September 16, 2008

Someone asked on a recent post, “Why is Order hurting for tanks?”

Now, it’s of course a bit too soon to start pulling the panic cord and declaring Order to be a vast wasteland of tankage.  But indications seem to point that way, and I’ll explain my view of why a tank shortage might well cripple the Order faction:

1. In WAR, like most traditional MMOs, tanks are an essential part of the “holy trinity” — tank, healer, damage.  WAR does blend elements of two or three of these roles within a single class (Warrior Priest being an example of tank/healing/damage), but it still has to conform to the trinity that it revolves around.  And that means needing tanks not only for PvE (such as dungeons and other high-danger group events) but for PvP as well (to distract the enemy from focusing on squishies, and protecting the squishies with taunts, debuffs, damage sharing and other tricks.

2. Both sides of WAR lost a pure tank class a couple months ago, the Empire and Dark Elves.  While Mythic made vague claims about how they incorporated elements of tankage into the remaining classes for that army, it cannot be denied that these two races are missing a fundamental part of the MMO trinity, and are therefore at a disadvantage until they mix with other races and can rely on the tanks that they have.  However, I would posit that the Dark Elves loss of a tank hurts them less — Destruction has two huge, bulky tanks (Black Orc and Chosen) that are very popular, boast a profile that one would associate with a “tank”, and are being rolled in sufficient numbers as to offset their loss of the Black Guard.

3. People, by and large, and particularly casual players, tend to favor the most human-ish race when they play a MMO.  It’s what we identify with the most, and that’s that.  It’s not completely lopsided, but human races are the baseline for fantasy RPGs for a reason.  In WAR, this means Empire and Chaos, followed by the sort-of human-like Elves and Dark Elves.  Chaos has a tank, Empire does not.  So with this alone, Empire is behind because players looking to roll a human race will find themselves lacking the option for a tank.

4. The two remaining Order tanks — Ironbreaker and Swordmaster — have to fight negative perceptions.  The Ironbreaker because, as much as you or I think a little stuntie bristling with armor is cool, dwarfs are not as popular of a fantasy race as humans or elves.  Dwarfs also equal shortness, and that’s not a highly desirable trait for most folk.  The Swordmaster has also gotten the early reputation of being a bit too thin, willowy and, er, effeminate for a tank role.  You’ve got a class that, once rolled, looks like he stumbled out of his bathroom in the morning (with perfectly styled hair), threw on a bathrobe and grabbed a sword that he or she mistakenly thinks is their baby child and cradles it as such.  Swordmasters might indeed be the paragon of hardcore toughness in the upper levels, but at level 1… it’s an elf in a robe with a sword.

Faced with these two options of tanking, it’s not surprising that players might look elsewhere.  The Warrior Priest is the closest thing Order has to a third tank, although it lacks a direct taunt that most tanks need to function as such (although damage + healing might be a great way to retain aggro).  Then, what do you have?  Melee Shadow Warrior?  White Lion?  They might be good in a pinch, but they are no tanks.

It’s of my opinion that Mythic should be getting very, very serious about refining and installing a new Empire tank class as soon as possible, before the growing complaints of a tank shortage tend to put a sour taste in the mouths of Order players.

Of course, I could be totally wrong, and time will show that people will come out of the woodwork for Ironbreakers and Swordmasters.



  1. “Dwarfs also equal shortness, and that’s not a highly desirable trait for most folk…”

    Oi, I resemble that remark!

    – Mostonebiter the Ironbreaker

    P.S. But you’re right to scorn Swordmasters. Tanks. Big Swords. Dresses. One of those things doesn’t fit.

  2. Why on earth do people think the Warrior Priest is a tank or tank like class?

    They aren’t. They have no taunt, no aggro generation or ability to protect others. We can take a hit better than a bright mage, but that’s about it.

  3. Personally, I hope you are wrong about the tank shortage and I bet you hope you are too. I know how hard it is to find a tank, which is why I rolled 1 way back when in (dare I say it) wow. Low and behold I was a great tank and I plan on rolling 1 this time around but I will be Destruction. I do with the BG was still an option for a tank simply because I love the name and they looked awesome.

