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Archive for the ‘Tanking’ Category

I’ve been accused more than once of not having my own mind. Anyone who knows me knows how ridiculous that statement is. But since I’m a Stay at Home Wife and Mother and since I often defer to my husband in public, the accusation comes about.

We’ve been called backwards because of how we handle our marriage… because I address any issues in private rather than make a fuss in front of friends. Even because we made the choice that I stay at home with any children – something I was told that I’d never be satisfied or fulfilled by doing [boy were they wrong]. I mean, my husband is also my best friend – I should have his back and he should have mine and we do. Bringing that kind of teamwork and attitude to raid is a blessing.

And yet, despite being called backwards and such, we keep running into these strange creatures in WoW… these strange creatures that seem to believe that woman’s place is behind the controls of a healer – or caster dps and has no business being in the tanking business… that’s for the menfolk don’t you know?! Which one is actually backward there?

I see the topic come around occasionally in the blogosphere as it has recently on Blessing of Kings and Hypercriticism.

Back on our old server in our first guild, my husband actually tried to get me interested in tanking… kept saying I should give it a go because I might like it. I never gave it a second thought until I stopped enjoying my warlock and my husband couldn’t keep a reliable or sober offtank. That part you’ve heard before, I know. I got a few reactions of what amounted to “Look at the cute little girl trying out tanking” but my husband was determined that if tanking was what I wanted to do, he’d help me learn how… just as he always has with every dream I’ve pursued or goal I’ve had.

I was the offtank for my husband in our ten man and the alternate tank in the 25 man… meaning most of the time I was paying my dues by going dps back then. I wasn’t great at it then either but it was a casual guild so it was alright. Our main tank at the time was our GM who played a paladin. Our main offtank was another DK who was blood. Ven was the third tank in the 25s. I wasn’t given much thought for a few weeks until our normal DK couldn’t show up for one. Ven moved up to the secondary tank position and I consequently got the third position. I was psyched. And then our GM lost a piece of tanking gear to me. And suddenly I was a threat. It was all fair and by the book – we used a straight SK system for 25 man and he’d lost pieces to OS tanks [both of the tanks for the third raid were MS dps] before and it had not been an issue… but I was a woman. This, somehow, made a big difference.

I didn’t really understand what was going on… I was feeling pressure but I was having the most fun I’d ever had in game. I’d discovered my true role… and yet somehow I was being treated as a threat. One of the officers finally pulled me to the side one day and explained that our GM believed that women didn’t belong in tanking or in the officer corps. That’s “just the way he is”. Basically that I was going to have to fight for every scrap I got. I was going to have to work twice as hard to be thought half as good. Whatever. In truth, I was really upset. I mean I’d looked up to our GM and he’d been right good to me, until I started tanking.

I didn’t give up – obviously. But I did have to fight every step along the way. Worst of all were mornings – especially if the GM and I were the only ones online. I’d finally made officer at some point in this mess. Ven had gotten promoted probably 7-9 months before based on raids that we organized together. Anyway, I started logging into an unguilded alt to see if any officer besides the GM were on because if it was just him and I, Officer chat was pure nastiness. A Vault of Archavon pug we both happened into one day sealed that deal. They made me the main tank and he gave me nothing but grief in officer chat. Oh how bad I sucked… oh how I couldn’t keep threat off him going full bore… despite pretty badly outgearing me. The group lit into him for refusing to tank swap and I was ready to throw up my hands and leave… but the taunting in officer clinched that I was absolutely going to stay this time.

Why didn’t I ignore him? One of the rules of the guild was that you were not permitted to ignore any guildies – it was literally grounds for a gkick. Most of the other officers supported me… we needed the tanks around and our GM was being simply ridiculous. A couple of them taught Ven and I how to raid lead and organize raids – sometimes by showing us the best way and sometimes by showing us what not to do. And then our GM took a hiatus.

