Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Regarding Tank Concerns - Then and Now

June 5, 2006 - i.e., ancient history
World of Warcraft has changed fundamentally over the years. There are a lot of different players all with different ideas about how the game should be played, some more vocal than others. 

Certain behaviors and attitudes I think are completely justified, but perhaps just not everyone feels the same way about them. Some others are remnants of ancient history and are no longer applicable to the game the way that it is today, while others are simply perpetrated by players who may be jaded or stuck up. 

Something that I find to be very interesting is how players ten years later are viewing the mechanic of threat, and how some tanks in particular view themselves. Omen used to be a required raiding addon to join even lower end raiding guilds, while nowadays it tends to be merely suggested, if even mentioned. Threat is a mechanic that has changed dramatically since the original incarnation of the game, and I believe some people haven't updated their outlook on it.

I've had experience tanking for a very long time. For the last five consecutive years, my offspecc has been feral tank, before then I tanked on my protection paladin in TBC, and I tanked rather infrequently as feral in Vanilla. I purposefully picked tanking as my offspec in order to get quick dungeon queues and tank when our guild's tanks miss raids and in emergencies, so I've frequently sat in as a tank in raids. For almost a month in early Mists I was tanking basically every raid while we were looking for a new main tank. I level alts almost exclusively by tanking dungeons, which I've been doing even since before group finder. This isn't an inexperienced dpser's view on tanking, but rather from personal experience. 

I also tank so I can roleplay in dungeon groups

A situation I severely doubt anyone hasn't witnessed: usually accompanied by the passive aggressive question "Did you want to tank?" some tanks will take personal offense to a loss of aggro or if someone pulls in a group. Tanks are not unknown for being group leaders - after all, they set the group's pace, they decide when to do the pulling, and when they don't do their job correctly it is immediately noticeable - and in raids, often lethal. 

I believe you have to have a certain outlook to want to main a tank in a guild. Regardless of whether you are an officer or not, when you're the raid's tank, a lot of responsibility will fall to you. People who want to tank full time have a certain mindset, and within that mindset, they develop a sense of pride for the job they perform - while some end up believing that they are in fact superheroes.

Now, believe me, I agree with the tanks in most situations. People pulling is frustrating. People running away from the tanks with aggro is frustrating. Someone trigger fingering a pull and attacking the boss when the countdown is still at 2 is frustrating. Hunters leaving their pet's taunt on is annoying. Death knights gripping things away from you is annoying. Typhoon and thunderstorm knockbacks are annoying. Someone stunning at a horrible time is annoying. 

Tanks have to deal with a ton of nonsense, but I think perhaps somewhere along the line, some of them pass a threshold where they start to believe that they are judge, jury, and executioner - they are the most important player and any and all misbehavior is an attack against their authority. Coming from a tank, I really can't stand tanks who will stop a group to flaunt how important they think they are. 

I consider my job to be holding threat and not dying. If a dps pulls threat, it's my job to take it back, not throw a hissy fit that I lost it in the first place. Some tanks don't even consider the basic aspects of tanking to be their responsibility - threat is the dps' job, and them not dying is the healer's job. Some tanks act like their duty is to stand there and hit the boss, and everything else that happens is everyone else's problem.  

seeing this after you queue doesn't mean "be a jerk"

Regarding threat, let me just say that as a consistently undergeared offspec or alt tank, I have had zero issues holding threat from dps for the last few years. I've sat in as a tank in raids just recently - the dps in my guild are 580+, while my tank kit is actually about 540. I'm a flex geared tank in heroic raids, having zero issues keeping aggro. They have made threat entirely the tank's responsibility at this point in the game - they increased tank threat generation and they even made them generate increased threat after taunting.

Blizzard noted the change of their position on threat. This dev watercooler blog post by Ghostcrawler - from 2011 - summarized, states that while they used to consider threat to be a fun, engaging mechanic that should matter, they decided to make it so that threat can be mostly ignored during the course of a fight. Not necessarily to remove threat from the game, but change which aspect of it is important.
"The notion of aggro (who the target is attacking) is a keeper. The notion of threat races (who is about to pull aggro) is going to be downplayed from here on out."
Blizzard specifically made changes to the game that should logically remove the mindset from the game that dps need to pay attention to threat generation. The post even notes that they "expect the community to gradually stop using threat-tracking mods as players realize they don’t need them." 

