Tooth & Arrows: Druidic Versatility & Heroic Confidence

Thursday, September 22, 2011

OK, right now, it is SO official. I am changing my weekly posting day from Monday to Friday. So look! Now this post is early instead of late. 🙂

That being said, the events described in this blog happened earlier in the week. I apologize for any inaccuracies if anyone involved happens to read this. 😛 Also, I’m doing some further organization on this blog – new subcategories have been added under Tooth & Arrows, so that people who only wish to read my WoW blogs can do so, and people who are interested in the other types of games this blog is about can just look at THOSE if they wish! (This doesn’t effect you if you’re reading this on Blogger or LJ. Blogger already keeps the sub-blogs separate and LJ… well, I THINK I’ve done a good job tagging all entries!) It’ll be a couple of days while I go back into the archives and properly sort all the T&A blogs into their respective new categories, though. Please pardon the dust while I remodel.

That being said, on to the meat of this blog!

I’ve recently started playing Kalitri, my previously mentioned Worgen Druid, on WoW again. Perhaps it was this month’s holiday, Brewfest, (Des has another title now!) and the chance to get a couple of rare mounts and pets that has spurred me on, but for whatever reason, she’s gone from L61 to nearly L65 in the last two days, and I only stopped playing her because I ran out of “rested.” I’m going to be playing Reyune (my DK) while she has a chance to build up her rested status again. I want her and Rey both to be 85 as soon as possible. And fast leveling means one thing – dungeoning. Both characters are tanks, so this should be easy, except that I still have my aversion/fear of tanking to a point.

That makes this kind of difficult.

However, something happened two nights ago that has given me a huge confidence boost in my tanking ability. I was queuing as DPS so I could do other things around waiting to dungeon, and I had the time to do so. I got into The Underbog for Kalitri’s first time after less than half an hour wait (nice, for DPS), and was looking forward to trying out my new “assist the tank” macro. I focus-targeted the tank… and waited.

The tank didn’t move. It was a human warrior. The mage got jumpy and started bouncing around. The priest healer tossed a few heals over time (HoTs) on the tank, trying to spur him to move. I /poke-d him. Nothing. Then when he started moving… he was walking. The rest of the party shot ahead…. then came back. The tank slowly sauntered up to the first mob and FACE PULLED it (face pulling = walking up to the mob and getting it’s attention via your very presence, instead of using any ability to generate threat and actually try to keep it ON you – not something any tank should be doing on purpose, and something all non-tank characters should do everything they can to AVOID).

I don’t know if the mage didn’t notice that the tank had only face pulled, or if they were just so jumpy and impatient that they didn’t care… But they laid down their ice AOE (area of effect attack – an attack that hits all mobs in a certain radius, usually chosen by placing a “target circle” on the ground that only the caster can see) around the mobs that the tank had annoyed… And of course, with the tank not trying to gain threat, the mobs went straight for the mage. The tank slowly walked back toward the mage as if to take aggro away from him, but by then, the mobs had decided to leave the mage and pounce on the healer. I reacted the only way I could – I shifted to bear form, I hit Enrage, and I Challenging Roar’d the mobs onto me, gained threat with a Demoralizing Roar and two Swipes, and tanked the pull. The healer immediately shifted to healing me, and the DPS focused on the mobs. By the time the walking-tank had gotten back over to where we were, the mobs were dead.

I asked in party chat, “Tank, why walking?” I didn’t get a response at first, until it was echoed by both the healer and the mage. We got one response, “Stuck. Can’t stop. Lost keybinding.” So the mage goes, “Look it up? Fix it?” The tank didn’t respond to that… and instead started walking toward the next set of mobs. After a repeat of the previous pull (with the exception that this time, I didn’t LET the mobs get on the mage or the healer before I yoinked them onto me), we vote-kicked the tank for being a troll. I mean, really? He couldn’t change his keybinding? Look it up in the settings and fix it, then toggle walk OFF? It would’ve taken us about six hours to go through the dungeon at that pace… assuming I was able to keep everyone alive.

We requeued, with me again selecting DPS, and hoped to get a new tank. After a few minutes, a tank hadn’t showed up, and the mage asked me if I could just tank it a bit while we wait, and the healer said yeah, he didn’t have much time and would like to get as far as he could. So I tanked, we did small pulls… and we made it 2/3 of the way through the dungeon before our new tank showed up.

The new tank was a blood DK, who showed up mid fight and tried to steal aggro from me. I can’t blame him – it must’ve looked like he got pulled into a mess or like we had pulled accidentally or our previous tank had ditched mid-fight. But we finished up that pull, and then he went RUNNING ahead, not giving us time to loot.

