Monday, March 29, 2010

Tanking scares the hell out of me - that's why I love it

“Why are we going so slowly? What’s keeping the tank? Come on!”

I felt as if I had ants under my pants. Something was itching badly. Normally I dare say I’m a rather polite and patient player – especially when I’m on an alt without any ambitions for glorious end game triumphs. I can take my time, what’s the rush? But this run was far beyond slow, it was plain silly! What was the tank up to? Had we unknowingly joined a secret branch of the Slow movement?

I was arguing with myself. “Maybe I should give the tank a hint that he should pull himself together and start waving his great big ehrm and get the job done?”

Would it be rude to make a subtle hint, like tapping my toes a little?

I didn’t. You see: there was this little detail. The turtle-look-alike tank was no one else but yours truly. I was the tank.

Back to tanking
After ten months of sulking and tending to my hurt feelings and wounded self-image, I’ve finally gotten over my previous shortcoming in the tanking business. Once again I’m taking the role as a furious, raging bear mother, not shy of anything, ready to protect my family of adventurers to the bitter end, no matter of what horrors we'll be facing.

Last time I tried this part of the game, I dropped off pretty quickly, with the tail between my legs. Long time readers might remember. It was in June last year, that I entered DM ever so boldly, only to find out that my impatient PUG party rather wanted someone else to tank, just to get through it ASAP. After a couple of similar experiences I surrendered, put the idea of tanking to rest and went tree instead. My services weren’t wanted, so why bother offering them?

When I recently rolled a tauren druid at Argent Dawn, my first idea was to level it healing in instances and nuking as a moonkin while questing. If it wasn’t for Dwism I would probably have stuck to this plan. But somehow he managed to talk me back into tanking, as a worthy, interesting challenge and Cataclysmic turn in my gameplay. And with such an enthusiastic supporter I just can't give up, can I?

My fresh run as a tank took place in SFK, and to be honest it was a plain disaster. Dwism healed me well enough as he had promised, but there were three pugged hunters with growling pets pulling and tanking mobs all over the place. I stood there as an idiot, frantically looking through my spellbook to see if there were any more spells I could drag over to my action bars and get control over the situation. I never did; I had no idea about what I was doing or where we were going, and the fact that we somehow completed the run was pretty much a miracle. I was present in the party, but I was hardly what you would consider a tank.

The next run, in Deadmines this time, included almost only guildies, and went slightly better. The only moment of Endless Shame was when I took a careless step to the side of the boat, fell down into the water, and then ended up swimming hysterically in circles, chased by pirates, murlocs and god-knows-what. My comrades seemed to be more entertained than annoyed though, and hey, at least we didn't wipe.

Things to work out
To be honest there are quite a few things that need to be fixed before Larísa can call herself a tank without feeling like a hoax:

1. A sense of direction
In every single instance I've cleared since I first started to play WoW, I've been a follower. Even though I haven't literally put my toon on follow, I've done it mentally. There was always a solid tank around, someone I could trust on. All I needed to do was to keep my eyes on that furry bear butt, never letting it get out of sight. Now I'm the one with the butt, but I still haven't got a clue about where to go. Sometimes I've even run back to where we came from, until I've noticed a distinct lack of mobs, which is a good hint that I'm on the wrong track. WTB a sense of direction.

2. The ability to multitask
I know that women are supposed to be experts in giving attention to several things at the same time. Either that stereotype is a complete lie, or I'm just not a typical woman. Whatever the reason is - I fail at it. It's not just all those swarming trashmobs you're supposed to pick up, including patrols randomly strolling by and extras pulled by careless dps:ers. It's also everything that goes on in between. As a dps:er I used to have very little compassion with tanks who forgot to check the mana bars of the healer or failed to mark and give proper assignments. Seen from the other side, with a thousand different things to think of, I can very well understand why you sometimes miss even essentials like this.

3. Confidence
A veteran tank officer in our guild used to develop the tank team by initiating discussions on our forum. I remember how he once put the question which ability the tanks considered most important. And they all started to suggest different core stats and spells that are crucial for tanking. I suggested something different, namely "self confidence", since an insecure tank is quite problematic for a group to handle. And I actually was the one who got closest to what he wanted to convey. He concluded that the most important ability was to make the rest of the raid trust in your tanking. Being self confident often helps. But even if you aren't, even if you're full of self doubts, you should act in such a way that the team will think you know what you're doing and feel comfortable about it.

Scary and fulfilling
Of those three things the last one, confidence, is definitely the hardest one for me to acquire. I may look like a proud, tall, strong Tauren, who won't back off for anyone. But as anyone knows who has tried it: the tank shoulders weight a ton compared to the cloth ones.

I can't think of anything more challenging and absorbing thing to do in the game. As I enter an instance in bear form, the rest of the world ceases to exist. Sure - I feel quite clumsy, and I've got the distinct feeling that I'm horribly, horribly slow. But I'm totally present in my mind and focus, and when it's over, I have absolutely no idea of how long time I've spent in there, or what else has been going on in the guild chat meantime. I've been just as lost in the gameplay as I would have been in any progression raid, and I come out just as fulfilled and excited as I would be after a boss kill. And that's pretty good for a level 20 instance!

To be honest, tanking scares the hell out of me. And that's exactly why I shall stick to it. Rather than giving up this time, I'll work harder.

