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Flavour and Consistency in Tanking 1: Introduction

June 30, 2010

One of the areas that I find very difficult to be certain of is the tension between equality-among-tanks and flavour. Now obviously as a death knight tank, I am all in favour of the inferior tanks being relegated to tanking the occasional mouse and I taking the rest of the raid (ideally at once) but since I have two bears, a protadin and two baby warriors as well, I have some idea that this might not lead to such a good game as we currently enjoy. So ideally, we would like all tanks to be equally good at:

1) single target survivability: arguably, the one most important aspect of tanking. This governs whether you can survive a raid/instance boss. If you die, so will everyone else.

2) aoe survivability: the same as above slightly less important as it concerns trash. Mind you, I stopped using my bear for months after her aoe survivability dropped with the introduction of savage defence. Suddenly I had aoe threat but could not survive it. Interestingly, this is the area that appears most likely to be nerfed in Cata.

3) single target threat: I continue to believe that threat should be less of an issue for tanks. It’s not fun to be over-aggroed by dps even if it is there fault. Nor is it fun for a dps to not be able to do their best job. So this is a major issue for all tanks and when it comes down to it a raid leader will want to take a tank that does not threat-cap people.

4) aoe threat: again, this is often but not always a trash thing. But can anyone name something more annoying than persistent wiping on trash because the tank could not hold aggro?

5) utility: the least important to keep consistent but needs to be equal in general. Buffs, special abilities, odd ways to control the battlefield. All classes have it and the use players make of it is often the difference between a good and a great player.

Yet at the same time, I play WoW at least in part because of the pretty graphics and lore. One reason I have resisted having a warrior tank for so long is that I don’t like the flavour of them; if I wanted to wear plate armour and carry a large sword I have both at home. I don’t really need to go online. Turning into a bear, now that was fun; I’ve always wanted to be able to shapeshift. I may not particularly want to be either a holier-than-thou type or a walking, supputurating, frozen corpse but neither are very possible for me to be and so are quite interesting to get my head around. Others will disagree as to which is interesting, but the fact is that everyone will find themselves more interested in some form of flavour.

So I want the general abilities to be equal in power but to feel different. And to be honest, not just to feel but to be different; taking demoralising shout and calling it demoralising roar is a bit pathetic. This is a very hard task (although considering the money Blizzard is making not one I feel should be beyond them). Generally, I think that WoW has done this well but there are areas where they do not. In later posts I will consider this in more detail.

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