It started out in what is now known as Vanilla. I dinged level 60 about 2 months before the original Naxxrammus came out. I was trying to catch on with a guild raiding Molten Core, Zul’Gurub, and Ahn’qiraj20. Back then, if you wanted to raid as a Paladin, you had one choice, and only one choice, and that choice was Holy. I had no issue with it at the time. Holy at that point was two things. Spamming Flash of Light, and spamming Decursive.
Decursive was a wonderful little addon at the time. You hit the button and it figured out who to cleanse and cleansed them for you. And for certain fights, it was the only button I needed to push. Magmadar, Garr, and Lucifron can all die in the firey pit from whence they came. Over and over and over again. Debuffs go up, Debuffs get cleansed. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting game play in the world. But I went through most of Ahn’Qiraq, ZG, and MC. I got really tired of being in the rear with the clothies. I wanted put my plate to good use. When the changes to the Prot tree were previewed at Blizzcon that year, I knew what I wanted to do.
Burning Crusade was an interesting time to be a Paladin tank. We had to prove ourselves to the WoW community. We had to prove we were good tanks. There was constant pressure on Paladin Tanks to ‘go Holy’. And generally once you went Holy, you didn’t come back. Every Paladin Tank fought the pressure, and not all of them made it.
I had the good fortune of being in Heroes Inc. They were open to trying out the Paladin Tank thing and I was determined to show it could be done. But only one thing impresses Raiders, and that’s progression. If you weren’t tanking progression 25 man content, it didn’t matter. Anyone could tank a ‘farm’ raid. I eventually moved to Mal Katai and started doing 25 mans. This is part of the reason I went so spastic about losing out on our first Aldori Legacy Defender. To see a Paladin with that Shield at that point in Burning Crusade would have been a rare sight indeed, and would have said something about our ability to the entire server.
When progession stalled in Mal Katai, I jumped ship to Dominion where I would see the Holy tree again. I healed for Vashj, Archimonde, and Illidari Council. And pretty much every time it was under protest. I had joined Dominion as the 3rd tank, and their Mount Hyjal Trash Man. Mount Hyjal’s trash was full of AoE pulls and Paladins AoE threat at the time was far away better than other Tanks. We made Mount Hyjal Trash much easier on the guild. I healed for Vashj because Vashj only needed two tanks and despite my best efforts to extol the virtues of using a Paladin tank for the encounter, the guild went with their two established Warrior tanks.
I really don’t know what I was thinking. I was blinded by trying to prove that Paladins were good tanks. I was convinced that every time I wasn’t picked to tank that it was a slight on Paladins and our ability to tank. I missed the seniority issue almost completely. It seems strange looking back on it now. Of course, I could have had all the tanking opportunities I wanted if I had just stayed put in Mal Katai, but then I wouldn’t have cleared Black Temple or Mount Hyjal. I would never have killed Illidan (although MK did get to him after the Great Nerf of 3.0, they never killed him). I would never have gotten Hand of A’dal. More than anything else, I wanted to kill Illdian. Dominion held the keys to that content. If I had to heal a couple of fights to get my Tanking shot at Illidan, then I would do what I had to do.
I got tired of being a 3rd string tank. I got tired of waiting for every other tank to get their gear before I had a shot at any. I wasn’t going to go through another expansion in that situation. The two tanks ahead of me weren’t going anywhere so as Wrath approached, I left Dominion. The 10/25 man split meant that I could do just 10 mans and still see all the content. I knew MK and Heroes could put together solid 10 man teams.
Eventually I’d make my way back to Heroes, then we’d morph into devolve with Boston at the helm. I’m now established as the Main Tank in our 10 man guild. More importantly, Wrath brought true tanking equality. Paladins are the equal of any tank class out there. The war is over and we won. We’re accepted as full fledged progression raid tanks. We’ve been called OP and FotM. There were many times during Burning Crusade we, as a Paladin tanking community, would have never thought that would happen.