A while back Ghostcrawler wrote a post regarding the relative difficulty of dungeons and their heroic counterparts. He said a lot of things in that post that made me really respect him a lot more than I already did, but for the purposes of this story I want to highlight a bit of the post that has to do with group coordination – and more specifically crowd control.
Tanks, you can’t pull and AE every group in a Heroic (again, until you overgear the content). It’s a good idea to crowd control at least one target — and sometimes two. As long as you have someone with a long-duration and/or renewable crowd control and someone else with a short crowd control such as a stun or even a snare, you should be fine.
Before I get to exactly why I’m highlighting this, I want to look again to commentary that Ghostcrawler made.
This time I’d like to point you towards a post he made regarding tank threat, more specifically he talked about how sometimes when pulls go bad, it’s not always the tanks fault. In fact, sometimes other players in the group are equally, if not more, responsible for supposed “poor” tanking.
We do want players to pay attention. We don’t think it’s too much to ask for DPS and healers to wait a couple of GCDs for the tank to get the enemy under control — we’re not asking for five stacks of Sunder Armor these days
Ok, ok! I know that by now you are probably wondering where I am going with this! Well, I’d like to tell you the story of the little orc that could (also known as Kitai).
I’ve been a bit slow this expansion on the alt front. Having thought that perhaps that was because I leveled two healers back to back, I decided that I’d level up my warrior, Kitai, next. I figured that it would be a bit of a change of pace and something different. I had tanked my way from 70 – 80, and through all of the WotLK content, and so I was looking forward to seeing what Cataclysm tanking was like.
Now, I’m going to be honest with you all here, I’m not an exceptional tank and make no claims that I am. I’m certainly no Xav, but I do think that I do a respectable job when I’m tanking. I generally manage to maintain decent threat, and keep my mobs under control. I’m always cognizant of my healers mana, I don’t usually botch a pull and I tend to use my cooldowns freely. All in all, I’d say that I’m a decent enough tank to have when your LFD queue pops up.
When I revved up Kitai this expansion, she’d been collecting a little bit of dust. I made the decision that I was going to try to move away from my clicking habits with her and rebound all of her keys in both her prot and fury specs to see if I could improve my performance by moving primarily to keybinds. (So far it’s been fairly….unsuccessful :P). The first instance that I did was a Blackrock Caverns with Brade’s priest healing me. I was rusty – and a bit freaked out with my new “setup” and my muscle memory not used to the changes. But we were with all guild mates, and everyone had a few laughs at my expense as we moved through the zone.
However, I became reacquainted with Kitai and, kinda like riding a bike, it all came back to me and I was again comfortable in my tanking skin (except for those pesky key binds :P). As I am putzing around leveling at my slow pace, I am queueing into instances largely via the LFD tool. Most of the groups are very enjoyable, most of the people are polite, and if you chat a bit they will frequently chat back. And usually if I’m diligent about marking mobs and asking for some crowd control the group is largely accommodating.
Unfortunately, however, that’s not always the case.
I tried, GC, I really did!
I did a post awhile back when I first decided that I would try tanking, and with my experiences on tanking my very first instance. I was new to it, it was unfamiliar to me and frankly I was pretty terrible at it. That very first experience that I had was almost enough to turn me off of trying to tank again ever.
Since that time I’ve not only become a better tank, but I’ve also become more aggressive in my tanking as well as more assertive in the group. If I’d like something done, I’ll politely ask for it. If people are doing something that makes my job harder (like dpsing in blood presence, having a pet’s growl on, or simply attacking the wrong thing) I am not bashful about letting them know and politely requesting that they adjust their play. It’s generally fairly effective.
As I move into tanking this expansion, I have the added benefit of being pretty intimately familiar with the zones. Anything that I’m uncertain about from a tanking perspective, I have the added benefit of being able to look over my shoulder and ask Brade about it (which usually leads to him watching me and “drive”, which is frequently irritating and stressful!). So as I queue into zones as a tank, I’m pretty comfortable and relatively confident.
As a result I am pretty aware (from experience) what things in zones require extra attention – even in normals.
