The Daily Grind: Are you sick of being a tankmage in MMOs?

    
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The Daily Grind: Are you sick of being a tankmage in MMOs?

One of the very first gaming terms I ever learned in an online game was bestowed upon me as a teenager in Ultima Online, and that term was tankmage. It was simultaneously a dirty word and a mark of pride: Tankmages, in those early days, were characters running around in full platemail and weapons but also had their magery maxed out, meaning they could kick the crap out of you more ways than one. You hated them and wanted the devs to fix the imbalance, but also you had to become one to survive and thrive.

Eventually, of course, EA did fix the problem in Ultima Online. Hundreds of times through the years, in fact, as successive teams of devs tried to find some balance among magic spells and armor and weaponry. EverQuest, with its class-based system, tried penalizing hybrid classes. Later MMORPGs have done away with penalties but kept the classes (or skillsets that act as classes). This can be done. Dozens of MMOs have found a way that works, more or less.

But the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality does still exist in many MMOs. Case in point: A recent thread on the MMORPG sub lamented the fact that Elder Scrolls Online kinda pushes everyone to be a mage in one way or another, even if they’re trying to be a pure warrior type.

Is this a problem in your MMO of choice? Are you sick of being a tankmage in MMOs? What MMOs are offering “pure” classes?

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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Schmidt.Capela

I frankly dislike pure characters; if I can’t switch between multiple roles more or less at will (and preferably without having to waste time or resources, or else pay a so-called “hybrid tax”) then there’s a good chance I will quickly get bored with the character and abandon it. If this happens with every character I play in a game, then I will leave the game as a whole.

It’s why I love the idea of horizontal progression, where your character doesn’t become more powerful, but instead more flexible; where your reward isn’t in becoming more effective, but rather in allowing you to spice up your gameplay by tackling old and new content in different, but equally effective, ways.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I don’t know, I kind of enjoyed being ‘godly’ on a few characters on ESO for a bit (The warden with all it’s ice moves was fun, especially the blizzard that slowed everything, but then I tried the sorceror tank….and that was even more fun…even the dragon knight…once I realized it needed a stave was kind of interesting, but I started fiddling with his skills and eventually realized it needed to be light armor/full magicka to be ‘best’, so I revamped it and it was no longer a ‘tank’.).

I did enjoy my paladin on WoW way back when, and WANTED to like my DK (Didn’t really though)…she ended up being my tailor too, so I had a DK with a flying carpet. lol

I don’t usually try mage tank idea much, had only really heard of it a few times, in other games, but hadn’t ever really tried to create one till recently. People talked about making one called a ‘chloromancer’ on Rift, but I never got around to trying that out as I ran out of character slots on the server.

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SmiteDoctor

I suppose WoW is full of Tank Mages, Death Knight, Demon Hunter, Druid, Paladin all use forms of magic.

In Elder Scrolls Online every class uses magic of some sort.

So know I’m more than happy playing a Tank Mage, please give me the whole Half Gallon of Tank Mage Ice Cream and I’ll eat the whole damn thing in one sitting.

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Bruno Brito

In Elder Scrolls Online every class uses magic of some sort.

Now you understand it.

Carlo Lacsina
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Carlo Lacsina

I had no idea there was such a thing as a tankmage. I want to be a tankmage, why aren’t there more tankmages!? Is that a Paladin?

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Rheem Octuris

I think it’s more of a Shadowknight / Deathknight

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Bruno Brito

It’s just basically tanks that use magic. So, Paladins, Shadowknights/DKs, Demon Hunters, etc etc.

Remianen
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Remianen

I don’t know. The term Bree is referring to is a lot more than just a tank that uses magic. In UO way back when, a real tankmage could KILL YOU with either pure magic or pure melee, whatever they felt like using. They could be pure melee or pure caster and be just as effective at either. What made it imbalanced was the fact that there was no downside to it. It was the ideal for a good while. You specifically built your character to be a tankmage in order to compete with the other tankmages. Heck, when EQ tried to “do the right thing” and do away with the hybrid penalty (Luclin), they introduced an “overpowered” mechanic for one hybrid at the same time (Slay Undead for Paladins).

The term means less now than it did then (as with most terms). But remembering those days, I don’t think we have anything even close to what it was in UO.

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Malcolm Swoboda

I tend to like the idea that mages could wear robes and all that, but can ‘pop up’ particularly powerful shields (beyond anything anyone can have with gear) right in the nick of time. Seems to frightening to design for, but plenty of single player games have such mechanics. Mages should be the absolute besties – just very vulnerable while figuring out their powers, often messing up while referring to their literal or mental spellbook. But if one ‘masters’ their ‘tankiness’, they should be perfectly capable, albeit with perhaps too many vulnerable moments for some players’ liking (whoops I missed that ice element shield, so that ice sword attack against me took out half my health).

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Dug From The Earth

were characters running around in full platemail and weapons but also had their magery maxed out

Actually for me, the first time I heard “tankmage” was in Asherons Call (1998). And in this game, they didnt wear plate. Why? Because of armor buff spells. Full plate consisted of head, gloves, arms, torso, legs and feet. You had to buff each piece, which made it a pain to maintain the short buffs. Players would buff all their armor with multiple spells, run into a dungeon and farm a bunch of mobs, and run back out to rebuff 5-10 minutes later.

So instead, people would wear a full body robe that covered most of the body parts enabling far less spell casting to keep the armor buffs up.

It truly looked like robe wearing mages running around getting pounded in the face from giant gorilla creatures and upright walking alien beetles.

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Utakata

Magical girls in plate. Why not? <3

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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Java Jawa

different games, different problems

The concept is fine, a sword and sorcery character has a nice theme around it.

However in games such as ESO, it’s largely bastardized withanor imbalance. You’ll see that there’s a reason why everyone, or the majority are magic users. There’s a running joke: Elder Staves Online.

While othee games, such as swtor fulfill this class fantasy very well. We have force wielding tanks!

In an open world game, well there should always be trade offs, but it seems this is more of a single player element outside of a small handful of mmorpgs, that I’m aware of.

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Loopy

I like how Archage does it (or at least used to – not sure if this has changed). Wearing specific type of armour gives you specific bonuses. So light armour will add to your magic damage, while heavy will add to your melee damage. That way you can still play a “tankmage”, however you will be performing suboptimally compared to others who choose to match their armour with their class powers. ESO does something similar as well, with various passives tied to armour types.

I like that. You still have the freedom to do it, if you choose to side with immersion, while penalizing you enough not to become OP.

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Bruno Brito

Archeage has one of the best class systems to date. Too bad the rest of the game and it’s company is garbo.