I had it easy when learning to tank

| Monday, April 11, 2011
I ran across this comment the other day:
I recently went into Ragefire Chasm with my boomkin and people were raging about the tank not keeping aggro (never mind the mage attacking everything and anything) - but the guy politely said that he was still learning to tank and would welcome help. The narky healer says that the tank should learn to tank elsewhere and not waste people's time by queueing as tank if he doesn't know how to do the job. o.O

I was lucky. I never had to deal with that. I had it easy, learning to tank long before we'd developed an obsession with optimization. Or playing correctly.

I learned to tank on a shaman. Yes you did read that correctly. Tanking on a shaman. Things were different back then. For one, we let shamans tank. Or a warlock, I did that once too. That didn't work quite as well. But at least one raid boss specifically required a warlock tank. Actually two. These days you can do it with a couple DKs. Or bring an arms warrior and a lot of DPS.

Back then rockbiter weapon was a flat DPS increase, which made it better than nothing, but always and completely worse than windfury, excluding purely theoretical situations where your auto-attack DPS was so slow that adding a small number was bigger than multiplying by a big number. It also had an aggro increase on it. Sort of like heroic strike or icy touch. Also, frost shock didn't have the aggro boost (does it still?), instead earth shock had it. Also earth shock was an interrupt.

So there I was running around places like scarlet monastery, shock this one, hit that one, shock that one, hit that other one, and so on. No one complained much. However the groups eventually got sick of my attempt to use the fury warrior in berserker stance as a tank, probably because it was stupid. But awesome!

Actually, I had a lot of leeway back then. No one complained at all the time in UBRS when I got myself killed so fast, and so quickly, over and over, until the res timer hit two minutes. These days that would be a flame festival and a group kick, rather than a bunch of people laughing at my repair bill. Ironically, I was using The Unstoppable Force. I didn't blame the tank, he didn't blame me, and the healer didn't complain. After that I learned to watch my aggro. This is why I adopted the "let them die if they pull aggro" strategy, because dammit, it worked!

I don't know for sure what created this environment, but a while back I posted this in The role of accessibility in increasing elitism.
His DPS sucks and he might not quite know what he's doing, but he'll learn eventually, because he has to. Ubermage isn't there to carry him. Ubermage also isn't there to flame him.

It was in this environment that I learned. I didn't get a lot of help. I didn't get a lot of grief either. I was either with other noobs or with alts of higher up players who knew exactly how awesome they were and had no need to put others down. Sure there were the bragging types, but they pulled themselves up rather than pushed those around them down. Their rising tide didn't sink our boats.

One theory I came up with was that the early community was saturated with former EQ players who had much different expectations in terms of player and community interaction.

My experience suggests that tanks will tend to be players who have been around for a while. Certainly BC was still a good time to learn, since even if paladins were making people want fast AoE runs, they weren't standard, so when I wasn't on my paladin, I didn't run into too many people expecting me to tank like one (though I tried to anyway). But even still, that would make the most forgiving time to learn years ago. That means that beside there likely being few new tanks (since it's an awful time to be one, especially a newbish one), the existing ones are old. No wonder they're burnt out, grouchy, and in more than a few cases, have the sort of elitism that can only come from far too much familiarity with a virtual world.


Anonymous said...

I didn't group much in vanilla, but I did my fair share of heroics in BC - while learning what healing was all about. It was a bit stressful at times - but thinking back it was mostly self-induced stress. I was worried about not letting the group down, but people were generally very supportive back then. But of course they also had an incentive to be supportive. If you find someone that is good at what they do and nice enough, add them to your friends list and you were that much more likely to be able to get good heroic groups together when you needed to. These days you will never meet that person again, so why bother spending the time teaching them the ropes?

The way players view other players appear to have changed massively and I am not sure there is a way back from it. Sad though that is.

Klepsacovic said...

"The way players view other players appear to have changed massively and I am not sure there is a way back from it."
I have some hope that it is not one-way, at least theoretically. In practice, 'retraining' the playerbase might cause more loss of customers than would be gained/retained by an improved community.

Ngita said...

I have vague memories of tanking (successfully) an add at the end of UBRS on my shsman. This was before anybody knew about the hunter kite strat. I somehow got roped into both tanking and healing Razorfen downs at 40 for a bunch of dps clothies and a rogue. Based on my very clear memory of deciding to never do that again I can only presume i had done it before:) We did actually complete it.

Video Game Philosopher said...

I remember tanking as a shaman...I remember when tanking was fun, people were nice, and the whole game was exciting and not one big grind fest (well there was grinding, but it didn't seem nearly as bad as going for badges and the like...random chance at a raid drop is better IMHO than knowing I need to run heroics 47 more times to finish my set).

Anonymous said...

One of the most difficult concepts I've ever tried to convey to another human is why EQ sucks and WoW is awesome, when the target audience in question was old-time EQ players. These are some of the most pompous, pretentious people in the MMO community; real puritans, in the puritanical sense of the word. The trouble with WoW is, of course, that it's full of WoW players. It is full of people who are, at some point or another, going to have to attend traffic safety classes about texting while driving. The old guard of EQ players isn't playing MMO's anymore - they've grown up. They understand - and have always understood - that they were only ever playing a video game rather than compensating for a somewhat lackluster extra-school/work life.

In other words, I fear that the MMO ship has sailed in the way that Damascus steel is extinct.


Klepsacovic said...

@VGP: I go back and forth on random vs. badge. I like that with badges I know I will eventually get what I need, whereas random drops might never drop or get ninjaed (or merely legitimately outrolled). But badge loot isn't quite as much 'fun', whatever that means. Getting it feels less special.

@Ben: Correct me if I'm wrong but, you're still playing. Ergo you're wrong. Also, Ben is a misleading short name.

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