I like to think that I’m on track to becoming a fairly versatile player in about 10 years’ time, mostly due to chronic inability to only do one thing at once. For that reason, I’m learning to tank and heal (or trying to) as well as practising various forms of dps on various characters. This love for variety means that if I had to pick one and only one class to play, it would be druids – and, of course, my main is a druid.

The useful thing about druids is that it’s usually pretty easy to tell (after the first 30 seconds or so of buffing up) what they’re planning to do in this instance or raid. Tanking druids will be in bear form, healing druids will have branches and leaves, DPSing druids will tend toward the furred or the feathered according to preference. This is pretty much a no-brainer (and an over-simplification, but I’ll let it slide for now). Likewise, one would hope and expect that the druid in question has a talent spec suited to the shape s/he has chosen; a druid rustling around in tree form probably isn’t specced to tank today. However, the nuances of this appear to have eluded our tank in a PUG of Shattered Halls I was in a little while ago (and fortunately, we got lucky).

We started off as a fairly conventional group: paladin tank, holy priest healer, two kitty druids (one white, one purple – because, you know, colour co-ordination is important) and a warlock. About halfway through, just before the first boss, things began to go increasingly pear-shaped; while the tank was fine with holding aggro on mobs that were in front of him, he wasn’t quite managing to keep the healer out of danger. We puttered along for a bit longer, but then Bad Things started to happen on the bigger trash pulls. Suddenly (ta-daa!), the other druid revealed a hitherto-unknown resto spec and turned into a tree to help heal (phew!).

Onward we forged, now with two healers. The tank, clearly not feeling quite up to the job, took a deep breath and pulled the first boss – but by the time it hit 50% health and was ping-ponging between the tank and each of the two healers, it was obvious that all was not going well. In the middle of the fight, the tank said to me ‘I can’t taunt, you tank’ – and started in to dps. Much surprised, I shifted into bear form and we did get through it (my l33t tanking skillz just about extend to keeping a single target’s attention if I try hard enough, and I was at the upper level limit for the instance).

We finished the instance that way, with a bear tank, holy priest and tree healers, and paladin and warlock dps. It seemed to work, even if it wasn’t exactly what we’d expected. I have to admit, though I was a bit annoyed with the tank at the time (what? It’s mid fight! Ack! Quick, growl and where’s-my-maul-key-dammit!), I enjoyed rising to the challenge of a sudden shift in role.

What about you? Do you prefer to choose a niche and stick with it, or do you like classes that can dabble in a bit of something different if it’s called for?