Thought of the Day: A new solution for lack of tanks

I’ve recently been ploughing through heroic instances with my latest level 80 alt, an alliance death knight.  Although I do plan to tank with this character, wild horses would not get me to tank a random heroic without being geared first. Care to guess how many groups whined or complained at my largely green and blue geared dps self? If you guessed none at all, you’d be right.

Care to guess how many complaints I saw directed at tanks any time I zoned into a group where the tank was wearing mostly blues (although appropriate gear for tanking heroics)? If you guessed that someone mentioned it or whined every single time,  you’d also be correct. And that’s before even seeing whether the guy can play. Even well geared tanks were far more likely to be the subject of complaints than any other member of the random group.

So what you can learn from this is that, players who prefer their runs to be drama free should never tank. In fact, to maximise the odds of not being yelled at, they should always queue as dps if they can.

And the reason that tanks are getting scarcer in LFG is that a lot of people would rather wait 30 mins in a queue than risk being bitched out by strangers. It is that simple. Not only that, but after having one bitchy group, many tanks will not queue immediately again. Instead they’ll either log off, switch to an alt, or queue as dps in order to chill out and recover. If someone bitches at a dps, chances are they will just requeue and hope that the next group will ignore them.

The tanks who are impervious to insults are either very motivated by the rewards (e.g. if I really really want the badges, I’d say ‘screw ‘em’ and keep queuing), have psyched themselves up to give as good as they get, or are naturally impervious. This is also why tanks get a reputation for being punchy – it’s a natural consequence  of psyching yourself up for a fight before you even go into the instance.

So in order to get more people to queue as tanks, tanking needs to be the role with the lowest risk of being whined at, not the highest. We should all:

  • Complain much more at anyone who queues on a pure dps class. It’s only fair to equalise who gets to be subject to complaints.
  • Complain more at anyone who complains at the tank, even if they were justified but especially if they weren’t.
  • Go easy on dps hybrids. Remember, they might be in recovery from tank/healer bitching.
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42 thoughts on “Thought of the Day: A new solution for lack of tanks

  1. I agree that tanks get all the responsibility, have to lead the group, have to know the encounter, have (?) to save the ass of overzealous DPS playing the Recount game, etc. etc….

    The solution is something like GW2. Tanks become warriors, and everyone has to take care of himself and his teammates.

    But how to do that in WoW’s setup? It is trinity to the core.

  2. I often queue as a dpser for the random heroic, despite the long wait, because I am tired after a long day at work and tanking a heroic is still intense.

    Rather than worrying about dying, I have to worry about all the random people I’m grouped with – will they suck, will they want to do all the optional bosses, will they just chain pull etc etc ugh

  3. I guess I’m just different from everyone else out there. When I zone into a heroic with pugs (which is rare, and it’s usually with one or at most 2 pugs in the group), doing a gear score check is NOT the first thing I do — I don’t have gear score; inspecting the party is NOT the first thing I do; tabbing out to eyeball the armory or WoWHeroes is NOT the first thing I do. The first thing I do is to type ‘Hi’ or something similar in party chat. I’d just like to see everyone play the damn game instead of worrying about what everyone’s GS, achievements or dps/hps are.

    • Yeah, I generally don’t even look at people’s gear either unless something gives me reason to wonder further into the instance(extremely low or extremely high dps, tank taking unusual amounts of damage or whatever).

    • Totally agree.

      Even as tank (well geared) the first thing I always do is greet everyone, then ask if ready, and then pull away (assuming at least one dps and the healer says they are ready). Waiting for all 4 to tell me they are ready would take all night. lol.

      Only ever look at gear, if I am dropping like a stone in health, or if the fights are taking longer than normal, but even then figure so it takes 20 min to complete as opposed to 15, no biggy.

      Wonder how much of a correlation there is between whining and bitching and player age (both chronological and psychological)

      • I only check someone out if they’re wielding a really cool looking weapon, or if they’re the same class as me (and then it’s more a matter of professional curiousity than to compare epeens).

