As everyone who reads should know, I’m a healer, it’s practically all I do. I love to whack moles and see little glowing frisbees jump from one party member to another and back again. I just don’t understand why anyone else would want to do anything but heal honestly. But there is an opposite side to the spectrum, one involving big heavy armor, thick shields and sweaty, not-too-brainy individuals, the tank.
Tanks are great. They stand in front of me and absorb all the nastiness that I hate. They also allow me to do what I love most by being so kind as to take loads of damage. You can’t run an instance or a raid without tanks and I’m just fine with that because who’d want to? But what are the differences between the tanks? Let’s take a closer look.
Now there are currently four major tank classes in the game. At one point they were a lot more specialized and some were generally thought of as necessary for certain encounters. However, Blizzard is going to great lengths in order to ensure that no matter what tank class you play, you’re just as good as the other guy. This has led to the idea that all tanks are created equal and for the most part this is true. However, anyone who’s run extensive dungeons will most likely eventually start to have favorites of sorts.
Let’s start with the newest kids on the block, the Death Knight. Now with the start of Wrath they really got a bum wrap as a tank and it was somewhat understandable. The problem was that starting at level 55 actually gimped them for end game, leading to a stereotype of all flash, no substance. They would often enough enter Northrend dungeons with insufficient gear and experience to handle tanking duties. This led to lots of spike damage and wiped groups with the blame resting solely on their rotting shoulders. However, I have gained new respect for them as I’ve moved into end game and seen how a knowledgeable DK tank can handle himself. Definitely a solid choice for tank once they get their feet under them, they are truly masters of AoE DPS tanking, but can lag behind on threat meters, so be wary of that. Due for a very solid whack with the nerf bat in 3.1, so we’ll see how that holds up afterwards.
Next up is everyone’s favorite Teddy Bear, the druid tank. Druids are the undisputed masters of health, they have it out the yin yang and that’s just fine with me. A top geared druid tank can easily hit 40k health fully raid buffed and will usually go beyond that mark. However, compared to other tanks they can be somewhat weak thanks to a couple of issues beyond their control. The biggest issue is the fact that bear form can cause pathing issues, forcing the tank to readjust and causing the melee DPS to move around as well. They’re also the only tank who’s main AoE taunt only works in a cone in front of them, so they have to have all the mobs in the right positioning. All in all, druid tanks are good and, if you need a tank, will definitely get the job done. But the need to constantly be adjusting pathing and placing of mobs makes them the weakest tank choice.
Then there are Paladins. I feel like paladins have recently come into their own with the WotLK expansion. It seemed in BC that whenever I grouped with a paladin, they just could not hold aggro effectively and were very weak in the health department. However, with the threat changes that Blizzard implemented with the expansion, Paladins have quickly climbed the list and can’t seem to be separated from the mobs without a crowbar. Their consecrate spell especially makes them the kings of AoE taunting and now that they have a single target taunt, they’re a very strong choice as a main tank for any sort of situation.
Finally, there’s the Warrior. Much maligned lately because they are no longer the strongest in any of the main tanking categories and therefore perceived as weak. However, fret not, warriors, for Dueg still loves you. As a healer, I will always take a warrior over other tanks and I’ll tell you why. They’re somewhat like priests in the sense that they’re not the best in any one category, but are the second best in all of them, making them extremely flexible. A warrior who knows his class inside and out can effectively tank in any situation and excel at it. But for me, it truly comes down to the fact that Vigilance is just the bee’s knees. An ability that reduces 10% of my threat, gives it to the tank and allows them to instantly taunt if I get smacked around? Uh, yes please.
Tanks and healers are truly the anchors of any good raid or group, so I find it very important to know the styles of each tank I’ll be healing. These are just my impressions from standing at the back of a group and tossing heals how things seem and I’m sure we could have an endless raging debate about which tank is better for which situation. However, just as each tank is different, so is each healer and we all synergize with tanks in different ways depending on our class and spec. Whatever you do though, just make sure not to use too many big words, even if they do look cute when they get confused.