One day I'll grow into those heavy tank shoulders. One day I'll say it aloud: I am the tank! and sound as if I actually mean it.


evilbeards said...

I remember when I first tanked an instance, it was Mechanar, and a friend had invited me to it. I was super excited, and also incredibly afraid.

The memories of all the things I did wrong have faded somewhat, but thankfully my friends were there to guide me along, and tell me how to do everything, including the bosses.

It was so hectic, but it was also incredible fun, and I think it's the fact that I was with people that I knew wouldn't belittle me because I was still learning.

I think that's what you need when you start learning a role as chaotic and demanding as tanking, friends who will help you become better through patience at your early failures.

Sougent said...

I feel your pain.

My main is a paladin, I have dutifully gotten my emblems and upgraded my gear such that I'm sitting on 4900 gearscore tanking gear, but I'm still hesitant to queue up as tank in LFD, instead I queue up as I always have as DPS (with a lower gearscore, lol).

Why? Cause it's easier to follow than to be "responsible" for the run. Because I don't want to embarrass myself in front of 5k+ gs raiders just looking for a quick emblem run. Because I don't want to randomly get one of the dungeons that I don't know my way around and end up getting lost.

Basically, a bunch of excuses that are silly if you think about it. Especially considering that I leveled the guy as a protection spec, completely in that talent tree.

To be honest, I'd be more comfortable in your position, tanking while leveling. Being a "nobody" and having the excuse of being low level to explain away any difficulties.

I like tanking, it requires some thought, some strategy. But it's scary because it also brings with it more chances of making a mistake which could wipe the group. I think that's what holds me back, not wanting to make mistakes, a flaw that holds many back from doing things in life.

Jesse said...

Keep with it, tanking takes practice. Think of all the practice DPS gets from leveling because that is all they do. At the lower levels it can be frustrating without all the spells to make the job easier(challenging roar ftw), but it does give some good practice for when the sh$t hits the fan and your cooldowns aren't up.

Shannara said...

Do what we do. Anybody who says "gogogo" basically gets kicked. We don't accept idiots.

Anybody who queues as tank or heals and are specced dps gets kicked too.

Anonymous said...

Confidence is key. Don't be afraid to tell hunters to put their pets on passive!

Perdissa said...

Hey I can empathise, and I absolutely agree with confidence being the most important aspect of tanking. Unfortunately, I believe this kind of confidence needs to be built up, and won't develop overnight.

I started off tanking in Wotlk as a bear druid. I hit 80, got a bunch of epics and blues off the AH, read up a bit on bear tanking, and hit my first PUG instance.

It was devastating. Heroic Nexus never seemed so forbidding. I was losing aggro on mobs left and right, DPS was dying, heals couldn't keep me up, and we weren't even at the first boss (the whirlwind frozen commander boss) before the mage said this and ragequit(I will always remember it) "Tank, you need to learn more about bear tanking before you come and tank instances."

I was crushed. My DK friend in the run, always willing to help, offered to tank it in his off-set. This made it even worse. I never wanted to tank anything again. How was I supposed to learn more about tanking unless I actually did some of this tanking? With confidence at an all-time low, I performed even worse for another couple of runs. I proceeded to shelve my bear for a week.

A week or so later, I actually came back to my bear, deciding that if my bear could have barkskin, I could have thicker skin. After all, I didn't spend so much time leveling it up to hibernate on my log-in screen.

It didn't get better suddenly, but slowly and surely, I got the knack of tanking stuff. Not letting mobs hit me from the back, positioning them properly, use of taunts (hot-keyed), situational awareness of looking out for loose mobs or patrols...

As I became better, I noticed that it was really the confidence in yourself that pulls the run together. Even now, if I get some flak from people in the group, and I lose my confidence and groove, the run somehow screws up a lot more.

Since then, I've developed 2 more tanks, a warrior and a paladin. All are tanking raids in various tiers on alt runs.

TLDR: Tanking is fun but not easy. Confidence is important.

Skitari said...

I'm tickled you have a baby bear. I didn't learn to bear tank until mine had been 80 for a while, and I didn't want to deal with learning with a bunch of (possibly cruel) strangers. My first runs were with friends, and for a long time I ran with a friend as a healer and pugged the dps. Without this gentle start, I don't know if I would have continued tanking for very long.

Klepsacovic said...

I tried to write a tanking guide for you for my next post. It didn't turn out well. So here's the short version:
Practice being aware of your surroundings. Be in the habit of swinging your camera around to face the party, not the enemies, since loose adds will be running to them (if they were running to you they'd not be loose).

Figure out how well you're actually performing. If the DPS are pulling and the ret is using taunt as a DPS source and the pets have growl on, and you have nothing on you; don't take that as an indication that your tanking is bad.

Practice. Also practice. And practice some more. Go slower if you have to until you know what a pull should be. Don't expect to chain-pull from day one. Or two. I've been tanking on one class or another for about 5 years and I still don't always chain-pull; sometimes I need to figure out what I'm planning to do.

Gevlon said...

Great job Larísa, I was waiting for this post long-long time. I knew one day you'll do it.

Some tips how to handle growling hunters: Put the marks (the skull, the star, the cross and the other ones) to buttons (F9-F12 are very convenient for that). Before the pull put a star to a caster and tell the hunter to send his pet WITH growl to the caster. Much easier for the healer and you don't have to position the caster.

Issy said...

