How to fail! And 20 ways to fail at tanking!

Blog Azeroth has a shared topic this week about Fails.

If I listed all the mistakes I’ve ever made in MMOs then (aside from needing a photographic memory to recall all the details) it would be the longest post I have ever written. ie. even longer than the one about why all MMOs will either need to implement a massive change or slowly die after about 4 years — feeling quite good about that prediction vis-a-vis Cataclysm right now so that’s not a fail.

Here are some of the main ones. I hope someone can learn from my mistakes.

Fighting for ownership of a guild when I was an officer and not the GM

I spent far too much time and energy trying to help direct one of my first guilds. I’d put a lot of time and effort into it. I’d been one of the first members and I was an officer. I didn’t understand why the GM and other officers weren’t interested in promoting guild activities or organising anything. I should have left before I really clashed with them. Even though I was probably right, it wasn’t worth it. I was much happier after I did leave and they probably were too.

As a general rule, never be afraid to leave a guild and find a new one if you realise that it isn’t working out for you … and probably never will. If you find yourself arguing a lot with guild leaders, that’s a good sign that it’s time to go. If you know you are playing more than you really wanted to, it’s a good sign that it’s time to find a guild with a more relaxed schedule, you owe it to everyone.

Fretting about picking a non-optimal class

You know how this one goes? You pick a class (or build, or whatever) because you find it fun. Later on, it turns out that it just isn’t as strong in its niche as other classes or you aren’t happy with it for other reasons. This is the point at which you should just reroll or find another game. There’s no point hanging on in the hope that devs will wave a magic wand and sort it all out for you, and that you’ll be rewarded in any way for sticking with an underpowered class. Just go play the bandwagon class for awhile and have fun, it’s a better use of time. I was much happier in DaoC when I left my minstrel and started a new sorceress — both classes were fine but I had been grumping for awhile about how badly I wanted to play a sorcerer. It would have saved a lot of time if I’d just done it.

Similarly in WoW, I knew I wasn’t enjoying tanking 5 man heroics in TBC. I’d have been happier if I’d switched to my resto druid sooner in that expansion.

I do think WoW at the moment in particular is more balanced than it has ever been, but MMOs in the past haven’t been as quick to balance the classes.

Taking someone on a raid because you couldn’t bear to say no

As a raid leader, your main goal is a successful raid — however you want to define that. If you know for sure that taking one person along will either make everyone else miserable (ie. because people hate them) or seriously affect your chances of a good raid, then grow a pair and find a polite way to tell them no. This is also a useful life lesson, you can’t always say yes to everyone and people actually don’t mind being told no as much as you think that they do. If you want to be productive, tell them what they can do to turn that no into a yes in future … unless you actually have taken an irrational dislike to them in which case try to persuade another raid leader to take them instead.

If you really want to do something, step up and lead

In every MMO I have played, I was much happier when I stopped bitching about people always organising raids or groups at times I couldn’t make  and just started organising my own. True, I don’t always want to lead. But being willing to step up from time to time means that you’ll always be able to make the raids and always be picked (unless you want to sit out). It magically becomes easier to do whichever content is on your mind at the time.

Know when to ditch a fail group

I was so happy when I found a Deadmines group for my alliance warlock. How foolish I was, how quickly I had forgotten the many ways in which a Deadmines group can fail from the past. We got lost on the way to the instance entrance and wiped three times while searching for it, then two of the group went afk for several minutes at different times.

It wasn’t as if I knew the way to the instance entrance either so I can’t say I was much help. But at least I knew when to say goodbye, for the sake of my sanity. There was a time when I would have felt honour bound to stay until the rest of the group split up, I have learned better now.

I cannot count the number of times in the past in which I dutifully stuck with a group where people weren’t even trying. You have to find a balance between helping a group work its way through an instance, even if it is slow and lots of people are learning, and deciding when people are just taking the piss and there’s something else you actually need to be doing (possibly in real life).

20 Ways to Fail at Tanking

Oh, this one is a whole category on its own! Unfortunately most tanking failures aren’t very novel or interesting and as you (and your friends/ guildies) get more practiced, you tend to recover from the failures quickly without even missing a step.

I’ve also noticed from reading threads on the official WoW boards that the types of tanking failures people report have changed in Wrath. There are a lot more cases of someone forgetting they were in an offspec or wearing the wrong gear during a pull. This used to happen previously but dual specs means that it’s a lot more likely to happen now. In Cataclysm, tanking gear will no longer feature defence as a stat. So it may be easier, like a druid, to do some emergency tanking while in the ‘wrong’ gear.

Paladins and DKs often fail by forgetting to have the right tanking buff/ presence up which has a huge effect on their threat (ie. no threat). This doesn’t really happen with druids (everyone else can yell at you if you aren’t a bear!) or warriors (who just switch stance quickly without really missing a beat — plus your tanking abilities won’t even show up on the quickbar if you’re not in defensive stance).

