Becoming A Meat Shield

With all this news about the new Cataclysm expansion coming in little dribs and drabs, a lot of our thoughts wander to what it will be like.

Will I still be playing?

Will I still be in this guild?

Will I still be <insert class here> when Cataclysm is finally out and in full swing?

Maybe you’re getting a little bored of the class that you’re playing now. Maybe a bit of variety’s just what you need. Maybe you saw a warrior charging, intercepting and intervening around a boss fight like a pinball on crack and you thought to yourself, “damn, now that’s what I want to be doing when Cataclysm’s out!”

For a bigger in-game decision such as this one, there are a couple of things that you should know first off before taking the plunge.

Tanking is…different. I know that that’s something that everyone says about the role they fill and the class they play but if all you’ve ever done is deal damage or heal, tanking can be a little interesting to wrap your head around. It’s a little more unsettling if you’ve never really played as a melee class before, simply due to the restricted viewpoints of all of the fights. As a caster, you’re generally free to zoom out pretty well and can get a good sense of the entire battlefield as a whole where if you play in melee range, the majority of your time as well as screen real estate is taken up by the boss itself.

It takes a little bit of getting used to.

On another note though, is what kind of tank would you want to try being? If your aim is to simply tank for a group of friends on their daily heroic dungeons and such, there’s a lot less need to strive for perfection than if you were planning to be the main tank for a progression guild on your server.

The old adage you hear? About how it’s always the tank’s fault if someone dies? While it’s not really true, a lot of people still act that way so if you have a thin skin, if criticism (both the well meant or the snotty kinds) stresses you out and bothers you overmuch, in all honesty, tanking is probably not something that you want to get into. It’s a little hard to enjoy yourself playing a game when everyone blames you for the wipe or the death of a party member.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any perks to tanking though. A dedicated and reliable tank, whether it’s for 25 man raids or just a daily dungeon here and there are often awarded for their service with profuse gratitude and respect. If you’re good at what you do, people will notice and remember that and as such, tanks and healers have an easier time forming connections and a bit of a social network that’s required to end up main tanking for a raiding guild (if that’s your goal). And on top of that, even if raiding isn’t something you want to do, being on the short list for competent healers and DPSers around your server can never really be a bad thing.

So give it some thought. If you have an alt or a spec that can tank for a while, all the better to experiment with it now while everyone waits for the expansion to see if you can get a feel for it, if you find it challenging or even if you simply enjoy it.

If you’re dead set on giving it a try, maybe even levelling a specific class to do it for the expansion, I’ll be back next week to share with you the difference between the various tanking classes and how to pick one that would best suit your play style and temperament.