Oh, Larisa - this is exactly how I have felt about tanking on my druid. If it hadn't been for the support of Ercles, Jakkru and Jaedia I am sure I would have gone sobbing into a corner somewhere :) As it is, I surprisingly thoroughly enjoyed it, though it is way out of my comfort zone. I will try and stick with it too though :)

Sephrenia said...

Larisa, I'll come heal you or dps for you any time. Slow tanks are my favourite! I hate being rushed with no time to loot or work out which way I'm facing and need to go next.

Luckily you can learn in relatively linear instances - the thought of tanking somewhere like Maraudon or Sunken Temple scares the life out of me! Mind you so does the thought of tanking, so you're a braver person than I am because there's not way I'm gong to tank, ever!

Dwism said...

I know you like to talk about our run as a disaster. It was not.

It really wasn't.
A mana-less paladin learning to heal, 3 hunters in heirloom items and one new tank.
- That was the setup.
And we only wiped once, when each hunter pulled a pack each... And I didnt die there... only you.
That is the highest a tank can strive for: getting killed so that the healers can survive. You did do great.
The rest is just a matter of practice.

Let me tell you about my first tanking on my warrior; I've tanked endgame as a DK, and run plenty of 5 mans on my palatank and in TBC my druid was an endgame tonk- and yet there I was, chasing like a headless chicken after the mobs that where eating our lock alive.
It is all a matter of practice.
Stick with it. You have the absolute right attitude!

Dominus said...

Tanking can be intimitating, as you allways have 4 others watching your every move (or 3 if one went afk).

Convidence is key.

Boost your convidence by:
-Having the best gear you can easily get your hands on.
-Enchanting and later gemming whenever possible.
-Knowing your class.

Fortunately you have chosen the path of the bear, so you can be convident about your health pool ;-)

My bear was leveled 50/50 through instances and quests until outlands and then 90% through instances.

A few tips from a fellow bear tank:
-Leatherworking. Not so useful at first, very useful at outlands and up. The + armor kits that add health are very useful and the perks help give a head start at the end bit of wrath (I had around 25k hp unbuffed level 75 and up). Unfortunately, at level 80 after you've gotten your epics it isn't as useful anymore.
-Macro Maul. Do it now. Macro it on any other skill you use on mobs. I've got it on swipe, mangle, faery fire and lacerate. Example:
#showtooltip Mangle (Bear)
/cast Mangle (Bear)
/cast !Maul
The !Maul will not cause it to be cancelled when button-mashing. This will boost your aggro greatly when positioning the mobs (as I discovered last weekend).
-Zoom out further then the standard distance. I don't remember the command, I made the macro ages ago for healing in raids. On a bear the standard distance means you're usually staring at your butt and the closest mobs, making it hard to click on mobs that get away.
-Feral charge bear: love this skill, useful for getting to stray mobs, or running ahead of the others so you can get an aggro-start on the mobs.
-Once you get in the flow chain-pulling is very useful as it maintains your rage. When you're still leveling you care more about xp then clearing the instance as fast as possible... so get ready to charge into that avoidable group!

Hope you enjoy bear tanking as much as I do (I prefer it over the very immobile tanking style of the paladin)! :)

Rem said...

Ah, it's all in the habits, all in the habits. In WoW, I've tanked for longer than I have not, and, frankly, tanking is the most comfortable and natural thing to do for me. Now, DPSing ... DPSing scares the hell out of me! :D

Malande said...

Just a couple of things that havn't been mentioned.

1) Use name plates, turn them on by pressing 'V', they help alot when spotting for loose adds or when your trying to target one of a pack.

Even better than this would be to get the Tidy plates addon with the Threat plate extension from Tankspot, a great addon for tanks!

2) As a tank in the group you dictate pace and what people should be doing, so if you don't like someone acting up just tell them. Hunter with growl on - Tell him to turn it off, People rushing you by pulling adds themselves - Tell them not to. At the end of the day your in a position where you can queue for another instance and get a group within 10 seconds! use this power!


At eh end of the day tanking in WoW is very muching doing your group a favour, as in most pugs your fighting your own group more than you are the actual mobs.

Most life long dps/healers don't see this if they haven't tanked themselves, so forget how much of a favour you are doing them by taking the responsibility that you are taking up so that they can just blast through the instance.

Anyhow Tanking is fun ^^ but it can be hellish-ly stressful at times!

Anonymous said...

After reading some of your entries, I had never imagined you to be the tank type.
First of, only a very small number of ladies tends to tank, although I usually say that tanks are divas (and I tank since Vanilla). It requires as certain stage attitude, that women rarely have, except the self sufficient kind like Spinks.
Secondly and most important, there were a few hints, that a certain gnome required a lot of support to find his confidence again.

Your main problem is, that you are driven out of your comfort zone, all aspects that you have mentioned are true, but not a problem. They simply do set you under pressure, because you are not used to them.

For Instance, my better side and I sometimes take each others character, to see the game from a different perspective.

And I am a really, really bad Healer. And with bad I mean that bad, that I decided to flee into a tanks career at a time, where Paladins supposed to be Healers and had no tank gear. One must be pretty despaired, to do so.

Now besides my personal Healophobia, I recognised that my girlfriend, who usually is very confident, sometimes started to panic when playing my tank.

Her explanation was, that she felt exposed in a way, that a single mistake of her would cause a wipe.

