Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Tank Who Apologized

It was my 26th run in Oculus. I had stolen myself some 20 minutes of game time in one of our offnights and my mission was clear: to grab those two frost emblems as soon as possible, taking me one tiny step further towards my tier set.

"I wonder who's going to tank this group?", I thought to myself as we buffed up and my eyes quickly hovered over the player pictures.

There's supposed to be a smallish icon over every portrait telling us, but for some reason my UI eats the symbol for everyone but me, so I have to figure it out for myself. Normally I can at least distinguish the tank through the health bar, but not this time. There wasn't anyone sporting 40-45 k health as there normally is in the groups I'm tossed into. I only saw two possible candidates - one DK and one warrior, both at about 25 k hp. But before I came around starting to inspect them, the DK, who had a gearscore of 3 000, spoke up:

"You're all free to leave now".

? What do you mean?

"Yeah, I've just dinged 80 and I know that my gear lacks a bit so I understand completely if you leave, no hard feelings."

Admittedly I only had 20 minutes and not all night at my hands. There wasn't really any time for trial and error or drake flying lessons, so I asked him if he had done Oculus before on some other character. And it turned out that he had - and not on just "any" character, but on his prot pala and feral druid. This was his third tanking character! And yet - here he was, apologizing.

I'm glad to say that not a single one in the group bailed out. We told him that this would work fine and of course it did. As a matter of fact it was one of the smoothest out of the 26 runs I've had there. We just had to give him a couple of seconds in each pull, but after that he had no problems whatsoever to tank anything. I could even fall into my modern habits of going nuts, sprinkling blizzard all over the place. The mobs were like glued on him. We didn't have a single death, not a single mistake in the whole run. And no one uttered those words that I despise so much, that make me cringe and immediately sucks out the fun in the game: "ffs", "gogogo". We ran Oculus in complete harmony with this blue geared tank. Halfway through someone said: "yawn" and I couldn't but agree. We finished it with several minutes to go for the speed achievement.

Adjusting to stupidity
But what leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth was the fact that he felt compelled to apologize for who he was in the first place.

"He was just fishing for compliments" said a more cynical guildie of mine as I shared my experience. But I beg to differ. This wasn't that kind of guy. To me it seemed that he was only adjusting to the stupidity that reigns in the golden days of Gear Score The DK didn't want to be bullied and deserted. By apologizing he could take control over the situation and somehow preserve his dignity.

Maybe he even saw it as an opportunity to get rid some seriously ignorant players, the kind of players who rather would take a 15 min debuff than take a chance with a tank that required them to check their threat meter every now and then. Offering them the alternative to leave was his way of weeding out the trash. Perhaps.

Still I must say that it's weird how far things have gone when not only new players, but also a truly experienced, solid tank like he will start doing this kind of apology rant in the beginning of every instance. (I wouldn't be surprised if it was a macro he had taken the habit to use.)

This tank may have lacked hp, but he had an abundance of the true core stat of a tank: deep knowledge of the tanking role. It doesn't show in armory and it doesn't show in any addon. It shows in performance. But that's something that those instant bailing cowards will never recognize.

As we bid farewell I said that I hoped we'd meet again. And I really meant it.


Klepsacovic said...

He was being helpful beyond mere warning of his health. He was telling you that aggro would not be instant and unlimited, and so it would be in your best interests to be a bit more careful. He was keeping you alive.

But beyond that, this story reveals something important: tanking is more than mere gear stacking. It is a skill set, a mindset.

Can you imagine a DPS saying their gear is a little lacking? A healer, perhaps. They, and tanks, are tied to the group and are little without it. A good tank realizes that he is essential, and so is the group, and so he creates a symbiotic relationship. And as with any good relationship, communication is important.

Of course this also is a history lesson, a reminder that this is what we once wore. An single epic was overgeared! Blues were overachievement. Ah, simpler times, before the inflation and madness.

Kromus said...

Reminds me of my shaman, He had a green totem which must of dropped my gearscore by alot, plus my other blues- and I decided to go to ony 10. I did have Epics which balanced it out though, but, oh no. Gearscore says otherwise :3

Funnily enough, a hunter said "DO we reallllly, really, want a someone lower then 200gs?"

nobody answered.

Defeated, he then arrogantly linked everybodys Gearscore. Mine was 199, everybody elses was 210-220. Still, the RL was releived to have found a healer at the late time it was, and let me stay.

Guess who 'won' the healing done and lowest on overhealing.

I hate gearscore. It should go away. Its fair that Pugs have a way to distinguish bad gear from good, but you've got to give people a chance first.