Classic tanking failures — I have done all of these in the past and probably will in future too:

  1. Pulling too many groups, probably by walking into one by mistake. (We call this the arse pull.)
  2. Pulling with the wrong ability, often resulting in the above. (ie. charging into a group by mistake instead of shooting at one.)
  3. Charging into combat and falling off a cliff (*cough* Kologarn)
  4. Forgetting that some crucial group member was afk and pulling anyway.
  5. Ditto for not waiting for healer mana, especially if they specifically asked.
  6. Forgetting my assignments in a raid encounter and trying to tank the wrong mob. Oops.
  7. Forgetting to repair.
  8. Messing up my macros so that my shield got unequipped and I couldn’t find it in my bags (while tanking) to switch it back in.
  9. Anything else connected with hitting the wrong button/ having a non-optimal hotbar layout such that hitting the wrong button did something more amusing or catastrophic than that would sound.
  10. Not noticing when my healer died. Or needed assistance.
  11. Ditto to not noticing anything happening to any of the other tanks.
  12. Not spotting adds in time to pick them up; particularly bad if the adds are large, brightly coloured, noisy, or eat several healers before I notice them.
  13. Not informing the rest of the raid promptly  if any of the above happens.
  14. Mismarking. Getting the kill order wrong in a pack of mobs such that the one you left until last kills everyone in an amusing way.
  15. Arguing about mismarking while trying to tank the next pull.
  16. Mistaunting. Oh no, you used your taunt by mistake and now it’s down and there’s an important tank switch coming up!
  17. Mistaunting off another tank.
  18. Taunting while targetting the wrong mob, oops.
  19. Not realising that your mouse batteries were running low until it goes dead in the middle of a boss fight.
  20. Not realising that your voice chat headset has become unplugged until you wonder why no one is responding to the VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION you just gave them in the middle of a boss fight.
  21. Getting a Papercut on your “Heroic Strike Finger” (Tarsus)
  22. Bleeding all over the place because you can’t stop hitting Heroic Strike in the middle of a boss fight. (Tarsus)
  23. Tanking a boss that requires an interrupt (hi, Auriaya!) and accidentally hitting Shield Bash about two seconds before you need it, so it’s still on cooldown at the critical moment. (Linedan)
  24. Mistargeting and pulling an extra group because you tab targeted into that group sitting across the way instead of the guy right in front of you. (Smakendahed)
  25. Showing your back to the mob. In this scenario, you are crittable, cannot dodge, parry, or block. (Pypsi)

Well I don’t know about you but I feel better for having got that off my chest. Feel free to add any suggestions!

21 thoughts on “How to fail! And 20 ways to fail at tanking!

  1. So true. A lot of people would rather complain about how they can’t have what they want than actually step up and “just do it”. It’s one of the things I like about the latest direction of WoW – Blizz have cut down the grindy aspect a lot so changing your mind doesn’t hurt quite as much.

  2. > Ditto for not waiting for healer mana, especially if they specifically asked.

    If the healer still has time to ask for mana, you’re not pulling fast enough. 🙂

    And you made me read the other, long post, too. Sounds exactly like cataclysm (revamp of old content, reduction of complexity by removing several stats, putting focus on guilds (and therefore the social component)).

    > Fretting about picking a non-optimal class

    Here I’m not sure I agree.

    Do you actually suggest to abandon your class? Or to just spend more time on the FOTM and keep your main?

    • What I mean is don’t feel that your main has to stay your main if it’s not working out the way you wanted. (I do think WoW is a slightly different case these days because they’ve really been great about keeping things balanced swiftly. But it’s no guarantee in a new game that this will happen. I never was really happy with how my archmage worked out in WAR, I wanted it to get as good as a warrior priest and it never did.)

      • I don’t know. I was never happy with the under performance of my resto druid in TBC in 5 mans heroic (I played a resto druid and a holy priest @70). It just sucked to wipe multiple times because you cannot pull out the same reactive hps spam on a tank as a priest.

        (Yes, I know that lifebloom was very nice in raids an all that. But before 2.4 you could not put any hot on a tank pre pull because the AE thread of non paladin tanks sucked and you would immediately aggro everything but the primary target. Heroics pre 2.4 required reactive healing which cannot be done with hots and regrowth sucked hard and healing touch (pre 2.4 there were no glyphs) was to slow. And there was no AE heal pre 2.4.)

        But I rarely played the priest because I don’t like the priest class even thought heroic runs went way smoother.

        So, I never regretted playing an under performing druid (although my party members sometimes did 🙂 Druids are just cool.

        Same is true with my main, a warlock. Warlocks under performed terrible in vanilla but I never wanted to play mage. Never regretted to play the class I like more, although the performance was bad.

        So, I don’t know. I would probably stop playing WoW or, more likely, stop playing the parts my lock suck in. But I wouldn’t play another class which is more efficient just because it’s more efficient as main.

  3. Would be an awfully dull game without the failures.

    Recently I managed to smartbomb my alt in Eve. A smartbomb is a repeating aoe and I accidentally left it on when my alt came to salvage the mission in high sec. Big mob of angry policemen turned up to shoot me outta the skies.

