Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Crisis of Identity

Flying through the Vale
Preparing for an expansion is no small task. There are mats to farm for leveling professions or making gold, there's massive amounts of guild organization and there are decisions to be made about characters and roles you want to play. If you read Kurn's Corner, you'll know that there are steps to take when preparing a guild for a new expansion, and having guild members decide what role they'd like to play in the future is one of those steps.

I had to decide; healing priest or bear tank?

Ultimately, I chose to play my bear in the upcoming expansion. I've been having a bit of an identity crisis with my priest lately, and the more I play on my druid, the more I enjoy the game. I love my priest, I even wrote a post about how much I love her, but we've had a disconnect somewhere down the line.

Knight-Captain Kaleri on her Vicious War Steed
I am a good healer. Hell, I'd venture to say that I am a great healer but it just doesn't feel right and it doesn't feel like a challenge. I think that part of the reason for this is the race change of Kaleri from draenei to human back before Firelands, and the other part are the nerfs in Dragon Soul. She's still my priest, but she's not Kal. This fierce little human with a penchant for PVP and Hardmode bosses isn't the draenei I rolled back on Bronzebeard, clumsily fighting through Karazhan, applying to guilds through the mail system, and tailoring her own clothes.

Taila (or Kalbeari, now) has been a steady rock since Karazhan. She's mangled and swiped her way to victory over Malchezzar, Kael'Thas and Vashj. She held the lines while Illidan was vanquished, used the Tears of the Goddess to thwart Archimonde and stood in awe of the Sunwell. Together we've been the shield for the healers and the damage dealers through many battles, and that will be our role in Pandaria.

I leveled Kalbeari to 90 on the beta, and started goofing around in heroics with my friend Sara, a healing priest. Watching Cascade bounce around, or seeing Spirit Shell makes me a little regretful, but as soon as I hit that Incarnation button and become SUPERBEAR, those feelings go away. I watch the boss previews from MMO-Champion and I think, "I get to tank those. My raid will need me to be at the top of my game to survive and take the hits.". It's exciting and scary but I know it will be the challenge I need.

Does the class make the person?

My priest was my safe haven for some time. I created her just before University began, and played her while my struggle with Crohn's Disease was at it's height. I accomplished a lot with her, and many memories are recorded in her achievements and Feats of Strength. I was Kaleri.

My druid was created before my priest but the guild I had joined needed a priest healer (I was later asked not to heal, but to instead play as shadow). Kalbeari was always there when I needed a break from priesting, and I always thought of those two characters as friends of a sort.

Kaleri with the DS raid achievement mount
When I play Kaleri, I am a healer. I support my teammates, I take care of them and they keep Horde and enemies away from me. It's not my fault if someone dies to a loose add, but it is my prerogative to heal the tanks, so they can catch those adds. Healing can be a thankless job, especially when you do it so well no one will know what you had to do to pull it off.

Take Heroic Spine as an example. My job is to heal the tanks and watch the dispels. It's not a particularly hard job to dispel, but if you screw it up the entire raid knows it was your fault. However, if you do it perfectly the raid never has to know that there is a dispel mechanic and you take away that problem for everyone. You rarely get thanks, but there's a certain satisfaction when you can do it that well.

But when I play Kalbeari, I change a little. I have to be a little harder, take more control and be ready to help the raid as I can. Meaning anything from tanking more adds if someone goes down, using cooldowns like FR to the raid's benefit, to battle-rezzing someone or doing as much DPS as possible while I'm tanking. There is so much a bear tank can do right now to help out, it's insane.

Will a new role change me?

I think it will, a little. I feel like I've changed and grown as a person since I first created my characters. I've always been in awe of excellent tanks, and it never ceases to amaze me how a good tank can make or break a dungeon or raid run. I will have to take charge more than I do now, and speak up with more authority if I have to call something tank-related.

I'm afraid that I will feel a little helpless at times, not being able to heal but my priorities will shift from watching the raids HP to keeping an eye on my own. I used to get really antsy watching other healers while tanking but I've started to learn to let it go. How can I be a good tank when I die because I'm too busy watching the raid frames and I miss my cooldown? That can't happen and I'll have to place my trust in the healers, just like our current tanks trust me.

WoW needs more tanks, in particular it needs more tanks who are women. I'm proud to have the ability to switch to my druid and fill those roles.

Mists of Pandaria is approaching and it's nearly time for Kaleri to take a break from fighting monsters and the Horde, and fish by the gates of Stormwind for a time. The world has changed, and so have we.

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