Semi Hardcore Hardcore Raiding Tank

In game I have played many characters but I always gravitate back to my Dwarf Paladin, Gradiel. This was my initial character started on launch day on the PvP realm Sargeras. Since then he has moved to a PvE realm, but still remains my main character. He has done pretty much everything a Paladin could do, which in the beginning was pretty limited (level as ret, raid as holy). As time went on Paladins got the ability to do pretty much whatever they wanted and got to be pretty good at it. Since the release of Burning Crusade I have been my guild’s Main Tank and have never really looked back. Sure I spec Retribution or Holy for fun or PvP occasionally, but my true love is being in control and tanking. Go figure with an egotistical name like “Messiah”, that I’m a control freak.

I have several other characters that I play often, including a Death Knight tank, Druid healer / boomkin, and of course a hunter. The Death Knight started off as a way to have a melee DPS character to play without speccing my Paladin back and forth, but I quickly found out that looking for group as a DPS sucks, and putting up with bad tanks is even worse. Therefore I went tank. My Druid is there as a caster DPS for alt-raid nights and for resto in Arenas, which despite me hating PvP, I love. Go figure. Lastly my hunter is just a toon that I have always loved, and just play for fun running around gathering, questing, and gearing.

The title of this column comes from a description of a guild I was in with a bunch of very good friends. It was what best described us to other players when we went recruiting. Our playing philosophy was not quite casual (raid 3 nights a week, play some almost every day) but not quite hardcore, only 2-3 nights a week. The big thing that separated our group and truly hard core players though was that while we did occasionally run 25 player raids, we really preferred 10’s. I know that many players will argue that hardcore is only 25 player, which is why we called ourselves semi-hardcore. We really liked to push content but not serious enough to push for server firsts, and never in 25’s. 25 man raid nights were made up of our two 10 man groups and a few other friends or pugs. That guild, which is now gone due to people leaving the game, pretty much summed up my philosophy perfectly in the game.

Over the years here at Ten Ton Hammer I have written lots of editorials and to many come across as hard core, but by any hard core raider’s view I am definitely not. I have the competitive attitude though, and feel that everyone should. After all, a game is fun, but not if you are losing all the time. Nor is it fun if you are not competitive at it. Does the person losing at chess over and over have fun? Does the losing boxer have fun? Does the bull in a bull fight have fun?

So, to sum me up I love progression, love the hard fights, love tanking and healing, DPS is cool but have to get into the toon, hate 25 (don’t even get me started on the 40 man days of raiding), and come across as a bit of an elitist. Oh well, that’s me!

This column will be a place to talk about things in the game that interest me, and that I feel that many of our readers who find themselves in the semi-hardcore camp will find interesting as well.. In the long term what I want to talk about here are the things that interest me the most in the game:

current state of raiding (at any given time)
tanking issues, theory and problems
math behind some stats that people should know
gear / loot / progression
current start of the game for players that don’t raid
How bad I hate PvP
AoE Tanking a Joke?
Anyway down to business in this inaugural column, what has got me pissed off this week is AoE in instances and raids. I am going to talk about this mainly from a tank’s perspective but that is just because I mainly tank. The same issue applies to DPS players as you will see.

Think about tanking and just how damn easy it has gotten to AoE tank since the game’s initial release. I know I am going to sound like your 70 year old grandfather here, but remember the good old days if you can. Remember back to when tanking multiple creatures was hard work, remember when only a Paladin could really do it with any amount of ease, and even then the adds could get pulled of fairly easily.

Paladin’s then gained additional threat, additional tanking abilities, and soon became able to tank what seemed like endless amounts of enemies with ease. Nothing short of insane DPS on a non-target in their AoE would pull any of the enemies off of them. Players extolled the virtues of the Paladin tank. Paladin tanks and AOE tanking became the norm, and CC disappeared from the game in all but the most extreme circumstances. Additionally, all other tanks complained bitterly that their usefulness was gone.

Even in low gear, fresh to 80 you can AoE tankOver the course of the Wrath of the Lich King cycle all of the various forms of tanks have received buffs to the point of being very close to or on par with Paladin AoE tanking. While this has brought all forms of tanks back to a very close level in their usefulness in any situation it has also eroded much of the skill level required to play a tank well in all situations. It has also removed the need for CC almost completely from the game.

It used to be that tanks had to constantly worry about flipping targets, hitting abilities, and ensuring they were stacking threat on everything near them. While they were doing this DPS classes in the party or raid needed to watch their assigned CC target and make sure it was under control until the group was ready for it. On large pulls there could be several targets being CC’ed by several different players to ensure the tank only had to worry about a few main targets so that threat was not spread too thin, or that enemy abilities were not hitting too many players. As each of the main targets was killed, another target was let out of CC and the tank picked them up for the group to kill.

Some players will complain that all the CC and careful pulls ruined an otherwise fun game. After all, the trash creatures didn’t drop loot, so why should you have to worry about them? This is one point where I completely disagree though. While the trash doesn’t give items as a reward, it is there to help establish the character of the instance, to establish a pace and feeling, and provide experience as you are leveling (although obviously not in a raid instance). It is also there to help you develop skills to deal with different situations, it is essentially there as a challenge.

Think about all the games you play. Are you drawn to the easy ones or the hard ones? If you are at all normal you are drawn to the hard ones. Not the insanely hard ones that are impossible to beat, but the ones that provide a challenge. How does this relate to my AoE discussion? Easy, how hard is it currently to go into an instance, round up a group, AoE them down, move to the next group, rinse and repeat. The answer is way too easy.

So, what to do about it? Well with Cataclysm approaching in the near future, I really think it is time for players to start getting on Blizzard’s case that they want AoE threat toned down, AoE damage toned down, and CC brought back into the game. I believe that we as players should demand a return of some additional skills and challenge back into the game. 

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