An Ex-Gnome Tank's World

Has Tanking Changed?

February 18th, 2009 Posted in Class Discussion

Kadomi thinks that tanking has undergone an evolution since WoW 1.0 came out. Me, I’m not so sure.

Yes, the abilities have changed. The buttons we press to engage the enemy are not the same buttons we pressed back when I started playing back in patch 1.9. It’s now possible for any number of classes to tank – Death Knights, Paladins and Druids have joined Warriors in being able to hold aggro and not die. But so what?

  • You are not the buttons you press to keep aggro.
  • You are not your class.
  • You are not the gear you wear, nor the buffs you give out.
  • You are not a beautiful and unique, heavily armoured snowflake, and your toon is the same collection of fleeting pixels as everybody else’s.

Apologies to Chuck Palahniuk.

The role of the tank is, and will continue to be, the one who can hold onto aggro. That’s all. Keep everybody alive by being less squishy than everyone else. Whether that’s in AoE situations, by hitting shield slam, or swipe, saving shield wall for the right situation, or just doing your damnedest to spam taunt, tanking hasn’t changed.

What has changed is our tools. We now have bigger and more varied tools at our disposal. The tools doth not make the player – a good tank is a good tank regardless of what abilities he has to hand. Tanking is all about spatial awareness, positioning and quick reactions (when it’s necessary to save someone). That hasn’t changed.

Better tools might mean that we have a more interesting time than we did before, but the buttons we press are so low down the list of things that make a good tank they may as well be near the bottom.

Playstyles have changed. But that doesn’t mean that tanking has.

  1. 7 Responses to “Has Tanking Changed?”

  2. By Hawksong/Mojin on Feb 18, 2009

    Tanking by definition has not changed. A tanks goal always has been to keep the attention of the mob and take the brunt of the damage. That’s a tank’s goal in WoW and just about every other MMO.

    However, I think that, in WOTLK more than the Burning Crusade or basic WoW, a tank has a responsibility to participate in the DPS as well.

    When tanking old UBRS and Strat raids, I was tasked with two things: taking damage and staying alive. These days, if I am not participating in the DPS as well, I feel that I’m only doing half my job. Healers should to heal and buff. DPSers should DPS and CC. Tanks should be expected to both tank and do damage. I suspect this is a big reason why the DW tanking spec is so popular.

  3. By BillyWallace on Feb 18, 2009

    I mostly agree with the blog and mostly disagree with the first comment.

    A tank’s job is not to dps. It is a byproduct of our current abilities and scales well with gear, however, as soon as the tank’s focus shifts to how much dps he can put out, some focus has shifted away from survivability, situational awareness, or other aspect of tanking. This is a disservice to the rest of the group.

    In a failed attempt at a dungeon, the reason was never that the tank didn’t pull his weight on the damage meter.

    I haven’t looked into tanking with a DK yet but I think they have a strong relationship between dps and threat, so they may be a slight exception.

    I’ve also been in content that we severely over-geared, so we had a bit of a dps contest just for kicks, and even the healer was dishing it out, but it didn’t matter if the tanking/healing was not top-notch. But if your group is doing content where they need a good tank, focus on keeping yourself and your group mates alive. If you do that, the dps will follow, but it shouldn’t be a focus or considered a responsibility of the tank.

  4. By Hawksong/Mojin on Feb 18, 2009

    I see your point, Billy. Maybe it’s just that I’ve had different experiences, but I feel that in WotLK, survivability isn’t hard to achieve. It’s part of the reason we put talent points into Arms and Fury instead of going into a full Prot build. If a tank can’t DPS in WotLK, every boss in Heroic Old Kingdom is going to be that much harder. Bosses with enrage times are going to be more difficult. And any time a DPSer should fall in combat, if the tank can’t DPS, the fight is going to be drawn out that much longer.

    Yes, a tank’s top two priorities need to be survivability and holding aggo, but I see having a respectable DPS being a close third. And the important thing to remember is that our DPS abilities are our threat-generating abilities too: Shield Slam, Revenge/HS macros, and so on.

  5. By TGAPGeorge on Feb 18, 2009

    First of all, if Chuck Palahniuk played WoW — and I really hope he does — then he would love your adaptation of Tyler’s mantra.

    Regardless, I thought it was great. I think another thing Tyler would say is, “You’re not your f*ck*ng legplates!”

    Tyler Durden would also say this:

    “The gear you own, ends up owning you.”

  6. By Steele on Feb 19, 2009

    more survivability = less healers = more dps. from my experience warriors do the lowest dps of all tanks anyways (or is this just me xD). If i try like mad i do 1.5k dps.. if im brain-afk and smoking with 1 hand im doing 1.3k .. so why bother with it anyways. i rather build a tank like a tank (DW isnt for me).. means in heroics i dont care if my healer gets 1shotted after an unlucky pull.. ill finish the group without heals.. in a boss fight i can bridge the gap if theres a problem with steady healing.. thats where i shine, i get my groups through accidents by eating it all up, im the guy between killing a boss and repairing your gear. i would blame my DW-spec or any talent-point i didnt spend for survivability if i go down at any time being a tank, even if the healers screwed up.

  7. By Vads on Feb 20, 2009

    Namthe, sorry for the offtopic comment, but couldn’t find your mail or somewhere to post PM’s.

    I was tagged by the 6th screenshot blogpost thing going around and I’ve picked you among those who are to proudly in turn post their 6th screenies and forward the challenge!

    Keep your shield high, little kneecapper. *runs for cover*

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