Saturday, July 9, 2011

Affirmative Action for Ranged Tanks NOW!

Mars and Venus? Or... Argus?
My first melee character was my resto druid with a feral OS for questing, and it was as I was DPSing a heroic for the first time ever as a cat that I reaffirmed my belief that melee is dumb.

Honestly, in a tactical sense, how wise is it to just run up to things and smack them? Of course, that's classically how "real" people have conducted battle over many centuries, the bulk of an army being infantry among which I would never include myself. The enemy could turn right around and cleave me in the face, and then I'd be left bleeding on the battlefield thinking, "I should have rolled a sniper."

For some reason, many people who aren't me like to brute force their way through WoW, and luckily for them, melee will always have special spots reserved in raids with well-worn cardboard signs reading "kicker" on them. Meanwhile, the ranged are stuck switching targets all the time to kill some stupid adds that explode and making cookies and cake. Class discrimination and role schema. How unglamorous and disappointingly akin to reality.

People groan when Blizzard releases a fight that calls for ranged tanks. One reason may be because those fights are always council fights, which generally suck. It's bad enough to memorize the mechanics of one mob, but pugging BWD means spending half an hour explaining every robot in Omnotron Defense System. Every time someone remembers one mechanic, it means another one was already pushed out of his/her brain and forgotten before the pull. And don't even remind me of what a nightmare Twin Emps were when it was new content. When I think back on AQ40, I can't even imagine myself ever having as much patience now as I did then when raiding five days a week was considered normal.

But anyway, I have another theory about why the playerbase in general hates range-tanked fights. It could be because they break away from a model that has become normal, i.e. the stratified raid structure in which players are organized into a hierarchy with tanks at the top. By default, that makes melee sit at the top because when we think "tank," we automatically think "plate-wearing melee class," but this is due to a popular opinion shaped over years of MMORPGs reinforcing the idea of the warrior hero running headlong into battle to lead his allies. While DPS work is devalued, tanking is glorified.

Thus, it is instinctual for melee classes to be averse to any new encounter that suggests that melee and ranged, despite their outward differences, can both be tanks and therefore may be equals. After all, it threatens their place at the top of the raiding and social hierarchy. In order to change the role-ist ways that players view ranged DPS, not only must Blizzard introduce more range-tanked encounters in order to close the disproportionate gap, each player must actively try to change their thought patterns and embrace role equality. There is much work to be done to ensure that discriminatory raging against casters is reduced and respect is conjured.

I'm like a gamer Audre Lorde.


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