By ToC our other DK had dropped out… he was apparently upset that I had managed to match him. He came back later on a resto druid until one of our druids outhealed him. At this point I did what every tank was supposed to do – when you find someone of your class interested in your spec, you mentor them and help them. We had a caster who was interested in going to his blood dk and he came to me for advice. I was thrilled beyond belief. Until I started getting reports from his raidmates that he was infatuated with me… and he was friends with Ven, knew we were married and started hitting on me in a creepy way anyway. It was a very weird situation that ended with him leaving guild to my relief.

Our GM came back during this period and was with us into ICC. Tanking with him in ICC was an exercise in frustration. Imagine the stereotypical LFR pug tank. Any mob I was assigned, he’d taunt off me – even with his own still up. Not many people would dare give him what for over vent but Ven had had enough by this point and told him off. It still kept happening periodically when he thought Ven wasn’t watching. Ultimately he ragequit his own guild, leaving a friend of ours in charge. Lots of animosity ensued.

I still run across the same breed of person now and again. You know the “get back in the healing/caster dps and make us mana cakes” type? They still exist and it’s a sad thing because you should be able to do what you love in a game [how does this bode for these people in the real world?]. Some of the best healers and caster dps I’ve ever known have been men. And some of the best melee types – whether dps or tank have been women.

Just because Jaina is a mage doesn’t mean I need to be. if I want to be a tank, I can be a tank.  I am a tank and I am a woman.  I am proud to be both.

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Alt Monday

I made the decision last week to spend my game time on Mondays working on alts, at least until the new patch hits and maybe even then.  It’s been fun.  I’ve worked on a lowbie warlock I had and my healy monk primarily.  I also started a Panda rogue and I have to say, I LOVE the animations of a panda rogue!

Anyway, I experienced something today on the healy monk that I’ve talked about before, and the blogging community at large has discussed off and on – the plight of being a new tank in a dungeon.

My healy monk has done very few quests and has leveled mostly by dungeoning.  I’ve been trying to make sure I do each dungeon at least once… including the end game BC normals.  I’ve finished most of them and am sitting at 71 now but I’ve still got a couple to hit [the queues DO pop for these... especially in the evenings].

Anyway, I got into Botannica and we’re moving along at a pretty good clip through the trash.  The pulls aren’t huge and aren’t as big as I could heal through but I’m not going to complain about an easy run as a healer.  It even looks like he’s analyzing the pulls and doesn’t appear familiar with the instance – most people I see in there on a lowbie now aren’t familiar.  I ran most of them umpteen times in BC so I remember them pretty well.

About halfway through the run one of the dps starts complaining that he’s hideously bored.  I mean the whole run might have been 10 minutes long… eh maybe 12… so we’re only 5 or 6 minutes in.  The second the next boss dies, the dps takes off for a corner and pulls a pack of mobs [and frankly a pack of little seedlings any dps should solo fine] so the tanks runs on past and I follow the tank.

Mouthy dps: “Dumb tank!”

Me: “I’m not sure how a dps pulling a pack equates to a dumb tank.  I donna think that word means what you think it means.”  Yes… you can blame the Princess Bride quotathon my Sisters in law had yesterday afternoon.

Mouthy dps:  “He didn’t even try to grab aggro!”

Me: “I wouldn’t either if you were facepulling packs for me.”

Mouthy dps: “But this tank is soooooooooooooooooooo slow.”

Me: “What if he’s new?”

Mouthy dps: “Well if he’s new he needs to practice tanking before he gets into a dungeon at all.  Personally I think you should run battlegrounds before you do any dungeons – for practice.”

Me: “Tanking lowbie dungeons is better practice for tanking than bgs.”

Other dps: “Yeah you should be practicing in dungeons while leveling ideally.”

Me: “I hate pvp.  I guess you’ll just have to deal with a healer who also didn’t practice in bgs.”

 

The dps backed off at that point and then apologized.  The fact was, the tank was holding aggro just fine on any pack he pulled, his dps as a tank was where we expected and he was quiet and trying to do his job.

