Tobold's Blog
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Main tanks and the financial crisis

I was discussing the current financial crisis with some friends recently, and we came up with a rather simple truth: The underlying problem of the crisis was too many people spending more money than they earned, living on credit and investment gains that only existed on paper. Thus now they'll have to save for a while, to pay back debt and accumulate a real financial cushion, before they can go and spend again. And when we were discussing guild policies on how to distribute raid loot, I suddenly realized that the same simple truth is also valid for that situation: If you give your main tank first choice of all loot, and equip him faster than everyone else, then at some point he'll have all the loot he can get with your guild at the current level, while the rest of the guild is still catching up. Just as in the long run you can't spend more money than you can earn, in the long run you can't always gain loot faster than your guild. At some point the main tank will have to wait for everyone to catch up, so the next raid dungeon becomes accessible.

That explains a lot of things. For example why it is usually the main tank who is at some point complaining that the guild isn't advancing fast enough: He got used to fast track gearing up, and is now unhappy with the inevitable wait for the others to catch up. It also explains why main tanks are quite often among those who hop from their current guild to the next higher guild: By simply exchanging your guild mates for a better equipped lot, you can get back onto the fast track again.

So for a guild to equip their main tank first is only a good idea if the guy is extremely patient and helpful, and doesn't mind to use his thus gained gear to help everyone else get equipped as well. If the main tank is highly ambitious on the other hand, giving him loot priority only prepares the next guild drama, where he either complains, or leaves, or both. Just like you can't escape basic economics and live beyond your means in the real world, a guild can't live beyond their means by equipping only a few people well, not in the long run. Albeit as Keynes said, in the long run we are all dead.
Item driven combat systems are terribad, you're right.
Good post Tobold. You touched on several key points of why most guilds have to constantly search for a new MT. While at first glance it seems right to gear up the vital classes first, there are prices to be paid for that.

Also, i agree with Melf too =)
Happens alot, certainly happened to the MT of my old guild. Many arguements regarding loot priorities in our vanilla wow raiding. We let him have certain things for "guild progression" but it was not enough to satisfy him. He threw tantrums whenever he did not get what he wanted until eventually he quit and the guild struggled to survive with undergeared and underexperienced tanks.

Later the MT came back and the problems continued, this time extending from the tank loot to all loot he wanted (random epic axes etc). Later in BC it got to the point, as Tolbold said, when he had everything he could possibly get and the rest of the guild was holding him back. At which point he moved to a better guild.

Later that guild died and he setup his own guild, this time as the guild master. After a few months raiding his epic fever returned and new "loot rules" started popping everytime he failed to win whichever item he was after that week (the rules extended far past tank priorities and into every manner of epic item that he might want).

In the end he became frustrated again, with his own guild, and migrated. I am sure the drama he created followed him where ever it was that he went.
Wish Bliz would bag a clue about how loot drops (tokens for tier items are an ever-so-slight improvement but not nearly enough) really damage the MMO aspect of their game. I have gotten so tired of witnessing the loot drama and DKP nightmares and all the trouble it causes, at this point I doubt I'll ever raid again.

All gear should be purchased through tokens earned per boss kill, thus equally available to the raid members who show up and do the work, combined with faction earned in that raid tier. So you might need 20 "uber tier 9 tokens" and friendly rep to buy bracers, or 100 "uber tier 9 tokens" and exalted rep to buy the chest. That way you reward people who show up, act like team players, faithfully week in and week out. You also end up with a raid force that generally gets geared together at an even rate, instead of worrying about people getting "ahead" of everyone else and leaving.

In my old guilds this has not just been a problem with MTs. It's also been a problem with healers. In fact that's going to get worse because now that they share stats with all caster classes, some guilds are defaulting those spellpower items to healers first, on the theory that the raid will progress faster. I knew a number of guilds that did this with tier tokens in B.C. Numerous healers to get all their tier 4 and tier 5 before the rest of their guild, then get bored and move on to a higher progressed guild. I watched a lot of healers gear their way from Kara to Sunwell and use 5-6 guilds to get there.

It all goes back to the tanking and healing shortage that's always existed. When dealing with an in-demand class, often they feel they can make these requests, and often guilds feel like they should honor them. In the end the guild almost always loses the player and the gear along with them.

I am hoping that the popularity of death knights, and Blizzard finally relaxing tanking mechanics so much that guilds might not feel they must use a prot warrior, will help defuse the celebrity MT status which has caused these kinds of problems.

Now we just need a heroic healing class.
I think that whatever you do, some members of the raid will gear up faster than others. Usually the guys who have more time to run the heroics/ get luckier with the drops/ etc etc. It still makes sense to consider prioritising roles if you KNOW there is an encounter coming up that is a specific gear check on those roles because you (as a raid) may need to prepare for it.

I don't see a huge need to prioritise tanks at the moment, it's terribly old fashioned. But at the end of the day, you want your guys geared for Patchwork and the smoothest way to get your guild through it may be to use some loot priorities at the beginning.