Cap'n John said...

I dinged 40 on my Pally and picked up some Plate pieces before Tanking RFD, and only when Amnennar had fallen did I let my group know it had been my first Tanking run.

After that, I never bothered clueing anyone in that I wasn't a mewbie experienced Tank.

Brian Inman said...

This story definitely proves how overrated Gearscore really is. It is not the gear, but the player who makes the difference.

spinksville said...

Probably he'd had experience of groups who will be nasty to the tank if they don't have enough health/gear. And some people do check this when they zone in.

A lot of people are just not interested in adjusting their play to the group they are in. This I have noticed. But the good players do AND they don't whine about it.

tankforlife said...

Aye it can be an absolute turndown to leap into heroics as a low-gear tank until you buy your first two t9, then the rest.
Then again the pros like this DK-alt will tank almost in the same manner with 25k health or 45k health, and they will know what to expect.

Shintar said...

We live in strange times in regards to tanking.

Yesterday I had a heroic OK run with a tank who pulled speedily but always stopped if the healer needed mana or someone needed a res or more health after having done something stupid. He never left anyone behind in an urge to rush ahead, he never berated anyone for doing low dps or dying. And he went for all the bosses, in the oh-so-hated OK.

I was so blown away, I almost went and created an alt on his server just to tell him how awesome he was. Only then I realised that I basically wanted to thank him for *simply doing his job properly and felt a bit silly*, but it's telling when someone simply playing well feels like an extraordinary blessing.

Miss Medicina said...

Hey, didn't you say something about how people don't enjoy good pug stories as much?

Because this has been my favorite pug story in a very long time.

When someone apologizes when they first get into the instance because they don't think they are up to par... I immediately get defensive on their behalf.

"I'm the healer. I will protect you. Heroics are more for you than they are for me - let's get you some gear!"

Daergel said...

I had a similar experience in PoS last night, but I was the tank who had just been vote kicked, and the lfd put me back in PoS, though luckily not with the same group. We didn't finish the instance, but I had a better experience 2nd time around because I had told the group that I had just been vote kicked, literally minutes previously, from the same instance. I have written about it on my blog :)

Carra said...

Isn't it ridiculous to ask that a tank has 40 a 45k hp for an old heroic?

A tank with 25k a 30k ran those instances without problems one year ago. There is no reason why the same can not be done today.

tufva said...

I have been levelling a new alt, so have been going into instances from lvl 15. It's amazing that even at that level some people are complete asshats to others.

But then you also meet people like the tank in Razorfen Kraul. He was fine, if the groups were too big you'd often see a couple slip past to go for the healer, but he'd usually haul them back. After we had an incident with a runner where we had to fight sooo many mobs in one go (and we all lived I hasten to add) - he says: "Can I ask a question?". Everyone says sure. "Am I a good tank?" "This is my first time tanking." Awww, bless! Everyone assured him that he was doing just fine and offered the odd tip on things to keep an eye out for and it was a really smooth and enjoyable run.
There are others like that that I have also encountered in my random low level instances - it kind of restores your faith in people. :-)

Khaelie said...

I'm so glad you didn't bail on this tank (not that i think you would ever do that) and we got to hear this great story. I have personally never dropped a group and never initiated a vote kick (i only voted yes on one and that particular person deserved it - even as top damage on every pull - he was a complete asshat)... i guess i am just a softie. it is nice to hear that the LFD system is not so dysfunctional after all.

Matojo said...

Heh, this is also now my favourite PuG story.

Guthammer said...

I just hope that the new RDF doesn't blow up all the work Blizzard has done to make tanking more accessible.

I hope that most tanks who just ding 80 have tanked instances leveling up and won't have their desire to tank crushed by the first group they get into kicking them for their damned gear score. The barriers to entry are high enough as is, adding that kind of psychological pressure does the game no good.

Holly said...

I've been seeing a trend with this. Which in the end baffles me, everyone seems to complain about a shortage of tanks, but then nobody is willing to put up with an undergeared or underknowledged tank.

When wrath first launched I remember my paladin jumping for joy when it broke 25k hp and -might- be able to tank naxx. I'd been tanking heroics a while but I was finally geared enough to offtank naxx!

The sheer pressure even for dps to already way outgear the content so you can zerg everything is immense. I've seen 2k dps kicked out of nexus because their dps was too low, I immediately left group because well, it's -nexus- 2k is fine. Heroics are how we all got gear, and how you get gear now, just now you can't even enjoy upgrades from the instances themselves you have chain them until you get the 80 billion badges for the gear that's 'good enough' and the upgrades you actually get from heroic are usually so trivial until you get a high enough gear score to get into ToC and the ICC5's.

