Thursday, April 7, 2011

Solving the Tank Issues / Dev Watercooler

There always seems to be a tanking issue and to a lesser extent a healer issue.  People throw ideas back and forth on what can be done to fix this problem and we can only guess if the Devs are every thinking about the same thing, but I would guess they are.  Maybe hope is a better word.

In a new announcement Blizzard said that they will be offering special goodie bags to tanks that can get them pets and mounts is completely and totally unacceptable.  How many players in the game are mount collectors and pet collectors that can not queue as a tank?  A huge amount I would imagine. 

While the bonus is only cosmetic, it is unfair to those people that do not have the option to queue as a tank.  There are much better ways to fix the problem instead of giving tanks something that others might want but do not have the chance to get in the same fashion because they do not have the option to queue as a tank.

In a recent watercooler post by the seemingly always clueless (and just proved that again) Ghostcrawler about stats on gear they might have touched on the answer for the tanking problem without even noticing it.  You can view that post here.

It is one paragraph I will quote here that has me thinking about what could help fix the tank problem.

We could go even crazier. I mentioned in an earlier blog how Hit and Expertise aren’t very exciting to tanks, and that even if we made threat really hard to maintain, that tanks would probably still just stack survival stats and get frustrated when they lost aggro. Since we don’t vary the Stamina and Armor on tank gear (except in jewelry, socket bonuses, enchants, and gems perhaps), that means the tanking stats are really Dodge, Parry (except for druids), and Mastery. It wouldn’t be that hard to have say Haste convert to dodge chance and Crit convert to parry chance. Now the plate stats are Hit, Expertise, Crit, Haste, and Mastery (aside from the Strength and Stamina, which are always there in predictable proportions). Boom.

As you can see there, they are calling it crazy but you know what, that is a, excuse the language, fucking awesome idea.

Most people say that it is up to us, the players, to fix the tank problem and that is true to an extent.  There are many things the designers of the game could do to help with this problem if they wish to put in the effort to do so.  Something, as mentioned above, could be done that would make gearing up a tank a lot easier and thus make it so more people would be willing to do randoms as tanks.

In my guild we have our main spec tanks.  They ran as tanks from the get go.  They random as tanks.  They roll on tank gear.  They are tanks.  Then there are the other people.  We have at least four people that I can think of off the top of my head that have tank offspecs but they do not tank.  Why exactly is that?

There are a few reasons for it.  One we will call the jerk reason.  My guild mates are not jerks.  We would kick them if they were.  They will not roll on offspec gear in a dungeon unless the person that main speced for that roll does not need it.  This means they geared up their DPS roles first.

When looking for a tank for something they will always say, this is reason two, they do not have enough tank gear yet because they have been working hard at being the best DPS they can be as that is their main role.

When asked why they are not running randoms as tanks they all say my line, this is reason three, that they will only tank for guild.  The reasoning behind this is that they do not have as much experience tanking and with their lack of gear they do not want to take the chances with random groups.

This is all completely understandable and this is just from one small casual guild that four people, possibly more, that could be running as tanks do not because of the currently implementation of the game is designed.

Having their common DPS gear work for tanking as well would mean they are now gearing up for two roles at one time.  This will also mean they will have better gear sooner to tank and would be more likely to try and tank randoms being they now have tanking gear even if it was only DPS gear.

How this can be arranged is doing the stats as they mentioned.  Lose things like dodge, parry, block and when you are a warrior in defensive stance it will convert your stats to tanking stats.  Make it so the protection spec is a DPS spec when in battle or berserker stance but when you are in defensive stance you are a tank.  Without switching any gear at all.

Sure, it would not be ideal.  For DPS you might want more crit and less haste whereas as a tank you might want more haste and less crit, example only of course.

However, the loss would be minimal.  Kind of like me switching between survival and marksman would be minimal.  In survival I need less haste so if I am geared for marksman and switch to survival I would have some wasted itemization in haste but it is not going to be so much that it would make or break my DPS.  It would not be perfect but it will sure as hell not be bad.

So while it is true that we the players are the primary ones that can fix the tanking issues in the random dungeon system there is surely something Blizzard could do to help this situation.

Which brings me to another reason why this stat change would assist in many ways and why there is such a tank shortage to begin with.

There is just not enough call for end game tanks.  Tank positions are limited.  Two for a 10 man and three for a 25.  From my personal experience tanks are usually the most dedicated of players as well.  As soon as you get yourself a tank he is there and he is tanking every single day.  If you have your two or three tanks that is all you will ever need if they are dependable.

