You want to WHAT with WHO?

Last night, at the tail end of one long day, a few members of Team Wanda, Band Of Misfits most progressive raiding team, were chatting in vent.

They had just completed the server first Glory of the Cataclysm Raider earlier, so I thought I’d pop in and say hi and grats in person.

I found them in discussion on whether or not it was possible to four-man the Conclave of Wind.

They apparently do mount runs. A lot.

I was about to head out and go to bed when Shadowson asked me, “You think you’d join us as a tank to five man it?”

Ummm… you know what? It’s been a very long day.


Let the record show that on this evening, four stalwart, skilled adventurers, brave and true, and one misfit bear boldly entered into the Throne of the Four Winds.

  • Shadowson the Shadow Priest
  • Kissinger the Mage
  • Pumpken the Resto Shaman
  • Randomski the Prot Paladin
  • Bigbearbutt the bacon butted

Yes, it is in fact possible to down the Conclave of Wind with five players. We did it on our second attempt.

We won’t speak of my incredible fail on the first attempt, ‘mkay?

Shadowson healed as Shadow DPS while I tanked on Anshal, Randomski tanked Nezir with Pumpken healing, and Kissinger… well, Kissinger blew up Rohash.

There was much hopping back and forth by Pumpken, Shadowson and Kissinger all trying to do the work of a full raid.

In the end, I felt the thrill of victory over a challenge I didn’t even expect to have put in front of me, a challenge we didn’t even know would be possible or not.

I think that is why it tasted all the sweeter.

Al”Akir, what to say about Al’Akir…

I went as Kitty, and I found out that it is possible to be thrown off the ledge by a tornado, get back up and be dropped in the NEXT tornado, and then again for a third time.

At least my kitty looks cute floating in midair.

Good thing, because I sure as hell spent a lot of time doing it.

Oh, and Al’Akir?

Easier than Conclave of Wind, and just as dead.

What a surprisingly good way to end an otherwise crappy day.

If you happen to be one of the folks that is feeling bored with Looking For Raid, and wondering what in the world there is left to do in the game…

May I humbly suggest you get three of your closest friends and see how much fun clearing older raids might be?

Sure, ICC and Ulduar spring to mind as tasty little targets, but why not see what other kinds of crazyness you can get up to?

The World of Warcraft is your oyster, after all. This is as overpowered as you’re ever going to feel before Mists of Pandaria sweeps away all before it.

Let your mind run riot, man.  What do you have to lose?

My thanks to Shadowson and Team Wanda, for the unlooked-for opportunity to have a little fun.

Hopefully helpful tanking tips

Hi folks, and a happy holidays to you all.

This will seem a little unusual, I know, but I’d like to spend a little time chatting with you about tanking.

Since the moment the new patch was released, I’ve been running the new 5 person instances and Looking For Raid like a fiend. Just like everyone else, I’ll wager. :)

I know that the new content is exciting to me, and in my gushing I’ve talked to quite a few people that maybe haven’t played WoW in a while, or who haven’t tanked in quite some time (or ever), people who are now interested in getting into the tank thang.

There are quite a few issues I’ve seen in the new content, things that just could have gone better when I was playing as DPS, that were smooth as silk when I did them myself as a tank. Now that I’ve had a chance to test and verify a few things, I wanted to take this time to bring ’em up, and make a few suggestions, things to keep in mind.

This is written for tanks, but honestly, I think it’s always good for everyone in a group to understand what is happening around them, what people are doing, and why. You never know when the chance might pop up for you to use your special class abilities to make everything better.

Tank Positioning

This is going to seem silly, but unless you’re used to being a tank or melee, the importance of your physical position in relation to the mobs isn’t immediately obvious. Especially if your view of tanks is being all go go go.

As a tank, you know you’re supposed to wear gear that makes you hard to damage, and gives you a healthy cushion to absorb the damage that does get through. You also know that you’re supposed to grab aggro on mobs and keep them focused on you, not the healer.

Positioning is almost as important as being equipped with the right gear and stats, but it’s not nearly as obvious. There is a lot more to it than “run in looking all cute and cuddly, then swipe.”

The first part of positioning is protecting your party. Some enemies have Cleave or Cone attacks, attacks that affect a cone or area directly in front of them in the direction they are facing. If you run straight in and start fighting, then the enemy is facing you… and the rest of the party behind you. If you charged, the rest of the party may be running in a straight line after you to catch up, and take a cone-effect breath weapon in the face. 

