Friday, December 4, 2009

Glass Ceiling For Tanks

Gravity over at pwnwear did a series of posts explaining the game design issue of the number tanks required at each level of PVE content, 5 mans, 10 mans and 25 mans. He even tried to apply some supply and demand dynamics to the issue.

The posts were so well done they prompted a response from Veneretio of Tanking Tips. Vene’s post underscored that the ratios were not the issue, but the design of fights was. He went on to give some examples of what he felt like were well designed fights and poorly designed fights. What was interesting to me was that every example he gave of a fight where he felt Blizzard got it right was a Burning Crusade fight.

Both come to the conclusion that Tanks really just want to Tank. Sure, we can put on DPS gear and switch to a DPS spec for fights that only need one tank, and contribute to the raid, but we aren’t playing our toon in the way we really want to.

They both also realize that the core issue is one of encounter design. If Encounters were more consistent in their need for Tanks, they would be more Tanking positions for Tanks to fill. It does not appear their design philosophy has apparently not changed in Ice Crown. Let’s look at 5 of the fights that were tested on the PTR. I’m using the Tankspot write ups to determine the number of Tanks each fight needs.

Lord Marrowgar – 3 Tanks
Gunship – 2 Tanks
Deathbringer Saurfang – 2 to 3 Tanks
Lady Deathwhisper –3, one for each Adherent
Festergut – 1 Tank, strict enrage timer
Rotface – 2 Tanks

These are for the 25 man versions of the fight. I’m assuming the 3 Tank fights will become 2 Tank fights in the 10 man. But what you can see here is the vacillations between 1, 2 and 3 tanks.

What ends up happening is you create a glass ceiling for Tanks.

A new Tank attacks his uphill climb, and survives a couple of PuGs to start gearing up. He continues to work and work but the deeper he gets into the endgame, the less opportunities he finds to Tank. The closer you get to guilds running current content, the less you see openings for Tanks. The few Tank spots in those guilds are held down by established Tanks who may have been in those guilds for months and sometimes years. And even when those guids have one of their tanks stop playing or stop tanking there are usually several tank capable DPS ready to take the spot.

This new Tank is basically all dressed up with no where to go. So our new tank becomes discouraged and goes to either DPS or PVP. Then suddenly the PuGs are decrying the lack of Tanks available for runs.

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