Why is Tanking in MMOs So Intimidating?

Article Archives Gaming World of Warcraft
Why is Tanking in MMOs So Intimidating?

In my 28 years of living, I have given a good chunk of it to video games. Specifically, Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games such as World of Warcraft. I started at the tender age of 14 in 2004, and when I found out that the game consisted of three major roles for players which were tanking, healing, and damage, I knew I was at a crossroads.

Tanking is a role where a member of the party taunts all creatures and takes damage. Healers keep everyone alive and dispel any hostile magic. Damage roles help the fight go faster by killing everything and interrupting spell casters. This is the holy trinity of player vs environment gaming.

Everyone advised that tanking and healing were desperately needed, because they were important roles that decided whether or not the group lived or died. Tanking in particular was a role no one wanted since it meant that you had to know every single detail, you had to watch the group like a hawk, and deal with the pressure of not letting anyone get hurt.

None of my friends were tanks since it was so daunting so naturally, I decided to heal. I enjoyed healing tremendously and leveled all through Burning Crusade as a Holy Paladin. I was loved by many and my friends list inflated with folks who wanted to run dungeons and eventually raids.

In my time as a healer, I worked closely with many tanks and while they all had unique personalities, they still shared some similar qualities. They were always so aggressive, direct, and confident in themselves. It was common place to have a borderline abusive tank that everyone put up with simply because they were the only option. Actually, now that I write this, we didn’t really put up with them but rather praised them for their behavior and prayed they would continue to tank for us.

Fast forward to 2019, I find myself during a decent break from the game. Running The Geek Lyfe and being in a relationship takes up a majority of my time. But when I found out Queen Azshara herself would be available to fight, I knew I had to come back.

Since I first read the pages of one WoW trilogy, War of the Ancients, that details the conflict between the Night Elves and the Burning Legion, I’ve had an unhealthy hatred for Queen Azshara. In my eyes, she caused the deaths of so many and had various situations become so much worse.

So, I came to Schrei205 who is not only our Editor for the website but also the Guild Leader and main tank for our official World of Warcraft guild, Emerald Templars. I told her that I was ready to come back and heal for the group again but to my surprise, she informed me that we actually had a solid healing team and absolutely did not need another one. However, the position of off tank was one that was desperately needed. To quote Schrei during that discussion, “I feel like a divorced middle aged woman with 3 kids searching for a new husband with all these tanks I keep tanking with.”

Fear ran down my spine as I immediately thought “Welp, then I guess I have to pug (pick-up group) for raiding.” The thought of shouting commands, snapping at players for wipes, knowing every single fight, making sure everyone was protected was just too much for me.

Instead, a fellow officer told me that I should turn my Holy Paladin into a Protection Paladin and raid with the team. Before I could really let the terror take over, I was tanking timewalking dungeons. We entered the dungeon with myself, two guildies, and two random players. Never in my life have I had so much anxiety in such a safe environment. My healer and one DPS were ‘have heroic on farm’ raiders and carried my wee little self.

I used abilities I never used before, I actually had to care about threat, and had to pop cool downs whenever our healer forgot to heal since they were more focused on dealing damage because the situation was that safe. After a few dungeons, they left me and I reviewed guides on Icyveins, and jumped into more dungeons.

I was so clunky, so awkward, people died, threat was every where, and I died to boss mechanics. Players all died because of my actions. This was the big bad fear that kept me away from playing this role.

But every single time I apologized, the group brushed it off and instead thanking me for tanking for them, and I got that much better because I understood my role with every failure. Eventually it got to the point where things got routine, especially as I transitioned my gear set from crunchy Holy to sturdy Protection.

That is when it hit me that there isn’t anything special or different about tanking from any other role. I failed as a healer and learned how to be better and started racking up W’s. The most terrifying aspect of being a tank is that you have to take control and lead. You must direct the group and pull monsters, you can not follow, you must guide the group. That is why tanks typically know the fights better than everyone else since they have to pull and take damage (not to mention everyone else is too scared to tank!).

You just have to work a bit harder and give directions. While the other roles allow you to just sit back and follow whatever the tank tells you to do, usually if there is an issue it can easily be blamed on a ‘bad tank’ and you don’t have to worry.

I asked my guildies who are veterans at tanking what advice they had for players looking to tank and this is what they said:

You’re going to fuck up. Someone is going to bitch at you. You’re going to pull too much, not enough, forget to taunt, go the wrong way, etc. As long as you learn from that and keep going, you’re fine, but don’t bitch out.

Also, if they pull it they tank it, let the fuckers die. -Schrei205

I think it all boils down to people not wanting to get bitched at or critiqued. Another thing is positioning but I think that comes naturally when you get comfortable. I was healing a classic dungeon the other day and this dps said they would rather wait a longer queue than tank because “it’s scary”.

Tanks and healers are also glorified babysitters and no one wants that responsibility. -Ana

1) You are gonna fuck up and yes every one will notice but that is ok (We all mess up)
2) Raid Tanking and Dungeon tanking are 2 Different play styles.
3) Learn how to smooth dmg intake the best way possible.
4) Don’t Blame a healer at first. Look to see what you could have done, then blame a healer.
5) DPS are going to be little shits and as long as no one dies life goes on.
6) Play the tank style you like most. Don’t listen to the meta because most likely you aren’t world 1st raiding and all tanks can do content with a little more gear.
7) There is no reason to not know what your class can do. There are so many resources between fan sites, YouTube, class discords or just asking a buddy about how to play said Tank.
8) Read what the abilities do (I just discovered the other day that Warrior Leap Resets Taunt CD?!?! WHO KNEW!!!!!)
9) You will be everyone’s best friend if you do your job correctly. – Snigs

Hearing the advice of homies and actually just throwing myself in there turned out to be a lot easier than anything I could have ever imagined. Granted, this is simply just normal dungeons, time will tell when I hit up raids and mythics! For now, it is time to get that gear!


Darth Mexican
Darth Mexican has been a geek since he first saw a lightsaber ignite. He has strong feelings on subbed anime. He strives to represent the stories of the common man and woman regardless of skin tone, age, sexual preference, or nationality. With every article he strives to bring representation to the voiceless. Unless he finds out they like dubbed anime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Lost Password

Sign Up