When the new World of Warcraft expansion: Mist of Pandaria was announced at BlizzCon 2011, the fans went nuts. Then when they found out that the Pandaren would bring a whole new class into the game called Monks, the crowd was even more excited.
For me the biggest part of the announcement was that the Monk class would be another real hybrid class. A monk will be able to play as a Healer, DPS, or Tank . This allows them to fill every role required in a group which I believe is awesome for the game.
While I am happy that there is another real hybrid class being added to join Druids and Paladins, what I am most excited about is the addition of another tanking class.
The key question however is made up of two parts: do we really need another Tank class in the game, and will it help increase the number of tanks we see? There is another question as well, will Monks be different enough to matter. However since we know very little about them so far, I will have to come back to that at some later point to answer that question. But for now, lets just look at the basic question, do we really need another tank and will it help?
Before I even look at if we need another tank, I want to state flat out that even if the answer is no we dont, I will still play one. After all the tanking spec will be called a Monk Brewmaster. How could anyone pass on playing a brewmaster? Anyone that is a fan of Asian movies would give their left arm to play as a drunken master in any game, so what better way to tank than as a drunken tank! Besides the name, I am a huge fan of tanking in general and will try out any tank class in the game.
Now onto the question about needing another tank class in the game I am really torn on it. On one side it is pretty obvious that there is a serious need for tanks in the game by the simple fact that when you join the dungeon finder tool as a tank the queue is instant, when you join as DPS it can be up to an hour in prime time for heroics. On the other side of the argument, it is generally pretty hard to get a tank spot in a raid group since you only need a few tanks for a 25 player raid. With that in mind lets look at some of the reasons for and against adding another tank class.
Why adding Monk Tanks (and especially Pandaren Monks) will increase the number of Tanks in WoW?
Any time another class that can tank is added it has the potential to increase the number of tanks in the game. This is of course true of any class being added to the game, but since we are talking about tanks, that is what we are going to talk about here. This could be especially true of the Monk class especially since they will be able to be played as the brand new Pandaren race.
Players are extremely excited by any new class or race being added into the game. Look at the excitement over the Goblin and Worgen races being added into the game and the number of players that went back and created new characters just so they could play as a new race. I expect that what we saw with the Worgen and Goblins will be small potatoes compared to the Pandarens.
Another thing to consider is the appeal of any class that is a real hybrid class. By this I mean a class that can fill the roles of healer, dps, and tank. Druids and Paladins are among the most popular classes out there for just this reason. Once you have a hybrid character that can do anything, it makes it far easier to do whatever you want in the game. If you get bored as DPS you can switch to healing or tanking, if you get bored tanking or healing you can switch to DPS. This is in fact a really good reason to like a class. After all, if you get bored DPSing as a mage, you really cant do anything else can you?
Due to these simple facts, there will be a huge number of Monks in the game and most of them will likely be Pandaren. With the huge number of Monks that will be in the game it will surely end up adding a few tanks into the game.
Why adding Monk Tanks will not improve the number of Tanks in WoW
Here the main argument that more tanks are needed in the game is by players that have to wait exceptionally long times in a queue when looking for groups in the Dungeon Finder. While this argument makes a lot of sense, the problem is that more tanks are needed, not necessarily another tanking class. While I agree in theory that adding another tank class may up the number of tanks in the game, I seriously doubt it will.
The problem here is that there are already four tank classes in the game out of ten. With a full 40% of the classes able to tank you would think that there would be more than enough tanks in the game already. The problem isnt the number of tanking classes in the game, the problem is the number of players that want to tank. Adding any more tanking classes into the game will not change the fact that most players have no interest in tanking.
I also dont believe that Blizzard is really ready, nor are their players ready, for something different. By this I mean that Monk Tanking is likely not going to be significantly different than any of the other tanking classes in the game. I mean just look at the four existing tanks, they are all pretty much even in most cases and can handle almost everything the same. I dont expect much different with the Monk, because if they made them really strong against one thing and weak against another, players would be in an uproar. Players of other classes would complain that they are too good in one area, and monk players would complain they are too weak in other areas.
This all leads to the homogenization of the classes that we have seen in time. Rather than players wanting things different and interesting between classes, they seem to want them all the same, to an almost impossible degree.
If the Monk Tank played completely differently than any other tank, it might mean it was better or worse than other tanks, but who cares. Because it was different it would be fun. A key example here is the Rift Stalker class from the game Rift. For those that dont know about the class it is a Rogue tank. Instead of worrying about tanking in a regular sense they bounce all over the place teleporting from enemy to enemy, and creating a damage absorbing shield around them each time they do. While not a perfect class, and not without issue, they were so different from the normal expectations for a tank, that many people played them for pure fun.
If monk tanks were something like that, I think we would see tons of them, however due to the incessant need to balance classes in WoW I can not see that happening. Which is a whole other problem with the game, and one I will discuss shortly in another article (so watch for it soon: Why Balance is Not a Good Thing).
The Messiahs take on adding Monk Tanking into World of Warcraft
Overall, even though there are good and bad points about adding any class into an established game, I believe that this one is a good fit.
Hopefully due to the excitement over both the Pandaren race and the Monk class a huge number of players will try them out. Better yet many of them will give tanking a shot and some will fall in love with it and stick with it. Even if that number is very small it will be an increase in the number of tanks in the game and that can be only be a good thing for everyone involved.
My one hope though is that at least some of the players that like to complain about the lack of tanks in the game will at least try it, and stick with it. After all, if they would quite complaining about not enough tanks, and instead created a tank to play with, there wouldnt be a lack of them in the game.
So really, when you think about it, there really isnt a lack of tanks is there, its more like there is a gluttony of DPS players in the game. I use that word on purpose as well, since playing DPS to the exclusion of all other specs is all about being greedy and selfish and trying to be top of a DPS list, while tanking and healing is about being giving and helpful, allowing others to participate in the game, since with no tank or healer, DPS wouldnt matter at all.
Yet when I explain to DPS players that complain about the lack of tanks and healers, most of them say But then I dont get to kill stuff and thats boring. Hmm, point proven? So its ok to complain that there are no tanks or healers, but also ok to not play one yourself? That to me is the definition of selfish, and not something I see changing any time soon.
So in short, I feel that adding Monk Tanks into the game is a cool idea, as there will be more tanking options. However I feel the most likely players to tank with them will be players with tanks already and they will just switch tanking classes. I do not feel that having a fifth tanking class will do anything for the overall number of tanks in the game. I hope Im wrong, but fear Im right.
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