If you really think that people will jump guilds as soon as they run out of loot, then you have more problems than your looting system, imo. See, it might be that gearing up some classes first means that your whole raid can progress more quickly and hence more loot for everyone. I mean, that's the general goal of doing it.
I don't like the term main tank, and usually won't refer to my guild tanks that way because it gives them a huge ego. This is a never ending problem though. Only way to solve it is to be rude and tell him to maybe help the others instead of running his big yap.
It also doesn't help that when loot drops for tanks, there isn't much competition.
In SSC our tanks seemed to get loot from every single boss, whereas cloth dps loot only seemed to drop one or two times a week, and that had to be split between 10 or 11 people.
Gearing up dps takes a lot longer simply because there are more of them, and the larger your guild, the longer it is going to take until you have an instance on farm.
Very insightful, Tobold! It explains why we kept on losing our main tanks...
I don't see why guilds need to equip the main tanks first. Also main tanks should only be rolling on tanking items. In naxx the off tank is just as important as the main tank so they both need to be geared(although one better have a higher health pool to take hatefull strikes from patchwork). If a guild uses dkp then this should really work it's self out. If the guild just uses "/roll" on loot then the OT better be able to roll w/ the MT.
I've been in guilds where there was 1 main tank and the guild completely falls apart when the MT leaves. He either joins a bigger, badder guild or completely switches characters because the responsibility of being there for every raid (despite already being geared) is too much. My current guild has a 3 MT rotation (2 warriors, 1 druid). It helps lessen the burden and there's usually enough tanking to keep everyone happy.
That is unusually insightful and uncranky. Thursdays are good to you, it seems :)

This is one that needs to make the rounds.
It's really only shortsighted guilds that run into these problems. There should never be a main tank or a main healer or a main whatever. Players within the raid should be constantly training, grooming and gearing those beneath them with the aim that one day this will be their replacement.

Once anyone has all of the gear they need from a boss/wing/instance the raid leaders should be trying to rotate this player out to allow others to gain gear and experience. Some guilds understand this and that's why they are still here and raiding after 2+ years. Some don't and you see these "progresion guilds" that pop up everywhere and break apart or merge every 6 months or so.
This happened to my guild too! I think the whole "main tank" thing is a bad idea anyways. Even though Blizzard likes it a lot, as is evident in their dungeon and raid design, there are better ways.
Main tank gearing is rather a weird idea and I wonder if anyone actually does it anymore? Do you have any actual experience of what you're speaking about in the last 6 months say, or is it something you read about in 2004?

Everyone knows a loot whore on a server when they see one, so if you're a tank and you behave this way, you're next guild will likely know about it before you have time to type gquit. And the practice really doesnt help a guild kill bosses any faster anyways, so a GM/RL who gears their main tank first is naiive at best, and an appalling leader at worst. If they believe in MT gearing, I wager they're way behind the progression edge. The practice will just annoy everyone else in the guild, and an unhappy guild is not a good recipe for progression kills. Do "main tanks" even exist anymore???? I think its a dying practice tbh, with the changes to tanking specs & philosopy.

In my experience, tanks in top end guilds tend to be the most responsible & fair of all the players, simply because tanking is such a hard job and takes a degree of maturity that trancends the rampant loot lust of the less mature players *cough hunters/rogues cough*

Sure, its an mmo so we all need to gear up in order to develop as a guild. And that takes time. I would have thought that was obvious, not insightful.
This is offenwise the reason guild officers or leaders are the MT. I agree if your guild's bonds are not strong enough to the point that your MT will quit once he's geared that it would be stupid to give him everything. Right now you'd have to be insanely stupid to prioritize in this manner. There is no progression right now to gear for. We killed KT the first time we went in with blues. There is so much loot in naxx that by the time we get to the next dungeon everyone will be fully geared. The only really challenging fight is 3 drake Sarth and its execution and not the tank thats the issue with that fight.
Do you have any actual experience of what you're speaking about in the last 6 months say, or is it something you read about in 2004?

Yes, the main tank of my guild left for a better guild in the last 6 months.
Overall, good post, and why many guilds have a GL (or at least an officer) as their MT. They have to know what they are getting into from the get go.

In vanilla, it helped marginally to default certain items to the MT/OT but so much was based on the RNG that it didn’t really matter. Really big loot controversies only came up on a few items, say a druid wanting a DPS caster staff.

In BC things got brutal as you essentially had to default things to an MT and OT as you could not get progression really going (at least prior to the 2.2 patch). High King and Gruul were really quite hard and needed a geared tank to do take those hits, with STA being the biggest obstacle. That combined with the keys, made it all but a requirement.

The heroic gear now is very good and the content is relatively easy and no raid attunements. And there honestly isn’t a gear check until Malygos (barring a few raid related achievement items). And on most servers there are lots of successful PUG groups going almost every night. So anyone defaulting stuff now is just insane.

As to the one guy stating that his guild was defaulting stuff to healers in T4 and T5 content, your guild deserved to fail. The T4 token was priest/druid/warrior with any default possibilities going to the warrior and druid tank. If anything guilds would have limited priority to priests as the FSW and PMC sets were much better for their roles (as long as the healing priests stacked STA in other slots).
Another note about the so called "main Tank"

It probably isn't just a loot thing. Typically that guy (or girl) puts a lot of time and effort into each encounter. They know their role for every fight and execute it well. They are there for more runs than most any other player in the guild. If not for them many runs simply wouldn't happen, or progress as a guild overall happen. Sure some of the reasons for moving on is that they are bored with not progressing (and hence not getting any loot,) but some if it is probably that they ARE better than a lot of other players in their guild and want to play with people more on their level. It's not that they are being held back by waiting for others to gear up or want to play with better geared players. They may just want to play with better players who can take the next step. Each guild's one or two MT (and probably healers as well) are used to the fact that if they don't do their jobs near perfectly the raid wipes. Thats the kind of player you need to be to progress and take down ever harder challenges. While DPS is important, they can mess up a bit or not be quite up to snuff from time to time. Because of this they might not be quite on the level skill wise as the MT, MH. etc. Sure some of them are, but probably not all.

So its not a strictly loot thing. Its an attitude thing and ability thing as well. Move up to play with people who are as good as you.

Just for the record, I dont play a tank, its just something I've noticed.
Even worse are the occasional resist fight. Those encounters are designed from the ground up to force a guild to not only give certian loot to, but to farm and buy and craft gear all for one person. At least usually that gear is only useful for certain encounters, but it's still a lot of work and a single point of failure.
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