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Nightmares

Last night I had a dream that I accidentally queued for LFR as a tank, and didn’t realize it until we were already inside making a bee-line for the first trash group. I panicked and switched to bear form and tried to tank but I couldn’t generate threat and mobs were running loose everywhere. Then I accidentally face pulled a huge group of trash and half the group had already ran ahead to the next room so I was left to deal with them on my own with a few dps left to help. It was awful. No one said anything to me but I did wake up rather quickly. Stupid dreams. They ought to know I don’t tank for strangers.

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Bear Tanking for Absolute Beginners

Just a quick “overview” style guide for brand new level 1 druids. It isn’t intended to be in depth or mathematical. It’s more of a “how” than a “why” guide. If you need some in-depth answers to high level gearing or spec questions, this guide over at the official forums will answer them. Let’s take a look at the very basics of bear tanking…

First, you have to be Feral spec in order to tank. When you hit level ten, put your first talent point in the Feral tree. Feral Swiftness or Furor are good places to start.

Second, you won’t even get bear form OR the ability to tank until level 15, which coincides with your ability to finally queue for the dungeon finder. However, as I have mentioned before, I don’t suggest you start tanking until level 18. At level 18 you will get Swipe, which makes tanking ten times easier.

Finally, you will want to choose talents that enhance your bear abilities over your cat abilities. Many talents do both. Some talents are exclusively bear-oriented, some cat-oriented. If you’re going to do nothing but chain-run instances as you level then cat abilities are somewhat pointless. If you want to quest in between dungeons, then cat abilities are fine. It’s up to you and your playstyle.

Gear

A new level 1 druid has no real choice in his gear. You’ll wear white crap and like it. But as you progress keep an eye out for Agility and Stamina gear. Agility and Stamina are your two top stats. Avoid intellect, spirit and strength. If you happen across a strength item and it is an upgrade for you from whatever low level white item you’re wearing, take it! But replace it with agility as soon as possible, and never roll on a strength item in a dungeon. A bear tank is best served by two handed weapons such as staves and polearms. Once you have access to them in dungeons, avoid one handed weapons like daggers and never use an off-hander. They only have caster stats anyway. As a final note on gear, steer clear of cloth pieces. Their stats will never benefit you and you lose armor, which is important for tanks.

Enchanting

I would advise a new bear tank to ignore enchanting as he levels up. You replace gear too fast for it to be worth the cost of an enchant, but in the event you come across something free or cheap, enchant for stamina or agility.

Gemming

You wont run across gem slots until you hit Outland, and my advice again is to ignore them since you will replace gear fast enough anyway. But, if you want to gem, slap solid stamina or agility gems in the sockets regardless of what color or bonus is there. Stick to low level gems. Stamina will likely be cheaper than agility anyway.

Glyphs

Glyphs at this level are not required, and I would say don’t waste your time until the later levels. However, as soon as you are able you should pick up Glyph of Maul. It will make your life easier from the get go.

Secondary Stats

As you level you will begin to see things like critical strike and hit on gear. At lower levels it really doesnt matter which of these stats you have on your gear. Bears will generally benefit best from hit, crit and haste. They will gain no benefit from spell power. A high level bear needs dodge; however, you will not find dodge on any bear-appropriate gear. Dodge gear in low level dungeons is meant for paladin and warrior tanks; avoid it.

Your Tanking Rotation

Start by opening up with Mangle on your primary target, then hit Swipe if there is more than one mob attacking you. Use Maul as rage permits. This is the basic level 18 bear “rotation”. Use Growl if a target strays from you and starts hitting another party member. Use Swipe on cooldown if there are multiple mobs. In your 20s I recommend using Faerie Fire to pull initially, and using Enrage to generate rage before the pull. It isnt very complicated and you don’t have a lot of room to wiggle between three basic attacks to hold threat.

