Laeleiweyn of World of Lae has kicked off a series of Alt Appreciation weeks to “celebrate all the classes!”
This week, it’s the Paladins‘ turn in the spotlight.
Early in 2007, my soon-to-be-fiance frequently described to me this computer game he liked to play. It sounded pretty fascinating. One evening, he showed me a bit of the gameplay. Watching BTH questing with his then-male Dwarf Paladin, Thurgar, in Terrokar Forest is my earliest memory of World of Warcraft.
Thurgar went on to be BTH’s first character to level 70 in Burning Crusade, but the poor Dwarf was soon abandoned in favor of his Tauren Druid when we began playing WoW together shortly after we got married that summer. A few years later, after Cataclysm went live, BTH realm-and-faction transferred Thurgar into a female Tauren, Haloma. Haloma zipped to level 85. She was a tank, of course, and BTH gleefully did all his dailies in Prot spec. Why bother with switching to Ret? He was having too much fun with Prot.
Between Haloma and Rhidach, it sounded like Paladin tanking was pretty fun, and not too difficult to play decently.
I’d been pretty excited to roll a Tauren Paladin in Cataclysm. I always intended to have one of her specs be Holy, because I wanted to try out all the different healing classes. By the time I got around to actually beginning to play my Tauren Paladin, though, I’d done some Paladin healing already (leveling my Blood Elf Paladin to 60 in LFD) and I’d become quite intrigued with the notion of trying out tanking as a Paladin. At level 10, Karaelia’s first spec choice was Protection (she picked up Holy as her dual spec at level 30). If I was going to tank, I was going to do it from the ground up, so that I could learn how to do it as I went along.
And Paladin tanking was fun to do. Whenever I sat down to play Karaelia with the intention of doing some tanking, I always had to fight through several minutes of blogosphere-induced anxiety about other peoples’ bad behavior before I could hit the LFD queue button. Once I got into the first dungeon and through the first trash pull of remembering what all my buttons did, though, I usually had a grand time and would end up chain-queueing through three or four dungeons before I got tired.
I didn’t level Karaelia exclusively through LFD, though. I enjoy solo questing and had lists of quest rewards I wanted to obtain. Questing in Prot was fun, too — I began to understand BTH’s glee. After I got through the first 60 levels doing mostly LFD tanking, I had to make myself tank at least a few dungeons in each successive expansion’s content not because I was afraid of LFD’s denizens, but because I was having too much fun with the solo questing. I was particularly careful to spend some time tanking LFD while I was in Pandaria so that I could say that yes, I tanked all the way to 90.
Overall, I had positive experiences with tanking in LFD while I was leveling. I enjoyed throwing my Avenger’s Shield at a group of mobs and seeing all the nameplates go from red to green in Tidy Plates as I established control of the pull, I liked the challenges of keeping them that way, and my groups were generally either silent or good-natured. My first few dungeons of Cataclysm content were the worst experiences — I suddenly needed to learn how to use damage mitigation abilities in addition to threat-generating abilities, and I received the harshest comments of my entire tanking career to that point about my struggling performance. I ran some dungeons as Holy before I recovered enough to dare tanking again. Although I got frustrated in late Cataclysm and Mists with not being able to pull aggro from Hunter and Warlock pets and the occasional overanxious DPS, no-one was mean to me about it.
Since Karaelia reached level 90, however, I haven’t tanked any LFD — let alone LFR. The insecurities are more crippling at max level; I’ve seen how novice tanks — as in, “first time tanking this raid” — are abused in LFR. I’ve gotten hung up, too, on whether to use the Timeless armor tokens that Keija has been sending her for her Prot set or for her Holy set. I definitely want to do some LFR-level Paladin healing, but I also have this notion that I can’t really say “I have a tank” until I’ve tanked some max-level group content.
Despite my current hesitation to tank heroics or LFR, the Great Tanking Experiment was definitely a success. I had so much fun in low-level LFD with my Paladin tank that I decided that I wanted to try the other sword-and-board tank, the Warrior, too. The Warrior I already had, Keija, was already high enough level that I didn’t want to just jump into tanking with her; thus Keija went dual DPS and Kaobeka the Prot Warrior came into being.