The Tao of Tanking

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The Tao of Tanking

Post by Gradius » Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:03 pm

Shortly after the release of Cataclysm, a player named Sceilence wrote a post on the official US forums which he named "The Tao of Tanking". Tao is a Chinese word for "way", or "way", which may lead us to translate its title as "The essence of tanking" or "The philosophy of tanking". Anyway, he wrote some interesting things about his conception of tanking and the game pending today, and more generally his vision of things about the 3 roles of the game: tank, heal and DPS.

Here is what they wrote:

"I tank, therefore I am ... in WoW at least."

- René Descartes
The Tao of Tanking

I’ve been playing since the game came out, and I’ve been playing this character since the days when the Blackwing Lair was the most difficult content. I have never been to in top-tier raiding guild, but I have led guilds making their way through all content, albeit a little later than other guilds. During WotLK, I had the 3 Plate level 80 classes, specialized and equipped to tank. I admit myself to be an idiot in DPS or in healing; for some reason, my brain refuses to function properly for these roles. But so far, I've always been good at tanking on this game.

I recently noted a few things, in-game and on forums where:

1. people ask for advice about tanking because they are just starting out
2. DPS or heals complain about tanks because they are bossy or entitled
3. tanks complain about DPS because they are… DPS.

Some of these questions or remarks have been asked from a mechanical point of view, but the answers rarely touch on the very foundations of tanking, or what I have called the Tao of Tanking. This post is there to compensate for this.

I am not a Theorycrafter. I left these things to more involved and talented people for that. I would recommend Elitist Jerks and Tankspot for guides on the mechanics of the game, or to find answers to very specific questions such as "how to maximize your aggro" or "what is the best build for such a class". Nor am I God's gift to Tanking, and honestly, I would like to speak to the person who thinks they are. From my point of view, tanking is a state of mind, a bit like a political orientation: no one is really right (no bad pun), but everyone can be wrong.

The purpose of this post is to write a kind of philosophy that can be found behind tanking. I hope it’s going to be fun for those who have been tanking for quite some time, because they’ll probably have figured it out by now. However, that could open the eyes to those who are just starting out or to DPS / heals who would like to understand why we, the tanks, act as we do.
"Go slowly. Finish quickly. ”

- Sun Tzu
On the subject of leading...

The role of the tank in a 5-man dungeon, in my opinion, is the most crucial role. What leads me to believe this is that , in general, the community of MMO players rely on the tank to be the pace-setter, the leader. Years of defining the tank as a group leader has made it a sort of universal truth. Can other roles take responsibility for leadership? Of course !
Do they do it? Rarely. Especially in the vast world of PUGs; The expectation, generally, is that the tank will take this responsibility. This isn't the case 100% of the time, but the *vast* majority of times.

To paraphrase the comment of a friend of mine: "When the battle goes smoothly, like a well-oiled machine, it is because the DPS are the engine, the heals are the gas, and the tank is the driver/operator." I understand (and agree with) the argument that without heals there is no victory, and without DPS there is no victory. Tanks do not go to max level and then go straight into the hardest content in the game, without others. That said, I see the complexity of a role based on the responsibilities that role must take on in order for the group to function.

The DPS must only:

- Make the CC requested
- Kick if necessary
- DPS the right target
- Avoid unnecessary damage

The DPS does not take responsibility for other members of the group (except for a few players who may have the ability - these players are rare gems).

The healers:

- Make CC requests
- Avoid unnecessary damage
- Make sure no one dies

The heal takes the responsibility of the other players by taking care of them when they take damage (cleaves, flames, repetitions of aggro, I could cite more examples); to a certain extent, the heal must make up for the shortcomings of certain DPS (or tanks) ...

In comparison, the tank must:

- Assign CC depending on the composition of the group and the type of mobs
- Make sure everyone is ready to pull (full mana, CD up, etc.)
- Pull the packs / bosses, making sure not to break the CC
- Establish and keep the aggro of the mobs
- Kick if necessary
- Place the mobs to avoid cleaves on the group
- Apply the right debuffs
- Recover broken CC so that no one dies
- Pop defensive CDs at the right time
- Effectively lead the group in moments when all hell breaks loose

Based on this premise, a DPS takes its own responsibilities, the heal takes responsibility for keeping everyone alive, and the tank takes responsibility for everything else. And if you don't adhere to all of that, chances are your tank will.