I remember when my DK started tanking, I had 30k hp, and accidently pulled 3 pats in Ankahet, oh I was very squishy, and very screwed. I went splat....and the healler apologgized. The healler apologized for me pulling more than I could handle. I have to admit I don't like this attitude that dps can never be at fault, and it's the tanks fault if there's threat issue, and the healler's fault if someone dies for any reason other than threat no matter what's happening.

Larísa said...

: oh yeah, that symbiotic relationship... Actually I'm a bit envious about it. I've realized how strong it is as I've done a few instances on my druid as resto.
About our epic gear... the question is: are we having more fun wearing it than we had when we did the instances in blues?

@Kromus: I'm not dogmatic about Gear score. I think Spinksville had some points when she argued about the use of it. It's not easy to quickly make a judgement when you're putting together a pug raid. But I've heard there are better tools for it such as Elitiste group. However it's very much misused in the daily dungeons. And people are setting up silly minimum standars.

@Cap'n John: When I'm on my druid healer I actually tell them I'm new, it's mostly directed to the tanks, to make him understand that pulling multiple packs might not be the best idea.

@Brian Inman: yep. I wish there was a way to tell on beforehand though.

: Actually the need for adjustment made the instance more interesting than it otherwise would have been. You couldn't afford to be careless.

: I felt sorry for him when there didn't drop anything useful. But he just laughed and said that he planned to do tons of pugs and soon enough would have full T9 set. But still I don't think the difference would be that huge going with him in 5-mans before or after the gearing up. The top gear isn't necessary there. At least not if you know your stuff.

@Shintar: It sounds like this tank. But yeah, I guess we're not spoiled with it since we get so surprised when it happens...

@Miss Medicina: oh thank you! I guess this was an exception to the rule then :)
And yeah, I felt the same. I would have been pretty upset and disappointed if someone had left and I was really happy to see him succeed. Not for me but for him.

@Daergel: well, one step at a time. Next time I hope you'll clear it all!

@Carra: it really is. But people get used to it, which makes them play terribly bad.

@Tufva: yeah, I hate that people want to zerg instances even on alts that are NOT overgered lvl 80s in full epic... It's as if they've completely forgotten what those intances were like.

@Khaelie: well... I've votekicked players twice, but both times for good reasons. Kicking someone for having a little low hp is plain stupid.

@Matojo: thank you!

: yeah, we definitely should take care of the new, upcoming tanks. No one gets happier if they get fed up with stupidity and turn into yet another dps.

@Holly: yeah... expecting people to be overgeared and doing tons and tons of dps... and still people say they're bored because everything is too easy. It doesn't quite make sense to me.

The healer thing is probably some instinct. At least I feel it when I'm healing. I always feel horribly guilty if I lose someone - no matter if it was self inflicted or not. I can't help regarding it as a failure

Fremskritt said...

I wish I had the guts of that tank, whenever I try tanking I am too afraid to admit I'm new. That is a bad sign for the game, because if being new is seen as bad by the community there will be a large turnover where new players start playing, get told they're bad for being newbies and then quit. And in the meantime the "oldtimer" playerbase slowly dwindles.

For this very reason I try my best to help people who have the guts to ask questions, to show them that not everybody is an asshat, but I am reluctant to just go out and offer help without being asked for it, due to too many experiences with people who react violently to any hint that they aren't "best".

This problem goes both ways it seems, and Blizzard can't code around human behaviour.

Anonymous said...

When I first started gearing my healer, I would let the groups know I was a bit undergeared if the heroic would be tough for me (ToC and up). I sometimes got the "Yeah you're bad, just go" and that was fine with me. They didn't need me like a lesser geared group might have, and those were the groups I wanted.

Now that my gear is raid-worthy, I always hope to get groups with those who really need those drops and emblems. I've even had groups with squishy tanks and low dps who were relieved I stuck with them. And my response is always the same: I'm your healer as long as you're my teammates. That sense of cooperation has become so rare that it's truly a delight when I find it.

Ruhtra said...

I am starting to feel like an evil healer now. I will leave a group immediately if I do not like what I see. Sometimes this may be group make-up, sometimes it may be due to the conversation of the group as I enter, and other times it may be that I do not feel like carrying a group.

I am always respectful in that I do not say negative things, but I view it as I did not select to be a group lead/guide, so I do not feel obligated to stay if I feel uncomfortable with any particular member of the group.

