You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘DPS’ category.

You guys what to know what (one of) my pet peeve(s) is?

People who take credit for other people’s success/ability/skill. Especially when, in doing so, they negate any role that person may have played in their own good fortune.

The two things that tend to specifically happen to me along these lines are:


  1. Misdirect; and
  2. Tricks of the Trade

For those who don’t tank/rogue/hunter, what those abilities do is transfer 100% of the threat generated by the rogue/hunter to the person who has the buff (always, always, always the tank. They can put it on someone else, but if they do it’s a swift, hard, kick from the party unless they’re pretty damn quick on their “Sorry! Sorry! Misclicked!” macro).

These buffs are short duration buffs with reasonable cooldowns (not sure how long. Probably somewhere from 1-3 minutes). Generally the rogue/hunter will use them on the initial pull, allowing them to go hog wild on the mob’s backside without fear of reprisal, and giving the tank an immediate boost to threat right off the bat.*

What seems to happen in the heads of the rogues and hunters I play with, is that I absolutely, 100% need to have Misdirect or Tricks of the Trade up, or I can’t tank. Like, the world ends, and I just won’t have enough threat, and the boss is going to run rampant through the line of clothies. All of a sudden the entirety of my tanking is solely creditable to them.

They have many different ways of saying this – of taking credit for someone else’s work/skill:


  1. lololol this plce is cak wth tot
  2. I’ll put Misdirect on the tank so they don’t lose the boss on the initial pull.
  3. MD makes tanking easy
  4. Here, let me give you Tricks. It’ll help your threat.

Let me be clear. These two abilities are very clever little things, that serve a variety of purposes. Also, when you’re tank, any threat is good threat, and it’s a case of literally the more the merrier. I’m always happy to take an MD or a ToT from someone because more distance between me and the DPS is great – and more specifically, since I seem to have more trouble with rogues and hunters than any other DPS class (it’s up to you to redeem the rogues, Sam – no pressure), I’m glad there’s a temporary buff that keeps them from getting themselves killed by wailing on shit before they’re supposed to (and don’t let them fool you – they’ll do it whether or not ToT or MD is up, and I’m telling you right now they have no idea where their Feint/Vanish/Disengage/Feign Death button is). And, to be bluntly honest, tanks who are new, or still rough around the edges, will benefit immensely from it.

But the line that I’m drawing here is that whatever benefit those two abilities provide to me is a bonus – not the actual purpose of the buff. The actual purpose of the buff isn’t to increase my threat generation (because how many times do I have to tank for you assholes to prove I don’t need the help), but to lower theirs. It’s a piece of candy that means they can start DPSing right away instead of having to wait for the tank to establish aggro. And I swear to God, it takes me no time at all to establish aggro – at least not on either the warrior or the paladin.

In the two seconds it takes me to pull on the pally, I’ve thrown an Avenger’s Shield to start, then run in and bashed their heads in with SoR or HoR and dropped a consecrate. No, seriously, go to town (intelligently). I’m good. I’ve got them. With or without your threat-transfer.

In the 1.5 seconds it takes me to pull on my warrior I’ve down a Heroic Throw, charge, and a fucking Shield Bash (and probably a Heroic Strike) to their face and now I’m happily spamming my priority list. No, seriously, look at Omen. Boss isn’t going nowhere. I’ve got plenty of time between that initial pull and the DPS really ramping up to well and truly establish myself. And I don’t need a threat-transfer to do it.

Don’t throw in little comments after the fight about how much threat you gave me and how much easier it made everything.

You want to know the honest to God truth?

I didn’t notice a difference. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. I was a little higher on Omen right off the bat, and you took a little longer to get your trigger-happy ass creeping up the threat bars, that’s all. These are good, solid, benefits that have good, solid consequences, and I’m glad they’re there.

But I wouldn’t have lost the boss if I didn’t have them.

And I most certainly don’t need them to establish aggro or tank.

If I did a good job tanking, I did a good job tanking – not you. Not you for me. Not you as a pillar of my tanking strategy, without which all of the skill and practice and experience I’ve built up over the last half a freaking decade falls to ash and I am become little more than a shitty DPS.

ToT and MD don’t allow me to tank – they allow you to DPS more freely and more quickly. They increase your DPS. That’s what they’re for. They’re not for making sure I don’t lose the boss, because I can do that without your help, and I don’t appreciate you distilling my efforts down and claiming that you pushing a single button is the reason I’m able to do my job.

And this attitude shows itself in other places. I rant about MD and ToT because they’re a sore spot and I’m constantly bashing my head against them. But it happens a lot on the DPS side, too.

A couple nights ago layteknight was in a raid on her AFF Lock, and there was a Destro Lock in the party. Naturally, she was riding high on the DPS metres, sitting pretty in the number one spot. Now, of course no one links the DPS metres unless they’re at the top, and layte’s not the type of person who feels the need to link them to prove she’s awesome. She knows she’s awesome, and honestly, she knows all the other DPS have Recount too. They can see who’s at the top.

That’s why they’re not linking the metres, after all.

So SaveTheFails, being SaveTheFails, links them on her behalf, since it pisses us off that people will link them at the end of every boss fight if they’re at the top, but otherwise “forget” to – so any bullshit about using the metres to improve their DPS or analyze anything is just that – bullshit. It’s a means of waving around various masculine body parts in an attempt to…I don’t know. Alpha male the room or something?

And oh my God, as Recount spams the chat window the excuses start flying. “It’s because I was on the adds.” “This raid favours locks.” “I just changed specs so I’m still rusty.” And so on and so forth ad nauseum.

Never does anyone say, “hey, nice job, layte. Killer DPS, grats on topping” because…they’re asshats, I guess. Anyway, through all this prattle, the Destro lock pops up with:

“You’re welcome.”

As though he is solely responsible for her DPS. I guess he’d been throwing Curse of Elements around on the mobs during the raid, and somehow this one buff – that provides as much benefit (if not more) to him and the mages/shaman as to layte – is the only reason she topped the metres.

Nevermind that she’s good at what she does.

Nevermind that she plays the most difficult spec in probably the whole game and plays it flawlessly.

Nevermind that she spends obscene amounts of time trying to optimize her gear and spec and rotation.

Nevermind that the buff in question applies to all casters equally and therefore even without it, they all would have been sitting in the same position relative to each other anyway, and layte still would have been at the top.

He pressed one button, one time. He did it to increase his own DPS, and if the raid’s damage went up overall, hey. That’s a bonus!

But because of that one button, all of layte’s work and skill and knowledge gets distilled down and he takes credit for the whole shebang. With two little words.

Not “Grats, layte!”

But “You’re welcome.”

How about next time I’m in a raid, I take credit for all the melee DPS’ damage. After all, I’m dropping sunders like candy as part of my button smashing. Obviously that single buff is the only reason they’re doing as well as they’re doing, right?

Oh, and hey. While I’m at it, I dropped a Feast at the start of the fight. Shit, that benefits casters too, doesn’t it? So all of their DPS is obviously mine as well. They’d never be able to do that much if it weren’t for the buff I gave them.

Healers too. That Feast buff is powerful, man. Full credit to me for their epic heals. 35 spell power is a lot, man. A lot. Plus, I mean, if it weren’t for Demo shout they’d never be able to heal through the bosses damage. It’s critical, man. They’d better be grateful I’m here or they’d never be able to do anything.

All you bitches had better be grateful, man. I’m carrying this raid. If it weren’t for me, you’d be nothing. You couldn’t even raid. You need my sunders and my feasts and my thunderclap and Demo shout. If you didn’t have me, you’d never be able to do anything. Everybody knows that your knowledge of your class and your skill and your reaction time mean jack in the face of my buff to your AP, SP, and STA.

Fear my Feasts, you noobs! Without them you are nothing.

Pfffft.

*UPDATE FOR CLARIFICATION: Samuel Tempus has written a response and clarification of the way Tricks of the Trade actually works (and I believe it’s described in the comments as well). I should have equipped the post with a disclaimer – I am not a rogue. He actually is. I’m willing to bet he knows more about it than me (but don’t tell him I said so). It’s apparently a more useful ability than I gave it credit for, and I’m intrigued by the idea of trading it with another rogue – very clever tactic. But I maintain that I don’t need it to tank. ^^

So layteknight’s trying her hand at DK tanking (she’ll post more on that later I’m sure). She’s freshly 80, and freshly geared for heroics (meaning mostly iLevel 187 blues and a few solid greens).

This post isn’t about that. It’s about how, as we were running some random heroics for gear and fun, I called someone a douchebag to their face for the first time ever today:

I was so mad. So unspeakably mad. It doesn’t matter that it’s technically true:


  1. How the Hell did the LFG system pair up a 5.9K gearscore paladin with a group ranging from 2-4K?
  2. Given her gear level, she probably won’t be able to tank for him, though I maintain that if he’s even a fraction as good as he seems to think he is, he could play it easy and not have TOO much trouble.

Nobody has the right to talk to another human being like they’re nothing. The condescension is uncalled for, rude, and unwelcome – on anyone. Layteknight kept saying: “It’s fine, it’s true, my gear’s shitty and he’s going to pull off me, whatever.” But it’s not about that – not for me, anyway. I’m a principles person – it’s the principle of the matter that matters to me, and the principle of the matter is he was being a rude piece of shit, and no amount of factual accuracy can justify that.

Maybe I’m oversensitive – Christ, I’d believe it. Maybe I’ve just been on the recieving end of this kind of attitude for too long. Maybe he didn’t mean it as shitty as it came out. But it sent me through the roof.

