If you think it’s too easy…

…pug.

Seriously. I hear a lot of people talking about how even the instances are too easy, but I can tell you that even if you’re decently geared, they can be challenging with a pick-up group.  Pugs offer some unexpected variables.

Last night, my priest ran instances with three pugs.  I went to Azjol’Nerub for the first time (Aahhh! Spiders!!).  The tank was level 71 and wearing what he described as “crap gear,” but we did pretty well.  It was definitely challenging enough to be fun, I thought.  Afterward, I did a second Nerub run with the same tank, but all different DPS.  The DPS was lower in this second group, so it got dicey at times and there were several wipes.  Nobody complained though.

As I was making my repairs after the second run, a DPS warrior from the first Nerub run whispered and asked me to heal his group for the Nexus.  It was already 10:30p, but I told him I could if they were ready to go.  I asked if they had a tank.  A few moments later: “Oh, I’m sorry.  They thought I was the tank!”  Heh… so he stepped out of the group, but they still invited me to heal.  We got a tank, did a bit more shuffling (there was a DK that wasn’t high enough level to be summoned, someone else had to drop to go eat dinner, etc), and finally all made it to the instance.

After healing a 71 warrior tank in Azjol’Nerub (recommended level 72-74), I was looking forward to a relaxing mission, healing a 73 warrior tank in the Nexus (recommended level 71-73).  To my surprise, the tank was getting hit really hard at the beginnings of each fight.  The damage let up after one or two of the mobs died, but when he was getting hit by four or five things during that first minute of each fight, his health repeatedly dropped below 50%.  If I didn’t cast successive Greater Heals on him, he’d be dead.

As I was pondering this weirdness, he said, “how the healing going?”

“Fine, I guess.  Having to toss some unexpectedly big heals on you, but no trouble with mana yet.”

“Good to know,” he said.  “I’ll equip my shield when we get to the bosses then.”

I had to laugh.  I’ve often heard of folks running with priests that played like mages, smiting instead of healing.  It seemed I just encountered my first warrior that was trying to tank like a death knight.  In all of my Outland pugs, I never once ran with a warrior tank that didn’t use a shield.

We worked our way up through the hall where the groups are frozen until you break them and wake them, and an extra group was accidentally pulled.  Oi.  I mostly kept folks alive, but the mage died and the hunter survived only by feigning death.  The problem was that with having to cast successive large heals on the tank, I couldn’t heal anyone else.  Big heals have long cast times and I had to cast them one after another to make sure enough healing got to him in time.  I mentioned this and the ret paladin suggested, “just cast lots of short heals.”  Er… heheh… I explained that 1) I’d run out of mana, 2) the tank would still die.  He was taking too much damage too quickly, even for that.  “Ok,” said the tank.  “Dual-wielding was a luxury anyway.  I’ll use my shield.”

I told my guild about it and a couple people laughed, “Wow, bad tank is bad.”  Heh.  I don’t think he was necessarily a bad tank for that, I think he was just having some fun.  I often run guild stuff with a druid tank that likes to tank with her cat gear when she’s running a lower level instance.  I think this is about the same idea, except the tank didn’t outlevel the instance.  He was pretty cool about switching to his shield, too.  He realized the issue.  A bad tank wouldn’t.

My only real complaint about the tank was that he was impatient and maybe a bit sloppy.  He wasn’t good about letting folks rebuff after wipes or before boss fights.  He also rushed ahead of the group, skipping mobs, thinking the rest of the DPS could just “take care of them.”  Again, this was a bit of a strain on me as the healer.  I didn’t complain about it, but sometimes the rest of the us fell behind because we were trying to get healed up, loot stuff, etc.  Then, the tank would be out of range of my healing and there would be three mobs between us and him once again. *sigh* We wiped more than once due to this.  “How’d you get so far behind?” he asked.  “How’d you get so far ahead?” I countered.  He responded by putting a skull raid mark above his head.  /eyeroll

He liked to skip groups of mobs, too.  When we were in the Arcane Sanctuary-looking bit, he’d jump down to lower platforms to skip several groups, and inevitably, some of the skipped stuff would get pulled when someone stepped too far back.  Sometimes this was me, sometimes it was someone else.  Sheesh.  I think if I got into tanking, I’d just demand that we do full clears (within reason).  Sometimes skipping stuff saves you time, but it seems like often enough, the mobs get pulled anyway.  A corpse run takes longer than killing an extra group.

ANYway, we killed the final boss just before midnight.  The paladin had forgotten to complete one of the quests, so he tried to run back as the rest of us headed out.  Guess what he found… skipped mobs!  It went like this:

Tank: Hey, could I get a port to Shatt?

Paladin: Uh-oh…

Paladin has died.

Mage has died.

Priest has died.

Tank: Looks like that’s a no.

Tank has died.

The hunter had hearthed out, so was the only one that made it out safely.

============

So, yes, pugs.  Not that these instances are necessarily where you want the challenge of your game to be, but the challenge can be there.  If you only run dungeons with your very competent and well-geared guildmates, then maybe yes, they are going to be easy and you will coast through with nary a wipe.  Maybe this is the point now?  If you’re always with a competent group, your challenges won’t come until end game instances and raiding.  They’ve been trying to make raiding more accessible, so perhaps this is part of that plan.  And to those complaining that someone has already beaten the game by finishing all the raid content, my question is: has your guild finished all the raid content?  If not, then don’t complain (yet).

I find it interesting that people are complaining about (or maybe lamenting is a better word) how easy leveling is, too.  It’s as though they secretly liked that grind they said they hated.  Of course there are times I’m not in the mood for it, but as I’ve said before, I find that positive work/reward ratio very satisfying.  It’s a big part of why I enjoy the game.  I don’t think Northrend is particularly easier than the Outland zones either (so far, anyway).  Hellfire was always a little tough initially, but once you got through the first round of gear replacement, it was easy there, too.  I think it’s that leap in gear quality they removed that’s making the difference there.  We’re were promised a smoother transition to Northrend than folks had from Azeroth to Outland and we got it.  I think that’s why we’re coasting.

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One response

  1. Happened upon this by accident(from a post on some random warrior blog about noob tanking mistakes, which was fun enough to read), and figured I’d let you know that what you happened upon with that warrior tanking without a shield was quite probably a remnant of TBC where at high gear levels tanks would tank with a 2hander in instances in order to get hit enough to get some actual rage going, so they could hold aggro. This practice should have fallen off in WotLK since, well, we’re starting anew when it comes to gear and warriors have gotten a lot more abilities that make use of their shield for damage and aggro, but as druid at least, I’ve started to feel rage starvation kicking in already on smaller pulls in heroics(being fully best-in-slot geared for the current content). At some point in time, prolly when we’re at the end of Ulduar, you may find that tanks geared top of the line will get pretty creative about what gear they tank in just to generate enough rage to keep going when boosting friends alts in instances. Just a heads up 😉

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