I find it hard to believe that I am the only person who feels this way. Then again, I also refuse to run heroics with my Rogue as I know his DPS and gear is way below what is expected of him, so I suppose it just comes down to personality.

Klepsacovic said...

Larisa, you've left me something to ponder.

The Gnome of Zurich said...

Oh hell, if a tank is good and in blues, you don't even really need to worry too much about the threat meter unless you not only have lots of gear but also are pretty good. This is assuming you are good enough not to focus fire the wrong mob.

4k dps? no problem holding against that in blues. 5k? maybe, depending on buffs. 6k+, probably not in a heroic without an ideal buff combination. I don't see 6k+ very often in pug heroics though.

Back before everyone was sporting t9 in old heroics, while I was gearing up my bear in 3.0/3.1 (I was late to the wrath party), when pugging, I would often finish #1 in dps and damage done, with hardly any epic gear. I never had a problem holding for people in my guild's progression raids (or the server top guild many of whose players I knew) who were in all the latest raid gear at the time and knew how to dps.

Guthammer said...


I haven't dropped any groups because of composition.

The threshold for performance in i200 instances is so low for the t9+ crowd that I haven't seen a instance group that failed because of composition from the dungoen finder. Asshattery or inability yes, but that isn't something that achievements will show. Or anything besides a pull or 2 or more.

If you have a low geared DPS, who cares who cares, you probably have one 5k+ GS DPS anyway.

Blue geared tank? If you don't heal for them, and gear them up who will? Do you think think all the T9+ tanks will queue forever? That we won't finish our primary and secondary gear sets? That there will be attrition at the top so that the only way to increase the tanking population is by bringing up the new guys?

So many players have multiple 80s that I really assume behind that newbie 80 you have a player who has done this before.

And if its a new player who just hit 80, do you think your bailing on them, no matter how warm and fuzzily put, will make them think better of the community? Make them more likely to keep on paying for the game?

Anonymous said...

As a new tank ready to enter instances, I have been fearful to even enter the LFG system - I mean why do I even want to put up with other people's venom when I'm doing the best I can but am still just learning. People seem to forget that tanking is not like DPS (I know because I've got an ICC25 Hunter) where you just point and pew-pew (and if your lucky, the said pew-pewer actually watches Omen or someother threatmeter), there is actually a rythym and skill to it which is not easily learned. Further, it always amazes me when the biggest asshats (especially the ones on your home server) who leave group, /spit on the tank, etc., are the same ones flexing their e-peen in Dalaran, doing nothing but talking in tradechat and complaining of being bored. Uhm, duh, you just had a perfect opportunity to recruit a future tank for your guild and you decided to /vk her out of the group so you could hurry up and go stand around doing nothing - go figure. The best part is I try to maintain anonymity amongst my characters....nothing quite like being on my hunter and seeing aforementioned server asshats and, ahem, accidentally misdirecting to them in a nice, big 25-man PUG. Revenge can be sweet!

gnomeaggedon said...

I'm with MM. You write a post saying you can't sell a good news story and then follow up with an excellent one.

My experiences as both dps and heals generally show I have more work to do with 40k tanks than 23k tanks.

The 40k tanks get lazy, the 23's work hard.

Meanwhile dps expects that they can unload with the 40k, but take care with the 23k.

Anonymous said...

I don't like people who apologize in a party unless they screwed something up. apologizing in advance is annoying and makes me wonder why you joined my party in the first place then. either you think you can do it or don't join, simple.

Chev said...

''those words that I despise so much, that make me cringe and immediately sucks out the fun in the game: "ffs", "gogogo".'

This really hit home for me. My main is a bear tank, MT in ICC25 several times a week. Great guild, friendly people who help each other.

Joined a random pug today for the 2 x frost, and got exactly what you quoted Larísa. The shaman started running ahead and pulling the groups to me. The rogue died, the healer was struggling a little. I let the shaman tank until he was low on health, then gathered the mobs up, saying politely, 'let me pull please'. He abused me, as did his guildmate. Really hateful stuff.

I'm not a slow tank, but I don't pull half the instance either. I have several 80's and know how to play, my most recent main was a priest healer, so I watch the healers mana to make sure they can keep up before pulling again. I give them an innervate if they struggle.

I felt like dropping group but couldn't do it to the nice people in the group, so finished and put the two assholes (sorry) on /ignore. But it left me angry afterwards. I love tanking but some pugs make me want to never tank pugs again.

I wish there was some way to remove some 'human rep' from those people so that it has in-game consequences, like it does in real life. They no doubt do the same thing in their next pug...grrrr. A normally nice bear is enraged by these idiots >.<