There are a million different ways he could have made those points. For instance, he could have said: “Shit. Sorry in advance if I pull off you – I’m overgeared for heroics, so it might be a bit rough.” Or even: “My gear’s really high level for this place and I’m probably going to do too much threat – did you want me to just tank it instead? :)”

But no. He has to ask a completely unnecessary rhetorical question, simply oozing with arrogance and disdain. And when layteknight confirmed it in a good natured fashion – while, I might add, telling me to calm down and not freak out and it didn’t matter – further suggest that he was just going to have to “ret tank” it because she’s obviously so shitty in comparison.

Do people not understand tone? Do they not understand how they sound when they speak? It’s so easy to put someone down or crush someone new to some aspect of the game. Layteknight’s not in danger of being crushed, but what if it was someone else? Someone newer to the game, with ZERO tanking experience, coming up against this attitude all the time? Bashing their heads off it constantly? I see it all the time and it’s to the point where I can’t stand the thought of letting it go, even though I recognize that may be wiser or easier or healthier for me in the long run.

It wasn’t necessary to summarily dismiss a person – a real person on the other end of the intertube – you’ve never met based entirely on your own opinion of how good you are.

Fucking. Douchebag.

I regret nothing.

So I continue to spaz out. We hit one of those pulls, on the left side of the instance, on the top level, where it’s a group of four and they split into two groups. Instead of waiting back with the tank like an intelligent DPS (gearscore or no), the pally rips up one side and decides to go without the lot of us because he’s just that uber. None of us are surprised. He’s been playing like a retard since he got in here.

We let him go. Layte runs over and gets the other half, the rest of the party follows her.

Mr. Douchebag6KGearscore decides that 50% health is just too low for him to tolerate, so he fucking bubbles and SaveTheFails picks up the aggro. Layteknight pulls the adds off him before he dies.

I start ranting out loud, and in whispers to Save, something along the lines of “Nice “ret-tanking” you fucking asshole” and how I wish, oh I wish, I could say it in Party Chat, when all of a sudden I see this:

And THAT is why SaveTheFails is my hero today.

I am livid right now. We had what was, to all extents and purposes, an excellent raid last night (well…a couple nights ago by the time this post is live). We got a fuck tonne of achievements. I got my Champion of the Frozen Wastes title finally (I’d “had” it, just scattered across three characters, so even though I’ve done all the content, I never had the title). We had a grand total of four wipes, each of them instantly corrected. Things dropped quickly, cleanly, and efficiently. Then it all went to fucking Hell in the last 30 minutes. Fucking. Hell. And not because of performance – because of personality. Because of drama. Because of afudkalfjweiahfjvzxnm,huewfajkxcz!.

But I’m not going to talk about it. And I’m not going to think about it. I’m going to go to my Happy Place.

My Happy Place is a spot, hopefully not too far in the future, when the entire world of Azeroth is torn to shreds by a great, burning dragon – and along with it, the hordes of drooling, over-geared, under-skilled, ignorant, arrogant, elitist pricks who think they’re better at this game than the rest of us because they’ve been handed their Tier on the backs of other people’s work and wouldn’t know a CC from a decurse if it bit them in the ass.

In this Happy Place of mine, Kill Orders are not just pretty icons designed to make the game more visually entertaining as the mobs dance in your AoFuckingE. They’re actual Orders, like a military commander might give you. They’re placed strategically to ensure priority targets are taken down quickly and efficiently, with minimum casualties. And if you don’t follow it you die and you wipe the group. Do that often enough and you won’t have a group.

In my Happy Place, AoE is a strategic decision, made after careful consideration of a given encounter. It is not a part of anyone’s rotation. Indiscriminate use will carry heavy consequences. Tanks will no longer be blamed for a poor AoE decision – rather, the AoEer will be expected to bear the weight of his own mistakes. I will never see the following, in relation to AoE, again: “wtf y i die/”. Instead, it will be: “wtf y u aoe rtard/”

In my Happy Place, there are consequences for idiocy, because tanks and healers can no longer indulge in, or compensate for it. DPS will be just as important as the other two roles because their job will encompass more than damage. They will not be selected based solely on two numbers – gearscore and Recount – they will be selected based on their ability to maximize their DPS to the extent possible while also CCing, decursing, and kiting. Their role will require skill, which no gearscore can passively compensate for.

In my Happy Place, all the cockweasels (to use my new favourite word, courtesy of Tamarind) who have been facerolling this content without any skill or attempt at improving themselves as players and members of the community will quit the game, because raiding and maybe even instancing will actually require you to wipe once or twice in order to learn the mechanics, and they just can’t deal with that. These people will wander, guildless, through a desolate wasteland of failpugs, trying to find a group willing to carry their unskilled, impatient, ungrateful ass through content that will forever make them its bitch.

In my Happy Place, regular raiding will require a fairly stable group – either through a guild, or perhaps a friendlist. This means it will require positive attitudes, a sense of community, and good behavior. You will have to be skilled at what you do, able to carry your own weight, and a nice enough person that people like you. Because you can’t just faceroll this shit anymore. You can’t just PuG it out to the drooling masses. You have to pick and choose who you take with you. And as I’ve already said, raiding in my Happy Place requires wiping, and nobody wants to make the run back from the graveyard with an asshole howling the whole way.

My Happy Place will also have weather. Because I agree with everything in this post.

In my Happy Place, the game has finally found that elusive balance between the hardcore and the casuals. Between accessibility and facerolling. Between PvP and PvE. Between major plots and an individual’s story. Between soul-sucking frustration, and free-soaring triumph.

I’m there right now, in my head. I can already see it. Every douchebag who’s ever made the in-game lives of me and my friends Hell is dying in the fires of the Cataclysm as we speak, writhing and screaming and too stupid to even know they’re standing in bad. The rest of us are gathered together on a hill somewhere in the Barrens, basking in the warmth, reveling in our sudden freedom from asshats. The General chat is curiously free of Chuck Norris jokes; someone requests the location of Mankrik’s wife. Someone else answers. A bird chirps, a zevhra is born, and the Circle of WoW moves on, unfettered from the chains of sloth and idiocy that repressed it for so long.

“Hey,” says someone in the group on the hill, “let’s go run heroic Deadmines.”

“Yes,” I respond, nodding slowly. Smoke rises from the ashes at the centre of the crater below us, and in that slender, ephemeral trail I find peace between myself and this game at last. “Let’s.”

So, the drama around trying to actually play Warcraft in French continues. Now I’ve paid to upgrade my account to a full version, both expansions too, and I’m trying to download and install the French client and bugger if I haven’t fouled the whole thing up to a spectacular degree. I have e-mailed Blizzard in the EU to attempt to get some kind of professional help for the issue, as I think Google may have led me astray and made it worse. C’est la vie!

So for some reason, while I was futilely waiting for a response from Blizzard on a Sunday, my brain went: “Know what would make you feel better? A PuG.”

As you can see, I have clearly lost my mind.

Not so much than I went on any of my tanks – no, no. I’m not quite there yet – but I loaded up my Shaman and off we went. Turned out to be AK:OK. The obligatory two healers join the group and leave again, and we’re finally on our way.

As PuGs go, in terms of behaviour, except for our massively over-geared hunter, it was fine. The hunter was on the wrong targets almost constantly (when she’s not AoEing indiscriminately) and bitching about the tank not being able to hold aggro (she’s doing 4K DPS in a heroic. If she’s not on the right target, NO tank will be able to hold her aggro), but our tank is skilled, if silent, and our healer is lovely, and the warlock is just sort of doing his thing and minding his own business. So, not too bad.

Then, instead of darting straight for Volaj, the tank veers off to go after Jedoga – which makes me happy as a clam. I want badges, and I think skipping bosses kind of defeats the purpose of doing instancing at all. If we don’t go get the plant guy, fine, but come on! She’s right there and you pretty much have to kill the trash blocking the way to get to Volaj anyway. And they nerfed her!

The hunter, though, oh she doesn’t like that.

Those last two lines, btw, were typed simultaneously.

Also, strangely enough, here’s my Recount (from just after Volaj):

How is it her numbers show her HIGHER than mine, and everyone else LOWER than mine?

Also, as a point in fact, I haven’t been on the shaman in a while and I’m still learning the class, so I was watching my DPS like a hawk. I’m pretty sure I never once dropped under 1.6K until Volaj (fucking insanity), and was averaging about 1.7K. I don’t remember ever seeing 1.2K.

All of this is besides the point. As I acknowledge in the party chat, I had the lowest DPS by far, which is accurate. I had the lowest gear score, being appropriately geared for the content, with a healthy number of blues mixed in with my epics. I also, probably, had the least amount of experience as a DPS.

But, and excuse me for my bias in using my numbers instead of hers, 1.5-1.7K DPS is completely adequate for heroic content. And with a warlock doing 2K and huntard doing 4K…I’m not really seeing an issue.

So, while I’m not actually offended or hurt at the fact that my DPS was where it was supposed to be, I’m shocked and offended that someone would be willing to put that so rudely or so bluntly.

And I’m flabbergasted (though I know I shouldn’t be after so many PuGs) that someone would actually try to claim that DPS that is sufficient for the content at hand “sucks.”

No, actually, it doesn’t.

I wish I could type the following sentence to conclude this post on:

“This story does have a happy ending, though. The hunter stood in that lightning puddle on Jedoga and totally died before the end – pretty sure my 1.5K beats her nothing while she was lying on the floor.”

