standing at the back in my sissy robe

July 1, 2009

punting from both ends

I about to disappear to Cambridge for a couple of days on a conference so there will be a brief hiatus in the WoWblogging.  Alas!  Unless it’s insanely dull in which case, I’m sure, there will be a deluge of WoWblogging, difficult though it is to blog about WoW without the inspiration of, err, WoW.

I do have a few musings, however.  None of them would constitute a full entry so I will therefore present them as they come, in a heap of undigested thoughts.

I Tank In French

I tanked a guild run of Wailing Caverns a couple of nights back.  As I’ve said before I don’t think I’m a natural tank.  People tend to gravitate towards roles and although platemail and I don’t actively repel each other we definitely exist in an uneasy harmony.  Even melee DPS doesn’t do much for me.  I guess if there isn’t a sissy robe involved, I’m not interested.  Also I haven’t had much practice so I’m tanking mainly on theory.  I know what I’m meant to be doing, but there’s still a bit of a gap (mind the gap between the tank and the platform!) between the realisation and the activity.

I think people involved in the academic study of videogames talk a bit of about what they call the “grammar” of games – all a bit structuralist for my postmodern tastes, but it’s an interesting way of thinking about the interaction of the game mechanics and the game itself.  Like learning any language, there’s a point at which grammar becomes instinctive and inherent.  When you say “I would like it if you could attend my dinner party” you’re not consciously parsing the conditional subjunctive.  Yer just talkin’.

Healing, for me, is like that.  Of course, I’m still improving my comma placement and deploying the occasional audacious semi-colon but, for the most part, by the time I’ve thought “a CoH would really help things about now” I’ve already used it, and have moved onto the next thing.

The grammar of tanking, though, isn’t there yet for me, and given my lack of a natural enthusiasm for the role, it sure is taking its time to get here.  So I think my tanking is like my French.  I can do it if I concentrate but it’s just not elegant.  And occasionally people will cringe and ask me, for the love of God, to just speak English, please.

Je voudrais taunt you now, you morceau de merde.

Je vous frapperai avec mon sword enorme.

Please send for the concierge, I appear to have a frog in my bidet.

Shut Your Eyes and Trust in Me

There was something else faintly bewildering about this run.  It was me tanking, M’Pocket Tank healing, and 2 random shadow priests we picked up.  We were, I think, within the level range but it was pretty straightforward.  If only I’d had my WoWcock with me, I’m sure he’d have had something to say on the subject.  I guess it’s been NERFED.  For the casuals. Anyway, despite my poor command of the grammar, I was tanking absolutely adequately.  I might even go so far as to say ‘well’.  The group was pretty competent (although it’s hard to tell at low levels – you don’t really have enough tools at your disposal to be able to fuck things up as comprehensively as you might like) and quite nice.

Except I kept seeing this golden gleam out of the corner of my eye.  It turned out that one of the shadow priests – the one in the heirloom gear, no less – was Power Word Shielding himself continually.  I tried to chalk it up to Bizarrolandia but bitchy bloody mindedness got the better of me and finally I whispered him to ask why.

“In case I pull aggro,” he said.

Uh?  Right.  I could understand if you’re soloing but, seriously?  Except in the case of arrant stupidity (oddly popular playstyle that it is) there was no way this guy was pulling aggro off me, I was so damn threatening.  And even on the couple of occasions I did momentarily lose threat, I was there with my taunt and my mocking blow and my “I shall knock your armour off you!” skillz.  The worst damage anybody took was a couple of hits on rare occasions, before the mobs remembered that they were more interested in the stocky orc in platemail than the skinny dudes in robes.

“You know,” I said, as gently as I could, “that if you pull aggro, I’ll get the mobs off you again?  I’ve got a bunch of skills  for that.  Being a tank.”

“I’ve had some terrible tanks,” he whispered back.

I genuinely didn’t know what to say that.  “Haha, I’m not that bad,” was the best I could manage.

Now what’s going on here?  Seriously.  Was that some kind of fucked-up tankism?  You know, you tanks, you’re all the same, coming over here, stealing our threat.   Or was it, in fact, the tanking equivalent of the dreaded “heal pls.”

Ultimately, it did no damage to the run.  It was a low level instance, they tend to be pretty forgiving, and it was his mana he was squandering. But it pissed me off.  Mainly I thought it was discourteous.  After all, I was right there, tanking perfectly competently.  He might as well have renamed it Power Word: I Don’t Think You Know What You’re Doing.  Despite, I would say, abundant evidence to the contrary.

Also it’s hardly a sustainable strategy (I’m using the word ‘strategy’ in its alternate sense of ‘dumb thing a complete moron was doing while instancing’) – there’s going to come a point when wasting time and mana putting a redundant PW:IDTYKWYD on himself was going to actually impinge on what he was supposed to be doing (DPS, you drivelling pillock).