  4. The reason for shortage of tanks (and healers) is not they are frequently complained about.
    The reason is that people who can handle the responsibility are minority. This cannot be solved by any in-game means. It requires some betterment of the mankind. :)

    • It’s some reponsibility, for sure. But part of the reason many people are reluctant to try it, and that some people who can do it choose not to, is to do with the risks of being treated badly by other players.

      (You could argue that goes along with the responsibility. I just think that part is not inevitable.)

      • case in point, me!
        I am a Dk tank, and I love tanking. I have tanked all of wrath and it is what I prefer to do.
        I have a paladin tank too. I do not play with him. Even if he is more fun than my Dk in 5 manned instances.
        The reason I do not play on him, is that I cannot be bothered defending myself against 2k dps.
        And my paladin is half blues/half purples. He is not badly geared at all, whereas my freshly dinged hunter who did crap-dps never ever got any complaints. ever.
        It is not the added responsibility, it is the added Sh*t you get, that gets to you.

  5. Honestly, when you out-gear an instance you can drop 1 of the trinity. I, personally, as a moonkin have both tanked and healed as balance in all but the ICC/Crusaders heroics.
    If you have an OP tank, you don’t need a main healer. Take a shadow priest or an elemental shaman and he can throw the odd heal out, or just take a ret paladin, they passively heal enough.
    If you have an OP main healer, an enhancment shaman, a DPS Paladin/Warrior/DK, a Moonkin or a Hunter can tank (again, so long as they out-gear the instance)
    There is also a huge gulf between new 80s and well geared ones so that anyone with less gear gets bawled at for not keeping aggro.

    When cataclysm comes in to play we’ll have a level playing field once again for new 85s and while levelling up we’ll have a new glory period for tanks as gear differences will be minimal.

    • This is true, and oddball group makeups do work well. But if you queue via the dungeon finder it will assign you 1 tank, 1 healer, 3 dps.

      I am also thinking hard right now about whether I want to tank in Cataclysm, because I don’t know if I can face the hassle of being yelled at constantly by random dps if my AE threat isn’t what they’re used to. (I don’t mean that I wouldn’t yell back, because I would and do. I just mean that maybe I’d rather chill and play dps myself, accept the longer queues, and let someone else do that.)

  6. I could have become an addition to the tank pool with my tanking druid, but she’s at lvl 41 and I havent played her for a month or more after some really bad PUG runs with too much bitching about my lack of gear. I guess barkskin doesn’t grow out overnight, but it really sucked the fun out of it and I finally lost my confidence as well as my enthusiasm for it.

    I’m not sure if bitching at dps is the right way to get the balance back thoug.

  7. If you have gearscore installed, all you have to do is mouse over the character to have the GS come up. Plus it’s easy to see how much health a tank has in the group window.

  8. Agreed. My main is a 10 man ICC-geared tank (and the current main tank of my guild), and I absolutely despise using the LFD with that character. The second I got my emblem gear for my prot spec I stopped using it, and haven’t gone back. With my dps alt, I use it all the time.

    It’s because so many pugs involve taking verbal abuse from other party members, backseat tanking, bored and lazy dps pulling mobs and blaming me when they die, etc. Some players zone in spoiling for a fight, looking to criticize anything they can find in my gear, threat, whatever even when they have no idea how to play my class or role. That’s all, of course, on top of the normal faire of racist/sexist/homophobic comments and other poor behavior from the cesspool that is the LFD tool in the Emberstorm battlegroup.

    The very idea of using the LFD tool on my tank is exhausting.

    You want to see more tanks using it? I can boil your advice down to one point: stick up for your tanks. Tell your tank when you think they’re doing well, and defend them from idiot puggers who hurl abuse or nitpick.

    • Ugh Emberstorm. I used to have a warning that I’d drop group immediately and without warning if someone was offensive in my healing pug macro.

  9. A bad dps player will rarely, if ever, cause a 5-man group to fail. Tanks and healers should feel like they have pressure on them, because the group is depending on them to perform.

    I don’t care for complaining, especially about gear which can’t be helped once your in the instance. But if players want a carefree walk in the park they should not be tanking to begin with — and I think that’s the real reason for the tank shortage.