But I can’t. Because while it is entirely true that she stood in the lightning puddle and very nearly bought it, as I mentioned earlier, our healer was lovely, to say nothing of skilled. He kept her sorry, rude ass up and going no matter what she was standing in, or which of the wrong targets she was on.

So instead, I shall simply offer a salute to my anonymous healer and hope to see him again some day!

The hunter, I shall ignore, and let that be the end of that.

So, since my brain-switch is most of the way to off, and my internal monologue sounds a lot like this right now – IwanttosleepIwanttosleepIwanttosleepIwanttosleep – I have resorted to looking back at a list I wrote a month or so ago when we first started the blog of possible topics. I apologize in advance if this lacks coherency in any way – in case you missed it the first time, all I really want right now is sleep, so my brain is not necessarily being cooperative.

The topic, as written on that list, is “what do tanks expect from their party?” An interesting question, with a bit of a layered answer.

On the surface:

I want the DPS to…


  1. Understand your class and your abilities, and recognize that just because a button doesn’t do massive damage doesn’t mean it’s never to be pushed. CC, dispelling, shielding, silencing, interrupting, and even high-threat abilities all have a place – if not in your rotation, at least in your larger scale gameplay.
  2. Follow the kill order. If there is no kill order, follow my target.
  3. Let me pull unless I specifically ask you otherwise. Misdirect doesn’t make up for me not being able to position the mobs appropriately.
  4. The kill order. Follow it.
  5. Stand behind the mobs/boss unless specifically told to do otherwise. I don’t love you enough to eat parries because you can’t tell the front-end of Anub’arak from his ass.
  6. Kill orders are for following.
  7. Understand that you’re responsible for your own AoE unless I’ve specifically told you to do it. If I’ve taken the time to establish a kill order and haven’t said “AoE them down”, and you want to Blizzard…go nuts. But understand that if you pull, it’s your own damn fault. The next words out of your mouth had better be “sorry! Didn’t mean to pull!” and not “wtf lrn 2 tnk”.
  8. And last, but certainly not least, follow the fucking kill order.

I want the Healer to…


  1. Keep me alive, please and thank you – though one likes to assume this goes without saying.
  2. This is not necessarily fair to expect of the heals, but on some level our shared responsibility for group survival leads me to look to healers for support and back-up in the case of a party/raid member not behaving appropriately (say…not following a kill order, pulling aggro, and taking a shit-tonne of damage before the situation can be corrected). I like to think this causes as many problems for the healer as for me, so I tend to look to the healer for back-up here.
  3. If, for some reason, you’re having a hard time – content’s too hard, your gear’s too low, you’re new to the spec/class, you’re too used to healing for over-geared, under-smart tanks, you’re stoned out of your mind and completely unable to differentiate between the warlock and the warrior (I know, we’ve both got “war” in our class names, but come on) – please don’t blame your ilevel 232-245, DEF capped, 40K HP tank for your fail, by intimating they don’t have enough HP/DEF/gearscore. If you’re going to assign blame away from yourself, at least have a realistic excuse. No point insulting my intelligence along with my gear.

All of this, of course, begs the obvious question – what do the DPS/Healers expect from a tank? I’m neither DPS nor heals (on any kind of committed basis, anyway), but I can hazard a guess (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong):

The (intelligent, good) DPS want me to…


  1. Be able to maintain enough threat that they can DPS to the utmost of their abilities, without having to destroy their Recount numbers to keep from pulling off of me.
  2. Try to stand as still as possible, without sacrificing threat, so the melee DPS don’t have to keep chasing the mobs down, and the ranged don’t have to keep repositioning any AoE.
  3. Establish a kill order, or at least a bare bones one. They understand the relation between my threat and their DPS, and they understand a kill order helps me as much as them.
  4. No, seriously, make sure I enough threat.
  5. Pull only what I’m (and the healer’s) capable of surviving – if I die, so do they, and no one appreciates a repair bill.
  6. Wait between pulls if required so mana-based DPS can get back that which is required for DPS to happen.
  7. Threat, threat, threat, threat, threat, threat, THREAT!

The (retarded, drooling) DPS want me to…


  1. Hahahahahaha! You’re funny! The retarded DPS don’t know what a tank is or what it’s for. They just think I’m the fourth, super-shitty DPS.

The healer wants me to…


  1. Be appropriately geared for the content I’m tanking. This doesn’t mean I need to have T9 to tank heroics, but I need to make sure I’m wearing what’s necessary to keep a given instance from tearing me to tiny little pieces while the healer sobs over the tragic waste of a life – because that’s all they’re going to have time for.
  2. Be able to generate sufficient threat for my character/gear level. It’s not that I’m going to lose aggro to the healer (you’d almost have to be doing negative threat), it’s that I’m going to lose it to the DPS. And then the DPS are going to start dying. And then the Healer’s job is going to be exponentially harder than it has to be.
  3. Understand that healers are like whales – I need to save them. There should be a t-shirt. If the healer’s picked up aggro from somewhere and a monster is happily munching away on them, get thee to the back line and taunt that shit. I fail as a tank if I let monsters munch on my healer. Fail. May as well hang up my shield and my +DEF sword and ride on into the sunset. My welcome in Tank Town has finally worn out.
  4. If I’m dying like a bitch, perhaps it would be wise to turn the Lens of Shame on myself before immediately assuming it’s my healer’s fault. Is my gear good enough? Was I standing in fire? Did I let monsters stab me repeatedly in the backside? These things are my fault, not my healer’s. Until I correct my own problems, I have no business blaming someone else for them or even their own.

What everyone wants from everyone else…

So, there’s a common thread here, running through the wants and needs of every group itemized above – kill orders.

No! Wait!

Well, yes. Kill orders help everyone. But that’s not the thread I’m referring to.

Tanks play the game to tank. They want to generate threat, have the monsters focus exclusively on them, and have the defences to survive the attention. If they’re not doing it (if the DPS are pulling aggro, if the healers aren’t paying enough attention, if anyone is pushing them faster and harder than they’re comfortable going) then they’re not having fun.

DPS play the game to do damage. They want to light into a monster’s backside and watch Recount tick upward. They don’t want to have to focus on Omen. They don’t want to have to spam vanish or soul shatter. They don’t want to die and not be able to do anything for the remainder of the fight because either the tank or the healer wasn’t doing their job. If they’re not doing damage, they’re not having fun.

Healers play the game to heal people. They like playing Healbot whack-a-mole. They like strategizing and planning out which heals for which people in order to ensure the most efficient, effective last-minute-save. If the rest of the party is sucking – tanks that aren’t geared right, DPS that don’t care where they’re standing, or what they’re standing in, a chaotic melee where even the mobs can’t seem to figure out who’s the tank – there can be nothing effective or efficient about their heals, and they’re fighting a battle against time. Sooner or later the heals will be too late, through no fault of the healer, and the group will wipe. This isn’t fun for them. Not in the least.

When you act “badly” in a group, you’re not just showing disrespect to your companions, or making things difficult – you’re detracting from their happiness. You’re killing their joy. You are being no fun.

Players of all three stripes are required for the game to function. The game is specifically built around this mechanic – not only is it, in fact, possible for all three types of people to play together and still have fun in their own ways; assuming everyone’s playing the game well and respecting each others’ role, it’s almost impossible for everyone to not have fun. But that’s a pretty big assumption.

It’s relatively easy to tread on people’s toes without even meaning to. We have a couple guildies who legitimately enjoy big pulls and opening fire with their biggest AoE spells before I’m even in range – they think it’s funny, as a matter of fact. They’re not necessarily being malicious. But they’re not being particularly considerate either. They’re not recognizing that in doing so, they’re actually, physically denying me the right to play – and I’m unlikely to be impressed at how “epic” they are; nor am I going to laugh and agree when they point out how they don’t even need a tank. Maybe that’s tonnes of fun for them, but it’s really fucking boring for me to sit there and watch my DPS do a bunch of shit I know there’s no way I can compensate for – specifically removing my ability to play the game. I get sidelined. It’s as frustrating and enraging as being a DPS who dies on the pull and gets to watch everyone else have fun for the next two minutes of fighting while you try to mentally calculate your repair bill.

Of course, these DPS might argue that who am I to get in the way of them playing the way they want? I have many, many answers to that, but all of them are biased, so I’ll just keep my mouth shut.

In the end, no matter what class, spec, or role you play, what you want from your party/raid/guild is simple:

Let me play the game I want to play.

Positioning is very important in wow – and not just to tanks. It’s not necessarily something you think about a lot, mostly it’s just something you learn to do automatically.

I think tanks are more conscious of their own positioning than any other role, because it’s so unspeakably crucial to what you do.

DPS are perhaps the most oblivious (speaking generally) because their role is much more forgiving in this respect, and in those cases where it’s not, they’re dead pretty quick and either learn to correct it, or blame the healer/tank. In one case, they’re lovely and wonderful and welcome to party with me any time. In the other they’re horrible, hideous cankers on the face of my favourite game, and I invite them to continue to die in fires, as their pain amuses me and their deaths are a mercy to the rest of us trying to, you know, win.

Healers, interestingly, I assume are the most aware of everyone else’s positions – as so many of their heals rely on proximity, chaining, or other positioning based effects. This is why healers yell at you to tighten up and stand closer. This is why you being way the fuck over there is not helpful. This is why you don’t get healed. Whenever I see my healers running back and forth like unlucky chickens, I don’t blame them. I tend to blame the rest of us. They’re trying to catch everyone in one radius or another and odds are good we’re not making it easy for them. Shame on us. Shame.