I know some people would argue that the tank should have looked up the fights, but the reality is that mechanics in these five mans mean nothing… the boss dies in less than a minute as things stand right now.  I didn’t have anyone go below about 90% health except the dps who ran off by himself.  And he only hit 50%.

I will say that I’ve noticed a trend as I level these alts… the dps queue gets progressively longer… whether that’s from tanks not queueing or more queueing as dps instead or just dumb luck I don’t know.

But if you don’t want a tank starting in lowbie dungeons, max level dungeons or LFR and you don’t want them questing because they can pull the whole zone and cause others to wait and tanking in PVP… well there’s not much to tank there and it doesn’t really prepare you for dungeons or raids and there’s no tank gear unless you’re a monk or druid.

Where EXACTLY should new tanks learn?

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And why tanks have an instant queue…

Iron Qon is the fight causing said issues.  Every week the LFR group has this idea of how it’s supposed to be tanked.  Last week the group demanded we basically teleport the boss [ie kite him whilst he's casting dead zone] away from the spear.  The week prior to that the group freaked out at the prospect of tanking him at the back because it could reset and waste their time.  Another LFR group essentially demanded he be kited in phase 3 and placed in the middle for the final phase…  And these groups are willing to wipe than try another strat.  The group this week demanded that we tank him at the back and force the healers to just heal through the aoe.  In point of fact we wiped twice because they stood at the back and refused to move.  Out of anything.  That “isn’t their job”.  We finally gave in and tanked it where they said and it was pretty rough on the healers but it got done.  Of course it was all entirely our fault because we don’t know how it’s supposed to be done.

 

Knowing how it’s “supposed to be done” in LFR is hard when every group seems to EXPECT and DEMAND that it be done their way.  I’ve seen some pretty far out demands and as a tank it’s better to just go along with it… heck I’m tempted to ask what they want… because they won’t adapt or change for anyone.  I have no idea which strat is typical.  Most of them work when people are trying.  But even if we go in and do what we want there’s always one person who knows how to do it better.

 

When I position the boss in phase one so that melee can be behind it without being in the fires and half the raid still is… I don’t think that’s a problem with me.  Tanks really truly can’t win right now.  And I do take the nasty words personally – where I shouldn’t.

 

Us hitting berserk on the second boss was apparently the tank’s fault too.  None of the dps were willing to run the patterns.  We had a couple of our ranged try it [their mains are melee however] when we were getting on toward berserk and it was taking forever.  But none of them got used.

 

And apparently it was our fault too that the Lei Shen kill was messy.  I mean obviously we’re at fault for people standing in lightning whip and thunderstruck every single time they hit.

 

You know what?

 

I honestly don’t need this.  My main needs no tanking gear and I don’t need to have a geared DK tank alt.  Or heck, I could throw some blue crafted dps gear on her and just dps for the tank gear.  Only I feel the need to defend the other tanks when it gets done to them…

 

Just… the fatigue and stress of the last week have not been pleasant.  Add big life changes and then this on top of it… yeah I really don’t need it.  And had I not been with guildies, I would have left.

 

And honestly, at this moment, I never want to tank LFR again.  I know I will.  I know that’s an emotional overreaction in this moment in time.  But seriously… think about it… Why would ANYONE want to deal with this?

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Frustration.

I like the new LFR system… it’s nice and great and all that, but it’s also downright frustrating.  I’ve had a legendary gem sitting in my bags for well over a month now and I still have nothing to put in it…  I’ve had the 6k valor done for two weeks and I’m a Silvershard Mines victory away from getting the prismatic socket.

Every person I know that can use the 2h weapon off Sha of Fear in Terrace has it – including my husband for his offspec.  And yet, I still can’t get my hands on it… and other than blowing a coin on Elegon last night, all my coins have been going to Sha of Fear for weeks…

We cleared MGV for the first time last night and we’ll be going again Friday [healers work schedule permitting] to work on the second boss in HoF.  I’m really satisfied with our raid’s progress… but there again, I’m a long way away from being able to get the Sha Touched weapon on normal, even with the Terrace bosses being reportedly easier than the Heart of Fear ones.