A Note on Rage

Rage is your only resource as a bear. You get rage by hitting mobs and being hit by mobs. As such, it is important that you keep threat on whatever it is you are attacking. If the mob runs off to attack someone else, you wont get rage, and if you don’t have rage, you cant attack, which means you cannot get that mob back, which leads you into a spiral of hopeless, ragelessness. This is a problem in low level groups because no one cares to wait for a tank to pull and you’re stuck trying to taunt things.

A Note on Threat

Threat is basically a measure of how much your current target hates you. If it hates you the most, it will attack you. If it starts hating the mage more, it will run off and attack the mage. Your job is to keep that target attacking you at all times. If you are having trouble with this, try marking your current target with a skull to indicate to your group which one to attack. Always use Mangle on cooldown and Maul if you have sufficient rage.

Basic Bear Tanking Stuff

A few key things to keep in mind while you brave the dungeon finder…

1. You should always be the one pulling. If a “helpful” DPS in your group tries to pull, politely ask them not to. Cite your need for rage as a reason if you’d like, but the bottom line is that tanks pull. The end.

2. Never ever EVER allow a mob to attack you from behind. You have no chance to dodge attacks from behind. You want all mobs to always be standing in front of you. Wiggle around to position them correctly.

3. Never at any time shift out of bear form while you are actively being attacked. That’s like a paladin tank taking off his shield and sword. If you shift out of bear form not only do you lose ALL ability to attack (and thus hold threat) but you also lose a huge chunk of your armor and health. That means that if you are attacked it will hurt a lot worse. Your healer will not be amused and when you die neither will your group. There are of course times when a properly timed shift is a good thing, but for beginners remember the golden rule of druid bear tanking: never shift out of bear!

4. You have no ability to silence or pull caster mobs. Get used to it because it doesn’t change. If you find yourself facing a group of mobs where some are melee and some are casters, your best bet is to just drag the melee to the casters so you can Swipe everyone. Later on you may want to control the casters with CC, but since beginning groups dont/wont use it, just be aware that you cannot pull casters to you in any way. You have to go to them.

5. Always carry reagents for your Rebirth (combat rez) spell. Even though you should never pop out of bear form while you’re being attacked, if you have an opportunity to rez the healer and you can’t because you didn’t grab the reagents, you might as well just pop out of bear and let the mobs hit your backside. You’ll die either way.

6. You are quite capable of CC, but only before a pull. Entangling Roots is great for rooting a melee mob (don’t bother on a caster, they’ll just sit and cast anyway even if rooted) and Hibernate later on will take care of pesky dragons or beasts. Do these things before you pull the pack.

7. Know your cooldowns and how to use them. Barkskin and Survival Instincts are your two main damage-reducing cooldowns. You get them both in the mid levels. Barkskin has a quick cooldown and should be used every pull if necessary. Survival Instincts is your “oh shit” button that severely reduces incoming damage for those sticky situations. At low levels, use Demoralizing Roar on melee mobs to reduce the amount of damage they do, and thus the amount of healing you’ll need.

8. Don’t pull faster than your healer can heal, and always pay attention to your healer’s mana. You are a flimsy, delicate shadow of your future self at this level, so abolish any notions you have of being invincible. Learn to pace your pulls so that your healer (who, at low levels, has zero mana regen!) can keep up.

9. Learn to pull small packs, not entire rooms, of mobs. Your upper limit of what you can keep threat on AND not die from is about 3 to 4 mobs. Any more than that and your paultry level 16 quest greens will not save you. If you encounter casters, learn to pull them around a corner so that they have to run to you. When in doubt, always pull back a few yards so that dying mobs wont pull friends.

