Places You Shouldn’t Learn to Tank, and My Nemesis

All of my characters generally feel that shoes are for sissies.

In my spare WoW-time when I don’t feel like working on Loremaster or other things for my to-be-main, I’ve been halfheartedly acquiring gear for my troll mage. I say “halfheartedly” not because I have a lack of desire, but because I get excited about it for a day or so – and then I run smack into LFD.

She’s slowly creeping up to an acceptable gear level, which is fine. Incredible magical devastation wasn’t built in a day, after all. I’m going to quote one of my guildies here, because I’m finding his observations to be true.

“Have you guys noticed,” he said, “That the people in LFD have gotten nicer? They’re incredibly nice.” (Brief pause). “They are terrible players. But nice.”

Yesterday I waited my 20-minute DPS queue out patiently. I’d done Direbrew, I’d done a random, and now I wanted to go to Forge of Souls. Happily, I zoned in. Nothing seemed amiss at first, except that the tank was a bit slow to get going. No problem; this gave me time to put up a refreshment table, set up my assist macro, choose a moonkin for Focus Magic, and then tap my two-toed feet. Once we finally started rolling, it became evident that our warrior tank was what I would politely call “new.” But hey, that’s okay! I eased off considerably on the AoE, made sure to silence the annoying casters in the first trash pack. It didn’t matter. The moonkin died. I died. The healer died.

Usually wiping on the first trash is something of a bad sign, but I didn’t say anything. The moonkin piped up in party chat, “I hate training new tanks.” I thought he was just being generally snarky, and was surprised when the tank didn’t reply. It was only as we laboriously worked our way through all of that trash that I clued into the fact that the tank, moonkin, resto druid and hunter were all in the same guild. Uh-oh.

“This tank has no idea what he’s doing and his guildies aren’t helping him,” I told Voss. “Stuff is all over the place. What would you do for this next trash pack?” Voss looked over my shoulder to point to one mob.

“Tell him to charge this one, and the rest will come to him,” he said. “At Bronjahm, make sure that he kites him away from the Soul Fragments.”

I passed this all on – not, I hope – in an obnoxious but a helpful way. Our prospects didn’t seem to be improving as we approached Bronjahm. I blinked in a moment of brief confusion. Our moonkin had gone resto. Spiffy.

Bronjahm with two healers was actually… okay. It took quite a long time, as DBM helpfully informed me when we finished, “Bronjahm down after five minutes, thirty-five seconds! Your last kill took one minute and thirty seconds.” Let’s just say that mana was an issue. I was starting to mildly resent these people for forcing me to compensate for lack of one DPS when it’s not as if my mage has super gear or anything, but I kept quiet. It seemed to be working.

We arduously made our way through the next series of trash packs. The hunter and I were doing what we could, but after all, we were only two. I had a sinking feeling as we stood in front of the Devourer of Souls. Was it even possible for us to pull this off?

Thirty seconds later I had my answer. The tank died about fifteen seconds into the fight. They battle-rezzed him. He died again. This is with two healers, mind you. The hunter was the next with aggro and he died, and kiting didn’t last too long for me. I died, too. At this point, in exasperation, I asked Voss to take a look at his armory to see just what this warrior’s deal was.

A strangled sound came from across the room, as I am navigating my ghost back to the instance. “What?” I ask Voss wearily.

“He’s wearing pants from Shattered Halls,” he replies. “And his gloves are ilevel 100… And his tanking weapon is the Tankard of Terror.”

“Defense? How much defense does he have?”


Meantime, in party chat the moonkin has gone on to say, “Soz, like I said, new tank.”

Now that I have some idea of what’s going on with this guy (you know, his BURNING CRUSADE gear) I reply, “Do you really think that H Forge is the place to learn?”

The hunter says, “Better harder than easier.”

Miraculously I manage to bite my tongue on what I think about that, as the moonkin goes on. “It’s OK, we’re getting him an elixir of defense so he won’t be one-shot like that again.”

An elixir of defense, oh, be still my heart. Never mind that even with it he’ll still be crittable. At this point, I am committed because we killed the first boss. I want loot from the last boss very badly so I’m obliged to stick it out and hope by some divine intervention we’re actually able to kill this boss.

Astoundingly, our tank lives about twenty seconds in, give or take. It seems the two healers are doing okay healing him up until the point where Devourer begins to do his laser beam wall of death thing. The tank stands in it and dies.

Fortunately for him (and me) he has not one but two Rebirths at his disposal. During one of these deaths I am killed, and we’re left counting on the hunter to finish it off. He does, and they resurrect me. I am extremely happy because the Arcane Loops of Anger dropped, and that’s what I had wanted.