You handle cleave/cone situations by knowing what the enemy will do, and when you charge in (or pull them to you), immediately run off to one side so they are forced to pivot to face you, turning 90° away from the rest of the party behind you. This actually helps the group in two ways. You get the cone/cleave away from the group, and you present the side/back of the target to the group, making it easier for melee to get to their kill zone faster. Especially with Dragons (and their tail swipes), opening the side of the enemy to your group is handy and helpful. If you were to move the supposed Dragon completely around, then the tail is on your party, and really, we can’t be having with that. Sloppy.

One codicil to this… tanks, for the love of Elune, don’t move if you don’t have to. If you don’t have to kite, DON’T. Moving all over the place just screws with the melee, places your healer at risk of having to interrupt casts to get back in range of you, and generally pisses everyone off. Tank kiting Nozdormu in End Time, I’m looking at you. If you have to kite, kite in a clear, consistent pattern. Straight lines or gentle curves around the group are your friend. Trust me, you’re not a fighter jet, they ain’t enemy migs, and you won’t lose them by jinking all over the place.

The second part to positioning is protecting yourself. Enemies make the least amount of effort they can to attack you. If they have ranged attacks, they move forward just far enough to get you in range and line-of-sight, then stand in place to shoot you. If they can disengage like Hunters can (Azure Dragonflight in End Time, Thrall Gauntlet in Hour of Twilight), they will leap backward and shoot you from range that way. If they have melee attacks only, they will run directly to you in a straight line, then attack.

This is significant for a lot of reasons. The first is, and I am stunned how often I see this, if you run into the middle of a group of enemies, they will ALL turn to attack you. If you run forward until you are solidly in the middle of them, (probably to make sure your AoE hits them all), some of them will be in front of you, but others will be behind you.

I know it’s rude of them, but enemies standing there looking at your unprotected back will NOT run forward to get in front of you.

Enemies that are behind you are completely unaffected by your Parry, Block, and Dodge. You are literally standing there dropping your trousers, bending over, and asking them to shove their attacks like a red hot poker right up your unprotected ass.

That hurts. It hurts far more than you probably expect, since you are used to having damn good mitigation from frontal attacks, even as DPS.

I hope that the visual gets my point across, because I am constantly seeing tanks charge forward into the middle of a big pile of enemies, stand there in the center, and then use AoE threat-generating abilities like Swipe and Thrash or Thunderclap while standing still. Then, they get pissed at the healer because their health plummeted like a brick from the butt ramming they just got.

I have seen this cause group wipes. On trash. MANY TIMES.

Many whelps. Left side. HANDLE IT. 

But I digress.

Moving back on target…

I’ve seen this (standing in the center of a group of mobs) happen to a Bear tank most recently. His health dropped so freaking fast I thought he was just starting out as a tank. I inspected his gear, and to my surprise he was dressed head to toe in 378 or better, properly enchanted and gemmed and reforged. Great gear or not, that didn’t do him any good when he ran into the middle of a group, stood there and let everything behind him have a free pass at his ass. And he was by no means the only tank I’ve seen do this.

Even if you’re sword and board and used to it, make no mistake, do not EVER intentionally give things standing behind you a free pass at your ass.

Got it? Good.

Now I’m going to tell you when to ignore all that. This again comes under the heading of ‘knowing what you’re fighting’. Some trash mobs hit like a truck, but others really are candy-coated marshmallow puffs. You can be surrounded by 15 – 40 of the damn things and safely ignore their attacks while keeping aggro and letting the DPS burn ’em down. You have to know when it’s safe to do that, though, you can’t just assume ALL groups of trash are like that. Groups like that are usually accompanied by one really big, hard hitting enemy that you spend most of your attention on.

It is that subtle training we’ve had over the years, the ‘ignore the little adds when there is a big one in the mix’ that made me applaud Blizzard the first time I saw the trash in the Ruby Dragonshine for Echo of Sylvanus. The trash consists of a pack of Time-Twisted Geists and one big Time-Twisted Scourge Beast. If you focus on killing the big Scourge Beast, then all the little Geists will cannibalize freely, and, well, bad things happen. Bravo, well played. Moral of the story is, you gotta know when to hold ’em. Know when to kite ’em. Know when to pop your cooldowns, and know when to bubble-hearth. You never loot no corpses when you’re trying to interrupt ’em, there’ll be time enough for looting when the encounters done.

