To close this series of posts on balance, I wanted to use a few diagrams to outline the problem. This will be my last post on this topic for a while (in case you’re losing interest in it).
(As an aside, I’m going to do my bit to improve the quality of tanking in the world, too. We’ll publish more how-to articles and guides in the future, and you’ll see the site navigation is already changing to accommodate that content).
I also want to highlight that most tanks just want to tank: switching between dps and tank specs works technically, but quite often (not always), tanks want to stick to the one mode of thinking. You get into a ‘tank zone’ mentally, and it’s better to stay in that zone than flick out to dps. Sure you can do it, sure it’s not hard, but it’s not fun for most tanks.
So to illustrate the ratio question, if you look at it in terms of a realm population, how many tanks are there available and willing to tank at any time? I expect the cross-realm LFG system will really help PUGs, but not guild-raids.
I think casual raid guilds pay a bigger penalty from the varying ratios needed in a raid than a hardcore guild. Casuals don’t like to bench, don’t tend to stack raids (by swapping people in and out during the raid), and so the inconsistency of a minimum tank number makes it tougher to try settling on a ‘right sized’ number of tanks within the guild.
Anyhow, here’s the illustrative diagram. The essential problem is the difference between the ratios across raiding, 5-mans and the actual characters on the realm.
The number of tanks is a function of supply and demand
The other issue I wanted to close on is that the tank situation we’ve talked about has at least a supply and demand side to its equation.
The demand-side is what Blizzard control with encounter design, and if they always required 3 tanks in 25-mans (that’s what I’d like), that creates demand for tanks. The supply-side are factors which reduce the number of tanks independent of the design, such as it taking more responsibility.
Blizzard can focus solutions to the tank situation on both parts of this equation.
Reforging, in Cataclysm, will help somewhat because you could turn a dps item into a tanking-oriented item, which fixes some loot distribution hurdles.