Tobold's Blog
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Gravity on the tank ratio

Gravity from pwnwear, a Death Knight tanking blog, asked on my input on the ratio of tanks to other classes in a guild. Basically the problem is that in a 25-man raid encounters require only 2 tanks (8% of players in the raid), or at maximum 3 tanks (12%). But in a 10-man raid or 5-man heroic, you would always take 20% of tanks in the group.

So a guild which has 20% of tanks and was doing fine gearing up in heroics and 10-man raids will have a tank surplus the moment they start tackling 25-man raids, and will have to bench half of their tanks. But a guild with only 12% of tanks which is perfect for 25-man raids will not have enough tanks to do many 5-man and 10-man expeditions.

While I would agree with Gravity that this can be a problem, I think the solution is a simple one, especially for Death Knights: The guild just needs to always invite 5 characters with tank potential to 25-man raids, and then let them organize a rotation in which half of them are doing dps with the help of dual spec.

So while the tank ratio is contributing to the general tank shortage problem, I don't think it is the main culprit. The two main tank problems are:Now of course some players enjoy the added challenge of raiding with a tank. But in general it boils down to some roles carrying more responsability in a raid than others, and the combination of higher responsability with lower probability of an epic reward is not a good one. Adding another "tank class" in WotLK hasn't helped, or even just increased the competition for plate gear. You don't need to be much of a prophet to predict that one of the weak points of the upcoming new LFG system will be lots of groups waiting around for a tank. Or a healer, who do share the "high responsability" problem, although they usually are better off than tanks for gear.
Exactly why I'm taking a break from WoW for a while. Too much responsibility, it's just a game!
The different ratio of tanks required between 5/10-man and 25-man did cause problems in the past for my guild.. but I have to say, the problems really have evaporated since dual-spec was introduced. We have people who play tank classes but who are dual-specced into dps or healing (and enjoy both roles), so we can cover whatever needs covering.
One thing you find is that inevitably, people who are gearing up for two roles (ie. tank and dps) in raids, will be putting out worse dps than the guys who are concentrating on it full time (I'm reasonably well geared but several hundred dps behind the 'pure' dps warriors).

So that probably means you won't want too many part time dpsers in your raid. Having one tank switch to dps because a particular fight needs 2 tanks, not 3, isn't a problem. But carrying an extra couple of part-time dps all the time is going to start making things harder. It's fine at a casual level, but quite difficult when you're up against hard dps checks.
This post just about sums up for me what I don't like about post-PoP MMO gameplay. It's fortuitous timing, because only yesterday while playing Fallen Earth did the penny finally drop for me as to why I have no interest in the end-game of most MMOs.

No matter whether it's PvE raids, PvP city sieges, open world or instance, end-game play in most MMOs comes down to just one thing: organisation. There's the endless man-management that goes from recruiting through gearing-up to raid balance to loot allocation, not to mention the endless politicking to try and keep everyone onside.

Then there's the tactical organisation of the activity itself, gettign everyone where they should be, doing what they should be doing, when they should be doing it. And finally there's the post-match analysis, the debriefing and the action points for next time.

Really, if I was going to do any of that, I'd expect to get paid for it. I very definitely wouldn't want to do it for fun. It's no wonder I only enjoy most MMOs up to the point the end-game begins.
I disagree. I think there wouldn't be a problem (given dualspec) if groups weren't so gear demanding for new tanks.

What I mean is, when you join a group as a tank, you need to outgear whatever you're tanking by a good two or three raiding tiers right now.

Because of this unfriendliness, offspec tanks would rather stay in their dps comfort zone. Groups become increasingly accustomed to all their tanks having 30k unbuffed hp etc and that becomes the new standard - if you can't meet it, you're not good enough.

This problem is definitely worsened by new tanks who gem entirely for stamina and don't get defcapped - they go into ToC heroic or a 10man raid, take a bunch of crits, and the group believe that their tank doesn't have good enough gear (most dps don't understand tanking stats).
Tanking mechanics still annoy me. I wish the genre could move past this. I like the changes WoW have made to spread the wealth of tanking careers and my Belfadin (defense spec) was my favorite alt.
I thought dual specs solved all that. Be DPS and have a tank offspec. Should be enough to tank the ten mens or heroics.

