Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Do More Tanking Options Lead to More Tanks?

A couple of commenters mentioned on the previous post that having paladins be Alliance-only would mean that the Horde would have fewer tanks.

Has having more tank classes led to more tanks, though?

Vanilla only had 2 tank classes: warriors and bears.  Now we have five.  Yet it seems like the proportion of tanks out there is still the same. It's still very hard to find a tank, just as hard as it was in Vanilla. I am suspicious of the idea that death knights, monks, and the emergence of pally tanks has lead to more tanks overall.

Of course, it's also possible that there are more tanks now, but that Dungeon Finder and LFR introduced a larger population of DPS into regular grouping, which has swamped the increase in tanks.

But I don't think that is true. I think the number of people willing to be tanks is just rather low, regardless of the different ways one can tank.  Introducing more tank classes just increases the diversity of tanks, but not the overall total.


  1. Eh, I think having more than 2 options has certainly helped (see the angst around Warriors being the only "viable" tank for Vanilla/TBC), but I think after a certain point more don't help. I don't have data to back this up, however, just a hunch based on empirical observation (though I realize the plural of anecdote is not data).

  2. My comment wasn't about a number of total tanks, it was the variety of tank types available.

    In Burning Crusade, not having Paladins to tank heroics and certain raid encounters would have been a pretty big deal.

    *cough* Mt.Hyjal *cough*

  3. Considering the number of people who move what tank they are around from expac to expac --witness the current exodus of warrior tanks to DKs-- I'd say you're closer to the mark than some people would think. Tanks like to tank, period.

  4. I think you need to also factor in ratios.

    Back in Vanilla, as you said, you basically only had 2 tanks. But the playerbase was also a lot smaller. As more people started playing as the game got expansions, and more tanks became viable, I refuse to believe that the addition of additional tank types didn't work to keep the ratio of tanks to everything else similar, but still did, in fact, result in far more people deciding to start tanking.

    Basically, I posit that even if you feel that the ratio of tank to party is similar, this is because the addition of tank types have drawn people who wouldn't have played the original tank types for various reasons.

    I did some rough math using the data from http://www.warcraftrealms.com/census.php . Based on this data, the pool of potential tanks is 47% of the polled playerbase. If we assume that player growth carried on, but we kept Vanilla's classes and tanks (but assumed everyone got Shamans and Paladins anyway), the pool of potential tanks is actually only ~23% of the polled playerbase. Certainly this is a little imprecise, because there's no telling where the people who chose to be DKs or Monks would otherwise go, but I think it helps show my point.

  5. RJ, does that site list the spec or only the class? I have several Paladins, Druids, and Monks in my guild who don't even have a tank spec. Yes, technically, they could tank but it's not realistic to include them in the pool.

    I think that if the Paladin / Shaman split had remained the Tankadin spec probably would not have evolved as it did. Too powerful to be faction-specific and no real driver to remake Paladins if they are still just the Alliance buff bots. That, in turn, would have led to significantly different designs in some of the TBC instances and raids.

  6. My own experience was that Horde paladins were what introduced me to real tanking. I'd done some tanking-lite as a shaman, but it wasn't until BC that I made a tanking class my main; warriors just didn't have the same appeal for me. However, I can see how this could go in other directions, with a new class or a overhaul being what finally allows a player to convert away from tanking, such as when hybrid DPS was made comparable to pure DPS.

  7. Having a few more classes that Tank gives the opportunity, but I don't see any real change in what the players I know enjoy doing. The guys who Tanked 5 years ago are still happy to, and the guys who didn't still do not.

    More classes does give a nice variety though. I love having so many Tank classes because I like tanks.

  8. @rimecat:

    Only the class, which is why I used "Potential".

    That said, I don't believe that had all other things remained equal, that 23% of the player base being a potential tank would mean that a higher percentage of those players would become tanks. I believe that that ratio of tanks to non-tanks in each of the potential tank classes has remained roughly equal through the game's lifespan, which means that had there not been more tank classes, it's likely there would be far less tanks in general today.

  9. I think it all depends if the new tank classes are that alluring enough for people who play non-tanks to switch over.

    No real difference if the same tank dudes just have different tanks with various flavours just like a pack of Mentos. There's the original and then there's the varied fruity type. Same numbers in both though.

    Damn now I want a Mentos. ;p

  10. The addition of more tanking classes, encourages people to TRY tanking.

    It does little to actually make people tank LFR, something that takes 8% of the population.

    Personally I tanked at times(on my main) in every expansion until Mop. Swapping to dps just for leveling and shortly before Expansions or the occasional farm weekend.

    Mop? A dps spec is needed on a day to day basis, I have not tanked at all. Alas they backed off tri-spec

  11. Is there a tank shortage in WoW? I quit in Cata, but it always seemed like the tank shortage only came into play for LFG/LFR, but in terms of raiding guild applications (or raiders with a viable offspec when a tank missed a night) there always seemed to be a surfeit.

    While healers typically had a short queue (as opposed to the tank's insta-queue) for LFG/LFR, my experience was that it was always harder to find and/or maintain a group of healers for a raid guild. Again, going only by my experience I know my former guild's GM took over my healing spot, even though he'd love to be running DPS. Good, competent healers are really hard to find.