But I thought this shield was just supposed to give me stats.

I have a pugging paladin conundrum.

I waited more than thirty minutes in the queue for my first pug today. Apparently 40-50 isn’t a popular level range to be at, or pugging in this range is unpopular (What, people don’t want to go to Mauradon? I’m shocked and appalled!) or – I’m not sure what’s going on, frankly, but it makes me irritable. I tend to have a habit of mailbox AFKing on all my characters which makes my /played time an inaccurate representation. I don’t mind chatting with guildies and taking it easy a little bit, generally. But when I get time to log on for a little pally pugging, that’s what I want to do. If I wanted to wait thirty minutes, I’d be going as DPS.

I know, it’s a horrible sense of entitlement. I am a healer, thus I deserve instant queue times. I know that can’t always be the case. But I don’t want leveling Vid to be a project that takes half a year. The character is just over two months old as of this writing. Things were much quicker initially over the holidays. I had ample time to spend with the pugging. My time now is more limited, and I’d like to see a bit of progress.

The way I see it, I have three options. The wait time in queue is caused invariably by lack of a tank. I can either:

1) Suck it up and wait the queue times out, occupying myself with a combination of auction house, running around for flight points, whatever.

2) Abandon the experiment and begin questing, possibly in conjunction with waiting out those queues. Eventually the pug will commence, but I won’t be twiddling my thumbs in-between times and will level much, much faster. This is appealing for that reason, but ignores the “I’m leveling my holy paladin to level 80 using the LFD tool.”

3) Finally pay for dual-spec, figure out what I’m doing, hope I don’t get too lost, and hop in there to do the tanking myself. As with previous option, this negates the “my holy paladin” portion of my commitment, but that seems like a lesser concern to me.

I’ve done a little bit of tanking. My level 78 warrior, before I gave her away to my husband, was actually leveled from forty on as Protection. I didn’t do very much actual tanking with her – I can count the number of instances I tanked on one hand – but I did level with other characters and practice holding aggro from them. I did have macros for things and I did gather up huge packs of mobs and kill them. (That’s my judge of how serious I am about something in WoW. I had a macro for that character? It was Serious Business.) It was pretty fun. The biggest trouble I have with tanking is the intense pressure to be good and also to lead the group. I’d say that tanks have even higher expectations to fulfill than the healers who keep them alive. I gave the warrior away when I realized that I would probably never play her with any regularity – my biggest regret was that we were still on Moon Guard (RP server) at the time, and I enjoyed the character herself but it didn’t seem worth it to waste a perfectly good 80. My husband, by contrast, was so excited to have a second warrior! Another tank! He really is a true believer that the only thing better than a warrior is another warrior.

I did also dabble briefly in bear tanking, which incidentally (at least in my limited 5-man experience) was a great deal easier than warrior tanking. I could lock down solid aggro really quite quickly as a bear, whereas playing a warrior it felt like it took a great deal more work. Of course that’s anecdotal, and I don’t claim to be good at playing either spec or class. The convenience with the bear was that I’d been picking up off-spec feral gear over months of running 5 man heroics, odds and ends that nobody else wanted, and so my tanking set was good. I would’ve let my gear almost tank Ulduar, at the time. I don’t claim that I could have tanked Ulduar but my gear could have.

Anyway, to make a long story short(er), I went ahead and got dual-spec for Vid, made a tanking spec I think doesn’t suck incredibly, found some glyphs, looked at the gear that I had (shortly after having disenchanted a bunch of tanking things… “I’ll never use these for tanking, ahaha.”) So my gear isn’t the greatest, but it may be adequate. I just need to arrange my action bars and then dive in. If the tanking is a horrible failure and seems beyond hope, I can always abandon the experiment of pugging exclusively to 80 and do some questing to get past the 40-50 hump. I’d rather not do that, though. I’ve made it this far! If I can get to Outland, there’s certain to be hundreds of DK tanks who need a healer.

Before reaching this decision, I ran Mauradon (Purple Crystals, naturally) 2.5 times today. The first time was completely fine. We had a very competent paladin tank, he pulled quickly and it flowed well. When you know where you’re going and everything is carefully done, the whole run takes about twenty minutes. It’s the new Scarlet Monastery, Graveyard. Now with more poisons and disease! That stack. Did I mention the way they stack?

I realized, because I am pro like that, that I had not yet trained level 42 (whoops) so I could learn my fancy new cleansing spell that gets rid of magic debuffs also. I’m very excited about this.

Purple Crystal run number one was very easy and uneventful. Number two was likewise, because we had the same tank, although I got the impression that the other people had just come out of some kind of harrowing, soul-crushing pug experience.