Although I explained, that the same was true for her healer, she still did not have the same deep confidence, as playing her healer.

The situation changed during a random ICC Raid, where she died during an unfortunate Trash incident. The situation included a lot of trash and one tank on his feet (me). After we managed to get out of the situation, I noticed that she had been watching me closely those 5 Minutes.

When she asked me: "Is that all you do?" I knew her Tankophobia was cured.

At the end it's just a matter of perspective being used to, that will turn a scared of herself gnome into a stage hog.

Sacerdote said...

I rolled a Druid in SAN as well, but I must admit I hadn't really decided what to do with her. I just liked the idea of being able to do ANYTHING with a single character - tanking, healing, ranged or melee DPS.

I'm a good DPS (who isn't?) and a so-so healer, but I've never tanked anything in my life. So tanking seems a bit scary. I guess it's like everything else, practice makes perfect. The only difference is that if you wipe, everyone wipes. Mind you, you can always blame the healer...

Andy said...

+1 to what Malande said - Tidy Plates with Threat Plates is awesome for spotting when you've lost aggro on something. Not sure bear tanking works but for my DK a very useful addon I've found is NeedToKnow, for tracking cooldowns and DoTs. It's much easier to set up than DoTimer :D

As to the multi-tasking thing, I assure you that's just a matter of practice :) Soon it'll become second nature to check the healer's mana (and make sure they're actually with you and the rest of the group).

Daergel said...

Lots of tips on tanking (which, as a person whose main is a tank, with pink pigtails, incidentally!!!), but I would like to make a slightly different comment:

I was with you (Tahliana), and laughing with everyone else in Deadmines, and the next run in SFK with the rogue and his wowcock was fine too.

Things always seem to run better with guildies, don't they?!!

Dameblanche said...

Oh yes, self-confidence. I've been very very very scared of tanking. Not so much because of the tanking itself, but because of the unforgiving attitude of strangers in pugs.

After two disaster trips to instances where everybody died at my first pull, I decided to take a different approach: I would tackle everything that made me feel scared BEFORE actually tanking in pugs.

Things I did was:

Solo the instance I wanted to tank on my level 80 dps a few times, to be sure I would not get lost.

Practice my rotation on my own, by pulling multiple mobs in my tank spec while questing.

Trying to stick to just a few abilities at first, so I would have time to look around for mobs eating the healer, instead of being obsessed with finding things on my castbar.

Offer to tank instances 10 levels below my own level, so I would feel successful as a tank before aiming for the big stuff.

Making sure I completely out-gear the instance I want to pug-tank, with every enchant, pot, food I can get. (in the outland instances I tanked, I usually was the highest dpser. This is a sure method to make gogogo recount tossers shut up)

Bullying friends into healing me on my first trips as a real tank: life is much more fun when you have an ally that agrees on letting trigger-happy dps die.

Reading up on all boss abilities beforehand. Not only for myself, but a tank that can explain bosses to others, commands respect. "Look, I know what I am doing here, so we do it my way"

Macro a few dialogue lines. One thing that freaks me out is that I want to take the time to buff up at the beginning, and usually some idiot is already pulling while I still munch away at my food. A few simple macro's with text like: "hello peeps, how y'all doin today" forces them to waste time to type an answer, while you can search your backpack for that damn pot you forgot to put on your hotbar.

It might sound a bit too thorough, but doing all of this made me a happy confident tank.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign Anonymous comment at 10:47: - Usiel

Jb said...

Got a tree druid with bear offspec and usualy sign up for pugs as tank cuz I get instant group and never get kicked. Its hell to tank these days. In every group there is at least 1-2 dps with alot higher gs and doing 5k+ dps. Dps normally gives you 0,0001 sec to establish aggro and they always go full trotle aoe from the start. If your lucky and fast enough you get the honnor og doing the accual pull. And after 2-3 sec you get the TANK ! AGGRO ffs. This is the life of a tank in lfd these days. My trick is to chain pull and always be first on the new mob, turn around so I see the group and always start with demor roar and swipe. When i loose aggro to a mob that runs, I use TAB until it lits up and then press growl. As for direction, instance map is your friend. And if you pull to many, wait 2-3 sec, press aoe taunt, then survival instinct, then health pot ( and healt stone if yout got a nice lock in group )and keep swiping. Usually one dps dies ( always shammy ) but no wipe.

Chewy said...

Your post reminds me of a story about lion hunters. It goes something like this;
New lion hunters are very nervous ,as you might expect, it's a dangerous thing to do. If you mess up you get killed and so they go about it very carefully, learning their craft slowly. Once they have a few kills they start to become more confident and they're not as careful... this is when the accidents happen. Of course being the kind of activity it is, if you make a mistake you don't get the second chance - so those old, experienced lion hunters are the ones that realised that too much confidence is just as bad as too little confidence.

I see the over confident lion hunters in lfg everyday, sadly, unlike the real life ones, they just come back and do it all again (badly).

Markus said...

I tried tanking...once. I got a warrior to level 30 and I started tanking on group quests. I knew right then and there, tanking was just not for me.

I ended up with a mage, rogue and shadow priest (can you say DPS?) and I don't mind following the tank. I respect good tanks and do my best to watch my threat, poly my target and always run TO the tank if I happen to steal aggro. I know my role and it's DPS. *laugh*

As a side note, I tried healing as I was leveling my priest ad I probably could have been a decent healer if I stuck with it. I just didn't like staring at health bars instead of the fight. I prefer to see what is going on.