The reason I continue to beat this dead horse (often known as being-where-ever-the-fuck-you-are-supposed-to-be) is because I recently realized just how mechanical positioning tends to be, and that I’m not the only person for whom this is the case. And nowhere is this more evident, than when I, or anyone, swaps roles.

Wanna know one of my dirty secrets (another one…this blog is becoming a confessional booth, I swear)? When I DPS, I stand in front of the mob.

I know! I’m the biggest hypocrite in the world!

But wait! Hear me out!

I don’t do it maliciously, or even consciously. I do it because I spend 90% of my in-game time tanking. So I mechanically, methodically, consistently, move to stand in front of the mob, facing toward the group – without even thinking about it! It usually takes me a good two seconds to realize what I’m doing, blanch with horror at the incredible faux pas, recall every single time I bitched out a DPS for doing exactly that, and hustle my ass back over to stand beside the rest of the melee DPS.

It’s one of the reasons I fail at ranged DPS (you know…moreso than melee DPS…which is also pretty fail for me). I can’t get it into my head that I’m supposed to stand at the back. I run up. I stand mid-range instead of max range. I don’t run away from mobs. Protflashes no likey the back. Protflashes want be at front.

Protflashes die a lot.

I’ve always known I do this, but I figured it was just me. I’m a habitual creature to begin with. I like me some routine, and nothing makes me crankier faster than messing with it. But a while back one of our raid DPS indicated they wanted to try healing. Glee abounded – someone actually wanted to try a pole position (there are approximately two of us in our raid that play a pole because we want to. The others have been coerced, cajoled, or took up the mantle from a sense of duty (the unfortunate fact of the matter is we need two tanks and two healers or we don’t raid, so someone has to suck it up…though it’s often like pulling teeth)).

The guy even had a pre-made healing set! He’d been plotting for this for a while, apparently, quietly rolling on off-spec in the background and PuGging when he could to pull it together. One day our MH (as in, the guy healing the MT; not to be confused with the guy calling the healing shots) called in sick (literally) and while we were debating what we wanted to do, I got a whisper from our new healer asking if he could try.

We run a casual raid group, and the hardest fucking part of the whole thing is making everyone happy. I could not imagine trying to do so in a twenty-five man. I think I would actually commit suicide. So when I get a whisper from someone, asking to take on a thankless role because they think they’d enjoy it more…I say yes (after checking with our defacto healing-lead (*coughSaveTheFailscough*) to make sure the fit will be okay and he’s willing to help coach the new guy).

Anyway, it was his first time raid-healing and we were in ULD, so it wasn’t, precisely speaking, a cake-walk, but he did really well under the circumstances. I whispered him every now and then during the raid to ask how it was going, and was he enjoying it, and was it okay. At one point we wiped and the blame pretty squarely belonged to him. He’d been standing far too close to a boss, got caught in an AoE that never should have hit him, and died. Shortly thereafter our OT followed. Then our MT (me). And that was pretty much that. I whispered him to ask what happened (as, in the moment, I couldn’t quite tell) and he explained that he was still thinking like a melee DPS and had been standing right beside the OT.

We laughed it off and continued on our way, but it got me thinking about positioning and how automatic it is. I was actually kind of relieved to know I’m not the only person who mechanically moves to the same spots, all the time – let alone who can’t figure out where I’m supposed to stand when I’m not in my usual role.

It makes me wonder how many other aspects of this game are automatic and mechanical. I think about Naxx and how often we ran it between getting good at it and Ulduar being released. I’d say it was pretty mechanical by the end of it. Simple things, like me calling instructions over Vent. I do it automatically. I knew those fights off by heart, and it never occurred to me that I didn’t have to call overloads, and novas, and stacks, and adds, and anything else DBM warns us about, but nobody pays attention to. I just did it unthinkingly.

And when, inevitably, someone pointed out I didn’t have to run down that stuff anymore, and I consciously chose to stop doing it…we wiped. Not because me calling things out was required, or my amazing wisdom and leadership skills are the key to our victory – Hell, we’d run the fights so many times we all knew it off by heart and probably could have run it with our eyes closed – but because everyone was at the point where they weren’t actively thinking about what they were doing, they were just mechanically reacting to various cues – in this case, my voice over Vent, saying “Three stacks, swap.” When that cue was taken away, active thought didn’t backfill the void, and so nobody reacted as required. They were still waiting for the cue that would trigger whatever subconscious part of your brain that handles actions performed automatically, as opposed to as the result of a conscious decision.

I don’t think this is a bad thing, and I’ve noticed it in other areas. Playing an instrument I haven’t touched in ages, for example. If I stop thinking about what I’m doing, my fingers actually remember where they’re supposed to go and the music sounds okay. The same applies in Warcraft. Were I to go back into Naxx now, after so long away, as long as I didn’t think about it or actively try to remember the strats, I would probably have no problems – assuming all my usual cues are in place.

Hell, it’s probably saved us from a wipe or two from time to time. Sometimes thinking gets in the way of reacting. But sometimes not-thinking does the same thing. So the automated nature of these things is alternately a boon, and a curse. It might help, it might fuck you up.

It might get you yelled at because you’re standing in front of the mob again.

Who knows?

Soooo…better late than never, right?

Heh. Heh heh.

Sorry.

So, for those who missed Part 1 (Pallies and Warriors), we’re talking about how it feels to play each of the four classes of tanks – not too much about mechanics (especially given that they change constantly and I can barely keep up even when I’m actively playing a class. Two days ago I posted about how Devastate is meh. Now I’m reading that with the changes coming to warriors, it’ll be upgraded again? Like, it might be more important than Revenge or something? I don’t really care overmuch when Blizz nerfs or buffs anything, because they’re not malicious little gremlins out to ruin my game (contrary to popular belief). But man it’s irritating when a buff/nerf completely changes my rotation and I need to relearn everything).

I believe the analogy I was using (poorly) was rhythm.

A small disclaimer before I go into this: on Monday I posted about what are currently my two strongest tank classes in terms of my level of understanding, comfort, and actual character level. The classes I’ll talk about today are my weakest classes in terms of all of the above – I haven’t even gotten them to 80 yet, so I may be missing key abilities, and my understanding of their rhythm is still a work in progress. But then, this was a subjective set of posts to start with, and the information therein remains, as always, pure, unadulterated opinion (and is therefore subject to change).

So! Let’s start with the strongest of my two weakest classes:

The Druid

Okay, so…story time. Back in BC, this class held the position my Warrior currently holds – that is, my favoured tank (or at least, my favoured character). I levelled my druid and was tanking five mans with her long before my pally hit 80. I didn’t mean for this to happen – it just sort of did. I always mourned my neglected warrior, but by the time I realized what was happening, I was 70, partially geared, and it would have been a waste to try to pick up my warrior and force my guild to re-gear yet another one of my redundant tanks. So bear it was!

So I actually do have a good degree of experience with the bear – or did. So much changed between BC and 3.2 (when I sort of picked the bear back up in a casual kind of way) that I had to go on yet another research binge just to figure out what the Hell I was supposed to be doing.

Did you know that bears don’t need defence anymore?! Do you have any idea what a paradigm shift that was for me? What kind of tank doesn’t need defence?! What is this “AGI” and “Crit” and “Attack Power”? These are DPS stats! This gear list…it’s comprised entirely of ROGUE gear! I fail at rogues! Blizzard, what have you done?!

It is weird. That’s all. Very, very weird. As I’m questing I’m stripping off my lovely, apparently useless because of stat itemization, epics from BC and replacing them with ROGUE GEAR. It’s just…wrong…

Okay, right. Rhythm.

So, ironically given the above, the bear – for all I have honestly enjoyed it, as I have all the tanking class – has a DPS rhythm for me. It’s like a warrior (because in the end a bear is a warrior with less buttons, much like a cat is a rogue with less buttons), but a fury specced one (ha ha! A furry specced one! Get it? …you can kill me if you want). You only have a few buttons to press (I’m being mostly generous. The bear doesn’t really have much of a rotation, and I find that, because there’s less rage-cost-reduction talents available, all of their abilities cost more than the warrior anyway, so even if I had more buttons, I wouldn’t necessarily have the rage to spam them – though that may also be a function of my level), and you really, really, really want them to crit. Bears are right up there with the DPS in comparing crit chance and AP totals. It’s surreal.

Also, the bear’s defensive CDs seem designed to be blown together (they’re not on the GCD. I actually have a macro (appropriately labelled “Oh shit!”) that pops them all at once) – which makes sense. Because your focus is on effective health/absorption (as opposed to avoidance, since Dodge is really the only thing of much use to you), if you’re low on health you can’t rely on the boss not hitting you like some of the other tank classes. It is going to hit you. So hitting your “Oh Shit!” macro and popping everything you have is usually a good idea, because your block/parry/dodge won’t be able to buy you the time the healers need to bring you back up.

The bears, in short, have a very different feel/rhythm than the other classes. You don’t really have a rotation or a priority list – just a to-do list. Make sure mangle’s up and doesn’t come off. Maul when you have the rage. Lacerate (or don’t…couldn’t find a definitive answer on its use) if you want. Swipe if you need AoE or you just like the animation. Faerie Fire because it’s free (and apparently does threat now. WTF?).

