This week’s BlogAzeroth shared topic (proposed by RestoDude) is about helping out your groupmates – protecting and assisting the other members, and so on. While I think the original topic may have been meant to refer to abilities or strategies ingame, in a multiplayer game like WoW it’s equally vital to consider ways to help and support your groupmates in a social sense.

White bear!

Qanala - level 19

This girl essentially exists because I want to tank on Dhakeilh and am too much of a chicken to start learning at higher levels (and also because I fell in love with the white druid forms. Different topic!). Most of her time is spent tanking instances, more or less ineptly, and a run through Shadowfang Keep this week is where we meet the shared topic.

I find tanking very intimidating. I know I’m not alone in this, judging by the huge number of other posts and comments out there saying the same thing, but that doesn’t make it any easier to check the blue box (take the blue pill…?) on the dungeon finder and frantically hope your groupmates will be at least civilised, if not friendly. And, of course – as with everything – as I get more intimidated, I get less accurate with my reactions and more flustered. This has on occasion led directly to wipes, which always make me reach for the Whip of Self-Flagellation and, of course, tends to perpetuate the cycle.

The contribution of the other group members to a tank’s mental state is perhaps obvious, but bears restating. An experienced and confident tank can of course shrug off the comments; after all, he knows what he’s doing, and if they don’t like it, screw them. For less confident tanks, though, the group can make all the difference to their comfort level and, therefore, to their performance. There is a world of difference between the group where the refrain is ‘gogogogo…pull faster…pull bigger…come on failtank’ and one where not much is said, but the underlying attitude is ‘take your time, do it right, mistakes happen.’ A group doesn’t have to be a mutual admiration society with compliments every twelve seconds to maintain a supportive atmosphere.

Not being entirely oblivious, I realise this is a very optimistic and idealistic attitude to WoW – particularly as applied to PUGs. However, the abovementioned SFK run, which was a PUG with four complete strangers, showed me that it is possible; not once did someone complain about the tanking, the healing or anything else, even though both myself and the healer were new at our roles. As a consequence, a group with no members over level 20 dealt with the instance with a minimum of trouble, and I zoned out at the end feeling over the moon. I could tank!

I question whether that instance would even have been possible for me to tank with a group that pushed me to pull faster, or spammed party chat with demands for heals. This group wasn’t chatty or overly friendly, just quietly supportive and occasionally patient. Is a tank (or anyone else) responsible for her own performance? Absolutely. Can the group members contribute to or detract from that performance just by their attitude and presence in party/raid chat? Without a doubt.

So, many thanks to Edaedia (priest), Gnomophobia (warlock), Floor (mage) and gnome-rogue-whose-name-I’ve-forgotten-sorry!, for a fun and confidence-building run –  and for the reminder that sometimes the best thing we can do to help and assist others in our group is to be nice.