Why can’t everyone tank? (aka What if everyone secretly hates me…)

This is a thread that caught my eye this week, and it’s from a dps player who is explaining that he’d have more fun if he didn’t have to wait around for tanks and crowd control.

I just realized how stupid the idea of tank is when I played with some dudes in ST, the tank left for some reason and we continued to play while waiting in queue for another tank. After we cleared half of the dungeon, eventually some tank finally showed up and everyone agreed that “the fun was over”.

And that is true, this game is turning into a middle age women match 3 game, where you do everything nice and steady, healers sleeping in the back, dps pushing bored their one or two buttons macro, and the tank who is actually the only one who plays the game and when someone makes a mistake he has to take all the blame.

A lot of responders in this thread thought that the original poster was trolling, but I don’t think he is. He just had a lot more fun in a group where they didn’t have to worry about tanking. He even gets bored as dps when he has to wait for the tank to mark and call CC and then just go kill everything in the right order.

Blizzard mentioned in last week’s developer chat that crowd control will feature more highly in Cataclysm instances than it did in Wrath (i.e. not at all.) And … the big issue with crowd control, even more than tanking, is that everyone hates it except for the guys with the crowd control spells. In every single game I’ve ever played which featured crowd control, gamers did everything they possibly could to bypass that system. And yet, one of my favourite classes to play from any game ever was my sorceress in DaoC, which was a crowd control specialist.

I don’t hate crowd control as a tank, it adds a level of strategic interest to handling a pull. But I have also gotten quite used to not being forced to rely on other players to let me tank an instance. And given the general nastiness of some dps in random groups, I’m not dreadfully enthusiastic about trying to force crappy mage #335 to remember where his sheep spell is. And let’s not even start with the fears. Or with the spectre of people kicking group members from random groups because they don’t have enough crowd control.

But we’ll deal with that bridge when we come to it – maybe a greater need for cooperation in instances will get people talking. Maybe people will adapt. Or maybe people will dump the LFD in favour of guild and server groups again. We’ll see.

But still, I also have fond memories of crazy groups in other games where we didn’t have a tank but everyone had heavy armour. It wasn’t completely without tactics and mobs did have to be bounced around. But it was fun. This is key – however much we talk about intricate strategies and learning curves, it’s fun to cut loose.

I also thought the comment about the middle age women match 3 game was interesting. He doesn’t like the puzzle aspect of organising a pull, and PvE has traditionally been a puzzle game. You have to figure out how best to pull some mobs, and how best to kill them. And how best to clear an instance and achieve any instance objectives.  But how many people would actually rather have an action game – say, Diablo — than a puzzle game? I love puzzles, and it’s very key to my enjoyment of PvE and of tanking.

Oh no! What if it’s me?

I’m paranoid now. In every group where I’m tanking, is everyone else fuming silently and thinking about how much more fun it would be for everyone if I wasn’t there? Do they all wish that they could get instant groups without having to wait for a tank? Do they wish I wasn’t being bossy when I yell at them for pulling shit randomly? Oh god, does  this platemail make my bum look big?

Maybe everyone does secretly (or not secretly) hate tanks. The comment, “tank who is actually the only one who plays the game”, rings very true. Even with crowd control in the group, it was the tank who told everyone else what to do, which mobs to control, and which order to kill. Would the game be more fun for more players if tanks didn’t have that level of authority/ responsibility? Or didn’t exist at all? And then I wonder some more about Diablo, and whether Blizzard might be planning some MMO type functions for it.


32 thoughts on “Why can’t everyone tank? (aka What if everyone secretly hates me…)

  1. I think that that perceived authority/responsibility is one of the factors why tanks who do not know the instances or do not know the bosses are called in names and blamed for everything. Especially when the dps is the gogogo type who has done the instance umpteen times and knows it like the lint in her/his pockets.

    The main design failure currently is the fact that the tank is the only one who plays. At the current rate the dps doesn’t have to check their threat gen at all, just dish it out and blame the tank for not keeping the aggro. The blame comes down to the tank, always.

    But then again, tanking in heroics is currently a steady chain pull. No need to stop even with a newbie group, as everyone has already outgeared the content with emblems earned while levelling. The levelling dungeons are another story, as they are starting to be the cesspool (at least in my experience): people powerlevelling new classes without thinking or learning the class, running amok in the dungeons and … blaming the tank.

