For anyone not familiar with online role playing games (RPGs), while it is possible to complete much of a game such as World of Warcraft or Rift on your own, players frequently form groups to win fights or complete quests which would be impossible for a single player.
People take specific roles in a group. DPS (damage per second) players are the most numerous, usually three players out of a five person group. Their job is to kill the enemy.
Healers heal other players in the group.
Support players, usually found only in larger groups, provide enhancements (buffs) to other players, increasing their strength, spell power, health, etc. DPS, healer and tank players may also have group buffs.
Tanks offer themselves as targets to enemies. Their job is to draw the enemy’s attention to keep the healer safe, and to let the dps players focus on wearing the enemy down. The healer’s job is primarily to keep the tank alive.
If the tank is doing his job well, the enemy’s attention should stay on him, and dps players should suffer little damage, except for unavoidable aoe (area of effect) attacks.
The key task of any tank is make himself the most attractive target. In an RPG this is called threat generation.
Threat generation is largely a product of how a player is specced. This means how players distribute the talent points they accumulate as they progress through the game. Rift has a maximum of 66 talent points, reached when you get level 50. Sometimes players talk about ‘build’ when they are describing how they have used their talent points.
Although any class except a mage can act as a tank in Rift, there are very few circumstances where a cleric or rogue will be as effective as a well geared and properly specced warrior.
This is especially so since the new 1.6 Ember Isle update, which gave warriors several enhancements to threat generation.
The most common complaint about a tank player is not that he is hard to keep alive, but that he cannot hold aggro. This means that the enemies keep attacking the dps players or healer rather than the tank. The reason this happens is (usually) that the tank is not generating enough threat to hold the enemy’s attention.
The number one ability a tank needs to spec for is threat.
This is a link to my endgame rift tanking build.
This is Paladin/Warlord/Reaver build.
My pre-raid HP on this build is just over 12,000. With the Paladin’s Touch of Life, this effectively means an HP of about 20K.
This build takes every possible threat enhancement except the 20 point Warlord skill Promise of Steel, because that ability gives only marginal overall threat enhancement, and reaching it would mean taking too many self-healing or block abilities out of the Paladin or Reaver trees.
The only thing besides threat a tank should be concerned about is the best possible balance of armour, endurance, self-heal and block enhancements. A tank is not primarily concerned with group buffs, hence points in Tip the Balance, a self-heal, rather than Reverent Protection, a group protection buff, in the Paladin tree.
It is worth going up the Reaver tree to get Master of the Abyss, a superb aoe damage ability that heals for 100% of damage done, and for Soul Devour, an enhancement to the self-heal ability Soul Feast.
Where a tank needs to put points into damage to reach other skills, the total damage done is more important than the tree looking tidy, hence 1 point into Wasting Away rather than another point into Planar Attunement in the Reaver tree.
This build also gives you Intercept, which enables the tank to transfer threat from another player (often the healer) to himself.
Just a couple of notes for dps players. The point of your participating a group is not so you can gloat over the size of your dps. It is to get the group safely through to the end of the raid, dungeon or rift. This means you may need to sacrifice some of your highest dps abilties if they are also high threat. If you do pull aggro, don’t automatically blame the tank. Apologise to the group – it’s a pain for the healer as well as the tank. Think about which ability you used that was high threat. If you must use that ability again, let the tank know first so he can throw a threat enhancement like the Warlord’s Imposing, or use Intercept.
And remember, it’s a game, people!