The Tank Experiment Continues

Today I was prompted into tanking a random regular by my good friend Werf. I was a bit nervous, as I always am before tanking. As I was explaining to him, I’m still not entirely used to tanking. I don’t have nearly the experience tanking as I do in the other roles so there’s a definite comfort factor at play. To make matters worse, the vast majority of the tanking experience I do have was on my bear (now a boomkin/tree) and warrior (still sitting at 80). What little experience I did have on my DK was largely in the frost tree (I was 2H frost back before Blizz made Blood the only tank tree). I’d only run one cata dungeon tanking on my DK and things could have gone better. I stacked the deck with a group full of friends but things were still a bit rough. This time I would still have an 85 healer, but the dps would be PUGs.

So anyway, Werf and I queued up and we got put in regular Stonecore. I started off the run warning the group that I was new (2nd Cata dungeon) and that we’d be going fairly slow. Despite that, we made a pretty good pace. I remembered to mark first on all the pulls except one, and it makes a huge difference in how easy it is to get threat. I’m pretty sure I won’t forget again (I didn’t forget for the rest of the run, and even started marking mid-pull when skull and x were down and there were still mobs standing). So there’s a grand tip for newbie tanks: mark a kill order, if only to tell the group “hey, this mob is the one I’m hitting, change targets at your own risk.” Even if you’re not entirely sure which is the most dangerous mob, having a kill order will make things go smoother because at least the dps won’t be pulling off of you.

He assured me that I wasn’t taking inordinate amounts of damage, and his mana expenditure was pretty light on most pulls, for whatever that’s worth (heroic geared 85 and all). For the most part I didn’t dip below 50% and I rarely *had to* use CDs, though sometimes I did so anyway just for practice. Minimizing damage is a good habit to get into.

The boss fights gave me some good dancing practice, as well as some confidence in my ability to interrupt while tanking. The trash packs gave me some good taunting practice, especially the one time we managed to pull a 2nd group of trash (in the hallway before Ozruk). I managed to pick up most of the adds quickly and all of them eventually. That was the only pull where I thought that having an 85 healer probably saved us. Still, it was good practice. I used strangulate and death grip to coral the casters and DnD to point the melee my way. It was a bit hectic, but we made it through, and for better or worse, I think the facepull was a good learning experience.

However, all in all, I was pretty pleased with how things went. Nobody died, so there’s a huge plus (85 healer, I know, but deaths/wipes can still happen). Additionally, I took 67% of the damage in the dungeon, so that’s a step in the right direction since last time. I know that’s not the best metric to judge by because of unavoidable damage and mechanics failures, but generally if the tank is down around 50% it’s a rough run. Last time I was at somewhere just below 60% and it was touch and go at times. This time I had much better control of the mobs and the vast majority of the damage came from AoE effects (the PUGs weren’t very good at jumping during quake on the stone giant trash or getting out of shatter during Ozruk). The dps *were* good at obeying the kill order and following instructions, however. I was overjoyed when I asked them to wait for a LoS pull and the whole group actually did wait for the DnD. I’m not sure I’d ever actually seen that happen before (regardless of which role I was on): there’s almost always at least one trigger-happy dps.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Long story short: the run went pretty well. Amazingly well for my 2nd dungeon as tank, IMO. For the first time since Cata hit I’m really feeling like I can do this. I know I’m not there yet. There are things I need to work on: I need to tighten my rotation, I need to be quicker on taunts, I need to be more fluid with marking and pulling, I need to keep blood shield up more, etc. Despite all that, though, I feel like I may have turned a corner on this run. I have room for improvement, but for the first time I felt like I actually tanked it properly, and didn’t just get carried through. It was a fun run, and a heartwarming experience.

I’m not sure it actually means anything, but I felt good at the end, when the impatient dps (the classic “gogogo” guy) said “Another?” and threw up the queue. Maybe it meant nothing, but I felt if that type of player is willing to run another with me, I must have done something right.

Anyway, sorry to bore you all with my rambling, semi-coherence, but I needed to get all of that nervous energy down onto paper. Until next time, happy gaming.

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