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Tanking mechanics that aren't taunt on X stacks

Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has been putting his new Twitter account to good use, keeping players informed of design intent, limits, ideas and more. One recent tweet particularly caught my eye, related as it is to my now-ex main, and a role I miss terribly.

The story behind this is that the taunt at X stacks model, that was so prevalent in Dragon Soul, in Normal Mode difficulty and some heroics, was the thing that made me switch from tank to healer. I even wrote about it, to express my frustration. Commenters at the time thought it was an attempt by Blizzard to make tanking more accessible, and to increase the tanking population. But, for me at least, easy-mode tanking drove me away.

And the "taunt on X stacks" model has far from disappeared as we've moved through Mists. While there have been fights like Will of the Emperor that really demanded a lot from tanks, many others didn't. Stone Guard, while it was another taunt-swap, at least required some more engagement. But there's still far too much of the taunting on X stacks. Writing the Bosses in 5 Seconds guides, I just have to figure out which debuff, and how many stacks for many of the bosses.

Making tanking mechanics more interesting is a double-edged sword. Experienced tanks will be happy to have something more exciting to do. Less experienced tanks might be overwhelmed, and people who previously might have tried tanking could be put off. But personally, while I appreciate that there's a shortage of tanks, I feel like more complex mechanics than "taunt on X stacks" would be a welcome addition. I'd love to see a raid tier where that wasn't the tank mechanic on more than a couple of bosses.

But what, then, should the tank mechanics be? The difficulty with fights where one tank kites adds and one tank takes the boss is that it may well be possible or optimal for a DPS to do the kiting duty and for just one tank to be needed. Is that a problem? I think it's less than ideal. But couple that with a taunt-swap, not dissimilar to the whelps on Halfus Wyrmbreaker, or Horridon (although pallies could cheese Horridon) and you need two tanks. They need to go from AoE tanking to single target, and rounding up and controlling a group always keeps you on your toes more than just a single target. The Council of Elders had some interesting tank mechanics, with the different debuffs and the like.

As far as mechanics go, what have been your stand-out fights this expansion, and what would you do instead of the "taunt at X stacks" model? Personally, I'd love to see more incredibly innovative mechanics that allow the tanks to display at least a moderate level of personal skill, such as Will of the Emperor. How about you?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

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