Monday, June 8, 2009

A blunt Swiss army knife in action

I did it! I brought my baby druid to Deadmines and I tanked one of the bosses. Sort of. Almost. It didn’t turn out exactly as I had hoped or expected, but after all, it was a quick run, around 30 minutes, and not a single death, so I shouldn’t complain. I felt like a blunt Swiss army knife.

Arasil The Tank
In my vision it would have been quite different. In the motion picture Arasil The Tank running in my head, I saw how I was the one that arranged the epic event, invited and led crowd in the mission to seek out and kill this evil Mr Van Cleef.

Arasil would be that strong, sturdy tanking bear, probably a little bit grumpy, but solid as a rock, putting up a steady pace for the run - not overly quick, but yet efficient. I pictured how I’d take quick and wise decisions about how many mobs to pull. I would mark, if not every single defias, at least most of them. And I would assign people, telling them in which order to kill them, what to cc, what to aoe. I would deal with the loot issues. I would praise the ones who deserved it. I would probably not criticize much, because that’s not my way of leading people. To put it short: I would be godlike.

Nothing of this happened.

The preparations
I had planned it all so well, probably putting a lot more effort into it than a normal sensible player would do for an ordinary five-man run. After all this was one of the activities on my 33-things-to-do-before-I-quit-the-game list and I wanted to do it properly. My gear wasn’t exactly top notch, but I had thrown on a couple of low level enchants and some leatherworking enforcement on my armor, whatever I could to improve a bit. I had loaded myself with elixirs to get an extra boost. Considering the size of the stack you could think I was about to do a progress raid, but that’s just how I am.

I was prepared, but above all I was motivated, eager to give my brand new druid girl a real challenge. I felt as if I just had gotten one of those clever multi-tool devices and I wanted to fold out every single blade on it to try it out.

I'm sure that Gnomeaggedon and some other valued friends of the Kirin Tor will consider me a traitor, but since I’m always truthful in this blog I’ll admit it to you: I have reluctantly fallen in love. Reluctantly because there are way too many druid bloggers out there already as it is – they certainly don’t need any more to join their ranks. Reluctantly because I’ve always thought that one of the wisest things I’ve done in this game was to focus on my main rather than split my game time on thousands of project, not completing any of them.

But it would take a ton of resistance gear to withstand the joys of shapeshifting, the pleasure of healing, tanking, spellcasting, cc:ing, in short being capable to adapt to any situation you can think of in the game. It’s as far from the fireball-fireball-fireball spam as you can come. No wonder I couldn’t make myself put the druid on pause until I had managed to get a guild-only run. And that’s how it came that I ended up in the LFG channel, and before I knew it I had been invited to pug-party.

Tank competition
I can only blame myself for what happened in this run. I should have spoken up, being clear about what I wanted, saying that I was a tank, take it or leave it. Instead I mumbled like a school girl, giving a little speech, saying that I was ”specced into feral and that I’d prefer to tank if possible, since I wanted to try out something new, but oh, wait, I’m all new to tanking, so if I suck too much, just tell me and I’ll leave.”

I figure it’s not the best way to introduce yourself if you want gain the trust of a group.

As we ventured the tunnels of DM it became apparent that this party didn’t have one tank but three of them. Me and two paladins were all fighting like crazy to get the aggro. I growled and did everything I came to think of, pushing all those new unfamiliar bear buttons, trying to at least get some of the mobs glued to me. And the others did just the same.

Miraculously enough this zerg method worked reasonably well through the whole run. The only victim in this was the poor priest who ran out of mana in his efforts to keep up the health on three wanna-be-tanks. I was the only one who paid any attention whatsoever for his requests for breaks. The paladins just pushed forward, grabbing another bunch of mobs before I could do it, saying that the priest should blame himself for not saving his mana better.

When we entered the forge of Gilnid I finally dared to raise my voice, asking if they couldn’t let me tank this boss. And finally they let me. It wasn’t as organized as I wanted it to be and I pulled him prematurely together with some of the remaining trash wandering around. But he went down alright and I had kept myself steady in the top of the Omen meter. I smiled for a second, until I saw the paladins disappearing into the next corridor and I realized I had to catch up and fight if I wanted to have my share of love from the mobs.

