Speaking of hating Arthas (aka what makes a bad tank?)

September 7, 2009 § 2 Comments

In my last post I talked about a very unfortunate Culling of Stratholme run that went south because Arthas bugged out.  But I got to thinking and I realized something.

Arthas is the worst tank ever.

Well, ok, maybe not the worst ever, but he’s not exactly going to be front running any top-rated guilds any time soon.  He does lack some serious skills as a tank.  He runs off all wily nilly, giving no thought or heed to his group mates, pulling mob after mob without waiting for anything.  And even when he does give a ‘moment to clear your lungs’ he doesn’t actually give you all that much time, and half the time he doesn’t actually stop–he pulls the closest zombies, often keeping you in combat so you can’t eat or drink

It got me thinking, what exactly makes a bad tank?  I’m sure everyone has run across a few doosies, each tied to unique and often very entertaining stories.  But in each story there was something specific the tank did or didn’t do that caused the disaster.  So I asked my guild mates to see if they had any insight on what tanks do that make them ‘bad’.

Here are some of the things they came up with (along with a few I threw in):

  • Not stopping to let dps or healers regenerate mana.
  • Starting a pull before everyone is ready and/or present.
  • Tanks who don’t understand their class or the mechanics of tanking.
  • Being severely under-geared.  (This also includes not being crit immune.)
  • Blaming their faults on the healer or dps.
  • Trying to tell the other classes how to play.
  • Inability to generate sufficient threat to hold aggro.
  • Stepping out of line-of-sight without warning.
  • Pulling without a plan.
  • Not marking mobs (or marking them incorrectly).
  • Misuse of cooldowns.

First of all, some of the items in the list aren’t limited to tanks.  Plenty of dps and healers are guilty of blaming their own faults on others, or not understanding their class.  But some of them are unique to or at least more common among tanks.

Anyway, as I went through the list I discovered that the problems could be divided into two categories:  Game mechanics and personality traits.  Initially I was going to cover the game mechanics and ways to improve.  But I think I’d rather leave that to another post, because that doesn’t really get to the heart of what makes a bad tank.

What makes a tank bad or good comes down to the personality traits of the person sitting behind the keys of those tanks.  If a person is selfish, brash, irresponsible, inconsiderate, selfish, arrogant, judgmental, inflexible, or heedless then inevitably they will be a bad tank.  If they are selfish, they aren’t going to think about waiting for group-mates.  If they are arrogant they will blame their faults on others.  If the are irresponsible they won’t bother learning their class or getting sufficient gear.

Tanks like this don’t often survive long in steady guilds and raid groups.  I’m not saying it never happens, but I’d imagine that selfish, pig-headed tanks don’t often get invited back to groups.  Raid leaders don’t like drama and arrogance among group members.  And if the awful tanks happen to be the raid leaders it’s not likely many people will want to follow them.

The funny thing is though, tanks that can be perfectly civilized human beings in regular raid groups and guild runs turn into horrible bile-spewing bastards in pick-up groups.  Sometimes, the most technically skilled tanks become arrogant and petty in PuGs because they feel like they are ‘blessing’ the group with their very presence.

Which actually brings me to another problem that I’ve noticed.  There seems to be a trend growing among tanks in PuGs wherein they act like the run belongs to them personally.  What I mean is, they treat everyone in the group almost like NPCs and that the run only exists to get them emblems, gear, rep, or achievements.

I quote from a post on the wow forums:

I go fast; group can’t keep up, I leave.
Dps doesn’t focus fire? I let them die as many times as it takes for them to catch on or leave.
I don’t mark anything, I don’t tell them anything, I just go.
30 emblems away from my 1000 emblems of heroism achievment ~_^

And another quote from the same post:

In my pugs I dont explain boss fights, I dont stop moving, if ur not ready I will pull and if your dps is too low you will be replaced.
Don’t have time to Babysit.

If you cant keep up then G TF O. You just slowing me down.

