Taking a walk on the wild side

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be pretty intense

Stepping out of your comfort zone can be pretty intense

After much consideration, I chose tanking as my main spec. I didn’t do it for my guild, I didn’t do it out sheer love of tanking and I didn’t do it because tanking came naturally to me. I did it for the opposite reason: I became a tank because I wasn’t a natural. While healing seemed to be something I was born to do, tanking scared me. An as uber perfectionist, as an extremly shy person, as someone with an anxious personality, the idea of being on the front line of a pull was absolutely terrifying. I remember my first few runs, feeling physically sick before each pull, shaking like a leaf the entire time… I loved every second of it!

I suppose it’s the emotional equivalent of scary rides at the amusement park. Rides put you in a situation where you feel like you’re in danger, but in reality, you’re quite safe. (Unless you’re very unlucky.) My first tanking runs were just like that. I worried that I’d fail (very disastrous for a perfectionist!), let everyone down and heck knows what else I fretted over­. But in reality, I was just playing a game with my friends. They’d still love me after a few wipes in Shadow Labs. I felt like I was in emotional danger, but the worst case scenario was being affectionately teased about it for a few weeks.

Did I get anything more than amusement out of trying something outside my comfort zone? Definitely. As I worked my butt off trying to be a good tank (which I still struggle with to this day), I gained a level of understanding and attachement to my class that I never would have experienced had I stayed a pure healer. I also deepened my understanding of the game in general as I watched the mechanics from a new perspective. I became better at all my specs, including holy and ret, it helped a lot when learning to play my mage and I find it much easier to learn other classes for when I need to give advice to a guildie.

A more recent situation where I was brutally yanked out of my quiet comfort zone was during the much complained about Children’s Week achievement, School of Hard Knocks. Lets go over the criteria:
Take your orphan into the battlegrounds and complete the feats listed below.
* Capture the flag in Eye of the Storm
* Assault a flag in Arathi Basin
* Assault a tower in Alterac Valley
* Return a fallen flag in Warsong Gulch

Ouch!

For the reference, I’m still a healer when I pvp. A healer. Healers heal. We don’t capture flags, assault nodes, returns flags. We heal. We keep people alive, even when they’re being beat on by DKs and ret pallies. There’s no time for other stuff! Heck, I didn’t even know HOW to assault a tower in AV or return a flag in WSG. And the game expected me to do all those things in order to have that little thing flash on the bottom of my screen? (I love flashies on the bottom of my screen!) Was the game crazy? Maybe, but I totally fell for it.

I captured a flag in EotS, I grabbed the stables in AB (and I liked it so much that I then grabbed the mine, the farm and the BS). After some friends explained it to me, I assaulted a tower in AV. Returning a flag in WSG took me a few tries and was very frustrating, but after I realised that to return a flag, you don’t need to get the killing blow on the flag carrier, you just need to click the flag, I discovered it was easy. Then I returned a few more flags. It was the most fun I’d had in BGs in a long, long time.

So maybe I pissed off a few people in the BGs by “not playing properly”. After all, I’m supposed to keep them alive. Go ahead, ask me if I care. Non-healers get on my nerves all the time when they don’t stay in range, don’t rescue me when I’m getting beat on or when they think they know everything about pvp healing. I really don’t feel bad about stealing their jobs for a few hours.

In the end, I had a great time and I got a few new pieces of pvp gear out of it. I also got to learn some more about the game.

Now, I’m not promoting going out and doing something completely new on a progression fight. Not sure guilds appreciate wiping over a whim. However, when the game gets too easy, when your beloved guild isn’t progressing as fast as you are, or if, like me, you always need to be learning, taking a walk on the wild side can offer its share of benefits. Sometimes the things that seem the least pleasant (who likes being frustrated?) can be indeed very enjoyable in the end.

As for the other “n00bs” who were trying to get the School of Hard Knocks achievement last May and, in the process, “breaking the BGs”, I hope their experience was similar to mine. Exciting and shedding light on a side of the game they don’t usually get to see.

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