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.
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