Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Battle of the tank: which class is the best tank.

Ok, so you all have seen trade chat or even had conversations with guildies or friends on this subject.  Everyone in game knows that this has been a heated topic for years and will continue to be as long as the WoW servers are up.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you have probably just started playing or been living under a rock.  What is the question?  Here it is, which tanking class is the best. We all hear the tank of paladins being on top.  At the moment, some say it is Death Knights that are the best tanks.  Here, I will answer this long asked question once and for all.

The best tanking class is:  Feral Druids.

Ok, just kidding.  Actually, there is no one answer to this question.  No matter what people may say, there is absolutely no one tank designed to do it all and do it perfectly. Blizzard just did not deign the tanking classes that way, and for good reason.

So, let me explain why this is.  First off, if one tanking class was perfect at doing it all, there would be absolutely no reason to have any other class as a tank.  If DKs were perfect, pallys, druid and warriors would all be obsolete.  Second, by having tanks that are better in one are and worse in others, it not only gives a variety for a player to choose to fit his/her play style, but this opens up the door for Blizzard designers to make mobs, bosses and everything in between different from each other.

For example, if a paladin goes in to tank a raid boss, he will do fine assuming that the player knows his class and how to play it.  Now, if the boss happens to have a mana drain ability, the paladin will find himself in trouble since he uses his mana pool for a good portion of keeping aggro. Here is where other tanks come in to play. Any other tanking class that is the second tank can step in and take control of the boss since they do not worry about mana.

For another example, send a warrior, DK or paladin tank in to a fight and they get disarmed, this will pose a large issue, as attacks tend to require that weapon to be in hand. How do you solve this?  Send in the bear.  You can’t disarm a bear tank.  For feral druids, weapons are nothing more then “stat sticks” and are not actually needed to be able to attack.

Now there are many many more examples I could go over, but I think you get the point. Each tank is designed to be able to deal with at least 1 situation far better then any other tank class. It is one of the many ways Blizzard keeps the door open for them to be more and more creative with boss fights.

Below I have put together a little diagram of where some of a tanks strong points are and some of the weak points are.  Now keep in mind that this in a normal situation and this does not cover every pro and con.

Warrior Tank: Good at single target tanking as they build up threat quickly in that aspect. They have very good mitigation and damage reduction abilities. However they can struggle generally with AoE tanking so this class would need to work harder to keep aggro on multiple mobs

  • Warrior Pros: Shields give a large addition to damage mitigation. Can recover quickly from a knock back with the use of charge. Can use Rallying Cry to temporarily increase the groups health if a fight starts to go wrong.  Is totally immune to mana burn since the class does not use mana. Can switch in to berserker or battle stance to dps in a one tank raid boss fight.
  • Warrior Cons: If disarmed, makes it almost impossible to generate threat. Must be careful of rotation so as to not run out of rage, no rage and you cannot generate threat.

Paladin Tank: Good at AoE tanking and have some very good damage mitigation abilities and self-heals. However, not as good at single-target tanking compared to all the other classes so you would need to have a good knowledge of a rotation designed for single targets.

  • Paladin Pros: Shields give a large addition to damage mitigation. Great ability for initial threat on multiple mobs. If disarmed, can switch to spell casting even tough less effective. Rage is never an issue as the class uses mana instead. Gets a damage buff when dealing damage to undead targets.
  • Paladin Cons: Knock backs are hard to over come with the lack of a charge. Mana burn will greatly affect the ability to hold threat on mobs/groups. If silenced, will not be able to use attacks/generate threat on a target.

Death Knight Tanks: Generally are also good at AoE tanking as well as good at single target tanking but do not have as much mitigation as the other classes. This forces this class to rely on spells that help to avoid damage or restore health more then other classes.

  • Death Knight Pros: Personal anti-magic shell helps to avoid magic damage, Bone armor act as a bubble reducing over all damage until it is absorbed. Deathgripmana burn as the class does not use mana.

  • Death Knight Cons: Does not use a shield and must make up damage mitigation in other ways. Being disarmed will cause a lack in threat generation. Knock backs are harder to over come as the class has no charge. Must carefully balance the use of runic power with available runes or you will end up sitting there waiting for the ability to use attacks.

Druid Tanks: Similar to DK tanks in that they can hold aggro well on AoE and single target tanking.  Damage mitigation and avoidance are much different for this class as they only have dodge to focus on instead of dodge and parry.

  • Druid Pros: Large health pool and high dodge rate helps greatly in survivability. Immune to polymorph, mind control and mana burns. Has talents to reduce greatly the time feared and knock backs are over come by using charge. Can double as dps on a one tank fight by switching in to cat form.

  • Druid Cons: Can be less healer friendly if dodge rating and health pool is not where it should be for content running. Must be careful to not run out of rage or tanking will be impossible.

With all this in mind, remember, trying to be the best tank in the game is a futile effort.  Don't try to be the best tank, be the best tank of your class.  This is a attainable goal where the other is not.  Good luck to all tank out here and keep up the good work.  After all, someone has to carry those lazy dps through places, right? (just kidding).

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