certainly be just fine. If you are raiding, then you really should dual spec for Cat to make sure you tweak things out for maximum DPS for the team.
Also, if you’re raiding as Cat, you really should have seperate Kitty gear. It’s not the same as Bear gear. The leather is similar, but what stat load on that gear changes.
But, again, if you’re not raiding the upper reaches, go for a Bear weighted talent spec and gear. Even for kitty, it’s fine for 5 man action.
I’m going to skip ahead here to gear. You ask what gear you should have to start tanking.
My answer to you is, it depends entirely on how confident you are.
You CAN start tanking as a Warrior in cloth gear at level 15 in Ragefire Chasm if you want, and if you’re really confident and practise your moves, and have a great healer, you’ll probably kick it’s butt. How? By keeping all threat from all mobs on you and trusting the healer to keep you alive.
That ain’t helpful, it’s mean to illustrate a point. There is no magic number where you will tank without the potential for failure. The reason for that is that you could go into an instance with poor gear and be propped up by a superb healer, or go in with uber gear and never get heals and die anyway.
It’s a team job.
If you were confident in your ability to play well, and IF you were only going to play with friends willing to be patient, you could go into an instance and tank as soon as every slot in your gear list had at least one piece of gear from anywhere on my sidebar guides. The lowest rank of gear in those guides is still fine for tanking instances. If your team is careful on their threat output, if your healer is solid, and if you take your time, you’ll win.
What I think you really want to know is, at what point is your gear good enough that random people won’t be asshats to you in the instance?
That’ll never happen. There is no gear level high enough.
Still, if that is what your goal is, I really suggest you run heroics as a Kitty DPS until you are able to get a full set of higher level gear from my sidebar lists, including the Tier pieces. The better your gear, the more cushion you’ll have to buffer you from the random pug blues.
As I said, if your confidence is strong, that’s not necessary. But if you’re not sure you’re playing well yet, not sure you’re hitting the right buttons, etc, having more powerful gear than necessary will certainly boost your spirits.
Your third (second?) question is the biggie.
Confidence as a tank.
The fact is, in order to be a tank, much like your experience with healing, you have to be self-confident.
If you run in randoms, there WILL be people that are rude little pricks to you. Absolutely, no question. I 100% guarantee it.
There will be people that do NOT want to be in group with you, people who are there only for a couple daily Frost, people who feel that spending time with you is beneath them, people who want nothing more than a two minute run with zero wasted time on talk. Go go go, get your butt moving, if you won’t pull then I’ll pull for you, pull more, pull faster, why are you stopping, go go go. Pull several rooms at once, why are you pausing, I don’t need mana, you noob, you suck, you’re the worst tank ever, (and then they pop a massive crit while playing in their 6k gear score Fire Mage spec and pull aggro from every mob in the room, and shriek at how bad you suck).
There are many, many random puggers out there that figure that, since THEY have 6k Gearscore and killed Arthas, then EVERYONE they meet in random pugs should ALSO be in the same gear… and that using threat meters is beneath them.
To tank in random pugs, you HAVE to be able to blow those asshats off.
You have to know going in that you have your way of doing it, the way you are most comfortable with, and if you announce in advance, “Hey, I’m still getting my gear together and sharpening my skills, so please give me a chance to build aggro before you blow up the mobs” and they act like asshats pulling for you, or leave the group, or in general are rude, it’s THEIR fault for being pricks, and NOT a reflection on you.
It’s hard, I know. Especially when you feel uncertain as to your skills, and are worried that you’ll do something wrong that you’ll feel warrants being yelled at.
Trust me, I know. If you feel that way, then you’re one of the people I wish I got the chance to play with, because you care, you actually care if you’re doing a good job, and I’ll take you over Mr. 6k gearscore any day of the week.
Me, before I play a new role in a team setting, I research what the skills and talents do, I put together a spec, build a gear set, and then I practise on my own in as close to real world conditions as possible.
For tanks, this means making sure you practise keeping all the mobs in sight, so knowing how to change/turn your camera view to keep everyone in view.
Practise using Taunt (Growl) frequently so you can nail it in an emergency, which is the time you need it most.
Try practise pulling groups that have both melee and casters by pulling at range with Feral Faerie Fire, and then using Feral Charge on the ranged guy that still stands back there. It is a good habit to get into, to be able to use Feral Charge in mid-combat to flit to and fro among ranged mobs that are cranky and don’t come running.
Please read those stickies on the sidebar, and focus on learning to see what’s going on, and how to grab aggro on the fly. If you can see when someone pulled aggro, and toss a Growl and a Feral Faerie Fire, and as a last resort Feral Charge the mob and Mangle it, by gosh if that doesn’t get the wayward mob back on you, it’s not your fault.
So, study. Prepare your bars and skills. Practise in non-instances.
Then, hey… why not queue up as a level 80 to tank regular Nexus? There is a good range of mobs, casters and melee. There are some that stun you, there are some that whirlwind, there are groups for AoE, and there are a few dragonkin pulls where the healers are apart from each other, so you can nail one, then Feral Charge to the other one and lock him down, and hop back. You don’t have to, but if you can do it before they die, it’s good practise before you get to the first Icecrown 5 man ranged groups.
Confidence is very hard to build up. If you really care what other people think, and what they say, then the bored people, the idiots with zero patience will get you down, because you cannot prevent them from being pissy.
You just can’t.
What you CAN do, and what you seem to be trying to do, is prepare yourself the best you can, get the right gear, the right spec, and some helpful tips.
My biggest suggestion, really, is to try out the addon TidyPlates, with the added Threat Plates package, both available on Curse. Curse? I’m pretty sure they’re on Curse. I’ll link ‘em when I get home.
Your biggest challenge as a tank on the battlefield is keeping all mobs in view, and knowing for an absolute certainty that you have threat on every mob you’ve pulled. Threat Plates will help you do that. It’s very reassuring for new tanks. Being able to see, for a fact, that you have threat on every mob in your view is HUGE for your confidence.
I hope that some of the suggestions here help out, and I also hope that some of our wonderful readers will chime in with tips of their own.
Thanks for the email, Feraldawn!