  4. I think the tank shortage will correct itself overtime. I’ve seen Chaos complaining about how “overpowered” the IB is b/c he’s the only true tank in the game and has the highest armor values, and what better way to work around an effeminate class than to just role a female character 🙂

  5. Well I picked Chosen because I’ve been following Warhammer since 1985, and though I would prefer a Nurgle warrior. Pfft. I’m quite pleased with the Chosen as is. Your right though Chaos tanks look like tanks. They need to modify the elf tank, or give some modifications to the warrior priest, like a pally tank in WoW.

    To be honest I played the Dwarf Ironbreaker, and man those guys are tough, at lower levels tougher then my Chosen thats for sure. If you want to be tough bastage of Order thats who you want to be.

  6. My question is this: Say you have a choke point and it takes 5 Black Orcs, side-by-side, to completely block that choke point. Would it then take 7 or 8 Swordmasters to block that same choke point? That could be an issue since neither SMs nor IBs have the same mass as the bulkier tanks.

    That said, I think my next alt will be a little IB girlie. 🙂

  7. Personally, in my guild, we’ve got more tanks than anything else. We’re actually deficient on melee DPS! XD

  8. I don’t know where these panic predictions are coming from (I presume from the same machine that generates all “NERF X!!” posts and criers), but I see a great many Ironbreakers and Swordmasters running around.

    My summary: don’t panic until someone comes out with meaningful, truly recorded, cross-server statistics that show the numbers are skewed.

    In otherwords, don’t hold your breath ❤ but don’t worry either.

  9. Tank shortage….bah 36 minute queue, lets fix that then tanks. In fact thats why you can’t find any their in queue.

  10. Ironbreaker is the best tank in the game right now. Most overpowered of them all. Destruction lacks a tank with a similar mechanic.

    Chosen are good tanks, not as good as Ironbreakers, but still decent.

    Black Orc’s are not as good as the above two, but they scare stunties. And they are fun to play.

    Swordmasters, while having the same mechanic as the Black Orc, are not as tough and just don’t feel the same. Something isn’t right about them, they need work.

    But I said all along, top priority should be getting in the four missing classes. With melee DPS and tanks missing, it’s hurting the game and unbalancing things. Those melee DPS would help curb all the healers and ranged attackers which are ruling RvR right now. And the tanks would just help all around.

    With my Black Orc, first chance I got, I went to the Dark Elf zone, and always popular there for PQ’s. A tank is always welcome, and as a tank, we love healers.

  11. If I roll Order I will most likely make a Swordmaster. I think they look badass, I like elves, and I like being useful. My piratey witch hunter is pretty fun, but I played a wow rogue for far too long and it left a bad taste in my mouth for melee dps. If order wants tanks, I’d be happy to roll one (except I’m playing destruction. Eat that!)

  12. From what I’ve seen, Chosen are the best multi-target tanks in the game. Ironbreakers are the best tank in the game fullstop in every other situation imaginable. Hell, wielding a great weapon and stacking strength they’re one of the most powerful DPS in the game, and they still take at least half a team beating on them before they go down. Wielding a shield they’re so tough it’s just not even worth beating on them.

    Meanwhile, black orcs are the best single-target tank that Destruction has, and they are also the best offensive tank. Slightly imbalanced there, but Chosen make up for it with their AoE buff and debuff power.

    Also, swordmasters become incredible offensive tanks at higher levels. They get a skill that’s every bit as powerful as a Black Orc 13 point defensive mastery skill – one of the best ones in their arsenal – FOR FREE! And they get to use it while they are wielding a greatweapon. What’s not to like? Well, except for the fact that they won’t be as insanely powerful as an Ironbreaker.

  13. SM is definitely gonna be under populated. Ironbreakers however are very popular from what I’ve seen. They are nasty little buggers…

  14. I have a swordmaster and have seen a fair few around. Of course, always running into (quite literally) loads of tanks in the scenarios but just yesterday, I was a PQ group with..er.. five swordmasters! I know it’s not very scientific and I’ve been hanging around the elfy lands mostly, but they don’t seem to struggling too much on my server!

  15. I can only comment on Darklands but Order is in no way hurting for tanks there. A lot of the more prominent guilds keep fielding very heavy Ironbreaker teams.

  16. Isnt it just more likely that just like in every other mmo ever, there will be a shortage of tanks and too many dps? Why would war be different?