My first tank insights
All in all, this wasn’t quite the run I had imagined. But I brought one thing from it: my first insights about what’s going on in the mind of a tank. Grabbing not only one but several mobs and keeping their interest was far from easy. The race on the Omen meter can obviously be quite a nightmare. This time it was self inflicted – the paladins knew what they were doing and it didn’t cause us any problem. But I could very clearly imagine how stressful it must be in a harder context.

Was I proud of what I had accomplished? No, far from. I was probably one of the bluntest army knives every seen. Still: it was a milestone in my personal WoW career, a noticable step forward in my general knowledge and understanding of the game.

On the loot side, if anyone wondered, I ended up with the Emberstone staff. Maybe it's a sign that my next instance experience should be as a healer? Hopefully I won’t have two other players fighting to perform the same task this time.

The motion picture about Arasil The Healer is already running in my mind.

To be continued.


Carra said...

I also tried out tanking in the deathmines first with my gnome warrior. It can be fun but keeping track of all those mobs can be daunting at first.
Tanking multiple mobs just doesn't feel as hard on my DK then on my warrior. Unholy blight, death & decay, pestilence & bloodboil is enough to stick all mobs to you. Then again, it's been a long time since I played my warrior and the deathmines don't really count as you don't have all your abilities yet.

PS: why are you not rolling a cute, pink tailed warrior tank gnome? How can you play a night elf? Shoo!

Anonymous said...

"Maybe it's a sign that my next instance experience should be as a healer? Hopefully I won’t have two other players fighting to perform the same task this time"

Three healers in the same place in old land? What's the punch line? :P

Congratulations on your loot, and, even more so your successful none boosted run of an instance such as that. It's good to see that people are still playing the game than the end of the game.

In keeping with the Swiss Army Knife theme, to save one tool going blunt you should rotate using the tools to every run. After all, it would be rather silly to buy a Swiss Army Knife if all you wanted was a screwdriver :)


Anonymous said...


Congratulations!! You have found the love of being an Alt!! I have many and play them according to mood and what i dont find boring at the time!! But stick to your guns...if you wish to tank...TANK!!


Tessy said...

Welcome to the world of alts :P

Once you take a step down this road, forever will it dominate your destiny! *spoken in my best Yoda voice*

Playing alts is one major reason for my continued interest in this game, seeing places and dungeons and encounters from a totally different perspective keeps them fresh and exciting.

Druids are really fun to play, the trick is to remember all the different abilities at your disposal and use them. And in the next patch we will get new looks for both cat and bear form! Can't wait! :-)

Dw-redux said...

Oh this was a brilliant post. It very well summed up my feelings when switching from healing priest to tanking DK. (and that pretty much turned out the same way as it did for you ^^)

If i could have one wish, then it would be that all the boomkins, mages and locks of the World (of warcraft) had a max level tank that they did instances with, then they would know what we are dealing with. You see, in raids, not only do you have 2-3 other tanks going mental over wanting as many mobs to hit em' as possible, no, you also have to watch out for the "muahaha this is a fireblast, but its not as much fun as when i make all the monsters in the room blow up with my aoe spells. MOOORE PRETTY YELLOW NUMBERS WOOOO" -casters.

But i guess that experience will be waiting for you in the future. As Calli over at pew pew lazors always said: 'the more alts you have the better understanding of your own class you will have'. (or something yoda'esc like that)

As a final note, whenever "us" tanks experience an AOE nutcase caster im always reminded of "Doomcaster's Impossible Pulls"... But now im getting sidetracked :)

Klepsacovic said...

You're going to have to learn to be pushy, sometimes even outright rude. Be the group leader and be prepared to kick people who are causing problems; sometimes they just need something more attention-catching than scolding in party chat. Coordinate with the healer so that if you're holding aggro aside from trigger-happy noobs, they don't get heals.

