Now, I ran a Heroic HoL today. We had two wipes--not even on the last boss. In the first FIFTEEN MINUTES. Literally, we were going great, beat the first boss with his +35% damage boost up for the achievement, and cruised through the mass-of-slags before Volkhan.
Or so I thought. I tanked him up on the landing above the staircase, between the two packs of elites, like I had an easy dozen times before. Somehow, both packs of elite adds had been pulled. I can usually handle such a situation, and my group mates did admirably. I used Challenging Shout, rounded them up, and used Shockwave, which had just come off cooldown. The rogue used Tricks of the Trade on me and Fan of Knives, giving me loads of threat. Yet we still died.
Then, on a pull of 3 elites, a patrol of 2 also pulled. I taunted one and used Heroic Throw on the other, but it still went after the healer, who somehow had enough healing aggro to outdo the Heroic Throw. He died. Did I have other options? Maybe. I do believe that Charge was on cooldown, and I know Intervene was. I didn't use them. I expected him to heal himself, however. His HP wasn't dropping that fast. He's a mail-wearer with a shield and a moderately sized healthpool. I would expect a mage to drop that quickly, not a resto shaman.
So why did he die? He was well-geared, so it wasn't that. He was... moderately skilled, so it wasn't that.
He died because he was typing "i have aggro"--and I guess he wasn't that fast a typer.
Then I got a really annoying situation of this resto shaman trying to lead the group by saying really obvious things "pull that pack" while I'm charging into it, or "mob" as I've already taunted it towards me. Not to mention the OTHER shaman, elemental, literally did blame me for the issues involved. Both shamans were in the same guild, and spent the whole time talking about how they hated that people had come from another guild (incidentally, my old guild which disbanded) and had taken raid spots (specifically the raid spot of the Resto Shaman)
Now here is the opportunity I have to go on a rant about how my people were more skilled than their people and that it's concieted to spend a straight 5 minutes between bosses talking about how awesome your dps is (5.2k)* and how you always get 4th on the meters.
I won't, though. Instead I will tell all of you this:
PuGs are not fun. They are not fun to heal, they probably are not really fun to DPS. They are definitely unenjoyable to tank. WHY IS THIS?
- A) You've got jack to talk about. Unless you're in the same guild as someone else, whereas then you can just make the other 3 members of the group incredibly bored.
- B) It's a roulette wheel. You're taking a big chance whenever you tank one. You COULD BE LUCKY and get the rogue that knows when to Tricks you on an AoE pull and does a solid 3000-3500dps. You could be unlucky and get the annoying Elemental Shaman that talks trash about your old guildmates and complains that you're a bad tank (but still pulls a respectable 2.5k dps. You could also be lucky enough to get the retadin that doesn't say a single word the whole time (but is obviously a fresh 80 and therefore does less damage than the tank). There could be much much worse though (I've been top damage and dps by a pretty wide margin before)
- C) If someone elses sucks, it's impossibly difficult to get them to improve without coming off as a jerk.
- D) If you mess up: the group will
1) Hold a grudge
2) Threaten to leave the group (or say "You will never tank for me again"**)
3) Probably die, because you cannot really rely on them to succeed like you can your guildmates or good friends.
Now: At the start of the instance, around the time of the first boss, I was about 95% sure the whole group hated me because I didn't want to be a jerk and refute the claims made against me.
Then: By the time Loken was dead at my feet, they knew I was good and the heals were bad.
HOW DID THEY KNOW THIS?
Because I said that we could heal through the 14k lightning nova. I figured a shaman's chain heal would be very effective--and I've done it with a shaman healer before, among many other healers. It's my strategy of choice, actually.
But everyone died. First both shaman--which meant it was just me and 2 dps. Then the retadin. Finally the rogue died to the aura that Loken has (it does damage based on how far away from him you are, and you have to be far away to avoid the nova).
THUS: I was the only one standing, and Loken was at 20%--about 100k hp.
I must give the shaman props though, for after I had used my cooldowns and loken still had about 30k hitpoints left, he used his self-resurrection and gave me some solid heals.. before dying. I would have preferred him to heal himself up first, but whatever. It gave me the boost I needed to kill the boss.
But after the deed was done and we all agreed that what had transpired was an amusing combination of Epic Fail and Badassery, the rogue whispered to me "scrub heals". He knew that it wasn't my fault--he knew that I was a skilled tank.
