Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Joys of Tanking

I've been a dps and I've been a healer, but up until about two months ago I had never tanked. I rolled a gnome warrior, mostly just to have a gnome warrior, and I started leveling him up. It was alright, except that I died every 10 seconds. I don't remember ever struggling this much to level any other class. On my paladin I could heal myself, and on my rogue things where half-dead before they got out of my stunlock. I understand that warrior leveling used to be even more horrid back in the day when they started you with a sword and board (that's subtle) and Victory Rush, which is now trainable at level 6, wasn't available until level 62.

Despite these buffs, I still found it quite easy to die. If I ever pulled more than one or two mobs I'd usually end up doing a corpse run. I started sitting in defensive stance more than battle stance simply because I wouldn't die as much, and also, Revenge hits like a truck! As prot I was doing comparable damage to arms and the danger of dieing was much less. Then I went to the dungeon finder and got my first taste of tanking. At the time I was still arms, and I'd throw on a sword and board to tank. That was fine for rfc and dm, but I was really rage starved without Shield Specialization so I decided to switch to protection spec so I could tank fo' realz.

Now I truly know why there's so few tanks. It's a nightmare, and your own party is working against you. I assume that most of the dps are probably alts, evidenced by their heirloom gear. These people are so used to 80 heroics where you can start dpsing the nanosecond after the tank pulls that they expect a level 30 prot warrior to be able to generate the same kind of snap-aggro. As soon as the mobs start running for me they're already opening up, which forces me to scramble to regain aggro. I wish people would just give me a few seconds to get threat, and after that they can go John fucking Madden for all I care.

In the past I've hear of warrior tanks having "rage issues", but I've really understood what that meant until now. Basically, if Bloodrage is on cooldown and nothing is hitting me, I'm not getting rage. No rage means I can't use any abilities which means I can't generate any threat. This is why dps pulling ahead of me is such a big problem, because I simply won't have the rage to pull off them. I can Taunt and Challenging Shout, but it's very annoying to have to use those abilities. Challenging Shout is on a long cooldown, and grabbing one mob with taunt is usually not enough to solve my rage problem as quickly as I would like.

So rage kind of sucks. If you compare it to the resource system of paladins and DKs (druids don't count as they also use rage and probably run into the same issues) they definitely have the upper hand. Prot paladins have mana, but they have abilities that basically ensure that they'll never go oom, and DKs have runes which I suppose can all be on cooldown at once (I've never played one), but they still have a better cold start than warriors. Both these classes are able generate aggro with their first attack. My warrior is often forced to run in, get hit, and only after that I can start generating aggro. I think paladins are probably the most faceroll tanking class, but I'm getting used to them being faceroll at everything they do.

So after my foray into tanking I can understand why some tanks are so uptight. The more I tank on my warrior the more I become that guy. One hunter has his pet's Growl turned on, so periodically I'd lose a mob only to see the hunter's pet tanking it. I simply said "is your pet's growl on?" and he said, "yes." I said "turn it off," and he said "ok." I swear if he would have given me any bullshit whatsoever my next sentence would have been "you like tanking with your pet? Well then you can tank the rest of this instance." Then I would have dropped group. Over that small thing? Yes.

At the end of the dungeon more often than not someone will ask me if I want to queue again. There's pretty much one determining factor to whether or not I will say yes: were the dps retarded? Did they pull ahead of me? Did they use taunt-like abilities to pull off of me? Did they start dpsing before I had a chance to establish threat? If they did any of these my answer is going to be no. Except I won't say no, I'll just drop group and get into the next one faster than you can bat an eyelash, meanwhile you're counting the paving stones in Stormwind waiting for your next queue pop. So do yourself a favor and respect the tank, otherwise you can enjoy your 30 minute queue times.

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