Tanking for Dummies


The Creeping Death
April 1, 2009, 12:01 am
Filed under: Analysis, Raiding, Stupid Tanking | Tags: , , ,

I am not in this case referring to the classic Dungeons and Dragons cleric spell that summoned hordes of biting insects, cool as that might be.  This refers to a rather painful incident recently durring what had come to be a challenged that I relished.

After several weeks of getting raid members the Gonna Gotta Go When the Volcano Blows achievement, we were rolling up on Sartharion with his three friends up.  Things seemed pretty relaxed.  After all, prior to our three week binge on achievements to knock out requirements on Glory of the Raider we had been downing this fight pretty regularly and we generally knocked it out pretty quickly.  But this was not to be.

We wiped through the night.  I, personally, ate a lot of hits from lava walls and even void zones, which is just sloppy.  I even personally caused a wipe by accidently clicking on a Twilight Portal while trying to grab a loose elemental.  Even when we knocked Shadron out of the equation it tooks us 3 attempts to finish the fight.  I could at this point make a point about non-optimal raid set up, or a host of other petty points to explain why we wiped for three and a half hours, but that is a bunch of crap.  There are three words to explain why we couldn’t do that night what we had done every week the previous month:

We Forgot How.

Doing a difficult encounter is not like riding a bicycle.  You don’t just pick it up again all and have it go hunky dory.  I get that.  My expectations were not exactly set on a smooth attempt, but I was expecting us to get back in the groove at some point that evening.  That didn’t happen.  It was precisely like going back in time a couple of months to when we were just learning the fight.  It did highlight something for me, however, that I think was important to learn.

This is a magic moment that I will call the “Point of Diminishing Returns.”

To understand what the Point is, I want to mention an important thing that is often ignored about learning.  When you fail at something, you learning something new.  Failure can teach you more about a process than success.  Therefore, it is customary in a raid to feel like you are getting better at what you are doing after a wipe or two.  There is nothing like a good dirt nap to focus the mind.

However, every raider has a point after which performance declines.  They cease to learn new things and improve.  This is the Point of Diminishing Returns.  Collectively, a raid can have a Point of Diminishing Returns as well, generally as an aggregate of the entire raid’s status on the journey to their individual Points.  Some fights will reach the point sooner than others because of the number of people required to be prior to the Point is higher.

For me, I realized the moment that I had passed the Point.  We had just pulled and I was so “focused” on getting that one elemental that I totally got smacked in the rump roast by the first lava wall.  It didn’t cause a wipe like the previously mentioned stupidity, but it did snap me awake enough beat myself on the noggin a few times and try and do better.  But my performance had peaked – I could only do as well as I had on the few previous attempts, not better.  The Point had passed.

I bring this up because I want to highlight the way in which each wipe is like a step in the Creeping Death of a night of raiding.  You may have learning something new, yes, but you are also one step closer to the Point.

I also bring this up because Axiom’s raid team has become somewhat adept at putting off the Point, something that was particularly in use this particular night.  The collective Point for the raid didn’t feel like it came until almost the 3 hour mark, and that was thanks to the application of levity.  Baby Spice is like a grenade of humor.  Our raid leader has a certain fondness for musical interludes what really just lighten the mood.  Let this be a kind of tip for raid leaders (or class leaders, or whomever you fancy) to stock up on humor for your raid if you’re planning a wipe-fest.  You may feel somewhat ludicrous belting out “Sweet Transvestite” on Vent, but it will keep your raid from reaching the Point, and that means improvement on the next attempt.

So whether it is master new hard mode encounters in Ulduar or re-learning hard mode fights after doing them on easy mode to get achievements, remember that you likely only have a certain number of attempts to get this thing right, so use whatever tools you have to put off the creep of the Point of Diminishing Returns as long as you can.  You may find that the stupidity you allow yourself out of combat will help deal with stupidity that happens in it.

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