No Clear Alt

29 Jul

July has just about come to an end and I find that Rain’ has pretty much put the lid on all of her New Year’s Goals.  Loremaster and Seeker are done, I’m fairly well geared (even though I busted my 2 piece T9 bonus before I should have and didn’t realize it) and I’m carrying a actual *bow* as the gods intended for all true hunters.

Hunters of course are one of the games most extreme solo-artists.  Though in truth – we’re not really solo.  We have our pets – the faithful furred and fanged that obey our commands, travel with us, and share in our success.  The dynamic is one that I enjoy and quite honestly I’ve spent more happy hours thrashing about Azeroth and Outland with Windpaw at my side than I have in the company of “real” friends.

For the next few months I’m afraid this may be the way things will continue.  My regular raid schedule has been disrupted due to work commitments and the need to finish up some classes at a local university.  Most of my playing of late has been random stabs at PvP achievements and some 2’s arena.  That and I’ve been trying to pick a favored Alt to bestow with some love, and have been finding the choices rather difficult.

First off, there’s my oldest character – my Druid.  Sequoia – now known as Windpaws – hit 70 just the other night and was poised to be the focus of my solo efforts.  I’ve had ‘paws dual specced for a while now and she’s spent most of her time as a tree, healing folks through burning crusade dungeons.  My intent had been for her to move on into tanking and that I would random dungeon level her to 80 and beyond.  I was getting rather excited at the proposition and tossed down 5k gold to buy epic flight last night intending to start her down the epic flight form quest chain while waiting on random dungeons to pop.

And that’s where the trouble set in.

First off – I’m a fairly good tank.  I’m no raid tank to be sure – no real experience there – but a good tank for 5-mans and the odd heroic.  All of my real experience has been Warrior and Pally tanking thus far, so I was really excited to get back to driving that big bear ass around.  I happily queued up for a random Lich King normal (UK this time) and found myself facing one of the very best challenges an under geared out of practice bear tank can face – a pug group of massively over geared players.  It was a pretty typical scene; A potential fail-tank faces off with the over geared elite who already seem to be impatient with me because I bothered to stop and say “hello”.  The first couple pulls go off about as I expected.  The be-goggled warlock blasts out DPS on par with some 80’s I know and it’s a fight for aggro from that point on.

Now bear tanks have a wonderful tool for managing AoE packs.  With swipe and glyphed maul queued up I can wade into 3-5 bad guys and depend on it to reach out and touch all of them.  That said – bears seem to be missing some of the really solid and comforting abilities that warriors bring to the table like thunder clap and shockwave.  Without the ability to shockwave a pack into quick submission while tabbing devastates and glyphed cleaves all around, the urge to “fight” for aggro seemed a great deal harder than I remember.  Still –  over geared and aggro happy though they might be – I know how to handle groups like that.  First off – I never whined about needing to grab aggro, that just feeds their disdain and puts you in the position of being a fail-tank.  Next, I kept moving.  My healer never seemed to lack for mana and I didn’t particularly care if the dps were running a bit low.  Keeping that trigger happy lock at bay was important so – if I could keep ahead of him – I could keep the threat up.   Before we knew it we were plundering Ingvar and everyone dropped group without a sound.

Technically – this was a successful run.  No one died – no one complained.  But it didn’t seem very fun.  I figured this was mostly due to the fact I was out of practice and feeling self conscious about it.  Later that night I tried another run.  What do you know.  UK again.  A much friendlier group – much more reasonably geared.  I had spent some time rearranging things on my action bars and felt more confident.  Thirty minutes later and a few deaths to lay at the feet of a healer more absorbed in the baseball game he was watching than anything else and we were once again thanking Ingvar for his head and shiny new axe.

You know though…it still wasn’t much fun.  I kept aggro fairly well and had plenty of health and avoidance for the instance.  Still, something just seemed to be missing – some visceral aspect that I just can’t seem to put a name to.

Feeling a little out of sorts I jumped on Keladryn my baby prot-paladin.  Kel’ has been sitting at level 72 for months now.  Folks might remember me raving about this guy and his almost effortless tanking ability in previous posts.  Well – I figured if I was an out of practice bear tank I was an equally out of practice pally tank.  I spun the good dwarf around and killed some mobs just to remember where all of his abilities were and then queued for another normal random.

Huhn….UK….Again…..

Good group though.  Great healer – good dps – friendly.  One thing I noticed about halfway through the instance was that the warrior kept tearing aggro off of me.  He wasn’t arms specced though so I was confused as to how he was chewing through all my threat.  The answer hit me after we dropped the second set of bosses.

Turn on Righteous Fury, noob.

Sigh…still…there were no deaths and after turning on the prot-paladin’s signature passive tanking ability – threat was no longer an issue.  We cruised through the rest of the instance and rolled up on Ingvar.

“You again?” He almost whined.

“Me again – make with the head beyotch.”

When it was all said and done I put Kel’ away for the night and ran around on my warrior tank for a while.  Tanking on both felt good.  Felt right.  Which is too bad because I was really looking forward to tanking as a bear.   I’ll give it another shot tonight – we’ll see how it goes.

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5 Responses to “No Clear Alt”

  1. Nora July 29, 2010 at 19:43 #

    Let me know if you need a healer! (And I’m not otherwise occupied.)

    Paladin tanking is really great, though I’m not sure what to think about the upcoming changes. I’ve heard the designers want to design it to be more warrior-like, and I never did quite get the swing of warrior tanking. DK is fun, and I haven’t tanked with my druid in so long I’m not sure I remember how.

    Yes, overgeared players are *TOUGH* on tanks. I kept trying to explain this to our newer tank when I was doing things on Nora – “Trust me, it’s not you. I’m a T10 geared toon tanking with a T8 geared tank, it’s going to happen – not your fault!” Wish more DPS understood that.

  2. Windpaw July 29, 2010 at 20:25 #

    I think most dps *do* realize it – but detest non-aggro holding, undergeared tanks anyway just because they can 😉

  3. antlergirl July 30, 2010 at 19:41 #

    It’s the one thing that makes me hesitant about starting to tank…the other people you have to pug with..

  4. Nora August 5, 2010 at 14:59 #

    I’ve had all kinds of PuGs on my tanking toons. Some have been very patient when I explain that this is an older toon I’m dusting off and may be rusty/undergeared. (I think a lot more people are either doing the same or understand it’s that point in the expansion folks do that.) Sometimes I’ll get one or two that just quit. Yesterday I had someone griping when I was DK tanking Gun’Drak, and I said “If you don’t like it, you’re welcome to leave” which he did. Group ran much better after that.

    And when it comes down to it – you’re the tank. You’re the person in control of the group, and if someone’s stressing you out or giving you a hard time – you can either choose to leave the group (if it’s >1), or vote to kick the problem. After all – tanks get groups right away, so there’s no sense stressing over someone being a jerk or not being patient with you.

  5. Windpaw August 5, 2010 at 15:25 #

    This is all good advice.

    In all of my tanking endeavors I have *always* been my own biggest critic. I once read that good tanks are perfectionists by nature – and frustrated ones due to the fact that tanking for pugs is rarely a perfect experience.

    The one thing that you can do to promote a successful night of tanking is to prepare and practice. Whatever you do – don’t just throw on a pie plate and some +def gear and jump in the queue. That’s kind of like rolling in butter and garlic right before jumping into a cannibal’s stew pot.

    You will get eaten.

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