So much of what we do and how
we play in href="">World
of Warcraft

comes from
the game mechanics, UI, tactics, and mods that we add.  A lot
of what makes players a good tank is also based on those issues as well
as player knowledge of fights, strategies and tactics. Yet there is
another critical factor that makes a player a good tank or a poor tank,
and it has nothing to do with the game.

A big deciding factor in how
good of a tank you are, or potential tank,
comes down to your attitude and personality. It turns out that not
everything about being a tank is game related.  Sometimes what
it is that you have in real life can really shine through and improve
your in-game tanking ability.

Think about the best tanks that
you know in game. These are
your raid tanks and likely raid leaders. Are they passive and
quiet or are they aggressive and boisterous type players? Do
they sit back and let others lead or do they step in and take charge
and offer suggestions? Do they assume someone else will let them know
what to do or do they go about figuring it out on their own?

My guess is that you see where
this is going. Very few of the
really good tanks out there are meek mild mannered reporters, almost
each and every one thinks and behaves like a superman. They
believe they are the best there is, are invincible, and act like
it.  These are the players that walk into a heroic and say
“This is only a heroic; I’ll be pulling 10-20 at a
time, keep up!”

This comes about in large part,
I believe, due to a lot of people being
scared of tanking. Tanking is one of the two critical roles
in a group or raid, the other being healing. While there is
no argument that DPS is also critically important to success, you
can’t raid at all without a tank or healer. The position of
being in the centre stage light and having the responsibility of the
group or raid’s welfare place on their shoulders scares most
people away. The ones the tanking role doesn’t
scare away are the ones that commonly pick up and accept responsibility
and take charge of situations, your stereotypical href="">Type
A personality.

Another personality trait that
is often possessed by the best tanks is
the ability to take a beating both physically and
emotionally. In other words they are resilient. The physical
abuse is not real physical abuse but the abuse your character takes in
game. As a tank you take a lot more damage than you are ever
able to dish out. This constant beating is difficult for some
people to take. They just can’t stand always being
the one attacked and not able to do much about it.

The emotional side of the abuse
is two fold. The first part
is just the ongoing high stress of being in charge of the situation,
controlling the fights and the pace of the run. This being in
control and having everyone's wellbeing at stake can weigh
heavy on many people, and you need to be able to cope with it.

The second part of the
emotional stress is the stress from
players. This again comes in two sub-components.
The first is the constant pressure to perform and push out as much
threat as possible, sometimes in unrealistic numbers. DPS
tends to start too early and not use their threat reduction abilities
and then blame the tank for them pulling threat. Even though
it is not your fault it is an added stressor. The second part is trying
to control the entire group of players and keep them working as a group
towards a common goal. This is not always easy in WoW.

Conflict - Controlling /

There is a conundrum here as
well though, even though the best tanks
tend to be Type A personalities they also have to have a softer
side. Good tanks need to be able to set aside their own
control issues and give them selves over to others. By this I
mean that while they certainly watch their own health and should know
when to use their cooldowns they really need to count on their healers.
The overuse of cooldowns, or at least the early use of them is normal
in a tank since so many are essentially control freaks. It is
a hard thing for a control type personality to give their wellbeing
over to another player or players but that is exactly what is required
for a tank to do.

This support and control that
the healers have over the tank is very
hard for a controlling personality to get used to, but is in the end
what separates a good and competent tank from a spectacular and great
tank. Knowing that the healers should keep them up and saving
your cooldowns and abilities for when the fights mechanics dictate you
use them rather than getting nervous and using them early because you
don't trust someone else.

One class that especially has a
hard time of this and that you see
often is a Paladin tank. Many times when levelling or fresh
to the end game you will see Paladin tanks that are learning how to
tank, freak out when their health goes low and use a cooldown and try
to heal themselves, not trusting the healer. Worse yet is the
fresh Paladin tank that panics and bubbles, thereby wiping the group.

A tank has to understand the
limits of their control. The
limits are knowing the fight and its mechanics and managing the group.
They can not always control their health or everything in the
fight. They have to trust others to do their part.

The other conflict with the
basic traits required to be a tank is that
Type A personalities like to compete. However as a tank, you
have no real way to compete with anyone. There are no numbers
to compete against like DPS and healing. Your success really
is measured by your group's success. So if you do
everything perfectly you should essentially go un-noticed, which is
hard for the ideal tanks personality.

So are you fit to tank?

What it comes down to is that
to be a great tank you are more likely to
be a cocky Type A personality with confidence, trust, and
intelligence. Other personality types can be good or even
great tanks as well, but the majority seems to be the above described
type of person.

If you see yourself as this
type of person and you are not tanking,
maybe your skills are being wasted. The mix of a Type A personality
with the ability to trust others enough to hand over your in-game life
to is very rare, which may be one of the biggest reasons there are so
few tanks in general, and even fewer great tanks.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.