Using positioning to control the pull

There are several things you can do to keep from giving enemies a free shot at your butt. The simplest way is to charge in, use AoE to get some fast aggro, then take a couple steps backwards. This makes the enemies in front of you take a couple steps forward to follow you, and the enemies behind you will stand in place (since you are staying in their range) and simply turn to maintain facing, ending up with all of them in front of you or to your sides, and your butt poking safely out of the pileup.

I find it helps to think of it as covering your ass, even though the goal is to have your butt be the only thing not actually covered by anything.

If there are casters at range, and you aren’t fortunate enough to be a Death Knight to yank them to you or a Paladin to silence a bunch of them with your shield and make them come running to you, then you pretty much have to start by getting aggro on the melee enemies first, make sure they are all focused on you, then charge the ranged enemy, run a little past him and turn around looking back the way you came. This puts the ranged right there in melee range in front of you, and all the rest of the melee enemies will trot along after you to group up conveniently in a handy pack, nowhere near your butt. 

The problem with this? Mostly, if you do this and your group doesn’t know to hold up for a second while you drag the melee along, you will likely lose aggro on the melee since you’re off harassing the ranged. Then the pull gets all messy, with you darting back and forth trying to grab them all back up, and players running around screaming “get it off, get it off”, and isn’t it funny how they almost never run the mob chasing them TO the tank?

There are lots of other fun things you can do if your group is willing. If there IS a Death Knight, hey, don’t be too proud to ask them to pull the ranged in to ya. Sure, that forces them to have aggro from that mob for a few seconds until you taunt it off, but Death Knights can take a little abuse.

Also, and I know this is a strange thought, but those ranged trash mobs are sometimes able to be Crowd Controlled. Now, before you get too upset, let me tell you that I’ve seen about half and half in the new instances between groups that did use CC and those that didn’t. Both types succeeded, but the ones that used CC took a few seconds longer. Some folks just hate that. 

Don’t forget, while we’re on the subject, that Druids can do our own CC on dragonkin, Hibernate. The final boss encounter in End Time has two groups of dragonkin you pull first, each group having two ranged casters and two melee. By all means, Hibernate one of the casters yourself, wait a few seconds for the rest of the pack to walk out of Swipe range of the CCd mob, then nail them bastiches.

Make it hard to do it wrong

A lot of the new instances can get pretty chaotic. There are several gauntlet-style fights where mobs come running in at you from various angles, appear from patches of noisome darkness, or just uncloak.

When you are running from fight to fight, it is extremely common for the group to get spread out. Someone may stop to loot, someone else may have stopped for a sec for a quick mana drink, or maybe a patch of light appeared in the darkness ahead and everyone ran for it like a herd of cats, every kitty for themselves.

What happens next is quite natural. If people are running ahead of the tank, they face pull the mobs first, even if they didn’t do anything yet. When they get attacked, they start fighting back or casting heals, causing actual threat you’ll have to pull off. If the tank is running ahead to try and facepull first, other people lagging behind can get aggro from mobs still running in, or the healer may start casting heals on you and pull healer aggro on mobs that haven’t gotten near you yet.

The calm players will simply keep running to catch up to, or fall back with, the tank and trust the adds will be picked off.

Not all players are calm. They stop and panic, trying to fight the mob themselves. They run around looking for the tank. They buckle down and DPS harder, and sometimes that doesn’t always work if the mobs have some meat to ’em.

The best way to prevent this is to get the group thinking like a team instead of five strangers. You can help this along by marknig yourself with a golden star so you stand out in the chaotic mess ahead. Then just a quick message saying that the healer should try to stay close to you through the gauntlet, and everyone should try to match your pace and bring adds to the star if they get ’em should eliminate all the craziness.

If you want to mention that you’ll mark a Skull as a first kill on casters (like the Shadow Priests in Hour of Twilight or the healing Priests in Azure Dragonflight), who knows? You might even find people following them. 

The point is, if you communicate to your group that you have some kind of clue what you’re doing, and make it EASY to do it right and bring stuff to you or stay at your pace, why, people tend to feel reassured you won’t just facepull Swipe spam and will work as a team. If you zone in and proceed to pull in silence, you end up with every person for themselves half the time.

Try to step back and keep that principle in mind. Look for ways to make it hard to do it wrong. If it’s easy to lose sight of the tank in the crowd, mark yourself. If it’s hard to tell who should die first in the crowd, mark it out for the DPS to focus on. If it’s easy to pull two groups of ooze trash in the ring around Yor’sahj the Unsleeping, then move your ass around the outside ring further to center yourself before running in towards the center to pull instead of running across at them at an angle.