I shifted to cat and hit dash to keep up with him. He got out of line-of-sight of our healer, and died. I once again had to shift to bear and gain aggro to keep the party from wiping. (Now, to make matters worse, I had shifted talent trees back to my cat tree after the tank had shown up, so now I was tanking in my DPS spec, so I lost a lot of my armor boosts and other things I have talented in my bear spec.) I was focused on keeping the mobs off the other party members…. and I got out of LoS of the healer, and I died. But the mage was able to AOE down the last two surviving mobs, and we didn’t wipe. I couldn’t help but notice that the healer rezzed me before rezzing our new tank, who had been dead twice as long. 😛 Favoritism, much? 😛

Right after that, our healer said he had to go and apologized. The mage and I wished him well, and he dropped party. The tank became dungeon leader, and requeued us to pull a new healer…. then took off running. I said, “Where are you going?!” He responded, “Drood heals.”

Drood is a fairly derogatory way to refer to a druid, but I let it go. I chased after him in cat form. “I’m dual Feral, DPS and Tank. I’m not spec’d for healing!” But it was too late, he’d already pulled. I wasn’t interested in being part of a wipe, and the other two dps (the talkative mage and the hunter who was so silent he might as well not have been there) had no way of doing anything, so… I shifted into caster form, targeted the tank, and started healing.

I’ve never healed before. Ever. To me, it’s the most stressful role in the dungeon, though now both Nyx and Lona have told me otherwise. I can’t change how it feels to me. And I kept remembering the things I know about druids.

First thing’s first – a druid of ANY spec (Feral, Balance, or Restoration), can technically perform any role up until level 60, limited only by player skill. At that point, the talent trees and the talents gained from them start to become mutually exclusive. This is why, at 60, I changed my previous dual spec (Feral/Balance) into a Feral/Feral, with my secondary feral specialization gearing toward the bear talents and my primary gearing toward the cat for DPS and questing. As a dual feral druid, my armor stacked agility and stamina, and I was gemming for dodge and crit, so that (until endgame level, at least), I could have one armor set that could perform both possible roles. As much of a pain as it is to build the two sets at endgame level, to try and do it WHILE LEVELING is almost impossible, since you level past items almost as fast as you acquire them.

The point of this being that I could either tank or DPS in dungeons, but I didn’t have intellect or spirit on my gear – I wasn’t talented to heal. Yet here I was. To make matters worse, the tank didn’t wait for me to regain mana after the fights – he just kept going. Thank goodness I had some dropped mana potions on me, and the druid’s ability of Innervate to renew my own mana supply (though that ability isn’t nearly as good as it used to be, and I really was feeling that particular nerf).

Anyway, I fell into a rhythm and relaxed. Between my limited healing ability and the fact that the tank was a blood DK which has a lot of passive self-heals, no one was dying and we were still moving. Just as we got to the last boss, the new healer finally showed up. A nelf Priest. I relaxed and shifted back to cat to DPS the final fight (I was going to finish the dungeon in the role I’d originally selected, dangit!).

Mid way through the fight, the tank died. I guess the healer lost sight of him around the boss’ legs or something, or maybe the healer had to sneeze. I have no idea. All I know is that once again, I had to step up. I leaped backwards (I WISH cats had the Hunter’s Disengage ability!), targeted the tank, and hit my in-battle resurrect spell (SO glad I carried reagents for Rebirth). I tossed a heal on him, then shifted to bear and pulled the boss off of the mage and hunter who’d been bouncing him back and forth between them. The healer threw off a “WTF?” but I ignored it. When the DK could tank again, I shifted back to caster and started healing him. The healer that had come in “WTF”‘d again, and I said, “We’ve been through most of the dungeon like this. Just… dps it.” And with the healer’s “whatever,” he and I officially switched roles. I healed the tank, and the healer DPS’d the boss. We finished the dungeon, the healer left immediately, the tank waved at me and left… and the mage told me I was awesome. The hunter /bow’d to me, and I took a bow of my own.

Druids are versatile. I knew this from the very beginning – they’re one of only two classes in the game (the other being Paladin) that can fulfill all 3 dungeon roles. But I’m fairly certain that Paladins become rather talent-locked early in their leveling lives, as I’ve gathered by both playing my pally and watching Lona play hers, whereas, as I’ve said before, druids can fulfill any role until L60. And apparently, in the right situation, until L64.

I am more confident in my tanking abilities than I ever have been before, and this experience has made me want to roll a druid healer at some point, just to get an idea of what I’d really have been capable of if I’d been properly geared and talented for what I was doing.

In other news, last weekend, Destylae ran her first heroic in which I was NOT in a guild group. I did good, reliable damage, no one complained, we CLEARED Halls Of Origination, and at the end – I won the roll on the Chaos Orb. That’s one down, five to go toward making my new gun. 😀 I’m confident in my abilities as a Hunter, finally. And Kalitri keeps reminding me just how GOOD of a druid I make. Honestly, I can’t wait to play Reyune some tonight… Let’s see if I’m getting to be a better DK as well!