    What if… the tanks would go on strike?

    C out

  2. I think part of the issue here is that people have optimized the gameplay. The “best” way to tackle a challenge is often the least exciting: let the tank mark and call, let the casters CC, or whatever. It’s only when things go off the rails that it becomes fun. But, if it’s always off the rails then it becomes frustrating and not fun.

    In the case of CC, I think a lot of people have seen it as being too fragile. I know it’s really frustrating to play a AoE class (Champions in LotRO or Druid Bear tanks in WoW) and not always being able to keep in mind where the CC is. One stray CC hit while the CC ability is on cooldown and people get cranky. Crowd control is one of those things that is due to be “reinvented” to work better in modern games and not be quite such a source of frustration, I think.

  3. Crowd control in City of Heroes is a joy to behold, it certainly isn’t necessary, but when available it gels well with the tank’n’aoe style of play and simply enables groups to perform even more fantastic feats. Like any role, the crowd control can be disruptive if not played with consideration, but I think CoH really shows us how crowd control can be integrated and accepted as part of MMO game-play.

    In every single game I’ve ever played which featured crowd control, gamers did everything they possibly could to bypass that system.

    And what is tanking if not a form crowd control?

    • Blizzard have said that in Cataclysm, after the first few seconds of a pull, no one will have to worry about threat.

      If tanking is crowd control (or vice versa) then it’s preferred because it requires the least effort/ cooperation from everyone else. Or rather, people put up with tanking because they have no choice. If the other classes were more survivable, how quickly do you think they’d ditch tanks?

      • The parallels with City of Heroes are quite interesting. Tanks in that game are not required in a lot of cases – any mission running group won’t be stopped by not having a Tank available – and even Task Forces, the dungeon instances of the game, don’t require a Tank. Yet players still roll Tanks, and groups will not complain if a Tank is in the group: a Tank will make things easier, and will enable the group to perform even greater feats, but they are not vital. In fact, with skilled Controllers, it’s possible to do a lot of things without the standard tank-healer combination.

        I think the genius of City of Heroes is that any class is useful and no class is vital. Sure, some are more useful than others, but not so much that you’d be prevented from running most of the content if they weren’t available.

        Perhaps the difference is that the Controller in CoH often has, as well as the traditional hard controls (like a Mage’s polymorph), softer control powers which are generally in the form of debuffs; soft controls allow Controllers to make boss-class mobs manageable by groups that don’t have a classic tank-healer combination.

        I think it’s also important to remember that it’s tank-healer in WoW, not tank. There aren’t many tanks that could keep all that aggro and survive if there wasn’t someone topping up their health bar. A sensible approach to crowd control, with soft controls (such as debuffs) that apply to bosses, as well as the hard controls that apply to trash mobs, could enable a break from the tank-healer lock that currently applies to many MMOs. You could then have tank-CC, CC-healer and tank-healer as potential options, each requiring a different style of play.

      • “If the other classes were more survivable, how quickly do you think they’d ditch tanks?”

        Or, phrased another way, if it were a classless flexible system, what would people do?

  4. To be honest, I don’t mind tanking at all.

    I *do* mind “leading”, i.e. marking, telling people where to go, what to sheep, and so on, unless it’s a guild / friends group, mostly because I don’t have all the latest instances and heroic memorised.

    Maybe I’m not the target demographic (I still haven’t run the amount of Dungeon Finder runs to get me a pug, for example), but just too casual…

  5. Last night’s fun.

    Last night our tank arrived in the instance and promptly AFKed. After waiting four minutes for him, we eventually kicked him. But it was late at night (or early in the morning, if you prefer). We got bored waiting for a replacement tank, and began working through the dungeon. And it was great fun! As Melmoth says, tanks are just another form of CC. Without a tank, we were able to sap and polymorph our way through the instance, and the game came alive again. Sadly, a tank eventually joined us, and that was the end of last night’s fun.

  6. Yes to both:- Being a CCer could be pure joy. Otherise boring or worse frustrating if wipe after wipe occured as the CCers couldnt get their crap together.

    I love working with a good tank (Its why I switched to a healer back in TBC) HOWEVER the contrast between the TBC Heroic and Diablo is stark.

