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The bulk of this article was taken from a page on a World of Warcraft site - i thus used it as a template and put it into my own words - all thanks go to the person who wrote the first two paragraphs.
What is a Tank? Edit
A tank is a character whose primary role is to absorb damage and prevent others from being attacked; basically a heavily armored class who protects the rest of the group. Tanks are "meatshields", putting themselves between the mobs and the more vulnerable party members. The tank assumes the aggro of the mobs and tries to keep them off other group mates. With everyone nuking the same target (directed by the main assist), the mobs go down faster and there is less damage done to the group.
An often-used abbreviation for tank is "MT" (main tank).
In a classic tank-and-spank fight, the tank should be the only one taking damage, and therefore be the only one who needs healing. Even in more complex fights, the healer should be able to concentrate most of their healing on the tank with healing on the rest of the group being significantly lighter most of the time.
If the healer is healing everyone in the group, then either the tank is not generating enough threat or the other members in the group are generating too much threat by dealing too much DPS and pulling aggro off the tank. This has to be watched or the group will likely wipe.
The "Basics" Edit
The main tank is the backbone of every group and tied with the healer is the most important role to play. Tanking is a very demanding, very testing and very unforgiving path to take and you need to be on top of your game. So I'll run you through the basics.
A tank has to do three things. First and foremost, they must generate more threat than the healer on all targets. The healer will generate threat on all enemies when they heal the tank, which is why in most cases it's advisable to guard the healer if possible and it's the tank's responsibility to keep the enemies off the healer by staying ahead of them. Second, they must survive. Survival is (at minimum) a two-person job and both the tank and the healer are responsible for this. For the tank, survival comes either by avoiding hits, reducing the severity of incoming damage, establishing a vast pool of hit points (thereby increasing their longevity in battle), or self-regeneration (healing from items or abilities). In a nutshell they must be extremely tough with a lot of health and a fairly high chance to block and parry. A tank's third responsibility is generating extra threat on the current 'kill' target to allow the damage dealers to kill it effectively without attracting the monster's attention (all damage dealers should focus on the same target for this and other reasons). A good tank will try to produce as much aggro as he can. However, it is also damage dealers' job to make sure them stay below the tank's threat by using threat reduction abilities or even holding back their fire if necessary.
The first two of these are the most important as if they fail at them then the tank or the healer will die and the group will wipe very shortly after. The third is also important in the long run, as if the damage dealers have to hold back too much then the enemies will die too slowly and the healer will run out of mana.
The Primary Tank Classes Edit
Each of the six races has a class that can be considered a tank. These are the Blackguard, the Chosen, the Black Orc, the Knight of the Blazing Sun, the Swordmaster and the Ironbreaker. Each of these works very differently in mechanics, and personally i couldn't tell you about any of them other than the Chosen because frankly it's the only tank I've played; but this article is not about the different classes, this is about tanking.
That aside, each of these classes has different ways of holding aggro; for instance Chosen seem to be far more capable at holding aggro on a lot of mobs at once by using Blast Wave and Bane Shield, and twisting Dreadful Agony with their more beneficial auras. Perhaps one day I will write an article about Chosens as tanks. Ironbreakers on the other hand seem to use their Grudges to hold aggro, and combine that with their huge toughness and high health to survive.
What are a tank's personal qualities? Edit
It takes a certain kind of person to play a tank.
- A tank must be confident in his abilities, but not overconfident. Overconfidence leads to wipes and angry healers.
- A tank must be patient - it takes time to level a tank.
- A tank must be able to take criticism - if people point out where you are going wrong, you must be prepared to take any advice on board. NOTE: Do not take advice from people who blatantly do not know what they are talking about
- A tank must be very alert and vigilant.
- A tank must be able to keep a close interaction with the rest of the party - it is vital that the healers and DPS trust him. If they do not trust him then they will likely under perform.
- A tank must be fairly intelligent.
- A tank must be unselfish; if you must die defending your group then so be it - AOE taunt and run will provide a suitable diversion.
- A tank must be able to keep calm under any situation and be able to sort out other people's messes quickly.
- Finally a tank must never give up! If you wipe then get back up and try again; a true tank will not quit till everyone has left the group.
- Ask yourself: Is this you? If not then perhaps tanking isn't for you.
What tanks want other party members to know Edit
1. Number one rule: let us pull the mobs. If we don't pull, we don't get the initial aggro, and thus it's hard to regain it.
2. Don't attack mobs that we aren't attacking - we will lose aggro, you will get aggro and 9/10 tanks wont save you and 9/10 healers wont heal you simply because they will consider you an idiot. Even the best tanks will lose aggro if you attack a mob that they are not attacking. Generally, a few generic "heroic strikes" as i call them (basically your class's version of Chosen's Enraged blow) that have been applied to each mob in a pack, the tank will focus on one target while AoEing the rest. The DPS should focus their fire on the target the tank is attacking. That is how it happens in an ideal world. But naturally this is not always the case; and thus it falls on the tank to bare the brunt and keep the group together despite the lack of skill coming from the DPS.
3. Give us a chance to work up some aggro on a boss. If you're spamming ranged attacks at it the moment we hit it with a throwing weapon then it's fairly easy to see how we lose aggro. As i say to all the Marauders and Squig Herders: "You won't be able to ninja whatever tanking gear he drops any faster if you attack before i secure aggro" most of them (nonsurprisingly) do not understand my joke and those who do will often give me the whole "OMFG" routine, but let's move on.
4. Don't wait till we're at 10% before you heal us - we're tanks, not gods. I'm not teaching you how to suck eggs, but its nice to keep us capped between 50 and 100%, just incase a mob uses a powerful blow that hits us for a lot more than we can take. The mobs in Bastion Stair melee a chosen for about 800 depending on the wing. A level 40 chosen with 8-9k health can easily withstand this, but 800 is nearly 10% of their health - we need to be kept topped up rather than given big refils. HoTs are preferable.
5. those with pets - do not put your pet on taunt mode, it severely hinders our performance. If a pet taunts a mob we either have to taunt it back or let the pet die. We'd rather save our taunt for a healer.
6. We are not here to babysit you - we are here because we want loot.
7. Stand behind the mobs when you attack them - we will normally position the mobs facing away from you so it is easier for you to attack them. Attacking mobs from the front means they can parry your attacks, thus putting extra pressure on us, especially from those mobs that can deliver nasty follow up attacks from a successful parry, so please attack from behind whenever possible.
8. Some mobs have an annoying knockdown or disable. When we get knocked down or disabled we will lose aggro. THIS IS NORMAL. for the few seconds that we are knocked down or disabled, try and hold up on the dps - and don't panic the mobs will return safely to us after a few seconds.
9. If you get aggro - run towards tank. This should go without saying.
10. Finally; tell the world about good tanks! Nothing is better for business then word of mouth and nothing says encouragement like praise. So if you were really pleased with the performance of a tank and he made you feel safe as a carebear, tell the server about him, and you may find yourself grouping together in the near future!
What party Members want tanks to know Edit
1. Do not tank without the menace tactic. Don't even try.
2. Don't always blame the dps when you lose aggro - accidents happen, but it isn't always our problem when you lose aggro.
3. Always remember to guard people - usually the healer or the person you think will generate the most threat bar yourself - there is no excuse for forgetting, and it is your responsibility to ensure that you are guarding someone - not ours to remind you.
4. Remember that some DPS are noobish - sometimes people WILL NOT listen to you. These are not a true representation of the masses - so don't hold grudges (unless you're an ironbreaker).