Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Counter-Intuitive Idea For Tanks in LFR

One of the major problems with LFR is the lack of tanks. Queue times for non-tanks can be very long. Losing a tank can cause your group to wait for a long time to get another tank, which often leads to a cascade of other people leaving.

First, let's acknowledge all the things which have been done in an effort to attract more tanks to the game. Threat has been nullified as a meaningful mechanic. Multiple new tank specs have been introduced. Extra rewards have been given out to tanks. The number of required tanks per raid has been reduced. And yet, all of these have not really solved the problem. At best we can say that maybe the problem would have been a lot worse without these actions.

So here's my idea for improving tanking in LFR:

Increase the number of tanks in LFR from 2 to 4.

This seems counter-intuitive. How can increasing the number of required tanks improve our experience?

Here's my theory. Whenever you ask about why people don't tank, they talk about the pressure, about the visibility of the role. There is a lot of truth to this. When you look at LFR, tanks are the only role where there is no "slack", no room for error. Raids are designed around 2 tanks, and usually both tanks have to perform at a high level to be successful.

If you look at healers in LFR, you can usually get by if four of the six are decent. For DPS, 10-12 decent dps are usually enough. Both these roles have slack, room for players who are less skilled. In contrast, the tanking role has no room for slack. On most LFR fights, both tanks have duties that they need perform successfully.

If we moved to four tanks, but left fights designed around two, there would be slack in the tanking role. Maybe instead of having a tank swap and having the current off-tank pick up adds, you could have two tanks dedicated to the tank swap, and two tanks on adds full-time. If one tank dies, the others can compensate. Instead of two tanks having to be perfect on a tank swap, you could have three tanks swapping. This would mean that it's okay if a tank misses a taunt.

For an inexperienced tank, it's far better to be the fourth on the roster, and maybe have one dedicated duty, rather than have to pull the full weight of a co-equal tank.

This plan wouldn't work in normal raiding, because the group controls the number of tanks, and always reduces the tanks to the minimum in order to add more DPS. But in LFR, the game controls the number of tanks. The game can throw in four tanks each time. As well, this ratio is closer to the ratio required for 5-man dungeons.

An LFR with 4 tanks, 6 healers, and 14 dps would have a larger margin for error in each role. One weaker tank will not doom the raid, any more than a weaker healer or a weaker DPS will. This will make it easier for people to start tanking and may lead to more tanks overall. Spreading out the load among more tanks should reduce the pressure on each individual tank.


  1. As a tank, I would hate this... I already run into tanks that have taunt in their "rotation". If the tanks communicate and are willing to work together, that's fine, but I've already seen plenty of LFR wipes due to the fact that two tanks can't agree on how to work together. I think this would end up creating more problems than it would solve.

  2. The initial idea sounds good, since it seems to solve the basic problem that lfr tanks have.
    But it doesn't actually solve it.

    LFR dictates lots of encounters where certain people have to do certain things or bad stuff happens. Stand here to absorb badness that is purple puddle, stand here and switch places with me. Do this or wipe. And in lfr, it only takes maybe two dps and a healer who know this to prevent the raid from wiping.

    For a tanking situation, when this same thing comes up, extra tanks would make it too many cooks in the kitchen.
    For instance, facing the boss away from the raid, or moving the boss around. With these things it still requires at least one tank who knows what he is doing and increasing the number of tanks will not help. In fact, a really bad second tank can actually make lfr HARDER then not having a second tank at all.

    The problem with tank queue is simple. The actually good tanks HAVE TO WORK if they go to lfr. They can't slack off. If you are a healer, you are one in 6 healers and can probably just spam aoe while eating a sandwich. Dps, you can just stand in the fire and dps away, 75% of the time you will be fine. I have seen people who obviously have done normal raids and know their class just fine completely slack off during LFR.

    Tanks cannot do the same thing.

  3. Is there any need to "solve" tank shortage artifically? Maybe it's better to leave it to "invisible hand of market"?

    I mean, everyone is faced with a choice:
    a) be a tank, get instant queue and all tanking rewards, have high-responsibility job and be cursed and kicked for any mistake you make;
    b) be non-tank, wait long in a queue, don't get tanking rewards, have multiple people who can backup and carry you, be laught at for some of your mistakes.

    Nobody is forced to play tank, healer or dps. So the queue length is a market equlibrium: you trade your time in queue for responsibility of your role. People wait long queues because they chose to.

  4. If the goal of LFR is to see content at an easier pace, and get gear as a by product, why would anyone want to tank in the first place? If the goal is an even playing field, then normalize everyone's stats regardless of gear and tweak the tank baseline.

  5. I'm a bigger fan of making all fights able to be one tanked in LFR. Still have two tanks, but make it so that if one tank knows what they are doing then they can handle it. It accomplishes the same basic thing as your plan of there being a 50% not needed, but with the advantage of not needing to rely on another tank. I've seen a number of people complain that one of the reasons they don't like to tank LFR is because you never know what you'll get for a person as your co-tank that will make your own job harder. Also, the tank swap mechanics seem to be what the tanks always mess up so it eliminates those and having to know "Ok this boss I taunt at 4 stacks, but the next boss it's 1 stack". I used to play multiple tanks in past expansions, but I've pretty much ignored tanking in Mists because of LFR.

  6. EQ2 is my first MMO and back in 2004 tank shortage wasn't an issue in EQ2. I knew lot of tanks who re-rolled DPS since raids only needed 2 tanks. At one point our guild was worried about having too much tanks (4) in our guild! This is one of the reasons why we have tank shortages in 2013, lot of tanks have moved into DPS roles and don’t want to go back!

