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Tanking woes

April 12, 2009

I have always been fond of rogue characters in all sorts of games. In tabletops, I always played the sneaky, badass character and even preferred them in both console and PC games. In Final Fantasy XI played a thief and in RO I was an assassin. WoW was the first MMO where I broke out from my shell and began taking on the role as a caster, both DPS and healing. With all of this history of mine, I find it extremely odd that I’m enjoying tanking as a Blackguard in WAR.

I am by no means a pro at tanking, at least I don’t feel like I am. Pancakez has way more experience in that department than I do, but I can still toss in my two cents now and then. He might get into the hard mechanics of a tank, like the numbers behind aggro management, but I’m more about the experiences I have had and how I learn and improve from them. And then there are some experiences that I simply cannot better myself from due to how some things work out in WAR. I guess you could call them pet peeves or grudges of mine, but I would like to think I’m not the only tank out there having these issues, or whatever you want to call them.

And on that note, let’s dive straight into this mess.

Line of Sight Issues

This is by far my biggest annoyance right now. Yes, I know how to LoS pull. I used to do it all the time when AoE farming on my mage back in WoW. It’s pretty simple. You just gather up an immense group, hide behind a large object, and watch the whole mob come running to you in one big, condensed group. Sounds easy, right? Yeah, it usually works half the time for me. For some reason trees twice the size of me do not count as an object to LoS pull with. Most ranged will just shoot right through it. At the same time, I’ve found odd niches in gates that appeared very transparent, but mobs treated it as if they couldn’t see me, so it worked.

There was one time Pancakez and I were doing a PQ in T3 with a bunch of skeletons. I forget the name of the PQ, so bear with me. We rounded up all the skellies inside a gate and I ran outside and stood behind a pole in the gate to LoS the mob. Half of the group came after me and the other half completely tweaked out. First, they ran outside and around the fence, heading towards me… then they stopped, turned around, and ran back inside the gate. Seemed like they were resetting, but wait! Once they got inside they stopped, turned around, and headed towards me again. They repeated this pattern about four times. Keep in mind I did not move this entire time just to see if the mob would keep doing this. For some reason one half of the group had no issue getting to me, but the rest were completely retarded and kept running back and forth like that. Of course, the moment I take a few steps to my left, they found me perfectly fine.

I’ve had various discussions with Pancakez as to why mobs tweak out all the time when grouping them up like that. The only thing we could come up with was the fact the landscape in WAR is so complicated that mobs tweak out. Or maybe the AIs are just programmed poorly, who knows. All I know is that trees are fair game for chucking a fireball through.

Role in RvR

Tanking in PvE is rather straightforward in the sense that you grab an enemy’s  attention, making them smack you around while the rest of your group kills them. Not so hard, right? Throw us in RvR and that’s not entirely the case. With scenarios, I’m usually the ball/flag carrier and do my best to annoy the hell out of enemy players. This might mean I have to knockdown healers, slow down other flag carriers, or knockback morons into lava. I am perfectly fine with doing that, but some people seem to have a DPS complex when they get into scenarios. They don’t really want to be useful, but they do want to be number one on killing blows and damage done. I understand that all tanks have that DPS mastery path, but I don’t think that means we should abandon all our tanking instincts just to kill that one annoying Bright Wizard in the back lines.

And then there’s ORvR, where the whole game revolves around, right? This should be some quality stuff! And you know what our role is? Either tanking an NPC keep lord or one of his minions or standing with a bunch of other tanks to create a meat wall…. wait, what? Yeah, that’s right. In this awesome game of PvP, the main role of a tank is to deal with PvE stuff, and when you’re done with that, just stand with everyone else. Now, some people might have not done either of these roles and are lucky enough to go out into the battle field to kick some ass. But seriously now, in large scale fights like that, how many people have had the pleasure to do that at whim and not get facerolled?

At least healers and DPS classes have the same roll all around. Either heal or stab people in the face… or back. Which ever you prefer.


Aside from the fact I hate getting massive amounts of willpower on all my helms, the stats feel extremely weird. You need so much toughness and wounds to not fall over and die, but you also need so much strength to do some damage to hold aggro. Oh, not to mention all that resist so you can point and laugh at all Bright Wizards and Engineers. I haven’t sat down and gone over each piece of gear for each tank with a fine tooth comb—and I’d rather not do that anytime soon—but it feels like the stats are somewhat out of whack. Look at Pancakez’s DoK compared to my BG. He has over 500 strength or so unbuffed. My armor and wounds are above 500, but I’m not even stacking them. As a tank, I have a crap ton of wounds naturally. The stats feel spread out to the point where we feel useless. I mean, I could try stacking one stat, but then that would break the harmony that strength, toughness, and wounds all share. Pancakez can stack strength all day long and be perfectly fine. Sure, he can work on a secondary stat like wounds, but wounds isn’t as important to him as it is to me.

