Looking for a tank

31st July 2008 – 7.24 am

With my transatlantic World of Warcraft group having reached 60th level and hit the Outlands the XP race, caused by the increased experience gains between 20th and 60th levels, has been slowed. There is less risk of racing ahead of the group by a few levels, where even those few levels can cause frustrating issues in World of Warcraft. The difference in power with characters three levels apart is obvious, mostly related to chances of hitting a target, and also because equipment can scale quickly with level. Being a few levels different can cause a tank to out-damage a DPS class, or a DPS character to out-aggro tanks with too much ease, and even one DPS character to make another DPS character feel superfluous. It's frustrating, but definitely a part of the game and one that needs to be taken in to account.

Having little risk of getting too far ahead of my companions, and having missed a couple of occasions to quest together in the Outlands, I thought I'd take my rogue, Knifey, on a quest of discovery. I called up the 'looking for group' interface and made myself available to run through Hellfire Citadel Ramparts, the first time I would be subjecting myself to a pick-up group as a rogue. At least I was more comfortable heading in to an Outlands instance, which was relatively short and nicely designed.

I was able to get in to a decent enough group, and the instance run went quite smoothly. There was a little discrepancy in power, with a 66 rogue joining us, but we completed the run in good time and with no drama. With my quest to defeat the three bosses in the Ramparts completed I returned again a few days later to see if there would be any interesting loot dropped, and to give a bit more of a focussed session than random world quests. Again, the 'looking for group' interface was used, and again a decent enough group was formed. There was a little bit more of a wait, but it's not surprising considering the time differences involved. This second run went just about as smoothly as the first, with all the bosses defeated again. I got a brief moment of desire when I opened a locked chest to see a blue-quality dagger inside, but it turned out to be a caster weapon. Still, I plucked a cloak from the final boss's chest of goodies, whilst not helping my combat prowess it increases my survivability nicely.

The two runs had one thing in common: the lack of a proper tank. The first run had a paladin who respecced her talents immediately prior to the run because a tank couldn't be found, and the second run had a 70th level fury warrior dual-wield his way through, apparently relying on white damage to hold aggro. Neither run suffered significantly because of this, but running the lowest-level instace in the Outlands was a large factor in our success with improvised tanking.

I am now keen to get my own warrior, destined to be a tank, levelled up and ready to enter the Outlands. Sapphire has been left to linger a little before 40th level partly because of adventuring in the less-than-thrilling Night Elf lands in the hope of gaining a big cat mount, and partly because of the general malaise of doing the same quests yet again. I wonder how quickly I could gain her twenty levels, and whether this could be achieved before boredom with Azeroth sets in again.

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