I do agree that adding an extra tanking or healing class does not solve anything. People who tank or heal are willing to take on the extra responsibility. I personally find DPS to be "more fun". Adding the deathknight will not make people suddenly find taking responsibility fun.
I played a tank for over 2 years in EQ2, then a mage for about a year netto in WoW and only healers since then in WoW and detours to other MMOs. From my experience if you have fun and want to play each role progressively, as in to pull fast, keep aggro no matter what, max your dps or keep everyone alive yes even overaggroing dps and on really bad "room pulls", then each role has similar levels in stress and responsibility if you want to call it like that.
Veneratio of gives an excellent perspective:

I think he nails it - you can make fights interesting for multiple tanks by designing encounters so they all have something to do. In a game where 4/9 classes can tank and the job at raid level is overwhelmingly popular I think you probably should.
I have noticed a few other things with regard to number of tanks.

First, besides druids, tank gear and DPS gear don't mix, most healing classes can use a lot of the same gear for healing or DPS, so it makes a healing off-spec easier.

Also, most classes with the ability to tank on their dual spec don't. I am sure the gear/responsibility thing ties in there. A DPS below the hit cap just does lousy DPS, most groups won't toss someone for bad numbers. However, a tank who isnt defense capped with 30k health cant even find a group.

So don't do the organizing. Just focus on your part. There are plenty of people who love to do the organization work for free.
Not true Tobold. Any tank can have a secondary dps spec. Or healing spec in the case of a Pally or Druid.
I hit the send button before I finished commenting! Anyway, there are also mods that can help players, and especially hybrids to tap their full potential. I posted about them at but basically by using talented and Active Bar Saver anyone can do a 3-min total respec and be back in the action in no time after a quick summon.

There really is not issue with tanks, healers, or dps any more. Dual spec and mods make it all a non-issue.
Bhagpuss nailed it. The typical MMO endgame is too high maintenance for me. My absolute favorite parts of an MMO are those quest and camps that require two players, three at the most. That's enough people for socializing, but not so many that you feel like a cog in the machine.
While this is an ideal solution on paper, the problem in with this eventually comes down to gear. Your Main Tanks should be some of the most geared people in a raid. If you are rotating tanks in and out that means that it will take longer to gear up any one tank, which in turn makes the entire raid work harder and the raid becomes more reliant on the rest of the raids gear. Having a few BiS geared tanks is better then having 5-6 ok geared tanks in any raid situation. (As long as they show up)

Then you have the issue where a maybe a player is good as a tank, and then completely stinks at doing any sort of DPS. Rotating him puts more pressure on the DPS when he's in that role and hurts the raid as a whole.

And of course we can't forget about the drama that comes with rotating. You would soon get cries of "tank x gets all the gear!", "how come Im always stuck on dps! I doo better then tank Y!". etc, etc, etc
I think there is a problem here, and in my former raid guild we had the inverse problem. We started as a 40->25 group. So we had 3-5 solid tanks. Now when it was time to do 10 or even worse 5-man content, there always was a huge scramble for tanks!

If you couldn't get hold of the 3 top geared tanks you were so clearly at a disadvantage it wasn't funny. Healers and DPS had the inverse problem. Lots of healers in 25 and way too many for 5 mans.

This discrepancy causes a lot of tension in the group and I always felt that blizz should have either made it 20 or 30 just to allow better scaling of the relative group sizes. 5/20/40 was actually rather natural in terms of scaling 10 possible classes, and it was comparatively much more easy to do 2*20 out of a 40 group than it is now to do 10s out of 25 which just doesn't compute. and 5*5 doesn't work because the role numbers are misaligned.

I do think that the system is somewhat broken for this reason and it just worst around tanks (or paradise for the tank who is the go-to of a raid group because he will have all the options!).
A comment on the gearing aspect of tanks.