    • When players who can competently tank an instance and have done in the past are reluctant to queue in the random dungeon finder, it isn’t because they aren’t suddenly able to handle the responsibility of tanking an instance.

      Sure, some people don’t want the responsibility of tanking. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

      • But don’t you think that bearing scrutiny is an intrinsic part of being the “big wheel”? As I said earlier, the gear and competence of the tank and healer determine the success of the group. If they aren’t up to the task (and if they are undergeared they often are not) they are wasting everybody else’s time.

        It is kind of interesting, though, the problems people run into when they play — it’s interesting that the bloggers who are healers and tanks and dps all have such a different outlook on group dynamics :)

      • I agree totally that it’s really interesting to compare the different views. I have alts who heal and dps, so you do get very different angles on it.

        If I just want an easy stress-free ride through a heroic, I use my resto druid every time. No one cares much what a healer does as long as people don’t die. Even dps get vaguely more scrutinised via damage meters. I think with tanking, I don’t care about scrutiny, but being bitched at for no reason or by people who totally lose it over something really minor, or expect you to keep perfect control when THEY were the ones who wandered off and pulled extra groups because they got bored … that stops me tanking randoms.

        (And the other thing is that one bad group will tend to ruin your evening, even though the majority of people are fine. Players (inc. me) are very sensitive to stuff like drama and unwarrented aggression.)

    • oooh, just thought of response to your last paragraph. imagine that you sign up to run a marathon, one of the shorter once. your are prepared to go, you trained for it, you bought new shoos and have your nice little number attacked to your t-shirt.

      now imagine that your fellow runners are constantly trying to trip you, are making fun of your new shoes, the rest of your outfit, the way you run, the way you breathe even. putting you down, yelling that you’re blocking their running path, etc.

      doesn’t sound fun, does it?

      I don’t think most tanks are looking for a walk in a park. just a nice possibly intense run along side other people reaching a common goal of that finish line. what they get is something that makes you want to give up running for the rest of your life.

  10. When I just got back playing WoW I got a lot of crap from the rest of my group for being undergeared for heroics. Heck I was running with 22-25k hp. Sometimes I felt bad on some instances such as HoR. I even offered to get replaced at one point during heroic HoR cause I was taking too much damage.

    But as you mentioned the reason I kept going for the emblems. Two weeks later after running a bunch of heroics and getting some free primo saronite from my old friends I went from 4k to 5.46k gs. I hate GS to be honest but that is what most people look at these days so I play the GS game.

    Back to the topic, people are going to be in a rude awakening once Cata hits when they can’t just AOE everything down. Hopefully instances will require some sort of CC or at the very least a decent group coordination. This way players will focus on their own actions and team work rather than bitching about how low the tanks health pool is.

  11. I just got my third tanking character to 80, and I have gotten quite a bit of abuse. I bought a fair amount of BoE gear, but I still have awful gear in a number of slots. I still get a few people complaining about my gear, even though I have over 30k health. Pretty ridiculous.

  12. I’m not sure. I’ve dealt with enough prima donna borderline incompetent tanks, that I’m not as sympathetic about them as I used to be.

    It seems like a chunk of them come into the fight wanting the benefits of the tanking position (Decreased competition for gear, being the focus of the fight, guaranteed raid spots) without the costs of the position (It’s occasionally your fault if we wipe.)

    • What I’m saying is that one of those costs has become, “Takes more abuse.” And that’s something that even experienced and competent tanks are now taking into account.

      And another cost has become, “Takes more abuse while learning encounters.” Yes, it can be the new tank’s fault if a group wipes, but the group doesn’t have to be completely arsey about it. You can say, “OK, this was your mistake. Try not to do that next time.”

      That’s aside from incompetent tanks who may or may not deserve it. Those people are not what this post is about.

    • my theory is, you end up with these primadonna terrible tanks because normal people refuse to tank anymore. they have gotten so tired of abuse that there’s just not enough good tanks still running heroics, thus creating a larger and larger opening for the people who take their abusiveness one step further and actually do it from a tanking role.

      though sometimes its tanks who had enough and are getting back at the rest of the populace.

