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.”

The tanks all said wha?

From out of the blue yesterday came a new Dev Watercooler blog post from Ghostcrawler, where he revealed that Blizzard has decided tanks shouldn’t have to worry about generating enough threat to hold mob aggro against crazy DPS.

Specifically, tanks on the starter end of the gearing grind shouldn’t be crushed under the weight of trying to hold aggro against raid-geared DPS going balls-to-the-wall in a pick up group.

Ready? This isn’t some “we think it would be nice to someday…” announcement. The hotfix apparently went live today, August 16th, and right now all tanks in their tank mode will have their threat generated from damage boosted, going from 300% threat from damage to 500%. They’ve also ramped up the rapidity by which Vengeance builds in the first few seconds of a pull.

Surprise!

When the announcement went out yesterday, folks I talked to had a wide range of responses.

Among them were that this was the end of the game as we know it, tanks will no longer have to know how to do anything, skill is dead, everybody dance now or quit in disgust, blah blah blah.

Say what now?

I’ll admit, I thought that the days of there being anything tank-related for me to talk about here were gone, what with the high levels of knowledge and awareness I see among the players I run into every day, but I guess I was wrong.

Let’s talk about what this really means for you and me, mmm’kay?

Tank threat generation has been increased. Not just by a little, but by a metric shit-ton. Threat from tank damage has almost doubled. It’s close to TWO metric shit-tons now, and that’s a lot.

So, it’s all crimson blood spraying and rolling in the clover for tanks now, right? We run in, lay down a few quick swipes, then we can go stagger away from the keyboard looking for a Guinness while the DPS finishes the pull.

Right?

Well, maybe a teeny bit, but not really.

The big reason that it’s not going to work that way is that encounter design, even on trash pulls, has changed a lot over the years.

It used to be that the bread and butter, meat and potatoes pull (it’s lunch time, I’m hungry) was the tank runs in and hits the mob, the DPS burns it down. There would be minor variations on that theme, a few extra adds maybe, a healer or ranged spellcaster that wouldn’t come along for the ride, but that was pretty much it.

These days, just as GC points out, the design has changed.

Now, most fights in high level instances and raids have some kind of mobile component, a multi-mob component, and also what my wife Cassie refers to as a gimmick.

The mobile component is simply something to encourage people to move around. Tornados swooping in and out, rocks falling from the sky, mobs that start cleaving/flaying wildly, stomps that you have to jump to avoid being hit by, green or red shit to move out of, electrical fields to pull mobs out of, the list goes on and on.

A mobile component; Blizzard designing fights where the player needs to think about moving your ass instead of just standing and mindlessly pushing buttons in a fixed rotation.

The multi-mob component. This doesn’t just mean that there was more than one mob standing there.

This is where during the fight you need to be aware of the area around you, including behind you, because there may be roaming packs of adds wandering around, there may be adds that spawn periodically out of nowhere and come running in that the tank has to grab on the fly, there may be adds just like the old days that heal others or do evil debuffs and poisons that need to be killed first or locked down with interrupts, and there may even be adds like in Stonecore or Zul’Aman that, if not stopped, will run off and bring a LOT of friends to your fight.

And finally, the gimmicks. Ah, the gimmicks.

It seems like every encounter has some kind of thing that’s different. Bosses that will fixate on a target and charge them. Mobs that are frozen that need to be drug through fire, mobs that are on fire that will destroy you unless you hit a frozen mob first to get chilled out, mobs that will bubble and you have to go jump around flipping levers, all sorts of stuff.

Gimmick. It’s an unkind term for unique encounter mechanics, but it’s accurate.

Tank threat is buffed now. A lot.

So, how does this change the game?

It doesn’t. It simply smooths out the flow.

If adds come running in, the tank still has to tag them and do damage to them to generate threat. End of story. You will not suddenly, miraculously grab adds and hold them automagically without doing anything to make it happen.

You will not be able to charge in, blast up and tune out. You as the tank will still have to be mobile when necessary, be aware of your surroundings and actively grab adds and distribute damage/threat amongst them, and you will still have to handle the gimmicks of each encounter. 

What you can expect to change is that, if you are already doing everything you are supposed to, you will have a much stronger chance of holding aggro on all members of an AoE group, even if you are focusing on Skull, and the DPS are ignoring your marks to blow up whoever they want.