10. Learn when to leave a group. Normally I don’t advice people to throw in the towel and leave four others stranded, but I have come to learn from my own experiences tanking. Sometimes, you just have to apologize and leave a bad group. Sometimes, people cannot learn and will not close their mouths. For your own sanity, learn to recognize a group of ignorant, rude, incompetent people and politely bow out. Let the next tank who comes try to sort out the mage who runs ahead and pulls ten packs, the healer who tries to DPS, and the warrior who taunts off you every pull. It isn’t worth the headache on your part if you’re just starting out. Tanking can be a lot of fun and very rewarding, but you have to take steps to ensure that it is! If you play the game to have fun, don’t hang around people who arent. It’s that simple.

And finally, if you find yourself in a great group, ask if they want to run again.

 

Druid Leveling 4.1 — 30-40

As you progress through your 30s your rotation will start to look a little bit more like what it will be at level 85.

Balance druids in particular will get a shake-up with the Eclipse mechanic. It’s not truly important to your DPS right now to adhere to Eclipse’s procs, but it will be at higher levels, so practice as best you can. Trash still dies so fast in dungeons I find I only have time to cast Moonfire and Insect swarm and maybe Wrath once before they’re dead. The key to Eclipse is to keep your meter moving as quickly as possible to the opposite end. The tracker will always start in the center. If you cast Starfire it will move towards the sun; casting Wrath will move it towards the moon. Starsurge will contribute to whichever direction the meter was currently moving. When the meter hits either the sun or the moon, you will gain an Eclipse effect. A solar eclipse (meter hits the sun) will empower your Wrath spell, so cast that exclusively (with Starsurge, of course). A lunar eclipse (meter hits the moon) will empower your Starfire spell, so cast that. Again, most things die too fast to really give you a sense of how the meter should work, but on longer boss fights the mechanic really shines. For questing it’s almost moot. Both DoTs and a few Wraths usually kill things for me, eclipse or no eclipse. Typhoon is a fun spell in that it knocks enemies back. Good for solo questing, bad for dunegons (unless all hell broke loose and the tank is dead anyway) because the knockback effect makes tanks very angry. Don’t use it in dungeons.

Kitties have the most abilities, but the simplest rotation for the moment. Mangle to apply the debuff, Rake to apply the bleed, Mangle until dead. Quest mobs and most dungeon trash die fast enough that you will not have time to rack up points for a Ferocious Bite, but for boss fights, you will want to gain four or five combo points to use with Bite. Keep Rake’s bleed up at all times. Swipe if there are multiple mobs in a pull. At this point whether or not you open from stealth is a matter of personal preference. If you choose to stealth between mobs, whether questing or running dungeons, use Ravage to open your attacks. In dungeons, though, groups move so fast and things die so quickly that I find stealth just hinders my contributions.

Bears should be having little trouble with threat right now, with Swipe and a glyphed Maul at their disposal. Charge your target and Swipe immediately if more than two mobs. Establishing threat early is important, as inevitably your DPS have all selected separate targets. Mangle your main target, Swipe on cooldown so long as three or more targets remain alive. Glyphed Maul will hold two targets. If you don’t have the glyph, Swipe is your only option. Maul single/double targets, Swipe three or more.

Healing druids will find themselves in the midst of a dry spell for many more levels. No new spells, no new toys, just three basic heals and one “oh shit” button. And truthfully, we don’t need much more than that. Keep Rejuvenation on the tank at all times (it’s mitigation will keep you from having to spam larger heals most of the time) and use it to top off any DPS who gets smacked around. Regrowth should still be used sparingly when the tank needs a big heal, and its HoT combined with Rejuvenation’s HoT is a powerful force. Nourish will fill in the gaps where Rejuvenation isn’t quite strong enough. If all goes well, you’ll be spending the majority of your mana on Rejuvenation.

Level 31:

Naught but a talent point, move along…move along.

Level 32:

Bash is a bear ability used to stun an opponent for a few seconds. I use it primarily to interrupt spells or heals, but it is nice just to spare yourself the extra damage you might otherwise take. Bosses are generally immune to being stunned, so dont waste the cooldown.

