9 November 2009

LF tank, last spot

The perennial tank shortage has struck Darkspear again. Pugging heroics is torture, even for the daily. And what fills me with dread is the thought of competing not only with my server for a suitable meat shield, but the entire battlegroup.

Because that's the worrying prospect facing us in the next patch when Blizzard introduces the new grouping tool. It sounds fantastic on paper, and wow.com has certainly spared no expense in singing its praises. Group with anyone, get transported automatically to the instance, and pick up a bunch of special rewards in the process. But look at the facts: take one server with a tank shortage, lump it with half a dozen similarly tank-deprived servers, and the problem grows exponentially. Has anyone done the maths on this?

The picture for healers — once in the same endangered boat as tanks — is very different. Not only do we see plenty of main-spec healers, but a decent proportion of main-spec dps have healing off-specs. On my resto shaman, I even find myself in the ludicrous position of going off-spec dps because of a healer surplus.

The duel spec facility saved healing, so why then are we still scrambling around for tanks? The same number of classes can tank as heal, and while I don't have the numbers on server populations, there must surely be a roughly even split between the two groups. There ought to be more tanks flying around than there are, even if most of them were off-spec.

What I think is that tanking is harder than healing or dps — not that all dps and healers faceroll, but the baseline for skill strikes me as much higher for tanking. And the entry bar for gear is a little higher too, so that potential tanks have to spend a little time collecting gear before they can throw themselves into heroics — moreso than healers and unlike dps who are good-to-go on the ding. And there's nowhere you can train yourself to tank, you've just got to bite the bullet and jump into an instance.

I don't know if tanking should be easier or the rewards greater. Or maybe, for the people who do tank, it should actually be harder: more challenging, not less. Either way, I don't think the problem is going to go away. I think when the new patch lands we'll see a momentary glut of tanks trying out the new instances and farming the next tier of badge gear. But if the underlying problems (whatever they are) aren't fixed, we'll be back in this position in a couple of months, but with an even greater surplus of frustrated dps.


Ho Ho said...

"What I think is that tanking is harder than healing or dps — not that all dps and healers faceroll, but the baseline for skill strikes me as much higher for tanking"

Having tanked pretty much everything in this game on my alt I'd say tanking as paladin is generally significantly easier than healing as tree or dps'ing as shadow. There are moments where tanking is hard but generally it's not something insanely hard. E.g hard stuff is small adds on Sartharion, P3 on Yogg (P1 is much easier) and add tanking on Anub. The rest isn't really rocket surgery.

"And the entry bar for gear is a little higher too"

That one I definitely agree with. As tank you'll need some minimal level of gear to survive, as healer or DPS you can rely on others to carry you.

Though I did run some heroics on my just-dinged DK tank once with guild. Stuff just dropped dead all around me to aoe, I think we could just have gone with me in DPS spec and do just as fine :P

<- leveling up second tank atm, I like tanking about as much as shadow DPS and hate when pala gets saved and I can't help guildies :D

Dirz said...

Tanking is harder IMO because tanks have to know each fight intimately- not just where they need to stand while they heal or dps but where they need to stand to tank, where the dps needs to stand to dps and where the healers need to stand to dps- it may be a little different because i am a raid leader in addition to being a tank but it seems like if the tank is clueless on a fight, they whole raid/party is sol whereas a dps or healer can do just fine.

grayhammer said...

I built up my warrior to be a tank and while eventually I was able to capably tank the easy to mid-hard heroics I've given it up as not worth the effort and headache. Thing is, I agree with Misery's comment about need for higher skill set in tanking, particularly warrior, IMO. On my server the folks who have stuck with tanking are really good, and so the part-time tanks suffer greatly in comparison.

kungaloosh said...

I think it's easier for a healer to offspec as dps or caster dps to off-spec as a healer because there isn't a huge gap in gear. When my Moonkin goes Resto, I only swap out about 4-5 pieces of gear. With tanking, you have to build an entire set.

KenA said...

The tank shortage will not grow exponentially, it will stay the same, or at worse normalize across the battle group. If the ratio of tanks to non-tanks is, for example, 1 to 10 on each individual realm, it is also 1 to 10 across the battle group.

bobturkey said...