This change would normally encourage you to prioritize AoE threat generating abilities more. Since most AoE is on some kind of cooldown cycle now, you’re probably already using your AoE abilities whenever they’re up anyway, so, well, no big change there. Right?

It’s not like you can do Swipe spam, no matter how much you would have wanted to. But you can pop it every time it’s off cooldown, and expect it to have tastier results.

Likewise, for DPS players, this does not signal the death of Vanish/ Feign Death and Misdirection/Fan of Knives. Adds will still come in from wierd directions, and being able to send them off to the tank is always a good thing. Likewise, having an emergency “Get them the f&*(^ off of me” button never loses it’s value.

So.

In conclusion…. I don’t know where the hell all the panic I saw came from, or the rage about dumbing down the game, but I for one welcome our new threat overlords, and invite them to come tank at the pug table.

My Warrior and Hunter alts will be sure to make you feel RIGHT at home.

Raise ’em right or rock and roll?

A Rogue, a Druid and a Priest walk into a bar.
The bartender asks them what they want.
The Rogue says, “Gimme some fresh leather gear, heavy on the agility and crit. I’m DPS.”
The Druid says, “I’ll have what he’s having. I’m a tank.”
The Priest says, “Gimme some rings, necklaces and trinkets heavy on intellect and spirit, I’m the healer.”
The Druid says, “I’ll have what he’s having. Sometimes I’m a healer.”
The bartender says, “Hey, who do you think you are, pal, a hunter?”
The Druid says, “No, that’s my alt. Hey, you got any BoE epics that I can need roll for him?”

I read somewhere that you’re supposed to open your speech with a joke. There you go.

I checked. It didn’t say it had to be a funny joke.

About this Priest thing.

I re-rolled a Priest, dear lord help me a gnome Priest, and went Discipline spec.

I dinged 15 yesterday, and immediately stopped questing. I went LFD as the healer, and leveled to 20 by the end of the night.

This may surprise you, but Priests don’t heal anything like Druids.

Bubble? BUBBLE?!?

Man, I’m a Druid tank, we were taught to hate and fear that bubble.

The bubble meant we no get hit in face. If we no get hit in face, we no get rage. If we no get rage we no hit bad guys. We no hit bad guys, we no get aggro.

We no hold aggro, and that dumb son of a bitch that bubbled us on the run in just died screaming “Tank? WTF?!?!”

Years of training have taught me to sneer at bubbles.

To be a Bear Tank, you gotta be fast and you gotta like pain. You eat it like candy. The more I get hurt, the more dangerous I become. But you got to be durable, too. Real durable. Most ain’t. 

You want to bubble me? What do I look like, a Paladin? “Ack! My bubble popped, they can touch me with their gooey zombie hands, I just had a bath last week, run away, run away!”

Bear tanks do it in the buff.

Just sayin’.

While I’m kidding my fellow tanks, I’ll acknowledge the Warriors and Death Knights for keeping it real and getting down and dirty with us.

Warriors: “Look, last time they took a swing at me, I felt something get through. I’m telling you, bolt on another couple steel plates, and this time, weld some more damn razor fins on top. If they’re gonna hit me, I want ’em to suffer, damnit.”

Armorer: “But you’re already layered in 6 inches of steel with blades and spikes over everything but your asshole. If I add any more you’ll need a crane to get into combat.”

Warriors: “What? That’s unacceptable! I expect blades and spikes everywhere! Especially protecting me arse! Get weldin’!”

Death Knights: “… What do I care if they hit me? I’m already dead. If they cut off my fist, I’ll just choke them to death with it. Dirt? Slime? Have you SEEN what I clawed my way out of to get here? A little slime just adds color.”

I kid because I care. (bonus points if you know where that line came from, it’s one of my favorites.)

Back to the topic!

My Priest is specced Discipline, because Hedwig told me to. I wish I could say that I researched it, but I’d be lying.

I asked, “Which spec is the one that you think would be most fun to level as for pug healing?”

I was told Disc.

From what I understand as a Druid and Hunter aficionado, Priests what spec Disc can do this thing called Atonement Healing, which means that when you DPS the bad guys with Smite and Holy Fire, part of the damage you do heals the people around you in a completely uncontrolled fashion.

