I've been laying unusually low with the alting for a couple of weeks now, although I'm not sure why. I usually juggle some 5 alts around simultaneously, but lately I've been focusing on my mage, with a dash of shaman and paladin on the side. Still more than most people, but not so much to be me. But then I managed to convince Love to start playing a lowbie with me, and got to tank some lowbie instances again. Also Love got me to try out boomkin on my druid, and I love it! So she has been taken out of retirement and back into action. So the last week, a lot of lowbie instances have been done. Although many stories about lowbie pugs are horror stories about people who don't know their head from a pineapple, need on everything, don't speak english (except for "lol"), go randomly afk for 5 minutes at the time (or more) 10 times throughout an instance and make you wish you could queue for instances as just 2 people, there are other things to say about them too. There is 95% of that, but there is 5% of other stuff as well.
The other day I was doing Nexus on my druid, as a healer actually. I was watching a movie while playing (Drag Me To Hell no less, it was a decent movie) and didn't want to do something which needed much attention *ahem*. In Outlands and Northrend instances, you usually need a lot more attention to dps than to heal, at least if you want to do a decent job or like me like to top the meters (having a hard time against dks though). When healing I can just occasionally glance down on my Vuhdo bar and see if someone needs a Rejuv. So anyway. Just after the first boss, the dwarf which isn't even a boss in normal, the tank drops off. Getting a tank actually goes really fast on those levels, I usually don't have to wait more than 4-8 minutes as dps. So we queue up and expect a new tank to join us any moment. Now, the entire group was fully decked in BoA, so instead of waiting around idly, we decided to continue until the new tank arrived. And that is where I experienced something interesting. We didn't actually get a new tank until the third boss, which meant we made it all the way from the dwarf to Anomalus without a tank. Like I said, Outlands and Northrend instances are really easy but still, suddenly everyone in my group pulled out their A-game. We had a mage, a hunter and a shaman and we had traps, sheeps, frost novas, silences and focused dpsing all over the place. It made healing easy. I could easily continue with my movie watching, although I did help out with some rooting here and there.
When we finally got a tank, it actually made healing more difficult (marginally, but still). It wasn't because our tank was bad in any way, but because when we didn't have a tank, everyone cc'd everything they could which meant we fought only a few mobs at a time. Since no one had aggro for a longer period of time, everyone took a low amount of damage instead, which suited my hotting healing style perfectly. When the tank joined however, it was back to the mega-pulls with all the damage focused on one player or mobs running everywhere hitting everyone (instead of just one or two mobs hitting everyone). It was no problem, but the difference of the two styles really struck me. Does having a tank in a group actually make people play worse? My group had gone from careful and beautiful team work, to the regular "all dps ninja pull, tank tries to keep aggro on everything, everyone are taking damage etc"-group.
Of course, I could've been unlucky enough to end up in a group where no one knew how to cc, and we would've failed miserably without a tank, making the tank our savior. I've had plenty of runs like that as well. But it really fascinated me how different people played depending on how difficult they saw the situation. Without a tank they did everything they could to make sure the pull would be as smooth as possible. With the tank, they must've thought that he would handle everything so their cc wasn't needed, which in an instances like Nexus definitely is true. Is it this we see in heroics as well? People don't want to cc because they think it's too easy, and we tanks and healers are really the ones who are making it easy? I did grace on this in my last "Tales from the Pug"-post, where I said that;
"Are we seeing a betterment in the general puggers behavior? I am inclined to say yes. I actually feel like the increased difficulty of instances, even normals, have turned most people into friendlier and more skilled players."
So when people think they can just burn something through, they won't even try to do anything but dps. They're thinking "ah, he's got it. I don't have to think about it" when the tank probably is thinking "dang it, I really have to do everything myself in this damn group!" and the healer goes "oh no, not another steamroller tank without any regard of my mana...". I remember in early Cata when healing was really tough for holy priests. I simply told people that "if you don't use my Lightwell you will die, and we will never make this boss. That's fact", and left it completely in their hands. People usually did understand this (omglol) and started using the LW. We are all working toward a common goal after all, namely finishing the instance. If you make it clear that some part won't be taken care of by you, then hopefully someone else will actually make an attempt. It's a fine balance where you as tank don't really trust anyone but yourself to get the job done, but by taking on all the responsibility you will also get dpsers that don't help out, because there doesn't seem to be a need to. Maybe we should go on a strike, declaring that we won't tank more than 3 mobs at a time, just to make sure dpsers keep their A-game going.
As a bonus anecdote story, I wanted to share a little tidbit about lowbie tanking, which I have recently started doing for the umptififth time, but this time with Love by my side as mentioned. When doing instances from level 15-60 ish (or maybe a little more) you really get the feeling of being some sort of overlord, taking your measly minions on a stroll. It's not good for my tanking megalomania that I honestly don't need anyone in the group, except perhaps my healer. I usually do more than half of the groups damage, by myself. I do all the interrupting, I know exactly where to go and how to complete quests. In lowbie dungeons you really get to feel like a God when tanking. Maybe that could be enticement for people to try it out?
I'm not just blowing my own horn here, here's another example!