I was reading Tamarind’s post on tanking BRD and the observation was made that most tanks are dickheads. It got me thinking about how I project my tank onto other players both guild and pug. First let me start by saying by all normal measures I seem to be a decent to good tank. My gear is all ilvl 232 or higher save neck, bracers and the black heart trinket. And anyone gathering tank gear knows those are all pretty hard to come by. Skill wise I’ve tanked through Saurfang in ICC. The only glaring tanking hole I have is not finishing Heroic Halls of Reflection, but that is a horrible instance to tank, and quite frankly I don’t need the grief.

So what are the tanking personas?

Option One: Be the dickhead

This one is pretty common, and as Tamarind points out it is pretty understandable why. Tanks get the most abuse in the game. Well maybe healers get an equal amount. The point is tanks have to put up with hard hitting nasty bastards AND the mobs in the dungeon.

Listen here maggot!

Most common response from the rest of the group: Silence. They will suck it up because they have been waiting 20 minutes in the LFG queue and will just ride it out, get their badges, and hope for a better tank next hour.

Most common barb thrown: You’re a lousy tank.

Most fitting response: “Listen you little shit, while you are gearing up…what is this? Your 5th DPS toon? Some of us have been taking one for the fucking team, and been your meat shield, so how about you say thanks by not pulling aggro on mobs we have no god damn business pulling EVER. Oh and if you could be so kind as to do some CC instead of bitching about how I suck, maybe we wouldn’t have to waste time scraping your ass off the floor! And if that is gonna be a problem, have fun sitting in the queue for another hour because I know I sure as hell won’t!”

Most fitting response if the barb came from a healer: “I’m sorry.”

Option Two: Be the ultranoob

This one you don’t see nearly as often, but it is the one I tend to go to, even in guild groups where they know me. For example I bill my self as the best tanking option when (give a list of 5 or 6 other tanks in the guild) are not available. I’ll say things like “Hold on, gotta put on my all Wilson Phillips and Air Supply tanking playlist” just to run so counter to the established Tank=Dickhead norm. Apologize for every major screw up you will do at the beginning of the instance, be sure to mention that you aren’t very good at AoE tanking, yet but you are working at it. And constantly ask for feedback on how you’re doing (even if you are just ignoring the advice). What surprises me so much is how I’m able to get away with this given the gear I have. You don’t get the shield off of Anub in ToC10 is you are a complete noob.

I am a tank?

Most common response: Silence from everybody but the healer who is constantly doing his or her best to prevent your tanking “meltdown” by heaping praise on you.

Most common insult: Wait? What? What are you doing? (they are usually just confused)

Most fitting response: “I’m still learning how to tank, and you guys have been great. I hope I didn’t suck too bad. lol (very important to use lol)”

Most fitting response if insulted by the healer: “I’m sorry.”

Option Three: The strong silent type

Sometimes you just want to run your daily and be done with it. People ugh people are THE WORST. So what do you do? You chain pull, you never say a word, if a person dies you don’t care. You don’t say you are sorry you just are Tankbot4000. The only thing that slows you down is lack of healer mana. If they are at 50% for trash you keep going, maybe 75% for a boss. You don’t ask DPS if they are ready for a boss, you just go. Time is money, friends.

I’ll do this too. It is sad in the sense that you lose any sort of social interaction, but it is amazing how this approach will get people focusing. Once you establish yourself as a credible chain puller who is constantly moving the group tends to fall in line pretty quick.

Tankbot4000 is Tankbot4000 bloop bleep

Most common response: Silence.

Most common insult: Slow down you are going to fast! I don’t have all my mana!

Most fitting response: …

Most fitting response if insulted by a healer: Ok.

So remember, tanks, you don’t have to be a dickhead, it is probably better for your blood pressure if you aren’t in fact. Have fun and mix it up every once in a while. Even if you don’t RP, playing the noob tank is a great way to mess with people, and since you have the luxury of being a vital role in short supply you can get away with it.