That sounds fascinating.

The more DPS I do, the more healing output I have? Really? God bless you, Blizz, you’ve given Healers a reason to obsess about damage meters too. That took skill.

Of course, from levels 15 through 20, I ain’t got Atonement yet. In fact, I only just got Holy Fire.

What I’ve got, are a damn expensive bubble, a Flash Heal fast big spendy heal, a piss poor long cast meager Heal, and a Renew instant cost HoT.

That’s enough for going on with.

First thing I noticed… son of a, really? REALLY? None of my caster cloth Heirlooms have Spirit on them? Really?

Way to encourage overpowered tanks and heals in the leveling pugs. /sarcasm.

No, by all means, let’s maximize DPS burst damage, we don’t need mana to keep idiots alive while they stand in the fire.

That’s okay. It’s better than being poked in the eye by a banana… or even a pointy stick.

I did, in sequence, Ragefire Chasm, Deadmines, Wailing Caverns and Shadowfang Keep.

In two of those, I zoned in at the first boss, to find the tank and DPS all looking at me, like I better not suck.

In each one, three of the other four people shared guilds. The tank was always one of the folks with two guildies.

I’ll give the tanks I saw credit. They tried. There were marks, there was an orderly progression, there was movement.

The rest of the DPS, on the other hand…

I’m gonna keep healing pugs. It’s certainly entertaining.

What I have to decide is how I’m going to handle the DPS players.

When DPS players attack whatever they feel like without paying any attention to aggro or the tank, what should I do?

When DPS players stand in bad stuff and their health plummets, what should I do?

It looks at first glance like there are two ways I could go with this.

I could try to teach the DPS the consequences of their actions, in the hopes that they will learn what not to do in a very darwinian way. It would also be an investment in the mental health of their future healers.

The mind I save could be my own.

All that I would have to do, is closely monitor the reasons the DPS take damage, and make a conscious decision to withhold my heals if I don’t approve of their behavior. 

The other way I could go would be to ignore what any of the rest do, keep my head down, and do everything in my power to keep everyone alive, starting with me, then the tank, and then everyone else in that order.

Now, if I just do my best to keep everyone alive and do my own job, I’ll be benefitting myself a ton.

I’ll be forced to learn how to heal as efficiently as possible, using the right heal with the right cost and cast time for the purpose at hand. I’d HAVE to, because I’d never know when the group would all decide to take a swim in lava for shits and grins.

I’d get smooth, short runs. If I keep everyone alive, then there would be less deaths, less downtime for run backs and rezzes, less QQ, less drama.

Overall, it would be a decent experience, and I would be as happy in the short term as possible.

In the long term, especially if most healers act like I do and try to heal everyone just to benefit themselves with smooth, drama free runs, then the players will never be forced to learn anything beyond “Blow all cooldowns, stand still going all out, move to next group. Rinse and repeat.”

That will lead to healers that might be trying to learn themselves getting treated like scum for not being overpowered and capable of handling idiots with the self-preservation instincts of a lemming and the life expentancy of a mayfly.

There is a fallacy at the heart of my dilemma. I’m sure you caught it, my friends.

I said there were two ways I could go… and that’s not true.

There is a third way… I could do my own job the best I can, but also watch the actions of other players, and offer unsolicited advice in a friendly, non-aggressive way if I have suggestions on how players could improve their teamwork.

The question really comes down to, is it any of my business how anyone else chooses to play their character?

And even if it is, where is it my responsibility to make other people play the way I think they should, and punish them if they don’t?

Are the lower level dungeons there for pure fun, anything goes, you pays your money the same as everyone else, you takes your chances on what you get?

Are the dungeons there as a proving ground, a place to learn how to play your class and role in a group environment?

Are they a little of column A, a little of column B?

If they’re just there for fun, even only partly for fun, then it’s none of my business how other people play.

I queued up as a healer, and nothing in the PUG checklist said, “You are signing up to heal this group, unless people in it do stuff you don’t like.”

There are no conditions placed on the other members. They signed up to pew pew or stab stab, or tankity tank, and I signed up to heal. I’d be flat out wrong to not heal.

