Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wayward tanks

I mentioned on my post on Monday how the hilarious Tamarind at Righteous Orbs has given me a blog topic. He said:

"So Keredria, you know you have a certain ‘reputation’ as a healer, right? In a good way, I mean, for not taking any shit. "Heal like a tank", is something I carry with me into every PUG I attempt. So what I would like from you are your top tips for controlling a wayward tank, and reminding them who *really* wears the platemail in the relationship – as frivolous or as serious as you like".

Hmmm, so I have this reputation eh? Haha. I think I shall mix frivolous AND serious in the same post and you guys can guess which is which. Ok, ok I'll admit that there is probably much more frivolous than serious, but there is some serious here if you pull out your magnifying glass and look really really hard.

Now lets first look at why you may have a wayward tank, and where a tank might get the crazy idea that they are running the show and consider themselves the head or leader of the group. Well yeah, its true that the tank is the first person running into a boss or group of mobs. But does that really mean the tank is leading the group? Or could it be a bit like the miners sending canaries into a cave to test whether there was enough oxygen? Perhaps the true leader is the miner at the back of the pack who was smart enough to send the canary in?!?! :) Let's also look at another example:

Hahaha. (Actually in all seriousness I know I'm not some kid expert, having none myself, but people who actually put their kids on leashes like this... WTF?!?!) Anyways, I digress.

Now I do have to be honest in that I haven't had to heal a pugged random tank for something challenging in a long long time. Dealing with a wayward tank is definitely harder when its a stranger that you're running with. But whether you're dealing with a tank you've never run with, or a tank that you've run a million times with, at the end of the day, speak up. Let's look at a *hypothetical* example:

Let's say, por ejemplo (ooh Spanish!), that you just happen to be a kick ass resto druid who is running heroic Pit of Saron for the very very first time with oh, let's just say as a *hypothetical* example, a protection warrior tank, who just happens to *hypothetically* have a white ponytail. Now in this *hypothetical* story, let's say its been a long long time since this tank and healer had run a challenging 5 man instance. So if this tank were to *hypothetically* pull the next group of mobs when the healer is at about one third mana, how should the healer react?

a. Stay quiet and try to keep up with heals as best you can
b. Scream "WTF, you pull when I'm good and ready, got it?!?! Got it?!?!"
c. Let it be clearly known that you are perturbed with a sarcastic comment to the effect of "Ums hello... can I mana up between pulls?" And if it happens again, let the group wipe.

Well maybe different healers have different answers... and maybe the right answer depends on the situation or even the tank. But in general, I think the answer should be c. Speak up for what you need. Tell them you need to mana back up, or mention that you have adds on you (though I usually try to just run to the tank in these situations). And if after expressing what you need, the tank is still "wayward"? Well then you know what? You've done the best you can, you've told them what you need. If its still not working, cut your losses and move on. Its not any slight on your healing badge of honor.

Now if you have been running a long long time with a specific tank, I would venture that most tanks themselves recognize that it is the healer who is wearing the platemail in the relationship, as Tam puts it. The tank-healer relationship has often been compared to a marriage, because there are so many similarities. So in a similar vein, even if you know and the tank knows that the platemail actually hangs in your closet, you don't always have to verbalize it or shout it from the rooftops. Sometimes, be quite generous and make the tank think that they wear the platemail. Let them enjoy it... let them savor it. But you and I know the truth.

I've previously mentioned on this blog the idea that if a tank is thought of as the head of a raid or instance or group or whatever, then the healer is the neck. The neck can make the head turn any which way it wants.

Rock on healers, rock on.


  1. Good post, just need to pound it in to all the random pug tanks we find with the new cross server stuff. I've run into a few that were pretty bad. Hint: when your healer ends up going into bear to tank AND heal, you really need to rethink your selection of tank when it asks you what you can do.

    Luckily, most of the ones I've run into have been ok and a few very good.

  2. Heh. Funny hypothetical story. Aren't you glad I always wait for you?

    Btw hon, have you seen my scrunchie? I thought I left it on the dresser last night with my trinkets. It's really hard to tank when I can't put my hair back.

