Tank it or spank it?

Lately, I’ve been playing around with tank classes even though my main role is usually ranged DPS. I love playing the long-distance nuker. Big numbers and high scores on the DPS meter excite me, what can I say? It calls out to my competitive, “be the best you can be,” side. But, there’s another part of me that wants to do something important. And that’s where tanking comes in.

Don’t get me wrong, you need good DPS’ers for any fight. But, like any player in a raid-heavy game will tell you, they’re a dime a dozen. Everyone wants to play DPS because, frankly, it’s easier. You have less to worry about, less to maintain, and less riding on your shoulders. DPS is the game within the raid and tanking is the task.

So, as an aside to my DPSing, I always pick up a tank class as an alt. In The Burning Crusade, it was a warrior. Except, back then, I sucked. I didn’t know nearly as much about the game as I do now and didn’t have the gear to support it. Consequently, I wiped. A lot. Tanking was stressful and, more often than not, I was running around trying to catch the mobs I’d dropped. Now, then again, these were the days when warriors had very few AoE abilities, and even those were limited. Still, the fact remains, it was nothing short of ‘teh suck’.

Within the last few days, though, I decided to pick up a Death Knight to compliment my mage in WoW. Tanking is not only surprisingly easy, but it’s also surprisingly fun! I’ve been using the Dungeon Finder tool (which pops quick, even for Outland instances) at every opportunity and really enjoying it.

So, I ask myself why. What is it about being a tank that changes the game so much?

First, it’s surprisingly refreshing to not have to worry about my place on the damage charts. I mark the mob to kill, pop an AoE to make sure none get away, and go. From there, it’s a matter of controlling the fight. Where should the mob face? Is he in the right position? What skill should I use to keep this up?

There’s no gogogo! like there is with DPSing. I’m not watching the meters. It’s all about maintaining, and I like that. Tanking, believe it or not, is actually kind of relaxing (watching raid threat is another story 17 levels down the line).

Then there’s the other side of it: the control. As a tank, the run is in your hands. Like I mentioned above, that puts the responsibility on your shoulders. But, as long as you can use the tools at your disposal, that’s actually not so bad. You decide the pace of the run, you decide what approach to take, you decide… well, just about everything. As a tank, you’re in charge of where things are going. As someone who’s done way too many bad PuGs, I like being able to keep things smooth when I’m running with people I don’t know. In essence, it turns this shifting, unpredictable ball that is the PuG into something you can hold.

Now, a lot of my enthusiasm comes from the fact that I’m a tanking noob and playing the easiest one in the game. But, you know what? I don’t care. I’m having fun with it. I’m learning as I level and, thanks to group experience, I’m going faster than I ever have before. As a warrior, the easy money was to go DPS 1-70 and tank at the end. I’ve been there and done that, it’s a hard road to learn a totally new playstyle at the end when the pressure’s on. I like this. It’s laid back, rewarding, and, honestly, it’s nice to be a leader after so long on the sidelines.

The question now becomes, do I tank today, or DPS? Right now, I’m playing it by ear and I feel good having that option. They’re so different, the playing one recharges my batteries for the other. And I have enough to do with both to keep me occupied for a good, long while. How much more can you ask for? 🙂

If you’ve never played a tank, give it a shot. You’ll have growing pains, most people do. But, who knows, you might just love it.

Post Note: Though I’m talking WoW here, the same playstyle goes in most of my MMOs. In LotRO, my main is a Guardian and my alt is a Loremaster. In EQ2, I rolled a Shadow Knight main and a Warlock on the side. So far, these feelings transcend title. It’s a role thing.

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  1. Checking in with my blog roll « Epic Slant – MMO Design and Guild Leadership

    […] The guy’s worth ethic is just far superior to my own! He is looking at the difference between being a tank and being a DPS class. It is a good read and touches a bit on the dynamic that being a DPS player vs being a tank or […]

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