Before I start talking about my tanking experience, I’m pleased to note that our Free Company, <Guard>, reached a milestone of 50 players last night. We’ll see how long we can maintain that (folks come and go quite a bit in FFXIV – moreso that I’ve seen in other games). Also, there’s a few people on the roster who probably need to be purged as I have a good idea they may not be coming back. Anyhow, this is an exciting time for our little FC, which is slowly coming together nicely.
Misadventures in Tanking
Over the past few months, I’ve been challenging myself to do things that are outside of my comfort bubble in FFXIV. Learning to tank is one of these things. I really like the idea of being a tank, but I’m not sure I like the pressure of being a group leader and the expectations that come with that position.
Still, I’ve been leveling Paladin on Tai, with a goal to make about a level each night since last week. I would usually stick to FATES and leves, but I’ve discovered running dungeons also provide a pretty significant boost in leveling experience. So, last night, when two FC members requested dungeon help, I timidly offered my unpracticed assistance.
The first dungeon was Aurum Vale. Yeah, go ahead and groan those of you who know where this is going. I don’t think anyone likes that dungeon, and while I’ve run it several times, it was almost always as a bard. I knew it was going to be a challenge, and was probably a bad idea, but I wanted to help and I needed the experience and practice.
The first attempt was with two FC DPS and a random DF healer. The moment the healer zoned in, she complained about the dungeon and suggested a speed run. This was even after I announced this was the first time I ever tanked AV, and I’m obviously sub-50 by looking at my piece-meal armor. I told her that attempting that was a bad idea (I am just ilvl 46), and I think she was kinda grouchy about it.
The run went just as you’d expect. Several wipes in the first room – some of them due to my inexperienced pulls. Some of them due to just the wandering mobs that are so easy to aggro anyone in the group. Once because the white mage stopped healing for whatever reason (she did own up to it). Then, she would keep spam healing and grouch at me for not holding aggro, while I was working my butt off to try and keep the mobs off her.
We got to the first boss fight and I thought we were doing somewhat better. Until I watched our DPS die one by one. I followed soon after for a party wipe. It wasn’t until later that we realized the healer had not once used a medica, which was pretty essential to winning that battle (since everyone’s life is dropping due to poison effects and boss mechanics).
At that point, I recognized things weren’t going to get any better, and she was complaining she had never had so much trouble healing a dungeon ever. So I called on Syn (who nicely stopped in the middle of working on a presentation for work) to pull in Zeb, and suggested a vote abandon to our group. The healer quickly agreed, and we parted our ways.
So we started AV again, with Zeb as our healer. Having a better idea of the pulls in the first room, and a more patient healer (who actually used medica), we made it through the dungeon the second time without incident. I was still pretty frazzled by then, but I’d promised Almonihah that we’d run Stone Vigil.
The experience in Stone Vigil was somewhat different. A lot of the mistakes I made were due to not knowing the dungeon well. I’ve run it many times, though again, as a bard. I did know that there were certain locations to pull groups to, in order to avoid dragon fire and adds, but I didn’t know where those spots were.
The adds in Stone Vigil tended to be the biggest issue. I struggled a lot through that run, and while I somehow kept it together, I always felt like I was just inches away from losing control of the mobs. Maybe it was because I was already frazzled from the dungeon before that.
Either way, we did finish the dungeon without too much incident, and I learned a lot about the dungeons and pulls in general. I finished the night off with completing my Paladin hunting log, and sitting at a little less than halfway through level 49.
First, I want to thank the patient FC folks who allow me to tank these and learn as I go. I’m not writing this as a rant, or out of frustration. I really appreciate the help and support, even if I feel stressed afterwards. I was so worked up after all this, I even dreamed about tanking when I went to bed last night!
I recognize the feeling as the same I used to have when I first played Tai as a dragoon. I thought I’d never get this rotation down. Never get the positionals. I was always going to be an awful dragoon that constantly took dirt naps, and I even leveled ninja to 50 thinking I might replace my dragoon with that class.
But, ninja didn’t end up meshing with my play style well, so I stuck with dragoon. I started working on better armor, and got his relic. Over time, with practice, and better gear, I began to see an improvement in my dragoon skills and in my comfort level with the class. I’m not a fantastic dragoon by any stretch, but I’m doing a lot better than I did just a few months ago. And usually, I have no stress at all playing him now!
I bring this up because I hope that the same may happen with Paladin. I’m really quite afraid of trying to tank through the relic quests, especially primal HMs. But maybe with better gear (I’m working on it) and a little practice, I’ll get the hang of it and be able to tank in relatively low stress.
We’ll see, though! First, I need to get him to 50! Wish me luck!