There are posts by Blizzard GMs that support this principle:
Posted by Nethaera

I'm just pointing out that generally speaking, we expect the tank to serve as the leader. It’s intimidating for those who want to play this role, and difficult to get others to take the lead and lead instead of the tank. We (myself included) have evolved comfortably with these expectations and we must tell the community. So either we help people learn how to lead and we distribute the tasks fairly, or we continue to expect too much from others.
This is why the tank starts looking at the log after a wipe, to determine what may have happened, then to be able to explain any concerns and avoid an additional wipe. This is also why the tank asks the question that all heals hate to hear after a wipe: "So uh ... what happened? "; the inevitable answer is "Uh ... your hit points have dropped to 0?" ".

Of course my hit points dropped to 0. But why? Were you busy treating a DPS that was still in flames? There was a debuff to dispell but it was not done? Did you run OOM because you spammed Flash Heal? A solid/seasoned tank knows this fundamental truth: "The definition of instanity is to do the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result." In other words, it means that the tank does not want to repeat this horrible experience again and is looking for a way to avoid it. Careful consideration of mistakes made, is important to a leader, and thus, should be important to every tank.
If the DPS take aggro from me, it is clear that they wanted it more than me, and who am I to refuse them something that they want so much? "

- Ghengis Khan (or someone like that)
About Aggro, CC, and DPS

A priest friend was in a PUG group that was very brutal, it clearly didn't go well.
Here's the gist of the conversation:

Me: "So the tank uses symbols? "
Friend: "Of course not. "
Me: "Ahhh. So there weren't any CCs performed? "
Friend: "Of course not. "
Me: "I see. Did the DPS assist the tank on its target? "
Friend: "Of course not. "
Me: "Sounds like a pretty horrible group."

There's one thing you need to understand, and this goes for the tank, the DPS, the heal, everyone: Trash is no longer the quick stuff between you and loot. This is not Retail and spam AoEing instances isn't really a thing unless you're group is Godlike (unlikely). Yes, at a certain point geared players can play like this, but this shouldn't be the default approach to things.

I think it's important to change your vision of the game. Everyone has to give up on the idea that good DPS is all about posting big numbers on Recount, and come to the idea that good DPS, is a DPS which avoids any unnecessary damage, which does a good job with CC, and can do all of that while still pulling off good numbers. Honestly, it comes down to what you expect from tanks and heals, so why should DPS be considered only on the damage it does?

I regularly group with a mage and a ret paladin. The paladin has been playing since the game's release, and the mage started during WotLK. For about two years I heard them talk over and over about the total damage that Recount was showing. During this extension, they had a hard time beating me on the total damage done. It caused many long discussions, and ultimately frustration for them, which ended up also frustrating me because I don't care about the DPS performed. Rather show me your skillls by avoiding dying of your own stupidity, assisting your group, and doing decent DPS. The DPS that do this are among those rare gems.

The fixation that players make on the Recount is probably the biggest reason why random groups are real fiascos. DPS need to show that they are useful in the group. As we noticed earlier, it is not difficult to prove that a tank or a healer is useful for something. The DPS must prove this by entering the DPS meter. Then we have proof that they are important, we have the numbers!

I tank with the certainty that a lot of DPS can take back the aggro more or less when they want. Don't worry too much about aggro, Blizzard gave you a wonderful tool to counter the madness of DPS: the repair bill. It's OK to let the DPS die, as long as you don't let the healer die.
If the tank dies, it's the healer's fault. If the healer dies, it’s the tank’s fault. If the DPS die, it's their own damn fault. "

- Alexander The Great (or someone like him)
Group Competency

The good healer will have understood that it is important to communicate with the tank. You will need to ask him for a drink break, for example. Again, without heals, the tank won't get very far. Just like being a good tank is a thankless job, being a good healer is even more thankless. Compliments should always be given to a good healer, and patience should always be offered to a new healer, because the fact is there, sometimes healing stinks! If being a tank is a thankless job, being a good healer is even more so!

The competent DPS will have understood that its contribution within the group goes beyond its OMGWTFPWN DPS on Recount. Being a good DPS requires attention and willpower in order to be a good group companion. It's not abnormal to replace a DPS that breaks CC and doesn't pay attention in general.

The competent tank will have understood that the world does not revolve around him/herself, and that the game is intended to be social.

The competent group will accept that there will be deaths. Bad things may happen, it's something you have to mentally prepare for and have the maturity to deal with.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

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