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Monk Tanks: Is Another Tank Class Needed?

Posted Tue, Nov 01, 2011 by Messiah

Will a fifth tank class help the number of tanks in the game? 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, let’s 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 don’t, 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 let’s 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.

A Monk Tank practicing

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 DPS’ing as a mage, you really can’t 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.

To many Monk Tanks will just be another boring Tank Class

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 isn’t 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 don’t 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 don’t 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 don’t 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 Messiah’s 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 wouldn’t be a lack of them in the game.

So really, when you think about it, there really isn’t a lack of tanks is there, it’s 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 wouldn’t 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 don’t get to kill stuff and that’s boring”. Hmm, point proven? So it’s 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 I’m wrong, but fear I’m right.


World of Warcraft - Related Content
BlizzCon 2011 Wrap-up | Mists of Pandaria Official FAQ
BlizzCon 2011 Dungeon & Raid Panel Analysis


I completely agree. and I DON'T play anything but tank in my game, I've got a druid tank, it's a hybrid class and I still never play anything than a tank. I have interest in pandas because they're goddamn pandas, and I loved pandas since warcraft 3 and wanted them in game. but the real real real problem is homogenization. that's the thing that's fkin the game, I pick a class to be different from some1 else, but that's not the case, i'm like every1 else now and I will sure be looking for ur article on balance. I tried rift to have a taste of different things between different specs, but I didn't really got into the game flavor very much, it's very repetitive since the beginning, that it didn't catch me to continue it. they give soooo much to the player since the beginning that I cant have time to grasp my character fully. when I'm learning something, something else is shoved down my throat to also learn.

I think they should make a class all about tanking.

"The problem isn’t the number of tanking classes in the game, the problem is the number of players that want to tank."

I would re-word that slightly to "...number of players that want to tank a PUG". I love tanking. But I pretty much only tank with friends. My skin is too thin to put up with griefers who are all too willing to complain about any perceived mistake I might make (but, as you point out, are unwilling to do the job themselves). When I'm with friends I know their abilities and they know mine; this makes for a smooth, enjoyable run. With strangers I feel much more stress and much less enjoyment. I've tanked with all four classes and I have no doubt that I will make a Monk tank; will I PUG with him? We'll see...

So player numbers

5 10 25
Tank 1 2 2
Healer 1 3 6
DPS 3 5 17

No you wount get anymore tanks because there is nothing for 2/3 of us to do after 5 mans.

Simple, but very compelling. I would be interesting to see a 25man with the following composition:

Tanks 4-5
Healer 5-6
DPS 15-17

A full fledge battle with 5 fronts that need to be handled simultanously. Now that will be at the same time fun, frustrating, fuck-up-prone and guild-tearing experience in one. I can just feel my ¨evil-genius¨laugh coming.

Now, if you can pull it off, then it would feel like a real EPIC battle.

who fucken cares... all classes should beable to fill all roles.

Um, yeah -- I can just see healing with my Rogue. "You want one bandage or two?"

The problem for tanks is not that less people want to do it.
less people want the responsibility that comes with it.
how many bosses these days are dps races?
every boss falls down to the tank and healer having to be perfect and the dps to just stand and shoot.
when the dps do have to do somethng (echo of Jania comes to mind with her flarecore) they just fail completely. its never the DPS fault that the raid wiped its the healer for going OOM to fast or the tanks fault for being too squishy. besides like someone else said you only need 2 maybe 3 tanks in a 25 man raid. the 16 or 17 dps and 5 or 6 healers there are less of tanks for pugs because everyone wants a spot in raids and there are a lot more dps positions available than there are tank positions.

Tanking is a real skill. You have to know how to get to the bosses, what said bosses do, and how to make sure your group is together and ready for the encounter. You have to deal with mages who want to pull, hunters who can't control their pets and dps who blame you for not being able to hold aggro when they do something stupid. I tried tanking during BC and I'll be the first to admit that I totally sucked at it. You can survive a boss with one weaksauce DPS, but if your tank or healz are bad, you're in trouble. What we need isn't more tank classes, but more skilled players who can tank. I'll heal. :)

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