Why not put it in my OS weapon?  Well… I do have a Sha Touched weapon for “offspec”, but it’s a 1h weapon and I’m a 2h frost dps for offspec with absolutely no interest in changing right now.  Two hand frost dps feels right to me and I’m actually making headway…  DPSing has long frustrated me and finding something I can make work and actually sustain nearly 45-50k dps in [60k sometimes in LFR] is pretty good for me.  Making that change now seems silly especially when I don’t like the aesthetics of dual wield dps.

Even worse, I’ve been using my tanking weapon for my OS…  That’s just how bad drop rates have been for me on two handers.  Then there’s the whole, ‘I’m not throwing a 10k gold gem into my offspec’.

I’ll be glad when the drop rate increases… and hopefully that will work for me within a week or two if I can’t snag the weapon beforehand.  Of course by the time I do, it’ll likely be useless…  That’s just my luck.

But the frustration has been bad enough that I’ve just had no drive to go through the PVP battlegrounds to finish the Wrathion questline.  I killed the boss in Krasarang when a guild group was doing it.  I won the Kotmogu when hubby finished the valor grind and wanted to queue…  and I’ve queued with him the few times he’s gone in Mines.  I know in the next patch we’ll get a meta gem for our troubles… but that’s a lot more work away as is.  And we likely still have a few weeks of this patch.

Anyway, one more coin to spend for the week… when I do my weekly Terrace queue with Ven.  Maybe RNG will finally decide to like me.  Or not.  Probably not.

ETA: I queued up with Ven for Silvershard Mines tonight and won…  So the Wrathion Part 2 questline is done and I have a socket and a gem sitting in my bags waiting for a weapon

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It’s been a good few days…  I seem to have the luck this weekend!

Friday night we did a bunch of Molten Core runs to try and get me the Harbinger of Flame pet from the Sulfuron Harbinger.  Venoym’s alt went in and got it, after about 10 of my toons had gone through with no luck.

Saturday morning, before leaving for the day, I finished the apprentice questline and got “I am the Master Now”.  Saturday night we did LFR and I got the item I’ve been wanting for weeks… the sword off Elegon.  I still need to get the Sha Touched Weapon, but that’ll come eventually [I hope].

Because I got the weapon, I got Mystically Epic

mysticallyepic

Mystically Epic!

Now there are only a couple things I need in LFR.

On a whim, I got into the bidding war for the Blood Soaked Invitations and to my shock, won one.  It’s going to put off getting my first JC mount for about a month [based on personal gold totals I want to maintain] but I felt like it was worth it and I joined BigBearButt in fighting and cheering on the competitiors.  I made Rank 4 in the Brawler’s guild today :D.  Rank 7 is going to take a LOT of work… and figuring out how to dps as a frost death knight.

Oh, as Bear says in his post, Venoym and I have joined his guild, along with a few friends of ours.

brawlers1

I retrieve my invitation, in total shock. The Orc there cheered at me when I got the achievement!

brawlers2

Bear cheers me on while I fight a bad guy!

This afternoon, while Ven, LittleVen and a friend were grilling burgers and hot dogs, I saw an advertisement for a Darkmoon Rabbit raid, which I almost passed on as it was almost lunch time.  I’m sure glad I didn’t.

I WON IT!  Darkmoon Rabbit!

I WON IT! Darkmoon Rabbit!

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Askevar is 90… hit it Friday in fact [with Venoym].  This was the fastest and hardest we’ve ever pushed to level.  I know a lot of people like to savor initially, but we both prefer to just get our main to 90 and worry about savoring later with alts.  That’s why they exist after all?  Anyway, Askevar’s main set is going along well.  I do a couple scenarios a day as well as a heroic or two in the evening.  All my pieces, save a 442 blue ring, are 450 or better, with several 463 items.  I’m doing my daily rep grinds and I’ve maxed all my professions both primary [Inscription/Jewelcrafting] and Secondary [Archaeology, First Aid, Cooking, Fishing] and I got access to the end food for the Way of the Oven [aka the tank tree].  I also have all my on server alts parked at Halfhill to farm various veggies to max the other ways or to create the max Oven food.  By the way, if you do this, the Outpost Zhu flightpoint in Krasanger is the one that connects the Jade Forest initial town to Halfhill.

