In World of WarCraft, only one PvE role is played by mature, reasonable, intelligent, witty, urbane and skilled human beings. That role is called DPS, or Damage per Second.
There are other roles – other characters that have tried for years to convince everyone else that they were the valuable ones, that they had it so damn hard, that they held it all together in their stalwart, godly hands while the rest of creation burned.
These other roles are liars.
The lyingest, most dishonestest, bullshittingest 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 had more than one word, they’d probably just get confused trying to abbreviate it.
Shit needs to be simple for these guys. I can respect that. I’ve worked with “special” kids before, if you get me. It’s pretty much the same thing here.
Sometimes, if a Tank is feeling particularly witty, they’ll take time from placing brightly coloured icons above monsters’ heads and tell you how they’ve graduated from your role, because “DPS just wasn’t interesting enough.”
That’s funny, right? They’re funny guys.
So what is a tank? Put simply: a tank is a melee character that is unable to actually win any of the fights it starts.
Tanks will charge headlong into battles of absolutely unwinnable odds, and 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 busted open and a significant portion of their blood is on the wrong side of their skin.
It’s at that point you’ll need to come save them again.
I’m not even kidding. I do this maybe 800 times per dungeon.
The most famous example of a tank is also the classic example of a pedantic child who gets in over his head and needs his friends to come save him: Luke Skywalker. Although Luke eventually respecs DPS and kills his own dad while extremely pissed off about how fucked up his family is, before dual specs came out he was a typical tank. It was his job to keep the bad guys busy while his friends ran around and got the real shit done.
Now, Luke (and let’s be fair to him) doesn’t always do an A+ job on that score.
Take the climactic scene of Empire, when his friends have either already escaped under their own power or are captured and shipped away too late for him to actually do anything about it.
In he runs, lightsaber swinging, with hilarious results. Picking a fight too hard for his level, then expecting his friends to leap in and save him after his escape plan of falling off a bridge turns out to be pointless.
If tanks were just overconfident and stupid, that would be enough for us to wisely sigh in their presence. 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.
It’s the attitude. That’s what sucks.
So Goddamn NeedyEdit
Imagine you have a friend that borrows money from you all the time; who begs you to come to bars with him and play wingman because he’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 while you’re helping him) he gives you a line about how dependent you are on his wonderful company, and how you’d never get anything done without his glowing presence.
That’s what a tank is. It’s that guy.
They never learn. They’ll feed you this shit about how wonderful they are, and about how you’re hopeless without them, even as they charge into yet another fight they 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 starts a fight in a bar, then runs back to you with nine screaming guys armed with pool cues, and expects you to, y’know, “maybe just beat up seven or eight of them, okay buddy?”, while he’s “totally got this one guy, right here.” And even then, only if he has a healer.
The Pain ParadoxEdit
The most confusing thing about tanks isn’t that they talk a big game, yet lose any fight you put them in. No, the most confusing thing is when they beg you hit something for them, and then get mad when you hit it too hard.
This is known as the Pain Paradox.
A tank’s cowardice 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 fucker in the opposing army without being seen.
I wouldn’t make this up. Why do we tolerate these people?
So now you have a friend who not only starts fights with gangs of armed skinheads, he also expects you to assassinate every single one of them from the shadows, remaining unseen at all times.
Killing... but not letting them feel enough pain to turn around and twat you.
That’s not always easy. It can take some practice. I'm given to understand this is the kind of thing ninjas train their whole lives to be able to achieve.
So I don’t find the Pain Paradox funny. I find it tragic.
Worse still, it leads to the most preeningly shit-headed comment in all of gaming: "You spank it, you tank it. LOL."
"You Spank It, You Tank It. LOL."Edit
Tanks love saying this.
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 accidentally piss someone off, you’re on your own, man.
No, don’t even think of asking for help. You spanked it, so you tank it.
Most tanks I know couldn’t even spell ‘inequality’, let alone grasp the fundamentals behind the concept, so don’t try to explain it to them. I tried to explain it to one once, but he just got annoyed that I was interrupting his /w cybering while we went through Naxx.
By this point, you’re probably feeling a little down; sick of being the one smart guy in the room while screaming kids beg for heals, beg for help, and equally whiny kids throw sparkling leaves or golden flashes of bullshit at each other. That's bad enough, right? Have they started hugging and high-fiving and telling each other they're the linchpins of the whole guild?
They have? I'm shocked!
Next time, we'll discuss how to deal with those shivering, useless wrecks known as Healers. They're like Tanks, only less brave and only need to use one button in order to feel just so very useful.