Pounce is fun if you prefer to open from stealth while in cat form. Again, I still feel like it’s more efficient to attack unstealthed while questing and instancing, but you have options now if you would like to creep around in stealth.

Track Humanoids requires you to be in cat form. It works the same way any hunter tracking spell works: the tracked target will show up on your minimap. Combined with prowl, this can be quite useful in locating quest mobs or rare spawns in places like caves or barracks.

Level 33:

Just a talent point here.

Level 34:

Nothing new here, either. You’ll start seeing dry spells like this more frequently as you progress into higher levels, considering you’ve already learned a good chunk of the spells and abilities you’ll learn.

Level 35:

More nothingness.

Level 36:

Swipe (cat form) is the only multi-target attack you’ll get as a kitty.

Level 37:

Nothing at all.

Level 38:

Nothing…again. Sensing a pattern?

Level 39:

Keep moving towards 40.

Level 40:

Ah, at last. It feels like a long haul with so few new abilities, but get used to it…especially if you plan to heal. Level 40 may not be the epic achievement it was back in the early days of WoW, but it’s still no small feat. You’ll earn your epic riding skill finally, and be well on your way to bigger and better things.

The only new skill you’ll learn is actually a passive ability for bears. Savage Defense is basically a damage reduction ability that has a 50% chance to occur whenever you critically hit with Mangle or Maul. Not exciting for level 40, but still better than nothing.

 

Now is a good time to go back and acquire any glyphs you may be needing, rearrange your current talent points if you’ve the need, grab a second spec, etc.

 

I will make the push to 50 as fast as I can. In the interim, I may be writing a guide for your first 16 talent points to fill in the gap.

Druid Leveling 4.1 — 10-20

Presumably you have reached level ten and spent your first talent point responsibly (you have, haven’t you? Maybe this will give you some encouragement). I’m going to assume you’re rarin’ to get back to the leveling grind, so without further ado, let’s address the next ten levels.

Levels 10 through 20 will help you flesh out your druid in regards to his/her chosen spec. Healers will gain more potent heals, balance druids and kitties will add more attacks to their arsenal, and bears will begin to come into their own on the tanking scene. Though it seems like a long haul, the next ten levels will fly by in seconds, so hold on and try not to get carsick.

Level 11:

No new spells. Whether you decided to spec resto or balance, you rotation still hasn’t changed much. You should be using starfire to pull (recall that its longer cast time makes it difficult to get off when you’re having your face beaten in) and entangling roots to keep mobs at bay. Apply moonfire for the DoT and wrath until dead. Kitties will mangle and rake things to death, using ferocious bite if you have 2-3 combo points and the mob isn’t dead yet. Regardless of spec, things seem to die faster and easier if you’re in cat form. If you find yourself having difficulty casting things to death, give cat a try.

Level 12:

Your utility as a healer just skyrocketed. Both Regrowth and Revive will be handy tools once you begin dungeon crawling (if that tickles your fancy). Regrowth is also a top contender in high level healing, because of its HoT effect, which couples nicely with Swiftmend. More on that later. For now, use regrowth if you’re in need of a fast burst of healing, perhaps if you find yourself outnumbered while questing. Revive’s utility will kick in later, once you begin grouping with others.

Level 13:

Nothing new here, either. Continue on.

Level 14:

Carry on. Nothing here but the final push to level 15, and the dungeon finder.

Level 15:

Oh thank God. Finally. If you’re anything like me, you just spent 14 levels bouncing and twitching and fiddling because you wanted to be running instances, not running around questing. If you’re anything like me, you have a disturbing obsession with leveling via the dungeon finder. If you’re anything like me, you just heaved a huge sigh of relief, mentally high-fived yourself, and blew a big fat raspberry at your quest log.

Level 15 brings with it several very important additions to a druid’s arsenal, most notably of which is bear form. Not only have you unlocked the dungeon finder, but you can also queue as a tank. If you plan on leveling as feral, this is a very happy day. If you don’t, well, you have one more pretty form to fart around in.