 Wrapping this fish up

The most important thing I recommend is to make sure you read up a bit on what to expect before you go in. If you haven’t run the new content as DPS or Healer before going in to tank it, take the time to read up on the boss fights at least, using a nice resource like Wowhead that will tell you info about the zones and what bosses do. Read the comments as well, people love to give tips there, and many are excellent. They won’t tell you much about trash mob encounters, those you’ll have to find out on your own, but knowing what is critical to interrupt and what the inevitable twist will be is just immense.

Make it hard to do it wrong… and that includes yourself. If you know what to expect, chances are a lot less likely that when Sylvanis raises ghouls in a ring around you, coming ever closer, you won’t panic and jump past ’em. 

Have a happy!

Fear the Butt!

It’s a most wonderful time, for tank gear. Drink beer? TANK GEAR!

I have been having a wonderful time using this patch gear reset to get my Druid built back up while I could still ride the power curve, and be on par with the DPS I see.

By using my other DPS characters and the enjoyable way we can get Valor Points now, (omg, instances that aren’t agonizing slog fests of misery in the name of Valor! Who woulda thunk it?) I was able to get some BOE items from the VP vendor that sent my Druid over the moon in delight.

The drops in the new instances are plentiful in general, although chasing that one particular upgrade can still bring that pain we know so well.

Overall, gearing a Bear tank has been a pleasure.

At least, until tonight.

I did the LFR first wing earlier in the week, and I was fortunate enough to get a Tier token. Ah yes, even better tanking gear! So wonderful!

I went into some random Twilight instances, and had a lot of fun. I even did one as pure random, all by myself for the Satchel reward, and it went smoothly. How interesting, to see firsthand groups of random strangers in the freshest content, and the things they STILL do when running and gunning on the go go go. 

And hold my own easily, rather than struggling.

And then I entered the second wing of LFR. I downed Deathwing on my Druid tonight, and I won the most prized item that we as Bears could ever wish for… Kiril, Fury of the Beasts.

Oh yeah, you know it.

In the last content release, we had the Firelands, and what many of us thought was the ultimate gift for the Feral Druid, Fandrals’ Flamescythe.

Although not documented on the tooltip, using the Flamescythe in kitty form would have the chance to transform you into a flamecat.

How cool is that, yes?

Ah, but cool as that is, it benefits not the dedicated Bear, the big butted ones who toil endlessly for the tanking satisfaction of him or herself.

Check out the tooltip on Kiril, though, if you please.

Your melee and ranged attacks have a chance to trigger Fury of the Beast, granting 95 Agility and 10% increased size every 1 sec.  This effect stacks a maximum of 10 times and lasts 20 sec.

Fury of the Beast. Note there, where it says “stacks a maximum of 10 times”, please. Get it? Got it. Good!

I am here to tell you that the Big Bear Butt exists, and it is a massive posterior indeed.

Oh, and it has enhanced armor. Err, the weapon, not the butt.

Well, the butt has enhanced armor too, but… ah hell, thank you again, Blizzard. Merry Christmas to you too!

A few things to note, here.

First, from the moment the first tick of the effect begins, your 20 secs overall begins. Each additional stack you gain does not extend the overall time. Each stack takes a second to build, so it i a progression, not an explosion. It takes you 10 seconds to gain maximum buttitude, visibly increasing butt size every step of the way, and then you get to enjoy it for ten more seconds at max power.

At which point, after going hard for ten seconds, we experience…. shrinkage.

There IS an internal global cooldown on the effect, which seems to be about 45 seconds after the effect wears off. Maybe it’s 40 seconds, giving you the effect once a minute, but I need to do some testing to see how consistent it is, and where it really lies. 

One thing is certain. As you attack a single target, such as a boss, you can clearly see each second as your butt gets bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER, until you are what I have already come to think of as ‘normal size’.

I call it that, because when I’m in the middle of a scrum, mobs all about, players darting around, I don’t notice the effect begin. I find myself wondering, “Am I big right now or not? I seem quite normal.”

And then, all of a sudden, “Oh shit, little bear!”

When things get going in a crowd, I notice the buff more when I experience that sudden shrinkage, and find myself wishing wistfully for a butt that was big. 

This… this is why you wake up in the morning glad to be a Bear tank. For moments like this.

