Today’s strip came to us naturally because it sprung out of an actual discussion between Mike and I over Skype. I was tanking SM – Cathedral for the 8th time in 2 days, trying to get the Scarlet Leggings to drop (and not have them ninja’d by the Hunter in full heirloom gear for lulz). The fact that they hadn’t appeared again since the thievery was adding to the frustration, and then a DPS group deciding that the combination of my tanking and our Shammy’s heals meant we could take on the entire Cathedral at once. Or, as I joked about it afterwards, a “homebrew heroic mode”. We wiped, the healer left, and I was left 3 pulls away from finishing out the run. It was the final pinprick in a long week of impatient party members, afk healers, aggro stealers, and wiped fights without a rez to be found. I started swearing loudly, and Mike, the long-time Warrior and ever the understanding friend, started laughing at me. And this wasn’t a comforting “Don’t worry, it’s no big deal” laugh, either. This was an evil, maniacal, gutteral laugh that was meant to communicate one horrid thing:

You now know my pain.

It took years, but I finally did. I had never made the actual effort to tank. I had a single warrior before this (an arms warrior that only made it to lvl 52 named Cakeordeath) who would tank every once in awhile for giggles, and I had no idea what I was doing or cared to learn anymore. It was simply a distraction so I didn’t get too bored with my Mage. This time around, however, it was different. I was making a concerted effort and I cared about how I did. Mike’s dismissing gesture of “Meh, it’s not even real tanking yet” didn’t dissuade me from wanting to get through every single dungeon without a single HP removed from another party member.

Obviously, that’s not possible without the cooperation from the rest of the group, and as I quickly learned, you don’t always have it, and there’s not much you can do about it without some tough love, kick votes, or the simple resignation to the fact that this won’t be a perfect run. Like the female blood elf who insisted on healing only wearing a Back piece. (Vote to kick reason: “Nudity greatly offends me”.)

And so, I now understand a bit of the perspective of those tanks who have come before me, charging headfirst into mob after mob with the faith that the healer would be right behind and the DPS wouldn’t do anything to attract attention from those who they were pew-pewing from the background. I’m only level 40, so I certainly don’t have the full story yet. But my heart is oh so heavy for those who I have wronged in the past, and I shall pay my penance by continuing to do a better job from the front seat of every dungeon I run.