      • I’m with Leah, here. I think that you’d have to be borderline crazy to tank in the dungeon fighter, so it’s not particularly surprising that you find a lot of borderline crazies there.

        It’s just that one of the reasons you’d have to be borderline crazy is that you’re pretty much inevitably going to be treated like shit, which is a shame.

        I have a DK I’m in the middle of leveling up pretty much expressly to try tanking, but I’m terrified of the damn dungeon finder. If I queue with randoms at all, it’ll probably be as DPS, but more likely, I’ll just treat heroics as pre-3.3, and run with guildmates and friends.

  13. WTS new lvl 80 Prot Warrior – full saronite tanking gear, heirloom rep enchants, defensed capped. Previous owner had to quit tanking due to constant whinging and abuse from LFD groups. 11 quests away from Loremaster title as a result of having to retire from tanking and turning into farming alt – decided that others weren’t worth saving. Housetrained; but shy, with occasional uncontrolled (and unexplained) outbursts of profanity followed directly by cowering in the corner.

  14. One other thing to consider. More and more tanks have everything they could want from Triumph badges.

    So in addition to the problems you talk about that prevent new tanks from queuing up, we have the over-geared tanks queuing up less too.

    My paladin who chain ran heroics until he had both a full tanking and dps set and healing pvp set now only queues up for one run a night to get the obligatory frost badges.

  15. This.

    I loves tanking, but only fer thems I know. Most pugs is smooth sailing, but is only so many you can hear some trigger-happy dps’er say “learn to hold aggro, you idiot!” before ya just say “fuhg you all.”

  16. My main gets no complaints about gear (14/17 264 items). If I do a random I get lots of people acting like idiots and complaints if I don’t run at full speed the whole way throuhg. Not worth it, even if I do have a use for more frost emblems. I can get frustration and abuse at work. So instead of doing randoms I’m leveling a rogue.

  17. TOTALLY agree. My main is a hunter. Got frustrated with long queues, leveled a priest and managed to get a 5K GS with heroics. Healing is definitely more stressful and frenzied than DPS. And I got 10x more complaints and blame from idiots which makes the game unpleasant.

    I haven’t queued on the priest in 4-5 months.

    Now I’m finally getting around to leveling my DK in earnest. As I read up on tanking skills/specs and prepare to queue for the first time, I’m getting the same feeling in the pit of my stomach as I did when I started healing.

    Tanking/healing are so different that it’s literally a different game. RESPONSIBLITY. If you haven’t tried anything other than DPS, you shouldn’t be flaming your random tank or healer who is trying to keep YOU alive so you can enjoy yourself.

    And don’t flame people in general, period. Go find your own damn group and stay out of the random finder if it pisses you off so much.

  18. that said, @Ian: you will often enough get groups that will be patient if you are open about being new. if someone balks, drop group and do something else. then try again.

    i was terrified to start healing, and had easily as many good experiences when I was new, as bad experiences later on when I was more skilled.

    i made a macro: “i’m a competent player, but new at healing. please play with that in mind.” people (primarily DPS) bailed about 20% of the time. new DPS are a dime-a-dozen.

    rarely if ever did i have a tank drop or fail to go at my pace. your tank will typically respect you.

    I plan to do the same with tanking. I’m sure the potential abuse will be worse, but damn it, I want to try tanking and I don’t have 12 online buddies with alts to group with.

  19. I play a paladin and back when I first started tanking, some epic-geared mage started whining about stealing aggro off me. It was my responsibility to keep aggro off her hiney, while she was aoe-nuking.

    I didn’t bother much with her whining, I kept doing what I was doing, she was the only one that managed to steal aggro anyway. That is, I didn’t mind until she started suggesting that the party should find a new tank, since I didn’t know what I was doing.