For all of you that still live the life of the Bear, I pray you take this gift that Blizzard has given for us, accessible to ALL in the current Looking For Raid functionality, I pray you take the chance, hit the raids, stay with it until you win that staff, and enjoy!

Many of us may never expect to see a raid team enter and clear the Firelands, or get the Fandrals Flamescythe drop. You have to raid with your guild, or be part of a raid group that forms and have the time.

But all of us truly have the same opportunity to get this magnificent weapon, and for that I can’t thank Blizzard enough.

Aww, look at that cute little warrior there. Kind of looks taken aback by the size of the butt, eh?

And how about that Dwarven Priest. That there is a whole lotta bear, right there. Look ma, I cain’t be fat, I still fit in tha bubble! Err, all except for that enormous butt.

The butt can’t fit in the bubble. Tank with my face?

Tank with my face, my butt.

….. exactly!

But in conclusion, I would like to say, it has not gone unnoticed that even at this late date…

It’s STILL all Hunter loot.

A New Sensation

Warning: Prot Paladin talk straight ahead.

There is a Star Wars: The Old Republic beta. I was in it this last weekend.

I’ve read the agreement carefully, and it turns out that’s about all I can say about that subject.

Except maybe for this; I could have spent a LOT of time in the SW:TOR beta this weekend, but I ended up spending most of my game time in WoW.

What was I doing, if I wasn’t lost in a galaxy of laser swords and 2 trillion candlepower pistolgrip flashlights?

I was playing my Protection Paladin in PvP, and doing a LOT of PvE tanking.

My Paladin, affectionately named BigCrankButt, started the weekend Friday night at level 57.

Cassie suggested that I leave XP on and level through BGs until I got the Honor Points I needed to get all that tasty level 60 PvP epic gear. She would level by questing solo through Blasted Lands.

By the time I dinged 60, she was actually a little ahead, and I had won every random BG, so you can see that from our super-small sampling, pure questing is equal to PvP in leveling speed, or much better if you’re losing in BGs a lot. Anecdotal and subjective evidence of no real value in a study, but still interesting.

From the moment we dinged 60 and trained flying, we’ve quested a bit and run instances a whole lot more.

I have just one thing to say about the playing experience on our Prot Paladin and Disc Priest combo.

OMIGOD epic!

The biggest reason for my pleasure has been the Paladin class being godlike in AoE tanking from 15 to, now, 62. There has been some added spice to the yummy feast brought by the sheer power of level 60 PvP epics, but that has just been the last two levels.

The real prize is being a Protection Paladin.

Playing Prot and tanking through the levels has left me, as a Druid tank at max level, kinda feeling like Charlie Brown during Halloween; “I got a rock.”

As a Prot Paladin, I have had all the tools and all of the talents I could ever wish to get and hold aggro during everything that PUGs could throw at me.

We’ve leveled in PUGs almost the whole way, and we’ve seen every kind of pull for the tank, gogogo, shoot the wrong mob, charge the target and stun it type of thing you could imagine, and the Paladin has taken it all with a smile.

A word on that. Of everything I’ve seen, far and away the most annoying has been to throw Avenger’s Shield to pull a group of mobs, only to have a prick of a Warrior charge one as they JUST started running to me, and stun it in place at it’s starting point, WAY THE FUCK OVER THERE, when it’s a casting mob, and now my Avenger’s Shield is on cooldown and I can’t easily pull it back to where I’m taking care of business with all these other casting mobs over HERE.

Congratulations, you prick. Grrr. It’s not a big deal, I either keep taunting it while burning down the caster in my face, then run over there, or just let the idiot that charged it deal with it, but still. I like my pretty little clumps of groups in range of my melee AoE, damnit.

Oh, and if you’re going to roll Need on tanking gear for level 50s, hows about you actually QUEUE as a TANK, you worthless little douchebag. Thank you very much, signed, the actual tank.

Anyway, Protection Paladins are not overpowered. Not from 15 – 62, at least. I don’t want you to get the impression that is what I’m saying.

What they are is tuned JUST RIGHT. They are not ‘snooze and cruise’, you have to use your abilities and there are a LOT of them. But you have all the abilities you need. You are never left feeling just screwed. And you can get and hold AoE aggro. If you play one, you can succeed and have a ton of fun.

If the other tanking classes can’t feel the same level of control on the battlefield in PUGs, and can’t experience the same fun, then it’s not Paladins that are OP, it’s the other tanks that need a buff.

