Sunday, June 28, 2015

Back to my Roots

In July 2012, I wrote this post about changing my role in raids. Looking back, I'm glad I made the decision I did.

I was a main tank for my guild all through Mists of Pandaria. It was fun, challenging and I accomplished a lot. I tanked challenge modes and got the gear to prove it. I made the calls for the Stone Guard in Mogu'Shan Vaults. I tanked Rik'kal. I kited the meteor into Heroic Garrosh. I loved tanking with my boyfriend and I'll never forget that experience.

A few weeks after killing Heroic Garrosh, I took a break from raiding entirely. Close to 600 attempts on a boss really takes a toll on your mental state. I was sick of my guild and I hated the game. Eventually I came back, got my scorpion mount on one of the last kills we ever did and kept playing.

I wish I could say I was still tanking for my guild, but a number of factors caused me to make another role change. *

First, I changed classes at the beginning of Warlords. I chose to level my paladin tank, and leave my druid behind. I was tired of not seeing my transmog, or toy effects and I wanted to try something new.

It went well. I tanked Highmaul and Mythic BRF with a warrior and another paladin tank. I don't feel as comfortable with my paladin. It's not easy to explain because druid tanking came naturally, while paladin tanking is work. Paladin tanking for me is constant vigilance. If I slip up, I die. If I use a cooldown at the wrong time, I take more damage than I should. If I'm tired? Forget it. I could tank on my druid with one hand. With my paladin, my hand is gripped so tight on my mouse that I have physical pain in my thumb after a night of progression.

It may sound like I don't enjoy paladin tanking - I do! But the style is very different from my druid and I don't think it suits me.

Second, there were things I started to notice after a while that started small but chipped away at me. My suggestions or observations were often ignored on voice chat but then repeated by another and considered. My statements were interpreted as questions. If I mentioned a mechanic, people would jump to explain it to me. The tanks were continually asked to pull faster, to move the raid along through easy pulls for a faster night. I tried, for a while. When I told the raid I was pulling trash, I was met with silence. When the other tanks announced it, people answered. So I stopped talking. If I had a suggestion, I asked others to relay it. I stopped trying to lead.

It's puzzling, and frustrating how someone else can slip into your role so easily. I felt like I had to claw and scrape my way in, to prove to myself and everyone else that I was good enough. I'm still terrified of screwing up somehow, and when I first started tanking it was like having a giant weight above me. I do think I'm a good tank, and I do think I'm capable but I'm tired of being talked over, or ignored. I'm tired of feeling small.

A miserable part of me thinks that maybe people just don't care to hear me on voice chat. Or that they tuned me out. Sure, sometimes I can be loud but in my role as a main tank, I need to be heard. Another part of me thinks that the loss of the other lady tank hurt more than I thought.

I started dreading logging on to tank and I hated feeling that way. I was constantly reminding myself that it's just a few hours and then the raid will be over. I volunteered to sit more often, or I asked to DPS - though, admittedly I'm not very good at it.

I feel like I let myself down and I hate it. I feel like I should keep tanking to prove a point, but I don't need to prove myself to anyone but me. I need to play the game for me, again.

To bring this all around, I stopped tanking for my mythic group as of February this year. Instead, I swapped back to my druid to heal. Before I did this, I was healing on my druid with another guild on off nights and it was easily the most fun I have had all expansion. Partly due to the atmosphere (more laid back, but still gets the job done) and the role I play. Healing (like druid tanking) is a natural thing for me. It's comfortable, it's easy and it's familiar. I follow the tanks and the raid and I keep them alive.

Things got very stressful and I was going into raids upset and continuing to be upset for the night. We lost people I care very much about to new guilds and real life. The atmosphere became hostile (as it does when content becomes stale and progression isn't happening fast). In addition to some poor communication about raid plans and goals that exacerbated my feelings, I decided that raiding for three hours until midnight EST for three nights a week was no longer for me. As of May 2015 I ceased all mythic raiding with Apotheosis.

This brings us to right now where I'm healing full-time for Business Time on Moonrunner doing heroic modes. Admittedly, I already miss mythic raiding but taking it easy on heroic isn't a bad thing for me. Now we're starting Hellfire Citadel and the first foray into the new content was an absolute blast. I'm really enjoying the encounters we've seen so far (I actually squealed out loud when Kromok pulls the weird creeping ooze from the different coloured pools).

I'm going to play Warcraft a little more casually and it feels weird to say. I don't think I've ever been casual about WoW until this year. I'm looking forward to maybe just fooling around and seeing the world again and playing on my own time.

* If you're interested, I was a guest on TankCast and spoke with other women regarding tanking in WoD!