Failure: The Key to Success

April 9, 2009

The Heigan Dance. The Ledge Boss. Void Zones. Flame Walls.

There are raiders in our midst for whom those words incite panic. Each week they screw up their courage and approach these encounters like a game of Russian roulette, hoping this time they will get lucky and survive. I know because  I’ve been there.  I wish I could reach through my computer, give you a big hug, and assure you that it doesn’t have to be this way.  Your failures can actually be the key to your success if you will take the following two steps.

Identify your Failure.

You cannot take steps to correct a problem you cannot identify.  One of your most powerful tools in identifying what happened to you is a properly configured combat log.  Take a moment to review my guide with step by step instructions on how to configure your combat log to show only incoming damage. This will allow you to track the damage you take as it happens, and enable you to tell at a glance what killed you.

Another tool I recommend is an addon called Failbot.  It reports in raid chat (or any channel of your choosing) the following failures.


  • Hit by an eruption on Heigan
  • Dying to slimes after Patchwerk
  • Missing the jump on Thaddius
  • Crossing 3 or more opposite charges on Thaddius
  • Hit by a frost breath on Sapphiron
  • Hit by a void zone on Kel’Thuzad

Sartharion & Drakes:

  • Hit by a void zone on any of Sartharion’s drakes
  • Hit by a lava wave on Sartharion

The value of this addon is that it provides immediate feedback. Some people honestly don’t realize they are being hit by the eruptions, or  standing in the void zones, or  crossing the charges. They walk away from an encounter genuinely not knowing what they did wrong.

There are those who are uncomfortable with my reporting  failures in raid chat.  To them I offer the following thought for consideration.

Protecting people from the knowledge of their failures does not help them.

This is a mistake we make all too often. In the name of friendship or kindness, we withhold from people honest feedback about their performance. It is hard to be confronted with your failure, but it is the only way you learn.

Once you have identified your failure, it is important to take the next step.

Identify what steps you can take to prevent the same failure next time.

  • If the Heigan dance is your problem, study this video from Tankspot.
    Quick tip: To focus exclusively on movement, skip to 5:11 and turn your sound off.
  • If you fail at the Ledge Boss, read this post.  Quick tip: Stock up on Swiftness potions.
  • If you disconnect on Thaddius, read this Elitist Jerks guide to fixing chain disconnects.
  • If you die due to chained ice blocks on KT, read this post. Quick tip: Install DBM and set /range to 11.
  • If you get hit by flame walls on Sartharion, check out this video from Tankspot.

Did you notice several of the posts I linked to were my own?  I wrote these after my own failures in an effort to avoid repeating them.  If you struggle with these things, don’t ever think you are alone. There are others out there dealing with the same thing. You can find help, if you will look for it.

Conclusion: After a failure, identify what happened and what steps you can take to prevent the same thing happening again.  If you cannot do those two things, you are doomed to repeat your failures. If you can, you are already on the road to success.



  1. Very nice post with a concise delivery. I like your ability to say what you have to say thoroughly yet efficiently. I also appreciate the tips regarding tools to identify and evaluate the cause of the fail. Posts like these actually help folks like myself become better tanks.

  2. The ability to deliver information in a concise and efficient manner is something I admire about Veneretio of Tankingtips.com and a quality I’ve been trying to emulate in my own writing. I appreciate your feedback.

    Your recent post – 5 Reasons I Fail at Tanking – was an encouragement to me as I struggle with most of those same issues. I look forward to read your next installment on why you succeed at tanking. Keep up the great work!

  3. Excellent advice, Aleathea.

    I admit, the first time one of our tanks ran Failbot, I was a little skeptical (I’ve never been one to call people out in public for their mistakes) — but lo and behold, it’s turned out to be a fantastic tool! Even prior to running Failbot, our officers and raid leaders had a good idea of who was dying to what, but other players were often unwilling to confess to what was killing them. Seeing it reported in black and white (or, rather, orange!) was a huge motivator.

    And this–

    “If you struggle with these things, don’t ever think you are alone. There are others out there dealing with the same thing. You can find help, if you will look for it.”

    –is so true! “Thaddius jump” still appears among my top searches. At first, I was surprised … but it makes sense. If I struggled with it enough to Google it, and you struggled with it enough to write about it, then others are almost certain to have done the same.

    Great post, all around. 🙂

    (I apologize if this is a duplicate post; my browser keeps crashing for some reason!)

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