Compare that to healers which many groups like mine like to rotate.  We use three in a 10 man when we are learning the content and then only need two later.  Some bosses might actually favor different types of healers as well so rotating the healers is also a good thing.  Many people will have a spot for a healer/dps where they might not for a tank. 

Being the end game can be harder to break into as a new tank there is less desire for people to gear up as a tank from the start and hope and pray to get a spot.  DPS might be a dime a dozen as we always hear but that goes both ways.  DPS are also the ones that are least dependable in a raid group from my experience.  I remember when we where raiding four nights a week.  Two night as 10 and two nights as 25.  We would have the same tanks and the same healers, for the most part, for all four nights.  The DPS would be different every night.

For DPS it is a lot easier to play the fill in role then it is for a tank or even a healer to some extent.  This means that there is a benefit for the casual player to be a DPS.  This means they only gear up as a DPS and do to their casual status they do not have enough time to run enough to get gear for two different specs so they never even consider making a tanking spec.

If the stats where shared and all you need to do was be in your tank spec at the same time you where in your tank stance (defensive, bear, blood, righteous fury) then all those classes could gear up as DPS and still be capable of tanking.

This would also then allow them to take advantage of the faster query time without having to seek a second set of gear.  Perfect for the casual player.  In the same vein we can now say that they will be getting valuable tanking experience from tanking heroics so the next time a position is open for a tank, which are few and far between usually, they would not only already be geared but have the experience to at least apply for the position.

Lets put this in a little personal perspective from my newly minted 85 warrior.  A guild mate that knows I am main spec protection asked me if I wanted to tank a normal to get some gear.  I was left to answer no.  My reasoning was that I wanted to run as a DPS to get some tanking gear because while leveling I only collected four pieces of tank gear and I am not geared for it.

Sure I could go out and craft or buy some gear and be fine but if the stats worked the way Ghostcrawler had suggested I would have been ready to roll the second I hit 85.  Sure, only for normals of course, but at least there would be no delay into moving into tanking which is really all I want to do on my warrior.

My druid, who I really need to get some more practice on is another interesting case.  If the changes where made then I could easily DPS with my bear, in cat of course, and not have to have a special cat spec which means I am now a dual spec Tank/DPS/Healer.  How awesome is that?.  Think of it as all those cats you now see out there would instantly become tanks as well because all they need to do is switch to bear and tada, they are ready to roll.  This would mean a huge influx of tanks into the system.

It would need some talent tree designs changed of course for all specs that are currently considered tank specs.  Everything would need a if in tank stance and if not in tank stance added to their abilities so they can adequately DPS when not tanking but doing that would be countless times easier then any other solution that I can think of.

As I mentioned how this would open doors for Cats now being able to Bear it would also open door for Arms, Fury, Retribution, Frost, and Unholy to now be tank specs with some small changes as well if they are in their appropriate stance.  Just tweak the abilities, make the stance convert stats based on spec and you are ready to roll with 6 more class specs that can now tank and all the previous tank spec can now DPS.

It makes gearing up easier which allows people to play as tanks more often and get more experience at doing so which will mean better tanks as well.

Like I said before, it is on us, the community, to want to tank but it is up to Blizzard to make it attractive to us.  If it were attractive to begin with they would not be a problem with tanks in randoms.  Allowing people to gear up as a tank and a DPS at the same time makes it easier for everyone to play the roll of a tank and the faster queue time make is appealing for all those that never even considered trying it before.

There we go, the tank problem has been solved.

Now we just need to deal with people in dungeons forgetting to put themselves in the right stance. One solution will always bring another problem but hey, I'd rather not have to wait 40 minutes to get into the random and spend that 10 seconds typing, please put on defensive stance, thank you.


  1. I would much rather prefer the companions and mounts for tanks :)

  2. I wrote this before I read that.

    I hate the companions and mounts for tanks and just make a post with a few reasons why I think it is bad.

    I could have rambled on longer but I am busy a bit at work and was already losing my train of thought to begin with.

  3. I just think it would require too much balancing. Ferals used to be able to switch between tanking and dps more easily, but Blizzard didn't like that. Likewise DKs used to be able to tank in all three specs and the devs decided that it was just a balancing nightmare, trying to keep every talent tree viable for every role. I honestly don't remember all the reasons, but the point I'm trying to make is that at least part of this has already been tried and discarded again.

  4. I actually liked the DK version but it was not perfect. It was also not as bad as some would lead you to believe.

    It could be done but it would require a lot of work and from what we have seen from blizzard lately, reused dungeons, reused areas, reused armor and weapon skins, reused everything, it is obvious that they do not really want to put any more work into the game.

    With that in mind, an overhaul like that, while nice in theory, could never be done.

    I would love it honestly but I won't hold my breath.