But before we start discussing bear form in any depth, let me first advise you this: don’t tank yet.

No, seriously. Don’t. You have a very limited array of abilities afforded to you, none of which offer AoE threat. Your first foray into a dungeon as a tank will be a nightmare (unless you are ridiculously pro, but if you were you would not be reading this). Mobs will peel off you left and right, you’ll fight everyone and their grandma for aggro, and you’ll end up pulling your teeth out within ten minutes. Take a chill pill and put tanking on the back burner until level 18, when you will gain Swipe and your troubles will be (mostly) solved.

But now, bear form. Bear form is the tanking form. If you tank, you will be in this form. Do not touch cat form for tanking. Do not. Any tank who tries to sell you the “cat form is better for trash DPS” or some such line is full of bullshit and should be shot. Got it? Okay. Bear form comes equipped with 3 abilities right out of the box: Demoralizing Roar, Growl, and Maul. Roar is a debuff that affects all targets nearby with a damage reducing spell. It’s key to reducing incoming damage when you’re being beat to death. Growl is a taunt. If something is not attacking you and you want it to be, use Growl. Maul is your standard “threat” attack. Use maul when you have enough rage in order to keep the target focused on you.

It’s all very simple, and as such is quite limited right now. Again, I don’t recommend you queue as a tank until level 18, but if you’re super pro or super brave (or super stupid), you will be using the above three abilities to manage threat and keep people alive. Best of luck.

You also learn the spell Teleport: Moonglade. It’s use is also limited, but a creative druid knows he can use it as a sort of second hearth stone for free and limitless access to northern Kalimdor (which is invaluable in some circumstances).

I’m going to go on a quick tangent here for those of you who are dungeon-hungry and give a brief explanation of what your “rotation” should look like while in a group.

Restoration: Druid healing is about preventative measures, not last minute mega-heals. Keep Rejuvenation rolling on the tank while he takes active damage. If he’s taking more damage than Rejuve can negate, hit him with Nourish. Use Regrowth sparingly; it’s a major mana hog. It should only be used when you need a very fast, powerful heal. Use Swiftmend as an “oh shit” button when someone is about to bite the dust and you need to pop off something instantly. Swiftmend requires the target in question to have a Rejuve/Regrowth HoT on them; and that’s why we keep Rejuve on that tank at all times.

Balance: Keep Moonfire up on the target and spam wrath. That’s…pretty much it. Most trash will die too quickly for your DoT to really take effect, but it’s good practice and doesn’t hurt you. Change it up with Starfire if you want, but Wrath is faster, which is a bonus considering trash will die in seconds. Use Starsurge on cooldown. Want a faster queue time? At this level you’re perfectly capable of healing, and no one in Ragefire Chasm gives a damn if the healer is actually a boomkin.

Bear: Like we talked about above, you’re at a disadvantage in the tanking arena. Most low level DPS don’t give a damn if you have aggro or not, and will pull at random with no regard to your efforts, so be prepared to fight for threat. A bear needs rage to generate threat, but cannot generate rage if he is not being pummeled. Growl to get initial aggro, then use Mangle for quick threat and Maul when you have sufficient rage. Use Roar when you have several mobs on you just to keep their damage down. Pray.

Kitties: Mangle. Mangle. Mangle. Manglemanglemanglemangle. Rake, if it looks like your target will live longer than five seconds. For bosses, apply Mangle, then Rake (since Mangle increases the damage of any bleed on the target, and Rake is a bleed), then Mangle until you have a few combo points, and Bite.

Level 16:

Travel form and Aquatic form. Travel form saw more use in the early days of WoW, back when your first mount didnt come until level 40 and you had to traverse the world on foot. Now it’s a tad less useful, seeing as four levels from now you will purchase your first mount. But that’s still four levels you don’t have to spend running on foot. Aquatic form increases your swim speed, which is marginally useful if you find yourself needing to swim a great distance. It also allows you to breathe underwater, which in my opinion is its greatest asset. I mostly use it as a breath refresh when killing things under water.