Kurnak said...

Welcome back to the tanking business. It's hard at low levels since you're lacking threat generation, either single or aoe (in my first SAN run I was using Arcane Torrent to pull groups!). Having also pugged people who goes trigger-happy won't make things easy, so it's important to do the first runs with people you trust, or at least you know won't go ninja-pulling.
Tanking requires a lot of responsability, sometimes more than healing. It's not an easy task and the rest of the party must understand this. Anyway I'm sure you'll improve at tanking doing guild runs, keeping pugs to the minimum possible. Just find your own pace, don't let the dickheads shouting "gogogogo" make you nervous.
My experience as bear is quite small, my druid is feral/resto and only tanked some instances at 75 or so. With all talents placed in dps spots it wasn't easy, but it also brought back memories of past times when I tanked instances and offtanked raids as arms warrior.

Tam said...

Your tanking is excellent :)

Also I imagine bear tanking requires some modicum of skill, unlike paladin tanking at this level which involves me dropping consecrate and making a cup of tea :)

I do know what you mean about the scary excitement factor though. Just the act of doing something new and unfamiliar is exhilarating.

Also I like being at the front for once!

Reversion said...

Sounds like you are off to a great start. Some random advice.

Confidence is the key but the great thing is faking it works. The tank, like it or not, is the leader of the group. In a combat situation it is best to make ANY decision fast rather than the right decision too late. This is great because it means you can fake confidence (actually it means a lot of other things but this also). It is like when I was a kid and helping mom by reading the map. I figured out that she got real nervious in heavy traffic if I was unsure of the directions I was giving. So if we came to an intersection and she said 'right or left?' I would, if I was unsure, confidently say 'right!' and then read ahead on the map to find the two lefts I was going to need to make that right work.
This is the essence of how to deal with go-go-go dpsers. Stride confidently ahead and distract them with things to shoot while you figure out the right way to go.

Battle Space Control: one of the most important things about being the tank is that you get to pick when where and how the battle takes place (modified by what the morons, er, dps, will let you do). Want to do an LOS pull? It is your call. Want to move the pack around somewhere, you do it. It is up to your. Foruntatly you have in your arsenal the bag of tricks of the whole group. What Gevlon said with hunter pets was great advice. It takes someone that likes to solo things and annoy you and harnesses them to a useful function. Have a whole group that likes doing that? Get them all their own mobs and let them go to town.

When I have a tricky pull I get a DK to grip or a hunter to shoot one. Or let that over egar mage pull and just taunt and swipe them off him. It is herding cats. The way to herd cats is to find out what they want and work with them to get it. You are going to get them to do a song and dance number but if what they want is mice they will listen to you when you tell them how to line up at the mouse hole and kill them.

All the tanks work different, you might try messing around on a Pally or something if you think you don't like bear.

A bit of advice for anyone else trying tanking... DON'T START IN HEROICS!!!!

If you have never tanked before do REGULAR runs and not heroic ones. You are way less likely to have 5k geared people blowing agro off you. Get in the normals and practice your skills first, even if your gear is heroic viable.

I have some tanking posts in my que that I will have to get out there...

Reversion said...

One other thing.

From the tank's persepctive things are much worse. Ever notice how when you finish a bad pull as a healer and are panting and in a cold sweat with visions of bars with 5% health dancing in your head as you ask yourself how you managed to get that life bloom to go off just at that moment? Well the group had no idea they got that low. Most of the time they don't notice their health at all. Likewise it is with tanking. You might know they were pulling off you right and left and you were barely taunting them back, but if you all lived (or mostly lived) then it was a sucesses.
Just the other day my wife was healing one of my noobie tanks and she commented that I was having no problem holding agro. I explained that it might look like that but that was only because I was taunting people back before they did more than a hit or two to the DPS. I told her in reality I had been losing agro left and right the whole run.

So while the DPS notices really bad tanking, you can get away with a lot of that 'out of control' feel and people will not always notice.

Anonymous said...

Once again, you have summarized my feelings exactly. I swear, scarily enough, it seems that you've read my mind.

Fortunately, you've given me a litle confidence to try tanking again (still shell-shocked from my one and only attempt). Unfortunately, I'm still lacking the other two parts of my personal equation to effective tanking to give it another go - direction and total knowledge of all of my abilities as a tank to help us survive when the defecation hits the ventilator.

The reasons are pretty simple. The most frustrating thing I find (when running as a DPS) is when the tank does not know where they are going. This lack of direction, rightfully or wrongly, leads to my lacking confidence in their ability to effectively tank the joint. I mean, if the tank doesn't know where they're headed then, I become uncomfortable with their abilities (stupid, elitist, etc., I know - consider it one of my many character flaws; but, I hold myself to that same standard and is the primary reason I don't tank).

For me, at least, I the equation is pretty simple:

Knowledge of the instance (direction)


Knowledge of abilities




Effective Tanking

Of course, the irony of it all (or circular argument, if you will) is that unless you spend time tanking (and failing) you will never gain the knowledge to be an effective tank, i.e., if you don't practice, you won't get better.


TechDeft said...

