For discussion: ...tanking is not a drug... or is it?
Hi, my name is Tielyn, and I'm a tank. ("Hi, Tielyn!")
I'm also 'blessed' to be the GM and primary raid lead for a bunch of crazies who think I'm the best one to take them places, because when I'm calling the shots, bosses fall over sooner or later. I have a handful of great dps and great healers, a number of good dps and good healers, and a few folks who get included because they're good humor value or 'family'. I'm open about signups and often scramble to fill roles; most of my 'go to' raiders have dual specs and dual roles. My best DPS also make up my 'reserve tank' crew, because it seems that if you know what you're doing enough to top the DPS meters, you usually also know your game well enough to tank decently. I'm one of the few triple-threat raiders -- I heal, dps, and tank equally well, with my DPS coming in third since I run with a bearcat spec. I love tanking, because for me, it's me against the boss -and- the other DPS, and it's the ... well, Final Boss Exam of all the skills in the game put together. You fail, we all die, and all that rot. But I digress.
I have a bit of an HR issue where people have (by virtue of us being a Level 25, 25 man raid guild) brought up alt tanks of their own to run with family and friends in 5 mans, or because our original Wrath main tanks have cut back how much they play and aren't available to run heroics (on our server, having a tank--> instant queue, versus being a DPS, you have to wait upwards of 40 minutes). Since they've geared up a tank, they continuously ask/offer to tank.
I also have the occasional recruit apply to the guild, and people who guest heal/DPS for us, who also have tanks or tank 'offspecs' that they have 'available if we need it.'
I tell them the same thing: "We're full on tanks. We have five full-time tanks, three primary reserve tanks, and one extra 'go to' tank if all eight of those are not otherwise available."
It doesn't stop them from asking anyway, still, or trying an end run around me at times. I think my favorite 'request' was 'hey, if we're starting a fresh instance, you can go heal and I can tank...'
Fair thought, though -- I used to be in that position once upon a time, because the then-GM let me collect enough bear gear from repeated Kara runs that he let me be offtank when we had too many healers. Of course, he was also a bear tank/tree druid, so he understood the mentality. And when we came up with eight healers for Wrath, the GM that was leading the guild by that point let me be third tank for the fights that needed three tanks, and backup for when one of our two main tanks wasn't available. (We never carried more than three tanks, because back when you couldn't have dual specs, and gold was hard to come by, you picked a spec and stuck with it.)
So I talked to the people who were being pests about it, and found out their rationale. Names not included to protect the innocent. Here's some of the things they said:
* "I hate that I'm never top DPS, and being a tank, I don't have to worry about my DPS."
me: Wrong answer. Your DPS as the tank is still important, because if you do low DPS as a tank, the DPS pull off of you and they die.
* "I feel like I'm not doing anything useful for the raid on the strictly tank and spank fights. I like having stuff to do, and being the tank, you have control over the fight."
me: Being the tank -is- all about controlling the fight and staying cool under fire. The last two times I've seen you tank, you had a meltdown in the middle of the raid and wanted to give up and give the tank role back. That does not give me a lot of confidence or want to let you do that again.
* "I can tank 5 mans and I love it. I'd love to be able to help out in 10 mans or 25s when you need people."
me: "I like the attitude. I want to see you hold aggro off our aggro hounds in a 5 man first, then I'll see about giving you a shot sometimes, but no promises."
* "Tanking is the only thing I do good. I suck at everything else."
me: "I have my tanks. I am not going to displace one of my proven tanks just because you think you suck, when what I really need is you to step up your game by learning from the people who are doing better than you. Or try something new that nobody else does. I'm not going to kick you out of the raid group for learning something new, but I am going to bench you if you expect me to give you what you want just because that's the only thing you do."
* "I used to be a great tank in Wrath. It must be the healers' problem, or we ('you, the raid leader') aren't doing something right."
me: 'This isn't Wrath. The game has changed. You need to change with it, or we suck every time you tank.'
* "I'm getting really burned out on my main, and I'd like to try something else for a little while."
me: 'I can understand that. I'll do what I can to give you a day off now and again, but I need someone to fill your role when you do switch.'
All anecdotes aside, I got to thinking, since this stuff above came from multiple sources. (Ah, the joys of running a guild....)
1) We have this whole raid balance and mechanics thing where you only need a couple of tanks, a handful of healers, and everyone else is DPS. It's a gear stats thing, and a skill thing, but the tanks also have to have some degree of command and control. I've heard horror stories of tanks who think they can raid lead, but can't because they have their head stuffed in a boss's navel and can't see what's going on behind them. When I tank, if I can't see, I delegate callout duties to someone who can see. Why should I let someone tank if they haven't proven they can do the CnC part of a fight?
2) ...but if my best DPS are also my reserve tanks, shouldn't I maybe keep them doing what they do best (DPS) and let someone else who doesn't do great DPS tank so as to keep my DPS doing damage? Answer: Then they pull off the lame tank and die.
3) I have three main tanks who stink at DPS.
- One of them caught me after raid end after being gone for a month and said, "Hey Tie, I've been gone for a month, and I know we're doing Firelands tomorrow. I don't feel comfortable tanking without doing my homework, so what do I need to study before tomorrow's raid?" And she sat there for 45 minutes while I gave her the rundown on the three front bosses plus the trash plus the two T11 bosses she hadn't seen yet, and took copious notes -- which she used the next day.
- The second shows up just in time for raid, and when we arrive at the boss, asks me: 'what do I do again?' He stands in fire because he has our main tank healers on him, and doesn't like high movement fights.
- The third doesn't raid for a month, comes back signs up to tank, and doesn't ask for help. Just says, 'I talked to my bro about what to do.' He doesn't talk on Vent except to scream that he needs heals. He doesn't therefore, know about the little tricks the bosses do, and dies.
Guess which one is my favorite tank?
My problem is that the latter two were our main tanks for BC -and- Wrath. They used to be great. But back in BC/Wrath, a lot of the fights were just tank and spanks. I keep hoping they'll wake up and smell the napalm, but by not removing them from their positions and making them DPS, because they can't, I know I'm enabling them. :| I feel like I owe these guys their positions because they've done it for so long, but when my best tanks are -not- them, they're part of the reason we fail. When I don't -want- to take them to Shannox because me and one of the reserve tanks can do the Rend mechanic perfectly, and I have -no- faith in them to learn it, that's telling me something.
4) I don't often ask people to tank outside of the circle of tanks that I built for Cata on top of the Wrath tank group. If someone asks me nicely if they can tank, and they're good at what they do normally, I'll be more apt to give them a support / OT job to see what they have. I should not -- and usually do not reward whining. I like having multi-talented people. I like being able to form up a raid and make it fly, because the guild is fluid like that. If people want to learn to tank, I feel they should do it on their time, and be ready to show me a finished product that actually does the job, not 'I want to do something different, please indulge my ego.'
For the TLDR folks, the summary:
--For those of you who tank: do you find it addictive, to the point to where you don't want to go back to DPSing or healing?
--For those of you who don't but want to: do you think that the tanks get all the glory and attention, and if so, that it's unfair that it's all about the tanks and you just have to show up and push buttons? Or is it because Blizz changed the way your class mechanics/role works and you no longer love it?
-- For those of you who play other MMORPGs, do you see the same problem, or is this limited to WoW in particular?
Thanks for listening. I'd love your thoughts.