“I hope this isn’t like the last group,” the rogue whimpered. I told him that the tank was quite good and he was immediately reassured. You see what I mean about all the pressure being on the tank? You can have three warlocks, a healer with no AoE heals, but if you’ve got a good tank, nobody worries. You can have terrible DPS, people who pull extra packs (that starts to involve the healer a bit more) but if you have a good tank who makes sure to wait for their healer to drink when they need it – you’re generally prepared and won’t have any problems.

Incidentally, I have to digress here: one of my search terms this week was “We had a good hunter,” in quotations. Was it someone looking for examples that such a thing exists? Or were they so shocked when it happened they wanted to see if someone else had experienced it, too? (I jest, hunters. I love you and your furry pets, as long as their names are not “PetWussy.” If you’re that hunter, you can get bent.)

My third Mauradon, the one that accounted for the 0.5, was not so great. Our tank dropped group almost immediately, without a word. Thanks for faking us out, tank! I hope you have much joy in Oculus if you ever get there. So we were left with a Fury warrior, and a feral druid. I asked the druid if he’d be willing to tank (pretty decent overlap in the feral tree, at least this level he should be able to handle it.) He was a little hesitant but agreed to give it a go, but I could tell he was hating every minute of it, and mobs were all over the place. In a few minutes he suddenly “had to go,” was very apologetic, but I couldn’t blame him. I turned eyelashes on the Fury warrior, but no dice. He had no dual-spec and clearly no intention of taking his hands off his great big two-hander.

The group broke up. But before that happened… This is the part of the story when faced with a series of uneventful, mundane pugs, I make sure I have something to write about.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the first little bit of Mauradon: Now With More Purple Crystals – you’re so lucky! Now picture a circular room. There’s a cavern in the centre, and a ledge that runs all the way around the outside of the cavern. It is possible to just run up to this ledge and drop off – there’s trash at the bottom. Otherwise, you can follow the ledge around the outside of the circle to kill the trash that is there, and a ramp leads down into the grotto.

I thought that the bear tank was going to jump down from the ledge. All of the tanks have done so up until this point. It’s not very far, and it skips some time spent clearing trash. I edged a little closer to the ledge, trying to show him the right way with my subtle inclination towards the grotto. I was about to ask him directly, when a terrible, terrible thing happened.

The imps at the bottom of the cavern saw me.

“DHSLAHHDKSLJ,” they said impishly, and tried to run towards me. Being at the bottom of the cave, they couldn’t reach me, so they did the only logical thing. They headed for the ramp.

Between me and them, I’m afraid there was something like four packs of four mobs apiece. I’m guessing here. I watched the group of imps sprint up the ramp. I watched them run by their fellows on the ledge with an almost comically ponderous slowness. I’m not sure if the rest of the group had any idea what was in store for us, as my face flushed with guilt/shame.

“I know that when monsters run by OTHER monsters it tends to alert the other monsters, but maybe just this one time, they won’t see the other monsters. Or they will, but they’ve got better, other monster things to do…”

The imps were joined by satyrs, and still more imps. The mob train gained speed and momentum, like a snowball rolling downhill in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, ultimately intending to flatten me and my hapless party members.

We all had eleventy billion stacks of poison, instantly. And disease. There were so many icons on the health bars I could barely see them. The poor druid did his best. I really think he didn’t understand what had happened. The fury warrior said, as the group neared us, “Wga!” I tried to keep us healed, I really did. The tank tried to tank all those mobs, he really did.

Our fate was sealed the moment those first imps started to dance towards me. Lying there amid the rubble, the fury warrior clarified his earlier statement. “Wow lol,” he said. “Yeah, wow,” I agreed, desperately hoping that nobody had seen how much it was completely my fault.

Yes, that’s right, I didn’t even own up! Why? I was laughing too hard. I laughed so hard I wheezed, and even writing this I can still see the twenty mobs barreling towards us and I laugh some more. I wish I’d had the foresight to take screenshots. I do feel bad for wiping the group, but I feel I made up for it at least marginally. Since nobody else could find the way back into Mauradon, I ran back and rezzed them all.

So hey, I have sense of direction enough to find my way back into Mauradon twice! It isn’t a fluke. I am completely ready to tank, because if I kill my group horribly again… at least I’ll be able to help us recover from the wipe.

p.s. – I unabashedly stole my “pally tanking tag” from Svenn.

p.p.s. – I caved to peer pressure and joined Twitter. If you’re into that kind of thing.

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22 responses to “But I thought this shield was just supposed to give me stats.

  1. DK can tank? :-) The “nice thing” is that they don’t get their taunt until level 65 and Death Grip has a terrible long cooldown for tanking in a pug.