Low level dungeons can be a great place for people to start learning how to play their class and role, but you don’t get all the abilities at the beginning that you do at max level. I think the current system was designed to introduce players slowly to the concept of the abilities and how they are used, giving us time to get the hang of what we’ve got before adding more.

If we can’t practise at low levels the way we’ll be playing at max, then it’s meant for fun as well.  

So, the way I see it, I can see people act like idiots, and I can blog about people acting like idiots, and I can put idiots on ignore if they do not play their characters in a group setting the way I would like them to.

But where the line is drawn, is where I can control my own actions. If I don’t like how people act, then I change my own behavior. I either don’t queue up, I choose only to queue with friends or players whose style I know, I queue but place people I don’t like on ignore so I don’t see them again, or I mention during the run, in a non-aggressive way, things I would ask players to do to help the run go smoothly, and offer guidance and suggestions to be helpful.

Regardless of what else I do, if I queue up, then I made a commitment to either play my role the best I can, or leave the group as an acknowledgement that I cannot handle the conditions and give the group a chance at a healer that can. 

It’s funny, isn’t it? It’s exactly the same as approaching runs as a tank, except the tank is expected and encouraged to lead, and part of leadership is establishing clear expectations for the team.

The healer is a more passive. You follow along, keep up, mana up, and try to keep everyone alive.

You are used to persevering through the tough places, to enduring in frustration but keeping your mouth shut and following the tanks lead.

I wonder how long I can go leveling as a quiet, dutiful healer before I crack?

Update: Thanks to Some Random Guy, who reminded me I didn’t finish this the way I intended. I need to clarify a little bit about the bubble mechanic. As Some Random Guy said, the bubbles were changed a while back so your rage generation will still continue even while bubbled. Also, rage generation mechanics in general were modified so more of your rage comes from damage you deal in comparison to damage received than it used to in the time I was talking about. So, the days of having to strip naked to get rage back while running through content you vastly outlevel are pretty much gone. I fully intended to mention this in the post, but got distracted by shinies. I failed at closing the circle. /sigh.

You made the Bear cry!

I had another post planned, but I just had to get this out first.

Last night, I ran a few Heroics. I’ve been enjoying them quite a lot lately, mostly because I’m running with full guild groups more often than not.

Even when we wipe repeatedly on silly stuff, nobody gets all cranky at someone else. People are more likely to own up to their own mistakes, and take the ribbing. It’s also a lot more satisfying when things go tits up and the team pulls out a win anyway. You know, one of those shared feelings of accomplishment that you will carry with you out of the instance, into the rest of the game where you’ll see those same people again.

I do feel sad that, for a game that is so strongly tied into building communities, the PUG system makes it so easy for people to wander anonymously from group to group without ever building a lasting connection with someone else.

Say what you will about the game and how it’s grown over the years, even with the insanely long wait times it was nice to run content with people you knew were from your server. Win or lose, good times or bad, you were meeting and getting to know other people you could run into on your server again, and it was always worth putting actions and behaviors to names.

If they were really nice (or good) they could go on your friends list, and if they were horrible, you could put them on ignore. And if you added a comment to their name, then when they did a paid name change to escape their well deserved reputation, you could track them!

Not that I ever did that. Ahem.

I got my own invite to the guild Legatum Ignavis during Burning Crusade based on my behavior in a pug group doing Escape from Durnholde Keep. The guild master happened to be in the run, and thought well enough of my behavior to offer me an invite. I don’t think my performance had anything to do with it; I think it was simply that I was unguilded, and I wasn’t an overt asshat. Legatum Ignavis was a guild of very nice people, and I was overjoyed to join.

It’s pretty hard for something like that to happen now. For better or worse, you have to learn different ways to meet someone than just running a pug with them and getting to know them by their works.

On the other hand….

There is a lot to be said for doing runs with people you’re never going to see again in your F^%ing life.

I ran some Heroics last night. 

One of those runs involved myself on my Hunter, Matheo on his MM Hunter, Asco tossing some Paladin heals, and two other pugged additions, both Druids. Bear tank, Kitty DPS.

I really didn’t pay them any mind at first. I was distracted by talking in vent. I spent my time talking, listening, and playing my Hunter. I wasn’t studying other players and judging them. I wasn’t watching the Bear tank to see how he was doing (or see if I could learn something nifty from how he handled the instance), and I wasn’t watching the Kitty DPS except to see that the Kitty was a cute pinkish-white color.

