Saturday, July 18, 2009

Arms Tanking?

I always keep my Friday nights open. There's always that chance that I'll come home and my wife will have made plans for us to go hang out with some of our 'couple' friends. “Sorry, honey, I can't go, I have a raid tonight” is not an acceptable answer.

But Friday we didn't have any plans, so I logged on planning to do some dailies, but not really sure what else I would do.

I saw a friend from Heren Isterion advertising for an OS25 and I asked if I could bring my Warrior alt. They said sure. While I was waiting for them to fill up, I got another whisper, this time from Dotslover (I'll let you guess his class), buddy of mine in Limitless, which is basically my old guild, Mal Katai, under a new name. They were running Naxx25 and wanted to know if I wanted to come.

I was again on my Warrior. They already had their tanks sorted out, a Protection Paladin I knew, and two Protection Warriors I was familiar with my from time in Mal Katai.

Altar of Storms is a small server Alliance side, so after a while you get to know quite a few people. This is especially true if you jump around guilds as much as I have.

We cleared out Spider, and Plague without much problem. My DPS was respectable at around 2.4 raid buffed depending on the fight. I did worse on Heigan because I was concentrated on staying alive. I moved before the tank did most times. But I was generally in the lower part of the top 10 on most fights.

We downed Loatheb and the dropped the Warrior shoulder token. I rolled, but lost to one of the Protection Warriors. This was a guy I had shared tanking duties with back in Mal Katai in late Tier 4 and most all of Tier 5.

I glanced at his gear when I saw him roll Need because I was expecting a greed roll from him.
Now I'll tell you right off I can't tell one Warrior tier from another just by looking at the name or graphic. I figured I'm on an alt, he's probably rolling for his offset gear, so no big deal. It was only after the loot was distributed that I realized he was wearing Level 70 Tier 5 Shoulder and Gloves along with the Hydross Defense trinket.

I asked a couple of friends via whispers and confirmed that indeed, he had stopped playing for a while, and had just recently hit 80. I felt like a real heel for rolling against him on the shoulders and was really relieved that he had won them.

The third tank was another Protection Warrior. I knew him from my early days at level 80. He's a kid and his dad was a fantastic Holy Paladin. I felt kind of bad for him because he was having rough night with computer/latency issues. It's tough enough to tank when everything is going perfect. Fighting lag and FPS issues makes it that much harder.

I whispered the raid leader to let him know I could tank for them if needed. He didn't respond.

Okay, not interested. That's cool. Either that or he missed my tell completely.

I was basically a guest in this raid, so I didn't say anything more.

We got to Gluth and poor kid got dc'ed. My freshly 80 Tier 5 buddy was maintanking. I think the Protection Paladin had either gone Ret or was helping out with the chow. I honestly don't remember.

As you might know, Gluth puts a stacking debuff on the tank that makes it harder and harder to heal him. Each stack reduces healing by 10%. Eventually, the stack would reach 10 (100% less healing) and your tank would go down. Of course, the way you handle this is for two tanks taunt off each other, allowing one tanks stack to fall off and reset to zero. Well our 2nd tank had just DC'ed, and we were on an express train to Wipesvilles, population: Us.

It was actually thinking of my friend, Danath, a Warrior from Heroes Inc, and one of my 3s partners, that gave me the crazy idea for what to do next.

When he gets focused in Arena, he uses a macro that equips his Sword and Shield and switches him to defense stance.

So I hit my ItemRack for my Tank set. I'm in combat so only the Weapon and Shield equip. I pop into Defensive stance, and run up and taunt the boss. The healers start healing me and I tell Mr. Tier 5 to taunt him off me as soon as he's clean.

I popped Shield Wall the first time out to survive Gluth beating on me. I was of course crittable in my 'leet' Arms DPS gear. I'm Mr. All Greens and an Ironsoul after all. After Mr. Tier 5 taunted him back off me, I started frantically looking for my Last Stand button to use when I have to take him again. Of course it wasn't there as that's a Prot talent.

We traded Gluth back and forth a couple of times. For the first time in my life, I was happy for all that 'wasted' stamina on Warrior DPS gear. Somehow the healers were able to keep me up when I had Gluth and we downed him.

I received quite a few tells from people communicating how impressed they were with what I did. One of which I think was a compliment but is not suitable for printing. Getting those comments was sure nice, but what really felt good was knowing I had saved the day, and saved the raid from wiping.

We got Mr. DC back and went on to Thaddius. First try we lost too many to not getting the polarity switch right. It stunned me that people still mess that up. This is not exactly a new fight.
Our second attempt, Mr. DC goes down fighting Stalaag. So I popped into Defense Stance and picked him up. I ended up dying, but Stalaag died at the same time. I had given the raid at least a shot at Thaddius.

We missed the Enrage timer by only a couple of percent. Unfortunately, it was getting late and the raid fell apart.

If we had made another attempt, I was going to whisper Dots (my friend who got me invited) and tell him I was going in Prot Spec/Prot Gear and would just Prot 'DPS'. This had been two fights in a row where I had been needed to step in and tank. I was dang well going to be ready if needed again.

This is one of the really frustrating things about being a tank.

As DPS, you can clearly show that you are better, you just go out and dominate the meters.

As a Healer, it's a little harder, but there are more of you so you can help cover a little bit more. Meters don't tell the whole story, but you can pretty much show yourself.

Tanking is different. You need permission to tank. You need to be assigned.

The other Prot Warriors are really cool guys. I'm struggling with how to express this next part.

You've got one tank so fresh to 80 that he's still sporting T5 gear and another so laggy he can hardly function. But if I had tried to 'outtank' either guy, all it would have accomplished would have been to cause drama and probably I would have gotten myself kicked from the raid.

Regardless if I feel like I was a better choice (even my Naxx10 gear) and regardless if I felt like I could probably handle, ultimately that didn't matter.

I was guest in this raid. I was there at the invitation of a couple of friends from my Mal Katai days. I certainly wasn't going to embarrass them by causing a scene and asking to replace one of their tanks.


Thorned said...

don't worry your head with these things. As you said tanks have to be "assigned". In my opinion its vital for the tank and the raid that tankspots are fixed and should be changed only in great need :-) Its a positive thing especially for new or not so well geared tanks so they can feel a little secure in their fixed role.

Did it ever happen to you that you were in a random pug and another tank was choosen as mt just because he had a little more healthpoints than you (DK for example)?

Its basicly the same situation. During the Raid you may realize that you would be the better suited tank for the maintank job but causing a scene would just do more harm than good.

The main task of the tank is to protect your raid :-) That can be acomplished by being calm about it ^^

Ah.. sorry.. im preaching again -.o

Brinn said...

They also need to get used to what they have, unless somebody in that core raid group of theirs step up and play a tank. As a raid leader, your tanks will never have the confidence and experience if you swap them out.

The laggy tank, well, that's another matter. You can't put prot warriors in a critical tank position if they are laggy. The priority system and heroic strike rage dump style gets more difficult to execute. When I lag, I either opt out of the raid or ask to just to dps if there isn't enough people.

Gravity said...

That's a really interesting distinction.

Tanks can't shine unless they're assigned, there is just sometimes an opportunity (like you had) to make a huge difference by preventing a wipe, by stepping in.

Thought provoking.