Feeling bad about cutting other people out

A few weeks ago, my raid group had a really good application from a paladin. He was a tank, he had loads of experience, he sounded very cool and laid back, and exactly the sort of person we’d all want to raid with. But there was a problem. We have enough tanks, and his heart wasn’t really in playing as an offspec.

The raid leaders thanked him nicely, informed him that they’d be in touch if any of us fell under a bus or moved to Antarctica, but noted that there was no room. So we passed up on including a really nice guy in our community and I feel as though it was partly my fault.

I love raid tanking but I also know that part of the reason I wound up in this slot is because I dug my heels in at the start of the expansion. And I’m still digging my heels in now. I could step down to let someone else have a go, but I’m not going to do that — they can wrangle my shield out of my cold undead hands.

I’m not sure if this is true of other raid groups also, but I know that all of our tanks get twitchy if we go for more than a raid or two without tanking anything. I think this may be less bad for the guys who have a healing offspec — healing feels as useful as tanking even with a slight gear deficiency. Dps as an offspec however? Say hello to the bottom of the damage meters unless you’re on an overpowered class or got really lucky with 10 man drops. (I miss my overpowered Fury days, oh yes I do.)

Maybe it’s because a couple of us are female so we tend to get more emotionally bound up in the social side of things. And so if we’re not tanking, we feel like a drag on the group.

The problems of class and role quotas

When you have raids which require fixed numbers of roles, you run into these problems with recruitment.  You have to turn away perfectly good candidates because there’s no spare slot for them. People who are soft (like me) do feel bad about ‘stealing’ a slot that many other people want. (Feeling bad doesn’t change how I act, I just feel vaguely bad at the same time.)

I remember a post by Chastity@Righteous Orbs that caught my eye a few weeks ago. He (or she?) commented that he was the only tank in his raid group and he found that this made him very jealous and protective of his spot. He found himself subtly discouraging other would-be tanks from going that route, even though he knew it was a bad idea because they needed more tanks.

And I understand that also. In the beginning of the expansion when we were all still jockeying for raid roles and didn’t entirely know how many tanks we would end up needing, things felt more competitive. And I say this as someone who genuinely likes all the other tanks in my raid group.

It’s just that now it’s all over and I do feel comfortable in my spot, I have the luxury of looking down at the new applicants, shaking my head sadly and crying into my roast hazelnut latte at the sheer misery of it all, and whining on my blog about the existential angst of the lonely tanking road.

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21 thoughts on “Feeling bad about cutting other people out

  1. I have similar issues at times. Just a short while ago we lost the only other well-geared raid tank. She told me it was because our raid times didn’t fit anymore, but later I heard it whispered that it was because she felt I treated her terribly. And maybe I did. She was awesome, a paladin, my TPS output wasn’t anywhere near hers, and she had a couple thousand health on me. I whined about it, I felt threatened, and I guess I made her uncomfortable. The other officers tell me I didn’t really, but I feel bad over this whole incident.

    Which doesn’t stop me from being extremely critical of up and coming tanks. It’s hard to curb that. I think tanks are all egomaniacs to some degree, maybe it comes with the job description.

    Very interesting post.

  2. Egomaniacs? Never. We just can’t stand the possibility that we are replaced from our irreplaceable, unique position, because we know how hard it is to get into that position. At least unconsciously we know that, and that’s the reason we strengthen our position with every possible way.

    But guess what? Even though as hard it is to get to be a tank, there will be us who are willing to take the putting down, the learning curve and the endless showing how good you are. And learning to play better. Because in the end the way of a tank is a very, very straining and consuming way.

    We have in our guild currently a situation in which we are lacking good raid tanks from our regular raids: sure, we have us up and coming ones, but we’re not geared enough to complete the rest of the raids.

    To Spinks’ post I’d say that if you feel disappointed, cross or let down as a tank after being turned down from a post, it’s not the end of the world. It says that either you or the guild weren’t ready for the change. And in Kadomi’s case, if you feel being treated ‘terribly’ even though you are performing at the best of your performance, then you have no place in being a tank.

    Being a tank is challenging yourself against the mobs in each and every fight there is. And the worst enemy you have is yourself.

    And your internet connection.

    C out

  3. I am on the other side of the fence. My cow druid joined guild and got pushed to feral because there were enough restos already. I left not so long after (I enjoyed feral tanking to a degree thou, I must confess) and now I am in the “looking for guild” zone. And for me, brick wall I am hitting with my horns are old, close-knit communities. I want guild I can ultimately identify with, but even thou I play on RP realm, even those advertising as “looking for players, not characters” are interested really only in employer/mercenary deal. You can have only so many good friends, so I kind of understand, but that leaves me in pug zone, because people are overprotective of their roles and relations and don’t really want anyone in.
    Of course I wouldn’t have any trouble getting into normal, objective-oriented raiding guild, but thats not what I am looking for. Just like paladin from your example didn’t wanted to heal or lay holy smackdown.

