I was just thinking about when I first started playing the game, like around 5 years ago. I had no idea about most mechanics. I didn't really understand the role of tanking. I was a rogue, and I hit things with my Thrash Blade. I went on instance runs, and I treated the mobs like I was soloing. I'd hit them until they died, not really thinking about whether or not they were attacking me. Doing instances was like feeling our way through the darkness, for everyone in the group.
Then, one day, when I was almost level 60, I went on a Dire Maul West run. I had gone before, and gotten rolled like 20 times before finally finishing, but this time was different. There was a warrior in the run who was level 60, and he took charge of the run. He knew every pull, all the tricks to deal with mobs, held aggro the whole time, and explained fight mechanics to us as we went. He controlled that run, and in those days, DM West was fairly complex in comparison with today's heroics. Everything went super smoothly with no wipes. I was amazed at this guy's leadership, and thought he must be a hardcore expert veteran type. I think he may have been who inspired me to roll a warrior in part, though I didn't do so until much later.
Who else has a story of the eye opening experience when you first met a good tank or party leader?
I was the same on my mage (my first toon). I didn't quite make it to endgame in Vanilla (I think I got to level 52 or something....at the time I thought I "beat" the game when I finished levelling, so I wasn't really speeding through to level cap). So I didn't learn what tanking really was until early BC. Even on the first few runs (think Ramparts) our guild often just CCed or evaded stuff we pulled from our bear or pally tanks. It wasn't until the regular 5 mans started to get harder that we really started paying attention to threat, kill orders, etc. And even then our tanks were pretty mediocre. I think it wasn't until a cross-guild kara run that I saw a bear tank who knew what she was doing, set up and explained pulls, and generally really impressed me.
Funny thing was, I had no intention of going back and leveling my 40-something arms/fury warrior (whom I'd hated) but our guild started to need tanks as we progressed through Kara. Not otherwise being able to try the new hawtness in endgame I thought "what the heck?". My wife switched her druid (same level) to a healer, and we leveled that way. Soon after I found tank spot, and the rest is history.
My poor mage is 72. I should really get around to leveling him...
My warrior was my first (and only for a long time) toon, and I knew next to nothing about the game as I leveled, short of the logical things like more damage = better weapon, warriors want strength and stamina, etc. I was Arms spec, running around with whatever weapon I could get (whether it was 2-handed or dual-wielding) until about level 49. I started running Zul'farrak a lot to try and get an Epic weapon (Sul'thraze the Lasher). I'd occasionally be asked to tank, and would put on a shield, somehow we'd get through.
Then one day, I logged on to find out that a new patch had come, and that Sweeping Strikes, one of my favorite abilities, had been moved to the Fury tree. I got frustrated, and decided to try Protection and focus on fighting with a sword and shield. I loved it. The most memorable moment I have that cemented a love for tanking was the first time I pulled a group in the Sunken Temple. I charged into the middle of a crowd of elite mobs my own level, and started hacking away. When the mobs were all dead, I was still alive. Survivability was something I had never had as Arms spec. It occurred to me then that THAT was fun... not necessarily destroying them all on my own, but taking all they could dish out and coming out alive on the other side.
I was Protection from then on, although it wasn't until I hit 70 (I started playing after TBC came out) that I really learned about the finer points of tanking. I had gotten some blue gear, even an epic PvP shield (Gladiator's Shield Wall, which I believe I used all the way to WotLK, come to think of it... what I didn't have was 480 defense. I found out about that the first time I tried to run a Heroic... it was a pug, too. Poor folks that grouped with me. Didn't make it past the first two groups in Heroic Blood Furnace (thank goodness we didn't get to the second boss). Right away after that run, I went to the Auction House, and bought all the green "of the Champion" items I could find, and cranked my defense up.
Now, after all this rambling, I get to the point of the thread. I was trying to gear up in Heroics, and a guildmate of the guild I had joined offer to help me out. He was a paladin, and a tank. We went in to Shadow Labyrinth with the two of us and another healer, and cleared the first room trying for some drop (don't remember if it was a pattern or a Bold piece...). We didn't get the piece, but he took the time to help out, and gave a few pointers on how to do stuff. More than anything else, he was the first guildmate that actually helped me out (I was guildless until I hit level 60), and it gave me a sort of ally in the tanking world to ask advice of. Our guild dissolved not long after, before I had a chance to do any end game content with them, and I did some more pugs before I got invited to my current guild after one of the runs. There have been plenty of other tanks that have influenced and helped my gameplay, but that was the first.
I did some raids with a friend tanking on his warr while i was playing my lock (starting char) through MC and BWL, we got to the dog boss in BWL and the guild fell apart and I went on a hiatus until BC came out. I remember getting 70 and at about the same time a friends little brother from HS switched from his horde warr to our server and leveled a warr to play with us because the previous mentioned friend decided to start a druid and forget about the warrior.
I remember as he was leveling grouping with people for random dungeons half the time I was pulling agro with my lock with just casting corruption and spamming shadow bolt. It wasn't until my friends brother got to 70 with his warrior that we ran dungeons with him and it seemed like everything suddenly never touched me and I never had to stop and run away from a mob or try to kite it while he was focusing on one thing, he had it all under complete control. A few months later he ended up dieing in a car wreck and we all stopped playing for a month or two. Came back to do kara with the other group of friends and were constantly looking for a tank. I decided to level my warr and struggled with trying to figure out what our previous friend did. In the long run I eventually figured out big agro abilities and the rotations and slipped into his spot.
Every now and than when I get together with my friend who's brother died in the car accident we always joke and say, "if Ben were still around, he would make us all look stupid with how easy he had things under control." Really miss the kid.
About six months ago I ditched playing my warr out of frustration of dealing with rage and started playing my priest. It bugs me anymore watching other tanks (especially warrs) playing because there are just the little things that they ignore or don't do. With my Lock I constantly have to back off of dpsing because I over agro with maybe peaking at 4k tps max and wonder why I don't have vigilance or why in a full minute long fight the warrior might shield slam two or three times tops.