The object of the game is to have fun. If your reaction to hearing I am having lots of fun tanking is to assume the class needs to be nerfed, you need to re-evaluate your baseline assumptions. Tanking shouldn’t have to feel like a pain in the ass sucky job.

I’ll say it again. What has been most awesome about them is that they actually have all the tools they need to get aggro, keep the group moving fast, and HOLD aggro in the face of all that the DPS can do to try to screw you. You’re kept hopping, looking around for distant mobs to nail with Avenger’s Shield, grabbing swarming patrols incoming with Hammer of the Righteous, and so much more.

That is my definition of fun tanking. Being able to respond immediately when shit happens, instead of sitting on your hands helpless.

If Blizzard wants me to have fun as a tank, give the DPS wild shit to do to cause massive threat, and give ME all the tools I need to regain and hold threat. Pop this, pop that, fire that off, and wahoo! Fast paced, pulse pounding action.

I don’t know what they’re like at max level, but so far from 15 to 62 it’s been a perfect game.

Maybe a lot of that has been having a skilled healer along for every run that, y’know, actually heals instead of doing DPS because “they’re bored”. Amazing concept, but if you want to DPS, queue as DPS. If you queue as heals, keep our ass alive. Cassie has done that, and because of that every run is funtime fancypants mode.

Believe it or not, there is a point to my talking about all this, and it’s not to say “Oh look at me, I’m having fun.”

One response I get from people a lot when discussing tanking, is how daunting, even intimidating PUGs are to try and learn how to tank.

Not “how to tank as X class”, but simply trying to get used to what a tank has to look at and prioritize. How to play AS a tank.

If you haven’t played a tank before, it takes a little bit to get used to the differences from the other playstyles, especially if you’ve mostly been playing a healer looking at health bars and moving your own butt out of fire.

If you want to learn to play as a tank these days, I think the max level PUGs are really the wrong place to try and do it (based purely on the patience level of your fellow players), and once 4.3 rolls around and the Trolls are added into the standard PvE Heroic random mix, it’ll just get worse.

But if you do want to learn to play a tank, I’m thinking a possible idea is to do it in two stages.

First, create a new tank alt and start running random PUGs at level 15. Obviously from my gushing, I’m telling you that I know for a fact a Prot Paladin would be a good choice.

Level up through the PUGs, preferrably with a friend that might want to try a healer for a change, and take on all comers. With the changes to tank threat generation, you’ve got an advantage in getting and holding aggro.

The skills you would want to develop in this way, skills that apply to all tank classes, are;

  • Getting the pull clumped up on casters. (Silencing/pulling casters to you, Line of Sight pulls, charging groups, etc).
  • Watching a 360° radius for patrols and runners and bringing them in to you before they hit anyone else.
  • Watching your own health to time survival/mitigation cooldowns.
  • Watching your party health as a clue to pulled aggro.
  • Controlling enemy groups and maneuvering them out of fire/acid/green/bad.
  • Positioning yourself consistently to make it easier on melee.

All of these skills need to be developed with the following ‘test to destruction’ real world criteria; how well does your chosen method work in a group of strangers?

An example of what I mean; If you want to do a line of sight pull of a caster, and the rest of the group ignores you to run around the corner shooting, then you need to take that into account and come up with a new plan. Maybe telling them what you’re gonna do before pulling, or macroing a “LOS pull, don’t attack yet!” yell, or just trying something else like charging in.

The point being, whatever you do, see how it works in random groups. Tweak it until you can handle what the players will do.

The second step would be to take the generic skills you developed in tanking through the levels, and then apply that to your max level character of choice now that you’ve built up confidence.

I think it might work pretty good.

I am interested in how the other classes feel to tank through the levels. I know from experience that the Paladin feels far more in control of PUG aggro than my Warrior did while leveling. Is it just the Paladin? I could easily have been Warrior tanking wrong. Do all of them really handle the same way until you get to the 80-85 range?

I don’t know. I’m interested enough to try a Death Knight and tank through the levels, though. Just to see.

It’s been a new sensation for me, playing a Prot Paladin.

I feel… epic.

It’s been a long, long time since I felt that.

I’ve gotten used to setting my goal as “I feel competent in my class.”

If I go into a raid, in Firelands or anywhere else, that has been my goal for a year now. “Do I feel competent at my class? Did I do enough DPS to feel that I didn’t suck? Did I tank well enough to meet expectations?”

I never expect to feel badass anymore.

About the best I feel is when someone like Matheo tells me “I don’t know how you get those numbers on a Beastmaster Hunter”.