    TBC heroics/raids felt like chess. Or a hostage rescue. You snuck about ambushing the bad dudes on your own terms. Satisfying when done right but an immediate wipe/do over when you got it wrong in most cases.

    Diablo (I not II) felt like a firefight. Everything was crazy nuts and everyone cut loose and tried to stay alive. Both were huge fun.

    Maybe if we had CC or even just slow/knockback but no tanks or healers in DIII? The more I think about it CC, healing and tanking arnt really what you want for a fast paced nuke fest that was Diablo of old. Could this be a MMO? I guess. Its sort of a cross between FPS and a trad MMo I guess. Possibly it would be entertaining but I dont see it having the depth of gameplay that the trinity allows? If Blizz can pull it off it would be something new indeed.

    • Re-reading what I just wrote:- I think a no-tank, no-healer ‘MMOette’ might be amusing for a while but I really boggle at how you could keep it fresh and intresting for years and years like WoW has…well mostly…done. So I suspect I’ll be healing tanks for years to come. 🙂

  7. “I don’t hate crowd control as a tank…”

    Exactly. Tanks don’t hate CC because CC directly benefits them. A tank’s job is to survive and maintain control of the battlefield, and CC provides a great boost in both regards.

    On other hand, DPS players are loathe to use CC tools because it provides no direct benefit for themselves. At best, they’ll spend GCDs and mana/energy/runes on casting CC abilities instead of DPSing. At worst, casting CC that breaks on damage will prevent them from using their most effective and powerful abilities.

    If everyone was a “tank” (i.e., was in danger of being attacked and killed; and had to maintain battlefield control), then everyone would use CC gladly. The popularity of CC in PvP combat is proof of this.

  8. I think this is just another proof that the game is getting much too easy and starts becoming a faceroll etc.

    Doing things the “proper” way is safer and easier. That’s why the “proper” way was established in the first place. But of course for a group of veteran players playing in a non-standard group is a viable option and more fun because it’s different and you have to actually use your brain. I fondly remember groups without tanks in good old EQ, when the platre wearing cleric took over tanking and the bard did everything else from pulling to CC.

  9. Honestly, I love the return to BC’s CC and pull concept.


    Because it brings Groups back into the game. Assigning tasks to every member of your group, not just to the tank.

    In the current heroic dungeon environment there is no need to form a group. AE, AE Threat that’s it. It’s a plain grind.

    It’s no wonder that people look for a challenge, like doing dungeon runs without a tank. At the current Item level, Healers can keep anyone alive.

    People love success and love to give responsibility away, in the first place, going amok with your nuker without having to think of anything is fun. But as time goes by, it get’s boring. Now people find out, that their class has more buttons than currently in use and would like to see them in use.

    So they demand their responsibility back from the tanks.
    Are I am looking forward to see our old heroic group back in business: most certainly.

    Do I worry about explaining an entire Instance to a random, explaining his role on every pull? Not at all, that’s group play. Who says it’s the tanks job. Maybe the healer wants to be the guide.

    DPSers have so much more to offer than the current Recount Race, I just want to see them using their counters and CCs more situational. Every DPS-Class has received a form of CC, so we won’t see BCs CC slot Drama.

    Even if you prefer personal goals, you spend a lot of time in group content and turning that time into a group experience will make the time spend more pleasant.

  10. He is completely right that tanks are the only playing the game in heroics. Playing anything but a tank in a heroic these days is extremely boring. A healer is not-challenged because tanks take no damage and DDs are not required. They speed up the run and good dps is amazing to have around. But they are not required for the success. Good dps add a lot of fun. You can two man every heroic but HoR. That was not possible on level 60 and that was not possible on level 70 heroics.

    The tank function is designed to “control” the active mobs you are fighting. You can’t give that to the group as it would make tanks obsolete. (That would be like giving tanks the ability to do damage.) You can only give the group other things to do, like control passive mobs (CC) or dispelling/purging for healers. Or positioning.

    > After we cleared half of the dungeon, eventually
    > some tank finally showed up and everyone agreed
    > that ‘the fun was over’.

    Actually, for a DD, especially a melee DD, it is a lot of fun in a dungeon with a capable healer without a tank. It’s god mode what this person is asking for. That’s a lot of fun, that’s why we played paladin tanks in tbc. 🙂

    The problem is that, when they did sunken temple without a tank, they were abusing their healer. And it might even work in sunken temple when the healer is fresh and wants to play an amazing healer. But the healer will soon discover that being abused by DD is no fun for him or he will burn out.