I am less happy because the entire run took an hour. It’s an instance with two bosses. It should be the quickest of the ICC heroics. Because I am polite, I thank them for the rez and then leave the group. (You’ll notice I didn’t say “group,” even though I did get loot from it).

The thing is, I am not impatient with tanks who are learning, tanks who are new. We all have to start somewhere, and we’re all new sometime. But there is “new” and there is “How did you even get into this instance with such a frightening lack of knowledge and gear?” Unlike Lara, he was not prepared.

I actually don’t know the answer to that question – I thought that the ICC heroics had gear requirements. I should clarify, I don’t have a problem with running your under-geared friends through instances. I think that’s okay. But when you intend to do that, you should do one of two things:

1) Bring five guildies. Not four. Don’t inflict your friend on unsuspecting puggers. Nobody deserves to spend an hour clearing an instance that ought to take half that time – because you think it’d be best for your friend to learn the basics of tanking in some of the hardest heroics that exist. It’s presumptuous, and it’s rude.

2) If you can’t find five guildies to run Mister Just-Dinged 80, have him assume a less critical role. I’d be far less grumpy about carrying a fury warrior while someone competent tanked, and pretty much nobody cares about off-spec rolls for gear (so long as the person tanking doesn’t need it).

After the Forge of Souls shenanigans, I queued again and joined a friendly group for Pit of Saron. This one was going generally without a hitch, until I saw him.

My sworn enemy.

The horror!

He’s everywhere. It seems somehow fitting that he is also a rogue. Just when you least expect it… BAM. COMIC SANS. (If you don’t get the joke the link above will probably be enlightening).

34 responses to “Places You Shouldn’t Learn to Tank, and My Nemesis

  1. Ugh. 475 defense wasn’t even enough for heroics at level 70. What I can’t figure out is how they were even able to make the dungeon finder queue them for FoS with a tank in such low-level gear.

    Groups like that make me a sad, sad Tree.

    • I think xmolder hit the nail on the head when he explained it further down. This method allowed Rades’ 47 warrior to queue for Coren Direbrew, I imagine it’s what they did to get the warrior tank in as well. =/

      • Ugh. I’m sure you’re right. If they can ban you for attacking players from the walls in Wintergrasp, can they please ban people for doing this to puggies? It’s no less frustrating. 😛

  2. We need to get Battlemaster Comicsans and Arena Master Justinbeiber into a 1v1 fight to the death.

    Everyone will win, no matter who wins the match.

  3. My toons also typically think that shoes are for sissies. Legwraps FTW?

    And I’ll have you note I carefully scraped up gear to get defense capped before I threw myself at LFD with my DK, even if I had crappy trinkets and relics. Sure, I may have only had one or two guildies as my support when I first went into heroics, but I didn’t go to the hardest ones, AND I think I’m at least part way competent. By, you know, not being crittable. XD

    Also – I draw a (school newspaper) comic, and in the past… I used comic sans as the font! *cough* I’ve since switched to Verdana. Funny that you ran into him in an instance, though. XD

    • Leg warmers are where it is at, yes! I should note I have no problem with people needing gear. That’s why you do instances. But there’s minimum effort, and then there’s “I’m wearing things that didn’t even come from this expansion!” /facepalm

      • Haha. Well I did just replace my DK’s starting trinket… But that totally came with this expansion! XD

        But yeah, that guy definitely didn’t do the minimum. I think he needs nicer guildies. If I were trying to gear him in my guild, we would have taken him on runs with him DPSing so he could get the gear!

  4. Found this blog through a retweet, but I may stick around to read more, as I enjoyed it.

    The way people usually circumvent the gear issue is by having a group of appropriately-leveled/geared players queue for an instance. Once they get in, one (or more) of the members drop, leaving a group leader to invite the under(leveled/geared) toon. They can then teleport into the instance, as they weren’t /queueing/ for it, just as you can zone in by hoofing it to the place, like back in the day.

    That is, unless they fixed it in a recent hotfix. People have been doing it to kill Direbrew this year, as low as level 40, so I think it’s still working.

    • Thanks, I’m glad you liked the post. I used to have more of my tribulations in pugs here, lately it’s more of a mishmash, though.

      You’ve provided the “Aha!” for me with regards to this guy. Of course that’s how they did it! I knew Rades had just done that to get into Coren, no reason it wouldn’t work to circumvent other restrictions, too.

