“Looking to be a great warrior? War does not make one great.” -Exodar Peacekeeper
This is part one of a series of guest posts from Vidyala, formerly of Pugging Pally and now writing at Manalicious.
People ask me all the time about my Pugging Pally. Am I still pugging? Do I intend to pug from 80-85? Why don’t I write about pugging? (In short: Bring back THE PAIN, we enjoyed laughing at you!)
Recently, I’ve been thinking. I have plenty of DPS characters. I have plenty of tank-capable classes. But I don’t really have beyond a rudimentary understanding of how to tank. I had a brief flirtation with a little Tauren druid tank, but it ended up petering out. Vid herself did a bit of tanking along the way – very little. I feel as if tanking is something you really have to commit to, dive into it, and be really determined how to learn. I’ve always avoided doing it, by and large – because it freaks me out. When I was first trying a bit of druid tanking, I sat there for five minutes psyching myself up before I clicked “find a group.”
Tanking is the most responsible role in the game. Yes, healers also have a lot of responsibility, but it’s different. It’s not nearly as mobile, reactive, or stressful. This could just be because I am more comfortable healing. It probably is! Regardless, I’ve thought off and on about trying a lowbie tank.
So here we are. The same way people ask me about pugging, they ask Voss about warriors, lowbie warriors, specs, and strategies. Voss likes warriors, but he doesn’t have very much time for alts. An ingenuous idea was born! Perhaps it will fizzle before “the end.” In this case I am very much about the journey. I don’t care if this character makes it to 85 and it takes a year or more. The purpose of this character is for me to conquer my aversion to tanking, dive into LFD and see what happens. It may also prove to be another interesting experiment in social interaction and leadership. Don’t forget, I’m someone who could get lost in a phone booth. It was part of what kept me from tanking before!
A fringe benefit to this (from my perspective, perhaps a greater one for you) is that I am going to seek Voss’ advice about learning how to warrior as I proceed. This will include information about specs, glyphs, gearing, and (judging from the way he was looking over my shoulder this afternoon) also play. We’re going to be “co-writing” these entries, in that I will exclaim over things and he will make sure that no wrong information is included. Because I never claimed to be a warrior, I’m a mage in disguise.
This is when I first hit LFD! All tank, all the time. Ragefire Chasm is okay. It provides minimal opportunities for getting lost, which is my greatest fear. My first RFC experiences sounding something like:
“Oh god, where is it going!”
“Why am I facing the wrong way?!”
“I can’t hit things when I am facing the wrong way!”
“Where is that ROGUE going?”
“I hate DPS!”
I began this experiment when Voss wasn’t home, although I did consult him with regards to my spec. At level fifteen when I first started LFD tanking, my spec looked like this:
Blood and Thunder – 2 pts
When you Thunder Clap a target affected by your Rend, you have a 50% (100%) chance to affect every target with Rend.
People in lowbie LFD don’t wait for the tank to pull. They don’t necessarily attack the same target the tank is attacking. AoE threat generation is very, very important. With the available tools, rend and Thunderclap become a very solid combination for AoE. This was important to me.
Incite – 2 pts (and another point when possible)
Increases the critical strike chance of your Heroic Strike by 5% (10%, 15%), and gives your Heroic Strike criticals a 33% (66%, 100%) chance to cause the next Heroic Strike to also be a critical strike. These guaranteed criticals cannot re-trigger the Incite effect.
It’s my understanding that Heroic Strike is an “I Have A Lot of Rage” thing. (LFD provides me with plenty of rage, don’t get me wrong, but not exactly the same thing). When I was first tanking in RFC, I didn’t have a lot of rage – mostly because people kept attacking things before I did. My rage problems seemed to be greatly alleviated within a few levels. At that point, a boost to heroic strike is useful – but mostly I just wanted it to get down to the second tier.
RFC made me feel mostly decorative. Some groups were better than others about at least pretending to want the protection of a tank, but most classes can handle having these elites hitting them in the face if the healer is willing to heal them. I actually had one notable incident with regards to this.
I hate to say it, but the most aggravating people for warrior tanks at this level…are other warriors. In most cases they have the same gear as I do, and functionally the differences between us are little – except that I need rage from things hitting me in the face and I don’t get it when they charge ahead of me into combat. I decided that a battle stance + charge + defensive stance macro was too complicated. The fury or arms warriors or whatever? They don’t have that problem.
