The Casual Tank

Good afternoon everyone.  Welcome to the armored side of Illumination.

If anybody has ever seen my WoW Armory profile, they’ll notice that I’ve got the best chance at never having a wait time in the LFD tool.  This is because I have dual-spec’d both into Holy and Protection on my Paladin. 

I began my little paladin life as Holy, and Holy all the way.  In fact I leveled, oh so slowly, as holy, even when it was not at all popular and endlessly frustrating.

As I reached the max levels (I hit 60 about a week before BC), I began to run into other paladins who were excited about the new possibilities of paladin tanking becoming much more viable.  I took it with a grain of salt, as I was still a dedicated buffbot and FoL spammer.  Deep into my experience with WoW: BC, I ran into a great bunch of folks in (at the time) a guild known as the Merry Marauders.  I had become one of their healers for their late night Karazhan runs.  It was here that I met a fellow by the name of Crownvic.  He and my fellow pally healer Dragonsspear were the ultimate tank/healer team, and it was awesome to see them work together.  By watching this chemistry, I began to learn the little things that worked so well between the tank and the healer, and what one’s weaknesses were covered by the other’s strengths.  In short, this inspired me to begin to pick up some tanking gear, simply to begin experimenting.

At the time I had no plans to tank full time, and instead used the gear simply to “Holy Tank” instances with some friends of mine.  It was truly fun to hit things in the face (though still getting pounded in the face at the same time), rather than filling up health bars for once.  Upon the release of WotLK, I had acquired a decent tanking set, definitely not high end BiS, but something that met the Uncrushable mark, and nearly the Unhittable mark. 

With the arrival of patch 3.0.8, the new talent trees were released, and I became very excited about the changes to the Retribution Tree, and in turn began to collect some offset gear and actually respec Ret to level into WotLK.

This in turn put a lot of gear into my bank, left there to rust away next to all my other nicknacks (BTW, I’m an item hoarder… my bank is full of stuff that I just can’t get rid of, nor move to a bank alt, haha).  This at least sped up my leveling, and brought my Paladin to lvl 80 much quicker that it would have otherwise.  Once reaching that point, I began doing some late night raids again with my good ‘ol Holy/Prot tag team buddies again, and again had to don my healing set again.  I didn’t mind the transition, in fact it was a bit of a nice change of pace, short of the normal healer stress and blame.

In the back of my mind, though, I continued to think about that tank set that I had worked on, and how fun it was to tank, but did not want to spend the gold to spec back and forth.  Instead I just began to collect the pieces of tank gear that I could, and began replacing those that began to grow cobwebs in my bank.

Then came Patch 3.1…

Oh the beauty that is Dual Spec.  I was outwardly excited, though saddened at my miniscule income.  Thanks to the Argent Tournament, it took little time to reach my goal of 1000g, to get my dual spec on, and finally truly try a tanking position.  Sadly, though I had now become one of the most needed class combos that I could think of, my friends had moved on, and changed servers.  I was again, a lonely paladin, roaming Northrend gathering what tank gear I could, with no direction from my tanking buddy.

Well, I won’t drag this on, so we’ll fast forward to the present.  With Emblems of Triumph flowing like rain, and purples glistening like candy at every turn, it didn’t take me long to build up a decent tanking set.  Defense capped, decent mitigation and avoidance, acceptable HP, all the good stuff.  Not much more thanks to the newly implemented LFD tool, and the chance to practice a bit of tanking with less concequence.

Now, this isn’t a post about how easy WoW has gotten, because believe me, if you are as casual as I am, you do not often get blessed with the most incredible players, or overpowered killing machines in the game.  I was fortunate enough to have run a pick up Ulduar run with, what I now feel is the awesome guild of “Unending Nemesis.”  Sure, they’re not the bleeding edge guild on the server, but they are a fun bunch of folks who have skill to back up the gear they have.  As we began trying the new content, including the Trial of the Crusader, and eventually Icecrown, a gap began to form.  That form was that of a missing tank.

Now, I don’t raid regularly, in fact I don’t hardly ever sign up for a raid, simply because my family comes first, and I’d rather 1) be sure there’s nothing else going on, or 2) straight up spend time with them [family].  Anyway, after a few more runs of ToC, we took a step into ICC.  Here is where it got interesting.  They did not need a healer, but instead needed a tank… I thought long and hard, fearing that I was not adequate for the task, or that I didn’t have the skill to make the cut.  But I took the plunge “/g I’ll tank if ya need somebody”.  There it was, my leap of faith, my step into that unfamiliar realm of raid tanking.  Suddenly I got the reply, “Alright, we’ll see how far we can get, summon incoming.”  I quickly activated my prot spec and thew on my tank gear, double checking that I hadn’t forgotten anything.  Fortunately I was sitting in IF, so I grabbed a couple elixers and some Dragonfin, and thew them in my bag, and off I went.

Upon entering the opressive facade of Icecrown Citadel, I got a good look at my fellow tank… another Paladin!  His gear was slightly better than mine, more HP, more avoidance, but obviously more skill as he had tanked for a long time.  I had not read strategies on ICC from the tank’s point of view, but began to learn from his movements, and his cooldown use.  And we started our way through the dark hallways.

Now this group was the secondary raiding group, and wasn’t the creme of the crop, but we were good.  I believe that our group suprised many in the guild as we pushed our way through ICC, oneshotting Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, and the lootship battle.  We did not make it through Surafang, as several of the member either had to leave, or a PuG’d member had simply gone offline.  However, the feeling was exhilerating.  My confidence shot through the roof.

The moral of this post is:

Do not fear the unknown.  Make that leap of faith, don’t expect to be shot down, but do your best, or don’t do at all.

P.S. As a side note, we have gone back and cleared the first wing with no problem, and I have since tanked Onyxia 25, nearly solo tanked Onyxia 10, and Sartharion 10… confidence is a wonderous thing.

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