You can have your opinions on what the game should or should not change or whether or not Blizzard is headed in the right direction, but you can't actually argue how the game is mechanically designed. As an original Vanilla player myself, I don't disagree that some of the changes to the game have been unfavorable, but what I don't do is live in a false reality where those changes haven't happened. When tanks are generating 500% threat, they should be ashamed of themselves if they have issues holding threat.

Watching threat used to be important for dps, but it's just not anymore. At this point, calling threat a "responsibility" is a stretch  - it is assumed that if you're a tank and you're hitting buttons while targeting the boss, you will have threat. I have a friend who just came back to the game - I carried him and a friend of his through some heroic dungeons with him tanking. 

I would be lying if I said a 490 ilvl tank who hasn't played in almost two years tanked flawlessly, but one taunt and he never lost threat again. He was capable of holding aoe threat on groups of trash, and - not to call him out but - the times where he did not hold threat, he had mistakenly not been in blood presence. That basically means that holding threat is as simple as having passive increased threat generation. 

As a tank, I find being unable to hold threat to be a show of my inability. If I were to lose threat or be unable to hold threat, I would consider that to be failure to perform my job properly, rather than the dps' fault for doing their job properly. Tanks who still consider threat to be a responsibility of the dps are making excuses for their inability to perform their job as a tank.

Maybe you haven't recently seen a tank complain about someone pulling threat, and so you have no idea what I'm even going on about. It doesn't happen that often because threat is so easy to hold, but I've seen tanks lose threat or have other threat issues, and the first thing they do is yell at the dps for "not paying attention". It's even stranger when other people start to agree with them - in fact, I would go so far as to say that the people agreeing with these tanks don't tank. They are latched onto the long past, where it was completely legitimate to yell at a dps for taking aggro. If you haven't tanked recently, you may not have noticed how easy threat is to gain and hold.

As for pulling before the tank, this behavior can be more than simply annoying. As the tank, you become aware of the healer's capabilities and within a few pulls you can ascertain how quickly you should pull and how much you are able to pull at once. Some tanks need to wait a few seconds for an aoe cooldown to come back up, I've noticed this particularly with death knights - it's highly unlikely that dps will take note of these things. 

I've been in groups where I quickly noticed the healer needed mana breaks and was having trouble keeping me up, so I reacted appropriately. The sudden slow down in the pace to an ignorant dps somehow means "oh I should pull," rather than, "there is probably a reason for the change in pace." I've decided to wait a second before pulling more mobs because an aoe isn't off cooldown, but a dps pulls and then the mobs scatter around the room, making picking them up all the more difficult. I've had this kind of behavior from dps cause wipes many, many times. 

However, as a tank, you're only embarrassing yourself if you act high and mighty about a dps pulling when they are literally capable of tanking the content. It's pretty embarrassing to watch dps pull in a low level dungeon because of a slow tank, having him throw a hissy fit, saying "I'm just going to let you die!" as the group moves ahead without him while he sulks.

some people actually still consider these a thing?
Currently, Mists heroic five man dungeons are disgustingly easy. They can be done without a tank, they can be done without a healer, and I did one recently two dps short and I don't think anyone even noticed. If dps are pulling ahead of you in heroics at this point in the content, you should recognize that as a sign that you may need to adapt to the changing game. 

 As a tank, you need to be able to accept that people don't worship you anymore. Losing a tank before dungeon finder was a catastrophe, even awhile after dungeon finder came out the wait for replacement tanks was considerable. That, too, has changed over the years. Dungeon groups in progress will find new tanks within moments most of the time, and tanks are more replaceable in LFR than healers.

Mechanics change all the time. Threat used to be a big deal, but so did crowd control, and just like crowd control, threat doesn't come up much anymore. Maybe threat will be a big deal again after the tank squish - it doesn't sound like it will, but if it is, then we will adapt accordingly. However, for a very long time, threat has been a non-issue. The biggest issue we saw with threat recently was overgeared tanks pulling threat off of other tanks. That's actually what the 200% increased threat generation change was added to fix - the only threat problem I have in raids is our very talented main tank ripping threat off of me just by doing dps while I'm tanking. 

With the changes to the game over time, roles and duties change as well. Blaming dps for pulling threat is shirking the responsibility of your job as a tank - unless they actually pulled the boss early, in which case, yell at them.

No comments:

Post a Comment