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!