So I’ve switched mains.
Yep, for 6½ years man and boy I was a paladin tank. And I loved it.
I loved the sense of responsibility. The control I had over the flow of the fight. The make or break mechanics that meant a good tank could shine, whilst a bad tank would do nothing but wipe raids and frustrate. That sense of fostering a partnership with your co-tanks, especially those you raided alongside week after week.
However over those 6½ years I’d got to see everything that Blizzard had in their bag of tricks when it came to keeping tanks busy:
Picking up random add spawns
Switch on x stacks of y tank debuff
Boss positioning and facing
Active mitigation usage
Taunt trading with your co-tank
Self recovery from big hits (at its prime in Siege, and I LOVED it)
And so on, and so forth.
After nearly 7 years every fight now seems to meld into a pick ‘n mix of the above, and very rarely are there anything new in terms of mechanics for tanks to deal with. In short, if you can deal with everything on the above list, you’re golden.
Even at the hardest difficulties, tanking had become so second nature to me on my pally, that nothing was a challenge. Hell, the highlight of my tanking days was still back in Siege, which I still consider to be the pinnacle of the tanking experience for Prot Paladins. My one over-riding memory of tanking will still be progression on Heroic Galakras, and seeing our entire raid dead with 7-8% health left on the boss, and me soloing it for our first kill. Good times.
Warlords however reduced our ability to look after ourselves. Eternal Flame’s potency was reduced immensely from a large dump heal plus big phat meaty ticks of a HoT, to a mediocre dump heal, with a risibly piddling HoT component. This gutted our ability to pull off stunts like my HC Galakras shenanigans. No more being the hero, back to being a meat shield.
In Highmaul and BRF I was starting to feel the weight of the changes in WoD. Blizzard had taken from me what was previously the best our class and spec had ever been, back to what it was in Cataclysm and before. Nothing but a meat shield reliant on healers for even a modicum of survival. Sure, Protadins still have their bubbles and Oh Shit! button (Lay on Hands), but the former is being slowly eroded by more boss mechanics that just breeze straight on through immunities like they weren’t there. At least we still had LoH…
So coming into Highmaul things were looking less fun. Especially because for the first couple of months of raiding, Blizzard seemed hell bent on taking haste gameplay away from prot paladins. So we went from having a fairly fast paced playstyle back to playing with much longer GCDs, and the whole gameplay experience felt a LOT slower.
Hard to believe how much of a difference that little ½ a second will make…
So in Highmaul things were a lot less fun than in Siege, and I was feeling the fun draining out of my raiding with each night that passed. By the time we got to heroic BRF I was positively dreading raid nights. I used to sigh with relief when we didn’t have a raid on, on any given night.
Nothing to do with my raid side, they, at the time, were great, yet fracturing (more on that in a bit), but even with the return of haste as our attunement stat, there was never enough of it on gear to return us back to the days when the gameplay was faster and more fluid. It still felt really staid and unadventurous.
Add this to the fact that every fight was feeling like a remix of another fight from another tier, and well, you can see where this is going.
It was around this time I was made sole GM. Our previous council (Thunder ran with a 3-5 person Council, making the decisions on how the guild was run) was largely ineffectual, with most of the previous council AFK for months at a time, or doing next to nothing worthy of the position, and potential replacements were thin on the ground.
Then in February we went through a guild split. Relationships were damaged, friends lost, some were later regained, but the damage had been done. Our heroic BRF progression took a full 2 month hit, and we stalled out until April. During that time we slowly rebuilt the raid side that was left, although at times it looked dark, and as though we would have to give up raiding as a guild for at least Tier 17, or worse the remainder of the expansion.
I even left the guild at the time, just to get away from all the drama, because the pressure from the split, and being sole GM was taking its toll on me and I started having panic attacks as a result.
After a week away and many pleas from those left in the guild I rejoined, and due to the fine and sterling work done by our recruitment officers and our new Council we began recruiting the seeds of the side we have today.
We’re as strong a side now, stronger perhaps, than we were before the guild split and things were and very much are looking up.
However Prot Pally tanking was still not doing it for me any more.
I love my hunter. She’s been the character I’ve got to max level after my pally for the past 2 expansions. I love the pets, the collection aspect. I love the specs (BM in particular, and MM is definitely growing on me) and the fact that there’s an active and supportive Hunter community out there, something Prot Paladins sorely lack.
I switched in my head about 3 months ago, but it practically took a new raid tier to make the transition official, as I kept getting dragged back to tanking most nights, despite the fact we had 4 or 5 active tanks on the roster.
So I was never able to even start building the fluency, the class muscle memory that only comes from concentration on a specific class. This is the reason everything was so easy for me on the pally.
So with the release of 6.2 and Hellfire Citadel, I’ve been able to make that change 100%, and I am now, for the remainder of WoD at the very least, a hunter.
Now I have the opportunity to begin schooling myself fully and at least try to acquire some semblance of class memory. The learning of all the little things like knowing my cast times innately. Unconsciously knowing my focus levels without constant referral to my focus bar. Knowing and getting used to my various cooldowns, and learning when best to use them to the raid’s benefit.
The most fun and satisfying part is actually having a performance metric that I can visibly measure and push myself to improve on night after night, week after week, over the remaining months of Warlords.
Warlords itself has demonstrably been the worst expansion overall, and I don’t think anyone outside of a hipster minority disputes that.
It hasn’t been fun, so fun has to be wrung from it wherever possible, and lest I quit the game altogether (I would honestly miss the guild too much), this is how I wring it out 😉