That changed fast.

The Bear tank was fine. He was just there for bidness, didn’t break out the mad tanking moves but he never had much trouble. How much of that was having two Hunters using Misdirect every time it was off cooldown in conjunction with Multi-Shot, I couldn’t tell you. I can say that even if he didn’t want aggro, he got it.

The Kitty Druid, on the other hand….

I sometimes see things that make me say “I ought to pull your Druid card”, but they’re mostly jokes. Everyone has a bad day, makes mistakes, does something silly, or just doesn’t know any better.

I’m saying, I’m pulling that Cats’ Druid card, ripping it up, and setting the pieces on fire. Then I’m gonna piss on the ashes.

Once I started watching, there were lots of other little things I picked up on, but this one scene should say it all.

One pull, multiple mobs. The Bear tank dies. Kitty DPS, two Hunters, two pets, Misdirects frost traps… we keep burning them down. We can do this, easy.

The Bear tank asks for a fast Brez.

The Kitty takes the time to type, “Can’t, I don’t have reagents.”

The Kitty, I will add, is dealing with the loss of the tank by DPSing the mobs while staying in Kitty form.

So. Much. Fail.

There was actually shouting going on in our vent channel. I about lost it, and Elo wasn’t far behind.

How the f^&k do you play your Druid to level 85, gear up far enough to enter heroic instances as a Feral, and never, ever bother to get the minor Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth?

There aren’t that many minor Glyphs to choose from! And if you just recently changed specs? The Glyphs last forever! You learn it once and use it whenever you want! There is NO EXCUSE for not having that Glyph!

Now, if for some strange reason you don’t know anyone in the entire game that can make you a Glyph, and you’re too cheap at level 85 to spend 40 gold on the damn thing… how do you not buy reagents, while at the same time KNOWING that your Rebirth requires them?

“But wait Bear”, I hear you cry, “Calm the heck down! Maybe they’ve used Rebirth SO MUCH that they just ran out of their stack of reagents, and forgot to buy some before queueing up!”

My answer to you for that one is, how the f*&^ do you play as Feral Kitty DPS, with all that the gear for Kitty entails, and then when the tank dies and it’s you and two hunters, you DON’T POP BEAR FORM TO CLOSE OUT THE PULL

How can you play a Druid, the class of flowing versatility, and yet be so rigid in your playstyle that you won’t even shift to save your own bear butt and the smaller butts of your party?

Please. Let this be a reminder to you. If you are going to play with others, make sure you’ve got at least the basics of your class understood.

Being fully prepared to Bear tank if you want to Kitty is NOT necessary! You don’t have to be in a mixed BearCat spec, you don’t have to be in tanking Glyphs, you don’t have to practise tanking at all.

But DO take the time to shift into Bear form, arrange some abilities on your bar, and put on that bar your Mangle, Swipe, Growl, Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regeneration. If things go all wahooni shaped, at least know you’ve got a Bear form that immediately makes you as tough as a dedicated tank to fall back on, with self-healing and health buffing abilities RIGHT THERE to pop, and some threat generating abilities to give you a chance to pull crap off the healer.

You can still pull it out of the crapper. You could make the difference. It takes 15 seconds of thought and preparation.

Oh, and please… if you’re too cheap to buy a Glyph, bring some reagents, okay? For me? And have Rebirth on your bar somewhere?

You don’t really want to see a grown Bear cry, do you?

A Call to Bribe

To the point.

Blizzard has announced that they’re gonna try bribing people to get them to queue as tank in the “Looking For Dungeon” random people-matching tool.

They gussied it up to make it sound like DPS players may end up just as scarce some day and would see the bribes too. Call me cynical, but while I play a character in a virtual world, I like to think my common sense is still fixed in the real one.

It’s a Call to Tank. It’s possibly a Call to Heal. DPS are not, I say again my last NOT, going to see any bribes out of this.

Fine.

I’m not gonna argue the potential effectiveness of their chosen motivational technique. I don’t have the figure(s) for it.

I could go on at length, as others have, and as The Daily Blink so evocatively depicted, by claiming that all this will do is bring more unqualified people to queue as tanks, increasing the crushing unhappiness of those trying to get a run.