Tanking Persona — 11 Comments

  1. I think I’m going to macro the most fitting response for option 1, so I don’t have to type it out every single time.

  2. I go for a fourth method, which I call “lunacy”. I use RP Helper 2 to automatically generate an action based on a given event.  For instance:
    When I crit the mob: “I like this TARGET! He/She/It’s squishy!” or “You fight like a dairy farmer.”
    When I parry a mob’s attack: “How appropriate.  You fight like a cow.” (bonus points for getting the reference).
    When someone loots gold: “I like pancakes!” or “I like waffles!”
    When I death grip a mob: <not appropriate for a PG-rated forum>
    My general attitude if someone complains is to respond with “Hey, good luck finding a better tank.”

  3. I don’t like any of these options! When I first started tanking at level 80, I was more of the “Insecure Tank” type (similar to Ultranoob, but shyer). I pulled slowly and cautiously, was very sensitive to criticism, and felt an almost crippling sense of responsibility for the group. Now that I have much more experience I think I fall into yet another category. I am quite capable and usually chain pull my way through heroics, but I still try to be open and friendly to the group. PuGs may not respond much to my cheerful greetings, but they generally seem to be polite (or at least quiet!). Maybe if I were dealing with more hostility I would fall into a Tankbot4000 mindset. I usually run with at least one guild member, so I guess that cuts down on the chance of getting a nasty PuG.

  4. I typically fall into the strong/silent/chain pully type…  It’s easier to just get it done than to be chatty with people who like as not are going to tell me to shut up and tank.  And as an added benefit it saves my sanity.  I, of course, pay attention to my healer’s mana needs.  If engaged in conversation, will reply 😀
    On occasion, if I’m on my dwarf pally, I’ll say first thing “And yes dwarf women do exist” or some such… usually gets a laugh.  Can be a nice icebreaker

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  6. Hee, great post. I have occasionally done the tankbot thing — there is a distressing possibility that when you really get into it, you may look up and find that the healer actually died 2 puills ago but no one noticed.

    • I actually was in tankbot mode the other night with Zel healing in UK and ran upstairs and started gathering an pack and it was a good 10-15 seconds before everyone else caught up to me. I asked Zel if I missed a mob, and she said “no, we were looting”.

  7. On my paladin I’m Tankbot mostly because I haven’t got a whole lot of choice; as geared as I am if I stop, divine plea will fall off and my mana will vanish with a hollow slurping sound.  I haven’t let anyone die in a long, long time though, mostly because our raid has some DPS best characterized as “impulsive” and watching my Grid boxes for red dots and plummeting health is now second nature.
    I’m much friendlier and more inclined to watch DPS mana bars on my warrior, mostly because she’s still leveling and people actually still have some patience because the level-appropriate dungeons have a little danger to them.  I have a feeling when I hit eighty and start clawing for gear I’m going to turn into Dickhead in self-defense.

  8. I love these archetypes, and especially the correct response to healer comments (I may be biased in this regard).
    My own tanking style isn’t quite any of these, though I have seen all of them in the course of playing Around the Pug in 80 Days. I’m sort of like “The Dickhead” (a.k.a. “Snarky Lara”) in that I’ll tell people what I want them to do, but I try to be as polite as I can about it.  (So, “Mageysue, please sheep Moon immediately after I pull,” rather than “Why can’t you idiots learn to use some CC?”)  I’m sort of like “The Ultranoob” in that I’m quick to admit my faults…usually. (So, “Please don’t pull any extras, I’m not sure I can handle that many,” rather than “@$_F*!!*$*@”).
    I’m definitely not “The Strong, Silent Type”, though, ever. Something like the “Insecure Tank” @Hyacynthia mentioned above, except that I like to pull the entire instance in one long, smooth, continuous chain-pull, never stopping except to recover mana before a boss. My ideal is to make sure the healer always has enough mana to do her job, while keeping the dps gasping and scrambling for every last resource. That may seem rude, but it gives them less leeway to cause trouble, which of course you know they will do given even a quarter of a chance. :)