Posts Tagged ‘Tanks’

Arrogance In Random Groups

Since coming back to WoW I’ve been running random dungeons (and raids) quite a bit and I’m gradually reaching some conclusions about a lot of the people that I encounter.

 

The Problem

The problem seems to stem from the fact that a lot of people don’t want to heal or tank. Both roles are, generally, more work than simply going DPS…

  • Gear choices are more critical
    While you can probably get away with slightly sub-par gear as DPS who wants a tank that gets one-shot by the first boss they meet or a healer that goes OOM on the first group of trash you pull?
  • Situational awareness is arguably even more important
    There’s any number of boss mechanics that are designed to catch tanks and healers out. Massive (AoE) damage spikes, debuffs that require tank swaps etc.
  • Lack of “measurable” performance
    DPS have tools like Recount or Skada to gauge their performance against each other. Healers can arguably use the same tools to see how they’re doing, but healing assignments in 25 player raids often make this less clear. Tanks on the other hand have nothing.

What this causes is a notable imbalance in the population with significantly more people electing to play the “easy” (*) option of DPS. Because there are more DPS in the pool when you come to queuing for a dungeon tanks and (to a slightly lesser extent) healers are always in demand meaning that DPS have a significantly longer wait time for a group. A LFD group requires five players with a ratio of 3:1:1 (DPS:Heals:Tank). In reality, I’d guess that the population is probably closer to 30:2:1, maybe even worse. (I’ve waited for an hour on Wizzbit only to alt over to Jezebelle/Wizzadora and get instant queues.)

 

(*) I refer to DPS as being the easy option but I acknowledge that this isn’t always the case. Many players put in just as much effort playing DPS as tanks and healers do, in a few cases possibly more. For example, a well played Hunter can off-tank adds, crowd-control mobs, taunt stray mobs off other party members and misdirect them to the tank all while doing significant damage to the boss.

 

The Solution

In an attempt to combat this imbalance, Blizzard incentivise whichever role is currently most needed in LFD by using the “Call to Arms” system, offering Satchel of Exotic Mysteries as an additional reward for completing instances. I’m really not sure to what extent this works. If I’m queuing for a random it’s because I want something for the alt I’m queuing with and  I’d guess the same could be said for a lot of people.

Since I generally queue as those roles that get offered bags anyway and I hardly ever think “Oh, that role is on Call to Arms. I’ll alt!” so it’s not really an incentive at all, just a nice extra reward for something I was going to do anyway. For example; Yesterday I logged in Jez to cap out her Valor Points for the week. I checked LFD and tanks were Call to Arms, bonus! I finished the dungeon (End Time), thanked the group and checked my bag… 55g and Parrot Cage (Hyacinth Macaw) (the least common item to get in the bag) – Current market price on Eitrigg? 20k gold. Thanks Blizz!

 

The Outcome

What happens is that you get people who (for whatever reason) want to play DPS but realise that the queue times are significantly longer. While people complain about this on forums, they generally suck it up and go farming or do dailies while they wait. Unfortunately, there are a few that don’t and instead queue for roles they’re not really suited for. Here’s a few examples I’ve encountered recently:

  • Hour of Twilight: Pally tank in full DPS gear with a 1h sword, no shield and Ret talents. This guy didn’t even attempt to pass himself off as a tank, he literally queued as a tank and tried to get away with it.
    Outcome: Vote Kicked after wiping on the first boss.
  • Well of Eternity: Druid healer in feral (cat) gear. His guild-mate was queued as DPS but insisted on running around in bear-form taunting off me. The original tank had seemingly left after the first boss and we wiped on a trash pack between the first and second bosses.
    Outcome: After wiping again on the second boss I left the group.
  • End Time: Priest healer in full crafted PVP blues. First boss; he went OOM part way through the fight and died at around 10-15%, boss died anyway. Second boss; he went OOM almost immediately and died. Druid battle-res’d him and he promptly died again. (I don’t know how but we managed to kill the boss without the healer). Final boss, I died right after the pull as I didn’t get any heals at all. We did (just) manage to kill the boss, but we needed to use all 5 turns of the hour glass mainly due to the healer going OOM.
    Outcome: Completed, but painful
  • End Time: Unholy DK, it’s not all tanks/healers either as this guy showed. The first trash pull he popped Army of the Dead and still managed to be bottom of the damage meter by a significant margin. First boss (Sylvanas) he died early on, got battle res’d and almost instantly died again. He then spent the remainder of the fight begging to be res’d rather than releasing and running back in.
    Outcome: Vote Kicked after a repeat performance on the second boss.
  • Hour of Twilight: I joined a group in progress (never a good start), clearing trash between first and second boss. The tank had seemingly left mid-pull and the healer left just as I joined, instant wipe ensued. As we were running back a Priest joined, his first comment on seeing us all dead was “Oh, another fucking Pally tank, that’s why you’re all dead!” Someone mass-resed us and the priest got agro just as I hit accept. With no possible time for me to react, he died and immediately started spouting off further:
    He: “Tank, wtf was that? You just fuckin stood there and let me die!”
    Me: “Umm… I was dead?”
    He: “No you’re not fucker”
    Me: “…”
    He: “Fucking tank is shit, probably not even geared for this, VK his ass”
    Me: “Go fuck yourself kid” (Uncalled for I know, but he got my goat)
    Outcome:  I left the group, took the 30 minute LFD cooldown and alted to Wizzadora. I’m not about to spend my Sunday afternoon having someone talking shit to me.