  11. Pingback: Killed in a Smiling Accident. » Blog Archive » Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.

  12. 1. The tank has to do all the work and has all the responsibility. (Marking, pulling, strategy)

    2. The healer heals and becomes a healbot. But healing is vital.

    3. DPS loses crowd control and wuzzah, no wonder that DPS classes become more and more superfluous. Especially when tanks do a lot of damage.

    Leadership, responsibility, overall importance of the tank and its necessary sidekick, the healer, have become extremely emphasized through the simplification of the WOTLK instances.

    While I see Ghostcrawler’s good intentions, “bring the player not the class”, I think his design philoshopy has amplified all that is bad about the “holy trinity”, while buffing classes that can now fill every part of it perfectly.

    I think it is also in the interest of the tank that he is not the only one working hard for the success and badges of some dps guys looking for a free ride and his healbot. OK, this was exaggerated. 😉

    Time for change. The Trinity is a proven, but aging system. Right now especially WoW tries to overcome its restrictions by allowing more classes to fill all of its roles, and DPS classes get left with toys useful for single player mode only. Their importance to the group gets reduced more than ever to damage output.

    I am looking forward to SW:TOR’s take on the matter, but apparently Jedis have already been declared tanks.

    I see no reason why it must always be like this. Usiel already mentioned it, even TBC was better in this regard. WoW is based on the trinity and this won’t change.

    Now about STO as counter-example: Players try to apply the trinity mentality to it, which really works to a certain extent. Then they notice that there are tanks with healer role and all abilities of the trinity are funnily distributed over all three player and ship classes.

    As bad as STO’s raidisodes and ground combat are, the general system is quite group friendly and really inspiring: Tactical officers have certain tanking & healing abilities in their “kits”, Engineers in general support abilities that include healing but also damage mitigation and pets (“drones”). Science Officers can be healers, but also deal damage and debuffs.

    The roles in space are mostly depending on the ship class (i.e. Bridge officer slots), not so much the player class. And even then it is the bridge officer powers setup that decides what you do.

    It is such a pity that the game is super easy in general and super boring in ground pve. The soon to be added difficulty slider (already live on the test server) makes things a bit better and more interesting. It is just a bad idea to make a game super easy and forgiving and then throw the gauntlet at players in the raids.

    The general idea is good – I think they will leave it to Blizzard to polish it up and make it shine. Sorry, could not resist. 🙂

    • Perfectly said, I always stumble over my tongue when trying to explain those emotional topics.

      I’m curious about your StarWars observation, because I thought they would walk outside the Trinity Path. Will be interesting to find out how they finally arrange classes.
      Although I haven’t found a way to convince my better half of StarWars movies. Any ideas?

  13. I thought the poster on the WoW boards rather undermined his argument when he revealed his innovative and fun solution to the boring Holy Trinity paradigm was to tank with his pet (demo Warlock) and have the group’s healer heal his pet.

  14. It’s much easier to balance around tank/heal than it is around tank/cc, cc/heal AND tank/heal. Because people tend to exploit things, groups would bring tank/cc/heal and break balance or require the developer to balance around groups bringing 3 roles instead of 2. Doing the latter would destroy the freedom of choice given by tank/cc, tank/heal, cc/heal -> Back to Vanilla.

  15. I’d like it if more classes could tank. That would give everyone an opportunity to be the ones playing. And for those who want to have their low responsibility, they can DPS and still find a tank.

    One of my funnest instances was before randoms and I ‘tanked’ with my BM hunter. It was messy and imperfect and we had wipes, but it was so much more interesting than steady shot spamming as someone else did all the ‘work’.

    • I’ve argued before that *every* class could have a tanking spec, a healing spec and a damage spec. Priests tanking and Warriors healing might be weird, but hey, it’s a good excuse to do things differently (though balancing would be… nutty). Priests would tank with melee CC, maybe, Rogues with evasion, and so on.

  16. CC is just tanking at a distance. All DPS should have the ability to some extent, and all boss encounters should have to use it. It’s silly that only the tanks really have to know what they are doing.