This past weekend, I decided that I would give Kitai some love, and started questing in Uldum. I also decided to do my daily instance, and queued into LFD to get a group. My queue popped up very quickly, and I was horrified to see The Stonecore pop up – of course after I wet myself I reminded myself that it was on normal and I wouldn’t get insta-gibbed for botching up the rock dude. I was, of course, then privately embarrassed to have wet myself and quickly changed into my big boy shorts.
Now, I know that this is normal. However, there are still a handful of mobs in the zone that crowd controlling will smooth things out. Generally people are hitting this zone just as the healers are hitting that breakpoint around level 83/84 where mana starts to be a bit more of an issue and instances can become a little more stressful. Not only that, but I can honestly see no downside to learning good habits now, since you are going to need them in just another level or two.
So as we are buffing, I start marking up the mobs. I mark them with the kill order that I am used to and have had much success with. I place the skull on that dasterdly Milhouse and the star on the pesky Earthshaper. I sprinkle around the other lucky charms, and then politely ask the mage if he could sheep the star throughout the instance.
As soon as I, the tank, asked for CC the healer became indignant. “This is normal, you don’t need CC, hahahahaha”. I again politely asked the mage if he would sheep – and the healer started in again “I’m an amazing healer, I can heal through all of this, just pull already”. I again ask the mage to sheep – at which time the hunter in the group drops a trap (not on the earthshaper) and the group has been pulled. So I charge in trying to round everything up.
And do you know what happens?!
You got it, Millhouse stuns me. I struggle to get the pull under control, and just about that time the Earthshaper transforms and starts to AE the raid – killing the DK. The pull finishes and the healer who “can heal anything hahahaha” then blames me for “marking the pack wrong”.
No. No I most certainly did not. I marked the pack correctly for how I, the tank, wanted to handle the pull. And when I asked for the crowd control that would have prevented the disaster of the Earthshaper I was laughed at and told “no”, that I “didn’t need it”.
And so we continue through the instance with me asking to have certain targets CC’d, and being ignored and mocked by the healer who “has healed two of these packs on my main druid on heroic”. (I will admit that I had to bite my tongue at this statement, lest I make a comment that I regret). Pull after pull, ignored request after ignored request, we continue through the instance.
I am pretty miserable in the group, trying to pick up sometimes upwards of 6 or 7 mobs at a time, trying to keep threat on them all because DPS is just attacking whatever their heart desires. Wishing that I could have just had some CC on that guy that has now spawned over 9 imps that didn’t get interrupted and that I now have to try to pick up. But we are almost finished – and I want a shot at the rock guy. (If it had been heroic, I would have failed miserably – just in case you were curious!).
And This Is Why There Are No Tanks
As we kill the last boss in the zone, I was relieved to be done. The entire 45 minutes or so that we were in the instance was pretty awful for me, and put me in a bit of a foul mood. The silver lining was that as my “Stonecore” achievement flashed by - the boss was looted and had a tanking weapon in her satchel.
Well, I at least thought it was a silver lining. Until the healer rolled on the tanking weapon. Needless to say after I picked my jaw up from the ground I was pretty unhappy about it. And so I asked them why they would roll on a tanking weapon. And here is the response that I received:
Now, after my comment, he did pass over the tanking weapon. But really? I should be hit by a bus because I wanted to do the instance cleanly and as it was meant to be done? And even without the CC – as awful as it was – I managed to keep the pulls largely very clean and the one or two deaths that did occur I don’t feel could have been attributed to poor tanking on my part.
But what really shocked me was the group who had been complacent throughout the instance, and refused to CC when I had asked for it, wanted me to stick around for another.
Unfortunately, I really just wasn’t up for another after the experience that I’d just had. And let’s be clear here, it wasn’t the instance that ruined the experience for me. It was the people.
DPS – if you wonder why you have to wait 30 minutes for an instance queue, here is your answer. Who wants to deal with that? And honestly, why should they?
I’m really sorry if I let you down, Ghostcrawler, but you see I tried. I tried to do it the “right” way – I wanted to do it the “right” way. I wanted to grow and develop as a tank in the instances that were there for me to do just that, I really did. But my group just laughed in my face and wouldn’t let me. I know it’s not your fault, and I’m not trying to blame you. But I did want to let you know that I tried.