I know that when I spend 40 minutes in a queue, I’m not thinking to myself, “Boy, I can’t wait to get a tank so we can go win.”

No, what I’m thinking is, “Boy, after waiting for 40 minutes for this to pop, I sure as heck hope this group doesn’t suck. I’ve already blown half my night.”

But I’m not gonna delve into that.

What I want to ask is, “Is that the best they could come up with for a bribe?”

Look, you want me to tank a random, and we’re talking a 100% random because to get the bribe you’re not allowed to queue with ANY friends, not even a healer you trust, then you better make it worth my while.

What’s that? You say the super short, almost non-existent delay tanks get should be bribe enough?

I agree. You’re right.

But it’s not, is it? If it was, Blizzard wouldn’t be making an attempt to add an additional incentive to get us to queue up.

So… everyone here heard the old joke?

Two guys are working on fixing a car. One turns to the other and asks, “Hey Joe, would you suck a guy’s dick for a billion dollars?”

The other guy thinks about it for a minute, and then says, “Yeah, sure. If someone offered me a billion dollars, you’re damn right I would.”

So the first guy asks, “Would you suck my dick for a dollar?”

Joe looks pissed and says, “Hell no! What do you think I am?”

And the first guy says, “We already established that, now we’re just haggling over the price.”

You may ask yourself, “Did he just call all tanks…?”

My answer to you is, no. No, I did not.

BLIZZARD did.

I can tell you one thing for sure and for certain. If Blizzard expects me to be a whore, the price you’re offering ain’t anywhere NEAR high enough for me.

I may have shocked quite a few of you by using the language I have.

Good.

I have never seen anything inherently wrong with shocking people, if it helps to get them seeing things from a different point of view. If you want your worldview coddled and wish to avoid anything that might harsh your mellow, then I suggest you leave the internet entirely. Or try to stick to websites that show nothing but cute cat videos, like I do.

I do not queue as a tank for LFD. Ever. I, personally, love tanking above all other group roles available in the game, and yet, I do not queue for randoms as a tank.

Why?

Because of the attitudes I encounter when I’ve tried. The behavior. The abuse.

I’ve talked about it plenty of times before. I’m not going to rehash that either, Rebecca did an outstanding job of it yesterday.

Mainly, I don’t queue because I got tired of being called fail if I put up a crowd control mark, fail if I paused so a healer could recover mana, and got sick and tired of arrogant DPS chain pulling the mobs FOR me if I kept to my own pace anywayc.

So. I stopped queueing up as a tank in LFD because of the abuse I was receiving. Chance at loot and Purples and points to buy loot were not more valuable to me than my self-respect.

Apparently, I am not the only one whose sense of self-respect is strong enough to refuse to put up with abuse.

Blizzard’s answer to this dilemma is to offer us better bribes. To up the offer. To raise the price the’re offering.

To haggle over price.

Okay, if that’s where you’re going with it, fine.

All I can do is ask myself, “What would it take to get me to put up with the abuse and start queueing again? Especially when I only get the rewards by running without a single friend for moral support?”

Would a non-combat pet do it?

Hell, no. And this is coming from an outspoken advocate of pet collecting. I’ve got a LOT of pets on my main, and I’m telling you, no. Not with the pets that they are suggesting they are offering.

Now, IF they added into the pool those pets that you CANNOT get except by spending money or having taken part in a previous promotion.. pets that you only got by buying a Collectors Edition, or through the Trading Card Game, or through the Winter Olympic PvP event, or by playing the game in other countries, or by personally attending a Blizzcon in France…

YES, that would be enough to encourage me to queue.

Yes, I know. I know exactly what that makes me. I never said I wasn’t, I just want to haggle over the price. 🙂

It’s the same with mounts. Sure, they’re offering a chance, a slight chance, for mounts… but they’re mounts that the exact same tanks have a chance to get by soloing the original instances, without deling with idiots.

But Blizzard has said up front that the mounts you WOULD want, the ones only obtainable in raids like Karazhan, The Eye, or the now-defunct troll raid aren’t included.

Well, geez. If the tank really wanted the mounts you’re offering, they would have gone soloing the dungeon already. Offering a rare chance to get it doesn’t help.

