I have a confession to make: Tanking heroics or raids freaks me out a little. First, a little background on me. I’m a WotLK baby mostly. Although I started in TBC, I didn’t hit max level until it was 80 and didn’t do any tanking past level 45 or so. After that point my only max level toon was my Holy/Ret paladin. I’d say it took me halfway through the expansion to get my DK to level 80. The DK was blood-spec DPS (remember back when blood was DPS?). It didn’t take me too long to make the second spec – frost tanking. This spec was aimed at running heroics with its impressive AOE capabilities. Even still, it probably took me until I was geared enough to be ready to raid before I actually queued as tank for a heroic. And I got… Halls of Reflection. Actually, every new tank I got to level 80 hit halls of reflection first…and my shaman when I switched to resto. That place just loved me. I hated it though. I’m a little surprised I don’t somehow get it in cataclysm at 85.
Tanking on a frost DK in Wrath was… very easy. Surprisingly the instance went relatively smoothly that time. Frost-specs massive threat and EZ-mode area of effect damage (I’m looking at you Howling Blast) made picking up adds and holding aggro on bosses a piece of cake. When my druid hit level 80 I’d already done some regs as tank but he was mostly geared for boomkin. Again I waited until I had over 5k gearscore and 30k HP before queuing as tank. Basically identical to my experience as a frost DK. Halls of Reflection > Awesome AOE(swipe spam) > decent single target threat. I did miss having death grip to reel in those stray caster adds but it was easy enough to keep the rest of the mobs under control that the occasional ranged didn’t kill us. Finally, my warrior reached 85 and became over geared for heroics and I queued… it was sloppy. Bringing in packs of mobs (yes in Halls of Reflection, yet again) was a bit more difficult than as a frost DK or bear druid. Most of the time I was scrambling to hold aggro and keep everyone alive. I think I’m a bad warrior tank, but who knows.
Bears lost swipe spam and didn’t have a tool to make up the AOE difference at the time. My first post 4.0 heroic random – Halls of Reflection. It turned out alright since my bear was geared enough to take on ICC raid bosses and I knew the rest of its toolbox well enough, but without being able to easily keep those adds under control the experience was a lot more stressful. Stressful – not a word I want to describe my fun game time.
…And then the end of the world
Heroics are hard. Not to say that I think heroics are too hard, mostly they’re pretty well-balanced in my opinion, but they are not Wrath heroics, that’s for sure. Even with tank options I still would queue dps most of the time in Wrath just to have a more relaxing experience. I could just focus on pewpew and, for the most part, let the tank and healer worry about keeping everyone alive. So long as I was doing my part cranking out damage while not pulling aggro then all was fine – I worried about raid survival enough while healing on my Paladin. Now, I’ve yet to tank a single cataclysm heroic. Only my warrior is heroic ready so far, but really, it just seems like a bucket of stress. No longer can a tank stroll in and pick up each pack of mobs without concern. If I roll into Tol Vir and not take my time setting up CC and kill order, it’s probably a wipe. If the heals is mediocre or bad, it’s probably a wipe. If the DPS are typical DPS and forget to CC or re-CC, attack the wrong targets, etc, then it’s probably a wipe. A great tank can sometimes recover from other players mistakes and a great group can help recover from a mediocre tank – but I hate relying on pugs for success.
The demands on a Cataclysm tank are much higher than in WotLK. And clearly, a large portion of tanks agree with me, as evidenced by the terrible queues for DPS. Even healers who used to have 1-2 second queues in Wrath are seeing 2-4 minute queues – showing further the disparity between how many healers queue compared to tanks. It just seems to be that there is a lot more pressure on the tank and a lot more ways to fail. I hate failing. It’s absolutely the pits when a wipe is caused by me. I’m sure many other players have similar feelings, but I’m probably verging on having failure-phobia. Honestly I have a similar problem in real life. I like knowing the odds and feeling comfortable with my chances. Although many people I know wouldn’t necessarily be aware, I don’t really take risks. If it seems like I am, I probably have figured out more than you think. So this leaves me in a pickle as a tank in cata. I’m counting on heals, dps, CC and my own skill so much more than before.
OK-I’m not a total pansey.
My death knight is now level 84 and I’ve done a bit of leveling through regular dungeons as a tank. I’m pretty familiar with the tool box of blood DK tanks, I simply don’t lose aggro on bosses and I’m pretty good at recovering from a DPS pulling an extra pack of mobs or a healer slacking at his job. But… these are regular dungeons. I can just throw a death and decay down on a pack of mobs, spread poisons and call it good. In a heroic, this won’t be the case. I’ll probably wait til I’m extra geared like I normally do, but I plan on tanking on my death knight. I like its abilities, cool downs, and general ways to save the day. I can overcome my failure-phobia to do some tanking I’m sure, but if it ends up being the stress-fest I’m worried it might, I’m not sure if tanking will be worth it.