This is how I started tanking, on my druid no less. Only he was my main, and my first toon, and I had no clue what I was doing, and no friends/guildies to guide me. I haven't tanked since a 2-3 month break after TOC came out and I miss it. I was so anxious to raid when I came back I just healed/DPSed because it was way easier to out-skill my gear in those roles. With tanking, you are either ready, or not ready. No real shades of grey.

Anonymous said...

Just remember one thing it's always the dps fault if they pull aggro. Too many dps think that damage is there only job. Actually they have 3 jobs.
Do as much damge as they can(they all know this)
Take as little damage as they can as in dont stand in the fire.(some know this)
DON'T pull aggro (few know this)
they think it's the tanks job to hold aggro when in reality it's their job not to take it away.

Larísa said...

@All: Oh dear. I don't know what to say. The response to this little rant was just overhelming. So much support! So many wise words and good suggestions! I'll never feel alone again while I'm doing my stumbling efforts to tank - I'll think that I have a silent army of the spirits of the readers of PPI standing at my side, cheering me up, urging me to trust on myself.

@Evilbeards: Yeah, it was definitely a good idea to run the instance with mostly guildies. And hopefully I can keep doing that a bit, since the activity in SAN is rather high.

@Sougent: It's really odd that we get that idea about performance only when we're tanking. I mean, strictly speaking we should have just as high ambitions when we're dps:ing. But yeah, I know what you mean. I hope the practice I'll get while levelling will help me feel more confident while I'm reaching the higher levels.

@Jesse: yeah. I think I'll try to stay in bear form as much as possible - maybe even a bit while questing. Just to get more familiar with my spells. I need tons of practice.

@Shannara: well... I'm a bit soft I guess. We had a rogue in our SFK run, a pugged one, who posted a recount list in the party chat and was showing his e-peen. We told him what we thought about it, but in a rather polite way. Actually he seemed to be crushed by it, I don't think he'll do that without thinking again. "Just a kid" I thought to myself.

@Perdissa: thanks for sharing! That was inspiring! And yes, you're right about the thick skin. I've got a fur to protect me! I'll think about that.

@Skitari: I honestly wouldn't dare level to 80 and THEN try tanking. I think the lower instances are more forgiving. And I'll learn a few spells at a time.

@Klepsacovic: thank you for the mini guide! The surrounding awereness and moving camera has always been one of my weak spots. But the bigger reason to make it better, learning by tanking!

@Gevlon: thank you for your support! And yep, I'll put my marks so I can use them. I haven't come that far yet, but it's a good idea, if nothing else since I thereby take command and sort of make a statement to the group that I'm the one deciding what to charge and where to go next.
And it sounds as a good idea to atually use the hunter pets, rather than work against them.

@Issy: yep. Out of the comfort zone. It makes us good, not only in real life, but also in Azeroth!

@Sephrenia: we have a deal! Slow and enjoyable instance running. :)

@Dwism: Thank you! I'll stop going on about my uselessness and instead keep my eyes forward. There's only one way to go for me: up the learning curve! Looking forward to the next opportunity we'll get to go together again.

@Dominus: Some solid advice there! I'll look into that macro! I haven't quite figured out that maul thing... seems never to go off... but with a macro maybe...
About leatherworking: hm... maybe. I picked skinning on my healing druid - and leatherworking. And I tell you - NEVER skinning again. As a healer it's a nightmare in instances. Possibly it works better for a tank though? I picked engineering on this one, mostly for giggles since I never did it before and becasue I think it might be in the interest of this character for rp reasons... but maybe I should be more practical about it. I'll give it a reconsideration.

@Rem: actually you may be right. I think I was pretty clueless when I entered my first instances as a dps. It's only that it's so long ago that I've forgotten about what it was like.

Larísa said...

@Malande: good idea about name plates... and that addon... I need to check it out!
And yes... the power thing. Tanking is SO much about attitude. I'm going to get it, eventually!
Fighting my own group... couldn't help giggling at that.

@Usiel: in real life I'm really very much self sufficient! I've got a passed as a manager of a department with people reporting to me. I'm speaking on collegial terms every day with the top decision makers in my organization. As a journalist I interviewed ministers, ceos, whatever; that has taught me not to be afraid of anything. In WoW it's been different, at least until now, since it was my first game ever and I've had such a long and tough process learning to master it a bit better. But I dare say that this pink pigtailed, apparently rather soft and kindhearted innkeeper isn't just a confused old lady. I've got some pretty tough leadership qualities which I cab pick out if I find it really necessary.... However; most of the time I'm actually very happy to let other people lead and take the back seat. It's a change from real life and I think it makes me good to relax a bit, not always having to be the one who's pulling and pushing things forward.
So: I'm used to be under pressure and I even like it. Hm.... I guess I just don't show it very well in my blogging, where my weaker, more vulnerable sides are more emphasized.

@Sacerdote: I like the flexibility of the druid as well, although it's a bit of a pain to gather and carry different gear sets. And to pay for respeccing. Mind you, I have no main toon with gold to support me at AD.

@Andy: Yeah, I think it's practice too... as well as understanding the rage thing. I'm so used to my own mana managing on my mage; I just need to get new habits here.

@Dargel: Ah, you were Tahiliana! And I guess it wasn't too bad since you wanted to do another one ;) It really is better with guildies!

@Dameblanche: those advise are damned good! I'll try to follow them! I think it's a great idea to build confidence in those ways. And the chatting-macro to keep them distracted was really brilliant!

@Jb: Turn around and see the group... haven't got that far in my learning curve yet. But I'll work on it next run.

