Wednesday, 8 February 2012


An embarrassingly long time ago I wrote:
I've had good runs through difficult dungeons, where the team moved as one and nobody died, and the difference is largely due to the tank. A good tank makes a good run, and a bad tank makes a bad run, whoever else is on the team. It's that simple.
Well it's not quite that simple, but the basic point remains valid. Since writing that I have spent a lot of time as a tank, and am enjoying it enormously. I started with a warrior, but am now power-levelling a "tankadin" (paladin tank). She will probably be my first level 85 character — after nearly two years of playing WoW. This is possibly a record for slowness.
Paladins are a great class for naturally curious (or indecisive) people like myself, because they can fill every role in the game more or less well. They can heal and revive (but not as well as a Priest), deal damage, and take it in too (but not as well as a warrior); they can run up to a mob and beat the stuffing out of it with their hand weapons, or stand back and throw damage spells at it (but not as well as a shaman, mage or a warlock). I'm finding the combination of tanking plus being able to bless, heal and revive teammates to be great fun.
They do have deficits compared to more specialized classes (intentionally so, else everyone would just play a paladin and the game would become monotonous). Warrior tanks are much better at holding the attention of groups of mobs, and have instant long-range attacks in case they need to persuade a mob to leave their healer alone. I'm not sure whether I will stick with the tankadin; for now my plan is to level her up to my warrior tank and play both side-by-side for a while, to see which I prefer.
I think what I like about tanking — and this was true of healing as well — is the responsibility that it carries. The tank and the healer are responsible for the safety and success of the party, and bear all of the risk.To my mind there is no significantly less challenge in DPSing, because nothing bad can ever happen to the DPSer if the tank and the healer do their jobs well (assuming that the DPSers don't stand in the fire*). The only way that a DPSer can endanger the party is by getting carried away and pulling new mobs into an already complex fight, overpowering the tank and depleting the healer's mana. If they avoid that mistake, and it's easily avoided with a little common sense, the worst trouble they can cause is to slow the team down.
This is not to say that the DPSers are unnecessary! The role of the tank is not to kill mobs, but to make them hate him more than anyone else in the party. Without good damage-dealers even low-level fights would soon be lost, as the injury to the tank would slowly but surely drain the healer's mana dry. No DPS = healer OOM** = dead tank = wipe.
If I say so myself, I am a pretty good tank. In many of my runs, nobody dies — which is as big a boast for a tank as it is for doctors. Updated In the interests of truth and keeping my ego in check, I should mention that tonight's trip to Gnomeregan wiped once and lost two players in single incidents.

* WoW shorthand for "doing something incredibly stupid."
** Out Of Mana, unable to cast any healing spells.