Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Tyranny of Tanks

It's nothing new that tanks are scarce. Even before the new Dungeon Finder system came in it was hard to get a tank to run a 5man pug (see one of my first posts). But witht he new Finder tool things doens't seem to improve. Right now having a tank entering the LFG means assured run in 5 seconds or less (unless someone declines). It's the faster way to grind emblems and you can get 5/5 T9 in a very short time. Not only that, you can play as tank and spend the emblems in your second spec, no matter if it's the main or secondary spec and have that char ready for ICC in few days. Yet still the number of tanks hasn't grown.
Being a tank is not the most fun job in the world. Back then it was also stressing, when threat wasn't so easy to get and maintain.  But right now tanking isn't that stressing, healers get most of it. Ok, the job is still boring (plant yourself in front of a bunch of mobs or a boss and let them biff you while watching you're the only one being biffed) and few strategy is involved (I'm talking about 5man instances, not raids), but it's right the same for dps: click buttons and forget about your health (and mana mostly). The only thing dps have is the "fun" to deal big damage numbers, while a tank could only take pride in how high is his threat, the number of hitpoints or the percentage of avoidances. Not very funny, I know. yet still tanking can be challenging (specially in Halls of Reflection).
So why people aren't running tank alts? If the job isn't that stressing or challenging anymore, the only answer is for being not as fun as dpsing. But it's so funny doing "big critz lolz"? I don't think so. Maybe it's me, but I don't care much about what the dps meter says. It's good to see some competition between fellow dps, but I don't care about the position I'm in the list at the end of the instance. As long I've played correctly (and that means more than doing over 3k dps, things like avoiding fire, not stealing aggro, buff the fellow players, etc) I'm happy with my dps character, be either melee or ranged, easy to play as arcane mage or more complicated like cat druid. It has sure more responsability than a dps job, but as said before the threat issues are almost gone and with them the biggest source of stress for tanks.
I was in a party tanking with my poorly geared DK while the rest where clad in T9 and the only concern was my low amount of hitpoints. No one managed to snap a mob off me. I reckon not all tanking classes may be appealing. While I enjoy the protection paladin and the frost DK, I feel unsecure with my protection warrior. I feel he lacks good aoe aggro and thus try to avoid tanking with him. So maybe I'm not playing good the prot warrior, but you can't beat me at prot pally or frost DK (and since my druid is cat I can't tell much about bear tanking, I did some offtank and didn't like it, possibly because I lack the right skills and got a tough time).
Right now tanks hold the power in PUG runs. Getting a healer is not an issue anymore, there aren't tons of them like dps characters, but if you only need a healer you won't wait more than 2 minutes (at least in my battlegroup), while getting a tank may mean over 13 minutes. You know that line "who has a friend has a trasure"? Well, if by any chance that friend is running a tank you've hit the jackpot. It will be "interesting" to see how tanks cope with that power. Right now I've experienced both sides. I got into a pug and we were sent to Azjol-Nerub. On entering the instance the tank left without any explanation. I suspect it's because AN is very short and only has 3 bosses (making a total of 5 EoTs), but it's very clear that tank, unless it had a solid reason to quit, was a stupid moron. If you quit a pug you get a 15 minutes penalisation where you can't join the Finder. AN can be completed in less than 15 minutes with the current average gear people has, so maybe he thought he would get more emblems in another place like Gundrak? (5 bosses + 2 reward emblems). In the time he's waiting without getting into any pug he would have won 5 emblems. So damn stupid. On the other hand I was running Forge of Souls (2 bosses and 2 extra emblems) and the tank decided to go afk in a place with wandering monsters. Of course he aggroed them and first I tried to keep him alive without snapping aggro. A DK tried to tank them  but he couldn't cope with the mobs and died, with the rest of the party wiping shortly afterwards. The first thing I did before ressing was to propose a votekick that passed in a blink and the dickhead tank was expulsed (he had issues before, leaving rampant mobs alone that killed some of us, but what really ticked us off was going AFK in an unsafe place). So we waited for a new tank and luckily we didn't have to wait much. A protadin came in, we told him first boss was dead, he asked what happened and when we explained the previous tank decided to go AFK in the worst place possible and only Devourer of Souls was the only boss alive he answered "good, fast and easy emblems for me, lol!". We finished FoS without any issue. And the tank was pretty happy to gain 3 emblems for just some minutes of easy work.
So will tanks become tyrannical idiots thinking they're "master and commander" because they class is so needed right now? I hope not. One bad example is not enough to create a tendency, but since they're the one that have the frying pan by the handle (as we say here), things could derive in a game of aversion with everyone getting hurt. I also hope people sees the benefit of playing tank chars, not only for the easy and fast loot, but because tanking can be fun and/or satisfying too (at least as fun sitting in the back chugging out spells like there's no tomorrow). And there're also benefits for the rest: more tanks mean more people doing runs, more emblems at the end of the day.
Just as I was finishing this article I found Calli at Pew Pew Lazers! wrote an excellent post about the reverse side of this article, or what we could call A Tyranny of the Rest. Go and read it.