@Chewy: that's a nice little story you had there. For my own part I think the risk that I'll grow overconfident is pretty minimal to be honest.

Larísa said...

@Markus: Well: I love my mage deeply. I've got a rogue as well, and she's fun enough, but I've realized that I'll never be any good at melee. Which probably talks against this tank project, but I still have this idea that I'd like to see all the three major roles in WoW properly before I can say I'm done with the game.

@Kurnak: Thank. Actually I think I'm stressing up myself more than necessary. Probably people don't find the tanking half as slow as I think it is.

@Tam: Hm... so pala tanking is cheat mode? :) I hope my tanking ideas won't make it impossible for us to join our forces in a run when we happen to be online at the same time. I really don't mind healing either, although it means I'll have to work a bit on my incomes to finance respeccing.

@Reversion: Wow, I just say wow. What a comment! It's like a blog post. The story from your ride with your mom was great! I think that's exactly how it is. And it's a bit the same as when you're dealing with children. Sometimes you have to pretend that you know while you're working it out.

Battle space control and working with the herding cats - I'll keep that in mind! And Yes Sir! I'll stay out of the heroics!

@Spiritus Rex: shhh... don't tell anyone about the spying device I've put in your head!
And yeah: I think the only way to become a better tank is to get out of the idea that you have to be good at it from the beginning. It's only then you can keep going, getting practice and slowly building your self confidence. Let's get out of the bad circle!

@TechDeft: If you miss it, maybe you can get back to it in Cataclysm? There's always the chance for repositioning when everyone is levelling and gearing up.

@Anonymous: Well... I guess it's in my mentality but I tend to blame myself no matter which role I have. If someone dies when I'm healing or tanking - it's me who has failed. And if I die while dps:ing, I've got myself to blame.
Stupid, but I'm working on it!

Rades said...

When I tank as my lowbie warrior, it's always with my RL friend who heals, and something I find really useful is getting him to alert me if a patrol is approaching, if a mob is out of my sight wailing on a hunter (or him), and in general watching my back. Granted, not all tanks will have this luxury, but if you find yourself with a guild or friend healer (or even ranged DPS), asking them to help you out can alleviate much of the panic and stress. :)

TyphoonAndrew said...

Go girl! Keep at it, the best players are the ones that know all roles, and you sound like you'll be a very effective Tank.

I've often said that I Tank at the speed of my cool-downs. That means I pull when both the team and I are ready.

With 3x tank characters now I think there is little that happens in 5 mans that cannot be overcome with some patience and communication. The trouble is often the silly rude people who just never learn.

If a dps keeps pulling aggro or a pet growls - correct it once, and then let it happen. Just switch to another target and wait for that idiot to die. You need your taunts for when something unreasonable happens, not constantly getting aggro back from players who don't pay attention.

"DPS pulling threat is a self correcting mechanism"

TheScribe said...

I remember one time I joined the best guild on the server in vanilla wow ( 60)I was in rather a strange position, in that I was a warrior who became totally obsessed with DPS. My best friend was about the best tank on the server. So I was dps and she was tank - we partied together always and were a great team. We used to be proud of the fact that we two ( both gnomes ) and our healer friend, cold get any two randoms through the Stratholme speed run ( known then as the baron 45 )
Anyway as an upshot of this great partnership it meant I hadn't tanked since the Scarlet monastery.

It was suggested that I tank the MC as they had 4 other DPS warriors. This put me in a real fear, I was one of the "names" on the server and known as a great player.Little did they know the weak link in my game I had been truly neglecting.

Anyhow the MC run came and the first thing someone noticed was the fact that I had nearly all blue's for my tanking set. For a guild debating to start Naxx and for who the MC was just a shard and fun run, this started alarm bells ringing.

Anyhow, from here it got drastically worse, this guild hadn't wiped in the core for 4 months apparently. Alas! that would change and quickly. It became such a disaster that the guild master only kept people quiet by saying their would be a double repairs payment that week.

I was never asked to do more than the simplest bit of off tanking for the next three months after this. I worked on my tanking a lot and at last brought it round to my dps and outstripped it eventually. But reputations take forever to heal. It used to be a joke in the guild if you wanted me to log you asked me to tank... grr!

Echo said...

To be honest learning to tank for me was getting over my failures because in WoW a lot of people are unwilling to be patient or let people learn to play the game. They'll also tend to blame their own shortcomings on you being new rather than them being retarded.

I'm already bordering on rhino style thick skin from Raid Leading so moving to tanking wasn't too bad.

5 Rules imo
1) Use your CDs, dont wait till you're on 25% health
2) Target swap to build aoe threat but keep a weather eye on your main target.
3) Taunting doesn't mena you've failed at threat
4) Never let anyone take you from behind
5) Face mobs with aoe cones away.

Carra said...

It's something Blizzard fails to see. Finding a tank for your instance is difficult because it requires the most responsibility and confidence. Giving us dual specs doesn't change that.

I've also wanted to tank but I quickly come back from it. I'm also a terrible pathfinder. I got lost two days ago trying to find the book fair... Let alone finding my way in fifty instances.

I've been wanting to try it again lately. Still got that lvl 50 something warrior I want to level one day.

Dmitry said...

Long time reader, first time poster.

Accept my silent smiling nod as a gesture of respect. To me, tanking is the only role in PvE WoW that provides you the full pleasure of seeing and controlling the situation around you.

