I’ll Stab You in the Face — An MMO Guide
I don’t know what happened a few days ago, but my agent is super-pissed at me. Whatever you said to Mr. Duckley has put him in a pretty bad mood, and he mentioned something about needing extra time to answer all of your (in his words) “skull-achingly cretinous queries”.
So I thought I’d put this up to pass the time. It’s an edited version of an article I did a while back, based around the various complexities of being an MMO player. In this case, it’s about having to deal with Tanks.
Note: As with all future I’ll Stab You in the Face instalments, this will make no sense to people who don’t play MMOs. Feel free to go elsewhere for lore on your erudite and urbane hobbies, whatever they may be.
Without further ado:
– A Guide to Working with Tanks –
“Sonic Boom. Sonic Boom. Sonic Boom.” — Guile, famous DPSer.
Three PvE roles exist in World of WarCraft, yet only one is played by mature, reasonable, intelligent, witty, handsome, charming and well-adjusted human beings. That role is called DPS, or Damage per Second. Even the name expresses an air of danger. A thrill-ride, a racing heart barely contained behind a mere mortal’s ribcage – a soul devoted not just to the application of pain; not simply the unleashing of injury upon other souls; but actually calculating how much agony it can inflict every single second.
The other two roles are populated by people who’ve dedicated many years of their lives to convincing everyone that they’re the valuable ones – that they’re the ones who have it so damn hard. These people would have you believe that they hold it all together in their stalwart, godly hands, while the rest of creation burns.
These people are liars.
The lyingest, most dishonestest role of them all is called the Tank. You’ll notice there’s no acronym for them, and it’s fairly obvious why: if their name needed more than one word, they’d likely just get confused trying to abbreviate it. That’s the kind of mind we’re dealing with, here.
Sometimes, if a Tank is feeling particularly witty and up to the task of stringing more than five words together, they’ll take time from placing brightly-coloured icons above monsters’ heads to tell you how they’ve “graduated” from your role because “DPS just wasn’t interesting enough”.
That’s funny, right?
They’re funny guys.
When dealing with a Tank, you’ve got to be careful. They’re not like me and you.So what is a Tank? Good question.
Because of game mechanics, one character in an adventuring party needs to be the one to take all the damage from the bad guys. That’s the Tank. The Tank is healed by the Healer, leaving the DPS to actually do all the damage to the enemies while the Tank keeps them busy. The Tank itself does next to no damage.
And this leads to an intriguing situation.
I ask again: So what is a Tank?
Put simply, a Tank is someone who is categorically, objectively unable to win any of the fights they start.
Tanks will charge headlong into battles of absolutely unwinnable odds, and they’ll genuinely think they’ve got it covered. After several seconds, the light of truth will start to shine in their eyes – which is about the same time their heads get cracked open and the lion’s share of their blood is on the wrong side of their skin.
It’s at that point you need to come save them again.I’m not even kidding. I do this basically 800 times per dungeon.
The most famous example of a tank’s skill in warfare is also the classic example of a pedantic child who gets in over his head and needs his friends to come and save him: Luke Skywalker. Although Luke eventually respecs DPS and kills his own dad for a laugh, he’s still a typical tank back in The Empire Strikes Back. It was his job to keep the bad guys busy while his friends ran around and got the real shit done.
Take the climactic scene of Empire, where Luke’s friends have either already escaped under their own power, or have been captured and shipped away to a space slug’s house before Luke can actually do anything about it. He runs in, lightsaber swinging, with hilarious results. He fails to save his friends, starts a fight he can’t win, then demands that his chums come back to save him after his excellent plan of falling of a bridge turns out to be pointless.If Tanks were just overconfident and stupid, that would be enough for us to sigh in their presence, and wisely avoid them whenever we could. But it’s not even the worst thing. Not by miles.
Tanks are the worst kind of friend to have because they don’t even realise how needy they are. They think they’re righteously awesome. Seriously, they do. It’s the attitude that sucks, man.
Imagine you have a friend that borrows money from you all the time; who begs you to come to bars with him to play wingman, since here’s too shy to meet women without help; who comes to you with all his personal problems and demands that you solve them.
Now imagine that every single day (even as you help him), he gives you a line about how dependent you are on his wonderful company, and about how hopeless you are without him, even as he’s starting another fight he can’t win.
And if you stand there, if you try to let them learn their lesson by watching them actually take the bruises their own actions have earned, then Tanks believe that makes you the dick.
Not them. You.
We’re talking about the kind of friend who’ll start a fight in a bar, then run back to you with nine screaming guys armed with pool cues. Your buddy expects you to, y’know, “maybe just beat up seven or eight of them, okay?” while he’s “totally got this one guy, right here.”
Despite all of this, a Tank will still act like he’s the M to the Otherfucker.The most confusing thing about tanks is that they beg you to hit something for them, and then get mad when you hit it too hard.
The concept of Aggro (or Threat) is a tried and tested mechanic in MMO battles. Monsters deal with whichever character has accrued the most Threat in the group. In an ideal world, that would be the Tank. The problem is, a Tank will tell you to kill a monster as fast as possible, little realising that while he’s Tabbed out and checking Facebook for how fat the hot girls in college have become, all the time you’re stabbing the bad guy in the spine, you’re generating a lot of Threat.
This is known as the Pain Paradox.
A Tank’s cowardly laziness runs along specific needs. He wants to be the centre of attention at all times, taunting the bad guys like some kind of wankery-fuelled jester capering across the battlefield – and yet he wants you to kill every single bastard in the enemy army without even being seen. So… kill everyone… but don’t cause them enough pain to actually notice you’re killing them.
Amazing. That’s Tank logic, right there.And it’s not always easy. I’m given to understand this is the kind of thing ninjas train their whole lives to achieve.
Worse still, this can lead to the most preeningly bum-facedly annoying comment in all of gaming: “You spank it, you tank it LOL”.
Tanks love saying that. Probably because it rhymes. Little things like that let them feel creative.
What they mean by this insipid phrase is that it’s cool for them to start nine million fights they can’t win, but if you ever do it, you’re on your own. Nope, don’t even think of asking for help. You started the fight. You dared to act without the Tank’s permission. You deal with it on your own. You spanked it, you tank it. LOL.
Most Tanks I know couldn’t even spell “inequality”, let alone grasp the fundamentals of why this concept is unfair. I tried to explain it to a Tank once, but he just got annoyed I was interrupting a song he was singing about himself over Skype while we were going through the undead citadel of Naxxramas.
Of course, none of this applies to the Tanks in my guild, because Heather and Sander are both lovely.