Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Tank’s Life

I love playing a tank character in MMO’s. I loved playing Guild Wars 2 but there is something positively seductive about playing a tank. It was one of the reasons I went back to The Old Republic. Everybody always goes for the damage dealers when they play. I understand that, after all my first 50 in TOR was a Juggernaut. I always like to say a Juggernaut in Ravage is the most beautiful sight in The Old Republic. I love the fact that my Juggernaut giggles when she procs a Ravage, it always makes me smile. But I’ve been on a tanking kick the last few weeks. In The Old Republic, none of the three tanking specs play alike.

The Juggernaut/Guardian is the old school tank. She lives and dies fighting Bosses and hard-hitting single mobs. She has the heaviest armor, the most mitigation, and the longest shields. Plus she gains threat primarily by dishing out a ton of damage.

The Assassin/Shadow is the new school tank. In the vein of the Ninja from FFXI or WoW’s Death Knight, this tank has more than a few abilities that have to do with gaining health while dealing damage. On the other hand this class also has the single best shielding ability Resilience/Force Shroud is a beastly talent with the best cool down out of any defensive ability.

Then there is the Powertech/Vanguard. To be honest I don’t remember ever playing a ranged tank before. Now it’s likely that other games have done it before, but if they have I can’t remember a single one. This class in an interesting one, and I haven’t really done much with it yet, for not a few reasons I’m loving swinging lightsabers around and haven’t gone around to ‘pew pewing’ yet. But from what I’ve seen this class is more akin to the Juggernaut in defense and is more about controlling the movement than any of the other two tanks.

I’ve been playing a character I made off and on who only does Flashpoints, TOR’s version of dungeons. When I play The Old Republic, I tend to be more concerned with story and having the most bang for my buck with regards to leveling. Now especially that it’s gone F2P, dungeons can be something of a crap shoot. Unless you spec your character a certain way with regards to the legacy system, rested XP, and the 25% raise in XP you can get from the cash shop; the leveling from Flashpoints doesn’t compare to the experience you get from leveling through the story. But I’ve made a special effort to make a Juggernaut who has been running dungeons constantly.

It’s nice to play her as well, because I tend not to have to spend money on gear or anything else for that matter. I haven’t even gone to the second planet yet. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get to 50 and then run all the class quests in a row. They are the best part of the game after all and waiting to do them in like getting to eat your favorite foods all at once without having to sweat over the stove.

In any case playing flashpoint after flashpoint in a row is an interesting case study on parties. I have started spotting how parties are likely to go. Especially in the first few flashpoints which can be done easily in an hour, even thirty minutes for a couple. I always take the time to say a word or two in greeting before we start the flashpoint. It’s funny but people’s responses to that simple greeting; it says a lot about how the party is going to play out. People who talk usually don’t have a problem with wipes; they’re much more laid back.

I had a party with one guy who left the party after someone asked everyone to spacebar (move the cutscenes along) in the first flashpoint which can run from one to two hours if the cutscenes are allowed to play out. They weren’t rude, two of us hadn’t even spoken one way or another and the guy still left. We quickly went on dungeon finder, got a new member and finished up the flashpoint. I had another guy who ‘needed’ gear outside of his class. Needing in The Old Republic basically raises the chances of you getting a particular item, as courtesy says to ‘greed’ anything you can’t use. When questioned he said he needed it for his companion.

Now let me say that The Old Republic can be quite hard for new players around 30 or the end of the first chapter. Having a nicely decked out companion makes everything a lot easier. But as someone who has done a dungeon or two over the years I’ve never seen players get angrier more quickly as when someone takes a gear they can’t even use. The Old Republic is a little bit different because of companions but the same rules apply. As a tank I use my friend/blacklist for one reason only, to put together a naughty or nice list (by the way Rise of the Guardians was fantastic, can’t wait for the inevitable sequel). If a party member does something I think is, let’s say less than courteous, they get put on the blacklist and everyone who plays well, even if they are clearly less skilled or geared gets put on the friend list. Needless to say the dungeon finder doesn’t pair you with people on your blacklist. Word of warning; be nice to your healer/tank they might never let you play with them again. Sayonara.

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