Tanking for a Tiny Guild

This is a guest post from Sonaira, Higher Authority’s resident tank.  She also writes a blog about making connections and finding your inner super hero.

Tanking for a tiny WoW guild is a unique experience that doesn’t translate well into the main-raiding-tank oeuvre, which is why I’ve largely stopped reading sites like Maintankadin, regardless of how helpful they can be in theory.

 But that’s the thing. There isn’t a lot of theory in being the tank for a tiny guild

 Know your group…

For one thing, I know who I will run with, every week.  There will always be a prot paladin tanking. There will always be a holy paladin healing. We’re not exclusive – it’s just that Higher Authority has exactly one level 85 tank, and one level 85 healer.  The other three active members of the guild will bring a ret paladin, a rogue, and a hunter. 

 Fights don’t work as well with that dynamic? Too bad – that’s what we’ve got to work with.  Oh, sure, the DPS crew might change it up some: Shoryl might bring a feral druid instead of a ret pally (still melee DPS), or our hunter might bring his ‘lock instead (still ranged DPS).  So when fight strategies say “this would really be easier with less melee and more ranged,” I just shake my head and realize that I’m going to have two melee and one ranged, and I better figure out how to make it work.

 And after running with them, I know them. I know my rogue is AoE specced, and I need to carefully mark my targets or he’ll die. I know my ret paladin isn’t very comfortable CCing, so I give that task to my hunter. I know my healer is limited in movement, and that I need to stay in range.

Know your tank…

Of course, this means that my group knows me, too.  My healer knows when I spike, where I’m likely to go during movement fights, and which mechanics I struggle with.  He has a decent idea of when I’m going to hit my cooldowns, and in which order.  He knows that if I hear an “oh, crap,” come through quietly on Skype, then I’m going to be ready to hit my own Lay on Hands.

 And my DPS knows what I’m going to ask of them. My hunter frequently traps a target before I mark it, and I’ll often get ready to pull and have an ice trapped and sapped targets already. Shoryl will hit repentance on a humanoid before it ever gets to me, because she knows the distance I like to pull at.

Know your fights…

We’re not only a tiny guild, we’re also a laid-back one.  As such, we all have our favorites.  Shoryl loves to play ret.  Our rogue loves to … rogue. I know they all know their classes, but I’m the one that’s responsible for learning the fights. 

 I have no idea how long a raid leader pours over raid accounts and video, and I don’t really want to.  What I can say is that when we start a new 5-man, I take it just as seriously. When the time came to do heroics, I put in about 4 hours learning Deadmines.  That information has to be given out to the other four members of my team, in a way they understand.  Because I know my group and they know me, I can say things like “so, we’re supposed to stay out of the frost and fire runes for this fight. We’ll see how that goes.”  I don’t tell them how to do it, I just tell them what we need.

Get your reward!

I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is not a single member of my guild that I would hesitate to run with. There is not a single member of my guild I have on ignore.  And when I have a miserable night tanking, I’m in a safe enough environment to say “that was a ridiculously bad pull on my part, and you all saved my ass.”  Because we’re all going to be running around on our alts, or leveling our professions, or chasing achievements all week.  And then, come Sunday, we’re all going to be standing there together, trying to make it work again.  It’s a camaraderie you rarely find in larger guilds, but it’s what makes ours work.

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Posted on January 3, 2012, in Guild and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Are you secretly in my guild and I don’t know it? Of course, we are a little bigger, but mostly because those of us with alts have a billion of them. but this is awesome. AWESOME!

    • I think we’d both know it if we were secretly in the same guild… Though I suppose one of my guildies could be secretly blogging about us… 🙂

      And we do have about 60 toons in the guild. Across maybe 15 accounts….

  2. Wow! Your group composition is kinda hard to work with. At least you have good CC. Whenever my group shifts the tiniest bit and we end up with more melee than ranged I feel out of my comfort zone, even though I have ran X instance Y number of times. But I do love the tanks I heal. They know me and I know them so we never push each other more than we can handle.

    They do make me CC from time to time. That’s not so good.

  3. I enjoyed the post, however I would like to point out that a lot of this applies to bigger guilds as well, more than you may think.

    Obviously i can only speak from experience with the guild I am in – we raided 25-mans for almost three years and have now dialed back a bit to 10-mans. We hover steadily around ~100 accounts (only about 30 of those are raiders though)

    At the moment, our last few Dragon Soul 10 man raids have been pure ranged DPS, except for fights that could be two-healed or solo-tanked so someone could go offspec DPS. A bit annoying on a boss where you have to ping-pong a ball between melee and ranged …

    I can assure you as well that the synergy you feel with your healer is there just as much when raiding. On Ventrilo, we communicate when we’re using a tank or healer cooldown, or we discuss it in advance.

    Our raid leader has a tactics thread on our guild forums with general tactics and a video attached to it. It contains explanations like “TANK1 will taunt off TANK2” so he just has to replace the names when posting assignments for a specific raid.

    He does not .. how should I put this .. “hold hands” for lack of a better term. We expect people to read the tactics, decide for themselves if they need to watch the video, and just know what to do. We’ve explained tactics before a fight in our earlier days, but after our RL once spent half an hour explaining one fight, we stopped doing that. We post a general strategy and try some stuff out, and find this works quite well for people. They can find out what works themselves this way.

    And yes … our guild is our little island of safety in the mess that is the WoW community. We own up to our own mistakes, we all get along. Sure, there’s some heated discussions every now and then, but the first rule in our guild is: don’t be a jackass. Being rude and/or abusive towards other guild members will net you a swift guildkick.

    • Thanks, Vuuk. I certainly never meant to imply that tanks in larger guilds don’t, or can’t, enjoy the same sort of relationships. Absolutely that’s possible. But it’s also true that the more personalities you have, the greater the potential for conflict. There are people that I will never, ever get along with. And if they were in my guild just because they raided well, I’d be seriously uncomfortable. Every time I hear someone mention that they have a guildmate on ignore, it strikes me as an extremely dysfunctional relationship.

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