  4. I think I’m an oddity when I was raiding then. Very firmly on the tank roster, one of our three feral druids. But if we didn’t need all of us to tank, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d be the one doing kitty DPS. I lurve myself some kitty DPS.

    But yes, I understand where you’re coming from. I feel bad for my raid at the moment, they’re short on tanks, one of our old timers just having quit. Which isn’t wide news yet. Thankfully we have some up and comings, and good luck to them.

    Of course holding a baby means I can’t tank anyway, which means their threat to me is nil!

  5. So why doesn’t your raid group (you said “raid group” rather than “guild” though for this context, it doesn’t matter) just grow itself? You can still keep your current group as its own little clique but you’d also be adding more cool people like that Paladin to chat with and be part of your little virtual family while he’s raiding in Group #2.

    I did the same thing back in vanilla WoW — my raid group (not guild) grew to the point we were able to run two (sometimes three) raids simultaneously, and often had contests to see which group could finish it first.

    • Running one raid group can be a nightmare, running two? Self induced hell. Yes, it very much depends on the group of people, but given the sometimes competitive nature of these things you start to run into problems like ‘Group A’ is seen as the super group. If I don’t get into Group A am I being slighted? Am I not good enough? Is there favourtism going on? Etc etc etc. It’s a whole big can of worms that we debated when WoW shifted down from 40 to 25 man. And in the end we let natural losses slim down the group until we had a nice sized raid pool.

    • Even if you do run two groups (which is a lot more organising to do), there’s still no guarantee you won’t have too many tanks applying.

      At some point every raid group has to decide if it is going to impose quotas on entry or require the more popular classes to rotate who is raiding (ie. spend more time sitting on the bench). And generally the successful WoW ones go with the quota and (probably) have happier raiders for it.

      There is an art to working out how many of each role you need in your team so that you can always field full raids on raid nights but players don’t get frustrated at being on reserve too often.

    • Scott>>
      Making that call to expand beyond one 25 man group is a big thing. Its the transition thats the issue. There’s a point between making the call and recruiting where you have more than enough for one group (5 man, 10 man, 25 man, whatever) but not enough for 2 groups (be that 10 man raid and a 5 man instance through to two full 25 mans). And thats where the trouble sets in. Who gets benched? The new guys…who have effectively joined to do something with their new pals and get told ‘nah sorry not enough for a new raid yet so you’re on the bench untill we recuit another x players’ or you start subing in some of the newer players and ‘resting’ your old hands. Now this can work, ideally a raid should have enough players to give some resiliance for holidays, work and RL. But as Spinks mentions people tend to be jealous of their raid spot. Also of course the temptation to ‘open the flood gates’ and start fast recuiting with the ‘we can always kick them if they suck’ attitude can creep in. I worry about guilds recuiting raiders in /trade. This has been the cause of every single guild failure I’ve been in. I’m sure its worked for some people….but never for me.

  6. Woo! Pingback love!

    I am, in fact, a guy – I just play girls on the intarwebs.

    Having a DPS offspec is really awkward. I tend to tank-slash-DPS in our new guild and I *utterly* fail at Retribution. I’ve actually got a halfway decent ret set now (Conquest badges for the win) but I’m still hovering just above the tanks on damage output simply because I’m just plain *bad* at Retribution.

  7. Hm, got to disagree. In fact i strongly disagree. I’m in a guild with 4 ToGC capable tanks and we got 6 tanks in our ToC 25 rotation. Because of this one or more tanks always have to run off spec if she wants to come along and there has been little or no issues over this. In fact there is often more issue over who get to go off spec then who gets to stay tanking.

    We got the same problem with offspec tanks beeing lower on the damage- or heling-meter, but no one have a problem with it as it is fully understood that they are in their offspec and lower geared then the rest. Besides our tank are some of the most dedicated raiders in the guild and usually the once with the best tactical understading of the fights. They all so got a situational awareness that at least the DPS often lack. Even as offspec they don’t do the mistakes that others sometimes do soo for hardmodes and progression we often rather have a lower DPS offspec tank along rather then the higher DPS mainspec that don’t switch target at the right time or stands in the bloody fire.

  8. This is really a problem. We all know the reason why main tanks can become so overprotective and anxious to lose their job. Sometimes they are primadonnas, but more often they just fear to lose their raid spot.

