The Care and Feeding of Warriors: One warrior's view of the Call to Arms

Matthew Rossi
M. Rossi|05.07.11

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: One warrior's view of the Call to Arms
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

I doubt it will surprise anyone to discover that I have strong opinions about the new Call to Arms feature for the Dungeon Finder. As a warrior, I play one of the classes that can fill the tanking role, and I have gear that is more than adequate for even the Rise of the Zandalar heroics. As a result, you might expect that I'm out there tanking a load of heroics for instant queues and a chance at free pets and mounts.

You'd be wrong. I haven't queued as a tank since patch 4.1. I have not, of my own will, tanked a single heroic since before February. When I have, it's been for friends or guildmates -- and yes, it's been generally successful. Why am I not tempted by the extra rewards of the CTA? Well, there are three reasons.

If you've tanked forever, why won't you tank for us?
  1. The rewards are not in line with my interests. I don't care about rare epic mounts or pets. I have the ones I want and a few I don't but which I ride around on because they're cool. I am the guy who, on the absolutely last reset of the old 20-man ZG, saw the raptor mount drop and passed on it. It was 50/50 odds I'd get it, and I passed without blinking an eye because I just don't care. So trying to buy my services as a tank with mounts and pets is like trying to buy my services as a writer of fiction by promising me all the leaflets I want.
  2. Even if the rewards were in my interest, they are insufficient to get me to put up with some of you guys. Some of you are awesome. Some of you are funny, do your jobs right, put up solid DPS without ignoring kill order, heal while moving out of Toxic Link. Some of you make the game worth playing. But some of you guys are buzzkills, racists, braggarts, or inept. Some of you are even all of those things at once. It's not worth it to me to take the tanking role and have to explain kill orders and fight mechanics to people who spend 20 minutes talking about rectums during a Zul'Gurub run. Seriously, dude, the reason we kicked you is we didn't want to hear any more about your internal organs and their foibles. I know there are tanks who do all these things, but the great thing about me being DPS in a group with one of those guys is, I can drop and go about my day without being accused of being a prima donna tank.
  3. Tanking often becomes the equivalent of taking three or four preschoolers into a monster-infested ruin. Seriously, one of the reasons I applaud the new incoming CC changes is that they takes one thing off my tanking plate. I don't care if it makes things easier for the DPS or healers; I'm just relieved that one more of the annoying little tasks that no two groups can agree on will be streamlined.
I've engaged in debate on Twitter on this subject many, many times about the relative difficulty of DPS vs. tanking. I won't get into it again, because it's not only subjective, greatly dependent on what an individual player's talents, tastes and aptitudes lead him to excel at, and deriving a great deal from his or her personality, but it's also unimportant to the point at hand. I doubt few players this far into Patch 4.1 would argue that the Call to Arms has brought a flood of experienced, geared tanks back into pugging. Some have undoubtedly come back, but it's not enough to reach one tank per three DPSers per one healer queued. Why?

Raid tanking good, FIRE BAD!!!

I love raid tanking. I love working with another tank or a tank corps, spreading out the duties and responsibilities. I like having a DPS team I can rely on to be responsible with their threat and having healers I can trust. I like knowing who all these people are and knowing what they'll do. While I am as irascible there as I am here, I like to believe they know how much I appreciate everything they do for the raid and its march forward through content.

I do not feel that tanking for a raid is harder or more demanding than healing or DPSing for it, as I've done two of those three roles in this expansion and seen the damage the healers need to address. Everyone comes to play and contributes to our success.

Pugging as a tank denies me, save for rare cases, this feeling of us vs. them. Instead, it becomes me vs. the rest of my group at the same time that it is the group vs. the monsters. The very personality traits that I use as a raid tank -- determination, a desire for perfection, and a willingness to trust my group -- become weapons used against me, harrying my patience and destroying my peace of mind.

If my guildmates and I run a heroic, all is smooth glass water and coordination. I often don't even have to tell them what I want them to do. No pickup group can match this level of understanding. We earned it. We played together and learned one another to get it.

A need for success

I've had pickup groups where everyone in the group was clearly a skilled player, we were all geared at or above the content's requirements, and yet our egos got in the way and we couldn't get it done. I've had groups where I came into a run with four complete strangers looking at me, all of them barely geared enough to get in the door, and yet it worked.

It comes down to a simple yet completely unenforceable, intangible need for group success. You have to be able to do your role and let everyone else do theirs and trust them to do it. This is not a requirement of perfection. Mistakes can happen and can be dealt with if the group communicates succinctly and works to correct them, and wipes can be overcome quickly and recovered from. What makes it all so much harder and what makes me not want to tank for pick up groups is when individuals put their egos ahead of success.

Efficient communication vs. yammering

Hopefully if you've bothered to stick around this long, you've realized that I do not blame all of this on any one role in the group. You're more likely to get a disruptive DPSer over a disruptive tank or healer by the simple fact that there are three DPSers in the group, not because being a skilled DPSer is easy or what have you.

The problem is a simple one. Pickup groups start out at a disadvantage in that they are often mostly or completely strangers, with no easy way to bring about the "raid mentality" of communication and group understanding. This isn't insurmountable. If it were, we'd have no good PUGs. And it's not the responsibility of some of the players in the group; it's the responsibility of all of them.

As a tank, I like it when groups stop talking when I'm trying to explain a pull, mark targets, and tell them I'm pulling. Groups that do this and pay attention to the kill order -- I love you guys. One ZG run that I ended up tanking started out extremely poorly, with a tank who managed to be offensive on so many levels that his own guildmate voted to kick him, and I ended up tanking simply to keep the group moving. (So no, I didn't get my bribe.) Once that disruptive tank was gone, the group was amenable to my specific quick-and-dirty fight explanations, marking (I generally only mark the first kill target and any CC) and even occasional odd joke. I grew so comfortable with them and they with me that when a tank finally showed up just before we pulled Zanzil, I was actually somewhat sad to go back to DPS. If it hadn't been 5 a.m. my time by the time Jindo died, I'd have run with them again, even in the tanking role.

So I guess, in the end, I will tank for you if you take the time to treat me like a person. And likewise, if your tank won't treat you like people, don't be afraid of queue times. A good group is one with respect and communication. A bad group is just wipes with nothing learned and your time wasted. No one wants that.

The Call to Arms isn't really going to make groups good. Only we can do that. All the Dungeon Finder does is give us the opportunity.

At the center of the dury of battle stand the warriors: protection, arms and fury. Check out more strategies and tips especially for warriors, including Cataclysm 101 for DPS warriors, a guide to new reputation gear for warriors, and a look back at six years of warrior trends.
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