Additionally, I learned a bit (on how to solo bosses, on how to deal with annoying people, how to handle less-than-ideal healing) from the experience***.
This is why PuGs are probably the best thing you can do to improve yourself as a tank. The daily heroic switches up every day. You might have to deal with the stationary-party (such as Violet Hold and Trial of the Champion), or you might have plenty of movement. You'll experience dozens of bosses with dozens of group compositions--and that means you can learn class strengths. PuGs are the best learning experience afforded to tanks because even if you're single-tanking a boss, the insanely good healers you have might cover for your lack of talent. The hunters and rogues with Misdirect and Tricks of the Trade might nullify your low threat generation. Even more so, if you're the offtank, the main tank can usually just cover you without even really realizing.
So here are some reasons why you should RUN PUGS:
- A tank is more effective if he knows when to call for bloodlust, or army of the dead, or knowing which classes (Warriors--ugh) generate loads of threat with no way to get rid of it. PuGs provide exposure to all the different classes, all the different compositions, and put YOU in the leadership position to call for it, exactly like a raid leader.
- A tank with a bad healer will learn how to stay more self-sufficient. I *aggressively* use lifeblood, endless healing potion, and enraged regeneration. I use shield wall at least once per boss fight, to spare the load on the healer.
- A tank with shoddy dps will learn how to maximize their own dps, using recklessness or retaliation to cover for the inability of the groupmates. It's altruistic, yes, and some might say "You should just tell them to shape the heck up or get better dps", but once you've passed through these trial-by-fires, you'll always be able to do more damage. When you're in a very talented group, it becomes more of a contributing factor instead of a key factor, and makes achievements (like Volazj's Quick Demise or Gotta Go!) easier.
- A tank that lucks into a group with insane dps will sink or swim: learn how to improve threat generation, or just revert to spamming taunt. Of course, threat is tied directly to damage done, but if you know when to call for Misdirect or Tricks (during a bloodlust is ideal), or to call for a Hunter's Feign Death, you'll be fine. That's not even mentioning vigilance: you'll learn which classes to do that to (Warriors. ugh. warriors)
- Exposure to guilds. The two shamans, like I mentioned, are in a guild where some of my old friends are in. I might just get in that guild (if I wanted to) because they now know that I'm a good tank (at least, I hope they do--and I hope the rest of their guild isn't like them). I've definitely gotten offers to tank (or even main tank) for guilds. Right now I'm satisfied just cruising, and running raids with friends that need tanks (and some of those friends I met through pugs). I do have my eye on one guild--when it's raiding corps gets set in stone, Hype R. Iom will be their MT. I wouldn't have that opportunity if one of their officers didn't do chain heroics with me one day.
So regardless of the pain, if you run pugs and learn from them, good things will happen. You'll become a better tank, and people will know it, and people will say "Hey you wanna do hardmodes on Ulduar-10 with us?".
I'm going to be a jerk and rant a bit, with the asteriks.
*Okay so this shaman got 5.2k dps in 25-man Ulduar. I don't know what elemental shaman dps is really like, and I assume it's pretty good, but suffice to say when I was doing hardmode ulduar last night, I was running with a warlock, a cat druid, a mage, and a paladin who all were doing 4-5k (ON TEN MAN!--and 2 hunters that were both doing 3.5-4.5) . Funnily enough, it's these exact people from my old guild that took the raid spots of the Annoying Resto Shaman.
I honestly do believe that the warlock that I mentioned is the best warlock (horde-side, at least) on the server. Not only does he do tops dps, he is one of the only casters I know that consistently run out of the fire. Most get tunnel vision and just hit their dps buttons--and then die. And yeah, maybe they do better dps-wise than him, but he gets higher overall because he lived the whole fight.
**LIKE I CARE. I don't. I don't care if I don't tank for you again. There's three or four thousand people on the horde side of my server... which is actually one of the lowest population servers. If you quit the group when you find out I'm tanking, then so be it. We'll find another dps.
====>That's actually another good thing about PuG tanking. You've always got a fresh start. You don't have a guild telling you "Well, you did poorly on Yogg last night so we're benching you in favor of Nubcake McNooblet"
***I'll admit, because I've done PuGs a billion times before, I didn't learn THAT much. But if it's a first time, yes you will learn a lot. I learned a bit though. Specifically group leadership, actually. I had to subtly take the reins back in hand once the shaman tried to establish control.
Silly self-righteous asterik'd ranting over.
Hope to see you the next time