This is the third part of a series I’m doing on my fears of tanking Cataclysm heroics. If you haven’t been following along you can read the FIRST PART and SECOND PART now. Go ahead, I’ll wait. To quickly summarize for those too lazy to go back and read the past posts, I had expressed a general hesitation in jumping into tanking the relatively serious Cataclysm heroics, particularly with unsatisfactory gear. I finally decided on an acceptable gear level for tanking a heroic: An item level of 333 and at least 130k health. This coupled with at least the cheap versions of the spec appropriate gems and enchants should put me in a place for success – as long as I don’t suck!
Of Course, It was Vortex Pinnacle
It isn’t that this instance is hard, I just despise it. A couple of the pulls can occasionally get hairy, you all know the 5 mob pack in the lightning that makes them spell-immune. But for the most part it is a relatively easy instance. I just get it disproportionately. 50% of all of my random dungeon queues (heroic or reg) result in this instance. If I could put it on ignore so I wouldn’t get it again, I absolutely would. To look on the bright side, as a first heroic, at least I’d tanked the fight a dozen times on regular already and knew all the pulls and bosses. (Since I’ve done this first heroic prior to writing this post, VP has also been my 2nd, 4th and 7th heroic tanked as well.) Upon zoning in, and after my initial irritation with the dungeon, I notice all the other players in the group are better geared than I am – perfect! Without any sarcasm, I mean it, perfect. This means at least the potential healing done by the healer and dps from the rest could be respectable. My only worry based on their gear is losing aggro to much better geared dps.
I realized quickly that we only have one player with crowd control that works on elementals. I assign a CC target… lay down a death and decay, pull a mob to me… and…We quickly killed all of the mobs, healer was at full health and everything went fine. At that point the healer suggested we probably didn’t need to use any crowd control and we proceeded to smash our way through to the first boss. Then proceeded to smash the first boss. Aggro wasn’t a problem at all, I suspect DK’s are cheating with their threat because I was easily double the threat of the DPS despite a significant gear disadvantage. Or maybe I’m not bad at threat. After a little more trash smashing we arrived at the second boss. This one was sort of less smooth only because the DPS were not very good at facing the right direction to get the wind haste buff but the healer did fine keeping up with the extended duration and I only got hit and knocked in the air by the tornadoes once.
On the last groups of trash (including those around the lightning) we employed some CC as they aren’t elementals and could be controlled. Once the healer made an odd choice and pulled with a CC while a good distance away from the rest of the group, but had enough skill healing to keep himself topped off while I got the rest of the adds rounded up. At last, we were standing in front of the final boss. No wipes, no deaths, not even really any scary moments. At this point though, I really wasn’t worried anymore. The healer was great, actually made it all seem easier than normal and the dps were competent at their jobs. Apparently, I’m also pretty good at this. It was the smoothest heroic VP I’d done up to that point. Of course feeling this way should have set me up for failure at the end. Is that how it works? When you notice how smooth things are going – death must be coming shortly? So did we die? Nope. The entire VP without wipes. There was one death from a DPS who didn’t get into the safe zone during the AOE, but I still call it a success. There were very few instances of people even having aggro who weren’t the tank.
So really, you could say there was nothing to worry about. Except, part of the reason for the success was how I came prepared. I made sure that I had at least the blue quality 333 weapon such as from the Crucible of Carnage quest chain (unlike the druid tank we got for Halls of Origination last night). In this case I actually have the Wild Hammer from Grim Batol reg. I also made sure I had at least the cheap versions of appropriate gems and enchants. I didn’t put the group at risk for an annoying wipe-fest because I was too lazy or too dumb to get the right gear. If you go into a heroic a little undergeared as a dps, for the most part, things just move slower. As long as you are able to get in, you usually should be able to do competitive dps that can beat enrage timers and such. On the other hand, a tank who has gamed the system and gotten his/her item level up enough to get in a heroic without actual tank gear is creating a strong risk of wasting a bunch of other people’s time and causing a lot of frustration.
In the end, I’m not too bothered by tanking heroics anymore and will probably jump into some easier raid encounters in the near future. DPS should continue to keep in mind that the tank’s job is a lot harder than yours. He has to worry about keeping aggro off everyone else, staying alive, getting aggro back off the stupid DPS who shouldn’t have pulled, boss/mob positioning, and a lot more at any given time. You just get to pewpew. Although, even though I can tank on this guy now, sometimes it is nice to just pewpew.