    Because what can a tank do if someone else is tanking? With so much AoE tanking often there is not even much use for an off-tank to take care of extra adds. The role of a 2nd tank for special encounters is also very limited compared to being the main tank. Who usually also gets loot privileges, the MT needs to be tough otherwise the cardhouse fails at the foundation.

    I fear there is not much you can do on the social front against this. It is the game mechanics that shape this kind of mentality and behaviour.

    And I fear especially WoW is at a total dead end there. World mobs die too fast, 3-4 shadowbolts, dead. On the other hand, the same caster dies in 2 or max 3 blows to a boss. Tanks take a lot more, but also only survive significantly longer if they get constantly healed.

    The holy trinity needs to be replaced, abolished. HA. Easier said than done!
    Still, even within this system, there is room for improvement:

    1.) Switch focus on reactive player actions rather than specializations on class roles in raid encounters, without having them to memorize patterns too often, the “learn the encounter” phase is getting a bit dated in our times.

    2.) Make squishies tougher, make tanks do more damage. Do not blur the lines, a dps caster should still demolish the damage output of an off-tank. And make mobs live longer, too. Allows for much more flexibility in design if mobs do not kill players in 1-2 blows and vice versa!

    I would recommend to take a look at Aion, around level 30-40 already you can notice how much more DPS a Sorcerer (caster dps) can put out than a Gladiator (off-tank).
    They root, freeze, nuke, kite themselves to victory. A Gladiator does do nearly as much DPS, but can take on several mobs in an AoE role and provides knockdowns and some extra snares. They are welcome as DPS class, despite their DPS being lower than a Sorcerer. Their AoE, KD and much higher survivability make up for this.

    WoW tried to make raidspots more variable with dual specs and Greg Street’s slogan “bring the player, not the class”.
    They also need to make sure that this slogan really applies, because in your case the nice player was not taken because of his role/class.

    And this can be achieved by giving different classes roughly equal chances to deal with certain situations in their very own way. Then it would not matter if raider #25 is a warrior or mage.

    3. This is all very very hard to do. This is more than a balance issue, this is a core and fundamental issue with the system.

    It is indeed very hard even to imagine a system where all members of a party are challenged by a fight that is not just about testing the specific abilities of their class… but as long as we need specialized roles, people will have their regular place in a raid and defend it fiercely.

    Then add the social dimension to the mechanics-induced drama and things go ballistic…!

  9. Part of the problem is rather simple math:
    20% of a 5-man heroics group are tanks
    20% of a 10-man raid group are tanks
    But there aren’t 5 tanks in a 25-man raid!

    Which means that if your guild follows the regular “progression” from heroics to 10-man raids to 25-man raids, at the last step you’ll find yourself with surplus tanks. Raid progression makes some tanks obsolete. No wonder tanks fear for their job!

    • This is true. But quota issues can happen with any class/ role. We could be turning hunters away because we have too many hunters, or turning healers away because we have too many healers.

  10. I don’t tank but when other mages ( that is my main class) join my raid group I get worried about spending time on the bench never mind tanking which is even more specialised.

    Spinks you mention “I think this may be less bad for the guys who have a healing off spec — healing feels as useful as tanking even with a slight gear deficiency. Dps as an off spec however?”
    So in your mind healing is alright as they are quite useful but who cares about dps. I have exaggerated your point but do you think the dps are the lowest of the three groups by a distance or is it because you will be near the bottom of the meters so feel less vital to your team?
    As a dps class I do feel like tanks and healers do look down on us. That is why I enjoy their being enrage timers (whether they be hard or soft) as it makes dps nearly as important.

    • No, I think dps are great.

      What I mean is that when I’m healing on my alt, I feel useful regardless of meters. Its nice to be higher but I know when I’ve kept my target up.

      But as dps, if I’m bottom of the meters then I feel like a waste of space. Actually it’s not so much being bottom (after all, someone has to be), but if there’s a big gap between where I am and where the other dps are then …

  11. I’ve had to deal with this very thing…some brief backstory. I played a Hunter through Vanilla, and early BC. Finding raid spots was tough. Ran H SH with a pally tank (I was VERY skeptical at the time), and was amazed. Took a break, and the wife and I rerolled on a new server. Guess what I decided to be? :)

    Fast forward to late BC…and it’s tough to get a spot tanking (man, in Vanilla, we’d spend hours looking for tanks…), and the same in Wrath.

    So, I started my own guild.

    Last night, I had to deal with my first bout of “tank drama.”

