Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lowbie Tank Tales: Authority

One of the interesting things about tanking is how the rest of the group automatically defers to you.

I've ran Gnomeregan a fair bit, and now know the easiest way to get to the boss with a minimum of fuss.1 When I'm on my tank, the group falls in behind me and we move through the instance smoothly.

On the other hand, when I'm on my rogue, generally people don't know which way to go, and the group stops for discussion. I can tell them the way to go, but they never seem to listen to me. Half the time we go in a crazy direction, and the group never makes it to the end boss. This happens even I am the nominal Party Leader.

Generally, my tank is perceived to have much more authority than my rogue, even though there's not a lot of difference between the two characters. It's like WoW players are trained to defer to the tanks.

Maybe it's just that the tank goes in first. Maybe being the first person in the battle confers an aura of leadership, in the style of ancient generals and kings.

I find the automatic mantle of authority to be a very interesting part of tanking, even if I'm not completely sure why the tank is assumed to be in charge.

1. Generally, always go left, and don't jump down. Jumping down with an inexperienced group inevitably causes more problems than it's worth.


  1. Alts of tanks should have no cooldown on tricks of the trade and misdirect so they can still lead the instance.

  2. I will say, I noticed back in BC that my rogue was treated differently than my other toons... I'd get /spit on while doing my dailies and I'd constantly have people trying to steal mobs I was obviously heading toward, where I'd bring a different alt over to the Isle of QD and get the SAME people giving me a hand and asking to group with me.

    No idea if it's the same way now as my rogue sits in IF unplayed but most people assumed I was going to suck. And with respect to the good rogues out there [I know a few], it SEEMS like a large number of rogues make themselves problems in instances.

    I suspect DKs have a lot of that bias now. I still have healers quit group on my DK tank when they see my class "ugh dk tanks suck" /leave group.

    Anywho, random observation I know :D

  3. I've noticed the same. My bear is inching closer to 50k hp and I never get any grief at all when I do my random HC to get my frosts, people keep their head down and listen to my suggestions. However - when I started tanking i had around 35k hp and it was a major pain, people would call me failtank before we even started pulling and generally just not give a toss about what I had to say. People listen to the tank, but only if the tank is in top notch gear (at 80).

    Lower level tanking usually works out well, ocassionally you get one of those asshats that have 3 lvl80 tanks and you're a fail, but a quick whisper to the healer to let the person die and then they fall in line :)

    Playing on my baby rogue however is a major pain. Just like you outlined in your post, and the experience of previous commenters, people will compltely ignore you. Even healers sometimes gives me snarky comments about "why do YOU care about letting tank establish aggro, you're just a fkn rogue"

  4. It's not just WoW that has this, it's all MMORPGs and it stems from the responsibility of each party member.

    Good tanks are taught to pull the mobs and set the pace of the group; good DPS are taught to wait until the tank pulls and then engage without getting aggro.

    It all adds up to the fact that party members expect the tank to lead them through a dungeon. Regardless of nominal notations, the tank will always be the leader of the group.

  5. @Askevar
    On DK tanks: My random daily yesterday sent me into DTK. The DK tank popped in with 29K HP (that included my BoK) and you know what? It was one of the smoothest run I have had in a long time. I did more DPS than healing. We did not stop moving once, the DPS new to not pull agro (or the DK was that good at keeping it) and we were done in just under 20 min.

    Contrast that with the just shy of 47K HP Bear tank that I had to heal nonstop (even out of combat he was managing to take damage) thru UK.

    The tank that has knowledge of their class will always trump the tank that facerolled to gear.

  6. I've found a subtle way to do this when people 'refuse to believe a dps knows what to do' is to simply start marking things up and heading off in one direction - much as I hate to move ahead of a tank ever ><;

    Anyone who's 'not sure' generally follows you and the tank can learn on-the-fly what the pulls are for next time. This has worked pretty well for me the last few times I've been to ST >_>

    As to the DK bias... I'd never leave a group because a DK was tanking, but both druid and DK tanks seem, to me, to be far harder to heal in 5-mans. This can be a welcome change when you've been healing a *yawn* 43k hp paladin with block out the wazoo, though. Same for undergeared tanks, too!