That feels good. I know I don’t have actual great DPS, just a surprising amount for a BM Hunter with my gear level, that’s all. It’s an “exceeds expectations” evaluation, and oh boy doesn’t that just thrill you.

But playing the Prot Paladin as a tank through the levels… taht brings back the old “epic” feel.

The “I am in command of this battlefield, weep you poor NPC bastards, weep!”

It’s a good feeling.

I’ll admit, since dinging 60 and equipping that incredibly powerful PvP epic gear, it’s gotten even nicer.

Or, as one player said to another in the Hellfire Ramparts run we did Monday;

Player 1 – “How the hell is the tank doing more than twice our DPS?”
Player 2 – “Have you SEEN his gear?”
Player 1 – “Where the hell did you get all those epics?”

It’s true. Thanks to the AoE heavy fights in Ramps and Blood Furnace, my damage output at level 60 was about twice that of most DPS players in heirlooms. DKs included.

In other words, I already felt epic before, but now while wearingthe  epics, I actually feel EPIC.

It’s a good feeling. Turns out I missed it. I wish I could figure out a way we could get it back at high level.

Pull Together or Pull Apart

Hello, my tanking compadres.

You know how we’re always talking about getting aggro, holding aggro, managing pulls and working with DPS and healers to get groups running smoothly?

We’re always talking about that kind of stuff around here.

As tanks, we worry about how to get aggro on big groups of mobs, how to hold them all successfully, and generally do our part to reduce the stress levels of the team.

Now, I don’t have any figures to support this, but I think most of you that I know through the website tank because we enjoy that intense feeling of being a valuable member of a team when you tank and do it well. You get some warm fuzzies from your friends.

Plus, we like pain. We eat it like candy.

I’m sure a lot of the tanks you see out there in the wild chose that role for faster queue times, but I bet they’re outnumbered by the people that started to tank because somebody had to do it, and they were willing to assume the responsibility and try.

If you’re visiting this blog, chances are decent you actually give a shit about being a good tank, regardless of why you started doing it.

We tank because we care.

It harshes our mellow when somebody is lying dead on the floor during the pull. It especially torques us off when, for whatever reason, the healer has something chewing their face.

Doesn’t it?

See, that is what I see in the comments on this and other blogs, but when I’m in actual pugs with other tanks and DPS, that’s not quite the case.

People who play as tanks are people too, and are just as liable to do the same screwed up stuff.

I decided to get a different point of view. I went sniffing for a conversation that was really representative of the attitudes I see in the real world.

I found what I was looking for at the MMO Champion forums.

There was a thread that started out innocently enough. The question posed was, how do you as the tank handle DPS players that pull for you, without being a dick or causing problems for the rest of the group?

That’s a pretty nice topic for a blog post, I was interested in seeing what came out of it. After all, there were NINETEEN pages of replies, there must be some good stuff in there, right?

The range of replies covered such insightful thoughts as;

Complain more.
Pull faster.
Do your job right.
Lol 5 mans is srs bsns.
I never have problems as a tank, so you must suck.
Teach them a lesson and let them die.
DPS have to wait for groups longer than tanks, so stfu and pull faster. (Basically, different versions of “it’s your fault if I pull for you”)
Your job is to protect the party, regardless of what the party does. So deal with it.

If you play a tank, I’d seriously recommend reading the thread. At the very least, it provides lots of examples of the kind of people that are really out there, and how they think.

Before you think that the purpose of this post is to scare new tanks off, let me get to the point.

If you tank in random groups a lot, regardless of how fast you move or how much chain pulling you do, there will come a time when a player pulls for you.

Why? Because they’re bored. Or they’re a dick.

Or maybe because no matter what you do, some people are never satisfied, because it’s not what they’re doing now that is important, it is how long this will take so they can do another one.

Each thing I do I rush through so I can do something else. Pursuit, by Stephen Dobyns.

It doesn’t matter. How do you handle it?

My opinion on this and any other behavior issues in groups these days, is to ask if it’s causing a problem.

If someone in your group is doing something or saying something that pisses you or someone else off, it doesn’t matter if you are the only one feeling the anger or frustration. When you’re playing a video game, the only frustration you should feel is what comes when you fail to beat a mob (or other player in PvP). You get enough crap in the real world, you don’t need to deal with it in the game too.

Your group is supposed to be a team working together, even if only for 10 minutes. If someone can’t rein in their assholish tendencies for 10 minutes so that the group runs smoothly, that’s not a sign that you suck, the healer sucks, or of suckitude in general. It just means you’ve got an immature ass in the group.

