Today I ran The Oculus as Lydon.
That is to say, I tried to. As per usual, there was some mixup with drakes. Less usually, one member of the group was not willing to tolerate the fact that the retridin had taken a red drake. For the next fifteen minutes of instance, as we cleared trash, downed bosses and generally moved ever closer to facing Eregos himself, this party member implored the retridin to swap his drake in party chat and in whisper. And, when all of his attempts fell on deaf ears, he lost his temper.
This was only problematic for the rest of us because this guy was the tank, and tanks have more power than the average disposable boomkin in cloth. He raged that he was sick of people who didn’t listen. He was sick of people who expected him to tolerate poor play. If someone is trying to help you play better, he ranted, you had better pay attention. And then he refused to pull anything until the retridin did as he was told.
As a result, the group fell apart, and Lydon got a cold arse sitting around on a focusing ring in the snow. It was, on the whole, a bad time, but Lydon considers existence on the whole to be a bad time, so it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.
More importantly, though, I feel for that tank. I do. I understand a lot of his concerns. I run into people who underperform pretty much every instance whether I’m tanking or otherwise.
But that’s the thing. I run into these people so very frequently. You could say the incompetent type has become a staple party member. The instancing experience would not be much changed if the LFD tool looked something more like this:
(Of course I’ve clicked to queue as group derpface, I’ve had plenty of chances to learn from the great, and one day it will be my time to shine. Though I’d kick up a fuss if derpfaces started to get satchels, mark my words.)
And it’s not all about my fantastic skills with Photoshop, though I forgive you if you’re still recovering from that dazzling bit of artwork. My point is that you’re going to run into people who don’t perform to the level you would prefer, and some of them are going to be dumb in both senses of the word. You can’t fix ‘em.
And that’s a right bugger to tolerate if you’ve something of the typical tanking mindset: I am Group Leader and I will Lead. But if you want to make it as a tank you have to strike a balance. Finding enjoyment in steering your group to victory is great, but fighting people who cannot change is going to burn you out in record speed. (And you need to be careful about that. I hear burnt out tanks can become pretty derpy DPS, and you don’t want to lose your satchel.)
As a tank I have some basic advice for you, but first I must pause and note that I just glimpsed the top portion of my new and (un)improved LFD and jumped to click accept. So that’s the sort of addict I am. Anyway, moving on…
1) Do not work out a particular amount of crap you will tolerate. Rules like ‘you yank it, you tank it’ may seem like good ways to reassure yourself that you’re not overreacting when you sit down and let that moron die horribly, and sure, throw them into party chat if such an occasion occurs and said moron turns to whining, as though that will somehow patch up their broken gear.
However, what happens when someone persistently does something silly and you just can’t deal with it today, but it’s not really on the ‘instant kick’ side of your usual guidelines, eh? The problem with rules is that they are unbending, while your mood is fluid. That means they can drop-kick you in the squishies from time to time.
Perhaps you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, so you pick mobs up when other people pull them, you don’t really care that you’re the only one interrupting, you take some fine, fine ego points from the fact that you’re top on DPS. But what? You just broke all your rules. You are a bad tank because you are encouraging bad DPS! For shame.
Obviously that’s the… less likely, less important side of it. What’s more likely to hurt is when you find yourself enjoying an instance less and less, but you said at some other date that you were going to put up with people ignoring your marks a while ago, so you’re being sensitive if you go back on it now.
Alternatively, what if, like Lydon’s Oculus tank, you’re dead set on educating everyone in the group? You want everyone on the right drakes, you want everyone to let you pull, and you’re going to lecture them until it happens. Sometimes teaching is fun, but sometimes it isn’t. And generally, you just need to decode what is happening at the very moment you get annoyed. Don’t hold yourself to standards of tolerance you puzzled out at some irrelevant date. Respecting your present state of mind is what matters.
And that honestly goes for everyone in a damaging or healing role, too.
2) Vote kick. Take joy in it. They have been butts, and so they must be kicked. Thus sayeth the manual of MMO success.
3) Mock the weak. But be classy, and keep that stuff out of party chat, eh? While tanking Twilight heroics with my fine healing friend Ellusias, I came across this fine warlock.
I know, I know, that data is from just one fight, but that doesn’t make a bit of difference, guys. For the entirety of the run, he never broke ten thousand DPS. Meanwhile, the shaman and the rogue were doing so much better than every other damage dealer we had run into that day (which perhaps says something about the quality of our PuG members that day). And so, Ellusias and I indulged in this most enjoyable of rules.
(I left Daelythir’s face in this picture because that is roughly the face I was making when I first took note of Recount. Relevance.)
Truth is, having someone to casually complain to is fun. In the absence of such a person, I find talking to myself aloud similarly appeasing. It only occasionally causes other people in my household to question my sanity. Venting is a fairly useful tool – and turning that would-be pest into a joke before you even get to venting stage, well, that’s even better.
But what I’m really getting at is that a tank needs to be adaptable and aware of their own needs. See things off with pre-emptive humour strikes. Let a poor player pootle along at their own level if it’s not going to be a major inconvenience – or boot them out before they really get to grind on you. That tank in Lydon’s group – in some ways, he was doing the right thing. He was speaking out to make sure the group did things in a way he was comfortable with. What he failed to do was take a moment to think alright, this is spiralling, how do I fix it: and either tolerate the bad retridin, remove the bad retridin, or remove himself.
Decisions and mind frames! They are important, if you want to survive as a tank.