An Ex-Gnome Tank's World

Where have all the tank spots gone?

February 17th, 2010 Posted in Bosses, Burning Crusade, Dungeons, Wrath of the Lich King

A warrior, a paladin, a druid and a death knight walked into Icecrown Citadel.

“Hey,” said Tirion Fordring as they entered the antechamber. “Is this some kind of joke?”

I’ve recently had occasion to go through my old screen grabs, and one in particular grabbed my attention. It’s of The Hidden Circle in Serpentshrine Cavern, and it was taken by my girlfriend during an attempt against Morogrim Tidewalker.

The big thing to notice is that there are four tanks in the Main Tank frames. A paladin, a bear and two warriors. Thinking back to that level of content, almost everything needed three or more tanks. There were the odd fights that needed one or two, but they were an exception much more than a rule.

THC’s current regular tanking team consists of one of each of the current tanking classes, and these days we can never take more than three of us into a raid. And three tanks is one too many for most fights in Icecrown, the vast majority being suited to exactly two (the same number as are needed in the 10-man versions of the same fights).

If all four of us do get in the same raid, it’ll be because at least one person needs to DPS rather than tank because we don’t have enough DPS signups. And that’s a damn shame. I long for fights like Al’ar where two tanks are taunt-swapping the boss while another two deal with phoenix adds, or for Kael’thas where we all had something to grab hold of.

Instead the limitations of encounters scaling between 10 and 25 players swing into force. In the cases where a third tank is needed, it’s down to lazy encounter design – witness Professor Putricide where tank no.3 has nothing to do but pretend to DPS for phases one and two and most of phase 3, or the “Add one more target to the saber lash” scaling of Marrowgar. Even on the add fights – Lady Deathwhisper and Valrithia Dreamwalker, we’re better off with fewer tanks and more DPS as it’s all about raw damage output.

This can only be bad for tanking in the long run; tanking was already the hardest role to land a regular raid spot with. And now the encounter design doesn’t lend itself to tank scaling, I wonder how long it will be before the number of tanks in the 25-man raid is “fixed” at two, simply because the encounter’s easier to code that way.

Blizzard may have said that they didn’t wany dual-spec to influence raiding, but given the challenges in meeting some encounters’ hard enrage timers, I do have to wonder if that is really the case.

  1. 4 Responses to “Where have all the tank spots gone?”

  2. By tanky on Feb 17, 2010

    Agreed – Alar was a lot of fun for 4 tanks.

    Blood Queen is the worst so far in Icecrown – the OT only needs to stand there (at least you might have to move with the Marrowgar MT). Any fight where the OT can disconnect without affecting the outcome is just poor design.

  3. By Cornfedhick on Feb 19, 2010

    Blizz made it so 10man guilds could take shots at every boss so encounters had to be designed with that in mind. That translates to 2 tanks mostly for the 25man versions. Not every boss is going to need additional adds to tank, which would hurt the 10man versions and unless players were comfortable as both DPS or tank and carried those sets it would hard to swap in tanks only for those encounters that need an extra or two.

  4. By Namthe on Feb 19, 2010

    See, that argument might hold a lot of swing with me if it weren’t for one thing – Naxxramas.

    In Naxx, each of the encounters was designed for up to eight tanks! When it came to rehash the dungeon, each of them was redesigned, successfully, to take account of the reduction in numbers, we still had encounters that scaled well between 10 and 25-man. Sure, there were a couple of encounters that needed fewer than three in 25, but they were the exception rather than the rule. Obsidian Sanctum in three-drake mode needed three or four (we took four) tanks.

    This is what’s missing in the more recent encounters. It’s scaling by-the-numbers, just multiplying boss health and damage by a factor, and it’s lazy. There’s proof that so many encounters could be so much better if they’d been scaled up with a bit more imagination. At the moment we take three of our four tanks and of those three, one spends most of the night in DPS spec / gear. That’s not pleasing anyone.

  5. By Cornfedhick on Feb 24, 2010

    True, I think its understandable for the 10mans but I totally agree that 25 man raids should be more complex instead of just bumping up the health on the boss.

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