  4. My favourite fail was in Darkshore, where I grouped with a night elf I met just south of the Master’s Glaive. The night elf asked me to help him rescue some damsel in distress (a unicorn, if I recall correctly). I agreed. The Master’s Glaive is in a large pond in a deep hole, with a path leading down to it in the northeast, and filled with cultists of the Twilight Hammer. Of course, we approached from the south. On seeing the damsel in distress, my partner immediately leapt down the cliff into the pond, and thinking he knew what he was doing, I followed. The cultists immediately surrounded us and started pounding on us. My partner whips out his fishing-rod to defend himself! I died laughing! As our souls ran back to our broken bodies, I warned him to equip himself with his main weapon before we tried anything again. Then he tells me: “I sold my sword so I could buy a fishing rod. This is the only weapon I have, and I don’t have enough money to buy another”!

    • Oops, haha.

      I think all the funniest fails I’ve seen in WoW have been pet-related. Ever tried jumping off the balcony just inside the entrance to the Scholomance without desummoning a pet? One of my mates did that.

      Several minutes later, the entire instance turned up!

      • Jumping down to the Ogres after the first boss in LBRS. At least twice a hunter managed to pull the whole lower part with his pet. I have no idea how a pet can survive such a massive mob train, but both brought all the mobs back to us. 🙂

      • UBRS, I had a typical Huntard moment. I’d managed to die during the long Rend fight but I didn’t get Rez’d (can’t recall why, maybe no Battle Rez’s) so I ran all the way back into the Instance and up to the balcony overlooking the pit where the Rend Blackhand encounter takes place, which most people normally leap over to begin the encounter.

        Did you know that after this fight starts a horde of Elite Orcs come to the balcony to watch the fight? I didn’t. I figured I could run through them and jump over the balcony without them killing me, and I did. No, I didn’t have my Pet out, but I still aggro’d all those spectators who found their way down to the pit where they caught us unprepared. Yeah, we wiped, and nobody (except me) knew where the Orcs had come from or why, and I wasn’t telling.

        We regrouped and without the mystery Adds from the previous fight downed Rend, took out the Beast, and moved onto Drakk. As the only Hunter I got Kite duty, and I took Drakk all the way across the bridge and into the Beast’s room, where he grew frustrated with the elusive little Dwarf, resisted my Feign Death and Conflag’d me to real death.

        Like a Noob (or a Huntard), I clicked Release and began running back to help my friends, who did just fine without me and killed Drakk before I got back in.

        The BS Tunic dropped. I didn’t have the BS Tunic. Because I’d Released I couldn’t loot Drakk. The group tried Master Loot, but it didn’t work either. They felt bad for me because I missed out on getting my BS Tunic.

        I couldn’t help but think that Karma was punishing me for causing then not confessing to the Rend wipe 😦

      • @Capn John

        > Did you know that after this fight
        > starts a horde of Elite Orcs
        > come to the balcony to watch
        > the fight?

        Sure. On my server it was common to take a bio brake before jumping down. You always had to hope that everybody was back before the first person jumps. And if not, that he returns before the orcs arrive.

        Plus, you can target and range can attack these orcs.

        And, you can hit them with AE effects like blizzard/rain of fire. Never ever fight the small dragons near these orcs. 🙂

  5. 21) Getting a Papercut on your “Heroic Strike Finger”
    22) Bleeding all over the place because you can’t stop hitting Heroic Strike in the middle of a boss fight.

  6. I’m guilty of 16 and 17.

    Although I do 17 more often when I’m Ret spec. “Oops, just hit Hand of Reckoning – sorry!” I keep it hotkeyed to help grab adds or snag things off healers and get them back within easy range of the tank.

    For 16, I often see the add, mistarget and burn the taunt. 😦

    One you don’t have listed is mistargeting and pulling an extra group because you tab targeted into that group sitting across the way instead of the guy right in front of you.

  7. I’ve got #21 for you, Spinks: Tanking a boss that requires an interrupt (hi, Auriaya!) and accidentally hitting Shield Bash about two seconds before you need it, so it’s still on cooldown at the critical moment.

    Other than that, I’ve done 19 of yours. I’ve never had a wireless mouse, so that one’s right out. 🙂

  8. Showing your back to the mob. In this scenario, you are crittable, cannot dodge, parry, or block. This doesn’t happen too often, but something to be aware of in kiting situations, or when trying to position a mob.

    • You can dodge attacks from behind perfectly find. That’s why melee collect expertise. Otherwise, moving behind the boss would be enough.

      And the only way a mob can crit you after you have enough crit reduction (5.6% for 3 level) is if you’re sitting (or you’re or the mob is affected by a buff/debuff).

  9. Confusing pieces of Tier gear because they have exactly the same icon. Saving said items in your Outfitter mod. Only noticing two weeks of raids down the line.

    Using Bubble instead of Shieldwall. And, in some cases, vica versa.

    One thing even worse than randomly ninjapulling 2-3 extra groups is plotting with fellow tanks to committ said ninjapull, and accidentally typing the critical part of the plan in a public channel.

  10. Pingback: A holiday, a holiday, the first one of the year! Best of 2009. « Welcome to Spinksville!

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