Tanks in PvP

100 Blood Elf Paladin
14700
you fked up prots in PvP because of all qq from none tank players.. you need to be fired

Do you realize you won't have any opponents in PvP for long if you're having tons of fun and they aren't?
Tanks in PvP are "you can't kill me" which is super frustrating for everyone else. If there's another design we're open to it.


I've seen this response several times now from the WoW design community and I thought it might be productive to respond to the argument on a less reactionary level than the original poster quoted above.

Essentially, if I'm not missing Ghostcrawler's argument, the belief is that preventing other players from operating as intended (e.g. dealing damage and seeing your health go down) is frustrating in a pvp situation and consequently, tanks as they exist in PvE (geared and talented to mitigate and avoid being killed) create an environment that runs counter to the best interests of the PvP environment. In essence: if all you do is not die, no one is going to want to play in a format that is based entirely around trying to kill you.

As a personal note, I do agree that sabotaging what your opponents can do to you is frustrating. Take, for example, a rogue's ability to stun-lock you or their ability to simply vanish and flee if the fight is going against them. Take a frost mage's ability to snare, stun, and escape from melee distance with virtually no opportunity cost on their part. Take a hunter's ability to sic their pet on you and devote 100% of their actions to fleeing while the computer-controlled minion does not insignificant damage while you chase. All of these are frustrating and all of these are hallmarks of Warcraft's PvP. Just because a class or a spec has the capacity to hinder expectations does not invalidate their utility or endanger the whole exercise.

Let us, for a moment, set aside the question of one on one battles. I think we can safely surmise that WoW was never intended to support one-on-one PvP balance. So, if we are talking only of Arena and battlegrounds, what would dedicated tanking bring to the picture? In both cases, you have a combatant who has a variety of defensive cooldowns, mastery passives, and often self-healing options. Essentially, a very durable team-mate and a "hard target" opponent. This is nothing new, of course- there is a reason why Frost and Subtlety have reputations as "the pvp spec." Durability means sustained output. So, let's look at each of the PvP options.

The meta of Arena varies so wildly from season to season, expansion to expansion, even between the brackets that it is difficult to make a statement about how dedicated tanks would affect the environment without making sweeping, simplistic generalizations. Instead, let's ask ourselves if a tank would upset game balance in a significant fashion. On the one hand, you have an opponent who is nearly impossible to burst down. You have someone capable of limited healing, moderate dps, and high mobility. Often, tanks have group-wide cooldowns, interrupts, and CC that allow their team to coordinate offensive and defensive strategies. To be certain, there may be some use for a tank in an Arena team. However, their sustained healing is insignificant next to a dedicated healer's, their damage output is trivial without vengeance, and their survivability does not, in and of itself, win matches. I think it would be safe to dismiss a 5v5 match-up of all tanks, for example.

Further, the argument could be made that, if a tank is the last target of a team, and a single dps is incapable of neutralizing a tank, you could always fight your way to a draw. This is a poor counter, however, as a similar situation happens anytime a match comes down to healer v. healer. A similar system of checks and balances that keep healers from being able to outlast any offense apply to tanks, namely: cooldowns, mana pool, class matchup, and gear. While a tank with full cooldowns may seem untouchable, they are only available for a small window of the entire engagement and often have obvious visual cues. While tanks can provide healing, it is frequently tied to a diminishing or replenishing resource- sustained pressure prevents infinite regeneration. It should go without saying that certain classes will always be a heavy counter to dedicated tanks, namely: mobile casters. And finally, as PvP Power goes up, so too does your damage output on tanks as well as all other specs. Perhaps not quite so much if they gear for avoidance or mitigation, but having a dodge chance doesn't invalidate smart offensive cooldown management.

So, what about battlegrounds? In this environment, tanks are an even more attractive addition to an otherwise rather stagnant binary. Rather than a focus on pure kill count (unless you're running a "fight in the middle" strategy, I suppose), battlegrounds have objectives that dominate the course of the action. Flags to carry or retrieve, points to capture or defend, vehicles to pilot or sabotage. Would tanks provide some measure of utility in these situations? Of course! Otherwise, nobody would want to play a tank in PvP. But, would a tank be an unfair and corrosive advantage? To be quite honest, healers have ever been the worst offenders in that field. The opponent wants to kill your flag carrier, cap your points, and run down your escorts- hard targets complicate all three objectives. However, healers turn every member of the team into a hard target, requiring comprehensive counters such as chain CC, dedicated interrupts, focused fire, and even the infamous anti-healer tool: the mortal strike. If the design team had the chance to turn back the clock and lock healing out of PvP, would they? I do not believe they would, so why are they suddenly so keen to shut out tanking?