It’s an “easy” class to tank with in that your options are limited, and your “rotation” is very simple/straightforward. It’s like…the California of tanks. Do what you want, when you want, and it’ll probably work out. This is perhaps why they feel strangely DPS focussed – because since there’s less “tank”-based strategies/abilities to it compared to other classes, the DPS aspect gives you something to do/watch. You want to crit because it procs half-a-dozen tanking buffs that are actually mostly passive and don’t require anything on your part.

Also, similar to the paladin, but worse because the bear isn’t as steady, I don’t feel I have a lot of things in my toolbox when things go wrong. I’ve got a taunt, I’ve got a challenging shout equivalent (like so much of the druid’s animal form abilities, it has a completely original name: challenging roar), but beyond that your only hope is pure, face-smashing awesomeness (which, ironically, is actually what the bear is about. Smashing things with your face).

I love the concept of the Druid tank, and it is actually enjoyable to play – although it feels like a guilty pleasure I have to keep secret, because in my head it’s not a tank, it’s a DPS that’s totally cheating and has found some kind of exploit that increases threat. But it doesn’t feel like a dedicated tank to me, most likely just because it’s so different in terms of gear/stats from the classes I’m used to playing. I can’t get over not needing to cry myself to sleep over how to get my DEF cap to stay at 540 without going over or under. The fact that I want this should tell you how crazy I am.

If you’re a DPS who wants to dabble in tanking part time, or maybe just try it out to see if you like it, the Bear is an excellent class for that. It’ll let you maintain aggro, but still feel like you’re DPSing. And if you’re looking for a bridge from DPS to tanking, it’ll do that very well too. You can pick up the bear without too much “culture shock” – the gear and stat preferences stay mostly the same as DPS, and it’ll give you time to get into the swing of the logic, positioning, and philosophy of tanking without simultaneously throwing the troublesome mathematics of tanking at you. You can worry about that later, once you’ve figured out how to establish threat, maintain aggro, and yell at the DPS because oh my God they’re standing in front again.

The bear-Druid is an I Am Awesome class. It can do it all – tank, DPS, face-smash – and it does it well, with minimum stress on you as a player, and a very gentle learning curve. Like all tank classes, there’s a difference between a newbie bear, and a master bear, but it’s a much gentler slope between the two (though, evidently, no less work).

The Death Knight

Right. *Cough* So… *awkward shuffle* I suppose I should be clear right off the bat here:

I suck at the DK.

There, I said it!

I do tank with my DK on a semi-regular basis. I don’t lose aggro unless I’m really not paying attention or a pull has gone badly. I have a toolbox full of an almost confusing array of abilities designed to prevent every fuck up known to man. My defensive CDs are the equivalent of phenomenal cosmic powers

And for some reason I can’t string it all together. I hit the anti-fear CD when I want the armour one. I can never seem to get Death and Decay off cooldown, or have enough runes for it. I’m too slow on Pestilence, and too fast on Blood Boil.

Mercifully, no one has really noticed. The group I tank for with my DK is very laid back and easy going, and like I said, I don’t actually lose aggro, despite my all-encompassing suck. But I can’t escape the knowledge that I am failing at playing this class to the max of what it can do. I’m wasting CDs, I spend too much time doing nothing because I have no runic power, and all my runes are on CD, and I don’t know how it happened (or rather I do. I fucked up my rotation. But I don’t actually, fully understand my rotation – or more specifically, how to deviate from it without fucking it all up). No matter where I put the anti-fear CD, I will ALWAYS click it instead of the armour one (why?! It doesn’t even remotely look like a defensive CD).

I refuse to acknowledge defeat. My goal when Wrath came out was to master the DK because I’d done pretty well on all the other ones. I wanted one of each tank, and I wanted to be good with them.

But the DK continues to thwart and mock me mercilessly (yeah, well, you’re stupid, DK. And ugly. And you smell bad).

And the reason I suck is specifically because I can’t find the DK’s rhythm. I’m trying to dance but he and I are hearing different songs. I can see, logically how it works. I can tell you how it all fits together. I can guess at what the rhythm must be like. The DK is a strange combination of the pally and the warrior (my two favourite classes, FFS! How am I failing this?!). It’s got the pally’s rotation based, steady AoE threat, on top of excellent single-target threat and some burst, like the warrior. The rune system is an intriguing twist on the typical CDs, and runic power is like the fucked-up love child of rage and mana.

The DK is a class made up of choices – if I choose this ability, I won’t have the runes for that one. If I pop this over here, I won’t have enough RP left over for a Frost Strike. Do I want to focus on a single-target rotation, or an AoE one? Killing Blow and Rime have both procc’ed – do I blow Killing Blow on a frost strike before the Howling Blast to up my threat on this target, or blow them both on Howling Blast to up my threat on everyone?

My CDs are all unique, without repetition. They’re actually encounter specific, not generic versions of give-me-more-health. There’s a lot of procs, and no few of them are active, requiring me to react and push a button, changing my strategy or my rotation mid-stride. Each and every spec is capable of tanking, with a different style/feel/rotation for each.

This is awesome. This class is made of win. It’s everything I ever wanted in a tank, all rolled into one. It’s everything I love about the others – the warrior’s complexity, the pally’s reliability, the bear’s fun-loving deeps-centered awesomeness – all rolled up into a single, thematically appropriate class with unique hair and skin colours!

Why – why – can’t I pull it together?!

The one area of the DK that I have down pat – where he and I are in perfect agreement – is that we’re both fucking angsty about being a DK, and all that’s inherent in that.

Conclusion

All four tanking classes are equally viable, equally useful, and equally fun – though not necessarily for everyone. Each has it’s own unique feel and rhythm, and if you really want to tank, it’s important to find one that you enjoy. ‘Cause I’m telling you right now, there are lot of aspects of tanking in general that suck. If you’re not enjoying your class, you’re going to be miserable.

I would personally encourage everyone to try all of them. You never know which of them will click for you (I figured warrior wasn’t for me until I tried it, and I’ve never looked back), and which won’t (from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee, DK). And each class has it’s own lessons to teach that apply across the board, and can actually improve your skill with the other classes.

For all I bitch about it, and all I fantasize about quitting, tanking is, in fact, a worthy endeavour, and can, with the right group, be amazingly fun. And it’s a role with a lot of options, and a lot of variation.

It’s like Country music. Almost universally despised, but everyone has at least one country song they like (whether they admit it or not). There’s a tank class out there for you, whoever you are, whatever your home-role.

You just have to find the right rhythm!

Figures I would go AFK for a few days right after we get linked off the delectable Righteous Orbs and get these shiny little spikes on our hit counter! To those who’ve found us from that link, welcome and I hope you enjoy what you find! To those who found us before that, you’ll always be our favourites no matter what (just don’t tell the others). To Tam, for linking us in the first place, thank you SO MUCH! I don’t know what to say except you have our undying love and gratitude (well, mine, anyway, but I’m sure the others would be willing to throw theirs into the pot as well)! ^^ Also, congratulations on your new hat!

And now, on with the show!

It was the best of PuGs, it was the worst of PuGs. Except it wasn’t – it was two PuGs, and so far varied in my experiences therein that reflecting on it actually boggles my mind.

One of them, you may already know, as I’ve posted on it previously. It was, to use the colloquial term, terribad. Pure swearing, yelling, caps-abusing, vowel-lacking, chain pulling, tank-ditching, gearscore bitching, recount linking, mana draining awesomeness. At level 20. It was also the second of the PuGs, and my shock at seeing such unfortunately familiar behaviour at such a low-level may have been largely attributed to the vast gulf between this (fail)PuG and the one (not fail) that preceded it.

The first one was slightly lower level – instead of being the lowest at 19, I was the lowest at 15, and we were running RFC. I believe my first thought was, oh my God I don’t think I’ve ever actually run this instance legitimately. I spent more time on the Alliance than the Horde in my formative years, so it wasn’t really in my instance rotation, and by the time I got around to rolling up a hordie all my large, manly, gnome-punting friends were much higher level. Also, the idea of trying to tank an instance with nothing but Heroic Strike to my name lacked that certain kind of appeal, otherwise known as fun. My toolbar stood naked and exposed compared to my high-level toolbar of I-Don’t-Even-Press-Half-These-Buttons.

But I digress.

I wasn’t a tank this time, either. I’d rolled my very own huntard, thinking to myself I shall redeem this class or die trying. It is not possible that there is no way to play this class like an intelligent human being. It must be useful. It has so many goodies, and I can see so much potential here. There is no way it is made of as much fail as the people who play it seem determined to convince me it is.

It was my first time using the LFG system for anything under level 70, but I was seduced by the thought of maybe getting my very own awesome cape of awesome. Do you have any idea how rare long capes are at that level? Do you?

The wait was longer than I’m used to (so, so spoiled by 10 second queues), but I worked on my potioning for a bit (all of my alts are alchemists because it’s the only profession besides Tailoring I have failed to level into even Outland – and the tailoring has a good excuse: my clothies (outside my JCing priest) die hard and often) and the time passed quickly and next thing I knew I was standing at the start of RFC, suddenly understanding why layteknight used to tell me never to run that instance during the day and fumbling with the cord on the blinds.

Once I was able to more or less see the instance, I immediately set about inspecting my party, trying desperately to determine who was tanking because all I know about DPSing is to follow the tank’s target and do my utmost to not be one of those people I hate.

Side question: does anyone know how to get Pitbull to tell me who the tank and healer are? Because it’s kind of embarrassing to ask.

