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So, since my brain-switch is most of the way to off, and my internal monologue sounds a lot like this right now – IwanttosleepIwanttosleepIwanttosleepIwanttosleep – I have resorted to looking back at a list I wrote a month or so ago when we first started the blog of possible topics. I apologize in advance if this lacks coherency in any way – in case you missed it the first time, all I really want right now is sleep, so my brain is not necessarily being cooperative.

The topic, as written on that list, is “what do tanks expect from their party?” An interesting question, with a bit of a layered answer.

On the surface:

I want the DPS to…

  1. Understand your class and your abilities, and recognize that just because a button doesn’t do massive damage doesn’t mean it’s never to be pushed. CC, dispelling, shielding, silencing, interrupting, and even high-threat abilities all have a place – if not in your rotation, at least in your larger scale gameplay.
  2. Follow the kill order. If there is no kill order, follow my target.
  3. Let me pull unless I specifically ask you otherwise. Misdirect doesn’t make up for me not being able to position the mobs appropriately.
  4. The kill order. Follow it.
  5. Stand behind the mobs/boss unless specifically told to do otherwise. I don’t love you enough to eat parries because you can’t tell the front-end of Anub’arak from his ass.
  6. Kill orders are for following.
  7. Understand that you’re responsible for your own AoE unless I’ve specifically told you to do it. If I’ve taken the time to establish a kill order and haven’t said “AoE them down”, and you want to Blizzard…go nuts. But understand that if you pull, it’s your own damn fault. The next words out of your mouth had better be “sorry! Didn’t mean to pull!” and not “wtf lrn 2 tnk”.
  8. And last, but certainly not least, follow the fucking kill order.

I want the Healer to…

  1. Keep me alive, please and thank you – though one likes to assume this goes without saying.
  2. This is not necessarily fair to expect of the heals, but on some level our shared responsibility for group survival leads me to look to healers for support and back-up in the case of a party/raid member not behaving appropriately (say…not following a kill order, pulling aggro, and taking a shit-tonne of damage before the situation can be corrected). I like to think this causes as many problems for the healer as for me, so I tend to look to the healer for back-up here.
  3. If, for some reason, you’re having a hard time – content’s too hard, your gear’s too low, you’re new to the spec/class, you’re too used to healing for over-geared, under-smart tanks, you’re stoned out of your mind and completely unable to differentiate between the warlock and the warrior (I know, we’ve both got “war” in our class names, but come on) – please don’t blame your ilevel 232-245, DEF capped, 40K HP tank for your fail, by intimating they don’t have enough HP/DEF/gearscore. If you’re going to assign blame away from yourself, at least have a realistic excuse. No point insulting my intelligence along with my gear.

All of this, of course, begs the obvious question – what do the DPS/Healers expect from a tank? I’m neither DPS nor heals (on any kind of committed basis, anyway), but I can hazard a guess (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong):

The (intelligent, good) DPS want me to…

  1. Be able to maintain enough threat that they can DPS to the utmost of their abilities, without having to destroy their Recount numbers to keep from pulling off of me.
  2. Try to stand as still as possible, without sacrificing threat, so the melee DPS don’t have to keep chasing the mobs down, and the ranged don’t have to keep repositioning any AoE.
  3. Establish a kill order, or at least a bare bones one. They understand the relation between my threat and their DPS, and they understand a kill order helps me as much as them.
  4. No, seriously, make sure I enough threat.
  5. Pull only what I’m (and the healer’s) capable of surviving – if I die, so do they, and no one appreciates a repair bill.
  6. Wait between pulls if required so mana-based DPS can get back that which is required for DPS to happen.
  7. Threat, threat, threat, threat, threat, threat, THREAT!

The (retarded, drooling) DPS want me to…

  1. Hahahahahaha! You’re funny! The retarded DPS don’t know what a tank is or what it’s for. They just think I’m the fourth, super-shitty DPS.

