Wednesday, October 1, 2008

T(h)anks for Nothing

Ah, tanking. The thankless task of getting beat in the face repeatedly for the good of the group. There’s no such thing as tanking solo; there has to be some other group member you’re protecting for it to technically be called tanking at all. Warhammer announced that old world class pigeonholes such as tanking and healing were going to be pretty much eliminated, and that everyone would be able to just put out huge damage when needed. While I suppose my black orc can do some damage if he straps on a 2-hander, that’s really nothing new. My tank in WoW could do the same, but my entire talent spec is still “increase my hitpoints, reduce incoming damage”. That doesn’t scream ZOMG DPS to me. The worst part about this is that Public Quests refuse to award tanks like you wouldn’t believe, and so tanking them (which someone has gotta do at one point) is just actively shooting yourself in the foot if you hope to earn any bags at the end.

Healers earn contribution points through healing, and DPS earns it through (surprise) DPSing, but the purpose of a tank is to do neither of these. The purpose of a tank (which hasn’t changed radically in Warhammer) is to soak damage and hold aggro. A few nights back, my guild went on a little Keep taking rampage all over the world map. Anywhere that there was a Keep to take, we went and took it. At the time, nobody was actively defending said Keeps, so we blew through them easily. They were like accelerated Public Quests with one phase… take the Keep!

With about eight in a warband, we would storm up to the gate, drop a battering ram on the door, knock it down, then smash up the stairs after taking out any wandering non-elites on the first floor. Regrouping on the ramp, I’d then rush into the fray and grab the Keep Lord (boss), and one or two of the four champions we had guarding him. The loose champs would be offtanked or just quickly burnt down while my pocket healer kept me going on the main guy. Besides the one resto specced shaman healer, and me (the fully prot specced main tank), everyone else was a nuke class. Just burn burn burn, roll for loots, move on to the next one.

While I feel I played a pretty crucial role in the activity (keep the main enemy DPS focused on me and all my armor), my contribution points never reached up above 3rd or 4th from last (+90 added to my roll, and a bronze medal). I was after renown points anyway, which I got, but seeing my role at the end tally of every Keep be labeled ‘not useful’ seemed kind of a slap in the face. The healer keeping me alive would usually place pretty high, because he was keeping me up and spot healing the DPS off tanks. The DPS got contribution for doing what they do, but the tank, while doing what they do, gets nothing.

This isn’t a huge boo-hoo let’s all feel bad for tanks rant, it’s simply a point that something needs to be reevaluated along the lines of class mechanics for PQ and Keep rolling determinations. If ‘damage taken’ was put into the mix for certain classes it seems like it would make a difference. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to apply it blanketed across all classes, or it would just encourage DPS to pull aggro. But any class with a taunt should be rewarded for using it to help the group. Any class that can equip a shield should be rewarded for using the shield to protect those that can’t.

If there were no elite or lord mobs to tank it would be a non-issue. But they are there, and so it is an issue. They need to be tanked; I remember when a Lord class (champion <>

Again: not crying about it, just pointing it out. I love tanking. If I didn’t love it I wouldn’t do it. My first toon in WoW was a prot tank that I played from closed beta till right up at the very end. I like being at the forefront of the raid and playing an important role. I love my healers, and we both appreciate the sacrifices each other has made in talents and specs to be able to do our jobs for the good of the group or guild as a whole.

Warhammer has a few great things they’ve done with tanking in relation to PvP (taunt works), but there are still a few kinks to work out in the long run.

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