Why do you love tanking?

I was tanking Utgarde Keep on my reroll DK ‘Industry’ earlier. Did it because I saw “LF1M tank, UK” on general chat. I really enjoyed the run. I was in my blood dps levelling spec, so I had just a few tanking talents to draw on. Went fine.

There was a funny moment. The party did wonder about me, when I suddenly died before even zoning in.

Dead tank outside the zone

Dead tank outside the zone

Anyhow, clearing UK got me wondering, why do I love tanking so much?

There are a few top-of-mind reasons for me.

1. I like leadership and responsibility. I notice when others are good leaders too, and that’s relaxing for me. If I’m in a group with a poor leader, I sometimes end up being defacto leader by the end just from being the one with good instructions and reminders for people.

2. I don’t care about dps: I like stamina. I do like to see big hits – large numbers flying over my head – but much prefer to have a big HP pool. I like stacking stamina, for some reason I can’t work out yet; simply having high HP makes me feel better than having high dps.

3. I like strategy, tactics and positioning. I enjoy clustering a group of mobs, getting agro, taking a step or two back to ensure none are behind me, and letting other people kick their ass. I enjoy telling people which order we’ll take down the targets. I enjoy setting a fast pace for the run.

4. Being a tank somehow makes me feel strong. This is a bit honest and perhaps ethereal, but being a big tank makes me feel good. Doing big dps doesn’t give me any emotional satisfaction. I just don’t care. There must be something primitive here I can’t quite name, but it’s the opposite of why teenagers play huntards and gank-rogues.

5. I like statistics and analysis. But, some dpsers do too, and they can do lots of theorycrafting also. Why do so many tanks get into theory? We are a very active community when it comes to analysis. Must be something in that. Are tanks disproportionately into maths?

I really like being a tank. I have also raided as a warlock, hunter, paladin (tank, dps and healer), druid healer and mage. I think of the dps classes, I prefer hunter because I also like pets. Yet none of them have the same visceral pull as tanking.

How about you guys?

If you want some ideas, I found this thread which started off being ‘why do you hate tanking so much’ and a Blue mod changed it to ask ‘why do you love tanking?’ Twenty pages of answers, about half of which are some idiots vomiting.

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13 comments to Why do you love tanking?

  • Megildur Warheit

    There is something empowering about protecting your friends and being the one your team depends on.

  • Crofe

    I think the tanking community does more theorycrafting and analysis because we don’t get a lot of easy to use statistics. A DPS class can theorycraft and then go run simulations on a test dummy to prove / disprove those theories. As a tank, the statistics we can gather are from “real world” encounters. What this means is that our theories are either more open ended (not as much “solid” proof) or they are thought about much more in depth. Both of these situations allow for more discussion on the topic.

  • Nohanna

    As a main tank for a small guild, the knowledge and skill required to do what I do commands great respect both from said guild and from any pug or friend I run with.

    It’s mentally clearing to the point of enlightenement to put every ounce of your focus into your job, split between ensuring your survival, watching your positioning, remembering strategies and mob positions for the entire dungeon, keeping yourself on the edge of your limits, dishing out as much threat (and from that, DPS) as you possibly can, leading the group (wether you’re the leader or not), setting the pace of the run, staying in control of any unexpected situation, keeping up with raid leader orders, watching the DPS to ensure they don’t get themselves killed and making sure you’re not outpacing the healers..

    It’s a gigantic dance of multitasking, mentally challenging and exhausting, while at the same time offering a clarity of thought that, as far as I’ve experienced, is unmatched by any other play style.

    .. Plus I suck at DPS and healing.

  • Hinenuitepo

    I do enjoy tanking very much in some situations. I think that what I like most about it is being ‘the guy’ who is most important to the success of the raid. I go down, it doesn’t last long, whereas when I’m dps, I’ve watched fights from the start to finish on my back and it didn’t really matter lol. Even healers are often less essential since there’s always a few of them. But if a tank goes down that’s generally it.

    Of the three roles, however, I think I do like dps the most. Tanking is satisfying and feels ‘solid’, healing can be fun to keep the raid alive – but it’s the ‘easiest’ for me in the sense that I can do it and chat with friends in /w and generally not pay as close attention. But interestingly, I love dps for some of the reasons Gravity loves tanking. Especially the latter three reasons. I feel ‘strong’ when I’m watching those big numbers pop and I’m topping the charts on a tough dps race. :) I love the strategy and stats and theorycrafting in trying to find just a little more dps from my toon. Just as an example, my guild has 10-man heroic toc rolling, but my 25-man we’re still on beasts. We know we need at least 90-100k raid dps, and we’re at 85k. I love trying to help my guildies each find 300 more dps, as well as figuring out if I can do a little more myself as well.

