Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Pulling it out of the fire

Last night something strange happened to me! I started looking, and feeling, like a proper tank for extended periods of time in a heroic. I was milling around waiting for the footy to start (disgraceful refereeing btw) with nothing to do, a couple of guildies wanted a heroic so I asked what classes they wanted. The answer came back "a tank would be nice" the poor, unsuspecting, fools… Out comes the Death Knight and into the queue we go, only 4 of us so we needed to PUG the healer. Blackrock Caverns, brilliant. For some reason I've not randomly been in the place many times before, to the extent that I only just completed it on mystic for the first time over the weekend, I reckon 4 or 5 times in total on all my characters, I've always skipped Beauty and I've certainly never tanked it.

I explained to the healer and the rest of the group that this was my first time tanking the place, and that they'd have to bear with me, whipped wow wiki up on the laptop and had a quick scan of strategies, fortunately one of the guys there has an alt tank and has done it several times before. My admission also prompted the healer (I think) to say it was his first time too… great… on closer inspection it was his first time healing, he'd got a million alts so knew the instance inside out. We had a load of crowd control with two mages, so the trash was relatively straight forward, a couple of cockups here and there but nothing major. That was until we got to Karsh Steelbender, the basic strategy is to kite him in and out of the flame in the middle of the room, he can't be killed without the having debuff it gives him, but too many stacks of the debuff and the part gets overwhelmed with adds, the trick is to try and get his toe in the fire so he gets one debuff at a time, if he gets to 8 then the tank stands him out until the stack drops and it starts over. You get the picture. It's a pretty daunting task for a tank, or possibly just me as a tank, the onus is on you and only you, if you balls it up, everyone dies. More so than normal. Anyway, I checked up on the strategy and began the pull, all way going smoothly, whilst I wasn't managing one debuff at a time, I was keeping it to two, so not all too bad. We got him down to just below 30% when the healer didn't notice he was stood in crap and died. Now normally a dead healer on a boss fight means wipe, but, amazingly, not this time. The damage is pretty low and smooth in this fight, and I was at about 100% health at the time, with all my cooldowns. Blood DK's have 6 damage mitigation cooldowns (if you include Army of the Dead), or at least 6 that I've found… plus I have a click to increase dodge trinket. So I set off slowly popping cooldowns and healing myself as much as possible with Death Strike and Rune Tap. The DPS was pretty high so it wasn't long before we had him down to sub 5%, I was near death with only Army of the Dead left so out it came. Now this was nearly fatal in itself; as I mentioned earlier the boss needs a debuff from the flames to take damage, the whole point of popping Army of the Dead was to take aggro from me to allow me to heal, but unfortunately I popped it just slightly outside the flames so the boss became immune to damage on 1% health. Bugger. Put fear not, I have taunts! On a massive 20% health myself I utilised the DKs two taunt abilities to move the boss just enough to be in the flames before the ghouls took agro again.

Steelbenders death was greeted with calls for DK's to be nerfed and general mocking of my ability and amazement that I managed to pull it off (don't worry, I gave as much as I got…) Now I've been in situations before as a healer, or shadow priest swapping to heals, which have saved raid or party wipes, it's a great feeling to know something you, and only you, did saved the group. More so with a tank I suppose, as a healer you're expected to heal, as a tank you're expected to tank WITH healing. All in all a great confidence booster, and the satisfaction of actually, for the first time, feeling like I'm a reasonable tank, I've still got a long way to go, but I'm getting there on the tanking front. The run also gave me an appreciation for previous tanks bemoaning the aggro magnet mage, with two of the idiots (one extremely well geared) blasting away controlling aggro was a nightmare, still at least they both knew where the sheep button was.

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