I've been tanking for most of my WoW-career. My first ever character was a Paladin during the final months of TBC. Protection since level 10, for long, long months after. Basically, tanking has been all I knew, so when I finally decided to move on somewhere and tried speccing DPS, it felt like I was betraying someone I loved. I was hanging my mouse cursor over the "I want to unlearn my talents" button and hesitated. No, I'm not kidding.

By that, I mean I understand your worries. However, I'm of the belief that the true reason for them is being new to the perspective rather than anything else. Because tanking, you know, makes you look at WoW at a different angle, and you're deathgripped out of your comfort zone. At first, in the least. :)

I have something to tell you. Please don't view the words as a means to somehow belittle you or your gaming skills! (I'm sure you won't.)

Out of all four tanking classes in the game, bear is the easiest to play.

That should actually be positive news! Because, despite the simplicity, it's astoundingly efficient, and has been so throughout all stages of WotLK. Paladins have been the "underdogs" at the start, then warriors, then now DKs, yet bears were up there all the time. You are a simple big meatbag with as few buttons as possible. The trick is, you don't need more. This fact makes rolling a bear the most newbie friendly way of embracing the World of Tankcraft. Because as a tank, you honestly have other, more global things to do than playing piano on your keyboard.

Now, the only thing I'm going to add except "good luck!" are my 2 things that make or break a tank:

1. Handle your pulls.
You're in control. It's you who decides where the combat will take place, and where mobs A and B are going to stand. You know what abilities the mobs have, and how to manage them. When you encounter casters or shooters, you either LoS them or charge into their midst so they are all near you. Your camera must never block the view - handle it. You have to see each and every mob, and dictate them the rules. Your rules.

2. Handle your groupmates.
This seems the trickier thing to do... at first. Again: You're in control. You are the one between their life and death. If they run ahead of you, they choose death before life. Holding your fire before the tank establishes aggro is not just simple courtesy, it's a rational thing to do if you don't want repair bills. If they berate you, it's their problem. You're learning your game. If they don't want to teach, they can leave. For extreme cases, I hope you've already learned where the ignore button is. :) It's them who have to wait 15-min queues, not you. You get a replacement for any overcranked DPSer straight away. You are also the one who sets the pace. You, and not that GOGOGO rogue who does 83 dps in Ramparts. Your tempo is dictated by just two external factors: healer mana and your cooldowns. Their tempo is dictated by you. And feel free to ask them to use their class abilities where necessary - what, don't they think they are working for the group?

3. Befriend your healers.
This one will surely be the easiest for you. :) The tank and the healer may look like 40% of the group, but in reality they are like 90% of it. If you and your healer are a team, no crap DPS can stop you from finishing the instance. Always wait if healer is drinking, even despite your rage is rapidly ticking away. An annoyed healer is bigger and badder than an empty rage bar.

And now, good luck. And don't forget to provide us readers with stories of your future tanking successes!

theanorak said...

re: the Deadmines run.

I seem to remember there were a number of us joined in on that particular swimming lesson ;)

Rachkalos said...

Congratulations on getting back on the tanking horse, Larisa (or bear, or whatever...)

I was fortunate in that I had some willing guildies to go easy on me whilst I was learning and developing my tanking mindset. Other than one spectacular outburst from me on the public Vent channel, it went fairly smoothly.

These days I'm far more relaxed about tanking things, part of that comes from overgearing things, the rest is a result of experience.

There are only two things that get to me now: rude players and Boomkins that think that it's a good idea to blow the mobs all over the place.


Larísa said...

@Rades: Having a pocked healer sounds awesome. I might be able to find one in SAN, even though people are levelling in a bit different paces. It will definitely make my life easier.

@TyphoonAndrew: I think this “just let it happen” mindset is something I need to work on. It’s a bit like when I’m healing: NOONE is supposed to die under my command. And if someone dies it’s MY fault, no matter what…

@TheScribe: Well, at least I don’t have any reputation to worry about. Good for me!

@Echo: Sounds like good, solid rules, thanks! And I’m working on my rhino skin. It might take a while, but one day…

@Carra: The pathfinding issue is not to be underestimated. I dread places like BRD. I wonder if I’ll ever assemble enough courage to try to pug it as a tank.

@Dmitry: Hi there, old reader! Glad you stepped out of the shadows! That bear tanking is somewhat easier sounds like good news to me! Tanking whatever-class is challenging enough as it is to me.

Good, solid advice from you. About the healing-tank bond, I’ve seen it from the healing side. It really gives a new perspective on the game for an old dps:er. I always try to establish a good contact with the tank as I’m on my lvl 77 tree. Now I’ll do the same, but from the bear view…

I’ll surely come back on this topic and share my experiences further on.

@Theanorak: yeah, I think someone else jumped into the water in a sudden gesture of solidarity!

@Rachkalos: I haven’t run into boomkins yet, I don’t think they have the abilities to push away the mobs at lvl 20-something. But I’ll watch out for it!

We Fly Spitfires said...

I absolutely love group tanking in MMORPGs and I even PvP with a Prot spec in WoW.

I say 'group' tanking though because, oddly enough, I hate raid tanking. I find it far too stressful :(

Chev said...

Thank you for your post Larísa.

I wrote a little series on learning to tank (coincidentally as a bear) that you may find useful and possibly entertaining: