Sapphire Hits 50 and Visits the Sunken Temple

There was a proposed guild run to battle the trolls and dragons in the sunken Temple of Atal'Hakkar, and I was going to be the tank. Before I head in to the temple, I am keen to get the warrior class quest from my trainer, but he thinks I am not quite ready and wants me to gain a bit more experience. I have quite a few quests that I could finish quickly for people, and even though I fight my way through them quickly my experience seems to plod ever slowly onwards. It isn't too much longer before I am rewarded with the flash of light signifying I have reached my 50th level.

Reaching 50 lets me get the quest from my class trainer, and it also opens up a new talent ability. Having focussed my attention on protection talents, and borne the useful but uninteresting build up of vitality for the past five levels, I am now able to learn the devastate ability. Devastate duplicates and thus essentially replaces the sunder armour ability, which is great for building threat and increasing damage through reduced armour. But instead of simply reducing a target's armour with each attack devastate also damages the target, which makes an essential tanking attack more useful for solo adventuring. And as devastate damages with each hit it remains a useful attack even when the maximum number of sunder armour debuffs has been reached, unlike the sunder armour attack itself.

There are many people who shun the protection spec for solo adventuring or levelling, and I can see why. It is slow and methodical, taking a fair amount of time to drop a single opponent. I like it, though, and now that I've reached 50 all my attacks are coming together nicely. Following my warrior class quest I find the fallen hero of the Horde and head in to the Blasted Lands to prove my worth to him. The enemies I face there prevent me from charging up to any one of them without attracting others, and because I am pulling with my crossbow I find I am better suited waiting in defensive stance.

There is a lot of synergy to my attacks. My shield blocking allows me periodically to mitigate even more damage than normal, and every time I block an attack I gain rage through a talent. A blocked attack also procs the revenge ability, which only costs a tiny two rage to use and has a good chance of stunning the target for a couple of seconds, both thanks to talents. My shield slam hits the target for a nice damage boost, as well as removing a buff from the enemy, and is another protection talent ability. All the time, my devastate is damaging the opponent and sundering his armour, making him more susceptible to damage.

I may be hitting for less damage, and the huge amount of threat I generate is essentially meaningless with no one else to protect from harm, but my damage reduction and all my talents give me amazing resilience. A rogue or warlock can drop a foe far more quickly than I can, and it can be a little demoralising to see just how quickly this can be, but I simply don't need to rest as often. Combined with the gift of the naruu I become the ox of the fighting world, and this is my place.

The quests for the fallen hero are complete, and he sends me to collect voodoo feathers from the trolls in the sunken temple. My guild decides to take Knifey to Hellfire Citadel Ramparts instead, but that's okay. The next day I get a random invitation to join a pick-up group to the sunken temple. I have nervously avoided such groups before. Maybe it was the effort I put in to getting my class quest ready, or maybe it was finally getting devastate and feeling like a proper tanking warrior, but this time I accept the invitation. I head down to the Swamp of Sorrows.

On the journey the other warrior in the party, who had invited me, says that he can tank. That takes the pressure off me, but just to offer the option and to let him know my talents I mention that 'I can dual wield, but my damage may not be great as I am fully specced in protection talents.' The warrior does not blink at this, so I assume he too is a protection warrior, ready to hold all enemies from the rest of us. Having said this, two things become apparent when fighting through the zombies and snakes before entering the instance.

First, I have no idea how to be anything but a tank. I am in my beserker stance, two weapons drawn, and have abilities and rage to spare, but no real idea on what to do with any of it. Slam seems too slow, whirlwind attack requires multiple enemies, and heroic strike generates a high amount of threat. I am very likely missing something, but it is a good indicator that I am destined to be a tank. Nevertheless, I know how frustrating it is when a character decides independently to assume a role other than the one they are given, and I am to do damage here. I resolve to fulfil this role as best I can.

However, the second thing I notice is that the other warrior is far from being a tank himself. With a two-handed weapon in place of a shield, fighting in a balanced stance with arms talent abilities proccing, he is tanking through sheer damage alone. This method works well enough on a single foe but as soon as we are facing three or four a situation approaching havoc ensues. There is a lot of chasing enemies back and forth between the damage dealers and the healers, and it is more through sweat than skill that we remain victorious in battles.

I know I mentioned that assuming a different role can be frustrating, but I saw it as a better solution than continually wiping. I switch to a defensive stance and strap my shield to my arm again. All my familiar abilities are back and I feel more comfortable than ever before. The arms warrior engages the enemy first, then I pluck every other foe off him he is not attacking directly, and I keep them focussed on me. There is a shaky transition at first, particularly with no marking of the mobs to indicate any kill order, but I am soon holding every enemy's attention on me with ease. I surprise myself with how smoothly I hold aggro on three elite dragonkin, balancing my attacks on each to keep their attention, and how much I am enjoying being the tank.

Even though I adopt the role of tank stealthily, which I am not proud about, the rest of the party are quite happy not to be attacked and see the two warriors peforming well. It isn't too long before I am more brazen about being the tank. When approaching the dragon bosses I discuss and make the pull, and hold aggro through the whole fight. It's far more difficult to feign being the understudy when there is only one enemy to fight. It might also be why the other warrior steals a bind-on-pickup caster item from the final boss before logging out immediately. I honestly don't think we would have got far enough for him to do that if he had remained the tank, though.

It is a successful adventure in to the sunken temple. I retrieved the voodoo feathers for the fallen hero of the Horde, and picked up a nice new sword and cloak whilst doing so. We did not wipe once in the dungeon and faced some heavy opposition. And I found my feet as a tank, reawakening my joy of keeping other safe by taking all the hits.

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