I am not going to lie to you. I have no real advice on how to be the best Troll Heroic tank. This article was written over the span of two weeks recounting my trials and tribulations of tanking the troll heroics. It is pretty self reflective. Consider yourself warned.


My Lack of Tanking Progression

Warrior tanks, and I’m going to guess all tanks, are very gear dependent. In a  way you don’t see reflected in other classes a slightly undergeared tank will sink a group in a way that an ungeared dps or healer won’t. This is pretty much a fact. This is such a fact that back in vanilla I heard of many many guilds that had loot systems that gave the guild’s main tank first pick on anything passing all other raiders.

So where am I on my failtanking sidetrack from the gnomish mage supremacy I exemplify? To be honest I’m not doing so great. When Cataclysm hit I leveled the mage and then to help out I leveled the warrior to help in gearing others to be raid ready. We were a bit shy on available tanks so this made logical sense. But as we transitioned from a heroics running guild to a raiding guild he just sort of sat. He ended up with an ilvl of 346 which is fine for heroics, but I must say that Heroic Shadowfang keep and a nasty pug shook my confidence badly and I’ve been hesitant to jump back in the saddle. My warrior is the heroic tank of last resort and I’m pretty much okay with that. Any attempt to tank must be in a  guild group and they must endure at least twenty apologies for poor tanking during the run.

Along comes the Troll Heroics. Since they have come out the demand for five mans has increased in Eff the Ineffable, but for a multitude of reasons I haven’t done many of them. In fact neitherof my 85  toons have completed ZG or ZA. I comfort myself with the knowledge that I have feats of strength for both on my mage, and my mage doesn’t need but one or two things from there anyway and I should be able to get better in raids in the next few weeks I’d imagine.

And then there is the warrior…sitting in his 346 gear, the heroic tank of last resort.

I’m Getting Too Old for this S**t

“Hey Gnoble would you be willing to tank the troll heroics?” I look at the clock I check how Twig is doing on her nightly resistance to sleep campaign. “Sure, but I must warn you I’m at 346 and it will be pretty bad.” “That’s okay.”

My first exposure to the revised and updated ZG was as a warrior. This is not a good place to start. I feel extremely squishy in these places. The fights hit hard and have complicated mechanics you are used to seeing in raids. Venoxis has a poison maze!? Really? Really? I have more than enough wipes on the Panther boss. I can’t in good conscience say it was crappy healing. And I don’t think in most cases it was subpar play on my part. Definitely not ideal, probably not great, but I thought I was doing solid. Yet attempt after attempt I felt like a mana sponge.

Zul Gurub is the hardest instance in the game at this point for me to tank. I cannot help but think that unless you already have a few epics and are heroiced out on all other gear, you have no business trying to tank this place. This places the occasional tank or the new tank in a bit of a bind, especially with pugs. The pressure on tanking in this kind of environment is going to be strong. A lot is going to ride on your shoulders, and groups will be both disappointed when you fail, and incredibly unlikely to let you give up. But at some point when you’ve reached your limit you need to just lay down the law and say “I don’t think I can do this” and be willing to walk away.

Just When I was Out They Pull Me Back In

So resigned that the Troll Heroics might not be tankable by yours truly for a while I loaded up my priest alt last week for some mindless grinding. “Hey Gnoble….would you mind tanking a troll heroic?” “Sure, but I must warn you I’m at 346 and it will be pretty bad.” “That’s okay.”

The guild group has part of Zel’s vaunted team Heal Laralsong getting my back and a pretty solid DPS lineup. And by fortune we got Zul Aman which I hadn’t seen since the revamp. To my surprise I did pretty well. I’m not going to lie, I made mistakes. I pulled extra mobs on trash, I stood in the bad, I wasn’t able to taunt quickly enough. But we got 5/6 towards completing before we hit the wall of the final boss. I got a few upgrades and maybe I’m just a little bit closer to being a serviceable tank again. But the lesson I’m taking from all this is that if you want to tank, if you are serious about tanking you need to continually work at it. You cannot slack off. It requires dedication to getting the best gear you can, practicing the staples of tanking, learning and studying fights, and really having awareness. These things really are non-negotiable.

Why do we fall sir?
So we might learn to pick ourselves up

Finally a few days ago I tanked ZG again. We didn’t finish, but I feel a lot better about my tanking. Rhii was on her Pally alt, we had the Lizard, Grimmtooth, and Laralsong on his warlock. The lesson I  learned is that while it might seem impossible at first, with patience and persistence you can overcome your personal challenges in whatever class you attempt. Read a blog, scour forums, but mostly have a positive attitude. Last night on farm night I was digging through the DBM records while we prepped for our last BWD boss of the night and I saw that Eff the Ineffable has wiped 50 times on Magmaw. Some of these were learning and some are a kill goes sideways, but Magmaw to me now is considered easy, but it was a useful reminder that we all have challenges, and we will fail many times before we succeed. And eventually it will be so easy we won’t remember that we were frustrated at one point at all.


