Morning all you people out in internet land. For the second day in a row I feel absolutely miserable. I think overall it is just a massive overload of allergies, but it has managed to go and piss off my asthma. As a result I ended up at home about halfway through the day yesterday and have been juggling breathing treatments ever since. I have yet to decide if I am going to attempt going in today, but right now it doesn’t seem likely. I feel worse than I have felt in a long time.
Once upon a Cleric
Today’s post has been spurred on by a comment on twitter to yesterdays post. Essentially a friend of mine said that they would make a healer out of me yet. To which I replied… that few would believe but I actually started out my MMO gaming “career” as a healer. The friend of course could not believe that… so I figured today I would regale you all with the tale of how I ended up being so damned tank centric. We are going to have to step into the way back machine and go backwards through the years quite a bit to around 1982.
My mother was a high school teacher, and as a result I spent large amounts of time milling around the high school after hours as she finished up with her lessons. There was a traditional at the end of school each year… that essentially anything left in the lockers by the end of the day was thrown away. As a result the janitorial staff and by proxy us teacher kids got to rummage through whatever was left in the lockers. Stuffed in the bottom of the locker I found the thing that would begin my descent into madness… an Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook.
From that point onwards I was obsessed with all things D&D and roleplaying, and I was especially hung up on the cleric class. I loved the concept of a battle priest, fighting undead and wielding both weapon and holy spells. This obsession was only further cemented when I read the novel “Pools of Radiance” and was introduced to the Tarl the Cleric of Tyr. I loved the fact that he was just as good with a weapon as it was with turning undead. I thought it was a cool concept and the idea was only furthered with the awesome images of battle priests in the Warhammer games.
Scan forward a decade and in 2000 I got hooked on Everquest by a friend of mine. He introduced me to the whole mythos by having me play his second character on a Vox raid. Pretty much the most epic way possible to get introduced into MMOs. I pretty much went out the next day and picked up Everquest, the Kunark expansion and the newly released Scars of Velious. When it came time to choose a class, there really was no option but a Dwarven Cleric of Brell. I was completely enamored with the concept of battle priest fighting undead. That concept lasted pretty well into my late 30s… when I began to realize that my life as a cleric was that of a heal bot.
The end game reality for a cleric was the Complete Heal rotation. For those of you who are not familiar with this concept… essentially each cleric establishes an order and it is agreed upon before the fight. Each of us then set up a macro that shouted “Casting CH – Ready Cleric #X” whereas the X was replaced by the correct priest in sequence. When that cleric saw their number scroll by they were to count to 12 and then press their own macro. Then return to a watching for their number to scroll by state. The end result is that the tank received a complete heal every 3 seconds… instead of the normal 12 second cast time of the spell.
I have to say this made combat in the dungeons and raids and extremely boring and binary system. Watch chat for your number, cast your heal, return to not paying attention until your cool down was up. It was not until I dabbled with EQ1 a bit recently that I realized just how much downtime that game had. You were still chained to the screen of sorts, but I can remember healers knitting, reading books, all just waiting on their complete heal rotation. The thing that soured me on the experience however was not having any control over my own destiny. I essentially followed someone else into a dungeon and was there until they determined it time to leave. This experience has forever soured me towards healing in general.
The game we played after we fell out of love with EQ and the hours spent standing around doing nothing… was Dark Age of Camelot. The above image is the very first incarnation of Belghast Sternblade. The Celt Champion was a really amazing class, in that it had ranged spells to pull with, loads of debuffs and was equally proficient in the tank, off-tank and dps roles depending upon how it was specced. Most of the time I tended to favor two handed weapons and served in a dps and offtank in a pinch role for the various excursions. My friend juggled the roles of both main tank and main healer by dual boxing a Dwarven Warrior and a Celt Bard together.
This is the point at which I should note that the bulk of my time playing DAoC was spent on Gaheris… the carebear server… largely because it gave us three whole realms worth of zones and dungeons to explore instead of the rather claustrophobic single realm setup. Adding to this trio we had a Lurikeen enchanter that served as our primary dps. It was amazing the amount of things we could pull off with the small group we had. There were many times I had to offtank a mob just to spread out the damage enough to get through the fights.