Then there’s that lovely thing called wards. This is such a shitty idea from a tank perspective. I can’t tank certain PvE encounters unless I have so many wards. What if I don’t have enough or any at all? Oh that’s simple, I just die in one hit. For those of you unaware of the wards system, the higher ranked gear has these little things called wards on them (I think it goes lesser, greater, superior, but I could be wrong). The more you have, the less damage you take from certain encounters. It’s extremely vital for a tank to have them, seeing they’re the ones getting smacked around all the time. Now the solution seems simple, right? Just get the gear that has the wards and you’re good to go. Awesome… but some of the gear that drops with the wards is from that boss that you need so many wards for anyways.

The only way I can explain it is comparing it to WoW. You NEVER let some fresh newbie MT Molten Core. It wasn’t because they had no skill or didn’t know the raid that well, it was because they didn’t have enough unbuffed fire resist. And a lot of the good fire resist stuff you got was in there. So yeah, maybe he’s got 100 or so unbuffed. Maybe he can tank the first boss or two, but after that he’s of no use. Thankfully resists weren’t such an immense deal in the expansion. Sure, you still needed so much health to tank most things, but I’ve seen some people take on all of Kara with barely the minimum health requirement.

Holding Aggro

While I have had close to no problems holding aggro, the aggro system in WAR makes me raise my eyebrow every so often. For example, healing seems to cause more threat than me spamming my attack that helps me build up more threat. Or whenever I’m AoE grinding, Pancakez will come in and do his AoE attack and there’s always that one enemy that turns around to attack him, even though I’m also spamming my own AoE attack. Everything else is on me, so why not this? The only way I can explain further is that aggro feels twitchy. You can wait for the tank to grab aggro as long as you want, but the moment you stab an enemy the wrong way, it wants to munch your face off.

Not to mention there’s that heavy reliance on Guard. The only way I can tell if Guard is not on Pancakez is when everything is attacking him and not me no matter what I do. If you don’t have Guard on the highest DPSer who is close to you, you can just sit back and watch your entire group get slaughtered. I’m not saying Guard is a bad mechanic at all. It’s extremely handy in RvR when people are trying to kill Pancakez and I’m right behind them poking them to death. But in PvE, you’re laughed at if you don’t have it up at all. In some ways it’s sort of easy mode for holding aggro, but I still facepalm over how much tanks have to rely on it to be decent at holding aggro.

Another factor for holding aggro is dealing damage. If you deal shit for damage, you will hold shit for aggro. As much as Guard helps, you can’t just throw that up on someone and stand back while the enemy beats you up. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. You need to at least be doing enough damage to keep your enemy’s attention over the people who are probably doubling or tripling your damage. This goes back to the imbalance in stats, where you can’t really have the same amount of toughness, wounds, and strength. I’m not saying tanks should have their damage buffed through the roof. There’s already enough issues with some tanks doing obscene amounts of damage in scenarios and ORvR, but for the rest of us we have to deal with what we got. Our damage shouldn’t compete with melee DPS, but we also shouldn’t be outhealed by a single HoT thrown on a squishy.

Hatred Mechanic

No, this doesn’t have anything to do with the hate mechanic in the game, which Pancakez thought initially. This has to do mainly with Blackguards and our own mechanic aside from AP. I don’t have issues building up hatred, that’s not the point of this. My point is to show that you can only go one way or another with Hatred. Still not making sense? Let me explain further. In order for BGs to do damage, we must use our hate. Yes, we can still do damage using our AP abilities, but our hardest hitting abilities are the ones that cost hate. At the same time, in order for us to tank well, we must save all of our hate. A lot of our AP abilities have secondary abilities that scale with the amount of hate we have. Exile, for example, does damage and also knocks back the opponent so many feet away depending on how much hate we have. The more hate, the further away they fly back. A lot of these are truly amazing, but only have that stellar power when we sit on 100 hate. Coming back full circle to what I said earlier, you need to do damage on top of all of this in order to hold aggro, and all of our top damage is from using hate. It keeps going in this endless circle of what we should do in certain situations.

It truly is situational and all Blackguard tanks need to be on their toes when it comes to spending and saving hatred. I just find it interesting that you can only really go one way or the other and there is no harmony with tanking and damge or saving or spending hatred. Maybe Mythic will fix this later on or maybe they wanted us to always be this frustrated.

Inequalities in CC

For those of you playing the home game, I technically promised that I would have this post up by last night. This probably would have been up early this morning if I hadn’t got so hung up on this part. Thanks to Pancakez, I think I finally got this all organized.

Before I start pushing nerd rage buttons of all sorts, let’s go over this blog’s definition of crowd control. Mythic is oh-so freaking vague with CC that people get into arguements over what is and isn’t CC all the time. So this may not be your standards for what CC is, but here are breakfast at war, we’re doing it our way, sunny side up with extra bacon. On that note, here’s the outline for CC.

Primary Crowd Control. Anything that can temporarily take an opponent out of combat for a set period of time.

Secondary Crowd Control. Anything that limits an opponent’s ability to fight in combat.

That then means that the following abilities fall into the above categories:

Primary. Knockdowns, knockbacks, disables, and roots.

Secondary. Slows, disorients, disarms, interrupts, silences, everything else.