    Anyway the core issue is that multiple tanks don’t stack unlike healers or DPS. More healer and DPS in raid means more healing and damage but more tanks means nuisance. So in order to have tank stacking you need threat, hp pool, defence etc stacking. Say you have 4 tanks, each with their own hp, defence and threat but the raid boss will see a combined hp, defence, threat etc. In this model if you add an additional tank, you get more stats but at a diminishing rate. Note that in this model tanks don’t get in the way of each other unlike tank swap, add control systems. All the tanks are in front of the boss and tanking the same boss. There is of course the issue of how much damage each tank takes and how each tank is healed etc but a system can be worked out. A crude boss damage system is where boss total damage is split across number of tanks in front of the boss then compared to their own hp, defence etc.

    So the point is, if you have tank stacking then you can have experienced/geared and inexperience/under geared tanks in the same raid. And more to the point each individual tank isn't the centre of attention any more. Also you eliminated less tanks are needed for raid compared to group content issue.

    Having talked about tank stacking, I think there is big hole in that theory since no MMO has ever tried it!

  7. Caveats for I haven't played since the end of Cataclysm...

    How difficult are the LFR fights from a tanking perspective? If you're trying to engineer a solution, might be better to have some sort of NPC tank for LFR encounters?

  8. I've just started tanking this expansion on my alt to do something different from my usual healing. It's scary. My partner is a tank main and provides me with strats, so I know what to do, but even then, if you get someone who doesn't know the mechanics as your co-tank and they decide to blame you in instance chat, it doesn't matter that you know what you're doing - the raid doesn't care, it just boots whoever didn't talk first or whoever has the worst gear. I was kicked from a Terrace LFR on Lei Shi because my co-tank didn't know how to taunt the boss before the elemental adds came up and also didn't pick the elementals up - and that was apparently my fault for having a high debuff. It makes me really angry when I'm doing the right thing and I get booted anyway by a bunch of idiots.

    I think there are two problems that make tanking suck in LFR.

    Firstly, you have to communicate with your co-tank and you have to be on the same page (as Askevar said) - it's the only role in LFR where you actually have to communicate with a stranger. Communicating with strangers is hard - maybe 70% of the tanks that I've tanked with in LFR have been awesome and friendly and we've had a great time :) But 30% have made the entire experience unenjoyable, and at the instant of reaching out, you never know what you're going to get. It would be easier and I would prefer it if I just didn't have to talk to them - the 30% bad time far far outweighs the 70% good time in my mind unfortunately.

    The second is that there's no way to simplistically "prove" that you're a good tank in LFR to people who don't know much - a good DPS will top the meters, and in LFR you could conceivably say that a healer with high HPS is a good healer (by LFR standards). A good tank doesn't have an easy measure like this, so people look at DPS or gear or just who is louder or has more friends in the group.

    I don't know how you fix either of these things. I think your 4 tank concept has merit in theory but in practice I think it would be a nightmare of people taunting off you all the time. Maybe it would be better to just have 1 tank for LFR.

  9. The issue is Tanks are different than Healers or DPS. That 6th healer, or 14th DPS is still doing their job. They are still healing, or DPSing. The 3rd or 4th Tank wouldn't be tanking - she'd just be a really poor DPSer (and eek out some sort of fun seeing how many DPS she could beat out on the meters).

    If all I'm going to be is a weak DPS, and with the ability to get gear for a role other than the one you are playing, its simplier just to go in a DPS spec and get tank gear for the Normal or Flex raids than to queue as a Tank.

  10. Why would you stop at 5 tanks, rather than five? Five tanks, five healers, and 15 DPS would make LFR groups scale to exactly five 5-man groups (not that Blizzard is really supporting five mans anymore).

    I'm prepared to agree that responsibility is a part of the problem. I am increasingly willing to heal rather than DPS to decrease my queue times - healing is increasingly like being a DPS but going after friendly targets - and I remain completely unwilling to tank.

    That said, the whole point of "tank" as a role is for the tank to tank all the damage. As some of your comments note, distributing the responsibility four ways is the exact opposite of the point of the role.

  11. I actually like the idea of more tanks=less stress on each individual tank. I like playing sword/board but the stress is equal to healer stress, and I personally am not dedicated enough to pure tanking to be "the one". So if there was actually a well defined off-tank roll, then I think this would be a welcome addition to raid-like content.

  12. I don't think it has much to do with responsibility, more with being exposed and easy to blame. I had a tank in SoO last week that was nearly instantly kicked for having a low ilvl and a green weapon.
    I know, maybe he could've done better - but downright ignoring bad drop luck like most of the dps that are the first to stand in the fire is just insane.
    That's also the reason I don't tank anymore in LFR - if your gear is not up to the current level (or better, just plain overgeared) and perfectly enchanted and gemmed - you can be lucky to even stay until the boss.
    No one cares about these things for DPS or healers unless you wipe repeatedly.

  13. Good idea, but you're going in the wrong direction. If you want to make tanks more available, reduce the number needed. Drop the LFR tank requirement from 2 to 1, and then get rid of any tank swapping mechanics, or mechanics that force a need for two tanks. Off the top of my head, here's the SoO bosses that'd be made much easier by this:

    - Protectors
    - Pandaren Loot
    - Dark Shaman

    Those three for sure, which tend to be major road blocks for LFR as it is, plus the fact that adding DPS makes everything else easier as well.

  14. I think the way to get more tanks in LFR is to massively increase the rewards for doing so. Guarantee a drop for your preferred spec on every boss. Multiply the gold reward by 10. Add those big crafting mat bags as part of the rewards. This may be unfair to classes without a tank spec, but you'll definitely get more people willing to tank with those kind of rewards.