    In all cases, I like having one of those raid marks above my head. Often, as a tank, I’ll get the mark for assist, for spam heals, or for people to follow me. But, as dps I get the star fairly often as well. On our beasts attempts I get the star for the healers/casters to run to when they get a snobold and then everyone /assists me when I switch from Gormok to the snobolds.

    So, all in all, any role can be very satisfying, I enjoy the contributions I make as each. There’s a distinct feel to them all. And in the end, we do need everyone in every role to succeed!

  • Chev

    This post makes me want to try a tanking class. Such honesty too, damn refreshing.

  • Gravity
    Twitter: gravitydk

    I like the commentary replies more than my original post. I like the self-reflection and feelings people express here.

  • Hinenuitepo

    /agree :)
    One thing I’ve started doing the last few weeks has been tremendously fun: DPS tanking.
    Given how easy it is to gear up, my OT set (while not quite heroic toc ready) vastly out gears heroic 5-mans. SO, every time I do a guild heroic now, I put on most of my tank gear, but keep my dps spec and hit the frost presence button. Then, I dps along with the rest. Our healers are also toc-geared, so I don’t need my defensive cds to stay alive beyond the class ones of IBF and AMS and unglyphed death strike, so I do 2-3k dps while tanking heroics, and with my uber dps, we’ve been doing full heroic clears in 10-20 min! Heh, how’s that for ‘hybrid’ :P

    Honestly, the two reasons I switched from rogue to DK was playstyle, and the ability to tank as well as dps. It’s really fun doing both – at the same time!

  • Lyz

    I fairly recently started tanking on my druid, and there are two reasons for this; 1 – I had never really tried tanking before, and 2 – Tanks can be *really* annoying to get hold of, and without a tank you’re pretty lost.
    Also I was tired of healing ;)

    I’m totally with you on the stam-stacking. I just passed 38k health unbuffed, and it’s a very *nice* feeling. Also being in charge can be a lot of fun, particularly if you have a skilled healer behind you, that will follow you on your chainpulls. Having been a healer for most of my ‘life’ I’m sensitive to my healer’s pace and can usually judge pretty accurately when they need manabreaks – I had an healer comment positively on the pace and flow in an heroic I did last week, and that made me feel good.
    I put pride in being an ‘easy’ tank to keep alive, that means I have the stam/mitigation/aggro that I’m supposed to have.

    The responsebility of being a tank can be daunting, but for that exact reason it’s also rewarding. If you’re just a little bit interested, I’d seriously recommend trying it.

  • Dan

    Tanking is a ton of fun, but I got away from it with my DK completely and am just trying to find it once again. Two reasons I have fell away from tanking: #1 It’s with my DK, only way I will tank I think but its also a HUGE drawback. I hate the fact that there is a 20:.001 ratio of bad to good DK’s no matter what they are. Also I haven’t had a home (guild) in a long time, and that makes it hard to gear up, to do anything in the game. I grew tired very fast of not being able find Heroic teams, or them being so bad I had to repair twice to complete it. I now play a priest disc/holy dual spec. I am just now turning to my Dk and to get back into the whole game. Really I figure I have my healer, and I have a tank, how can I not find decent home?

  • Gravity
    Twitter: gravitydk

    It is sad how many bad DKs there are. Being such an accessible class for an alt has really led to multiple loser DKs, for sure.

  • Transient

    Thank you so much for this site.

    I am one of those Bad DK Tanks.  Sort of.  I have a small guild of just family (brothers),  and the four of us have always filled our niche roles of tank, healer and DPSers.   I’ve been one of the DPSers.  Together we can carry anyone in heroics and our pallytank in particular is a genius of numbers who is sought after for filling up empty spots in some very well-regarded endgame raid guilds.

    Recently I’ve been curious about making the switch from DPS DK to tank and the whole thing has been as terrifying as hell.  It is unbelievably humbling to go from being overgeared, emergency-OT/accomplished DPS to n00b tank.  The rotations are often counter-intuitive and uncomfortable, and sacrificing self-heal for threat means putting yourself entirely in the hands of the healer.  It’s been OK with doing our family only, but hideously embarrassing to repeatedly wipe some poor PUG 5th DPSer because of minor snafus you can only know about from experience.   (Gauging distance to proximity-agro mobs/boss, how to deal with mobs seeming to always try running behind you when you’re trying to keep them faced away from the party, which mobs agro-dump and need to be re-taunted before they’re out of range, etc.) Picked up all the H/N-ToC gear and conquest items, but  having decent gear makes it almost worse – as if you were an ebay’er.  Serious blow to the pride.