  5. @Vid
    Heh, before our office move (when I was still sitting in an open plan area) I ‘marked my territory’ with posters from and from explodingdog.

    I know what you mean re: DF groups being nicer-but-greener. I guess an awful lot of people have just stopped running heroics. They’ve stopped raiding wherever they’re at, they don’t need any more gear and the only thing they’re doing with badges is buying saronite, gems and heirlooms.

    You…nooooo! Get thee to

    • It got better. >.> But I be heedin’ your words and I’ll check it out.

      (It’s more of a strip comic as opposed to fancy comic, so I actually use lower-case letters and all that jazz.)

    • Yep, pretty much! I remember right after LFD came out there was a rush of people doing instances, many of them playing alts but very experienced with their mains. They weren’t talkative, but exceedingly skilled. It was a sort of Golden Age of Pugging. Quality went down as the weeks turned into months, and now we have the opposite of the Pug Renaissance. But folks in general are pretty friendly, so I guess that’s something. I find this especially on my Horde server, that battlegroup is super friendly.

  6. LOL @ Mr Comicsans…

    I think the thing that sounds most frustrating about your Forge of Souls story is that nobody in the group showed any signs of actually… knowing or caring. They just seemed to expect the tank to get magically better by practice. Practice is an important part of perfecting any role, but it’s not the only thing you need! Then again, maybe they were on their guild vent or something…

    • I did wonder if they might be on Vent talking, and they probably were. I am not convinced that any of the “escorts” actually knew much more about tanking than their hapless friend, though. But yeah, their attitude was disheartening. One guildie complaining about another to a puggie is kind of… head-scratching to me. “I hate training new tanks,” is so rude. Had I known a bit more what was going on then I might have said, “That’s because you are doing it wrong.”

  7. What I don’t get is why, at a minimum, he didn’t at least have the crafted tanking gear. The Tempored Saronite stuff is *really* cheap to make and will keep you defense capped for heroics as you level (unless you are a DK – you will be slightly under until you get your gargoyle rune thingie).

    The first thing I did on my little protadin upon reaching level 70 was craft her the cobalt gear. And buy the full saronite set so that I had it ready as I leveled. Cost me less than 500 gold for both sets – I crafted the greens on my DK and purchased the full saronite set from the AH.

    I am amazed at the lack of knowledge (or care?) a lot of *new* tanks have as they level with regards to their gear. I know at level 70 – I am amazed when I zone in to an instance on Elentari to see tank after tank without a single piece of defense gear on. Apparently so are other healers – as I just recently got a “Thank God, a tank in tank gear” on Nadine as I zoned into an instance this past weekend!

    • I’m not sure there’s too much ‘tank’ gear as you level through outlands. I did a search on wowhead, and most of the defense gear for 60-70 are in the 70ish zones and instances, which people have been skipping to go directly to Wrath.

      Of course, I don’t think it would be too hard to scrape together some gear from random dungeons that actually contained defense, dodge, and high stam, but since I hardly ever buy my toons gear (I’m cheap!), I could see some tanks not having much tank gear.

      Though it could be a new player education thing – they don’t realize that tanks need defense instead of deeps. XD

    • I KNOW. I actually didn’t bother to link his armory because going back the next day I saw that he’d had 245 bracers and chest crafted, as well as the Titansteel Shield wall and etc. His gear now doesn’t look at all bad (…and he’s been to ICC since then, too). I don’t expect new 80s should have all that crafted gear or anything, but such a lack for H Forge is beyond reasonable!

  8. Forced to reply to this because I just had an awful night with LFG, so pardon my self therapy vent haha. I just rolled a new DK tank. I’m squishy, but I’m doing what I can I swear. I got all the Tempered Saronite stuff Beruthiel just mentioned. I made the daunting hands and legs. I have a couple ilvl 200 epics I have picked up here and there. I even take a flask for heroics for the extra stamina. I’m at around 24k health, but I have 537 defense. Is that really so terrible I can’t tank heroic Halls of Lightning? I’m constantly yelled at for being too squishy. There’s really nothing else I can do besides spends thousands of gold on better gear or run as DPS until I get more T9 pieces.

    So am I too squishy to tank H HoL or are people still too used to barelling over these instances?

    • 24 K health used to be plenty to start in Naxxramas with. People who get all up in arms about tanks with appropriate gear for most heroics need to take a deep breath. I tanked H HoR as Vidyala with about 28 K – and my healer grumbled a bit, but she was well able to keep me alive, she just had to work a bit harder. Having a bit less health DOES mean your healer will have to heal you and actually pay attention to your health, but it’s not at all unreasonable considering you’ve put in the effort to acquire appropriate gear (and even flask!). I think people have gotten lazy. I like having a “newer” tank when I’m healing – I usually over gear the place by a ridiculous amount anyway, so it’s no special effort, and it keeps me on my toes. It’s a chance to prove that you’re a good healer instead of just throwing out a few HoTs and then snoozing for awhile!

