My protection paladin so rarely gets called into service. I keep him in reserve in case the guild needs a tank for a raid, but I don’t try to make him a primary tank.
Why? Laziness, I suppose. I learn all the fights from a dps perspective on my rogue. Its completely different from a tank perspective – especially if you have to mark targets and determine a kill order as a part of tanking. Its not that I can’t do that. I just have a long-time habit of focusing on the dps side of things.
Still, my tank toon has managed a few accomplishments. I tanked a significant portion of Ulduar back in the day when that was current. I tanked Arthas in our first ever Lich King kill. In Wrath tanking was easy. Gear flowed like water and threat was a non-issue. It was easy to gear up with badges and farm content.
Not so in Cataclysm. Gear does not fall into your lap as rapidly. Due to my aversion to tanking heroics I have not accumulated enough Valor or Justice points to be of use. And yet, I need this character to be ready in a pinch if the guild is short on tanks.
So I geared through the Auction House. Ring, both trinkets, gloves, epic boots, epic belt, relic, cloak, sword, and neck were all BoE items purchased from the AH. My last few pieces were filled in by quest items, and I made my helm with engineering. That investment (about 25k or so gold) got me to a 340-ish item level… good enough to start raiding.
Admittedly, I am a bit squishy for a raid tank. My raid-buffed health is 152k – good, but not great. I’m not so concerned about that. What concerns me is that I have not tanked a whole bunch since Cataclysm started, so the abilities have yet to become second nature.
This week we brought a new raid group into Bastion of Twilight. One of our tanks bailed, so I stepped in on Derence. I got the job of tanking the drakes (Nether Scion and Slate Dragon), along with tank swaps on Halfus due to the stacking Malevolent Strikes debuff. (Its not the first time I have tanked this raid, but this time was harder due to the drake combination)
Despite my relative lack of practice, everything just clicked for me. I managed to use every cooldown in the paladin’s toolkit to stay alive. The timing was great. Every time my health dropped to 15% or less, I had a damage-reduction ability that was available just in the nick of time. I even threw out Lay on Hands on a dps when the raid damage was making things dicey.
My healers probably don’t feel as good about it as I do, since they had the job of propping up my yo-yoing health bar. Still, I’m really happy with the results. Tanking in Cataclysm is more challenging than it was in Wrath, and it was an enjoyable experience. My cooldowns were not a luxury, but were a necessary part of survival, so it was important that I knew when and how to use them. (answer: whenever they are available!)
Most importantly, I got to help the guild by filling that important role. If I hadn’t been willing to step up to the plate, the raid would have been canceled and a whole group would have lost the change for their first raid boss kill.
And the best part is that I didn’t have to slog through heroics to get there. It makes me glad that I pulled in all that profit on inscription back in the good old days.
At my gear level there are limits to how far I can go as an emergency tank. I could certainly hold my own through Magmaw and Omnitron, but I don’t know if I could get much farther than that without some more gear upgrades. And without tanking raids my gear upgrades are limited. Time to check the auction house again…