And just how long will someone stay interested if you make it a really rare drop? If they drop fast enough, again, incentive gone, I get my desired  mount, I stop queueing. Make it so it almost never drops, and much like the two handed epic BoA sword in Archeaology, after people try long enough, either they get it and quit, or they just quit.

Now, if you added ALL the potential mounts, and I mean ALL of them, both factions, every special faction, every instance and every raid, AND all the mounts you could only get from attending events or from the Trading Card Games…

YES, then I’d do it. It would be more exciting when you never knew if you’d see something actually special.  God forbid you get offered a reward someone would want.

Even then, I will only do it for as long as it takes to get the rewards I want, and then I’m gone.

So, just as Rebecca says, as it is now, it can only be a temporary measure, lasting only so long as it takes the tanks to get what they want, and then they vanish into the mists.

And if Blizzard tries to extend how long the increased quantity of tanks lasts by reducing the drop rate of the good stuff? Then they increase the chance the already tired and frustrated tanks will say “Screw that for being a suckers game” and quit anyway, and those same tanks will NOT be all that interested in trying again in the future if they ‘up the drop rate’ or something.

It’s a plan for a brief burst of increased tanking… by those who want what they’re offering, and I’m not one of them.

What is this going to accomplish?

I honestly don’t know. I’d tend to think it will encourage anyone currently on the fence about trying tanking for the first time to give it a go, but it does nothing to address the rampant asshat issue, so, those same people will have the same chance of getting burnt out or frustrated and quitting anyway.

What I do know is that Blizzard may think I’m a whore, but I ain’t gonna blow ’em for what they’re offering. Up the ante first and then we’ll talk.

You can start by putting that Spectral Tiger Mount up in the rotation. That would be a good way to tell me you’re serious about wanting me to queue.

Beary dissatisfied with low level instances

Over the weekend, I leveled a new Worgen Druid in Eff the Ineffable, with the intention of maybe someday running some instances or… who knows?

From 1 to 23, it was a pretty smooth ride. I enjoyed the 100% completion of Darkshore quests, Skinning was as easy as I expected in that bear-and-cat saturated zone, and my Death Knight sugar-momma fed plenty of gold for equipment and training.

At level 23, I decided to see how the Druid stacked up as a low level instance tank.

Before I took this step, I checked my tools.

Solid gear – check. I bought from the AH, had a few nice quest rewards, and generally made sure that I had solid Stam/Agi gear with some hit rating and relatively high iLevels for the armor rating.

Skills – check. I had Enrage for instant rage generation, Mangle and Maul for single target threat, Growl for regaining threat from overzealous DPS, Demoralyzing Roar to help cut down on incoming damage and Skull Bash for those delicious spell interrupts.

What I didn’t have, of course, were Feral Charge, Feral Faerie Fire, or Swipe.

In fact, at level 23, two levels prior to Glyphs, I couldn’t help but notice that I had nothing to serve as AoE threat generation at all.

At least… I didn’t to a casual observer.

Time to bring out the tricks.

First, marking targets. Telling everyone who to focus on killing first will help cut down on most of the AoE threat issues. If I put my Skull (accessed by assigning Skull to F1, X to F2 for second kill priority) then the DPS should know who to focus on… and let me worry about the rest.

Second, overcoming healer aggro.

An experienced healer will know that they gain aggro from the amount they actually heal, WHEN it heals someone. That aggro is on a point for point basis, but divided amongst the number of mobs in the entire linked group. One point of healer aggro on a tank when the tank is fighting only one mob applies one full point on the mob, but that same point when the tank is fighting two mobs gets split up – 1/2 a point on mob one, 1/2 a point on mob two.

So how to compensate? The best way is for the healer to NOT cast any heals until they can clearly see the tank has aggroed everything. Even something as inherently weak as modern Swipe, in the hands of a tank, can overcome group healer aggro. That’s why healer aggro is divided in the first place. Healers get protected by the tank, DPS need to check their own six and be careful.

Without a Swipe, though, how does a healer keep from being swarmed by all the mobs in a four to six mob pull?

This is where Thorns and self-heal HoTs come into play for a Bear. You stand there in caster form, mark your primary kill target with Skull, cast Rejuvenation, Regrowth and Thorns on yourself, flip to Bear and run in.

Charging in, of course, would be preferred, but we ain’t got Feral Charge yet.