 

My Conclusion

In general, I have encountered more bad groups when I’ve been queued as a tank than when I’ve been queued as a healer. This leads be me conclude that there is more arrogance in the healer population than any other group in WoW.

I realise that this could be a personal problem and that I might actually be a bad tank. However, without wishing to sound arrogant myself, I don’t believe this to be the case. I’ve been tanking for 5+ years, I read as much as I can about fights, I ask questions of more experienced players if I’m unsure of certain aspects and I spend (an obsessive amount of) time ensuring that I’m in the best gear I can be. I take pride in my knowledge of the game and try to pass this knowledge on to others when I can.

Generally, I see more healers giving people people shit in party chat than anyone else. Tanks and DPS seem to get on with their jobs while I frequently see healers pointing out low DPS or calling people out for missing mechanics. I admit that, when I’m healing, I do tend to notice people standing in fire a lot more (I’m the one that has to keep them alive after all) but I at least try to relay this to them in a constructive way: “Can you try and move when the boss casts that” rather than “Get one of the fire, idiot!”

 

I still absolutely love tanking, but I’m gradually moving towards the possibility of making my Priest my main when MoP rolls around.

Threat Level Midnight

Royal Crest Of Lordaeron

The world’s smartest man poses no more threat to me than does its smartest termite.
 – Doctor Manhattan (Watchmen)

Threat has long been a large part of the game for tanks. That constant battle of keeping ahead of a Feral Druid, or Fury Warrior. Over the years Blizzard have added threat reduction mechanics to many classes; Cower, Feign Death, Wind Shear etc, in an effort to give players a way to lower their threat without having to back off on their damage. To an extent, these have worked, however some classes still have no way of reducing their threat in relation to the tank, Fury Warriors are a prime example of this.

With Cataclysm Blizzard tried something new. Rather than adding threat dumps to damage dealers, they added more threat to tanks in the form of Vengeance. It is fair to say that this helped but many tanks, myself included, have never been especially fond of the mechanic. It’s kinda clunky and during the first 5 seconds of a fight, or any fight where two tanks need to trade agro, it has serious drawbacks. The big problem being that it takes a while to ramp up to give it’s full potential and then decays fairly fast once you stop taking damage.

Yesterday Ghostcrawler posted a blog entry on the official site. The short version goes thusly:

  • For damage dealers: Doing damage is fun, watching your threat is not and having to stop attacking because you’re about to pull agro is even less fun.
  • For tanks: Tanks are busy, they have to manage their cooldowns, position the correctly for the damage dealers, trade agro with the other tank, avoid fire, keep an eye on that big debuff the boss does and all while keeping ahead of the group on threat.

Now, personally, that “micro-management” is what I love about being a tank but I can understand why a lot of people don’t. It’s hard work, you’ve got to be aware of any number of things at the same time, you need to be communicating with the group and you need to make sure that you know what a boss is going to do before he does it.

What’s the solution? Well, here’s what Ghostcrawler has to say:

  • Short Term
    The concept of threat is going to be made trivial. Tanks will now generate threat equal to 500% of their damage, compared to 300% before. This was, apparently, hot fixed in yesterday and Ghostcrawler has said that they’ll adjust this up further if damage dealers still risk pulling ahead.
  • Middle Term (likely patch 4.3)
    Vengeance will be changed to have an initial jump when you first damage damage, followed by a gradual increase (as it currently does) over the duration of the fight. It will still decay in the same way it does now.
  • Long Term (likely the next expansion)
    All tanks will be moving more towards to an “active mitigation” model, similar to Blood DKs. You can see this happening already with the changes in the last patch to Holy Shield. This model gives you more granular control over when you want to reduce your incoming damage through the use of abilities.

I see this as a positive change. Many people will argue that this amounts to “dumbing down the game” or “catering to casual players” and in reality both these arguments are at least partially true. However the simple fact is that, in order to give damage dealers a sense of progression, they need to give them constantly higher damage output. Tanks get… higher damage reduction? Yes, but not really. Damage reduction plateaus and it’s hard to progress beyond this point. What happens instead is that tanks have to start stacking threat stats (hit & expertise) to keep ahead of the damage dealers, but there’s a trade-off of survivability to generate maintain that lead. By making threat less important, tanks can focus again on their survivability and let the damage dealers go about their contest of topping the meters.

Blizzard are going to have some work ahead of them to balance tanks abilities such that you don’t end up 20 different “short cooldown” buttons to click, but I think that this could pan out really well. The key thing for me is going to be keeping each tank unique from the other three.

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