A quick story to begin:
Vastant unsteadily sat on a bar stool in the Slaughtered Lamb. She liked going there in her well-earned gear. It contrasted from what she felt were the unsavory goings on in the tavern.
One drink became two, then three, then more. Suddenly, she looked up and said, “Did… did I ever tell you how I learned how to tank?”
Jarel Moor rolled his eyes. “Here we go,” he thought to himself. He glanced about the bar, seeing only the drunken mage passed out in the back of the room. Jarel sighed, then leaned on the bar with his elbow, resting his head in his palm.
Vastant leaned forward, as if she was sharing a deep secret. “I learned by being on the … hic … battlefield.”
Jarel shrugged. “That’s what I’d expect from a warrior like yourself; fighting the Horde, spilling blood.”
“Not as a warrior, you fool.” She started to slur her speech more. “I learned by healing… yesh, you should’ve seen me.”
Jarel arched his eyebrow. “But… you have no way with the healing arts, quit talking like an…”
Vastant swung her glass suddenly, knocking her hand into her shield, which clattered on the ground loudly. She didn’t notice the commotion. “‘course not… I was a druid. Green and flowers and all that damn stuff. Well, I’ll tell you one time…”
Jarel had about enough. “Just shut up, you’re not a druid!” He began to turn away from her. She spun him back around, and looked at his with half-closed eyes.
“Well, not as a warrior, yeah. Druids are shape…shifters. They can be all kinds of things, like bears and cats and…”
As she held him by his tunic, she wobbled and slumped back in her chair. Her head fell with a clunk on the bar. Jarel shook his head, looked at the pile of gold and silver, and deftly took the pile as a tidy tip.
My main problem with being a tank is that I find myself looking at everything going on, and being overwhelmed. As a healer, all I really focus on is my little space on the screen where my raid frames live. All I need to do when I’m running around healing is keep the boxes full and stay out of bad stuff.
When I’m a tank, I have to pay attention to where mobs are, where to stand and all of my attacks and cooldowns. This works out well if I’m encountering the pulls as I expect them, but when things go bad, then I feel like I’m in a Benny Hill skit where I’m being chased from all directions, with “Yakety Sax” playing in the background. Only thing is, there are no scantily clad women chasing me.
When I have chaotic pulls, even if I am able to save things and not wipe, I still am so stressed out and anxious that I typically take a break from tanking for a few days or years.
This is why I felt that if I really wanted to challenge myself during Waypoint’s Herald of the Titans project, I saw this as a way to up the ante. Not only could I get a great achievement, but exorcise some demons along the way.
Only thing is, I still was a bit shaky in dungeons. It still didn’t totally click with me, and many times it was more because of my set of BoA gear that would carry the day.
Moving away from Vastant for a moment, I’ve had a similar feeling to tanking as I did PvP. Whenever I’d try arena, or get involved with a scrum in a battleground, there was so much going on. I’d get flustered, forget what I was doing, and I’d be stressed out and discouraged.
One day, Cynwise asked in guild chat if anyone would be interested in doing some Arena. I had gotten to know him on Twitter, and he had moved Cynwise over to Waypoint. I was always in awe of his posts on PvP, but my PvP ineptitude always got in the way of my wish to jump in the arena.
On this day, I decided to give it a try. “Sure,” I said, marveling at how cool this was. I warned that I wasn’t very good, but he assured me that the main thing was to have fun.
Our first few 2s arena battles were me flailing about, and still being nervous and overwhelmed. Cyn was great, and he’s super calm and patient. He advised me to just relax, and let the fight come to me. Slow down. He was the original Panda Hipster.
So, I’d relax. Soon, I was finding I was able to pay attention to the entire fight. I was able to use all of my abilities, because I allowed myself room to think. We’d have fun. There were some epic battles we had. Half an hour fights that were so fun, but so tiring. I was having a blast at PvP, and I was getting good at it!
This brings me back to Vastant, sitting in the dungeon. A lightbulb went over my head, I yelled “EUREKA!” and ran out of my bathtub naked. Wait, no…
I realized that if I allowed the fight to come to me, to slow things down, I could control the chaos. I could be comfortable with the fight. So, I was thoughtful about how I set up my keybinds, I wrote some macros. I let the fight come to me.
I started kicking some serious ass as a tank. I was having fun being a tank. I smile when I think that I learned how to tank by learning how to PvP heal on my Resto Druid. Learning is weird.