Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Through a Newbie 80's Eyes

I'm still playing, but WoW's starting to slip from my mind a bit. Guild's doing all right. We just downed H Putricide last night, placing us 10/12 for Heroic ICC and #60 on the World 10-man Strict. But I find myself taking more breaks to play other things, read more books.

Still, a topic came up recently at my work (which is filled with WoW players), that reminded me of my old post Tanking Isn't For Everyone.

There are a fair number of coworkers who are all in the same guild together on Alliance and I talk with them a lot (usually about non-WoW stuff, but WoW does come up frequently with a few of them). One of them is probably my favorite way to get a perspective of what it's like to be a newbie. And I mean a real newbie.

She just hit 80 for the first time a couple weeks ago and has a particular playstyle she's grown attached to over her long trek to max level. (She has been playing since vanilla, but didn't hit 60 before TBC came out and didn't hit 70 before WotLK.) The quirky thing about it is that her favorite playstyle while leveling was prot, on her warrior. Not that leveling prot is a bad thing, but she has primarily been a solo-player and enjoyed prot for the survivability, even back when prot was horrible as a leveling spec.

Now that she's 80, she's becoming more interested in group play, and since she's in a guild with all these other coworkers, group play is theoretically in the cards. But she's very, very new, and while she has the basic notions of what a tank has to do, she rarely, if ever, tanked while leveling up. She didn't like running instances with strangers and being a tank she could only perform her party role if her friends along for the ride were the same level (because anyone giving her run-throughs would just dps and not let her tank). But she can't prot dps her way through heroics without being laughed at (though she says she's fine with people laughing about her poor gear as long as they're not being outright rude), so her guild gave her the suggestion of going fury while accumulating prot gear.

She did. And though she was laughed at for her poor dps, she made do, and the folks at work pointed her to sites like Maxdps and Wowhead, so she could play around with the tools and learn more about her class. They suggested a spec for her, gave her advice. I gave her what limited knowledge I had of how to play a fury warrior, but realized I couldn't advise her to learn the way I do when I'm learning a spec. Elitist Jerks? She needed to know rotations and how to pick gear, but she didn't need BiS lists, which raid trinkets to wear, the merits of a standard meta gem vs. an unorthodox one, or how a run speed enchant enhances dps.

Her needs are much more basic than EJ. She's a person who's still learning how to function in a 5-man.

Over the past couple weeks she has diligently been gearing towards the magic 540 to be defense capped (and she's hit it!), but she didn't know of this number until we told her. There's nothing that tells a player in game that they are now good to go.

Just today we found out she hit another pitfall. She had enough emblems to go buy her first two pieces of T9 and because she was working on her fury set, she intended to buy two pieces of the dps set, which Maxdps had recommended to her. Problem was, nobody told her that there are actually two sets for warriors. (Think about it, if you're a newbie and you rarely read anything outside of game, how are you supposed to know there are two sets with near identical names?) She just saw "Wrynn" which she knew was the warrior T9 set, and bought the first legs and shoulders she saw and promptly socketed them with Strength gems, which she knew were good for warriors.

Unfortunately, she didn't read the bonuses so she didn't realize until after she'd socketed them that she'd purchased the tanking pieces. Fortunately for her, she at least got two pieces of tank gear instead of one tank and one dps so she now has a set piece bonus. And she really wants to tank instead of dps.

She loves having a shield and Spell Reflection is one of her favorite warrior abilities. If that's not an endearing thing to know about a budding warrior tank, I'm not sure what is.

But she still needs to learn how to tank, because here's the kicker.

This coworker's guild wants to go to ICC. They're a small guild, just short of having ten people to do an all guild run (they're trying to remedy that by bribing me to bring an alt over) and have never stepped into ICC as a unit. Most of them fall into the non-raider category, though a few have mains in a raid guild.

My dear coworker wants to go to ICC, because she's never done anything like this before. And she has no problem with the whole gearing concept, as in working on running heroics to get emblems to get gear, but there's a lot she's missing just because she has never been exposed to the raider mentality of being prepared before even setting foot in the instance.

She's with friends, so nobody's too harsh on her, but I told her quite flatly that the tank has one of the most important jobs in the raid and a tank's gear has to be in tip top shape. More than anyone else, a tank can't slough off on gear. She's at 23k health in her tanking gear at the moment (despite being defense capped) and initially I was shocked while going over her armory with her, but then I quickly found out why.

No enchants. Gems weren't of the highest quality (and the Strength gems in her T9 tanking pieces didn't help). Even though she'd bought her dual spec she hadn't set up her second tree for prot yet.

If she fixed that just on her current gearset/spec she probably could push up to 25k. A defense enchant on her shield and chest would let her remove one of her defense trinkets for something like Essence of Gossamer or The Black Heart. Still a long ways for being ICC-ready, but she'd start looking respectable. I know some people can raid ICC in blue gear, but she doesn't have the skill to do something like that.

And then there's the tanking itself. She hasn't tanked many instances yet. I don't think she's confident enough to do it for a pug, and had a rough experience just with a guild group in a non-heroic. Practice makes perfect, but I'm not sure she understands just had hard it will be in a raid, especially what will amount to progression tanking for this group. She just has nothing to gauge it against, being so new to 80.

I think if she manages to get into ICC she'll be surprised by how hard it is, how progress is measured by bosses, or even phases of a boss, and many guilds still have not finished. Will she be able to react quickly enough to get out of a Defile on Lich King? Will she be able to manage tanking swaps on Sindragosa? Could she possibly kite slimes on Rotface?

I might be overreacting, because everyone has to start somewhere and goodness knows I had my share of being a nub, but she's got a long road ahead of her. I wouldn't have the patience for her in my own guild, and I don't mean that to be mean. My guild has a very different focus than hers, and I know we're not newbie-friendly. Everyone's at a different place in the game and our expectations are different. I couldn't conceive of training someone who's never tanked before (especially one on their very first 80!) to where they can do ICC.

But you know, I want to see if she can do it.


Anonymous said...

Wow, cool post. I mean, really. I have a colleague who is also very much a newbie. He probably won't hit 80 until Cataclysm (heck, *maybe* he'll hit 70 before then) but he's chugging along on his own pace. And it's cool to see somebody so new to the game, learning all the different aspects of it. On the other hand.. he plays a Ret pally and has no aspirations to raid whatsoever. Which, I think, makes your colleague quite unique.

You can definitely tell her cheers from me, for being such a good player. And I don't mean her tanking skills, but her attitude towards the game. Love it!

Jong said...

Yeah, cool post.

I remember running into humbling road blocks getting up that tank learning curve, but it was fun. Hope your friend gets into ICC soon!

Hana said...

She's definitely working on it! :) She's pushed her health up to 26k now (just the easiest barometer to look at without going into specifics) and she's putting together a gear wishlist.

It's kind of funny seeing her go through all this because she's never had a chance to do anything end-game-ish before.

Thanks for the kind words, Failadin. I'll pass them on. :) It's definitely cool to be watching someone who's new. I think we get a little jaded sometimes in our raid guilds.