  7. I know I have seen bored healers in the past. through one DK run (instance not class) I had a tree hot me up pre pull and then hurricane through the entire pull on one of the larger pulls (ok, I pulled three packs at once, paladins need their rage bar filled too) he dropped into tree maybe twice to re-hot. And they the comments above are accurate, tanks, the ones who aren't failtank (which has little, though still some relation to gear) have been taught to pull and establish aggro first. because of that they set the pace, and tend to lead, if only by virtue that the priest running infront of the tank towards the mob tends to be a dead priest.

  8. I think it's an interesting thought that we have some sort of social disposition to follow the shiny one in armor waving the 'I'm Going First' flag.

    What happened to 'letting the hunters pull' ? I remember that was a huge issue in vanilla. If you were a hunter, you were expected to lead. Maybe all the failHunters trained us away from that?

  9. I ran an H POS the other day with this shammy (no names). As soon as the group zoned in he mounted up, and started heading away from the group (skipping trash I suppose).

    I only mention this, because this was the first time it appeared someone else was attempting to lead my group. As the tank I'm generally used to that format.

    I pulled the first caster mob just to illustrate the point (the one right in front of you as you zone in). He just sort of stood there for a minute before coming back to help the group. This didn't seem to get the point across. Later in the instance he was marking kill orders on flamebearers, etc. (even though my girlfriend was the healer, and planned to shackle the second while we burned down the first). After getting the first down, he instantly broke CC and started to destroy the second (while I was still dealing with the skeletons). By this time I'm a little frustrated, and I was tempted to change the marking order around, etc., to see if I could get under his skin a little. How do other people handle this? When I'm tanking the run, I expect to be the leader (unless I ask for assistance). Anyone else run into this? I can only assume this person has a tank main. Tank main or no, I don't take kill orders from a shammy. The rest of the dungeon was tense, and it boiled over at one point. I told the guy I was just there to get my badges, and we finished the dungeon out. I still don't like being questioned when I'm tanking. If I'm on my dps toons I'll defer to the tank. I expect the same from everyone else. Is that so much to ask?

    This is a little off-topic (not exactly lowbie tanks), but it frustrated me enough to ask other people to comment on it. I hope you don't mind.

    t0xic (frustrated tank)

  10. I think the reason lowbies (and higher levels) follow the tank is because they're the ones that are supposed to be holding the mobs.

    Let's say the rogue knows where he's going and properly points himself at the start of the passage to the left.

    The rest of the group could possibly join him, but until the tank goes that way they can't start pulling anyway.

    As a leveling dps I've been that person standing facing the right way to go, but it's 50-50 whether the other party members will join me before the tank does.

  11. Speaking of DTK - what's with the tanks who pull the whole room with the acid spewing A-bombs at once? That room is actually harder to heal than any of the boss fights in that place. Pull the whole room and it's a real PITA.

  12. I'd say it's just difficult to follow someone who's behind you. The tank has to be in the front, and may be reluctant to repeatedly check chat for advice.

    It's an ego problem a tank can have (my main and my primary alt are both tanks). It's important to understand that the tank is only one-fifth of the group of PEOPLE you're playing with. Play nice and work it out.

    It's also nice to know in PoS that if you mount up immediately and ride to the right, you can beat many spawns and get to Forgemaster Garfrost's steps right away, without any fights.

  13. re: XOR

    Let him die. I was tanking DTK for my daily frost badge when the unholy DK decided it would boost his DPS by summoning Army of the Dead on boss #1. I stop tanking and stand next to the healer, as protection the healer became my only responsibility.

  14. "I'm not completely sure why the tank is assumed to be in charge."
    I have a warrior tank and I wish it isn't assumed. We are there to generate aggro and take the hits, not to babysit others...

  15. @xor:
    Yes, I agree that it's accepted that tanks lead and dps follow. What you don't mention is whether you spoke to this shammy about his actions or not, or if your healer had indicated intent to shackle, etc, etc. While there is always the chance of 'tards who are incapable of listening, communication is key. Most people are not mind-readers.

  16. AlvarNunez said...
    "Speaking of DTK - what's with the tanks who pull the whole room with the acid spewing A-bombs at once?"

    That room is designed so that the Abominations are on patrol paths that spend most of their time inside the "shared aggro" range of the stationary goul packs.