  17. I think the most hard to understand idea about the missing tanking classes is how the mirrors made it into the game and our working very well.

  18. I think the missing classes were actually mirrors (mechanic wise) of each other. The mirrors from a mechanic perspective were laid out on the Greenskin.

    I don’t understand where people are getting the idea that the swordmaster is not tough tank. Lots of us agree that there are some improvements of some sort needed to keep it on par, but it’s more of an issue of them being able to be avoided. They definitely have the ability to take a ton of damage.

  19. I keep killing ironbreakers, and swordmasters. More keep coming. I don’t see a shortage. Less Bright Wizards then I saw in open beta too, which is a good thing. I beleive.

  20. According to thegreenskin http://thegreenskin.com/2008/08/26/warhammer-online-population-balance-things-are-evening-out/
    the tanking breakdown, according to a recent poll, is currently:
    Black Orc – 30%
    Chosen – 25%
    Iron Breaker – 26%
    Sword Master – 19%

    So Order’s highest is neck and neck with Destruction’s lowest. This is not a huge problem yet but it definitely not looking good. If people get a sense of being on the loosing side and decide to jump ship it could start getting bad very fast.

    What I noticed as a Warrior Priest is that they do end up getting shoved into the role of “tanking” in the tier 1 quest groups, PQs and even in RvR if a real tank is not around and that is not uncommon at the low levels of Nordland. What I found out very quickly is that the warrior priest is in no way, shape or form a tank. Not even kinda. Waaaaay to squishy. In RvR I was going down faster than a crack addled hooker. It makes much more sense for the witch hunter to go in first and that’s not to very good a choice either. Even the Chaos melee dps Marauder is twice the tank as anything that Empire has.

    If they really needed to cut a tank then it should have been from the elves. At least then they would have been evenly matched to the tankless dark elves in Kaine’s Embrace.

    Empire is the Host race to the capital city. In large part they are seen as the leaders of the charge, the tip of the spear. You can even see it in the clips that Mythic as put out. At least twice you have seen a Chosen squaring off with a … WFT? … a warrior priest? Tank vs healer? Give me a break.

    The solution is not to try to turn the warrior priest into a tank. I do thing they need better armor. They are after all at MELEE healer which makes them rather vulnerable just as with the DoKs. But they are a healer and they need to heal not tank. I saw a lot of WPs not doing much healing other than on themselves. Basically, the heals get used to make up for the fact that they have nothing but heavy robes. WPs do seem to have little problem gaining impressive aggro in RvR. They are a squishy healer after all, conveniently at arms length.

    The real solution is to get the missing tanks in the game and fast, like before Christmas fast.

    Don’t get me wrong. WAR has done so many things right they have had my head swimming for the last week. I am way impressed. I had no intention of even playing WAR since I had never been a PvP fan in WoW, but after doing some research and then grabbing the pre order, well, now my only decision is if I will even bother with Wrath. I am way impressed.

    So having only one serious screw up, (that I can find) is nothing short of incredible. But this imbalance is definitely a serious screw up. You don’t f’up tanks. WoW f’up pally and bear tanks in their original game and they are still trying to fix it. And it has been 95% fixed for most of BC and yet you still can’t convince most of the old school raiders that pallies can tank. F’ups like this have a way of sticking with a game for a long, long time. If they can get it fixed in a few months a lot of people might forget it ever happened. But if they leave it until the first expansion I see hard times for Order that the game may never recover from.

  21. I wrote a post a few days ago about something closely related to this.

    I’m playing on the Destruction side, as a Dark Elf Disciple of Khaine and my boyfriend plays a Black Orc. both playing on their respective races’ areas.

    We had both played on the Chaos zone in the open beta, and won most PvP scenarios. Now we’re losing most of the time. After wondering why there was this difference, we realized that it’s very likely influenced by the lack of a Dark Elf tank (also noticeable on public quests – we die a lot more than we would if someone was tanking the final bosses), and of a Black Orc melee DPS class (I should also mention that there was a lack of shamans which didn’t help).

    I’d like to see the classes they removed added sometime in the near future, in a patch, just so we avoid having unbalanced PvP, and large amounts of dead players in public quests due to no tanks being there. 😛

    Even with these problems I am enjoying the game, so don’t consider this a whine, just a comment on something that needs to be improved.

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