Exploring Threatless Tanking

So here we are after a bit of a hiatus after a much needed vacation. How are you guys? Everyone having fun with their Pandaria beta access and the like? Playing around in the world of Kung Fu Panda?

Well, a couple of weeks ago, we covered the fact that tanking in newer MMO’s might present a bit of a challenge due to the lack of certain amenities that one might have grown accustomed to with the long-standing World of Warcraft.

Stepping foot into the Star Wars universe, I spent a bit of time covering what it was like tanking without a threat meter and how that experience helped me when it came time to return to Azeroth.

Well, this past weekend, I was fortunate enough to give the first betaweekend for Guild Wars 2 a decent try and let me tell you, if you thought that the lack of a threat meter keeps you on your toes while tanking, you haven’t tried anything until you try to fulfill the tanking role without THREAT.

Guild Wars 2 does away with the whole idea of a threat meter for each mob completely and instead, the mobs and bosses are pretty much free to head after anyone that looks at them funny.

While I wasn’t able to get into any of the few instances available, I spent time doing the tanking role for the big dynamic events as well as protecting a less gaming-inclined friend and performing such tasks without the threat mechanic was really an eye opener.

Tanking in Warcraft usually means that you burn through your high threat moves as quickly as possible and only have to go chasing after mobs when your damage dealers are a little too overzealous or in the rare occasions when someone accidentally pulls some additional mobs.

The experience of tanking in Guild Wars 2 usually had you chasing after mobs that just didn’t want to play with you and utilizing your controlling abilities, the ones that knocked back, knocked down, stunned or blinded mobs, much more efficiently.

Without threat to rely on as a crutch, your crowd control abilities functioned as your only hard tools for easing the damage that was headed toward your squishies and it behooved you to save and utilize said abilities effectively. You couldn’t really use all of your abilities as quickly as they came up and, instead, had to judiciously save them for certain occasions. Those occasions being NOT when a mob stopped paying attention to you, but when an ally was nearly dead and could really use those few seconds to gain some distance and to heal.

As with many aspects of tanking, I highly recommend that you explore the role of tanking, not just in Warcraft, but in other games to see how the role itself evolves and to hopefully make us all better tanks by broadening our experiences and forcing us to fulfill our group-saving role without certain mechanics that we may have grown to rely on as a crutch.