    My experience in Outland, with my DK tank, was, that if you don’t tank you will never get a group. (But, of course, all ret pallies will happily roll on all tank loot that dropps.)

  2. DAMN, yeah! If you’re going to a wipe a group, that’s the way to do it :D

  3. Wiping the occasional group.. is natural.

    Do not feel any guilt. Compare to some idiots that would repeatedly wipe groups through inattention, deliberate actions, etc.

    And welcome to the Light side of Paladin tanking. I hope you read BBB’s analysis of bear vs Paladin tanking. It will give you some good pointers!

  4. I’ve tanked instances where I didn’t know which way to go (Wailing Caverns!), but fortunately there were people who did, or at least claimed to. So if in doubt, just ask for help. Also, running through dungeons ahead of time on your 80 will also help. I had to do that for BRD, because the map was a little confusing.

  5. Woot Vid!
    Welcome to the world of Tankadins . If you miss your Holy ways too much while tanking your way to shorter que times, you can always pop sacred shield/cleanse on yourself…your healer will thank you!

    PS. Steal away, us Pallys have to stick together :)

  6. I’m loving my pally-tank-alt. She’s 75 now and I’ve levelled her Prot since 40. She’s my first tank ever and it’s so fun as a pally. Throwing your shield around, hitting people with giant hammers and clouds of holy light – oh, yeah. It’s really not too hard.

    Pro Tip: if you’re using a healing frame mod like Vuhdo that also maps key-clicks, set up to cast your Righteous Defense as a single click on the nameplate of whoever just pulled aggro. It makes life way easier.

  7. Gutsy – good luck with the tanking! I saw listed on some other blog that if you’re first time tanking through dungeons you should carefully choose to select each new dungeon are they are opened up to you as DPS (or, in your case, healing) and familiarise yourself with an instance before being dropped there using the Random Classic Dungeon option.

    I’m wondering if I were to roll a Paladin (long term it would have to be Holy, I think) I don’t know if I’d be capable of learning two completely different styles of play while leveling – Tanking and Healing.

    Then again, I guess you’d end up knowing your class a hell of a lot better by the time you reach 80?

  8. Despite it seeming contradictory, I would suggest running a SM Cathedral (or asking friends for a boost through) to get the tanking shield from Mograine – my little Paladin tank didn’t replace it (sadly) until level 57/58, when I bought myself the Skullflame Shield from the AH out of frustration.

    As for the queue times, they will get better. When the first LFG tool “baby boom” passed, the classic dungeons became a little less inhabited, but the 50-60 area is still full of people. If you find the queue times worrying, do the daily Love is in the Air quests (including the Crow killing and handing out samplers) – each gives a bar of XP, and enough bracelets to share the love with an Alliance leader of your choice.

    As a tank, you will find content up to level 55/56 to be quite nice to learn tanking. I personally got a big hit of Tank Anxiety around Strat and Scholo, but managed to skip past it. Now, the Outland dungeons are quick and fun, and I find my fun in tanking again.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. Edit: The Love is in the Air dailies -> I meant giving out samplers and killing the Crown syndicate undead. At your level they will be in the Hinterlands.

  10. I feel your pain as a pugging healer, I’ve been leveling my almost-Outlands disc priest and there is an amazing void of tanks. Pretty frustrating waiting 20 minutes for a queue and zoning in, only to see the tank leave instantly (it was Dire Maul). If I wanted that, I’d go pug heroics on my mains. :\ Get enough of that on my 80′s…

    Also, I think anyone who’s ever played a pet class can feel your pain about wiping a group. “Hey, where’s my wolf, he was here before we…leapt…….down OH NO. *looks far off in the distance* OH NO, OH NO.”

  11. I hope you like Pally tanking. It’s a bit hairy before level forty-ish because you don’t have half your tools (our standard method for pulling up through Zul’Farrak was to have the rogue throw a dagger, at which point I would taunt and pray) but eventually it’s good fun.

    Although that said PuG tanking scares me to death…

    • These days, Paladins get Hand of Reckoning fairly early (by level 20, I think?), and that’s a great way to open. You’re right, though it’s scary tanking at low levels, especially for people who are used to playing their mains at Level 80, where everything is a huge AoE fest and nobody waits for threat.

      Has anyone else noticed this business of low-level paladin tanks using Exorcism in the middle of a fight? This seems to be a new fad. You can tell they’re doing it, because they take a huge damage spike (no dodge, parry, or block while casting) and of course your favorite castbar addon will show it if you have them focused.

      It makes healers cry with sad.