So one of my RFC groups had just such a warrior. He was sprinting ahead of me the whole time, charging groups at a pace I couldn’t hope to match. We approach the center of RFC – where the packs start to get complicated with casters, patrols, and high potential for adds. We’re heading along one of the ramps across the lava and I pause – my healer is not within range. I stop, intending to pull a few of them with my crossbow. I may have grinned a little at this point, thinking to myself – Fury Warrior is going to charge in, heedless off the fact that I’ve stopped. Sure enough, he charges the entire pack at an angle, leaving all of us in his dust. Predictably, all five+ mobs begin to eat his face. Somehow… I’m just a tad slow to run in and taunt them off. The healer does not have line of sight on him (this is why I waited for her). The warrior dies. The rest of us proceed to finish off the hostile folks and the healer resurrects him. My only regret about the way the whole thing went is that the healer apologized to the warrior because he died.
Me behind the screen: “Don’t APOLOGIZE to him! He deserved it and he knows it!”
The warrior: “It’s ok, my bad.”
Me: “YES IT’S YOUR BAD.”
Me in party chat: “OK, everyone set?”
When they talked about warrior “rage” bars, I somehow wonder if I wasn’t prepared.
Today being a day off, I seized the opportunity while Voss was here to try tanking again. This was fortunate, because I had forgotten what my buttons do and also, apparently I was wrong about so very many things. Along with rested XP, one Shadowfang Keep run was enough to get me from 18-20, quite literally dinging twenty as we killed Arugal. It probably helped that I took a wrong turn at some point and so we cleared a bit more trash than was strictly necessary.
My group was actually really nice. Not talkative, but uncomplaining, and very polite at the end. I thanked them for their patience with my noob tanking. At the end, I’ll say I wasn’t awesome but I also wasn’t the worst tank I’ve seen in LFD, mostly because:
1) I had a shield
2) I never left my healer behind
3) I used my taunt button.
Notable quotes from this dungeon run are mostly Vosskah’s.
“Don’t use your Thunderclap now. Save your Thunderclap. Use your shield slam. Do you see how you lost that mob? That’s because you didn’t shield slam it. Shield slam is your friend. You will learn to love it.”
“Did you hear what I said about shield slam? If I don’t hear a CLONKING sound, it’s WRONG.”
“See, now what you want to do is alt-tab to that other guy there – see how your threat on him is getting…oh, you lost him.”
“You only tanked as a pally before, right? Well, that explains it.”
“We are much more active tanks. If you aren’t hitting a button, you’re also doing it wrong.”
“Now that’s the CLONK I like to hear!”
“Do you… We…We need to work on your UI after this. And you need some macros with startattack.”
Me: “But, I asked Noodle if I needed to make startattack macros and he said I didn’t need them!”
“Noodle is a pally and an idiot. You don’t listen to Noodle.”
“Save enough rage so you can thunder clap those adds when they join in. Yes, that is the mark of a good tank – you plan ahead.”
Incidentally, with Voss helping me tank I waver back and forth between intense concentration and hilarity. He makes me think that these entries could turn into a blog all their own a la (Shit My Dad Says): Shit My Tank Says. After all this dinging and instancing, I had another talent point to spend. I was told to put it here.
Improves your critical strike and critical block chance by 10% for 5 sec (10 sec) following a successful parry.
That means I first put another point in Incite and then a point in Hold The Line. So at level 20, my talents look like this.
forward to am scared out of my wits to tank again, but I will attempt to do it. Until then, we agreed to write these posts and have Voss offer some technical commentary after, because that’s his thing. I’m just good at joining up with random people to kill pixels!
Now just to explain a few things in there. (That’s Voss writing here)
Tanks at low level are very rarely in danger of dying. Any healer worth their salt will keep you alive as long as you don’t let them die/pull a whole room. That’s why I really emphasize focusing on threat talents much more than survival. We’ll see how Vid does, but at the moment, I don’t think there will be any survival issues until level 40 or so.
Startattack macros are very important, especially if the person is mostly used to being a range player. At range, you have the luxury of seeing the packs of mobs hopefully from a distance. When tanking, you’re usually in a bunch of mobs and it can get hard to see that your character is now standing idle because your target is dead. Standing idle for other tanks is one thing, but for a warrior it is the absolute worst thing you can do. Your white hits give you rage. Yes, you get some from being hit, but again, we’re talking low level here. Your hits are what gives you the rage you need to do your job. You’re not hitting someone, you’re not getting your resource replenished and thus you grow weaker.
Easy macros can simplify your life greatly. Just enter the following for most of your attacks:
/cast Shield Slam
Replace Shield Slam with the name of your abilities and put this on your action bars. You’ll see quickly that it makes a huge difference if you’re not used to being in melee.
As for Noodle being an idiot, well… I’ll take that one back. He’s one of the best tanks I’ve ever worked with. But in this case, because Vid is usually at range and new to melee and tanking, he was wrong.