We have a druid, a pally and a warrior in the party, and barely enough talent points between the lot of us to really claim we’re specced one way or another. Plus, I can’t remember whether druids can even be bears at this level. So I suck it up and ask, explaining that my mod doesn’t show me the icons in order to head off the usual barrage of “just look at the portraits”. In response, the druid goes bear form and heads off.

Good enough for me.

So pet goes on passive, growl gets turned off (and I am therefore already a better party member than every hunter I’ve ever played with except maybe three), and we start the instance. Tank pulls very cautiously – which I like – but feels strangely timid. These aren’t confident pulls. I don’t know how I can tell that through the medium, but it’s definitely the impression I’m left with. An explanation is provided moments later – he’s new to tanking and has never tried it before.

The pally says: “o. just pull more. pull all of them. ill keep u aliv”. We’ve just hit the area with all the troggs. I have bad memories of dying here. Bad, bad memories. And that’s from someone who’s never run it legit.

“Pull whatever you’re comfortable pulling,” I chime in immediately, terrified of letting an idiot push a newbie tank past his comfort zone and/or teach him bad habits so soon. “Also, I’m pretty sure the shammy’s healing, so I’d be more worried about whether she can keep you alive.”

At the same time as I hit enter, the bear says: “Oh. Well, okay” and goes in face first.

Terror, unrelenting.

He pulls a very large group, but – and my heart sings with joy at his common sense – he does not, in fact, pull them all. It’s a large group, but it’s manageable, and the shaman does, in fact, keep him alive (with no help from the pally, who’s quite busy blithely pulling aggro off our newbie tank with every button he can find).

Once everything is dead, the bear is jubilant, momentarily drunk on the invincibility of his class and spec. “Wow!” he says. “I didn’t think I could live through that many! You’re a good healer!”

All I can think is: “OH MY GOD YOU ARE SO CUTE I WANT TO KEEP YOU FOREVER!”

It was a nice and almost painful reminder of how fun it can be to tank if you haven’t let too many bad PuGs turn you into a twisted, cynical, jaded heap of plate that looks at everyone in your party like they’ve already wiped the group and are going to blame you for it. I won’t deny that for a brief moment I was powerfully jealous. Sometimes I wish I could go back to being new, but that’s probably more a case of greener grass and selective memories than anything else.

So we continue on like this, the tank pulling as many as he’s comfortable with, the healer keeping him up, the warrior DPSing competently, me doing my usual I-am-at-best-a-mediocre-DPS thing, the pally being an idiot, and the rest of us ignoring him.

And people are chatty. Honest to God chatty. Commenting on the fights, the instance, the LFG, the gear, the game. They’re nice, polite, they can actually type (with one, glaring exception – two guesses who). It’s awesome!

We drop the first big guy who is some kind of felguard demon thing but apparently counts as a humanoid (WTF? I have a brief, far away flashback to being angry exorcism wouldn’t work on him, but have no recollection of actually taking a pally through RFC…have I really had that many alts?). Apparently he counts as the last boss (despite being the first) and we all get our lootbags. The pally ditches the party even as the shaman writes: “there’s still the bulk of the instance to go.”

He is not missed.

We continue on our merry way, down one person. The instance is simple enough that we can 4-man it easily, so we do so, chatting and talking the entire way. We help the tank out where we can, but he honestly seems to have the swing of it, and is playing with a good deal more common sense than a lot of experienced, veteran tanks seem to have these days. The shaman healer is awesome, and keeps us all up even when the warrior’s on the wrong target, or I do my Protflashes-is-not-meant-to-play-DPS thing and push the wrong buttons at the wrong times and spend the next ten minutes apologizing profusely no matter how minute the consequences.

And, as always seems to happen when I’m in a group with nice people and newbies, the biggest, most epicest of fails is me.

I am embarrassed about this to the point of being reluctant to admit to it in public.

In one single, stunning example of primal stupidity, I earned the title of Huntard for myself, and all the shame associated with it.

We were on an overhang, staring down at the last boss and the large pull before him. We had taken some obscure shortcut I didn’t know about and skipped the vast bulk of the trash behind us. The plan was to jump down onto the trash group before the boss, take it out, then pull the boss.

I can do this. I know how to jump. This is a very simple strategy.

I wait for the tank to land and open fire, then follow after.

I press Ctrl-1 and wait for the irritating shriek that means my hawk is running in.

I don’t hear it.

The realization washes over me like ice water, and all I can think is: Oh my God, oh my God, I didn’t. Tell me I didn’t.

I did. I totally did. I jumped without dismissing my pet.

Maybe it’ll despawn, I think to myself, just a little desperately, as I try to remember which of my buttons dismisses the pet. Where is it? WHERE IS IT?! Sometimes it does that. It can’t possibly run all the way back down that ramp, and then all the way through the crisscrossing paths and pats and trash groups and casters and oh my God I just got us wiped. Bearing down on us, full tilt, is a lag-inducing pile o’ trash, with my little hawk at their head, leading them right to us.

I can see her beady little eyes as she squawks a battle cry. This, she seems to say, is for all those times you left me to fight hordes of monsters on my own so you could pick silverleaf – not even mageroyal, but silverleaf!

There’s not even a warning as they slam into us like lightning against a cliff face. We’re dead before the group even fully understands what happened. And all I can say is: “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! That was so me! OMG I’m so sorry! I am epic fail! I can’t believe I did that! I’m sorry!”

Here it comes, I think to myself. Protflashes has been kicked from the party. And rightly so. I can’t believe I did something so stupid. I just got us killed for no reason. I am an idiot. I am terribad. I am Fail made manifest and given flesh, to roam the world and wipe the innocent.

“LoL,” says the tank, “don’t sweat it! We’re supposed to wipe at this level. It’s part of the game. :)”

All I can do is blink at my screen.

“Yeah,” says the warrior, giving me a /pat as we run back into the instance. “Oh no, you cost me a whole 2 silver for my repairs. However will I survive?”

“LoL ^^” says the shaman.

And I am shocked into silence. I mechanically type “Thank you and I’m still sorry and it won’t happen again” and wonder in a vague way if they’re being sarcastic. They’re not, though.

I am shamed, deeply shamed by their reactions. I like to think of myself as a positive, forgiving person, but I know that were the positions reversed…the apology would have stopped me from initiating a vote-kick, but I still would have said something half positive, half-warning. “Don’t sweat it, but maybe dismiss the bird next time, hmm?” with a fake happy face or something equivalent. And if someone else had initiated the kick…would I have voted yes?

I don’t know. There’s a lot of extenuating circumstances (attitude, history, experience, etc.).

Either way, I doubt I’d have been as happy and positive as these people were, had someone caused a wipe through something as absent-minded as not dismissing a pet before jumping down.

We finish the instance with an unbroken sense of camaraderie and fun, everyone enjoying the game, enjoying their class, and absolutely none of the animosity or awkwardness that so often follows a wipe. The warrior /hugs me before he teleports out. The shammy /pats my hawk. If it was possible to add cross-server folks to my friends list, I would have.

Gulf is the only word I can think of to describe the difference between that first PuG, and the second (which was more the type of thing I’m used to). A vast, uncrossable canyon – 1KN or something – and I can’t help but think, given how much I’ve PuGged and how poor the experiences, that it was only through some random, magical happenstance I found myself on the other side of it that one time.

It is a glorious, sunny place, full of nice people and a game that remains as fun as the day I opened the box. I remember it distantly, the same way I remember that the big dude is a humanoid no matter how demonic he looks, even though I don’t remember taking a pally through.

I see it every now and then in glimpses, like someone running through the trees. A shaman who drops DPS the instant the healer goes down and starts spamming Chain Heal. A warlock who banishes an unexpected pat without being asked, even though it costs him his whole rotation. A DPS DK who uses his death grip to pull a mob off a healer, instead of just for pulling the next mob.

A newbie tank only just starting to realize how much he’s going to love this role.

A friendly group of strangers, moving at a decent but livable pace, chatting like old friends.

A group that does their best to make an idiot hunter feel better about getting them all killed, instead of yelling or scowling or vote-kicking.

God I wish I could go back there, or cross over, or figure out how to keep myself on that sunny side, instead of always slipping back across.

I would jump the gap if I could.

I might even dismiss my pet this time.

N.B.: I am not nearly clever enough to come up with that title on my own – I saw it on a shirt and it seemed appropriate.

So, I’m being told that the blogosphere is afire with discussions about tanks/healers vs. DPS, the importance of these roles, and whether or not the former deserve extra rewards. Apparently I’m still not reading enough of the blogosphere because this was news to me, though it does explain the few posts I’ve seen along these lines. I looked around a bit and managed to find what I think is the original post that sparked the discussion, as well as a few other interesting takes on it.

The conversation seems to break down (at least to/for me, from my limited reading of it) to three questions:


  1. Should Blizzard implement additional rewards for tanks/healers? Either as incentive to get more people to play them, or a reward because the answer to Question 2 is yes?
  2. Are tanks/healers more valuable than DPS? Is their job harder/more frustrating? (I’m not sure if this was actually stated, but it is implied by the suggestion that tanks/healers should get more gear).
  3. Why are there so few tanks/healers compared to DPS?

Let’s explore (with advance apologies for the length of the post. I should confess that I have never, in my personal history, been accused of being short-winded…).

Should Blizzard implement additional rewards for tanks/healers (as incentive or reward)?

My take on the first question (rewards and whether tanks/healers should get extra) is actually pretty succinct: no.