To summarize, the argument that tanking makes pvp not fun simply doesn't hold water. Without exception, every PvP strategy is centered on having fun at the other guy's expense. Healers don't want to be CC'd while their team mates die; dps don't want to be burned down by a whole team's focused fire; nobody wants all the damage they've done be wiped away in an instant by a bomb heal; players don't want to be stunned, interrupted, kited, or killed. That is the nature of PvP. The community grows and forms counter strategies to compensate for strong and weak class/spec showings and what the players can't out-think, the nerfbat frequently mends. Playing nanny to the entire PvP community because of some fear that tanking may take the wind out of someone's sails is misguided and not at all what I would hope to see from a design team. If you don't want every spec to be pvp viable, simply say so. If you don't want pvp nerfs to affect pve performance, simply say so. If you simply just don't want to have to deal with the headache of balancing tanking specs for pvp, simply say so. But please do not say that ruining somebody's fun is a valid rationale for overtly keeping tanking specs from participating in half of the game.

***

On to the constructive part: Alternate approaches for Tanks in PvP. Assuming the design team does not want tanks to serve as hard targets, what other roles could they provide?

1. Martyr - Though you are loathe to have a pvp and pve side to abilities, some times that adds depth without adding needless confusion. Take, for example, taunts. In PvE, taunts force monsters to attack you for a while, saving your team mates. In PvP, a similar mechanic might be enforced: taunting to force a target-lock on opposing players or pets. There are already mechanics that drop targeting (vanish, feign death) and mechanics that complicate targeting (mirror image), so it is not much of an intuitive leap to suggest target-locking. Keeping your team-mates safe or eating a big spell instead of the healer would give tanks the same self-sacrificing M.O. that players come to expect, even if their durability isn't overwhelmingly superior to any other member of the team.

2. Punisher - Alternately, if you don't want to FORCE players to attack the tank, why not give them reason to fear not attacking the tank? Just as vengeance builds as the tank takes damage in PvE, a similar buff could build as teammates within a certain radius take damage. If you ignore the tank to focus entirely on the healer, suddenly you've got a surprisingly hefty damage-dealer on your hands.

3. Guardian - If the fear is that tanks will be too mighty with innate damage mitigation, why not lock their full potential until they find something to protect? In battlegrounds, guarding points and escorting (though perhaps not carrying) flags could give the tank their full compliment of survival, giving your team that extra time they need to coordinate and strike back at aggressors. And if the opponent can peel the tank off of their sworn duty (any number of push/pull mechanics), suddenly they're just as enfeebled as the rest of the team.

These are merely a few options, of course. I would encourage everyone in this thread to think up some of their own alternate tanking roles.
Edited by Adjatha on 7/15/2013 10:52 PM PDT
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28 Dwarf Paladin
1970
07/15/2013 10:51 PMPosted by Adjatha
Without exception, every PvP strategy is centered on having fun at the other guy's expense.


Amen.

I have never understood Blizzard's fondness for nerfing an ability because it's "frustrating" for other players. In Cata they did this for Druids shapeshifting out of slows -- it was supposedly too "frustrating" for ranged specs to deal with. This didn't stop them from reinstituting it for MoP. Are Frost mages any less "frustrated" by Druid mobility than they were in WoTLK?

Healers don't want to be CC'd while their team mates die; dps don't want to be burned down by a whole team's focused fire; nobody wants all the damage they've done be wiped away in an instant by a bomb heal; players don't want to be stunned, interrupted, kited, or killed.


Right. Everything any of us do in PvP is "frustrating" to someone, or we wouldn't do it.

07/15/2013 10:51 PMPosted by Adjatha
To summarize, the argument that tanking makes pvp not fun simply doesn't hold water.


Amen, again.
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90 Blood Elf Paladin
7570
Excellent post.
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100 Human Paladin
11245
So instead of DPS / Healers we can have Tanks / Healers as tanks will slowly replace DPS.

Sounds good!
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100 Blood Elf Paladin
14700
So instead of DPS / Healers we can have Tanks / Healers as tanks will slowly replace DPS.

Sounds good!


This is a very silly thing to say. PvP even more so than PvE is highly sensitive to class balance and stacking the four tank classes would put a team at a pretty significant disadvantage in terms of what they can and cannot do. Not the least of which being that tanks are not ranged. Naturally, if tanks did precisely the same damage as melee dps, there would be no reason to play melee dps. However, since we may safely assume that dps specs have the capacity for a much higher damage output due to abilities, passives, and gear stats, you would be sacrificing output for survival. If your team can't put adequate pressure on the opposing team, they'll pretty easily out heal your damage and focus down your guys one by one.
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93 Dwarf Paladin
14455
So instead of DPS / Healers we can have Tanks / Healers as tanks will slowly replace DPS.

Sounds good!


...Except you'd still need DPS players to kill healers? Or was Vengeance reinstated into PvP when I wasn't looking?
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