    A skilled tank who is patient can wait out the patrol, and pull individual groups if his timing is good.

    An unskilled or impatient tank will pull at the wrong time, and get two or three groups. Especially if his party is urging him to "gogogogogo!".

    An overgeared tank may deliberately pull the entire room, just for fun. If I time it right, I can get two abominations and two ghoul packs at once. (Make sure to face the abominations away from the party.)

  17. @XOR
    It sounds like you and your gf were the ones being the problem in that group. You started out by going the wrong way and wasting time. Then you were ignoring the marked kill order.

    Your gf was CCing without calling it out and you were getting mad that they were being broken?

    And you won't follow someone's leadership just because of the class they're playing? You got one hell of an ego there man.

  18. This having the tank as leader is the one reason I don't tank even though I have leveled as a prot Warrior. I like the class and the class mechanics but I'm not a leader, so I don't run 5 mans.

  19. @XXOR

    class/role does not equal leadership. maybe you and your girlfriend should try communicating with the group. if you weren't marking things then the shaman did the right thing by attempting to insure the group was coordinated.

  20. I think the main reason tanks generally assume leadership is not just because it's their job to take control of every pull... but simply because it's faster and less complicated. Even if a dps knows much more about the instance, it takes time to tell the tank which pulls to do, and even marking takes a few seconds to do properly. Why bother when most tanks can pull everything willy-nilly and not run into any problems.

    Fair enough if the tank has no experience in an instance, then they say so and someone else says "I'll mark/lead the way" and everyone's happy, but this case is generally rarer than most. And after all this time most dps are used to following, and tanks used to leading, that changing it on an instance that the tank knows like the back of his/her hand is only gonna cause tension. (And tanks generally know instances very well, since they're constantly on the lookout for pats and stuff.)

    On a final note, any rogue/hunter who used misdirect/tricks to pull onto the tank (or any dps pulling for that matter) WITHOUT checking with the tank first if they're happy for them to do it, deserves to be killed by that mob. It's not only a matter of it being a pain to organise those mobs rushing at me from nowhere... it's a matter of respecting the tank, and the job they're doing. Sure it's dead easy in heroics, but on the same grounds I could say "yeah I won't bother pulling those 5 mobs off that trigger happy dps, we can still finish the instance with only 2 dps."

  21. it's already been said, but people follow the tank because he's the one who is supposed to be getting hit. as a tank, i recognize that it's my job to learn each encounter even if nobody else does. if i didn't know where to go or if it's my first time in an instance, i have no problems asking questions, though.

    i definitely have a problem with other people pulling. my healer in a hup run the other day decided to pull a pack of additional mobs while i was tanking an abomination, which is no problem as far as my ability to stay alive or his ability to heal me, but the fact that i'm playing a big fat tauren with a my back to a wall staring at a gigantic monster in front of me could easily have led to me not being able to see the mobs that he pulled, and could have ended up with him dead, then the rest of us. i told him if he did it again, i would drop group, he told me to pull faster, i told him to learn to tank, he told me he was a healer, and then he shut up and healed and let me pull.

    i used to pull in vanilla days on a hunter. the reason that we don't pull anymore is because the nature of the game changed. holding five mobs isn't hard anymore, pats aren't as complicated.


    maybe the shaman had the leader tag on him? wouldn't surprise me, if you aren't signing up to lead, if he did and figured you didn't know what to do. and if you weren't marking and didn't tell him that your gf was going to shackle, then what's your beef? almost no one ccs anymore, unless it's as a response to a pending disaster. and for real "i don't take kill orders from a shammy"... wtf? if it infuriates you to have someone else mark, you should be marking yourself.

  22. @Jacob

    Tanking that whole room is one of the few fun parts in DTK for an overgeared tank ;).

    As to the tank leadership, I repeat what has been mentioned above - while anyone can tell people where to go, in general the group can't go anywhere without the tank running in first, so I suppose it's simply efficient/natural to let the tank lead (unless they're completely incompetent).

  23. Authoriy is an odd one that I've never really considered until now.
    Quite a nut in farming randoms, in the beginning for the dog and ach, but in the end for the sheer amount of fun I get from doing it.

