I love tanking classes. Of my 5 85s, 4 are capable of tanking. I have one of each tank class, and the next closest toon I have to max level is a second paladin. My most played toons are a druid and a paladin, and my DK and warrior are pretty much tied for third.
But I don’t play tanks.
It’s not that I don’t want to. In fact, I’ve said for at least two years that I want to try tanking. But not on my druid, because she’s my healer. And….not on my pally, because she’s my DPS toon. I had high hopes for my DK, but I had so much fun with blood dps that I didn’t want to switch to a tank spec. And my warrior, well. Warrior tanking just seemed too complicated, and besides, there’s nothing more badass than a forsaken chick running around with two gigantic 2h swords doing front flips.
Then there’s my second pally. He was actually leveled as prot, and so I understand how to play a prot pally somewhat. But I still don’t know how to tank because…I just don’t tank.
Considering my love of melee dps, and plate wearers in general, me not having a tank has become more and more glaringly obvious. I heal on my druid, priest, and occasionally pally, and I’m bringing a resto shaman up through the dungeon finder. Healing comes naturally to me. Melee dps comes naturally to me. I like playing support classes and having responsibility. So why can’t I tank?
Enter Ayame. She is my one alliance toon on my home server that has a function beyond standing at the neutral and Alliance AHs. I have a soft spot in my heart for night elves since my first toon was a night elf druid, and I particularly like their starting area. Sometimes when I’m stressed or just want to take in the pretty world, I’ll switch over to my nelf, away from my guild and chatter and from the grinds that I feel compelled to do. Ayame is freedom, and I usually feel like I’m playing a completely different game when I’m on her. The quests are all different, the feel of the zones of the different….Even the AH is different because there’s a ton of stuff on it!
But I can’t play a toon without giving them a backstory, and Ayame is no different in this regard. I’ve always liked the idea that the night elf women are the warriors and protectors for the race, and so I decided to make Ayame one, figuring she could be a sentinel of some sort. A friend of mine rolled up a night elf druid around the same time, and after kicking around a few ideas, we decided they were traveling together so she could protect him while he learned the finer nuances of being a druid. Since I so recently leveled a warrior as fury, I decided to spec Ayame as prot.
Yesterday, as I got irritated over still not having found that damn azure whelpling on my main, I switched over to Ayame and did a couple of quests, then stared at her tanking heirlooms for a while. There was really no reason I couldn’t tank a low level dungeon. They’re not that terribly hard. So I tried to boil down what exactly it was about tanking that scared me.
- I get lost easily, especially in older dungeons
- Having leveled a healer through the dungeon finder, I know that the DPS problem of letting the tank pull is no better there
- I don’t like getting yelled at by random strangers on the internet
- I also don’t like embarrassing myself in front of my friends
- I also don’t like the idea of playing badly and being a bad example of what my guild is capable of
- The idea of trash pulls scares me more than an actual boss fight
Looking over the list, I realized most of my issues with tanking are pretty much about me not having confidence in my abilities, not about tanking itself. The only one that isn’t really about me is wanting to represent my guild well, and since Ayame isn’t in a guild and she’s on the opposite faction from the people I normally hang out with, that really wasn’t an excuse. I decided that I needed to get over it.
So, I opened the random dungeon finder, clicked on the tank button, and then queued specifically for Ragefire Chasm. I know my way through that one, and I know what to do in there as well. It’s not like Wailing Caverns, which I know I would just get hopelessly lost in. Predictably the queue popped seconds later, and then, there I was, standing in the front of the dungeon with a bunch of weird looking Alliance toons. Where was the comforting hulking presence of the orcs, trolls, and tauren? Where were the spinny jumps of the blood elves? And where were the hunched forsaken with their wicked laughs? Where were my friends?! Oh that’s right. They were right outside that dungeon portal, hanging around in Orgrimmar. And….they would kill me if they saw me because I was a night elf! A tanking night elf!
After a few moments I realized that, oh shit, I’m supposed to be leading this group. Because I’m the tank! So I quickly typed into /p that this was my first time tanking and that I might mess up a bit. And then….I pulled.
First couple of pulls went okay. I didn’t really feel confident. That’s an understatement. My hands were shaking horribly, and I forgot about important things like, warriors need rage to start hitting stuff. Then the first boss fight began and I managed to lose threat on an add somehow. Fortunately, my tidy plates made it COMPLETELY OBVIOUS that was happening, and so I calmly switched targets and hit taunt. Nothing happened. Hit taunt again. Nothing. Swore. Taunt is broken! The add is eating the druid! OH GOD I SUCK AT THIS!
Then realized, no, I’m just not in defensive stance. Silly me! I quickly switched stances and then realized that I’d never actually set up my bars for defensive stance. I’m a smart one.
Fortunately no one died, and I quickly set up my bars so that there were actual attacks in it. And then….I proceeded to tank my way through the dungeon. I wish I could say that I did a good job with it or that I handled things flawlessly, but honestly it was pretty rough. No one died, but that’s because it was RFC. I managed to lose control of mobs during trash pulls, and I’m not sure if that was my fault or DPS hitting something before I even got a chance to thunderclap it. Fortunately, my taunt button did actually work after I was in the proper stance (imagine that!) so I was able to mostly get things under control. It was probably a slower run than people were used to, but no one complained and no one made fun of me, so that was a good thing. I decided to make a new list of things to think about for the next time I attempt tanking
- Turn on defensive stance. Really! In fact, set up a Power Aura for this.
- Get better about turning groups of mobs around. As a primarily melee DPSer, I very much appreciate tanks who do that.
- Set up my unit frames so that the healer’s mana bar is easily visible. As a healer, I appreciate tanks who are aware of that
- Set up a macro that says “Hi! I’m a new tank, please be patient with me! If I’m doing something really wrong, please feel free to let me know.”
- Install threat plates
- Set up some start attack macros so that I’m hitting things even if I have no rage
I probably won’t use the dungeon finder that much as I’m leveling, because the whole point of this toon is that I get a new story to level through, and running RFD yet again really isn’t going to give me that. But I think I can do it occasionally, especially if I specifically queue for places I know I won’t get lost in. And more importantly, I did it. I finally got over that fear of hitting the tank button and going in to lead the group. My second pally is really excited about this prospect, and so I am because….man I really don’t want to level through Uldum again!