Thu 4 Feb, 2010
I had an old friend of mine stop by last night to chat. We’ve played together since he was just a new player back in the Burning Crusade days. He did the traditional WoW route. He started as a hunter because EVERYONE told him to play one. Its simple they said.. and you know what? He got pretty damned good at it, but it wasn’t quite fulfilling for him. Ok that’s a lie. Due to financial difficulties at the time that Wrath came out, he just couldn’t afford a copy. So he did what any redblooded casual WoW player would do. He started an alt.
Since that time, the Alt became the Main as far as raiding is concerned. He’s learned by trial and fire how to tank. He’s discovered that he really likes it. I mean hell…. who wouldn’t like getting their face beat in day after day.
Lets be honest, its a very high profile position in a raid. What’s the first question the healers ask? “Who’s the tank?” Who do people pin their hopes on in 25 mans and 10 mans? The Tank and the healers, but honestly.. tanks are more visual. When you’re looking at killing the boss, you see the tank. You half the time don’t notice the guys propping him/her up and keeping their furry …er… plated…. buttocks up and running. Its not fair to healers, but it is what it is.
We keep in touch from time to time. He has moved on to tank on the Alliance side on Whisperwind. I’m of course tanking on the horde side on Thunderhorn. So as I was babbling on, we got to talking and the conversation kind of progressed like this….
Me: Rough night in ICC.
Him: Which boss?
Me: Not a boss, more of just a general feeling of people being off tonight. Not terrible, just didn’t quite make it as far as we wanted.
Him: Yeah? …. hey do you mind if I ask you a question?
Me: No sweat
(queue… long wait)
Me: Uh oh.. must be a long question??!!!
Him: Ok… so I’m pondering is it normal to feel like you want to be the Main Tank and not the Off Tank anymore? Is that a normal feeling?
Good question… lets pursue it shall we???
I’ve been tanking for about… (checks the calendar) 4 years. I started playing vanilla wow back in the day. It had probably been out for a little over a year (maybe less than a year?) I loved druids and to be honest I loved feral druids.
I was forced to PUG 5 mans and even way back in the day people always needed tanks. So I tanked and I tanked. Its kind of a glorious position. In 5 mans though once you get over geared for an instance, it kind of starts to wear on you. You find it easy.. or you start doing things like grabbing 4 packs just to see if the healer is awake. Hell you figure the healer is bored and NEEDs the excitement.
However in a raiding situation, tanks take a whole different role. In a raid, you’re the guy with 40k+ health who is sitting between the bad guy with 3million + health just trying to stay alive long enough to see them keel over first. Yes… its glorious. Its very visual. You’re the person standing between the raid and death!!
Understanding the Main Tank
Main Tanks are chosen for a variety of reasons. Lets look at a few shall we?
- The MT is the GM/Raid leader of the guild
- The MT is a friend/sig other/whatever of the GM of the guild
Some people are chosen for skill. Yes… we all like to believe we’re the bees knees when it comes to tanking, but we all have strong and weak points. I’m exceptionally good with dealing with large packs of mobs. I tend to do fights like Ignis where I’m the only tank and I’m picking up the adds and the boss and just saying “SCREW IT! I’ll tank em all!!!”
I’m not as good at single target threat. I don’t suck at single target threat, but I’m always doing four things at once when I’m raid leading. So my rotation isn’t as perfect as it could be. I have a partner tank in my guild who has the opposite. His single target threat is fantastic. His aoe threat? Not so good. But that works well. We compliment each other well in this situation.
Main tanks are chosen for plenty of reasons. Its not always personal. I’ve been a main tank quite a bit in my time. I main tanked in Karazhan. I off tanked in SSC and The Eye. I’ve OT’d in Mt. Hyjal. I’ve MT’d in Zul Aman. I have main tanked Naxxramas and Ulduar and TOC.
At the end of the day, what I have to say about being the main tank? It can get boring. Why you ask? well… to be honest, its very repetitive. Take this boss… stand in this one spot. Do your maximum threat rotation. Move the boss at this point… do this… do that…. Honestly it gets a bit tedious.
Lets look at some of the fights.
Marrowgar: Tank boss, stay next to the OT and move out of flames. Intercept after he stops bone storm.
Lady Deathwhisper: Oddly an interesting fight for all tanks involved. Pick up adds, tank stuff. move a lot.
Gunship: Tank the adds on your ship or go tank Muradin (why the hell we don’t kill him with only 2.4 million health is beyond me.!!!!)
Deathbring Saurfang: Stand in one spot… taunt. DPS a little… Taunt
Festergut: Stand in one spot. Tank… swap tank, DPS a bit… Taunt… Tank… blow cooldowns in proper sequence.
Rotface: Tank boss in middle… Rotate 90 degrees periodically…..
Professor Putricide: Tank boss on left. Tank boss on right… rinse repeat…. Kite boss to avoid killing entire raid.
Understanding the Off Tank
When I first went over to my current home, I had to admit it was a bit of an adjustment for me. I realized that I was coming into a previously set up raid program. It wasn’t my program. I was coming into a program with two tanks already. Tanks that had worked together quite a while actually. So I was walking into a situation where I knew.. I wasn’t familiar with their tanking style. I wasn’t familiar with their kill strategies.
Off tank has a very interesting role. Its a learning opportunity. When you’re the off tank, you typically have a slightly different view on the fight. You may not be staring at ankles the entire time. You also get the opportunity to learn the style of strategy the group uses.
Off tank does not mean unimportant. On plenty of fights, the off tank can be critical to the successful completion of the fight. In the Festergut fight, the OT needs to know when to taunt and has to be able to dish out some serious DPS in the off times. In the Rotface fight, if you don’t kite the adds properly, everyone’s dead… period end of story. In the Lord Jaraxxus fight, if the off tank doesn’t pick up the adds, everyone dies. Rinse repeat.
Yes… some days your job is just as important as… stand next to the main tank so he/she doesn’t get one shot!. Other times its… Taunt the boss so this debuff doesn’t do anything.
I’ve personally found my time as an off tank has been more fun than the times I was the main tank. I typically have to move… A LOT. I get to see more of the battlefield.
Tank Envy… the Guys and Gals that Tank Stuff
Tank envy is completely understandable. As a raid leader, I’m usually looking for who can tank what. If I have a tank that generates obscene amounts of threat right out of the gate on a very DPS sensitive fight? That tank is my tank for the fight.
If I have a fight where its critical that adds get picked up and pulled to a specific location, I”m going to pick the tank for that assignment with the best reflexes. I’ve known tanks that just seem to have a near perfect sense of timing with picking up adds. It almost borders on precognition.
Other tanks are just amazing at feets of AOE tanking. My personal opinion is that if you’re going to put a program together, develop what I call a Tank Corps. The goal is to have a group of people that works together, trains together and swaps in and out of roles. The reason being that the one night your adds tank decides they need to spend time with their wife in the Bahamas, you’re gonna be hurting.
Don’t get hung up on what you get to tank.. just enjoy it and learn.. and be the best damned tank you can be.