When I started doing Keep and Dragon raids… I got drafted into the full tank role a few times and really enjoyed it. This is essentially the game in which I got my first tastes of tanking. I liked the taste… and ultimately ended up doing quite a bit more with our alliance. As we moved on to other games I started favoring the hybrid/offtank role because it gave me soloing versatility and a key group dynamic that I could fill. When we played City of Heroes, I was a blades/regen scrapper which in many ways was one of the more tanky classes in the game. Once again a friend played the full bore earth tank, and I alternated between dps and off tanking as needed.
Bait and Switch
This is Exeter, a tankadin… and my intended main when World of Warcraft released. In beta the Paladin had been the ultimate synthesis of Battle Priest and Tank. I had so much fun running around with my friend who was playing a nuking priest at the time. My attacks would debuff the target against holy damage, and he would come in for the kill and demolish it. It was like the perfect symbiotic match… then Blizzard completely destroyed it at the 11th hour right before release by introducing the “Seal” system to replace the “Strike” system. Over night Paladin went from being the most amazing thing I had played so far… to feeling absolutely awful and confused.
With release… I stuck to my guns and tried to make a Paladin work… and so long as I had friends to level with I was doing awesome. Then tragedy struck… we had a death in the family, and I simply was not around for a few weeks. When I came back all of my friends had long since leveled past me, and I found trying to solo on the paladin a thoroughly frustrating mess. Since the one thing above all else Hunters were renown for was their soloing ability… I started playing Lodin. I was able to catch up to my friends with surprising speed and I played a hunter just effective enough to not be a horrible strain on my party.
I never really intended on playing Lodin as a main character… I just intended on using him as something to catch up to my friends… then later leveling Exeter on my own and returning to the intended role of Tankadin. However one thing lead to another… and a good friend of mine ended up starting a raid, that needed hunters… and before I really realized what I was committing to, I was a half GiantStalker decked out raiding hunter. The funniest and most ironic part is… that I ended up on the one class that had a cast rotation similar to the complete heal. Once we entered Molten Core I got indoctrinated into the Tranquilize rotation. Just like complete heal… hunters would set an order and we would then “tranq” the next enrage effect.
I had a lot of good times raiding with the Late Night Raiders, and I met a ton of people that have become permanent fixtures in my gaming life… but quite honestly I was never a good hunter. I could pass as one, and I could sit around 3rd in damage when compared to our other hunters if I really pushed it… but I just did not care about the class the same way the others did. My instinct was always to get up in the face of the mob and beat on it with something… and I hated pet management above all things. I managed to get Exeter to max level… but it ended up feeling just horrible. At that point Paladins tanked with Seal of Rage… which was a glorious mess that never really worked at all for holding aggro.
Around about this time a good friend of mine mentioned that she would like to level a healing priest, but didn’t really want to go through the grind that was leveling a healing priest. I had been kicking around the notion of leveling a tank, but again leveling as a tank was a painful experience. So as a result we decided to level my human warrior Belghast and her dwarven priest Finni together to make the process easier. This was probably a bad thing… because it was the first moment that I realized how amazing priests are. They enable me to make really bad decisions… like pulling ALL THE THINGS in an area and then living to tell the tale.
I loved this new play style of making everything hate me… then getting bailed out of my bad lifestyle choices by someone else. The two characters shot up extremely quickly, and before I knew it I was tanking the unofficial raid nights for Late Night Raiders. The problem is… the more I got into tanking… the more I hated playing Lodin. The only problem… Lodin was geared… and there was no way to get as geared as the LNR tanks. So I bided my time, continued getting tanking experience and “apprenticed” of sorts under the various really good warriors that we had in our raid.
One of the best things about an expansion… is it is a complete gear reset. As a result I used the Burning Crusade expansion to be my springboard to ditch the hunter and move forward as a “real” tank. From that point onwards I have essentially played nothing but tanks as main characters. Be it my Warrior in Rift, or my Marauder/Warrior in Final Fantasy… I always gravitate towards tanking. It took some time… but I finally found that one role that really suits me. Which I guess in a way is why I am so passionate about tanks being a thing going forward. It is a role I feel that I play fairly well.
So there you have it… the tale of how I went from being the most healery of healers to playing absolutely nothing but tanks. I figured it was a tale worth telling, especially since there are folks that still have trouble thinking of me as ever playing anything but a tank. The ironic thing is… there are a group of folks I raided with at the time that still think of me as Lodin the Hunter. I was a really horrible hunter. At this point… I am going to go crash on the sofa as I feel absolutely terrible. I sincerely hope you are having a much better day than mine.