Level 17:

Nothing new here.

Level 18:

Swipe! Swipe is your only multi-target threat tool while tanking, and will be for a long time yet. Use it when you have more than one mob attacking you. If you’ve been holding off on tanking since level 15, now is the time to change that. Good luck!

Level 19:

Nothing new here, either. Keep pushing for level 20.

Level 20:

You made it! In addition to getting your first mount, you’ll also earn yourself a few new spells to play with.

Insect Swarm will now be added to the rotation if you’re a balance druid. Keep both Insect Swarm and Moonfire active on your target.

Omen of Clarity is a passive spell that will sometimes trigger from your attacks or spells, allowing you to cast/attack once for free each time. Handy for any spec.

Rebirth is the druid’s signature ability (although now those stinky Death Knights have it too). It allows you to bring a fallen comrade back to life while still in combat. Use it to bring back someone of importance; don’t waste it on a DPS who stood in the fire. If things go haywire and people are dying, a well-timed, well-aimed battle rez can save the group. Tanks and healers should be your priority.

A Journey to Moonglade

Druids receive their first class-specific quest at level 20. Speak with a druid trainer in your capital city to acquire “A Journey to Moonglade” and use Teleport: Moonglade to get there. Speak with Loganaar when you arrive and accept the quest “The Circle’s Future”. You will be required to step foot in Shadowfang Keep if you want to complete this. The rewards are two very nice staves, itemized for any spec. Hit up the dungeon finder and good luck. You will need to kill Lord Walden (the fourth boss) for his elixirs. The sinew can be looted off the undead at the start of the instance, and the wood is found just inside the courtyard area after the first boss as well as inside the kitchen area just beyond.

A Learning Experience

It would be hard to tank something and not learn anything. I think tanking by definition is a learning curve steep enough to knock down those who cannot climb it. You don’t tackle Everest with a protein bar and a pair of tennis shoes. There is a lot of very strenuous work that goes in to a venture like that. And if you don’t succeed the first time, odds are you won’t try again. Everest kills people. Bad tanks do too.

So I have endeavored not to be a bad tank. I don’t care about being the best. I’m a tree, I heal, I strive to be the best healer I can possibly be. But tanking is sort of a hobby. I go to work as a tree, come home and change out of my clothes and lounge around as a bear. I started tanking at level 70 in the Burning Crusade. I didn’t enjoy it but it was kind of expected of a feral druid. No one wanted kitties piddling around; they wanted bears who could tank. Peer pressure (oddly enough what lead me to healing) made me a tank. It wasn’t for very long and I haven’t touched it since.

Until recently. I don’t know why. Call me a glutton for punishment. I like being “important”. I like the feeling of knowing that I am contributing. I’m sure most people do. Whether you’re a pure DPS person or a healer or a tank, reasonable people like to contribute to the best of their ability. I think part of what lead me to tanking again is that “ability” no longer has any bearing on my healing. I can suck all I want and my gear will get a haphazard group through any heroic. That’s all fine and dandy, but the challenge is gone and I enjoyed that challenge. Hear tell it’s going to be challenging again in Cataclysm, but my lazy ass hasn’t updated the beta in several weeks. Blame school.

Tanking, however, is my fairly neglected off-spec which means that it isn’t as easy. My gear is mediocre (a very strange mix of ilevels that range from Ulduar to ICC). I started collecting it at random out of boredom. My skill level is about as eclectic. I have tanked all over the place at all levels on all classes…but not seriously. I never raided as a tank. Healing was scary enough my first time! Having my little bear nose an inch from some bad guy’s crotch is a hair-raising experience that, to me, isn’t considered in the realm of “fun and relaxing”. But it’s challenging. I’m not a master at it. I can learn something. (Let it never be said I think I have learned all I can about healing. Bull. Shit.)