Post soundtrack: A Tyranny of Souls - Bruce Dickinson


  1. I do not agree that tanking is easy.
    When im on my ICC 10 manned geared tank running 5 mans, i stress and run and fret a lot. Tanking raids is so much easier, since dps respects the bosses and the mobs. In 5 mans its all about the aoe dmg (sometimes even before the tanks get to the next mobs). Its stressfull and not very much fun.
    So i usually only do my daily and log onto my healer or dps to do loads (they need the gear more anyways).
    I honestly think its this lack of respect for the tank that is causing them to burn out. That and the "wtf you dont have 50k health" /votekicks

  2. I'd say it depends on the class. As said I like tankign with pally or dk, you have several aoe threat skills that ensure no one is going to chase the dps or healer at the back. On the other hand I get more stress when tanking with the warrior (even he has glyphed thunderclap) since I don't feel I generate enough threat for all (the mob targeted gets loads of it).
    Of course being with 4 people you don't know also adds the "unknown surprise" factor (most of times called the dickhead variable), but it's the same for me with a healer. On my pally, druid or shaman (now that he's in full T9) I don't have much stress. On the other hand I'm not comfortable healing with my disc priest, feeling it will all end bad, not because he's undergeared (maybe for the new instances) but because I don't trust enough the rest of the party and the unknown dickhead factor may be too big to handle without putting my sanity at risk.
    About the burnout, I still have to see it, while I experienced the opposite: tanking leaving without any word before anything started. And I don't think this was because the tank was burned out, otherwise he wouldn't have selected the tank checkbox when joining the DF.

  3. Like Dw-redux, I think that we are left with jerk tanks because the polite ones are quitting after being treated poorly.

    Before 3.3 I used to enjoy tanking on my druid. But I'm afraid to do it in LFD. With all the t9+ dps out there, impatient and rude and doing huge damage too, I just know I am going to have a stressful time doing my best, knowing it will be considered inadequate, and then being abused.

    Instead, I am healing. Maybe someday I will have enough excess badges to overgear as tank as well, and then I might, just might, return to tanking.

  4. I think that a large part of the problem is that man y players that dual spec or repsec at 80 to tank quickly find out that other players have very little tolerance for mistakes or caution. I've seen DPS pull for the tank then the rest of the party of scream at the tank for pulling to much or not picking up what the DPS pulled in the first place. Who wants to deal with that when they can grab 3 guildies and pug a DPS and have much more fun for the same number of badges?

  5. Funny that the day I read this run into a Tyrant Tank doing the daily random (hToC). Long story short he got into a fight with an equally jerkish healer (who left) then proceeded to be verbally abusinve to the another party member. Then essentially said,"You can put up with me or wait 15 minutes for another tank." So I dismounted slapped on my t9 tank set and said, "Leave, I'll tank.".

    Problem solved.