Tanking Boots

It’s patch day and whilst I update my gazillion adds (who would think you would need so many adds just to magic away your UI) and contemplate whether I should sign up for raiding tonight (it’s a more complicated decision than it seems), I recall last night’s getting back into the swing of things and it’s a happy thought. Headache over, back pain improving (or possibly it just feels better because there’s something to be done rather than just waiting indefinitely) and I figured it was time to do something interesting and just a little challenging. Chris decided that tanking Coren Direbrew was just the thing and got a group together before telling me that I’m tanking Coren Direbrew. I stall, it’s a bad habit that I’m not necessarily keen on breaking. There’s advantages to putting things off, it stretches out good bits and delay the arrival of bad bits and so I’m reluctant to let it go. Chris have a habit of nudging when I stand on the edge of a cliff too long proclaiming that I’ll be jumping shortly.

It was almost fun. I’m still nervous around most people in my guild. I always feel a step behind and although I’m geared to tank Ulduar 10, I don’t want to rely on my gear to make up for my lack of skill. My bear spec is my solo spec. It’s for soloing level 60 raid instances and duoing mount runs and speeding up dailies. Ideally it’d be nice to be able to tank the daily heroic, I like pugging and the spots in pugs that fill last are healer and tank and having both options available would be nice. But I’ve had some anxiety issues. It’s not that I think I’m bad at it, it’s that I’m inexperienced and I have no margin of error to make up for it. My reflexes are awful, I’m clumsy at new things because joints don’t stay put as I haven’t learned how to accomplish a task without getting hurt and I’d rather keep my issues outside of the game if there’s the slightest possibility of doing so. And so my anxiety around tanking has nothing to do with the game and everything to do with my wrists and fingers and how much it will hurt. Coren hurt quite a bit. With a 5-man group it’s extremely easy and I think most people can tank him blindfolded, but it still hurt. I’m not perfect yet at positioning correctly, I’m not picking up adds automatically and the second a dps pulls the aggro, I struggle to maintain my balance and rhythm in hitting the right buttons. I got so caught up in the pushing of buttons and the putting back of joints that I didn’t even pick up my 40 tokens for the trouble. But it was still fun. And I hoarded quite a few epic items, including the dodge trinket and cool mace, which made me realise that I still have issues because I still hate getting loot. I love having the upgrade, but getting it just isn’t fun. I never feel as if I’m play enough to deserve getting anything back. It’s silly and as most loot these days are inconsequential or dkp based, nothing to concern myself with, I still haven’t quite gotten comfortable with the concept that even though I play erratically, when I’m there, I’m an equal member of the group and I’m not being carried. My tanking is clumsy, but I’m not attempting Ulduar, I’m not stupid and I know how to play my druid, I just need to iron out the kinks a little.

I decided that as UK was the daily, it was the perfect time to go tank my first heroic. That was easy too. I assembled a group of people that I’m not intimidated by. Surprisingly, tanking made me realise that I hugely underestimate my skill as a healer. We started and I pulled both sides as everybody these days do. I’ve healed tanks in mostly blues having just dinged 80 tanking two sets of trash simultaneously with dps that was between 2-3 so I figured with me being the least geared in the party, that it’d be fine. It wasn’t fine. The silly mage for some obscure reason thought I could hold the aggro when he hit 7.5k dps and that’s when things went a little wonky. I taunted it back as it was out of swipe range instead of hitting my self-healing button and although the mage survived, I didn’t and soon we were all running back to our bodies. I then made the very awful mistake of whispering the healer to apologise and say that I’m used to healing tanks that are better geared and so I pulled like they pull and it’s all my fault she couldn’t keep me up. I’m pretty sure she may have interpreted that as an insult.

The rest of the trash went fine. I stuck to 2-3 at a time and it was nice to get a little more of a feel for chain pulling. By the time we got to the room with the drakes, I was feeling more confident and after killing the first alone was time consuming and tedious, I thought I’d pull more than just a drake and handler for the next one. I probably should’ve mentioned this to the rest of the party as I strolled past the first drake to pull the ones further down first and then work back to the open spot I’d cleared so as not to aggro the right half of the room. I just figured they’d be smart and wait at a distance until I had all the aggro. Of course not, silly me. The healer did what healers do, they follow to keep the tank in range and pulled the left side of the room, my sister decided that she was going to skirt around the mobs not to steal the aggro an in the process pulled the right side of the room and I could see see the two guys in the party walking down the middle waiting for me to hold the aggro before they wage in thinking ‘idiot women’ and then all I could see were drakes. Tanks should trust their healers. I’m livid when I’m timing healing perfectly and just as a blow a big heal with a cooldown, I see the tank hit frenzied regeneration or Lay on Hands or whatever and effectively wasting it because they didn’t trust me to keep them alive. 30-40% HP is not an oh fuck situation, 10-20% is. Save it for later. I didn’t trust my healer. I blew all my cooldowns, took a health potion and did everything possible to mitigate and negate damage and felt a little guilty for it. She ran out of mana before the end and I felt a little less guilty. The two guys in the party of course now felt the fun had started and the recount race was on and I silently agreed that it was a little more interesting than indulging in party chat that arise because trash is tedious.

The bosses went fine. The first is easier to tank than to heal. I always wanted to see exactly what happens when you don’t kill the next two simultaneously and I finally had the opportunity to witness it first hand as Dalronn died when Skarvald was at 60% (how difficult is switching between two targets?). The trash just before Ingvar caused a slight hiccup. The shaman and warrior was yet again miles behind and I’d gotten too impatient to wait forever, so I pulled anyway, knowing I could survive trash and the two guys had more than enough dps between them to kill ’em all quickly. Chris though instantly pulled the aggro off before I’d even picked it up (mage tank not ftw) and as I scrambled to grab it all back, he died under the assault of three mobs pretty instantly. Healer showed up in time to rez him post combat and the DK I think was pretty happy to have been the only one to keep up. Ingvar was easy. I stepped through Smash and Dark Smash and Shadow Axe was not a problem. The instance took forever, well, like 30-40 minutes, but it was a great learning experience.

Tanking it was most definitely much easier than healing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I could look at the graphics rather than feet and health bars and once I start to get into the routine of the rotation, it’s just me and the game and I’m much less concerned with other players. I’ve also learned that it’s annoying as a healer when dps pulls the aggro off the tank, but that multiplies ten fold when you’re the tank. It’s infuriating. Also, I’m still not sure why the more you wait for people, the more they make you wait. I like playing when I play. I’m bored when it goes really slow and time is a bigger enemy than speed. My hands start to feel tired about thirty seconds after I start playing and it’s a downhill slope. I’d rather get through an instance in fifteen minutes than have it drag out for an hour because we’re either standing around waiting for someone who has afk’ed or is carrying on ten conversations that seem to take precedence over playing. If you want to use wow as a glorified messenger, go sit in Dalaran on the bank steps or something. I’m impatient, but as a healer I’ve never felt that impatience as strongly. I can tab out for a sec or pull out WIM or read a book on the side and it’s a little frustrating, but my hands do get a break and that’s not a bad thing. Tanking made it worse. It was that much more frustrating to be ready and watch my rage bar deplete whilst not being able to do anything else than check when everyone has arrived. Healing, I can catch up a few seconds after the tank has charged in, but tanking, I have to do the charging. I like that the option is there and I think I’ll keep my tanking spec for soloing, heroics and mount runs.


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