    But by god, from the few successful runs I did have, I have the Taste.  It’s nice to be able to step up, be useful, more than ‘just’ a DPSer.  Because honestly, DPS are nothing special, dime a dozen – you can’t swing a cat without hitting a DPSer, so they’re not what holds up finishing up a party. When our tank feels like tanking,  he’ll do it because he’s unbelievably good.  But if he’s not around, I want to make sure my boys don’t have to spend hours in LFM, and can hit the ground hard, with confidence.

    Aside from this site being an invaluable source of information, it’s also a fun read.  Thanks, man.

  • Vespers

    Hey.. I know this is from ages ago, but I got here link-hopping from a post on your eve blog I was reading cos I’m considering getting back into it, and this is a thing I’m interested in.

    The backgroundy bit here might end up a bit tl;dr. sorry :( I don’t expect you’ll see this anyway, wot wot.

    I play a draenei pally, prot and ret. I started playing less than a year ago. I levelled 1-60 in dungeons, using the recruit-a-friend thing, with a mage who was also a noob, and a drood and warlock who were alts of friends of ours. So I was the tank, running 4-man all the way to 60. I didn’t dual-spec until I reached Northrend; I prot-levelled through Outland. When I started raiding, my guild (I joined a guild that a couple RL friends were already in) was at Thorim in Uld-25 (This was perhaps a month before ToC came out? We’re not exactly casual, but nowhere near hardcore), and full on tanks, so I went ret and learned to dps in my last 12 levels. I only tanked 5-mans for ages, but I was spending most of my emblems I got from raiding as dps on tank gear, because I love tanking like whoa.

    We downed Thorim and were working on Mimiron, when suddenly something went funky; we stopped getting enough signups for raids, and a couple weeks of no raids made the officers decide to take a break. Just as ToC hit. At that point my uni was ramping up for end of semester and exams and whatnot, so I didn’t mind too much. Unfortunately this meant that by the time I had time for raiding again, I couldn’t get into the damn things, and my guild wasn’t raiding so I couldn’t get the achievements that way. Soon we started up again, but only running 10-mans, and as a not-full-raider, I didn’t get raids still, because we were getting generally 15 signups, and full raiders got priority.

    However, I was on holiday now, so I had (still have, whoo) time to kill.. eventually I got into a bloody toc raid, and as I wasn’t raiding with the guild now, I didn’t see any reason to put anything into ret.. I pumped everything I could into my tank spec. Ret got a few upgrades, but was getting pretty steadily further behind. Oh well :P I was seriously considering dropping it for holy for a while.

    When 3.3 hit, I was mostly toc10 geared in tank spec, and what with emblems being free now, it didn’t take me long to fill the holes. I filled up what I could in ret spec as well, and admittedly I find it more interesting when I can pull 5.something dps regularly than when it was 3.5. I’ve gotten to saurfang in 10 every week except the first it was out so far, mostly tanking, and the guild has lost a couple tanks so by the time we get back to proper raiding I should have one of the spots.. at least sometimes.

    Anyway, the point is, I stuck with tanking even when I didn’t get to use it as much, because its actually doing something.. dps is great for when I’m wiped and can’t think, or just can’t deal with pugs (after the first week of the new lfg tool I stopped tanking for pugs, short wait time or no, because it makes me ANGRY). Tanking keeps me working.. even as a pally. I have a warrior alt and I admit the basics of pally-tanking are simpler, but tanking, especially offtanking and trash-tanking raids, requires every tool I’ve got.. at least when the dps is any good, and the mobs have any.. quirks.. and its fun. I have to use things outside a simple rotation, and keep an eye on what’s happening around me, and position mobs, and so forth.

    Basically, tl;dr version, I like tanking because I’m actually doing something that requires more than two braincells and not standing in the fire. Dps is for when I can’t be bothered working.. fun but brainless.

    I’ll admit, seeing that huge health pool (just cracked 41k unbuffed, not bad for a ten-man tank, corroded skeleton key is kickass) and having all those mobs beating on ME is a big part of it too. I play a male space-goat for a reason too.. plate armor looks fantastic, and we have pretty sweet dodge and block animations. Speaking of which, the other thing that’s just as awesome as seeing that huge health pool is watching my incoming scrolling battle text, especially trash-tanking, and seeing that line of ‘dodge, dodge, parry, dodge, block, dodge, heal +0 , dodge, dodge..’ I love it (I run out of mana in heroics sometimes though, not enough spiritual attunement coming in).