I focused a lot of my game time this weekend on leveling my Orc Shaman, Belgawrath. Over half of his quest log was filled with quests that are done in instances ranging from Wailing Caverns to Scarlet Monastery. Since I was already level 31, I decided that Wailing Caverns was not worth my time and just dropped them instead.
Just as I prepared to delete the quests for Razorfen Kraul as well, I saw an LFG message asking for a healer for RFK. I don’t have a single point in the Restoration tree, and I haven’t done any real healing other than my own, but since I had the quest and they were ready to go I went ahead and offered my services. They quickly grabbed me up as apparently they had been looking for a healer for quite a while, so off I went to RFK.
The rest of the group was made of characters in their low 20′s except for the 29 Warrior who was tanking for us. The warrior was the only one high enough to be summoned by the stone. Since a lot of warrior gear looks pretty cool I like to inspect warriors and have a look at what gear they are actually using. The tank was wearing BoA shoulders and a BoA weapon though I do not remember which one it was now. The rest was mostly green drops but he did have a couple of enchants on there so I assumed he knew what he was doing.
After the third pull I gave up on just sitting in the background to heal and proceeded to show the rest of the group how a real dps class does damage and then threw the heals around when needed. Healing wasn’t hard, but everyone was pulling agro all over the place so I had to heal pretty much everyone but myself. It went in little spurts though where healing was needed everywhere one second and then nobody needed it the next.
After the fifth pull I noticed a dangerous trend and started asking questions. We’ll just call this tank Cuddlebear.
“Cuddlebear, how many instances have you tanked before?” (Answer: 8 or 9)
“Cuddlebear, why do you keep losing agro? Do you know what taunts are?” (Answers: I don’t know. No?)
“Cuddlebear, why aren’t you using Thunder Clap?” (Answer: )
“Cuddlebear, why are you doing nothing by auto-attacks?” (Answer: )
“Cuddlebear, why do you keep moving all over the place for no reason?” (Answer: )
So, after figuring out that this tank has no idea what he’s doing, I explained to him how a warrior tank works at his level. And to my surprise, he still can’t hold agro on anything at all. And I’m not talking about holding it against me and my comparatively epic dps, I’m talking about the mage who cast a single Frostbolt and pulled the tank’s main target. To give the guy some bit of credit, there was another dps warrior in there that was using Thunder Clap and pulling some of the mobs off of him.
Since he stopped replying to my questions, which I can understand if he felt like I was attacking him with the questioning, I decided I would go ahead and tank the instance in addition to the healing and dps I was already doing. I was already the strongest dps, obviously, and I was the only one in the instance that even had the option of healing, but I was pretty sure I could tank better than the warrior, so that’s what I did.
I just went ahead and beat the snot out of everything that came at us, threw down some Stoneclaw, Healing Stream, and Magma Totems and went to town owning face with my mace. When people got low on hit points I stopped what I was doing to heal them instead. When someone pulled agro away and started taking too much damage I went ahead and switched targets to get agro or kill the mob.
So, for RFK I did my usual job of dps, while filling the necessary role of healing, and also tanking 80% of the instance as well. Sorry Mr. Cuddlebear, but you just got out-tanked by a leather wearing class that has the lowest hit points in the game. Cuddlebear (Orc Warrior), I can do anything better than you.
It took quite a while for some reason, but I did eventually find a group that was willing to run through SM: Library and Armory. We had a 38 Warlock who actually managed to out-dps me a few times, and a 38 Paladin who came to tank for us but bailed after the first boss in Library. The rest of the group were low 30′s, with me at 33.
After the paladin bailed the 29 Warrior (not Cuddlebear from RFK) offered to tank for us and since he used the Equipment Manager to switch to his tanking gear I was actually a little impressed that he might have an idea of what he was doing. Luckily, he actually did a great job even though he was a bit low level. We had a druid doing the healing and though I was strictly dps I did jump in several times to help him heal when the…less than intelligent, rogue wanted to “peek into the next room” and by so doing pulled way more mobs than we wanted.
I have to assume that the rogue was otherwise occupied with something else because (s)he constantly went into the wrong room or pulled mobs from who knows where, or just whatever could possibly be done to screw things up. Luckily the rest of us actually melded surprisingly well and easily made up for the rogue’s mistakes.
The tank was good at what he did, but he was also having connection issues, so when the rogue came running in with another group of mobs chomping at her heals, I had to switch over to being an off-tank and steal the mobs from her. Luckily she was smart enough to not build up any agro when she pulled the groups, so my totems, shocks, and attacks were enough to gather them all to me and chew them down. We didn’t want to lose the tank while he was dc’ed, so we kept the druid healing him and I just healed myself when I needed it.
The druid was pretty good on heals for the most part, but I think he was pretty new to it. When things got hairy, I dropped the dps gig and went pseudo-resto instead. When things were cool the druid worked just fine, but when extra mobs were pulled he fell apart. When it comes to healing in a pinch, Mr. Resto Druid, I can do anything better than you.
The warlock’s blueberry was supposed to be our off-tank, but he couldn’t match me for holding agro so we sent him back to the void for the Felhound instead. Yes Mr. Voidwalker, I can do anything better than you. The Felhound’s Fel Intellect buff is my new best friend though. With Mental Dexterity I get attack power from my Intellect, and the boost this little guy was giving me sent my windfury crits up another 200 damage.
After clearing Library the tank got dc’ed and never came back, so I had a DK in the guild come and run us through the rest of it instead. Got a few decent gear upgrades, but mostly mail armor I can’t wear until 40 anyway.
Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem
One thing I want to share that really helped me out in my “tanking” as a shaman, was the Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem. When you use the totem the glyph makes a protective bubble pop up around you that absorbs damage. This was critical at times when I had 4 or more mobs on me and really needed to heal. I dropped the totem for the sake of getting the bubble. The threat generation is nice if you haven’t built up threat on the mobs around you, but the main thing was that bubble.
When the bubble is up I have time to let my Healing Wave cast, and that’s usually enough by itself to heal about 50-60% of my overall health in one cast. I usually cast my healing spells on myself in a reactive manner, only using them when I drop below 40% in health. I don’t cast them when things just start to look a little bad, I wait until I get to the point death is soon to follow if something doesn’t happen pretty fast.
Since my Shaman is an Inscriptionist (no, I don’t like calling myself a “scribe”), I went ahead and just made the glyph myself to try it out, knowing that I could just as easily make a different glyph to replace it in all of 3 seconds if I needed to. As it turns out, it’s extremely useful in leveling and questing as well as in instances where you have to pick up the slack for the other players.