Rough Weekend

Seems like nothing has been going right lately. We didn’t complete any of the raids we set out on this weekend (Except for Ony, and even that took several more attempts than usual) and I’m still confused as to why. The set-up wasn’t ideal, but it seems like it should have been doable. It’s just we did our thing, gave it our all and the oomph just wasn’t there. I guess it’s no big deal in the long run, it’s just getting frustrating that we aren’t accomplishing much. As the group gets some better gear together (and hopefully gets a little more stability) things should smooth out. I know this, but knowing doesn’t make the wait any easier. So that was my raiding experience this weekend.

And then to end it off on a low note comes a nightmare PUG. My sister and her boytoy just got some alts to 80 and I promised to help gear them up (they’ve been helpful with my alts, after all).  We got them what BoE gear we could, but they’re still not well geared for starting heroics by any stretch of the imagination. Adequate, yes, but not great. Anyway, we queued for some randoms and got UP. The run went well; nobody died, just an “in and out, thanks for the emblems” sort of run. So we stopped for dinner and come back for one more try.

The dungeon finder gave us the Culling of Stratholme. This is easily amongst my least favorite instances. The opportunities for careful strategies and proper explanations are few and far between. It can be a drain on mana, and the zombies are just annoying. It’s pretty much like this: you know what you’re doing or you’d better learn quick. Unfortunately, the random group finder isn’t very good about finding quick learners. The 3 of us get grouped with a clueless (but well-meaning) ret paladin and a frost dk “tank.” Our tank’s spec was 0/71/0 and seemed to favor dps over tanking, besides. I had expressed concern to my sister earlier in the run, because our DK tank looked a bit undergeared. He had 27k health (with party-supplied buffs accounting for over 3k of that), which is a little skimpy, but I don’t fret too much. I’ve seen – and healed – worse. 27k HP – no matter how he got them – should be plenty for a heroic. Except that it isn’t. He’s taking damage like I’ve never seen before: PW:S, Renew, Prayer of Mending on CD, and FH/GH spam are barely keeping him alive, let alone topped off. I had to use guardian spirit to prevent him from splatting… and this is on the first trash pull. We somehow managed to get to Meathook, and that’s where things took a turn for the worst. My desperate healspam somehow pulled aggro and rather than deathgripping him back to where he’s supposed to be tanking him he throws down a D&D and then taunts (I assume) to regain aggro. Except that he’s managed to position Meathook in quite possibly the worst spot in the instance for tanking. He’s in the little alcove between the two areas. I can’t get LoS to heal unless I stand within melee range, which means I eat constricting chains… 3 times. Despite my sister’s shadow priest and her BF’s shaman spamming heals on him in my stead, the tank goes squish. I’m steeling myself for a complaint, ready to explode on anyone who says word one about the healing, and the guy does quite possibly the most  horrifying thing ever – “so close! :)”- he’s actually happy. The wipe is a minor victory in his eyes. I can only imagine what horrors he’s inflicted on previous groups as he’s accumulated his current mish-mash of a “tanking” get-up.

Still, ever the optimist, we run in and buff up, but the paladin is now out of mana. This somehow constitutes an emergency. The tank tells him to mana up, and he just stands there. We wait a few moments and the tank demands again, and he sheepishly admits that he’s out of mana potions and asks if anybody has some. So we sadly inform him that one cannot trade across servers, but we offer him some alternatives: smack a rat with your judgment, drink some water, hit divine plea, etc. Finally the tank tells him to teleport out and buy some potions then teleport back in. So off the pally goes in search of some mana pots so he can refill his mana bar. By the time he gets back with his newly purchased potions his mana bar has refilled itself of its own accord, and we’re ready to go again. Thankfully, the tank holds aggro this time and we manage to down him. It was kind of scary for a moment, but with chains on the dps instead of the healer, we scraped by.

The next wave spawns and off we go to fight the trash again. And again, the tank takes damage like he’s wearing paper armor. I’m spamming everything I have on him and his health bar is slowly but surely sliding downward… until he dies. Again. The rest of the party follows after. So now I’m getting pissed off. Nobody is saying anything about the healing, but I’m starting to wonder about the tank, so I check my combat log to see if he’s being critted. But before I can find the appropriate lines in my log, the group is getting impatient. By now, my sister and her BF are saying that we should bail (they know how upset I’m getting, god bless them),  I don’t want to let the group down, so I tell everyone we’ll give it one more go. I’ve healed uncapped tanks before. If they’re close, it’s usually good enough. So we try again.