Why? Because as far as incentive goes, a couple extra badges or a shot at gear isn’t going to convince someone to roll a tank or a healer who had no inclination to do so in the first place. Giving me extra gear to use in a role I hate playing is worth exactly nothing to me. I agree with Larísa, over at the Pink Pigtail Inn – Blizzard has already done everything they can to encourage this by implementing dual-specs.

And as far as tanks/healers deserving a reward for their job being hard, the fact of the matter is that if everyone plays like they should – i.e., not like complete, drooling idiots (tanks and healers included) – then, in fact, nobody’s job is actually harder than anybody else’s. Easiest thing I’ve ever done in this game is tank for a well behaved group that stays on target and pays attention. I’ve heard the same from healers.

This is also a partial answer to Question 2, but we’ll come back to the inevitable caveat in a moment.

Are tanks/healers more valuable than DPS? Is their job harder/more frustrating?

Short answer to Question 2.a: Yes and no.

Short answer to Question 2.b: Yes and no.

Value

With regards to value, on a purely economic level (ha ha! Like I understand economics), yes they are. Why? Because they’re in short supply, and you absolutely need to have one of each in order to do group content. All the DPS in the world couldn’t burn through the boss fast enough to keep anyone from dying, and there won’t be much gogogoing unless it’s from the graveyard back to your corpse. But that’s where any additional value ends. If the LFG was suddenly flooded with tanks and healers this whole point would fall off the board and it wouldn’t matter any more.

Tanks tank, healers heal, and DPS do damage in varied and colourful forms. None of these roles is actually worth more than the others, it just appears to be so because tanks and healers are rare, and their roles are more obviously required. You could lose a DPS (Hell, you could lose two DPS) and provided the remaining is/are sufficiently competent, you can still actually clear content. But that’s not a result of DPS being worth less, it’s a function of the damage role and the fact that you can always add or lose DPS without significantly affecting your gameplay. You could add a healer or a tank, and they might be a little bored, but you could play like that. You couldn’t afford to lose a healer or a tank, though. You need to keep the minimum one.

So, it’s not that tanks and healers are worth more, it’s just that they appear to be so because you can usually afford to lose a DPS or two because you have extras.

The fact of the matter is, you absolutely need DPS. Sure, in theory, you could two-man the world as a tank/healer combo. I know, I’ve done it once or twice. But I hope you’ve got patience, time, and a Godly mana bar of unending blue.

The mechanics of this game work around the assumption that all three roles are filled. You have somebody distracting the monster so somebody else can kill it. You have somebody healing the first somebody to keep them alive and buy time. And you have somebody else who is killing the monster before the healer runs out of mana, and the tank runs out of life.

If you don’t have DPS, the healer runs out of mana and the tank runs out of life. If you don’t have a tank, the DPS run out of life before the healer can cast so much as a HoT and then so does the healer. If you don’t have a healer, the tank runs out of life and the DPS die screaming. Each role is required. Each role is equal. If you don’t have them all, everybody dies.

It’s the synergy between the roles that makes the game work and means the difference between win and fail (and, incidentally, it’s this synergy that is the most rewarding thing in the game for me). Why would you reward one of the roles over the other? You need them all. We’ll be in no better a position if all the DPS in the world rolled tanks and healers and there was no one left to actually kill things. We can’t ALL be protectors of the weak and squishy.

Frustration/difficulty

In my answer to Question 1, I intimated that the tank/healer role was no more frustrating than the DPS role when everyone played intelligently, but (told you there was a caveat) in the event that someone(s) isn’t playing intelligently…

The source of the added frustration in the two pole positions is people who play like idiots. If you’ve never tanked or healed, you have no idea how hard you have to work, or how stressful it can be, to try to save people from their own stupidity – to say nothing of saving everyone else from their stupidity.

It’s not that the roles are inherently more frustrating, it’s that they come with more responsibility for the lives of others – and therefore more stress if you feel the situation slipping out of your control. There is almost always something you could have done. You will always wonder “what if I’d popped my CD sooner”, “what if I’d saved my taunt”, “did I miss a step in the rotation?”.

As DPS as long as you’re playing well you’re doing everything you can to preserve the HP of your group and you can’t actually compensate for other, less helpful players. As tank or heals…you are designed to preserve the HP of your group, and a drooling idiot is no excuse for failing, no matter how hard they make your job. And you have to watch everything.

Example scenario:

Kill target is skull. I’m tanking skull and throwing down enough AoE threat to keep Cross, Square, and Star off the healer and the DPS that can’t help but AoE as part of their rotation (ret pallies, warriors, etc… I’m not talking Blizzard or Volley here, but Divine Storm and whirlwind). But Retarded DPS #1 is wailing on the square. Why is anyone’s guess.

So I notice I’m losing square. I throw a shield slam on it and return to skull, tersely reminding RD#1 that the kill target is skull and nobody will be impressed with his DPS if they’re all running back from the graveyard. RD#1, you may have guessed by now, is retarded. So he stays on Square.

I start doing more AoE threat, trying to single-target-tank Skull, since the rest of the DPS are sill single-target-DPSing it, and AoE tank Square, even though I know it won’t work since RD#1 is single-target-DPSing it. Inevitably, he pulls aggro.

Depending on the situation and how long we’ve been fighting, this may not be the end of the world. Let’s assume worst case scenario, though.

RD#1 starts taking more damage than his squishy little frame can bear. Healer panics and starts pouring heals into him. I’m snarling and swearing and have to switch targets to get Square back. I slap Vigilance onto RD#1 to kill his threat (since he’s not smart enough to do it himself) and taunt Square off of him. Naturally, RD#1 thinks this means he can keep wailing on Square. Because he’s still wailing on Square, there’s going to be a period where, even with Vigilance, he’s riding my threat, because taunt does not give me anything more than 100% of whatever threat you had, which means I don’t have any wriggle room on Omen. So I fight with RD#1 for a bit to establish adequate threat on what is basically the third target in the kill order.

Meanwhile, the rest of the DPS are still wailing on Skull because that’s what they’re supposed to do. Only problem? I’m no longer tanking Skull, and I’ve swapped Vigilance from the highest threat DPS in the group, to RD#1 in an attempt to compensate for his idiocy. The healer has topped off RD#1, during which time I am still taking damage from three targets and not getting healed, and as he turns to start sinking mana into me – where it’s supposed to go – inevitably the good DPS still following the kill order pull the Skull I haven’t been tanking. Healer has another heart attack. I’m a tank, I’ve got defences, I’m not down that much, so his priority becomes keeping the DPS alive as the monster wails on them.

One of the DPS maybe stops attacking the Skull when they see it’s not on me. The other one closes their eyes and maintains the faith that I will taunt it back and save their ass. Depending on how quickly this has happened (and believe me, it can be fucking quick), my taunt may actually be on cooldown. Let’s pretend it is (worst case scenario, remember?).

So I mocking blow, which forces the monster to attack me for a bit, but doesn’t change my threat level. Now I have to manually hike my threat back up to where it would be if I’d been tanking the target the whole time before Mocking Blow wears off. I’m not sure I want to move Vigi again because RD#1 is still on the square and now I’m not. The DPS, seeing that Skull is on me again and unaware it was Mocking blow, not taunt, open fire. Maybe they pop a CD to try to get their DPS up again to make up for having to slow down when I switched targets.

Just as I manage to get control of skull, I lose Square again. I blow my newly refreshed taunt pulling it back and drop a thunder clap out desperation as I attempt to reposition the scattered group for a shockwave. But then the Star peels off from the group and bears down on the healer because I’ve been so busy trying to single-target-tank two different targets, I haven’t been paying enough attention to dropping AoE (and as a warrior, AoE is not, exactly, my strong suit – it’s not something that happens passively, it’s something I have to do).

Healer’s still busy trying to bring the DPS back up to full so he can get back to healing me when he sees the mob and shifts focus to keeping himself alive. Lo and behold, my taunt is on CD and Vigi’s on RD#1. So I Intervene back to the healer and start wailing on Star until it’s looking at me again. By the time I’m charging back into melee, Skull has died and the good DPS have moved onto Cross even though I’m not there and haven’t had much of a change to put threat on it, since I was forced to split my attention between the first kill order target and the third. RD#1 has already re-pulled aggro on Square. Healer’s dropping into a coma from all the stupid and starts ignoring the DPS because I’m getting pretty low on health and he can’t keep us all alive.

So what do I do? Do I pick up cross before the DPS do, or do I try to get square back? Technically, I’m expected to do both, even though I’m fighting with CDs, the GCD, my rage level (repeat after me: if it’s not wailing on me, I’m not getting any rage back), and the ever narrowing gap between my threat and the DPS’.

There are a couple of ways this scenario ends. Ironically, it’ll depend on how good our not-retarded DPS are. If they’re good enough at their class and they’re packing the requisite heat, they’ll be able to kill the adds before the tank-bouncing and heal-bouncing that is a direct result of RD#1’s inability to follow a kill order falls apart at the seams and either me or healer just aren’t fast enough to compensate.

If the DPS aren’t good enough, we all die.

So, suffice it to say, in an ideal world, tanks, healers and DPS have equal degrees of difficulty and frustration in their roles; however the world is not ideal, and when shit goes wrong it’s harder on the tanks and healers than the DPS specifically because they’re the ones who need to compensate for it. Good DPS are already doing what they can to mitigate the damage and there’s not much they can do to make a situation right again if someone else is fucking up.

