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Breakfast Topic: Tank anxiety


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I leveled my main as a retribution paladin until about level 65, when I picked up two new toys running randoms -- a shield with high defense and block stats, and a one-handed sword with good stats that glowed purple and matched the shield. Yes, I became a tank because I wanted to accessorize. I'm a girl; that's how I roll.

I dual-specced protection, invested in tank gear and said to myself, "How hard is it?" I already had leveled my death knight through every heroic instance repeatedly, so I was confident that I knew the layout and the fights. My husband and I queued for a random with me as a tank and wound up in Hellfire Ramparts. And then it all went bad. I kept getting confused about who to pull first and which direction to go, and the group promptly lost confidence in me. They started playing the "kill them all quick" game, in which they used their hardest-hitting AoE spells to take the mobs out quickly and try to survive through it. Never mind that this tactic usually makes holding hate really difficult! We wiped, the healer left, the warlock and the hunter told me I was the worst tank ever, and I literally cried.

I've ran quite a few instances since then, some successful, some not. Now that I am a new level 80, I am on that perpetual quest to get lots of badges and upgrade my gear -- but I'm still suffering from tanking anxiety.

There seems to be a definite tank shortage on our server. I will wind up running randoms with people wearing far superior gear and who have much more experience. To them, heroics are boring. They rush through and have no patience for this paladin who wants to pause before pulls to size up the mobs, look for coming patrols and check the healer's mana level. They will pull without asking and then expect me to pick up the entire mob perfectly. Sometimes, I'm quick with a Consecration or an Avenger's Shield, and it works out. Sometimes, I'm not able to pick up everything in the mob, and a runaway takes out the healer. That's when the name-calling and insults begin.

Tanking is not all about GearScore or defense rating -- it's about being a leader. Tanks need not only to be ready to step up and take charge of the group by assigning duties and keeping everyone working together as a team, but also be willing to listen to the suggestions of those who might know a different strategy. Sometimes, people are not as kind or cooperative as I would like. As a tank, I need to learn how to harden myself against the criticism from others (or else learn to live with the nervous tic that I am convinced is developing). That has been the biggest obstacle to overcoming my tanking anxiety.

How do you prevent anxiety about a new role from taking over your chance to give it a try?

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