Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tanks who can't, shouldn't

Tanks who can't, shouldn't. It's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to Cataclysm with promises of skilled based play coming back to the scene.

There is a syndrome called tank envy. This was particularly prominent in the Burning Crusade. Gone were the days of 40 man raids and in was ushered a new era of 10 man entry level and 25 man advanced raids along with 5 man heroic dungeons. Tanks were the leaders, the tough guy. The ones who didn't die unless their team let them down. Guilds literally fell apart when their main tank left.

This led to a rush of new tanks. Kids who were bullied at schools. Ret paladins who hoped for a raid spot. Attention seekers. People who wanted to feel important, to be the cornerstone of their guild or raid. Warriors were no longer king although the perception remained strong that these were THE main tank. Druids and paladins began leading their own raids. Raiding and entire guilds were focused around their main tank. Even when he was an asshole.

So, tank envy. A whole new breed of tanks who thought they could. They leveled through instances asking the group if anyone knew the way. The group would have to tell a tank to go buy a shield and then run to the summon stone to bring him back. Off-spec tanks who thought they were fine because they did have a shield. The glory that was tankage.

Usher in Wrath of the Lich King. Leveling-wise, all a tank has to do is attempt to hold as many mobs as possible while the team randomly nukes the lot at once. No more cc, no positioning the mobs. The only person who might comment on the lack of a shield, is the healer, usually to be ignored.

The LFD or Duneon Finder tool brought a new wave of a different kind of tank. These weren't the tank envy lot. These guys just wanted quick queues and fast leveling. It didn't matter if you knew the way. Just run through the whole thing, aggro the lot, burn, burn, burn.

Suddenly at 80 when a margin of skill kicks in, many pseudo-tanks realize they have no idea how to. These are the ones you find in your level 70 instance, usually UK or Nexus, completely overgeared for the content, ready to "practice" on your lowbie group. They tend to run through and pull the entire instance in one swoop while everyone chases frantically, usually oom. The boss downed in record time, they pat themselves on the back for their excellent tankage and start looking for a VoA group.

The numbers of tanks at 80 is low. And the number who can actually tank is even lower. The fast queue guys spec back to pew pew mode and bemoan the lack of tanks. There is no more tank envy (except envy towards groups who manage to find one).

Cataclysm promises a return to skill-based grouping. Crowd control, aggro management, careful positioning of both group members and the mobs, having to study an encounter before you turn up and the need for competence. I don't like the way the game has been dumbed down; there needs to be content to suit different play styles. Of course this will see the return of tank envy. When the hapless young lads watch a brilliant tank in action and think, if I roll one of these, I can has skillz too.

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