And we meet similar results. I give up any semblance of a proper Flash Heal -> hasted Greater Heal “rotation” and just spam Greater Heal, pausing only long enough to keep up PW:S and Renew. And somehow… amazingly… miraculously… he’s still going down too fast to keep up with. He dies, and our shaman friend dies, but the rest of us make it behind the barrier of NPC soldiers. So we rez up and the tank has decided he’s found the problem: me. He asks me what my best healing spell is and tells me to just spam it and shield him more. Apparently, if my output were a little better, we’d be golden, and he’s ready to try to walk me through how to play my class even though he doesn’t know how to play his own. Yeah, the priest in near-full-T9 is the obvious choice for the weakest link, here, buddy. I tell him that I already was spamming him with my biggest heal and that my shield can’t have any more uptime than he’s already getting.  At this point my sister drops the real bomb-shell on me: she stopped dpsing to throw heals at him, too. Yeah, that’s right, he combined healing of two priests spamming him nonstop wasn’t enough to keep him alive. I’m beginning to wonder if he was even in frost presence on the last pull.

At any rate, this time I do have time to find the evidence I’m looking for. He is being critted. A lot. So I look him up and plug him into rawr. Which is how I find out about his previously mentioned 0/71/0 “tank spec” that somehow managed to miss the sacred 5/5/5 trinity. 5% damage reduction and 5% dodge are a good thing if you’re a tank. But more joys await: he’s 50 – yeah, 50! – points shy of being defense-capped. The only enchant on his gear is stoneskin gargoyle runeforged on his weapon (hey, at least he chose a good one). Half his sockets are empty. The ones that do have gems are… well, you know that jewel vendor in the inn at Honor Hold? The one that sells precut gems that are a little weaker than the BC-era green-quality JC-crafted gems? Well, this guy’s a customer. And to add insult to injury, of all the options available, he’s selected +8 attack power as his go-to gem.

And at this point I’ve had enough. I apologize to the group, explaining that I can’t keep up this tank, and I’m leaving. (Unbeknown to either of them, the shadow priest and shaman are coming with me.) At this point I suspect that he’s just too clueless to be real, that anyone this inept at tanking and gearing has got to be just messing with people, but I give him the benefit of the doubt. I tell him to work on getting to the defense cap, and the shammy suggests the same, adding that he should work on his spec, too.

And this is the hardest part of healing: the feeling of responsibility. I feel bad about the run. I had the appropriate gear. I had the proper knowledge of the instance beforehand. I had enough practice and experience in my role to do it well. I had my potions, flasks, reagents, and food in my bag before I queued. In short, I did everything I was supposed to do. Yet I’ve spent half the night feeling like a failure because I couldn’t manage to keep the tank alive. Nevermind that he couldn’t be bothered to find a cookie-cutter spec or spend 30 minutes reading a gearing guide to find out which stats he needs. He was ready to shift the blame to somebody else and I – at least part of me – wasn’t about to argue. Some naive part of my brain always assumes that because I put a little research and preparation into finding the appropriate gear and spec that everyone must have done so, also.

Thankfully I was with friends who had my back. But still, it’s scary how easy it is to fall into the trap. Stay strong, healers, don’t just go along with it when someone blames it all on you. Check your combat logs, check recount, check rawr or armory or wow-heroes, check whatever other resources you might have, just find out what the problem is before you assume it’s you. There could be a rather more pressing issue at hand. Like a tank, who, whether he was being devious or just clueless, ruined what could have been a pretty decent evening for at least 4 other people.

And to you aspiring tanks, I have only this advice: do your homework before trying to get your gear. Before you click on “tank” in the dungeon finder, make sure you have the spec and the gear you need to be a tank. If you’re trying to tank in dps gear while you build your tank set, or if you’re trying to do one monstrous “hybrid” spec that you can both tank and dps in, well, just don’t. If you’re not fulfilling at least the bare minimums of your role to the best of your ability, however meager that may be, you’re being unfair to your healers and your other groupmates. Even some basic crafted tanking blues could end up being better than your epic dps gear if it helps you get defense-capped and stacks the appropriate stats. Maybe your healer can keep you up through the crits, maybe not. That’s largely a matter of luck. But it’s not just your time and money you’re gambling with – or that you’re wasting when the party wipes, it’s everyone’s.

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