Tank Validation and Accountability

Tanks make mistakes too.

Tanks make mistakes too.

I’ve decided to continue this series on my observations about how different roles are treated. I’ve already hit the big one to me, and that is healing. Next, I plan to point out some of the faults blamed on tanks, including a story from a fellow tank and friend of mine.

Like healing, tanking is often a required role in a group. Not always, at least 98% of the time in 5 mans, but 100% in raids. The short and sweet is that if you do not have a meat shield on the front lines, you are going to become that meat shield. That mound of flesh wrapped in plate (or furry leather) armor is there to get punched in the face repeatedly so you don’t have to. Because of this, they too should be treated with a certain level of respect. In addition to their normal duties, Tanks also often are placed in a position of leadership, whether they like it or not.

For nearly 6 months, I would tank on my Paladin. It was a nice change of pace, but also changed my view of how a tank’s job works. I remember when I first started the dungeon crawl, that the tank was allowed a certain amount of time at the beginning of a pull to gain aggro. This was before threat became such an easy thing to come by. Back when Warriors had to get a certain number of Sunder Armors off before the raid or group even thought about casting anything. Now-a-days, from what I’ve noticed, that is no longer the case. It is now a race to the end of the dungeon, and a test to see who can kill the mob faster. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, as quick runs mean quick rewards, but it can cause problems as well.

A friend of mine was on his Rogue, running through a dungeon recently. It was him, a Hunter, a Holy Priest, a Prot Paladin, and I think a mage. The culprit of this story is the Hunter, and in my eyes, only the Hunter.

What occurred, was that the paladin apparently preferred to face pull and concecrate most of the mobs, a legitimate strategy, though not very efficient considering the tools (Avenger’s Shield) available. Anyway, as the Paladin would pull the mobs to him, he would get off a Shield of Righteousness, but mere moments later an arrow would be flying towards one of the mobs, suddenly pulling them in a string towards the Hunter. Then the Hunter would either Feign Death, or the mobs would get pulled towards the priest, simply because he was healing. My friend decided to keep his mouth shut for now, as they hadn’t wiped yet, so there was no need to interfere… yet. As the dungeon went on, the Hunter continued his practice of premature detonation and eventually began berating the Tank.

“Come on tank, keep the aggro,” the Hunter would say. This would then be followed by the Priest repeating the Hunters sentiments.

It was here where my friend spoke up. You see, he has been paying attention this whole time to what was happening (hello DPS Situational Awareness, nice to meet you, don’t see you around much, if at all) and had noticed the Hunter’s target and how it did not match the target that the tank was focusing on. He also noticed how the Hunter would attack pretty much as the Paladin would reach the mobs, only facepulling them, and not yet getting a tick of Consecration out.

So he spoke up, “If you’d give him about half a second, he would have aggro, and we wouldn’t have to worry about this” (or something like that).

Eventually he and the Priest had begun whispering each other, as the Priest didn’t totally believe him. This was until the Hunter decided.. F-this, I’m gone, and would drop group. Suddenly, when the new DPS came in, this problem did not occur anymore.

Does this sound familiar to you? Especially you tanks out there? You see, tanks aren’t just meat shields, they are meat shields with a heart. Yes that sounds cheezy, but it’s true, there are people behind those pixels on your screen, and they too have feelings.

There are several cases where a tank will be wrongly blamed for the loss of aggro. It is 9 times out of 10 from a DPS, and of those DPS, it is most often one who decided to not lose any of their momentum by dropping threat somehow. Nearly all DPS have threat reducing, or even threat dropping abilities that allow them to reduce their threat generation and keeping them from pulling mobs/bosses off of the tank. The same goes for most healers. This is notwithstanding a Paladin’s ability to lower another party member’s threat with Hand of Sanctuary.

If a DPS does not use those abilities, so that they can get a few more points on the DPS meter, then it is their fault if they pull a mob, not the tank’s. It’s as simple as that. The Tank will obviously have to make some modifications and get threat back from that mob, but it is still an issue of the DPS and Healers managing their own threat for the good of the group/raid. I do agree, there are some cases where AoE threat is weak, especially for Warriors; however, this should also be realized by the DPS and Healers, and they should adjust accordingly.

Group synergy always provides quicker, cleaner, more “profitable” runs, than an all out DPS race.

Validation
Tanks are people too. There have been several cases, where I have been assigned to heal a tank, and the tank made it easy on me by using their abilities accordingly. I have rained praises on them very often, as more often than not some actions taken by a tank can save a raid from a wipe. All tanks have some abilities that can prevent certain death, and when used correctly, can save you and them. I don’t mean to go out and bow before every tank you see, but rather raise up their spirits when a tough fight is over, and everyone’s alive. Give them a pat on the back, when another DPS (or even you) pull a mob off and they quickly take control and pull it back to them. It may be their job, but it is an important one.

Accountability
Well, to reflect the above statement, Tanks are people too. They make mistakes. I myself have mistakenly taunted a mob that was not in the group we just pulled, having it bring his friends with him. These situations make things a bit harder on everyone else, not just the tank themselves. Healers have to heal a bit harder, and DPS has to watch their threat even closer since there are new targets who haven’t been tagged yet. When this happens, be prepared to take responsibility, because you are likely at fault, and there really aren’t any excuses.

So, give your friendly neighborhood tank a hug, or smack him with a frying pan, dependant on what he did. A little validation can go a long way, and often make for a more comfortable run. However, don’t be afraid of a little criticism, nobody’s perfect, and WoW will ensure that you know that.

Next up in this series., I’ll be talking about DPS Validation and Accountability, a bit more complex subject. See you then.

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