For that matter, I’ve now maxed out every profession on my account except Blacksmithing and Skinning.  Suffice to say, our guild has the heirloom legs already, and not just through my efforts either.  Sadly they are only good through 85, which I think is a little silly, but I was able to buy a pair for my level 20 monk.  Oh, we also have the guild shirts because a group running scenarios last night saw we were only two away and decided to finish.  They’re kinda cute but you can’t see it with my armor on [as it should be for a tank].

My offset gear is crap [its unholy now, gave up frost] and a quarter to half the pieces are still level 85 stuff that I need to replace, but, on the flipside, I’m quite a hardy tank right now.

Honestly, I don’t see any of my alts getting to 90 very quickly.  I’ve got 2 at 86 – my bank alt/gatherer and my horde pally [the horde pally would net me 2 account achievements].  With our guild not even discussing raiding for another two weeks, I might get one leveled but who knows?  My main priority, as always, is going to be getting Askevar’s tank set raid ready – everything else is bonus.

Sundays have become achievement night and due to lack of interest from our guild [a lot of people are still busy leveling and that's alright], we’ve been pulling from cross realm friends.  We’ve gotten a lot done though and we’ve had a blast doing it.  We even managed to 9 man Heroic Chimaeron just before MoP hit – with 3 healers, 2 tanks and the rest dps – and that’s what we managed to get… we had intended to 2 heal, but with everyone wanting to try out their mainspec, extra heals never hurt :D.

 

I will admit, at times the dailies feel almost endless, but once I get the reputations to max, I’ll be gold.  I’m already revered with Order of the Cloud Serpent and well into honored with most of the rest so it’ll get there :)  And I’m not finding these dailies near as painful as some have been in the past either.

 

Goldwise – I’ve already spent a ton between buying the Grand Expedition Yak and speed leveling some professions.  Despite that, I’ve actually managed to make money on Askevar and I’ll make back the rest and then some when I level the alts, so it’ll all work out.  Hey, don’t look at me that way… I saved and ground for that Yak for several months before MoP dropped and I’m darn proud of it!  There is nothing like achieving a goal you set out to complete.

 

Speaking of achievements, for the first time since I was maining a warlock, I have finally passed my husband in total achievement points.  Now, so it’s said, that won’t last as he’ll do all those achievements and catch right back up… but for once it’s nice to be ahead!

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The key to surviving an expansion without completely going insane is to manage your expectations.  Expect it to suck and you dread the drop date.  Expect it to be the neatest thing since sliced bread and you’re bound to be disappointed.

For the tank, while the rules may change and your abilities may change your job stays the same.  You are the one taking the hits so the rest of your team is able to do their job and take down the mobs.  You are the protector, or in Leverage lingo – the hitter.

Now I’ll be honest right here and say that I have spent basically no time on the PTR.  I have done very little in terms of actually getting ready to have Askevar be able to seamlessly do her job when the prepatch hits on the 28th.  It sounds like we’re heading back to the Burning Crusade school of tanking – where the tank has to be hit to get threat and the more they get hit, the more threat they generate.  What this likely means is that tanks are going to need a moment to wrangle aggro.  [That conclusion is based completely on what LITTLE I have heard and read btw, so may not be accurate].  And this whole active mitigation thing?  Sounds a lot like what I’m already doing.

Yes, I know things are going to change… but after surviving so many expansions hitting, it loses it’s upset factor in many ways.  Just creates headaches.

I’ve proven to my guild that I’ll do what it takes to get my job done and then some.  My guildies have proven that they’ll do the same and have my back.  I feel like we’re in a good place :)

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