The healer wants me to…

  1. Be appropriately geared for the content I’m tanking. This doesn’t mean I need to have T9 to tank heroics, but I need to make sure I’m wearing what’s necessary to keep a given instance from tearing me to tiny little pieces while the healer sobs over the tragic waste of a life – because that’s all they’re going to have time for.
  2. Be able to generate sufficient threat for my character/gear level. It’s not that I’m going to lose aggro to the healer (you’d almost have to be doing negative threat), it’s that I’m going to lose it to the DPS. And then the DPS are going to start dying. And then the Healer’s job is going to be exponentially harder than it has to be.
  3. Understand that healers are like whales – I need to save them. There should be a t-shirt. If the healer’s picked up aggro from somewhere and a monster is happily munching away on them, get thee to the back line and taunt that shit. I fail as a tank if I let monsters munch on my healer. Fail. May as well hang up my shield and my +DEF sword and ride on into the sunset. My welcome in Tank Town has finally worn out.
  4. If I’m dying like a bitch, perhaps it would be wise to turn the Lens of Shame on myself before immediately assuming it’s my healer’s fault. Is my gear good enough? Was I standing in fire? Did I let monsters stab me repeatedly in the backside? These things are my fault, not my healer’s. Until I correct my own problems, I have no business blaming someone else for them or even their own.

What everyone wants from everyone else…

So, there’s a common thread here, running through the wants and needs of every group itemized above – kill orders.

No! Wait!

Well, yes. Kill orders help everyone. But that’s not the thread I’m referring to.

Tanks play the game to tank. They want to generate threat, have the monsters focus exclusively on them, and have the defences to survive the attention. If they’re not doing it (if the DPS are pulling aggro, if the healers aren’t paying enough attention, if anyone is pushing them faster and harder than they’re comfortable going) then they’re not having fun.

DPS play the game to do damage. They want to light into a monster’s backside and watch Recount tick upward. They don’t want to have to focus on Omen. They don’t want to have to spam vanish or soul shatter. They don’t want to die and not be able to do anything for the remainder of the fight because either the tank or the healer wasn’t doing their job. If they’re not doing damage, they’re not having fun.

Healers play the game to heal people. They like playing Healbot whack-a-mole. They like strategizing and planning out which heals for which people in order to ensure the most efficient, effective last-minute-save. If the rest of the party is sucking – tanks that aren’t geared right, DPS that don’t care where they’re standing, or what they’re standing in, a chaotic melee where even the mobs can’t seem to figure out who’s the tank – there can be nothing effective or efficient about their heals, and they’re fighting a battle against time. Sooner or later the heals will be too late, through no fault of the healer, and the group will wipe. This isn’t fun for them. Not in the least.

When you act “badly” in a group, you’re not just showing disrespect to your companions, or making things difficult – you’re detracting from their happiness. You’re killing their joy. You are being no fun.

Players of all three stripes are required for the game to function. The game is specifically built around this mechanic – not only is it, in fact, possible for all three types of people to play together and still have fun in their own ways; assuming everyone’s playing the game well and respecting each others’ role, it’s almost impossible for everyone to not have fun. But that’s a pretty big assumption.

It’s relatively easy to tread on people’s toes without even meaning to. We have a couple guildies who legitimately enjoy big pulls and opening fire with their biggest AoE spells before I’m even in range – they think it’s funny, as a matter of fact. They’re not necessarily being malicious. But they’re not being particularly considerate either. They’re not recognizing that in doing so, they’re actually, physically denying me the right to play – and I’m unlikely to be impressed at how “epic” they are; nor am I going to laugh and agree when they point out how they don’t even need a tank. Maybe that’s tonnes of fun for them, but it’s really fucking boring for me to sit there and watch my DPS do a bunch of shit I know there’s no way I can compensate for – specifically removing my ability to play the game. I get sidelined. It’s as frustrating and enraging as being a DPS who dies on the pull and gets to watch everyone else have fun for the next two minutes of fighting while you try to mentally calculate your repair bill.

Of course, these DPS might argue that who am I to get in the way of them playing the way they want? I have many, many answers to that, but all of them are biased, so I’ll just keep my mouth shut.

In the end, no matter what class, spec, or role you play, what you want from your party/raid/guild is simple:

Let me play the game I want to play.