I guarantee it will get easier though. Your blades and tools will be sharpened by levels and you'll gain a few as well.

Aurik said...

Congratulations - that first big step is the hardest and a druid isn't the easiest to tank with at low levels!

I am imagining a small 'Ding' Larísa-only special achievement right now! :)

"I was the only one who paid any attention whatsoever for his requests for breaks. The paladins just pushed forward, grabbing another bunch of mobs before I could do it, saying that the priest should blame himself for not saving his mana better."

I would say there was only one proper tank and it was you. As a healer I'd have let the paladins die enough until they realised that ^_^ (yes, even in Deadmines!).

Be very careful, though, druids are all to easy to get sucked into! You're teetering on the edge, hehe <3


Anonymous said...

I am sorry; it seems like you and the healer did not enjoy yourselves much.

All is not lost however as you can always go back with an undermanned party! Arasil, at level 21, is a tad high level for the instance and this will encourage others to go undermanned.

You may want to choose one two same or lower level casters as DPS because they are unlikely to want want to pull aggro from you.

One thing to keep in mind is some players do not care at all about the levelling process and the pace they generally set is frustrating to players learning a new class or spec. Best is to kick them from the group if you don't like their pace and they refuse to slow down.

Anonymous said...

The Mage Union is gonna be peeved. LOL!

I use to be a Tank for a long while, I played a Warrior up to Wrath, I just got burnt out on it. There's only so much crotch I can look at.

To be the Tank, it's more then just keeping aggro. You set the pace of the raid/dungeon. Your kind of the leader. If you suck, people die.

As a mage, rarely if I make a mistake in my little rotation do people notice, or even care. I just pick up where I left off, and keep killing.

Do I miss being the Tank, at times, but then there's times I go. Thank god i ain't a tank anymore. LOL!

Larísa said...

@Carra: well, actually I'm not a wanna-be-legolas. But I would like to try healing as well as tanking and a dual specced druid will give me the opportunity. There is no healing gnome class. Unfortunately.
(Unless you count engineers with some res devices.)

@Rapindrespounceunit: Yeah, I've quickly realized that I have to build up several sets if I want to use more than a third of my knife. Wtb bigger bags!

@Cacknoob: yeah, I've got to put on a pair of mental tanking shoulders, taking the lead and speaking up. That's probably a part of learning how to be a bank. I'm way too modest.

@Tessy: I haven't had the opportunity to grow tired of the old looks. But I must admit that I'm glad I picked an elf with dark blue hair. The belonging cat and bear forms of that colour are the best looking imo, as far as I've seen.

@Dw-Redux: I think I've always been respectful at the aggro issue, even in my mage appearance. But still, it IS very good for me to get a fuller picture of what it's like to tank. I hope I won't lose myself completely in Alt land. After all exessive altplaying doesn't work well with high level raiding, if your gaming time is somewhat limited. I have to stick to my core priorities.

@Klepsacovic. Yes, Sir! I'll be pushy... Anything you say Sir! Or wait... that wasn't the right way to address people as a tank, was it? Got to practice a bit more :)

@Aurik: I guess being a very mana depending class, having a passed as arcane specced, helps a lot for the understanding of the mana issues a healer can have.

And yeah: I can clearly feel the potential of losing myself into the ways of a druid. It's as if I'm not going to learn how to play one new class, but three or four at the same time.

@Anonymous: yeah, I think you're right about the pace. If possible I should probably try to find guild alt parties. I think I'll try to make another party for Deadmines, but doing it on fewer than five is probably a good suggestion. And after that there are many other challenges awaiting. I just hope I'll be able to find more interested people. I'd rather level as much as possible running instances than questing.

@Highlantancylife: oh yes, spot on. But a girl got to grow up at some point, doesn't she? I've spent over two years hiding in the back, doing my little stuff. At some point I think I should try more demanding things in the game. Who knows, maybe it turns out that I'll enjoy it?

Fish said...

"PS: why are you not rolling a cute, pink tailed warrior tank gnome? How can you play a night elf? Shoo!"

