Hit me baby one more time (or Why be a tank?)
Tanks. They’re funny creatures, except of course for druids, who are funny creatures no matter the spec. In my experience most leadership positions were held by a tanking class, followed by a healer, followed by everything else… then a hunter. At the top of this pyramid through the classic ages (And occasionally when Blizzard feels kind enough not to nerf us or buff the bloody palas/DKs/druids/warlock pets) was the warrior.
To be honest, when I started playing WoW I had no idea what the role of the warrior was. I expected to go through life wielding huge axes and hitting stuff till they surrendered or bled to death. Imagine my surprise when I entered RFC for the first time and everyone huddled behind me, prodding me to go forward and keep everything busy while they cowered behind that boulder. In that moment, a new tank was born. I discarded my big 2handed axe, picked up a grey shield and a green sword and never looked back.
So what is it that makes a tank? I’ve seen many players try to tank after playing another class/role for a long time. Some succeed, some gain a level of mediocrity but most just fail. By fail I don’t mean running heroics or tanking a world spawn, I mean raid tanking.
Well, to me a tank has to have a few qualities.:
- Confidence – A scared tank is a dead tank. A hesitant tank is a dead dps or healer. A tank must have an ego as big as his HP pool but the skills to back them up. No-one likes a cocky tank that can’t keep agro off the healer. This is also probably the reason why good tanks gravitate towards leadership positions in guilds.
- Maths – Tanking theorycrafting is second only to mage theorycrafting imo. Firstly you have this magic number to attain before you can even start raiding (Defence Cap, soon to be gone but it’s still here so I mention it) and then you have to balance out stamina, armor, damage reduction, dodge rating, block rating, block value, parry, mitigation vs threat, etc etc etc. The permutations are limitless and every tank has his own way of doing things.
- A Thick Skin – No I don’t mean Barkskin. When you start out you’re going to take flak. Think the healer gets blamed for everything? Wait till you mispull your first pack and cause a wipe. Just persevere, preferably with a group of friends and a few beers, and hone the skills that will make raidleaders beg for your presence. Oh, and you must enjoy being hit.. all the time… coz thats like… your job…
- Gold – Getting the gear you need crafted, gemmed and enchanted, not to mention repaired, is gonna cost you a few small fortunes. Be prepared to having a money-making profession (that also benefits you) or rich guildies to help you out. And because every tiny stat helps so much when you’re a tank, you can’t afford to not get that +30 stam gem.
- Gear – I hate it but it’s true. Tanks, especially warrior tanks, are gear dependent. You can fake your way into a VoA with some PvP gear and a bunch of blues hiding away as a DPS class, but as a tank it’s not your raidmates that judge your gear, but that big boss you’re trying to impress enough so he’ll keep hitting on you. Bosses care enough about things like whether you’re crit immune or if you have more hp than what he hits for or if you do enough threat to keep the hunter who doesn’t know how to FD alive. Of course Gear needs to be coupled with…
- Skill – Tanking is like a dance. A complex dance, not a linedance. You can’t just bash two buttons every 3 seconds and expect to come out a winner like some DPS classes in the past. You have to be situationally aware, not just about your own position, but the boss and the spawning creep and your teammates. You have an ability for every situation and you need to know which one works the most effectively in what situation.
Ok, so why this post after my post just two days ago about quitting? Well as a social person, I have many of my WoW contacts on MSN and Facebook and somehow I got conned into tanking ICC again by a guildmate, which got me to thinking about some of the partners I’ve tanked with in the past, good and bad. Anyway, random post that’s stretched on way longer than usual. I’ll add some pretty pics soon. Oh and since I’ve only covered the basics and still have to get to the why, see part 2 soon.