This little DK has been tanking now for the whole of our time in ICC. Which is still on Sindy. But this week we will kill her so help me god!! I can't start another week of blogging saying she's still up. I've also been running the odd guild 25 man run and we've done a swap out with the other raid teams in guild to share experience and skills.
All of this has led to me gaining the chance to tank with all the other classes, warrior, pally and druid and, also other DKs. I could talk about the different class tanking abilities and how well a DK frost specced tank (as Deme is) works with these other classes, but that's not what this post is about. It's about the affinity and relationship your tanks have to have to do the job properly and the consequences that occur if the synergy between the two just isn't there.
Our raid group make up means that I tank with a warrior as our other tank. Predominantly he main tanks and I off tank. I've known this warrior, let's call him Tank Buddie Number 1 (TB1), about 9 or 10 months and although I've not always tanked along side him, we have been in the same raid group on and off for that length of time. We know each others game style well. I like to charge in after his initial pull and rip the aggro off him, he always takes the right hand mobs. We talk and check we know what we're doing, we have a rhythm and a style that seems to gel well and we have a mutual respect. Now recently, due to RL issues, we haven't tanked together very much.
This brings in Tank Buddie Number 2. TB2 is a Teddy Tank. And probably the person I learnt more about tanking from than anyone else by running endless heroics with him. He is the off-tank for the most progressed team in our guild, a sarcastic cynical fucker and a hoot to have around. However, when we tanked together, admittedly only the once, the chat I'm used to, kinda dried up a bit. So I watched. I watched what he was doing when I was behind frost tombs on Sindy. I watched where he ran out to at the end of the tombs and when he ran out. TB2 is the person I always ask for OT advice. He doesn't remember the names of the bosses but if I describe the mechanic of the fight, I get a succinct, clear and helpful answer and no judgement. Just what us noobie tanks need.
Tanking Buddie 3 I have tanked with a few times on 10 man and a couple of times on 25 man. TB3 is well geared, knowledgeable and skillful. But I don't always enjoy raiding with him. Unfortunately I always feel pressured to perform and that usually makes me screw up. Don't get me wrong, I always want to do my best and always aim to give my best, in any raid environment, but sometimes we put enough pressure on ourselves without having another person pile on more. I will also readily admit my own mistakes, to me it's far easier to own up than have some one point them out to you across mumble. Tanking with TB3 makes me uncomfortable and lessens my enjoyment of the game.
In addition to these three I've tanked on and off with a couple of other guys, 2 other DKs and a pally. I've only encountered the pally once in 25 man, but I was impressed. Either he was shit hot or he just learnt fast but I'd have no problem tanking along side him again. The 2 other DKs are great fun to have around and the more diminutive of the two, is an alt for our raid teams rogue. The Sindy fight we had on Monday night was our best run yet and that was in large part down to his ability to communicate and call for stacks, drops off and the like. He does a great job of standing in for TB1.
Which brings me back to my original point. TB1 gives a shit about what happens to the team, as do I. This means we both work hard to be a solid tank team. TB2 told me recently that in his raid team he'd reached the point where he hardly needed to talk to the other tank about what was happening in the fight and when to do what, they had just reached the point where they instinctively knew who would pick up what mob, when and how. This is where I would love TB1 and I to get to. I really don't think we're far off and I really don't think you can under estimate the power of a solid tanking relationship.
This was again re-iterated in a chat I had with an friend about the change over of tanks in his raid team. This is a very solid team I'm talking about, the most together bunch of folks I've ever seen. They've been through everything in Wrath together and are still running stuff for fun and giggles, despite a touch of burn out here and there, they've kept it together. When they were faced with a tank shortage and one of the healers stepped up to the plate, they were naturally tentative. You could argue that at least they were in the same raid team, but to my mind tanking is so different from healing (I have a level 40odd priest so clearly I know everything about healing and about tanking) that it's just as nerve wracking as taking in a totally fresh person. These team is very lucky, they have survived to tell the tale and are a now rollicking their way through ICC.
The solidity of your tank team should not be underestimated. As someone who originally specced DPS, in my DPS role, I only felt accountable for myself. Yes as a member of the team, but the people stood next to me had to watch their own backs, I didn't need to watch them for them. In a tank partnership, I feel duty bound to not only protect my raid team, but to protect the other tank. To call out his or her stacks (come on female tanks where are you on my server?!), to watch for the bad under their feet when they have aggro and to do my damnedest to live long enough for them to do what they need to do whilst I have aggro.
I'm sure there are strong bonds between other teams, maybe those of you with healers in your character list find there's a similar bond between healing teams, maybe there's a class link you have with someone, I'd be very interested to hear about your experiences.