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Drama Mamas: Tank frustration

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

/queue dramatic sporting event music

This week on Drama Mamas, the mamas duke it out for the title of Best Drama Buster! Who will win the battle for the most useful advice for a frustrated tank? Will it be Robin who thinks the tank should take a strong leadership role or Lisa who thinks that teamwork should be just that? Turn the page to read the Battle of the Drama Mamas.

Disclaimer: The mamas really just think people should choose the advice they think works best for them. We don't care about winning any battle. The previous paragraph is solely the result of overzealous introduction writing and too much caffeine.

Dear Drama Mamas,

I've recently been leveling up a tank and am starting to worry about my attitude toward the rest of my dungeon groups. I never really "got" all of the drama about the random dungeon finder until it started feeling like the fate of the group was on my shoulders. As the tank, I've got to lead the group through each instance, understand how to pull each room, decide how many mobs we can handle at a time, etc. It's a lot of responsibility, but I really enjoy it. It's a fun challenge after two years of only playing DPS.

That said, more and more, my patience for ... ummm ... imprecise or inconsiderate play has rapidly evaporated. At first, it was just when other players pulled mobs or packs of mobs. Then it moved to people rolling need on lock boxes ... posting their DPS numbers ... blaming others for their own bad play. I run with a healer, and we kick with relish and impunity. Mamas, I am one small step from becoming the stereotypical diva tank!

Look, I realize that some of this has become over the top, but I do need to be able to pull the room correctly and there is a lot of fail in the random dungeon finder, especially where I am leveling (Outland). Help me put this game and role back into perspective before I turn into a complete jerk tank. Thanks!

Road to Nowhere
Drama Mama Robin: We got a lot of comments from tanks when we discussed Tank Entitlement about how they only get that way after much abuse. There is a big difference between culling the players who are making your job impossible and being the butt we described there. Road, you aren't suffering from TE, but more from Tank Frustration. The rest of your team should support you, not make your job harder. As usual, communication at the outset is key. I'm going to suggest a few things to say as soon as everyone is in the group. Change it to the voice you feel most comfortable with. I'm going for firm here. You soften it as you see fit. [Edited to add emphasis. I'm not saying to use the following words. I'm saying this is the information you want to convey. Do it the best way possible. Sheesh.]
  • "Hello and welcome to [insert dungeon name here]. My name is Road and I will be your tank. Buff up while I tell you the rules." This has the double benefit setting the rules and giving time to get/give buffs (a common complaint). If someone replies with gogogo, give them the choice to leave or be kicked. You don't need their kind here.
  • "I am doing the pulling. If anyone else pulls, I'll initiate a votekick without further warning." If someone accidentally pulls, bend this rule. But you want to be clear at the outset that impatient DPS are not welcome.
  • "I will pull according to healer readiness." A happy healer is a good healer.
  • "Control your aggro. Wait for me to fully engage the mobs before you AoE." Capt. Obvious wishes this didn't have to be said.
  • "Quickly roll need on everything you want. Negotiate trades during downtime." I see you don't follow this now and this is a controversial choice. But if you say it at the outset, everyone has the same expectations and there is no loot drama and few loot slowdowns.
  • "If you don't agree with these rules, leave now so we can replace you." The hardcore funsuckers will still stay and not follow the rules just for the lulz, but you'll actually find that this will reduce the instances of that. If the immature find they don't have the audience and support for their antics, they'll often ride on your obviously experienced coattails and save it for the next, less well-led run.
Because you've been completely clear from the very beginning, you can kick or drop group with impunity if you still find yourself weighed down with people who can't/won't follow your instructions. A clearly defined rule-set will teach the ignorant, encourage the timid and relax the competent. Also, people tend to live up or down to your expectations. A strong, encouraging leader who expects you to do your job well will usually get people doing their job as well as they can. Set up macros and hopefully this will get you on the Road to Success.

Drama Mama Lisa: Hey, I love a firm hand -- but I can't say that I'm at all a fan of any single member's "taking over" a group. I also strongly suspect that taking a tough-guy stance may doom you to a vote-kick by groupmates who relish neither a tank as their boss nor a bossy tank. Might I offer some alternatives?
  • "Hey guys. I'd like to make this a "real" run and be able to tank without having everything pulled off and AoEed to shreds. My healer buddy here prefers it, as well. Any objections to a straight-up group?" If only one or two other players object, feel free to reply, "Great, that's how we'll run then. Ready?" However, if all three others prefer a gogogo/AoE group, you're outnumbered; say good-bye and good luck, drop group and move on.
  • "I'll handle the pulling." No aggressive directives, no threats, simply a matter-of-fact volunteering for a vital role that also clarifies group dynamics. If anybody else does pull, be ready with a reminder and a polite request to lay off.
  • "Can we agree to roll quickly, no need rolls on anything you'll sell, and negotiate trades during downtime?" This establishes the ground rules without being heavy-handed -- oh, and you've also gotten on the record that you do expect there to be some downtime.
That's it. No, it's not bullet-proof preparation, but as Robin noted, people generally live up to the expectations you set. While it's certainly possible that leaving things looser could backfire here in randoms, it sounds like you and your healer friend already have a handle on vote-kicking problem players.

What I'm more concerned about is the tone you're setting for yourself and your groups. If you immediately seize control in your iron-fisted grip to establish yourself as an armor-clad tyrant, you're setting a pretty grim tone. Furthermore, heading into groups with gritted teeth makes it fairly unlikely that you (or anyone else) will have fun unless something truly remarkable manages to break the ice.

Robin and I have written plenty already about the drama that can be associated with dungeon finder randoms. If you're still uncertain what approach might feel best to you, read our past advice as well as the reader feedback:

Drama buster of the week

This week's drama buster is brought to you by Capt. Obvious. Don't queue for a random unless you are fully equipped, prepared and ready to play. You are responsible for all of your own consumables. Make sure your gear is repaired and the best you have available. And don't even think about queuing up while you suffer from rez sickness. People will be understandably upset at you if you show up unprepared. So avoid the drama by taking care of the details in between queues.

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at DramaMamas@wow.com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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