Monday, November 16, 2009

Annoying tanks and the benefits of patience

One aspect of game play that Blizzard wanted to address head on in WotLK was the "tank shortage" in BC. Not only did they introduce the Death Knight class, which has a very strong tanking ability and bringing the total of available classes that could tank to four, but they also vastly improved the Warrior and Paladin classes either through tweaks or out right buffs to core tanking abilities. Some would say they vastly reduced Druid tanking ability, which might account for the fact that you rarely see a tanking Druid these days. Or at least I rarely see them on my server, where they were every where in BC. I'm relatively happy with my own Feral Druid, but the fact remains that Druids are simply no where to be found on my server.

I can remember well the days in BC when people were complaining bitterly about the supposed "tank shortage". Point in fact there weren't any fewer tanks then than there are now, and many people who played tanking classes addressed these rumors on the forum. Essentially the replies ran along the line that once a tank gets into serious raiding there was little or no incentive to run heroics. Especially if you factor in the typical pug where it's often an experience in exasperation. Not a great deal has changed now, however Blizzard went further in WotLK than they ever did in BC to ensure people had incentives to run heroics, and that was in awarding high level emblems for turning in the daily heroic quest. Looking through LFG these days I still think the old problem regarding incentive for tanks to run heroics holds sway, because I typically see more healers in LFG than I do tanks. Which is perhaps what has been leading to the topic of this post.

First let us just say that there is an expected progression that players are meant to progress through. And it holds sway regardless of whether you are a DPS, healer, or tank class. That progression is typically to start running the level 80 normal dungeons when you first hit 80 and to pick up some gear through those as well as perhaps get some crafted gear. At which point you would then start running heroics, and start getting gear through those before you then run off to start running raids of various sorts. The change in the reward for the daily heroic to badges of Triumph last patch greatly assists players in obtaining much higher gear that they other wise would have access to at the beginner stages of your gear progression, but what I have been noticed lately -- a lot lately, are brand new level 80s that can pack on plate thinking they are automatically tanks. A lot of these "tanks" are extremely poorly geared, with health down around the 22-24k range (which frankly is about the same health my Paladin has in my ret set) who want to run not just heroics, but the more challenging heroics at that.

One "tank" I saw the other day was a Death Knight with 22k health, who was looking to "tank" the heroic in Unholy spec, and without any of the tanking talents at the top of the trees, like Anticipation, Toughness, and Blade Barrier. He also had only 400 defense, which tells you all you need to know about the type of gear he was looking to run Heroic HoL in, which is to say he hadn't a chance of surviving the run. Yet he was insistent and began cursing out the healer who was questioning his ability to tank. That attitude is emblematic of what I am see lately, and I find it very disturbing. The attitude of entitlement--the attitude that leads to people turning their backs on the accepted progression of things--is doing much more harm to the PUG system than ever did occur in BC. People have such bad experiences with these "tanks" that they stop pugging and simply run with guild mates, or establish static groups with friends instead.

I'm in the process of switching my main from my DK to my Paladin, and I typically walk around as Ret / Holy. I heal heroics every day, and have been getting considerable experience healing raids. But I also swap to Prot on the weekends to get some experience tanking. I had picked up tanking pieces along the way and was able to assemble a very good initial tanking set from H-ToC, other heroics, and crafted gear than got me to 540 defense, 32k health, 47% avoidance and 81% total mitigation. Not too shabby, and it really didn't take all that long to assemble, so I have little sympathy for these so called "tanks" that are basically asking healers specifically, and the groups they get into in general, to run them through content. I find it quite annoying.

It's one thing for a newly minted character that is poorly geared to come along as a DPS on a run, but something entirely different -- an unacceptable situation -- to be a tank or a healer that is clearly not ready for the role they are looking fill. Take the time to work through the accepted progression and obtain the gear you need in order to get where you want to go. Or just get carried as a DPS in a Naax or TOC raid where the gear you really want is plentiful and available.