Unlike DPS, gear for tanks is a condition of them being able to perform in certain environments not just added damage or healing. Not only is there the defense cap to worry about but also one's stamina. With many raid bosses dealing such high spike damage, Blizzard has implemented an "effective health" cap that tanks must meet as well. Changes in Cataclysm will streamline this to some extent but until then it will remain a serious concern for all tanks.
Sounds like one more reason to scale encounters.
I do think that the system is somewhat broken for this reason and it just worst around tanks (or paradise for the tank who is the go-to of a raid group because he will have all the options!).

I tend to agree. But, when Blizzard added dual-spec abilities, they added a whole other layer of difficulties for raid leaders along the lines of determining who gets to come based on their declared "main spec".

Instead of having 40 people with only one spec, you now have to consider only 25 people with 50 possible specs. So the raid leaders are being shoehorned into the position of requiring players to actually "declare" a main spec for raid planning purposes where loot distribution is concerned.

The actual problem isnt in the number of specs and classes that are available though, it's in the continued loss of "utility" that certain classes -used- to possess versus the way encounters are being designed in recent content.
We're all humans and we make mistakes. But a tank mistake usually means a raid wipe, while a dps mistake is usually *shrug*, he died, the rest beat the encounter.

Also the ratio contributes to this, when you're 1/2 of the "tank" group, the rest can't just cover it for you. If you're 1/16 or 1/18 of the "dps" group, losing one person is really not that important, and his low performance or "dying in the fire" hampers the raid in much lesser degree.

Therefore, to say it rudely, many dpsers are dpsers because they developed a mentality "dps are allowed to suck".

However, what irks we in WoW there aren't any more tank, healer and dps classes. There are only dps and dps + something. Every class can dps, but someone who wants to play a tank or healer is usually forced to take dps offspec, even if he hates it and sucks at it. Especially that encounters don't always require the same amount of tanks and pressure on healers is different too so "we need 7 healers here... but this one is easy to heal, please 3 healers switch to dps now".

Being a dps, you're just a dps and work to be good at it. Being a tank or healer means not only you have more responsible primary role, but also you should be decent at dps and switch when raid leader or "content design" requires it. And if you suck at dps, the "true dpsers" in the raid cry in outrage. So you need to be twice as good.
Spinks' earlier comment "One thing you find is that inevitably, people who are gearing up for two roles (ie. tank and dps) in raids, will be putting out worse dps than the guys who are concentrating on it full time" is important.
Other commentators also understand the many dimensions of this problem, which has both (a) demand-side problem, caused by the low numbers of tanks required for 25-man raids, and (b) supply-side problem of gearing taking longer, spending Emblems on tank gear rather than dps gear meaning your off-spec is weaker, tanking requiring more responsibility also pushes people away (it's a bit like one of the 'organising' roles).

I hope that in Cataclysm, Blizzard requires a consistent 3 or 4 tanks in all 25-man raids. That'd fix the demand-side, anyhow.
Hi, I'm a tank. I'll tell you why the upcoming cross realm LFG will work.

First and formost it is random. There is a server set gear requirement to run a given heroic. This is great because maybe I will now start pugging heroics again. I'm now at 34k unbuffed. I've been tanking heroics since I was at 19k. Do you know how fustrating it is to join a bug for a heroic TOC and have some dipshit question my tanking ability because I don't have 40k? If he looked at my gear he would see most of it is from Heroic TOC so wtf? What makes it awesome is that I did H ToC on opening night with 26k health.

I hate the whole concept of the tank needing to be overgeared for content. So come the new patch I'll be added to pugs because my gear is good enough, even if little baby bitch a lot doesn't think so.
I can see how "casual" guilds would have a problem specially those who are only starting off in 25mans. But with a more well established guild. For example our guild we do 2 25 normal runs, 1 Heroic ToGc. and 3 10m Insanity groups. (we raid 4 days a week, 2-3 hours aday)

We get geared up real fast, and during the normal ToC 25 we're able to get gear for off specs/ALTS who are capable of tanking heroic 10 mans.

we have 3 MTs, 1 war, 1 pally 1 dk. and have a bunch of alts in 245 gear since most of our tanks are decked out already and tank items/trophies are just getting wasted.
I'm not sure that I agree with the comment that all healers have gearing easier. Tanks are basically competing for gear against the RNG of the loot system in WoW. Some healers are competing against that PLUS caster dps classes as well.
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