Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I look for in a Tank

Last night rather unexpectedly I ended up leading our Ulduar 25 Man because the plate wearer in the family had to work late. Feeling rather out of my league since the majority of my research on Ulduar has been focused on the Dps aspects NOT the tanking or healing, we headed in with a good number of the group this being their first time setting foot into Ulduar 25. To make matters more complicated many of the individuals were performing roles they themselves were not use to. Main tanking rather than Co-tanking, Co-tanking rather than dpsing or Healing, Healing rather than dpsing. It was definitely a night for mixing it up.

As the night progressed several conversations started to creep up via whispers....(and I will just summarize the gist of all of them for you.)

"Why can't such and such tank do the job they always do? I know them, I like the work they do and it is difficult to adjust to a new tank doing this who is having to learn it as they go."

It got me to thinking...what is it that we LIKE in certain tanks? What makes us add them to our "friends list" or even in guild ask one particular tank over another to do runs with or preform certain roles? For myself it came down to three key things, Availability, Consistency, and Attitude.

Availability is pretty self explanatory. As much as I may enjoy running with a particular tank, if they are not on line or able to do things when I am it makes it difficult to do anything with them on a regular basis.

Consistency on the other hand encumbrances a much wider variety of variables.

1. Do they mark when appropriate and then FOLLOW their marks? In the WotLK world of AoE EVERYTHING there are times when focus fire and CC is still called for, knowing when to use it and HOW to use it is key.

2. Do they have a predictable movement pattern? Nothing is more frustrating than chasing a tank as they zigzag around a room while trying to remain behind a mob and dps as a melee.

3. Do they build aggro quickly? I know this is why some individuals prefer certain classes of tanks over others but don't let that deter you. While it may take a warrior or a Bear a little bit longer (say 3-5 seconds MAX) to build aggro than a Pally or DK there are other advantages to them so don't rule them out.

4. Do they have good pacing? For a well geared Pally on a heroic run, they may have to keep stopping because they are mana starved (or even start shedding gear) where a Warrior, Bear or Dk can keep it moving. On the other hand some tanks like to take breaks A LOT. A steady speed that allows Mana users to keep their blue bars at reasonable levels through out is a wonderful thing.

5. Are they aware of the other party members? We have all encountered the Tank with Tunnel vision. Having one that knows that healers and mana users are low BEFORE they scream "OOM!!!" That has their eye on the Rogue that is picking up adds with killing spree and taunting them off before they go splat, these are the friends you want to have.

Attitude covers several things in my mind as well.

1. Do they ENJOY being a meat shield? You can quickly distinguish those who ENJOY tanking from those who do it only because:
a. People always need a tank so it is easy to get groups.
b. They want the prestige of being a leader and tanks are often viewed as such.
c. They were forced to pick up the spec and gear by outside forces and have little to no internal motivation.

2. They know the needs and demands of their class (sometimes even other classes that tank) because they have PRIDE in what they and other tanks do. Watch out, if given a chance they will talk "tank shop" for HOURS.

3. They take responsibility for their mistakes and share the glory for their achievements. This includes being prepared with the basics like repairs and consumables rather than just expecting others to provide for them.

The thing you have to be careful of is NOT to take advantage of these individuals. Once you FIND a good tank it is easy to overwhelm them with invites and requests. SURE they may enjoy tanking but they have stuff they have to do as well (those dailies all the REST of us are doing?) In addition to that just because you had a BAD experience with a tank 3 months ago doesn't mean that they haven't managed to improve in that time. Try to build a wider list of "tank" friends, you may still have your "favorites" (hey I can't help it I'm married to him). But it is also good for YOUR OWN skills to work with a variety of players and tank types.

Personally I have several DK tanks, Warrior tanks, and Pally tanks on my "Friends" list. Bear tanks have been more difficult for me to locate, I only have one at the moment, wish I had more as I miss running with them. The challenge of working my play style to the style of the tank helps keep things fresh for me and points out things I need to work on. This is a good time to build those relationships as schedules are reworked with school starting. Many tanks will now find themselves constructing new networks. You want to do what you can to get plugged into those networks that will give YOU the successful runs you crave, even better if you can develop friendships out of the deal.

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