Saturday, April 9, 2011

Call to Arms: More Tanks

calltoarms I had some pretty mixed feelings when I read this update on mmo front page. I can appreciate that Blizzard wants to and is attempting to somehow fix the lopsided role distribution that has been plaguing World of Warcraft for god knows how long but I have limited faith in the current attempt. There are more variables to the fact that fewer people want to play the tank role, and to an extent, the healer role, and those issues will not be solved by bribing people with shiny objects. Some probably will at least make an alt or something, just for the chance to farm those mounts but otherwise, I doubt the situation will change that much.

The fact is that playing a tank or a healer in a group is a thankless job. You will occasionally get the odd pat on the back by people who truly appreciate your effort and skill that goes into filling those roles, but the majority do not understand and others don’t even care. Particularly a new tank, who is still inexperienced, not sure of the best way of doing things, maybe has less off-the-bat threat burst, and definitely not the best gear, has to endure a long and rocky road to success. The abuse, the shit, and drama you have to endure are, in many cases, not worth it.

Even experienced tanks don’t generally run random 5-man dungeons, unless for their daily dose of valor points because no matter how good you are, people will get on your tits no matter what. Who would volunteer for that crap? Some of us, who love tanking and have managed to win the prize of a regular raid spot as tanks, but even we can’t be bothered after we’ve exhausted the benefits from that.

The good news is that Cataclysm, as an expansion, did move us towards the right direction. When we started, DPS had a major wakeup call. No more blitzing ahead of the tank, blowing cooldowns on trash pulls, and just mindlessly standing there and getting your rocks off on the damage meters. CC was necessary and in some cases, it still is and if the DPS aren’t paying attention during the heroic boss fights, they will die pure and simple. To my delight, I still get to watch bad players get it and it almost makes the emo aftermath worth it but this is not enough. We are fast out-gearing the content and things can only get worse from here. Already any semi-decent group can completely ignore CCs and just chain-pull the dungeons. As the required level of tactic and strategy goes down, the old problems will grow more severe.

Personally, I feel this is the main problem associated with the lack of tanks and healers and is something that Blizzard should spend more time addressing. If they acknowledge this, it does not show because they have not just ignored the issue, but made it worse by nerfing almost every 5-man dungeon in the game; trash removed, damage lowered, encounters have lost entire mechanics, etc. At that level, the game is increasingly more about the strong tanks and healers, whereas the DPS can pretty much do as they want, with little to no responsibility. I can think of numerous ways of creating encounters that actually challenge the DPS that would bring some measure of pressure on them to actually appreciate what the tanks and healers go through every day.

Well, we can only hope that Blizzard’s new dungeon design paradigms work as advertised but for this latest update, I simply do not see it solving anything.

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