Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Tank Mentality

After numerous rolls of the dice, entering the random dungeon finder innumerable times I feel that I've probably seen nearly every type of tank from veterans through to DPS warriors pretending to tank to avoid the long queue times, so without further ado, I present a (definitely incomplete) guide to the type of tanks that you are likely to meet in a PUG.

Pictured: A typical incompetent tank (mine)

The Insane Suicide Tank - This is one of the most common archetypes at lower levels, he's the guy who thinks he can take anything and probably doesn't even need a healer, in fact, he's already charged 3 rooms down, is completely out of line of sight and has managed to pull 3 separate packs of mobs "because it helps him tank better" all before you've zoned in.  If you're lucky he'll at least know how to use his cooldowns so you may have time to get there and rescue him with a few mana intensive heals, your cooldowns and a lot of luck.  Of course, if he does survive, expect him to leap immediately into the next group of enemies, so the use of "luck" here is highly subjective as you'll almost certainly be low on mana, won't have access to any of your cooldowns and there's no way he's going to let you stop and recuperate.  Eventually you will fail and when you do he will yell at you and probably drop group! Yay, what fun!

The Heroic Raid DPS - You enter the dungeon and look upon his glory, he's in full Tier 11 gear, he's a "Defender of a Shattered World", you bask in his very epicness, but wait, what's that?  Is that DPS gear?  You've just met the Heroic DPS raider, he's got bored of long wait queues and is only collecting Valor Points to sell the Bind on Equip boots, so he's decided he can tank, I mean how hard can it be?  He's seen Cho'gall go down on heroic, so tanking heroic dungeons should be easy, right?  In most cases this person hasn't got a clue, you'll be lucky if he's even got his cooldowns on his action bar, let alone knows when to use them, on top of this he's probably going to be a jerk to you, you're the healer so if he dies it's your fault apparently.  Get ready for wipes, insults and, if you're lucky having to queue for another tank when the idiot drops group.

Mr Clueless - This guy has a few things in common with Heroic Raid DPS, except his tanking skills will somehow be worse, it's impossible to know how he made it to 85 without having discovered that a Paladin cannot tank in retribution spec or that warriors generally don't wear cloth armour; however, somehow they managed it and you're about to discover first hand how much it hurts to be hit in the face by a level 85 elite mob as there's no way the "tank" will be keeping threat.  Unfortunately this can be further compounded by some members of this archetype who will helpfully inform you that it is in fact your healing that you're doing wrong and that the boss is meant to be removing your face while repeatedly stomping on your badly broken body; needless to say he is in fact wrong.  This type of tank can be a problem as they'll rarely drop group, preferring instead to yell at everyone until everyone else leaves, if you're lucky a well-timed party kick will get rid of him.

The Veteran - He has seen it all and outlasted it, he was there the day the gates to Ahn'Qiraj were opened, he's whacked Illidan in the crotch with his shield and glared menacingly at the Lich King after he cheated by wiping the raid and promptly got back up to get his <The Light of Dawn> title, this is the tank that just won't go down.  In many cases a man of few words, apart from a few lines to assign crowd control duties at the start of the dungeon and he will lead you through faster than you ever thought possible, rarely requiring anything more than the most simple healing.  The only problem here is that if you screw up and something goes wrong, he won't say anything, but you'll know that deep down he's disappointed in you and this will haunt you as a healer for the rest of your days... Or is that just me?  Anyway if you end up in a dungeon with The Veteran thank the gods of the random number generator as those Justice or Valor points are already yours.

Of course, most of the time you'll just get Mr Average and that's OK, just be glad it isn't one of the first 3, at least he won't repeatedly screw up, is unlikely to call you names or act like he's some sort of god.


Monday, 21 February 2011

Why play a healer?

OK then, seems like a good place to start is answering why anybody would want to heal in the first place, especially considering the standard make-up of Pick Up Groups (PUGs) these days, plus, if you're a priest (like me) you have to wear a silly dress (at least my staff glows).  

To set the scene, you're out farming mats in Twilight Highlands and decide to join the dungeon finder, there's no one in the guild available and those Valor points sure are tasty, so you wait and, after about 10 minutes the Dungeon Finder pops telling you that a dungeon in progress is available. On zoning in you discover that the tank's run off and laid claim to every mob in a 10 mile radius despite not having a weapon equipped, the Warlock who has just joined you has life-tapped himself down to 5% health while a giant monster made of demonic energies is closing on him in an attempt to separate the juicy essence of his soul from what little remains of his body, the hunter is, for some reason, dancing naked by the dungeon entrance and has his pet set on "aggressive, while the Rogue has "hilariously" used tricks of the trade on you, the healer, the only sane man and it's your job to somehow keep these idiots alive.

OK, I jest, not all other players are insane and worthless, only those that use the dungeon finder as tanks and DPS, as a healer I have no experience with PUG healers, but, for the purposes of this post I am going to assume that they are all awesome.  Anyway, PUGging as a healer in Cataclysm heroics can be hell unless you're lucky enough to get a bunch of competent individuals who all happen to be queueing at the same time, especially if you're stuck with a bad tank.  If the tank is good but the DPS not, at least all the damage your going to see will be on the same person, plus, after a few attempts the DPS that keeps getting themselves killed will probably swear at you and drop group and there's plenty more where they came from, right?  

So why would you put yourself through this?  I do it because I enjoy the ever-changing problems that you're expected to solve as a healer, as DPS or even as a tank, your rotation stays pretty much the same, but, as a healer you'll be using whatever tools happen to be available in your toolbox and hoping that you've picked the right one, plus, it's the one role where if someone is being a douche you can just let them die (although I only recommend that near the end of a fight that you're sure to win, any other time will likely annoy those you actually don't mind).  As a healer you're responsible for the survival of everyone in the group, but you have far more control over each individual's status than the tank, your decisions will determine who lives and dies (hopefully only the idiot who stood in the fire).  If you decide incorrectly you can quite easily cause a wipe, as even your super-awesome cooldowns of concentrated healing awesome are unlikely to rescue someone who's health pool has dropped too far, except for very short periods of time.  Oh, and if the group downs the boss, expect it to be the "leet" DPSers that did it, not the "noob" healer.


New Blog! Woooo!

Hey to all of those out in internet land (ie. the 1 person who managed to get lost clicking their way through Blogger and somehow ended up here).  This is my new blog, and, as you can already tell I'm intending to break all new ground here!  Actually, I'm not, I want to write about World of Warcraft and anything else geek-culturey that comes to mind (bet your regretting ending up here now random person) and this seems to be as good a place as any to do it.  Anyway now that the random World of Warcraft hater has left I think I'll get on with a proper post and welcome any and all who care to read my ramblings.