Like most specs and roles tanking has a varied degree of difficulty. Depending on what you are tanking in what form of content and who you are with tanking can be either super easy and boring or exciting or stressful and annoying.
A newer DK tank in my guild was saying on vent yesterday how he still refuses to tank Zuls because they are too hard. To which one of the other guild members pointed out, he has already tanked 4 bosses in firelands for an alt run last week and if he can tank firelands he can surely tank Zuls.
I then chimed in to support the comment made by the new DK and explained that I have tanked 100s of raid bosses over the years and still do not tank randoms. Randoms are a horse of a different color. You can not compare raids to heroics. Raid tanking is much easier.
He wondered how "lower" content could be harder then "higher" content. I explained it as simple as I could.
In a heroic, random heroic that is, you never know what you will get. You could end up with DPS that could not fight their way out of a paper bag. You could end up with DPS that feel like they have to flex their epeen so they do not care about kill order, aggro, or CC.
You could get a healer that is a not ready for prime time player. Or a combo of DPS that don't move and a healer that does not have the mana to compensate. Or maybe a healer that just straight out can not heal the damage coming in on the tank or ooms almost instantly from bad spell choice. Random heroics are indeed random. There is also no control over what happens or who you get.
In a raid you will have a designated kill order, people will follow it, they will not try to flex their epeen as much as they will try to do the best they can do to make everything go smoother. There is also a much larger sense of accountability in a raid setting, one that is absent in randoms where people can act like jerks without worrying about their reputation.
The DPS is usually hand picked so you will not run into people doing 5K. The healers are hand picked so you will not run into healers that run out of mana 20 seconds into a fight. You will have a better array of buffs, you will have a set attack plan, you will usually have a designated leader and you have an offtank for trash.
That is a huge thing when compared to a heroic, where trash is usually 100 times harder then the bosses and DPS always seem to aim for the mob you have the least aggro on. For some strange reason it seems like in randoms if a DPS gets aggro they like to run to the healer, perhaps to get heals, who knows what goes through the minds of idiots, and not run to the tank. This will usually mean the DPS dies and the mob then locks on to the healer killing the healer and thus the wipe is now well on its way.
Raid tanking can be downright boring. That is something you can rarely say about heroic tanking. Heroic tanking is almost always exciting and not always in a good way.
Once I explained what he meant by saying that he was still afraid to tank Zuls the other person understood completely and said, I guess I don't blame you then.
I've said it before and I will say it again. No matter how easy the content is, it is only as easy as the people around you will let it be. In group play you could be the best player in the world but when surrounded by horrible players then you too are horrible.
I've heard people say that tanking is the hardest role in the game. I've heard people say that tanking is the easiest role in the game. What it really comes down to is where you tank, and who with.
I consider tanking to be the easiest role in the game and not by a slim margin, it is the easiest role in the game by leaps and bounds over anything else you can do. The reason I say that is because I do not tank randoms. I tank raids.
Tanking difficulty is directly connected to those around you. Keep decent people around you are you might just fall asleep tanking. I've had a tank tell me that not so long ago after I dragged him into BWD for the first time some months back. He had never done Chim, so I explained it and said, don't worry, it is super easy. When the fight was over he said, you where not kidding, I almost fell asleep there. I said, welcome to the world of raid tanking.
Being tanking difficulty is directly connected to those around you it makes random tanking most likely the hardest part of the game. Normally easy content is always complicated when you add random people into the mix.
What it boils down to it mindset. Whereas healing and damage dealing both need a mindset and a skill level, tanking is more about the appropriate mindset then it is about skill.
I've seen some horrible tanks that have the right mindset for it do well. They do amazing things with seemingly little or no skill. It is because they have the mindset to deal with chaos.
Good random tanks and PvPers are the same. They excel in chaos. It is their mindset that sets them above the others doing the job. Sure, skill does play a factor but without the right mindset your skill means nothing.
Healers and damage dealers look at everything in a rational, organized, logical way. The adaptive mindset to chaos is needed less often for those roles and even when chaos comes healers and damage dealers can deal with the chaos in a logical way.
In a raid things are usually pulled in a planned way. Thus rational, organized and logical.
If I, or that DK, ever want to tank in randoms on a regular basis we need to change the way we play the game. Not the skills we have for the roles we play, those are fine. We are going to need to change the way we think. We are going to need to develop the mindset of chaos. Organized chaos if you will.
How do you train the minds of the players that look at everything as black and white. As right and wrong. As rational, organized and logical to have the mindset of dealing with chaos?
How do you get 'em tanking?
Or more importantly, get them into the tanking mindset of organized chaos so they can be random ready.