Both of these quotes illustrate this poisonous attitude infecting our PuGs.  I do think it’s fair to expect others to at least have a working knowledge of their class and understand instances in general.  And if they don’t know the fights, they need to say so.  It’s not the tanks job to babysit or hold the other people’s hands.  But it’s also not ok to remove people because you don’t like that they ‘can’t keep up.’

If you are going to lead a group and have specific standards that you insist on everyone living up to, it is up to you to make your demands known upfront.  If you expect the dps to all pull 3k, you need to a) make sure they are capable doing that much dps and b) tell them that if they can’t do 3k they can’t come.  If you are going to chain pull, you need to say that in advance so that the dps/heals can decide if they want to waste their time with you.

In most instances you have until you kill the first boss before you become saved to place.  This gives you ample time to find out if the other  group members know what they are doing and have high enough dps/healing.  But once you become saved the run belongs to everyone there .  Unless they were intentionally lazy or under-performing, everyone participated in some way.  Just because they aren’t ‘uber leet’ like you seem to think you are doesn’t mean they deserve to be booted because they made one mistake or weren’t fast enough for you.

I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this.  They might counter with things like “By the time people hit 80 they should know how to play their class,” or “I don’t want to waste my time with a fail group,” or “If they can’t keep up they should GTFO.”  Well, first of all if you really want to avoid these problems, don’t PuG.  Only run with people you know.  Then you will always know what to expect.  But if you still insist on PuGing keep a few things in mind:

  • There are new players out there.  Not everyone has been playing since 2004.
  • Some people really haven’t run instances before reaching 80.  They may have had no interest in it before and now, for whatever reason, they want to.  It’s new to them.
  • Other people don’t want to waste their time on a fail group either.  And they don’t want to get locked out of an instance because some arrogant jerk of a tank booted them for not conforming to their ridiculous standards.
  • It’s not all about you.  The run doesn’t belong to you.  It’s a group endeavor.  It’s not all about you. It’s. Not. All. About. You.

There will be plenty of people who read this and just completely disagree with me.  And that’s fine.  I just hope that the next time they join a PuG they try and remember that there are four other people in the group that are giving of their time, effort, and talents.

So, in the end, what truly makes a bad tank?  Attitude.  Being a jerk.  Deciding that everyone else isn’t worth treating like a real person.  Poor game mechanics can be improved.  But a jerk is a jerk is a jerk.  And it’s a lot harder for them to change.  Hopefully though, tanks who are truly bad will be few and far between.

Just remember the golden rule.

“[Insert clever sign off phrase here]”


PS: And just a side note to dps and healers: Don’t put up with tanks like this.  If their actions are left unchecked then they are going to think it’s ok to behave that way.  Stand up to them.  Remind them that the run isn’t all about them.

However, don’t think this gives you a license to act like a jerk.  A bad tank does not excuse a bad dps or a bad healer.

§ 2 Responses to Speaking of hating Arthas (aka what makes a bad tank?)

  • gnomeaggedon says:

    Ahh “bad tanks”, well bad-people-playing-tanks.

    When I’m DPS, I do my job.. if I need mana and the tank is forging ahead, I check my mana and make a decision on whether I join in, or complete my drink.

    If the party wipes because I wasn’t ready… well hopefully they were far enough away that I didn’t enter combat… not my problem.

    When I’m heals, same deal. If the tank run off or isn’t paying attention to my comfort zone and needs… well it’s their repair bill, not mine.

    This isn’t to say that I don’t jump in to try and save the day, but bad behavior doesn’t deserve to be rewarded by me busting my arse to save theirs

    • thistlefizz says:

      Most of the time it’s on a case by case basis. If I’m playing on my tank and someone else is pulling (like a hunter I recently ran with) instead of waiting for me, I may give them the benefit of the doubt and get the mob off of him. But if after asking them to stop, and repeated incidents of them pulling anyway, then I have no problem letting them get beaten on (of course this requires me to warn my healer ahead of time). It’s the same thing on my heals. If the tank is going faster than I am comfortable with and won’t slow down after asking them to stop, I will let them run off into oblivion.

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