The other day I was in a Deadmines group, with a tank that had trouble keeping aggro. It was as bad as you can imagine: uncontrolled mobs running around, adds harassing everyone, near total chaos with most fights, the healer threatening to quit with 2 bosses left, grumbling in the group, etc. It was a mess but somehow we pulled it off.
Plot twist: I was the tank.
This story began in guild chat, where somebody (the healer) asked for a tank. Their group was at the goblin workshop area, and needed somebody to fill in so they could continue. I was on my warrior alt, wanted to try out tanking, am familiar with Deadmines, so it sounded like the perfect chance.
I responded, joined the party, made my way to the dungeon and met up with everyone soon enough. I wasn’t sure the circumstances behind the group missing their tank halfway through, but it didn’t matter really. The group was me (tank), a priest healer, two hunters, and a rogue.
To sum up basically every fight: I could keep aggro on 1.5 mobs on average. That is, half the time, just one, the other half the time, two. Three or more was too much for me apparently.
I was cycling through mobs, using taunt, revenge, sunder armor, etc. as my rage allowed, and still had trouble. One thing I was bad at was situational awareness – I was so focused on the one or two right in front of me, I didn’t notice that the healer was under attack.
After Mr. Smite, the group started offering advice. One of the hunters seemed very knowledgeable about warriors – I imagine his main was a warrior and the hunter was an alt – and suggested I switch stances, using Battle Stance at the start of the fight, so I could Charge in and start with 10+ rage. Then, switch to Defensive Stance so I could Taunt. He then went on to mention using a macro to do it. They mentioned tanking got better at level 40, when warriors get plate mail, and said to search for videos about warrior tanking. OK, but I can’t do that during the run!
So, the healer died twice by the time we at the top of the boat. And since nobody else could res, the healer had to run from the graveyard back to the entrance, while we also went to the entrance from the dungeon side to help clear the way of respawns.
For those unfamiliar with Deadmines, at that point (top of the boat) were 2 major bosses left: Captain Greenskin, and Van Cleef. After the we got back to this spot from the 2nd time the healer died and had to run back, they said they were leaving if they died again.
I’d like to think I played better those last two fights, but it looked like the same chaos to me, and I struggled to keep 2 mobs under control. Perhaps the healer’s threat focused the DPS to concentrate on anything I wasn’t handling that was attacking the healer.
We did prevail, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. It was more a sigh that we were done and not excitement of rolling on loot. It was pretty stressful!
I decided after to concentrate on my priest, where I’m having way more fun. I feel like I’m a better healer and have had players mention that. Maybe they say that all the time as a general thanks. 😉
Tanking is brutal. One problem is there just isn’t a good way to practice without a group of live players, who may not know or want to be a lab experiment for somebody who needs practice. Tanks also need to know the dungeon pretty well, to lead the group. Plus call/mark targets, and have enough situational awareness to simultaneously cycle targets, watch for adds, check on the group to notice if someone is being attacked by an uncontrolled mob.
I felt like I was juggling 2 balls, except if that’s all you can do, nobody thinks you are a juggler.
After healing more instances and paying extra attention to what those tanks do, I can see one major error on my part was gathering aggro far too close to the group. I see tanks run far ahead to attack a group, while the rest of the players then come up and join in. When I tanked I was aggroing just barely in front, basically with everybody in range of every mob. And of course those better tanks pay attention – if I draw aggro the first thing I’ll cast is Fade (remove threat for 10s) and stand still, continuing to heal – and in every case, the tank is already running over and grab the mob off me anyway. As a tank, I can’t rely on the priest casting Fade (it does have a cooldown) so I would need to be paying enough attention to notice this unfolding.
Other ways to improve would be cycling attacks better, making macros to help the stance switching, etc. But I am loathe to do any of this. I’d rather work on leveling my priest.
Hats off to the tanks of the game, I found it to be very difficult and they are key to any group being able to do the content!