Or do you think he was some kind scarred and wounded soul, abused beyond redemption by too many bad tanks.  Even so, I think there comes a point when you have to let go and move on, maybe get some counselling.

Of course, the most likely answer was: he was just that stupid.



  1. See, you’re just too nice. When a dps whines about tanks not being able to hold threat, you tell them to stop freaking nuking when they have too much threat then. For some people ‘manage your own threat’ is all just a bit too confusing, evidently 🙂

    Comment by spinks — July 1, 2009 @ 3:31 pm | Reply

    • But,but…..then I don’t get to see the big pretty numbers! You’re no fun. 😦

      Comment by Kahleena — July 1, 2009 @ 3:35 pm | Reply

      • It’s the most horrific feedback loop. More DPS = bigger numbers. I’m sure when you get to multiple thousands there are fireworks and massages as well, right?

        Comment by Tamarind — July 3, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

    • For some reason the term ‘manage your threat’ always amuses me – I always imagine a middle-aged, slightly overweight man with a receding hairline in a pinstriped suit emerging from the ranks of the DPS and launching into a speech about the need for blue skies thinking and risk-aware strategies…

      Comment by Tamarind — July 3, 2009 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

    • This is one of those things I’m extraordinarily bad at. I do occasionally pull aggro – possibly because Northrend Pugs are allergic to marking a kill order, so I just hope that I’m supposed to be attacking whatever the tank was looking at last – and it’s incredibly counter-intuitive to say to yourself “crap, something’s attacking me, what I should do now is *immediately stop trying to defend myself*”. If something attacks me my first instinct is to Heart Strike it into the floor.

      Then of course there’s the fact that while on a rational level you know that you pulled aggro because you were an idiot there’s that secret part of you that says you pulled aggro because *you are awesome*.

      Comment by Temitope — July 3, 2009 @ 11:26 pm | Reply

  2. Battle scarred.
    He may well have been in the same groups I’ve been in lvlling my hunter.
    Like the ST PUG where I wondered why there where three little balls circling out tank? Oh, because he’s a shaman. (Obviously a subscriber to the shield=tank philosophy)
    Or the time I pugged UK, and wondered why our tank only had 5000 hp? Because he had rez sickness…
    Or the time… (oh, I can’t take it anymore the horror, the horror)

    Comment by buboe — July 2, 2009 @ 1:19 am | Reply

    • Somebody … tried … to … tank … UK … with rez sickness?! That’s a classic. A class of what I don’t know, but definitely a classic.

      But, still, I understand that scars go deep but I think there has to come a point when you say “okay, maybe this person can actually do their job, perhaps I’ll concentrate on doing mine”.

      Comment by Tamarind — July 3, 2009 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

      • But if the healer (me) had been doing his job, then rez sickness wouldn’t have been a problem. Clearly…
        And the whole dmg=threat thing? well DPS could AOE them down so fast that it didn’t matter. (did I mention that there were 4 DK’s in the group? I know, I know. Shoulda known better)

        Comment by buboe — July 8, 2009 @ 5:55 am

      • Well now it makes perfect sense – what were you thinking.

        I’ve been the healer for 4Dks before. You might as well just hit yourself repeatedly in face for a bit and have the same experience for less trouble 🙂

        Comment by Tamarind — July 8, 2009 @ 9:29 am

  3. Congratulations on the tanking in French! At least its a Latinate language with a shared alphabet. I, on the other hand, would likely tank in a sub dialect of ancient Egyptian spoken only by a small sect of miserable serfs with an unfortunate genetic defect of abnormally and grossly swollen tongues.

    Comment by Sylly — July 3, 2009 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

    • Ahaha! I didn’t say I tanked in good French 🙂

      But at least none of us are tanking in Catalan.

      Comment by Tamarind — July 7, 2009 @ 9:57 am | Reply

  4. Heh, I think I’m kinda the opposite. I usually run with prolly the best tank I’ve ever seen and when I run something without him tanking, I get a boot to the head from a mob.

    It’s all about trust…

    “Please send for the concierge, I appear to have a frog in my bidet.”
    … The best sentence I saw in a foreign language book was Russian: “Can you show me where to rent a swimwear?”

    Comment by Ysinnia — July 6, 2009 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

    • You’re absolutely right on the trust thing – Rationally, I suspect M’Pocket Tank is (probably) not the best tank WoW has ever seen but she’s *my* tank and I’ve been healing her since we were wee first level belves running around Silvermoon.

      That is a wonderful … bizarre … line. The best sentences I’ve ever seen were in a French phrasebook I was skimming through hastily on the way to France. And they had a section on “Sex and romance” which I, err, found myself glancing at (for no particular reason!) and I was astonished at how, err, progressive the book was. What particularly stood up was “could you please untie me now.” That’s one hell of a one night stand!

      Comment by Tamarind — July 7, 2009 @ 10:01 am | Reply

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