    Don't know how it is as a DPS since I'm totally impatient and capable of switching to Tankspec
    but I love the speed at which you get teleported to a random destination, with random people.

    And thats where the magic only begins..
    Small mindgames like:
    do we have a suicidal dps onboard? how many will die from poison nova?
    will the healer get interrupted ?

    keep it very entertaining if you feel very comfortable as a tank.

    And if you are in that comfort zone, and gear and experience is the reason why you are in it then it is more than obvious you will always be the backbone that should lead on to victory.

    Dps can only do as much dps as the tank can keep aggro. Healers can only heal period.

    If you have to have imba in your party, let it be a tank and thou shalt always have clear sailings.


  24. To be honest, this authority issue is why I was always afraid to tank. Now I don't mind much because I know my way around most places, but I don't think I could ever level a tank first... not knowing exactly what the bosses will do and where I should be going is just easier as DPS, for some reason.

  25. This is definately something I've noticed going from a Mage to bear Druid. As a tank I've had to really learn the dungeons and mobs a lot more than as dps - which mobs are linked, do I need to move the boss, etc. Knowing more about the dungeon naturally leads to leading. Having said that, if another party member knows more about a pull than I do, I'm more than happy to defer to them.

  26. I am married to a man who has 3 level 80 tanks, so I am familar with what they should be doing and how. However, as either a healer or dps myself, people aren't looking at me to lead, as it has been aptly pointed out. So if I'm in a pug and I see a situation where problems are arrising, I usually take one of two courses:
    1) It is now possible to macro the marking icons, and mine are, so I simply focus the tank and click a handy button to put a skull on his target. Or if he's obviously clueless, just mark things and the tank usually hits that. This most often works. If it doesn't....
    2) Politely remind people of what needs to be happening. "Please hit what the tank is hitting, it's been marked." "Please turn on RF/Ret aura." If non-verbal cues aren't working, communication is in order. Nice communication is appreciated.

  27. These days most tanks will chain pull heroics. When I'm tanking, DPS can't get ahead of me because I've already pulled the next group before they finish killing the last one. With a good healer the party can not leave combat for the entire instance.

  28. Im an old warrior tank and not to sound like a grumpy old man, I really miss the the old days of Vanilla when grouping really meant working as a group.

    To make a generalization, it seemed there was less "Phail" back then. Hunters could pull and main assist, rogues could sap properly, and mages could sheep pull and they didn't mind doing it. It was expected.

    Leadership wasnt too much of an issue, teamwork was better back then. Off subject sorry, but also downtime wasn't seen as a bad thing back then. Now its just gogogogo! I always made sure my mana drinkers were topped off and happy. Again it was just teamwork, and every class brought their own leadership to the table in terms of class knowledge and skill.

    sorry for teh QQ

  29. I will back up the assessment that much of the deference to a tank comes from them being the ones that pull and set the pace. Often you have to assert this authority, and a few words at the beginning of the instance will help this. As an overgeared tank, I like to chat with my PUG healer and make sure they let me know if I start pulling too fast for their mana or I bore them.

    We've been working on teaching a new raid tank (spec swap), and there's a lot of specific instruction with that. They've stated that they didn't realize there was as much stuff they needed to be aware of; that it was almost completely relearning the fights.

    @ Anon 1/18
    I also remember the "good ol' days" of vanilla, and I think the perception of "less fail" is rose colored. I recall trying to put together Strat and Scholo and UBRS runs that fell apart. The end game was also more inaccessible and more unfriendly, so there weren't as many participating and required a fewer mistakes. How many times do you remember people being knocked off the balcony back into the whelps? How many scholo runs did you see end at the first big room because of terrible puls or an errant fear?

  30. It's an interesting change since BC, when I started pally tanking. Since the advent of the "randomizer", I find that I'm usually not running as much with guildies and friends just to get my daily done. And there are some seriously different play styles. Add in the overgearing for heroics, and we're awfully casual about pulling a huge room of mobs.

    I don't care if I'm leading or following, but I do care if the DPS is pulling mobs that I dont know about. What tends to happen is DPS being "helpful" by pulling more mobs, but they end up on the DPS or the healer because gee, it was behind me or some other brilliant plan. Communication, as said before, is key.