    So I snapped. It was not -my- responsibility that she didn’t watch her own aggro, the only one who got any rights at all to complain about gaining aggro was the healer. -HER- responsibility is to do as much damage as possible and still stay beneath the tank threatwise. And failing to do so would not be my problem, if she managed to pull a mob off the tank by behaving like an idiot, she was more than welcome to tank it. I also told the healer to stop healing her when she steals aggro.

    She left after dying a few times.

    I guess the moral of the story is “Don’t whine at the tank unless you’re willing to tank yourself.”

  20. When dps complain about low gear of a tank / healer and that guy is doing okay, I usually tell them openly what I think of their “elitism”, GS and bitching. And usually it’s that some other people join me and the one moaning shuts up or leaves.

    It’s not only about whining or not whining. It’s also about remaining silent when someone abuses your tank or healer. An old saying goes silence means approval.

  21. Outside of Burnita I’ve found tanking Random Heroics pretty bad. Artigan gets a bit of stick when I trot him out, and he’s in mostly 219 Epics. This is mostly from people who pull before I do and then whine when I let them die (This would happen on Burnita, were it not that the aveage DPS that does this has such low DPS that Burnita can pull back without taunting.). But yeah, Art stopped doing random Heroic some time ago.

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  23. Elite mobs should hit like a truck on anything that is not specced as a tank – a dps pulling aggro should fall over instantly, unhealable.
    AOE-threat should be abysmal (enough to only overcome healer aggro) so anyone not targeting the tanks target should pull aggro immediately – and die (see above).
    Standing in the Bad (TM) should kill instantly after 1 or 2 seconds (sorry if that makes the game unplayable for players with serious lag, go find another none-network-game).
    Mobs (mind you not bosses that need tankswitching) should become only tauntable to the player doing first damage on them.

    I love tanking (I have every class (but only the 2 in ICC as tanks, the druid is now resto), and even 2 paladins, one alliance and one horde) and I never did dps with them to collect tank-gear. Honestly, I consider those that do, cowards. Especially those that roll need on tankgear even if there is a tank that rolls need too – Blizzard should flag those that roll need on tank-gear without entering LFD as a tank with a debuff called COWARD and it should show a stinky cloud around the player, for at least one week played-time. To BE a good tank is not the hard part, to BECOME one is, the gearing up, the learning the encounters, the knowledge what to do when shit hits the fan, the knowledge what your class and other classes can do.

    My 4 former tanks (all alliance and now shelfed) all had the luxury to tank for guilds/friends but mostly before LFD.
    My 5th, bloodelf-paladin leveled only through LFD, with the luxury of heirloom-items and goody-bags and practically every item out of dungeons that was good for tanks. The weekend I dinged 80 (friday) and started chain-tanking every dungeon up to heroic HoR and then later ToC10 on sunday was the hardest time in WoW – I swear, I will never drink that much again xD.

    I still love tanking. Some noobs won’t change this, quite the opposite, because I love it when I have to pull every little trick.

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  25. One aspect which causes some problems for tanks is the one Pazi alluded to, which is that for most of a dungeon you might not actually need a tank. DPS, especially plate-wearers, can often have HP and armour not far behind the actual tank if they’re relatively new to 80.
    Along with not being able to learn your job because every other GCD is a taunt, it’s also extremely frustrating to have people actively working to prevent you doing your job.
    So yes, I’d love to see mobs do a lot more damage to non-tanks, so that ripping aggro carries a serious risk of death. And I’m less happy about shifting the burden of ‘blame’ onto healers, via a can’t-spare-the-mana mechanic.

    I also wanted to share a positive anecdote, albeit from a healing, not tanking, perspective.

    A few weeks ago my resto druid in 50/50 blues and 219s was picked for healing hHoR. As we ran in the tank looked me up and down and asked “Hey, do you reckon you can handle this with your gear?” I replied to the effect of “Not sure, but I’ve healed this before plenty of times on my main, I’ll give it my best shot and I’ll leave quietly if it doesn’t work out.”. “Great attitude!” replies the tank, “Stay out of trouble and I’ll blow my cooldowns”.
    We got through the whole place without a death.

    That attitude is (in my experience) a pretty rare thing, but I really appreciated the guy’s willingness to trust me and work with me.

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