With the 12 second Rejuvenation, that HoT lasts long enough for Regrowth’s cast time to go off and still be viable for the 6 second Regrowth duration. Thorns has a 20 second duration, so it’s even better.

When you run in and tag that first mob, make darn sure you try to reach melee range of any casters. If not, well, thats what those HoTs on you that YOU cast are for; you’re generating your OWN healer aggro for yourself. 

Anyone in melee range, of course, will also be getting tagged by your Thorns and helping you out on AoE threat. Mangle and Maul as appropriate.

If I only had Swipe, Feral Charge and FFF! Ah, the joys of playing mob pinball. /sigh.

With these tools, plus Tidy Plates / Threat Plates, I figured this was totally doable.

Of course, there is one key ingredient that I had neglected to check.

Group willing to actually work with me for one f’ing second?

Um, nope.

Stockades. Seems simple, right?

I felt really, really bad for the healer. They seemed nice, they were polite, they stood up for me after we wiped on the first pull. But after the third time dying, I certainly didn’t blame them for leaving.

So, what was the problem?

The DPS, two Hunters and a Warrior, actually attacked while I was still running up. I hadn’t even gotten close enough to face pull and boom!

So mobs are on the three DPS and their pets, but not ALL the mobs of the group. I grabbed one of them, and started trying to get the rest, and the healer panicked, exacerbating the problem by frantically casting heals to try and keep all the DPS alive… bringing the remainder of the mobs down on her head.

We rezzed and ran in, and the healer, bless her soul, told the DPS to give me a chance to grab aggro before they opened up.

It didn’t matter. They never gave me more than a single GCD to do anything before opening up, and this inevitably resulted in mobs attacking DPS, healer trying to keep them alive, and then free mobs running for the healer.

With my wonderful system, if nobody ever actually attacks ME, then the self-cast HoTs and Thorns do exactly diddly and squat for threat generation. Nothing. So I got a chance to grab one mob before I got to watch the parade run right by me.

As I said, the healer was a trooper, but three wipes pretty much signaled that some people you just can’t teach. You can’t heal through stupid.

I was disgusted.

Sure, I know the tricks. But that doesn’t do me a damn bit of good if the rest of the group willingly choose to shut their brains off, ignore the plan, do what they want and then blame it on the tank if they pull aggro.

But what is more frustrating, is knowing that if I were playing a Warrior, I’d have Charge, Thunder Clap, and 2 points in Blood and Thunder to have nearly instant Rend DoT application on all targets in the group I just whacked.

I’m sorry, but I feel that this situation is pure bullshit. Maybe I’m missing something obvious, and if so I’m sorry for being stupid, but how is giving Warriors easy AoE threat abilities early on and Bears nothing a reasonable decision?

So, I’m not happy. I’m feeling a little pissy about it. I don’t mind having to squeeze out every ounce of usefulness from my tools to make something happen, I (like many of you) was a Bear tank in Burning Crusade when Bear tanks weren’t ‘cool’. I never saw it as cheating, I saw it as a challenge; make it work.

I guess the core problem I have is that there is a LFD tool, and I could take advantage of it… but the people in that channel seem to be getting trained by other tanking classes to just go all out balls out and not worry about their threat or target selection.

Without ez mode AoE threat abilities of my own at this level, that leaves me as the sucky ‘LRN2TANK’ dude.

And that SUCKS.

I guess the moral of the story is… only play with close friends that have a clue, wait until I’ve got some more tools, or re-roll Warrior, right?

About bloody time!

According to MMO Champion’s latest patch 4.1 update:

  • x Swipe (Bear) cooldown has been reduced to 3 seconds, down from 6.

  • What else can I say? Except about bloody time!

    No, wait, there is ONE other thing I could say…

    Why the hell are obviously needed things like Swipes’ cooldown being reduced left as something to go live at some future date, but they can completely jerk Priest healers around on a whim every other day on hotfixes?

    Never mind, happy Bear is happy that of my two AoE abilities, Thrash and Swipe, one of ’em might be useable against trigger happy DPS in pugs a touch more often. (No I don’t call Maul an AoE any more, lol)

    Just you wait, though… next update on the PTR will be a 50% reduction in Swipe damage output. Just sayin’.

    Oh, and Death Knights… grats on your new Rebirth!