I know there is one of you out there who is going to get a button pushed and say, “But roots doesn’t take someone out of combat. ranged can still cast stuff and healers can heal. Blah blah blah blah blah.” First off, anyone who uses roots is usually putting it on melee and then running the hell away. Second off, Pancakez and I already discussed this for about an hour and it’s a dead subject. Suck it up and deal with it. I already told you guys we’re serving sunny side up, not scrambled!

Now to finally get to my point. Tanks complain about not having enough CC or their enemies have too much of it, yadda yadda. Then people say stuff like, “Ironbreakers have 1 billion CC abilities!” Ok, but how many of them are core abilities? Not every single IB out there is going to spec for every CC ability. I don’t even think that’s possible. Push that aside and look at the bigger picture. What do the other Order tanks have? And then compare all of them to what Destro tanks have. You really can’t take one class and compare it to everyone else. You need to look at it as Order vs Destro, because this game focuses on RvR, not IBvRvR… though that would be freaking hysterical.

Still not making sense? Here, I made some eye candy for you guys.

Now you can look at a both sides and each individual class to see what’s going on. Oh noez! Destro has two classes with AOE silences! But wait… they’re both morales obtained from a mastery tree. But then look at knockdowns, and Destro only has one class that can perform it as a core ability, while Order has two. Though some things do seem balanced, like the core AOE knockbacks. There’s one on each side.

Is the way CC is distributed fair then? I truly don’t know. You’re going to get a different arguement from every tank that’s playing right now. Like me, for example. My biggest beef isn’t who gets what for CC, but when they get it. Here, I’ll show you guys the exact ranks tanks get their knockback.

Ironbreaker. R14
Swordmaster. R16
Knight of the Blazing Sun. R16
Chosen. R16
Black Orc. R18
Blackguard. R25

…wait, what?!

Rank 25 for Blackguard?! That’s not even the same tier!

Why Mythic thought it was a fabulous idea to put Exile in for rank 25 instead of something in T2 is way beyond me. That’s the only one that’s a huge WTF for me, but I’m sure there are others as well.

Another question raised by the community, and not just from tanks, is is there too much CC going on right now. I can see one extreme, where people become frustrated with being CCed constantly and want to see it either nerfed or stripped away. Then there’s the other extreme, where people say QQ n00bs and wish to see more CC put in. I personally do not have an issue the amount of CC in the game right now for tanks. With other classes it may be a different story, but tanks rely on CC. It’s the only way we are remotely useful in RvR. And no, not the “hurhur let me tank the NPC lord” RvR. I’m talking about when you actually come up against a player character and not an AI. Take that away from us and what do you expect us to do? We might as well be some glorified, half-ass MDPS who will probably be ignored half the time.

Regardless of all the nitpicky comments I’ve written up, I do enjoy my Blackguard. There are definitely pluses for being a tank. Knowing that people trust you enough to take on the deadly hero so they can help kill it is a plus. The rush you get after taking on mob after mob after mob due to respawns and still be standing is a plus. Knocking people into lava or into your savage cluster of Choppas is a plus. Slowing down and annoying the crap out of the flag/ball carrier is a plus. Saving a healer from almost dying to a pesky Witch Hunter is a plus.

The road we tanks walk down isn’t a dark one, but just one that’s not fully understood. Hopefully one day someone will hear our woes and fix them. And if not that directly, then fix something else to make the woes far more tolerable. In the meantime, the next time you see a friendly tank trucking it along, especially after he or she saved your ass, give them a hug. They probably need it.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2009 11:03 am

    Great post Om – won’t be submitting my own anecdotes since I know you have no ❤ for KotBSs ^.^

    I do want to say though – Taunt

    I can rant all day about Taunt in PvP. Iri can attest to that bless his ears. I found this in a thread – about Taunt and it’s function in PvP – that pretty much sums it up:

    Ranks 1-21
    Tanks are there to meddle with healers and be incredibly annoying.
    Ranks 22-32
    This is where tanks shine. Your main purpose in life is to punt other players into the lava of Tor Anroc.
    Ranks 33-40
    At this point, you will reluctantly have to put Guard on healers. Once again, meddle with healers, be incredibly annoying and hard to kill.
    Rank 40+ (RR45)
    Your sole purpose in life is to use Bulwark repeatedly on Keep doors, preventing the enemy from ever getting in. Once they get bored and leave, you win.

    Yeah Taunt lets increases your damage to your target by 30% which is huge – but a)5dps plus 30% is only 6.5 and b)the only time they notice is when they are dead. In the meantime they are killing whatever it is you’re supposed (in my case since I tend to go guard mode) to be protecting.

    Love ya – mean it!

  2. Omelettez permalink*
    April 13, 2009 3:20 pm

    Grrr… damn KotBS. I swear, the Heavy Metal event ruined it for me.

    I agree with the stuff about taunt. I find it to be useful as an interrupt more than a lousy damage boost.

    And I love Wafflez, too, I just happen to love Pancakez more =3 Especially with syrup. Yum.

  3. Feggas permalink
    April 14, 2009 2:53 am

    Am I alone in thinking that the chart needs more dots?

    And moving ones at that.

  4. Omelettez permalink*
    April 14, 2009 7:16 am

    That’s Pancakez’s department. I’m sure if you ask nicely he’ll do one.


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