28 November 2007

How not to play nicely with others

Grouping should be like driving. You should get lessons first and be made to pass a test before it's allowed. And everyone should be made to tank and heal at least once to get their licence.

I came to this conclusion yesterday after a brief and disastrous assault on the Scarlet Monastery with my warrior alt, Hoffman. I am really enjoying levelling him and thought, at 35, it was about time I started learning to tank. I picked a low level instance that would allow me some breathing room to make mistakes and had a well-balanced group with dps, healing and crowd control. How hard could it be?

I learnt just how hard on practically the first pull. We had a group of four mobs — 3 melee types and one caster. I put a big skull over the first caster but before I could mark the other three and explain the strategy a druid got too close and pulled agro. It was at this point that I realised I didn't know what to do. My instinct was to start hitting things so I ran to the caster and got his attention. But then I noticed the three melee mobs were hitting on the rest of the group. So I left the caster to find them. We were all bunched in one corner and I couldn't make out who was a mob and who was a player, so I thunderclapped, figuring I would get them all at once. I broke sheep. Meanwhile, the caster was happily nuking me without a care in the world. At some point, the priest dropped a fear bomb which resulted in adds. I broke some more sheep. I died. The rest of the group survived.

Time for some introspection. I was an awful tank. But it was my first time tanking, and nothing you do as a levelling warrior prepares you for the role. I was in defensive stance for pretty much the first time and unfamiliar with my action bar, not to mention the tactics of holding agro. But the rest of the group were pretty shoddy too, making mistakes and behaving in ways that made my job that much harder. I suddenly realised that the role of warrior is so much more than playing meat shield to a bunch of squishies. You have responsibility for the group, and they don't always make it easy for you.

Next time I group up with Merlot, I will have a new-found level of respect for my tank, however well they play their class. And I think it will be a long while before I venture back into the fray with Hoffman.

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