Trials and tribulations of a recovering paladin tank

My paladin tank was my "main alt" throughout most of WOTLK, but after 4.0 I pretty much stopped playing her. I think it was mostly because all the classes received such drastic overhauls that I was busy enough relearning how to play my main (and then my druid healer when I found holy priests to be too broken for my taste) that I didn't feel like spending time on relearning how to paladin as well. I vaguely remember running one heroic as a tank right after the patch and that I found it silly how I topped the damage meters just by spamming Hammer of the Righteous and hitting Avenger's Shield whenever it lit up from a Grand Crusader proc. Then I ran one as a healer and felt slightly overwhelmed by how many more buttons and procs I had to keep track of all of a sudden. That was probably the moment when I decided for sure that I would put the paladin on the shelf until I had time to learn the new mechanics properly.

While levelling my priest and druid to 85 as healers, I ran into a lot of paladin tanks that used their abilities in strange ways as far as I could tell:
- Why is this guy using Divine Protection on a simple trash pull? What a waste of a cooldown.
- Why does this guy keep trying to get aggro with Holy Wrath? None of the mobs in this pull are demons or undead!
- How pointless to spam Hammer of the Righteous on such a large trash pack, it doesn't hit more than four mobs anyway.

In hindsight I'm glad that I never said these things out loud, because now that I'm the paladin tank, I'm constantly realising what a noob I've been to not notice all the changes to various tooltips earlier.
- Divine Protection only has a one-minute cooldown now? Why am I not using it all the time?
- Holy Wrath does damage to all types of mobs now? Holy crap!
- Hammer of the Righteous hits an unlimited amount of targets now, having been turned into a flat AoE? Talk about overpowered!
Good thing that I'm able to laugh at my own failure to notice this earlier. Plus it's fun to discover abilities that I didn't even know I had.

In general pugging normal instances as a tank has felt more weird than fun though. I think the problem is that many players still have the same mentality that they developed throughout facerolling WOTLK heroics, and since Cataclysm instances on normal mode facilitate an eerily similar gameplay I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It's still kind of awkward though, because on some bosses people not knowing the tactics can wipe you even on normal, and since the content is still relatively new it's not unreasonable for someone to not know what to do.

I've always viewed the tanking role as that of a guide. I set the pace, manage the pulls somewhat and generally try to help people out, but I'm not anyone's superior. Instances are a team exercise and everyone's contribution matters. In late WOTLK that wasn't really true anymore, but at least we were all on the same page about what was and wasn't important, more or less. Right now however it feels to me as if priorities and attitudes are all over the place.

On the one hand we have people, mostly dps players, who don't want to think or talk to anyone and just want to be led by the hand for the entirety of the instance. I appreciate that they follow my guidance to a certain extent, but sometimes I feel like a manager trying to coax productivity out of lazy employees as absolutely nothing gets done without me directly telling them to do so. If I don't tell them what to crowd control and when, they won't bother. If they don't know the fight, they won't say so unless I explicitly ask them - until we wipe because they blew us up somehow. To these guys I really just want to say: come on now, I'm not your boss and you're not at work. Get involved, show some initiative! Don't you enjoy playing this game?

On the other hand of the spectrum we have players who have a very clear idea of what they want to happen, when and how, and they might even say so, but otherwise they show little to no consideration for the rest of the party. Or in other words, where the previous group thinks that I, the tank, am their boss, this one thinks that I'm their bitch. They'll yell if I don't do things the way they want, tell me to gogogo and even pull without me. I had a priest healer in Vortex Pinnacle yesterday who started a trash pull with a mind control while me and half the party were still on another platform. I just didn't know what to say. I appreciate your initiative and mind control is really cool, but you're not the only person in this run!

Finally, take these two diametrically opposed attitudes and throw them into the same instance. From a tanking perspective this means that while I try to explain that boss to the phlegmatic rogue, the bossy mage decides that I'm too slow and pulls for me. There's just no way I can win. And yes, this kind of thing existed in WOTLK as well, but I never found it as bad because it was much, much rarer to run into someone genuinely new to the content in max-level randoms, so at least everyone was already at the level where they considered me their bitch instead. Wait, did I just describe that as a good thing? And people wonder why many tanks are such strange individuals...


  1. Well in Wrath, as a tank, we were mostly just fighting the party. The instances weren't hard and many mechanics could be flat ignored. Now we're fighting content and mechanics as well as the party.

  2. Oh, and Glyph of Holy Wrath will let Holy Wrath stun Dragonkin and Elementals too. Nice, eh?

  3. I only noticed that HotR was hitting everything after I was wondering why it wasn't spreading my seals and had to real the tooltip very carefully.

  4. @Askevar: That's a pretty accurate summary actually. X)

    @Redbeard: I was actually vaguely aware of that glyph already, but that still didn't explain to me at the time why someone would want to use Holy Wrath on humanoids all the time.

  5. I'm levelling a pally right now, doing an instance as tank now and then. I was hoping the weird players would only stick to the lower levels and quit the game. I guess thats idle hope. So i just have to get used to it. Last night i had a shadow priest as healer, wanting to hit the top dps chart. I'm fine with a healer doing some dps, just keep me as tank alive. After 2 deaths it became a little annoying. When i told him i just got the silent anwser. I started to heal myself now and then, and we ran the rest of the instance just fine. Although it was weird to see the dps chart: healer first, me second (Even with the healing!) and dps closing the ranks. I think i'll just have to adopt to other peoples play style, or quit playing a tank. Although i do like being the guy who gets beat up and still survives.

  6. I have to admit that the general difficulty of dungeons now compared to before makes me reluctant to PUG things. I know I should do it, but I just don't really. I might join LFD if I have 1-2 friends/guildies with me - but never alone.

    I definitely haven't tanked or healed anything without guildies. I keep wanting to level one of my tanks, but I can't decide which - and also the idea of tanking for the assortment of people who either don't know what to do or don't care isn't one I'm too fond of.