The question you need to ask yourself is; is it bothering you enough to drop group?

How you react is what makes the game.

Me, I don’t take the shit. I tell them to play it straight or find someone else. I’ve got plenty of characters, if people can’t act like a mature adult for 10 minutes, I don’t waste my time with them, I just move on to a different character until the debuff timer goes away. Life is too short to screw around.

I don’t even worry about the rest of the team, because I know when I drop group they’re at the head of queue for a replacement. The next solo tank to come along is going to fill their group, and more power to ’em.

Maybe you’re not quite at that level yet. Maybe you prefer to follow the “you pull it, you tank it” rule. In that case, just make sure you take a second to talk with the healer in a whisper, find out how they feel about it. You’re not making things any easier on the group if you let the pulling DPS tank something, and the healer refuses to give up and let them die. If the pulling DPS can wipe aggro or misdirect it, then all you’re doing is giving everyone else a headache.

Maybe you don’t really care how people act in groups. After all, one boff they’re off, and you never have to see them again, so why waste your time by dropping group now? Just check with the healer, see if they care healing one real tank and one fail tank in the same run, and if you’re both overgeared anyway, go for it.

And there is one other things to keep in mind. Maybe you are being more cautious than you have to be.

There is a lot to be said for pulling at a rate you are comfortable with, but who says you play WoW to be comfortable?

It’s good to push yourself, to see what you’re capable of. The wild card in your group is always going to be the healer, so why not whisper and ask them if they feel good with the idea of you pushing your pulls and seeing how fast you can go? If the healer says they’re just learning, then take it easy. If they say “Lol I raid Rag Hard Modes, go for it”, then wtf… go for it! Have fun, pull to your hearts content, go nuts. If you die from having too much on you and the healer couldn’t keep up, then I guess next time people won’t complain as much if you mark for CC.

Just remember, you don’t have to take shit from anyone, but you don’t have to draw a line in the sand everytime someone acts the tool. No need to get confrontational, if someone pulls for you, it’s up to you to decide how to respond.

A simplistic “pull faster” or “I never have a problem” just shows the person doesn’t know what they’re talking about, because every random group is going to have different gear and skill levels. All it takes is to get a brand new healer with minimal mana who keeps stopping to drink, and it’s not going to take long before you’re pulling a group when the healer is sitting out of range and out of mana.

What are you going to do, yell at the healer for being new? That might work once looking for raid comes out, but that is what five mans and gear levels are for. Part of being a good team player is actually trying to work within the capabilities of the team.

I will advise you as the tank to always check with your healer as soon as the group forms. Just a quick “Hey, I’m well geared and know the fights (or aren’t and don’t as appropriate), you mind if I push the pace” will tell you where you’re at and how to proceed from there.

If you like to go with “You pull it, you tank it”, then make sure the healer is on board with that plan. Some healers will just heal them too, and if you’re winning anyway, well, why not? I’ve been playing a Paladin alt as a tank up through the levels, and sometimes the DPS pulls other groups while I’m still on one, and hey… if they live because of their heirlooms, well, so what? Go for it.

Whatever, it all comes down to remembering you don’t have to take shit from anyone… but if you honestly don’t care what they do and it doesn’t bother you, and you and your healer can handle it, then why not just roll with it?

The one point I saw that is true is that it’s not your job to teach someone else the right way to play. They know not to pull for you, if they pulled that shit on a boss fight in a raid they’d be booted and they know it. But they have no respect for you or the content they’re doing, because ZA/ZG is ‘srs bsns’.

No, don’t take action with the intent of educating them.

I prefer to think of them dying while you watch as being more along the lines of letting nature take her course.

I just wish there was an effective /popcorn emote in the game, where a little red and white striped bag appeared and you tossed a few kernals while watching and giggling.

Is your butt this big?

You think YOUR butt is big?

I have a picture guaranteed to make you feel better about your body today.

Now that, my friends, is THE big bear butt.

My deepest thanks go to Ironshield for sending me an email pointing out this fantastic picture by Jill Greenberg.

The picture appeared in an article at the Telegraph, and has the byline “Kodiak Bear ‘Whopper’ photographed in Innisfail, Alberta, Canada by Jill Greenberg, Barcroft Media”.

So much for the myth that an all fish diet is slimming… unless brother bear butt here is spending all his time at the “All you can eat Walleye Fish Fry.”