As a throw back to the value question, in the scenario above you’ll note that assuming your tank and healer are good ones, success or failure ultimately comes down to the DPS.

Funny how that works, eh? It’s unlikely to be acknowledged, because unfortunately the tank and healer are frothing at the mouth with rage because that fight was exponentially harder than it had to be, and our relaxing heroic run just turned into the nightmare from Hell (to say nothing of the fact that odds are good RD#1 is already gleefully running into the next group without waiting for us).

What this translates into is anger at the DPS – not because they all suck, but because it’s human nature to use a broad brush. Statistically speaking (okay…anecdotally speaking) there’s a LOT of retarded DPS out there, and they give tanks and healers Once Bitten Twice Shy Syndrome, and give DPS as a role a bad name.

Not because DPS as a role is easy or has no value, but because they’re doing it wrong. If DPS as a role didn’t matter or had no value, a DPS being an idiot would not be able to wreak such havoc just by not being on the wrong target. But they do.

Because they matter.

Why are there so few tanks/healers compared to DPS?

So many answers to this. It can’t be answered in a general sense, because people choose to play or not play a tank/healer for very personal reasons. In some cases, they choose not to because they simply don’t want the responsibility. In some cases they’re just not attracted to the roll. In some cases they tried it, but ran into one too many RD#1s and quit because it’s just not worth the frustration. In some cases they tried it, and douche bag PuGs swore at them and vote-kicked them and never gave them a chance to learn how to do it so they quit.

Tanking or healing is very often at best a thankless job, at worst an abusive one. You take a lot of shit and very little of it is deserved. On top of it, it’s hard to defend yourself. At the end of an encounter, DPS can link Recount and say – see? There’s my number. It’s HUGE. Where’s your incontrovertible proof that you performed well?

The fact that everyone’s alive is not always a good indicator. If you’re all still standing at the end, but the DPS had to spam threat-reduction abilities constantly, and your healer is OOM, and the mobs were all over the place…well, you didn’t do a very good job, did you?

There’s nothing you can link to say “I’m a good tank.” If you’re a healer, Recount does track things, but it’s not accurate or necessarily worth linking. If you’re a Disc priest you’re barely going to register since 90% of your shit is absorption, not healing. If you’re RH you’re going to be much higher on Recount than the MH. If your tank is overgeared for the content, your numbers will be low. There are too many variables.

Being a good tank or a good healer means having softer skills. Do you notice incoming pats and pick them up before your DPS do? Do you know when you can afford to heal a DPS without exposing your tank to risk? Can you compensate for RD#1 and the rest of his Guild? Are you good enough to make up for other people’s epic foolishness?

These aren’t things that Recount tracks. And if they’re done right, they’re not things that anyone but you notices. And they’re hard to do, and they’re frustrating to do, and the require a degree of skill and experience that most other players simply aren’t aware of. A while ago I went into an instance on my bear and warned them in advance it had been a while since I’d played a bear. The response I got was “just swipe” as though that was really all tanking came down to. But tanks who “just swipe” are not good tanks.

I’m not saying the DPS get all kinds of glory and appreciation (because they don’t usually even get a thank you, and that’s as bad as not thanking your tank or healer), but at least as a DPS you have a number you can spam if it’s high enough. You have a mechanical means of evaluating your own performance and defending yourself from or preventing criticism.

As a tank and a healer, all you’ve got is your own private evaluation of whether you did everything you could to prevent a wipe. And there’s nothing much you can do to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt it wasn’t your fault if it happened.

This is why it’s easy to blame the healer and/or the tank for a wipe – not just because their job is actually to prevent it, but because they can’t reliably defend themselves. You get he said, she said.

[RDno1]: wtf y i die/
[Angrytank]: Because you were on the wrong target. Follow the kill order and you won’t pull.
[RDno1]: I asist u
[Angrytank]: No, you didn’t. I have three different mods that show me what target you’re on. You weren’t assisting anybody.
[RDno1]: lrn 2 tnk! u shuld devestete mor usck
[Angrytank]: You. Weren’t. On. The. Skull. Even if I DID devastate more, I’d be devastating SKULL. You would still have pulled.
[Angrytank] has been vote-kicked.

It’s almost futile to try to defend yourself. And I’m not even going to get into DPS that pull for you and start fights before you’re ready (because they think you can “just swipe” and that will fix everything).

So, in the end, you really have to love healing/tanking to play those roles outside a friendly, supportive guild/raid group – because the amount of abuse, grief, and frustration you’ll take isn’t worth it otherwise.

And for the record, neither is an extra badge.

Conclusion

It’s not Blizzard’s fault there aren’t more tanks and healers. It’s the shape of the community. Too many asshats, not enough patience or respect for other human beings. Tanking and healing requires you to perform a service for a group of people, and your success is measured not just by how much life they had left at the end of the fight, but by their quality of life during the fight.

But there’s only so much you can compensate for, and sooner or later it’s hard to care whether they live or die, especially when they did it to themselves, but give the blame to you.

Every time a DPS says “wty y i die/” a tank quits the game.

Every time a non-heals says: “just heel thru it1” a healer quits the game.

But everyone time anyone tells someone else (DPS, tank, or heals): “Hey man, good job. Tough fight, but we made it.” then someone jumps into the queue again for just one more run.

The solution to this problem is a simple one.*

*And if it fails, there’s always Plan B – which involves a bat, a road trip, and some skulls. Who’s with me?

Tank to PuG:


What the tank says What the tank means What the PuG hears
Let me pull, please. :)* Pull before I’m ready again and I’m going to start getting really cheap with my taunts. gogogogogogogogogogogogo
Kill order is Skull – Cross – Square I would like you to kill the skull first, then the cross, then the square. If you can AoE – DOITDOITDOITNOW!!!1!!1!11

If you can’t AoE, kill the unmarked one, then the square, then the cross, then the skull.

CC the moon.** CC the moon. MULTISHOT! DEATH AND DECAY! HOOOOLLLLYYYY NNNNOOOVVVVAAAA!!!11!!!
Make sure to attack the web/frost tomb/snake wrap to free other party members. Why am I even talking? I know none of you are even going to notice the web/frost tomb/snake wrap. God I hope the healer doesn’t get it. Scream like a little girl if you get webbed/frozen/wrapped, but do not respond to the screams if it’s not you.

Especially don’t help the healer. They can heal through it.

If the tank gets webbed/frozen/wrapped, DPS harder because she’s not doing any threat right now so you have to make up for it.

Attack my target. ATTACK MY FUCKING TARGET YOU MENTALLY DEFICIENT RECOUNT MONKEY! I’M NOT EVEN ON THAT ONE! IT’S NOT EVEN IN RANGE!

ARRRRRRRRRGGGGHHH!

AoEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

If you can’t AoE, attack anything except the one I’m on. This will help me a lot because stuff will die faster and your DPS will be so awesome because you have a mob all to yourself and I would love you so much.

Oh no, my screen! It has frozen! Fuck this and fuck you.

ALT+F4

lolololololol im not imba enuf 2 play w/u guys
Thanks for the group. DIAF. OMG U R SO 1337 I LUV U SO MUCH I WISH I WUZ AS UBR AS U R!

* Don’t be fooled by the smiley face. It’s a lie. If they have to tell you this, they’re not smiling. Tanks don’t smile.
**This is an archaic reference to a mechanic that has become unfortunately irrelevant to this game. Most PuGs these days won’t even know the acronym and I am not being the least bit sarcastic.

PuG to Tank


What the PuG says What the PuG means What the Tank hears
gogogogogogogo I am ready when you are. Actually I’m ready before you are. Actually, I’m ready now. Pull or I will. You do not want to party with me. I pull. I can’t understand a kill order or what it’s for. I like to AoE irresponsibly and misdirect on the healer and run into the boss before anyone’s ready then blame the tank when we die.

Bail. Bail now while you still can.

Link GS and achievements My gear score is 32, and I have achieved nothing in game or out. Mostly I am looking for a boost from higher geared, more experienced people.

In exchange, I will make the next thirty minutes of your life a living Hell.

I’m going to bend you over and do unpleasant things to you for the next thirty minutes, while I ride you to free badges and epics.
lololololololololololol oops I pulled the pat and the group behind it and the one on the side, and I am intelligent enough to realize that maybe I shouldn’t have, it’s just we all look so funny, lying here on the floor lifeless. What’s your repair bill at now, tank? 30g? 40?

LoL, hilarious.

I want you to kill me. I really do. Why else would I be this annoying? Please, put me out of everyone’s misery.

You could do it.

Just snap my neck. No one needs to know.

WTF? Only 40K HP? Noob, lrn to play! My big brother’s totally a raider. He did that yogurt-siren guy. I know all about raiding and tanking too. I totally do. You should listen to me. I’m smart and OP and awesome. I don’t know how to count and have no idea what I’m talking about.
Just heal through it. I don’t want to press any buttons that aren’t listed as part of my rotation on this website I read that tells me how to make the numbers on recount go up. That includes paltry things like cleanse, and sheep, and W, A, S, or D.

Those are the duties of a healing bitch. Do I look like a healing bitch? No. I am DPS, and I don’t give a damn about your “dispelling” and “cc” and “not standing in fire”.

I am a douche. Vote kick me.
Can I need for off-spec? I have already clicked need. Hope you’re a high roller, mother fucker.
Dibs on [EPIC X] off the second boss. I am in here for one thing and one thing only. I am ditching after the second boss whether he drops my shit or not.