    IMO it would help spread the tanking responsibilities around and inspire new fight strategies if at least SOME CC abilities allowed DPS on the target without breaking it.

    Maybe only DOTs. Maybe just specific types of damage. Maybe incompletely taking down a CC’d mob would result in a rage effect?

    • The problem is that the skill of 50% of the player base is below median. That’s a fact. There has to be a role for them, too.

      You either dumb down the dungeons until everyone can complete them. Which means that the big part of the player base will cheese the encounter mechanic. Hello WotLK. (You are not supposed to eat the damage from Tyrannus while he is enraged yet I have yet to find a tank who knows what the ice patches are for.)

      Or you create dungeons under the assumption that there are spots for “tunnel vision player” and spots for people who do the advanced work.

      If there would be a Magisters’ Terrace, no one would go into that dungeon with the LFD. You just wouldn’t take the risk of getting a fury or DK DD which can’t offer CC.

      And if they create the dungeon with the idea that you always CC one mob and AE tank the other 3 down, you’ll just get a lot of:

      /trade tank LFM 1 mage for daily heroic

      (I prefer sap over sheep because a sap doesn’t walk into consecration 🙂

      The best thing they could do would be to add a hard mode to heroics, which is on the difficulty level of the current 10 man hard modes and therefore can’t be cheesed with raid gear. That would be cool. 🙂

      • I often wonder why people attack the mob without the skull… or why two mobs in a heroic die within the same second yet it’s a hard thing to do with Freyas add. 🙂

        But serious, keeping a mob in CC is something most people can’t do right. It’s probably a combination of:

        a) lack of interest. They just want to play.
        b) tunnel vision. They just sheep their target and assist the tank. A sheep needs to be refreshed and sometimes it’s even broken by accident by another players AE effect.
        c) A sheep needs to be positioned to allow the tank to use AE abilities. You cannot wait 3 seconds after the pull and sheep. You have to sheep the instant the tank pulls. That means you have to focus on the game instead of the TV and you have to be in range before the tank pulls.

        A good CC player in TBC was godsend.

        As I said, the skill of 50% of the player base is below median. And the game is and will be designed for the whole 100%. Which is good.

  17. The bit of LFD playing I did in my last WoW trial showed a similar trend in low level dungeons. There, people aren’t always overgeared for the content, but the low level dungeons I played could be handled without a tank without much trouble. Maybe that’s the dumbing down of the game, but I found it a lot more fun than waiting for a control freak tank. (And the one time I did have to deal with a control freak, it was drudgery. I only stuck with it because I wanted to see the dungeon, which was new to me.)

  18. No no no! I’m a healer, love playing a healer and I like the system the way it is. I love my tanks. In a world without tanks where I had to keep alive a bunch of crazy, squishy dps it would be a nightmare for me.
    We are all just seeing the trivialities of running dungeons which most of the population is overgeared for, and if they aren’t they will be soon enough. That is the problem that needs fixing, not the holy trinity.

  19. “He doesn’t like the puzzle aspect of organising a pull, and PvE has traditionally been a puzzle game.”

    If the tank is marking all the mobs, what puzzle, precisely, is the dps solving?

  20. My amusement to the original commenter: If you think that tanks are the only ones really playing the game – and getting all the challenges (fun) – why arent you tanking?

    There is a huge demand for tanks at all levels (bar HC raiding where that need narrows down considerably, but since only a few % of the WoW population does HC raiding it’s not really an issue).

    Regarding CC:
    Lets not get washed away with a wrongful memory. The reason CC was removed after TBC was because so many people hated it. If you are the one marking or the one CCing, having to do it on every pull is just as repetative as a constant AoE fest.

    • > The reason CC was removed after TBC was because
      > so many people hated it.

      Was that ever stated by Blizzard? I doubt it.

      There was another problem with CC. Nobody took a Moonkin on Fury to hard heroics. Maybe that was the problem they wanted to solve with the removal of CC?

      Or maybe they reduced the size of the pulls to remove a disadvantage of non-Paladin tanks. Swipe was reduced to 3 targets, TC to 4. The limit was removed after the instances were created. And smaller groups led to not using CC.

      Or it happened by accident and the heroics were never intended to be that easy? The TBC heroics were way to hard. Maybe they made the same mistake to the other extreme.

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