    • I agree with Vid, it sounds like your gear is totally fine for what you’re doing! You’re above the defense minimum to be uncrittable by the bosses in Heroics, and that’s plenty of health. Remember, the first groups to run those heroics were using item level 187 quest rewards and crafted gear—I know some who were even still carrying around a few item level 154 pieces from Black Temple. It wasn’t uncommon to see tanks bearing 22K health. So, while you’d obviously like to go beyond that, you’re not at all out of line for those instances!

      You’re right, though, that people have gotten used to a much higher gear level. The gear you can get with Triumph badges is the same item level as the stuff that dropped from 25-player Ulduar, so anybody wearing that stuff completely overgears the pre-ICC heroics. I think Vid’s right, that a lot of people have grown lazy because of it. Actually having to work to heal a heroic? How strange! 🙂

      It always makes me shake my head to see how poorly people can do wearing gear that would have trivialized Yogg-Saron. Try not to let them get to you, though! Just use your cooldowns liberally, pull a little bit conservatively, and I bet you’ll be just fine.

  9. I was in FoS the other day on my tree and only discovered after wiping on Bronjahm just how clueless the tank and most of the dps were.

    The melee got targeted for the soul fragment and didn’t run away. The tank also didn’t kite the boss away. OK, no problem; this just won’t be the fastest kill. Next time it happens, the dps still doesn’t move away from Bronjahm so the tank kites him out of the room and down the ramp on the far side (LoS-ing me in the process). On-the-fly strategy advice isn’t helping the dps here. Somehow, we manage to aggro the mobs down there. So, we kill them, BJ heals himself again and the tank kites him all the way across the circular room and down the ramp we came in on. Those mobs decide we’re snack-sized and come to join us. This is taking a really long time and the boss isn’t dying. You know it’s bad when your tree is OOM. But I innervate myself, drink a mana pot and repeat how to kill this guy. No help. We wipe after several minutes, having aggro’d both sets of adds outside the room, me going OOM twice and never reaching the soulstorm phase.

    After we run back in, there’s a thorough discussion of the mechanics at work and what everybody has to do. On this attempt, it all goes to plan and we get the kill easily. A clueless group, but at least everybody was nice about it. You know what? Runs these days are a lot more memorable than these same random groups a couple months ago.

    • I’ve been in the neverending Bronjahm fight before, where it took upwards of 20 –yes 20– minutes to kill him. Between having a tank that won’t kite, other DPS who were pulling at best 1200, nobody trying to get rid of the shards, and me who was doing the only decent damage at 3600 DPS, it was a slow, painful, root canal.

      Needless to say, we wiped on Devourer in short order because the tank wouldn’t move, but since we’d been in the instance for close to 45 minutes at that point, I was grateful to drop group after that debacle.

  10. I love how you blow right past the awesome “Battlemaster” title to focus on some silly font fetish.

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  12. Ugh… H FoS is not the best training ground… although it is good once you’ve mastered the basics for going the next step.

    Two main problems I’ve found going back to my Naxx geared Warrior:
    1. Although my health isn’t too bad at 30k unbuffed (should be better with the brewfest trinket _when_ it drops) – my armor is significantly less than my paladin – even when their health was at similar levels. This doesn’t help with the squishy feeling. That said I’d done all the heroics with only quest/normal/heroics gear…
    2. The bigger problem in LFD is threat – I ended up in a normal ToC with a few decently geared players… and even with them holding off (a bit) I had issues maintaining threat (with Vigilance on them too) just because of the difference in gear (ilvl 200 axe from crusader seals)

    So from that perspective I’m just holding off on my warrior for the gear reset coming in Cataclysm!

    BTW might I recommend the add-on MTarget for setting assist macros 🙂 Makes it straight forward and you don’t have to get lucky with the stupid characters people use!

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  15. Funnily enough I levelled Meatshield my draenei paladin as prot/ret and have not had a prot spec ever since. I’ve got maybe 30k unbuffed in unenchanted gear and I’m roughly crit immune although the extra enchants will ofc push me over.

    Perhaps I should take up his shield once more! Just remember tank friends – you get queues so quickly it doesn’t massively matter if they hate you as you’ll be drowning in badgers.

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