Because such creatures should A) not exist or B) be able to generate aggro!!! Or have titan's grip. . .there shouldn't be gnome warriors!!!

Druids are pretty darn awesome. Direbear + Glyph of Maul is horrible amounts of awesome. . .

Elnia said...

@tessy. "Druids are really fun to play, the trick is to remember all the different abilities at your disposal and use them."

Yes, that is the fun as well as the challenge of being a Druid. There is always more than one right answer, though there is always only one talent or ability that is the best answer for each situation.

@Larisa. A question. Are you glad to be playing a Druid because it's a Druid, or because it's an alt?

Fitz said...

Happy to hear the new bear has earned some stripes from the Defias. Congrats on finding a PUG that was stereotypical...zerg the mobs and who cares about Omen and threat and healer mana.

But you conquered it. And you may eventually inspire me to pick up my level 10 druid and keep playing her. Too enamored with my DK and Hunter alts, and of course the priest main.

I wonder if it's harder to go from DPS to tank/healer, or from healer to tank, or from tank to healer? food for thought.

Kromus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kromus said...

*deleted comment cos of bad typos

Haha - well. You know what Larisa, as a DPS main, I can see why. I too feel the same.

The diversity is unimaginable. The amount of times a the healers have struggled due to unforseen circumstances, and ive just wanted to go "screw my DPS, ill help heal," and i can't :(.

Druids are great, need somebody to take some hits a while? bear. Heal? tree. Or at least, do some low HoTs.

Better then a smack in the face with a wet Gruul!

David said...

I see your level 21 now. Don't forget to go cat! Its much better for doing quests than as a bear because your damage is higher and you can sneak around.

One thing for cat is to try is spec into the resto tree, even at this low level:

-2 pts Improved Mark of the wild for a nice stats boost
-3 pts Furor for some free rage/energy when you shift into a form
-naturalist increases your physical damage by 10%
-Omen of clarity: Clearcasting for your cat! You get free special attacks, and quite often.

After point 11, go to feral and add as you please. You'll be surprised how much resto can do for your ferality!

gnomeaggedon said...

SSshhhh...just quietly... I had a Druid once...

I also tanked *once*.

At a guildmate's insitance.

It was a nerve racking experience, even with the shouts of encouragement.

Never happened again though.

I'll stick with the "one button"

Larísa said...

@Fish: ooohhh noooo. Gnome warriors=a win. Especially female ones with pink pigtails :)
I love my gnome rogue to death as well. She's small, yes, but she's got the right badass attitude, I promise!
NEs are... well... better not say anything, don't want to upset the druid community so I shut up. But the "human" form of it isn't my favourite. So I mostly stick to the shapes if possible.

@Elnia: to be honest, I don't know. It's been long since I rolled an alt. I only have one before, a rogue, and she's awesome in every way, only that she's just like my mage, a bit single focused, not so flexible. I must say that there is something fascinating about this multi-tool-class. It seems tricky but offers endlessly of possiblities and fun.

@Fitz: I've always thought there is a special bond between healers and tanks. I think going between those perspectives is somewhat easier than leaving the pretty careless dps slot. But that's just a wild guess, I really don't know. My expeerience so far is somewhat limited.

@Kromus: druids = OP. Do we dare to say it aloud?

@David: thank you! That was some nice hints. I've been looking for levelling guides and there seem to be a couple out there, but people have somewhat different ideas about in which order to pick talents and sometimes I feel a bit lost. But that's of course also one of the charms of levelling an alt. You're free to experiment a bit and it isn't like theres one cockie cut buid that you're expected to have.

@Gnome: I knew it! I knew it! I'll teleport instnatly to Dalaran and inform the KT headquarters. You just wait and see what measures they'll take.

sys said...

New to reading your blog and just wanted to say that I identify with your newfound interest in tanking and with the druid! I've been working on my night elf druid alt and definitely enjoy the versatility.. I also recently rolled a gnome warrior (no pink pigtails thankyouverymuch), but I hope to tank with her. As someone who has also always played a pure dps class, it should be an interesting transition.