    We have a bear who frankly…sucks. And doesn’t seem to comprehend it. Problems are always someone else’s fault. This is compounded by his tree gf’s (equally bad) eagerness to blame others for their badness. Fact of the matter is, when they’re there…we wipe. When they aren’t, we blow through content. It’s like our own personal hardmode, with normal level loot.

    We also recruited another tankadin who has some learning to do, but is promising. I have to share my loot now (which is why I wanted a bear!), but at least there’s loot to share.

    Last night, the RL told the bear to go DPS. He threw a fit to me in whispers…so I went Ret…with my ungemmed and unenchanted gear, and blue boots. The rest of my officers weren’t happy, but this gave me the groundwork for a new rule.

    ALL tanks must have an offspec, and ALL tanks will rotate, save on bleeding edge (for us) progression content. This includes me…who went from 1-70, then 70-80 never speccing anything but Prot.

    One other, semi-unrelated thing. I also have a rule that tanks don’t raid lead. It’s too much ego and power in one spot. Plus, it gives me a good excuse to not RL :)

  12. I had that experience. It’s very easy to fill tanks because it’s rare you need more than a few, and being the third-string tank waiting to be swapped in (in FFXI alliance limit was 18, and you booted people out who died and swapped a fresh tank in if you ever ran through more than two of them) is not why you play the class for.

    It’s not about egomania or anything, it just sucks to not play your class. In FFXI at least you could swap to an alt job on the same character, so if your LS wanted to rotate tanks chances are you could be a true DPS, not use a DPS spec, or you could support or heal. Career tanks got shafted a lot though, especially as the game aged and more people got tank jobs to 75.

  13. Interesting time for this post – I find myself in a situation as a “new tank” in a guild and have been having to prove myself. In my old guild I was the default MT for everything because I had at least 5k HP on any of our other tank (bears ftw!)

    Now that I’m in this new guild I find that I still have more HP than our other tanks, though a couple of them do high a slightly higher gearscore than me. So far on the four raids I’ve done with our primary raid leader I’ve been given MT duty on everything. There was also a raid last week where one of our other tanks was raid leader. He claimed MT duty (Cool by me, his raid) and brought in one of our other tanks to OT for him. The bummer is my off-spec is DPS, and I admitted that it isn’t as good as my tanking gear, and was immediately passed over for a DPS spot in that raid.

    I pretty much sat around for four hours while my wife went on the raid – usually we raid together so this was new for me. Did some dailies and stuff but it still bothered me most of the night. I guess other tanks are protective of their spots, and I’m not out to take anyones role away from them, it just happens that I’m a tank and people are generally happy to give me tanking duties once they see that I have the gear and skill to do whatever needs to be done.

    I think the other thing to consider is what other toons a player can bring – I decided back when WotLK came out to take my druid to 80 and leave my other 70’s behind. However some of our other tanks have 3-4 other 80’s and would probably still like to gear them up, so it might open up the chance for them to mix it up a little if they want to. In my experience with WoW tanks are usually the last to admit to any class burnout, but are often times relieved to take a break from tanking sometimes as well.

    • That’s a good point. I’ve noticed that tanks are very very reluctant to admit burnout (I think this possibly contributes to coming across like prima donnas), because of the sense that if they take a break they won’t get ‘their’ spot back.

  14. Fwiw I think your guild made exactly the right decision on this applicant.

    You can’t fill up with redundant players just because you like someone, heck, especially when you like someone.

    Because it would mean him being benched or you being benched or some other person being benched.

    Raid tanking is amazingly good fun in WoW but the competion is staggering. Tobold mentions above that the game mechanics squeeze the number of tank spots per team member at max level. They also (in my opinion) make tanking more fun so it’s doubly harsh.

    At the end of the day other people’s fun is not your responsibility. This player sounds like someone capable of falling on his feet whether he wins a spot in another guild or starts his own.

    In my old guild we inherited too many tanks as a result of a partial guild merger. This meant that the price you paid for tanking was that you had to tank sometimes and dps other times as we shared the fun around. It wasn’t ideal but people made it work pretty well.

    As for feeling like a drag on the group when you’re not tanking that’s not a female thing. It’s a dps meter thing. On my DK I felt like a drag when I was low and worked hard on my offspec set. Eventually I was consistently top six when dpsing (out of 15ish). Perfectly acceptable for a dual tank spec Tank.

    • Death Knights are overpowered :) (Well, in dps at least.) I know what you mean though, back when Fury was overpowered I used to regularly hit top 6 in offspec and I did feel like less of a drag then.

      Other than that, I agree with you. It was the right decision, the other guy will be fine, and so on. But even knowing all of that, I felt a twinge of guilt even though I knew it was silly.

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