Tanking is quite a bit harder than healing IMHO. Although i'm approaching it from being a warrior so I suspect its harder than say a pally tank.

Look at gearing for example. Any noob healer or DPS can be carried through heroics to get geared, but a noob tank is hard work. My current post is about exactly this.

I can easily do 2k DPS in any heroic and get gear, but i'm not yet comfortable to tank AN or HoL or ToC heroics.

Look at skills. Healers use about 3-4 skills usually, but my warrior uses about 8-10 each pull!

Also tanks tend to take responsibility for the run, where as a healer I sit back and enjoy the ride (mainly). so its a bit more stressful.

Tanks need a general knowledge of what the mobs do so they can deal with ranged mobs, etc.

The stuff above is really part of the reason I play a warrior though. Its one of the last challenging classes left to play.

Having said all that although there is a slight shortage of tanks its not too bad ATM.

Gobble gobble.

Merlot said...

"If the ratio of tanks to non-tanks is, for example, 1 to 10 on each individual realm, it is also 1 to 10 across the battle group."

Oops! Thanks for putting me straight :)

Leigh said...

Tank racism is also a problem :P

When I was gearing up my alt DK I was turned down from a number of PUG heroics and 10 man raids because of my gear level. The gear was perfectly fine for tanking purposes...above average entry gear + craftables. The problem was my gear was "poor" in comparison and people wanted quick runs without hassle. My gear currently is the best available to me for 10 man level (as it is an alt) and the "speed" that I can do a heroic at is the same as it was when I was in my entry level gear. The difference is over 10k in health and a lot more mitigation stats meaning a healer fuck up can be survived.

It's 100% frustrating if you rely on PUG's for initial gear as invariably you have to go DPS to get a spot and rolling against a tank on items then becomes problematic. It really makes it a long drawn out process unless you have a number of friends to help gear you in instances or a lot of gold for craftables.

Anonymous said...

A tank shortage on 1 realm does not mean there is a tank shortage on all realms. Your realm may not in fact have a tank shortage but a shortage of tanks willing to do heroics with pugs.

I have played every role (tank, healer, and dps). Tanking takes a lot more knowledge to pull off properly and cant be done without a good healer. If a healer is yelling at a tank to quit getting out of range of LoS'ing, then that healer is probably not so good a choice. Tanks are the meat shield. They position the boss/mob into a position that is best for all and must have high situational awareness of everyone in the group.

The real fun times to tank is when the dps out gears the tank significantly and there is aggro issues. That is where a tank really learns how to hold aggro and control the mob/boss.

Askevar said...

Tanking is more than a spec and gear. Tanking is a mindset - one that can be learned, yes, but to learn it requires time and experience, and people have very little patience for a tank in training. And sadly, a lot of people think they can throw on def gear and just tank - making it harder for those with the determination and/or talent to learn.

To Tank, you need to be able to think on your feet, adapt to unexpected situations on the spot, and react appropriately. It's more involved in raids where fights are extended obviously, but I know quite a few plate wearers in defense gear who can't handle tanking unless it's absolutely perfect as a run. They lose their head in the heat of battle essentially :P They have to tank the mob where the mob is always tanked - they can't adjust to the situation if things go wrong.

And like with dps and healing, standing in the fires is still bad... even if you have a dedicated healer :P

Kells said...

The problem with this 'tank shortage' is that gear snobs make it very hard for aspiring tanks to get into heroics. Anything less than 30k hp and they'll turn their noses up and continue to spam.

"lf1m tank BE GEARED!!!"

How are fresh 80s supposed to get geared up if they can't run instances?

Anonymous said...

Four tank classes - when is the last time you saw a druid tank?

I'll hop into a raid and see two or three trees, and maybe a moonkin or two. Sometimes a kitty. But I haven't seen a bear in a long while.

Encyclopedia said...

I have been dpsing on my priest, healing on my paladin, and tanking on my DK as I have had time over the last week or so...

Gear is a definitely a problem. I have managed to get Defense Cap to 538. I could get it to 540 but then I would have to switch out my Direbrew trinket with +170 stamina. I have already lost count of the times I have heard "Is that all your health?" even though according the guides I have read, I have as much as tanks running Naxx10 did just a few months ago.

I even got some wonderful tanking advice from a rogue who suggested that I might want to start using a shield.