Adventures in Failtanking: The Troll Heroics — 14 Comments

  1. Tanking can be brutal in so many ways. I’m almost completely epiced out and I still flat out refuse to tank a fully pugged run. I’ve been tanking for over three years now and I’m still extremely sensitive to criticism. Just keep sticking with your guild and you’ll see the true joys of tanking :-)

    <3 Your Friendly Neighborhood Fuubaar

  2. I would be interested to hear about your strat tips.

    I am finding that once you learn the fight mechanics in the troll dungeons, they aren’t a very severe gear check. However, it can take a while to learn them. I’ve had the “fortune” to test this theory using all 346-gear plus two or three 359s, because for the life of me no tank gear will drop. The first few tries we usually didn’t finish, or else it took two hours to finish. The last 3-4 tries, however, went pretty smoothly. Learning the strats makes all the difference.

    As an example, on the end boss with the chains, it took me a while to realize just how very important it is to kite the little ghost adds. Until I realized that, I worried mostly about the giant troll adds. However, some groups would not dps down the adds, so they’d eventually become quite numerous and overwhelm the healer. Once I realized this problem, I started concentrating more on kiting the little adds, and the rest of the fight was pretty easy.

    Another example is that the poison maze has deceptive levels of damage. The lines of the maze don’t look like much, but they do extremely high damage. Once you learn to deal with the maze, the rest of the fight isn’t that bad.

    • Well as of today I still haven’t finished all of them, but I think I’ll sketch them out (or some of them anyway) and post them in a follow up post. Strat guides can be hard for a serious casual raider like me, only because by the time I feel comfortable doing it, many of the hard core guys have already banged out pretty solid info.

  3. The troll heroics rocked me back on my heels when they came out, and I AM the epic’d out raid tank. I had to rediscover staying up on my toes and using most/all of my cooldowns even though it was a five-man and not a raid. Plus learning the new fights, and it was a blow to the ego having heroics be genuinely dangerous to me again.

    I’m letting my other tanking toons get to about 350 ilvl before I try tanking them on those, I think.

  4. One of the problems (and I don’t think that’s the right word) in the troll heroics is that you can’t carry people who are seriously bad. By which I mean, the dps races aren’t that big a deal, but there are lots of fights where ignoring or failing at mechanics will kill you.

    And don’t ever go in to ZG with two melee dps. No matter how much you love them just…. don’t.

  5. You inspired me to write a quick and dirty guide to these two for tanks. There’s a lot of subtle, but oh so important, details to know.

    Hang in there! This is why there’s no Team Tank, by the time your ready, you know all there is to know :)

  6. I tanked with a warrior tank in Vanilla, and BC…Now I’m jumping back in with a Pally Tank, I’m excited, and nervous all the same time.

  7. As a healer who has pugged many many tanks in the troll dungeons, good and bad, I just want to say – you are not alone!

    The fights are brutal, no doubt but I feel that gears, although important to give you a bigger buffer when the shit hits the fan is less important than being familiar with the mechanics of the fight. For example – if you don’t remove their enrage, the bear adds will do a number on your tank. Ditto with removing the flamecaster’s burning haste buff. Or taunting the Drakkara lynx off the fixated party member (most common cause for wiping on the last ZA boss). Once you are familiar with the fights, it becomes much easier but until then, the fights are incredibly unforgiving and one mistake can cause a wipe.

    So don’t give up =)

  8. I’ve both healed and tanked the two dungeons by now (on the same character! Holy/Prot ftw!) – and they still scare me. I still don’t go without guild back-up. I will heal a random tank, but I won’t tank without a guild healer.

    My tanking gear is a great mix – a couple of 359, some 352 and then some crappy 333 that I’ve not been able to get rid of. While my healing gear is 352+ (except for one crappy trinket). And the difference is very noticable on my tank.

    She takes a lot of damage, and I find myself using her cooldowns a lot. It’s possible to do – but only with lots of cooldown usage and a good healer. And I can’t make mistakes – or I’m dead. There’s no taking an extra tick of standing in bad or anything like that.

    I would like to do a bit more tanking, because while I enjoy healing as well, it’s a nice change and I miss tanking (after having been the guild’s main tank in Wrath). Admittedly though, I switched from Warrior to Paladin for tanking. Partly because I felt unsure about where they were taking Warrior tanking as Cataclysm approached, and partly because I like having a healing off-spec.

    I’d be interested to hear how things work out as you continue in ZA/ZG. I think we’re all still kind of wary about those instances – especially if we bring any random people along.