So I put on my tanking shorts (it’s a dress, really…) and ran a few guildies through their daily allotment of random heroics. Ow. I learned things. Things I would not have learned from my guild because, desite our banter in guild chat, we’re a group of reasonably fair and experienced individuals who don’t go out of our way to harass people. Your random pugged player, however…not so much.

And there are a plethora of very skilled, very nice players out there. I assume they are a minority, though, when the vast droves of people I encounter in the LFG system are jerks. I’m talking jerks who pull aggro, jerks who won’t watch threat, jerks who don’t wait for a tank to pull. Jerks who, unlike my pleasant and mild-mannered guildmates, are ruthless in their resolve to finish each random heroic as fast as possible in a balls-out sprint to the final boss. It’s an exceptionally frustrating atmosphere that leaves me feeling like a failure. Frazzled and annoyed and ready to condemn everyone who isn’t me.

I have learned, though.

Swipe is somehow a very effective threat tool. I discovered that I can hold a group of mobs more effectively just spamming swipe than I can trying to tab target and Lacerate and Maul and what have you. It is my understanding that bears are not really meant to be AoE threat tanks. This confuses me at times, as I am very used to playing my paladin tank right now. Where is my consecrate?! Why are mobs running lose? Where the hell is my shield!? Augh.

Snap aggro seems to be a mite weak as well. Swipe, sure, or pull with a taunt…but I feel like bears are missing an opening attack (something similar to Avenger’s Shield) that immediately ramps up threat and glues things to you like grotesque ornaments. It is very likely I simply haven’t figured bear out yet. Hell, I’ll be right up front about it: I have no freaking idea what I’m doing. I just hit buttons that seem appropriate in the order that makes the most sense and pray no one mega-crits right off the bat.

The most horrid thing is when the LFG system, in its infinite and unquestionable wisdom, decides I am geared and skilled enough to tank one of the ICC instances. Seriously. My gear may suggest that I am competent, but let me straighten this up right now: I’m not! I’m about a competent at tanking as Elmo would be if you set his little fuzzy hands on the keyboard and mashed buttons. I panic very easily. If something comes up behind my big bear butt, I freak out. If the healer takes one hit, I mash challenging roar. I forget about bash entirely. I’m a mess.

Simple, easy heroic instances are no problem. ICC heroics make me wish I had worn a diaper before queuing. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest to heal them. I think it can be agreed upon that even seriously over-geared healers need to pay attention in the ICC five-man heroics. They are not quite the faceroll that other heroics ended up being after obtaining tier 10 gear. I think the difference between healing and tanking them (for me) is that I know exactly what I’m doing as a healer. This happens, which means I have to do this, resulting in this. It’s a clear, quick thought process that results in a heal. Tanking, though, is seventy different thought processes all screaming DO THIS! in little Mickey Rooney* voices, all contradicting each other. I can’t sit there methodically going through each scenario to test it out while the group I’m supposed to be shielding is being beaten to a bloody mess. I have to react. And I do. And it’s the wrong reaction. And someone dies. And I learn.

So what I’m getting at is I’m a tank in training. I’m going to fail. I’m enjoying doing something that is not my forte. It is not easy. I’m not over-geared or overpowered. Some people recognize this and are courteous and watch their threat and mind their manners. Others don’t. PUGs are a cruel environment to learn in – which is partly why I am pushing my paladin tank through as many as possible – but they result in one very simple and highly under-valued thing: growth.

PUG people are so impatient and so quick to judge, you cannot succeed if you cannot learn. If the wipe was your fault, you’ll know about it from four other people. And you have one chance to learn and live, or you’re considered a failure and booted from the group. It’s harsh, it’s almost unfair, but if you can’t learn…what are you doing playing what is essentially a learning-based game?


*It should be noted that anyone who hears Mickey Rooney’s voice in their head is quite insane.