The Daily Grind: What advice would you give tanks in your MMO?

    
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Get better at this.

I’ve danced through many roles in MMOs, but the one that remains largely explored for me is that of the tank. Oh, the idea of being wrapped up in a comforting layer of hit points and armor is undeniably attractive — especially after having played many squishies — but I have never taken a shine to being the vanguard in dungeons.

It seems, at least to me, that MMOs have the hardest time convincing players to take up the mantle of tanks, considering how in-demand and scarce they tend to be. Maybe it’s the fear of letting your entire team down by not being able to protect them, or perhaps it’s the stress of needing to know dungeon layouts and boss fights perfectly to avoid scorn.

You all are smart (allegedly)! So whether or not you’ve played a tank in your MMO, what advice would you give to a player starting out in this role? What takes an average tank and makes him or her an exceptional one?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

AiunTanks Sorenthaz What’s really bad is when people backpedal which is the absolute worst way to retreat from an enemy you aggroed.

AiunTanks
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AiunTanks

Sorenthaz This is always so much worse when it’s a DPSer/healer who doesn’t have any mobility/snare abilities that mean there is any possible point to running away other than instinctive terror, because the mob keeps pace with them and chomps them just as much wile running as they would, stationary.

AiunTanks
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AiunTanks

Being a tank is awesome and fun.  You get to choose the pacing, and you get a special experience of the (often) unspoken communication with your healer, about how much they can handle vs how much you can handle.  

You do an extra meta-level of communication and gameplay, figuring out how much you can pull and which risks you can take to sacrifice defense for offense and still staying up, monitoring their mana/other resources… if you can see that the healer’s too challenged and not keeping up, you can dial it back and play more conservatively and know that they’re relieved.  If their mana bar is hardly moving at all, you can take more risks, pull more mobs, and really get them paying more attention… and they’ll probably be grateful for the engagement as well as the faster run.

And it usually is a lot more engaging and challenging than many ‘watch TV while you do it’ DPS rotations.  

Added, pettier, bonuses include not being held hostage to the LFG queue.  You’re in demand, so your pops are near-instant.  If someone in the party wants to be a dick, as the tank you are immune to their bullshit.  You can kick them and move on without caring because DPS are utterly replaceable, and tanks usually in shorter supply than healers, too.  If someone acts like an asshole and pulls too much, there’s a better than zero chance that you’ll be one of the few to actually survive, and if you do go down, you can usually assume that everyone else will, too.  

And a lot of content is geared towards a low to average tank skill.  If you’re actually really good at what you do, you can get away with so much more, if not outright solo everything.  (Blood DKs represent!)

If you like self-sufficiency, setting your own pace, the gratitude of minions, and freedom from being too badly impacted by ass-hats, Tanking Is For You!

quinnthalas
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quinnthalas

Understand that you being good can make up for other players shortcomings, but they can not make up for yours if you are bad.

To get further into details.

Ownership, as a tank you own the group more than any other class, you direct the flow of the run and set up the opportunity for the rest of the group to succeed, your failure will likely end up in a wipe, so if you mess up, own it, say sorry, if  you are not sure what went wrong ask and above all be humble about it.

However on the flip side dont let other people drag you down, if you enjoy it, take the time to develop your skills.

tcpolecat
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tcpolecat

In my experience, it’s more like the MMO creators actively try to dissuade people from being tanks. Some of us (yes, I used to tank) like being that juggernaut at the front of the party who can shrug off blows and have a cooldown for every situation. But devs keep making tanking duties steadily more and more complicated, to the point I’ve seen a few people compare trying to tank to playing a complex piano piece on your keyboard. They keep pushing the skill ceiling up and up, and tanks don’t do comparable damage, so when not grouped it feels like they are only hindering their own progress…  eventually it just pushes people who play tanks (like myself) out of the class and off to find a DPS class they can just relax and play. And that’s before I even touch on the group dynamics and morons with their little DPS charts and whatnot, all of whom are quick to berate the tank for any little snag or unexpected problem. And all that’s BEFORE you hit the raid scene, which only multiplies those aforementioned problems by ten. 

Honestly, the only suggestion I can give a tank these days is, if they really REALLY want to tank, learn every other class as best you can, especially healers. Know their limits, and pay attention to them in dungeons/raids. They are your lifeline, and when they’re low on mana/whatever, stop and give them a chance to recover. DO NOT let the idiot DPS who keep pushing you to go “faster” or run off to grab mobs and drag them back to you dictate the speed of the run. Sometimes you gotta let the DPS die for the greater good, and sometimes you just want some mouthy little sob to bite it. Doesn’t matter why, don’t let them dictate to you the pace. That said tho, don’t let the power go to your head, or you’ll be just as bad as them. But mostly… remember the devs hate you.

Loyheta
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Loyheta

Use your cooldowns. Let your healer get their resource before pulling again.

JaredBuck
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JaredBuck

I am hard of hearing and have trouble using voice chat in MMOs, so I am thankful for having a guild/kinship willing to type out raid/instance mechanics for me to write down in Evernote to keep track of.

Anyway, for a tank, don’t be afraid to ask questions from members of your group or guild about how to tank a specific instance.  Tank classes almost always have abilities designed to pick up as much threat as possible from the mob you’re supposed to tank – keeping yourself at the top of the list in the mob’s threat list will help ensure the mob only attacks the tank.   Of course, this isn’t applicable for some raids or instances.  Some mob bosses can dynamically lose threat and if that happens, they may wallop on the weaker members of your group.  So, rule #1 – MAKE SURE you as the tank keep the threat on you as high as possible. 

Secondly, in most instances, you will want to face the mob boss AWAY from the rest of the raid/group.  This is because some bosses will have area-of-effect attacks that can target everyone in a cone or spread.  You want to be sure the tank is the only one absorbing this attack. Some encounters I’ve seen have mechanics that require you to work in concert with one or more additional tanks to move in and out of attacking the boss because of massive stacks of debuffs.  In an encounter like this, make sure you know when it’s your turn to switch in. 

Thirdly, MAKE SURE you are in range of your primary debuffer and healer!  Your raid or group won’t survive unless you’re able to be healed on a consistent basis. Learn the maximum range you can be apart from both of these classes for a specific encounter so you can still be debuffed and/or healed while ensuring the DPS classes in your group can keep the trash mobs away from the healer. 

As the tank, YOU are the one expected to deal the most damage to the boss or bosses in the raid. so make sure also you are geared to deal the most damage your class can do.

That’s about the basics I can think of.

Styopa
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Styopa

Level a healer to cap.
I became a much better tank generally when I understood the nuances of the various classes that were supposed to keep me alive.

Hravik
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Hravik

Back when I played EQ I was playing a warrior.  My girlfriend at the time was an enchanter.  I had a vested interest at being good at my class.
So…get a s/o that’s a high threat generator?

MrEllis
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MrEllis

Rule with an iron fist.