  3. "c" is the correct answer if you have subtlety spec'd.
    "b" is the correct answer if you don't have subtlety spec'd.
    lol. nice post.

    personally i'd probably just let the tank go down to like 100 hp, do some mad healing just to prove the point that i am awesome :P, wait till we finish, then say "wait for me to mana up next time."

  4. (d) a polite request to drink usually does the trick. In a worst case scenario, should we be prepared to pot or innervate...?

    I don't like to think about the "platemail" concept in a group though, while it's good etiquette to wait for healers and casters to drink up, we're also counting on the tanks to keep us out of trouble throughout the instance, especially during the tricky pulls. Good DPS also means your fights are shorter and thus your mana will be higher.

  5. It's all about where you stand. Literally.

    If you stand away from the group and the pulls, you have control. If you don't heal, they die, you don't. Rezing them then says, "See this? This is me holding your existence in my hand."

    If you stand close, then the tank is in control. He pulls and what he pulls and you heal, because otherwise you die along with.

  6. In the alternative, turning to your tank and smacking him upside the head can yeild positive results as well!

    The only risk in that the tank might hit back.

    *ahem* I may, or may not, be speaking from experience here!

  7. @Steppinrazor: Wow, going back and forth between bear and healing? That must have been bad. Bad... but funny.

    @Jess: Ya, hypothetical story is... well... uh... not so hypothetical.

    @Adeanna: Hahaha so true. I like your option as well. :)

    @Anonymous: Starting at a third mana on the hardest trash pull in heroic POS, yeah I had to pop an innervate and a pot. Did we wipe? No. Was it a bit crazy? Yes. However, was it necessary? No. Could tanks wait 5 seconds for us to mana up? My answer on that is yes.

    Unless its really bad, my group won't wipe. However my pet peeve with this is the expectation that healers are just supposed to be ready for anything, whenever the tank decides to pull.

    @Klepsacovic: Ya, sometimes I like to prolong the rez just to reinforce the "me holding your existence in my hand" bit. :)

    @Beru: Aww... if only I had that option e in my arsenal!

  8. Happy Christmas to meeeee!

    You're my heroine, blending seriousness and frivolity into a delightful if potent of cocktail! Cheers!

    Also what is with the kids on a leash?! Do you think the poor woman is confused and has just dropped her dogs off at nursery?

  9. Hmmm... mana down to a third of reserves and the tank has pulled?

    Blow Lay On Hands on yourself (because Glyph of Divinity is cool), judge Wisdom on one of the mobs and run into melee range for a few whacks of free mana. Should EASILY get me to 1/2, if not 2/3 mana. If it gets too dicey damage wise, pop bubble and then Divine Sacrifice to mitigate some of the damage to the party.

    Perhaps the trouble is in the type of healer? Maybe the "hypothetical" tank would be better off with shiny, shiny plate healz instead of tree healz? Plant Girl...

    /ducks and runs for the nearest cover.

  10. Correction: Lay On Hands now triggers Forbearance if cast on oneself, meaning I couldn't bubble after LoHing myself. But, Divine Sacrifice no longer is capable of killing the paladin casting it, so I wouldn't even need to bubble. Sorry about the error, my plated brothers and sisters.

  11. @Tam: Aw thanks... and Merry Christmas to you too! Thanks for the topic!

    I know... I don't get parents who put their kids on leashes like this. It just isn't right to me!

    @Nico: Shush you dress wearing pally you!

  12. "Actually in all seriousness I know I'm not some kid expert, having none myself, but people who actually put their kids on leashes like this... WTF?!?!"

    I'll tell you the one place that it is a GOOD idea - a major airport, ESPECIALLY if during a busy holiday. All it takes is a split second in the crushing throng of people, and it's over.

    Did it a few times, and have zero regrets, as there was ZERO chance of my toddler being abducted or lost.

  13. Well, I suppose the good thing about the picture is that she's definitely solo-healing, lol !

  14. @Forreststump: Hmmm an airport during Christmas does paint a different picture than a woman going out for a leisurely walk.

    @Tam: Hell ya she's solo healing! :)