  12. I definitely share your feelings about not liking to wait around for a group. I’m totally spoiled by being a dedicated healer, a fact I’m reminded of every time I try to find a heroic for my rogue. :(

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t try tanking. Personally, I find it stressful, but also fun. But you don’t have to give up your lovely flashes of light! I just got my priest (Discipline) from level 45 to level 77 almost entirely on the basis of the random dungeon finder, and I think you can safely assume that the “lull” of the low 40s will pass fairly soon. But we’ll all still love you even if you decide to cross out the word “holy” from your “about” section. :)

    Have you gotten into Zul’Farrak yet? That might help break up the Scarlet Monotonary a bit! :)

    Once you make it to Outland, I bet you will have plenty to write about, as you encounter the herds of Death Knights whose tanking skills are … well, let’s just say “a real fixer-upper opportunity”, sometimes. Situational awareness seems to be really key for successful tanking, and it’s not always as widespread as one might hope. (Cue a reference to “pug diffusion” here, maybe!)

  13. Well, since you’ve already bought your dual spec, I can’t recommend you not, haha. I vote for sticking to the Holy Pally experiment – I would recommend working on your professions in the downtime, fishing especially – there is ALWAYS progress to be made with fishing and as you progress with fishing, so does your cooking. If you don’t want to go out in the wilds on day, hang out in Ironforge and see if you can catch The Fish That Will Never Drop For Me.

    However, if you do tank, I hope it goes well. I had a warrior tank for a bit – the highest instance she tanked was ZF and it felt VERY out of control. I think I’d much rather tank with a pally, any day :)

  14. MARA! I just did a Purple Mara run on my little 41 resto druid. The tank was great, as was the dps. They had no idea that they instance went beyond Vyletongue, so I proceeded to lead us on a wonderful journey toward Princess!

    When we started killing dinos, I realized that the mobs were 47.48, and we were 41, 42, 43, 44, and 43. Hmms. Not a big deal :) We killed every boss there, (only one wipe on Princess when my heals drew too much aggro).

    So happy to be done tanking @.@ I did it from 30-40, and I am excited now. HEALS!

  15. I’ve been having my own dilemma about my lowbie pally and dual spec. In my case, it’s that she’s specced Ret (so I don’t hit like a wuss while leveling) but am tempted to get dual spec so I can be Holy in groups if I need to. As it is right now, I’m just throw on my healing set and hope nobody noticed in dungeons. Until someone dies, they shouldn’t complain too much, right?

    Gah, Mara…I can’t seem to get anything else every single time I queue. I can’t wait til I level high enough to get out of there.

  16. I was levelling as ret and filling in the big gaps with questing and pvp. I’ve gotten so bored of waiting and questing I picked up dual spec.

    As a paladin its a lot harder I find to fail. What a lot of newer tanks struggle with is aoe threat. Something that pallys struggle less with. I’ve also worked out the key to dealing with dps who pull for you or insist on blowing all their CDs on random mobs.

    Pull big. If they die because they’re so eager don’t taunt or they’ll never learn. Advise the healer to ignore them if they keep doing it

  17. It may be small comfort, but I think things will pick up when you hit Outland. I leveling a priest to 80 almost exclusively by healing instances, but that was right after the LFD tool was released. I think there were a lot of people eager to give it a try, so groups popped almost instantly even for classic dungeons. But more recently I was leveling a shaman the same way and I found the wait times for classic dungeons to have gotten much longer, even though I was queueing as a healer. The classic dungeons just don’t work well with the LFD tool and I think many people have figured that out. But the BC dungeons are, in my opinion, much better for LFD. And the Northrend dungeons are, of course, nearly perfect.

  18. Two core tools for a Paladin tank which are hard to master (still working on that myself) are Hand of Protection and Hand of Salvation.

    The first time a (melee) DPS does something stupid, I taunt them, and give a warning. If the behavior persists, I put Hand of Protection on them. It removes them from the aggro table and prevents physical attacks, meaning I am directly punishing him by disallowing him his actions. Smart ones might just click the buff off, but smart ones usually don’t go beyond the warning phase.

    If you are on the low end of an instance with a higher level DPS (or healer) that is generating a lot of threat, watch the threat meter. If he starts to get uncomfortably close, put Hand of Salvation on him/her and watch that person plummett off the threat meter.

    Once you get Avenger’s Shield and Hammer of the Righteous you will have more than enough tanking tools available. Often enough an add group can be picked up right after someone pulls it by tossing a shield through them, circling around them to get everything lined up and then using HotR.

    Basic tips, I know, but it makes tanking much more of a breeze. And yes, Outland instances are so much more tank-friendly. You will get stunned a lot more, but the pulls are easier to strategize beforehand for yourself.

  19. Pingback: The Odyssey « Pugging Pally

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