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Drama Mamas: The case of the good friend who's a bad tank

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.

Last week, we talked about getting unsolicited advice from strangers. This week, we talk about giving unsolicited -- but necessary -- advice to friends. Regardless of whether you like Lisa's or my answers, I think we all agree they are both better than GLaDOS's passive-aggressive approach.

Dear Drama Mamas,

I'm a raid leader in peril, and I'm and officer in a conundrum. I'm the leader of a small raid team, attempting to start the cataclysm wow content. We are a small social guild, and come together as a family tried to built a home in Azeroth for our family away from our real families. Each of my guild members are valued members of my online family. However, I do come from from the role of a fairly hardcore raider previously. I really enjoy the challenge of progressing through content. My problem is when these two worlds collide.

We have a tank, I'll call Penny. Penny is awesome! She is sweet, kind, generous, and one of my favorite people in guild. She works tirelessly to help out with mats, gear for others and is generally all around helpful. Ironically, she was also one of the best geared tanks when we started to raid. Geared yes, skillful, no. We are desperate to begin working through content. But, we do not want to do so at the cost of hurting a friend. She has a DPS off spec, but even she admits its worse than her tanking. HELP!

How can you tell a good friend, they are an awful tank?

Sincerely

A Friend AND a Raid leader

Drama Mama Lisa: If there were ever a good time for a problem like this, Friend and Leader, this is it! Your dilemma is not so dire today as it might have been before the Cataclysm era, for one simple reason: Gear's pretty easy to come by in this day and age.

If the only reason Penny seems to be the inevitable choice as main tank is the strength of her gear, you only need to upgrade your other tanks. Especially with a team effort (a couple of guildies willing to fill out a group and pass on the necessary loot, getting some Chaos Orbs into the right hands and crafting a few key pieces), it doesn't take long at all to push even a fresh level 85 to raid-readiness. Figure out what to aim for by consulting our class columns for tailor-made pre-raid and heroic gear guides; you'll also find a list of gear guides over in our Guide to World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (scroll down just a tad beyond where this links).

With any gear disparity out of the equation, slipping someone else into that main slot the first time won't be so awkward. Still, there are a few more things you can do to soothe ruffled feathers.
  • Get your other tank some raid experience. Find another raid group willing to take your tank along in any role, tanking or otherwise. It'll be pretty difficult to deny the advantages of using a tank who has first-hand experience with the encounters your group will be up against.
  • Help Penny skill up. Whether she's only called upon to fill in or ends up serving as your off tank, she'll need to up her game. Scott Andrews wrote about exactly how to go about helping her accomplish this in Officers Quarters three whole years ago!
  • Be there for her. The key is to not merely dump and run. As Scott outlines in the article I linked just above, offer concrete resources Penny can turn to for advice. More importantly, line up some guildmates who are willing to run heroics with her to polish her skills. Push into the troll 5-mans, and give her unhurried, stress-free opportunities to practice with trusted friends who get what's at stake.
  • Handle the conversation with Penny with tact and care. Scott has still more good advice in a two-part series from last summer on how to offer constructive criticism to your raiders.
One final thought: Based on the fact that she's further ahead in her gearing than the rest of the gang, it sounds as if Penny has plenty of time to play on her hands. I wonder if she has any high-level alts and might be any better at ranged DPS or healing? A few groups with any alts she has might yield a strategic advantage -- you know, "Man, we sure could use this character in our DPS group ..."

Drama Mama Robin: I think Lisa and Scott's advice is excellent and should work. To paraphrase Scott, you are fortunate that Penny is such a nice person, because that means she will probably take the kindly meant, well researched, constructive criticism very well. But, just to give you options, I am going to offer a more ... cowardly? underhanded? diplomatic! ... approach. Yeah. /nods vigorously

My diplomatic three-step plan is as follows:
  1. Identify the tank successor. It's all well and good to say Penny is an awful tank, but unless you have a viable alternative, it's just bellyaching. So who is the person who most wants to be the tank? If no one actually wants to take her place, someone has to bite the bullet and make the sacrifice for the team. (Why not you?)
  2. Approach Penny with the request. You can say that the new tank really, really wants to tank or that your guild should really have two adequately skilled and practiced main tanks. If the first choice is true, use that one. If not, use the second one. Ask her if she wouldn't mind helping out the team by heading up the task force to gear and train the new tank.
  3. Take the time to train and gear the new tank. Progression will be delayed for a bit, but should result in faster progression once you have a new tank.
The beauty of this plan is that we all learn more about a subject when we teach someone else, and therefore Penny should actually skill up right along with your new tank. Also, by providing the new tank with appropriate resources, you will be providing Penny with the same resources. You could very easily end up with two good main tanks instead of one bad one and have an entirely different problem to deal with.

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 robin@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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