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Officers' Quarters: Tanks for nothing

Scott Andrews

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

The Tank Shortage of 2008 -- is it worse than the Tank Shortage of 2007? Over the past two years, few guilds haven't felt the sting of being shorthanded on the front lines. Blizzard's response has been to give us the Death Knight, a class that supposedly will be able to tank with any talent tree. And while many of us are enjoying them on the beta servers, everyone in live is still struggling. As more and more players take a break from WoW prior to the expansion, it's a problem that's only getting worse.

In these desperate times, it seems like raiding guilds are taking anybody that can equip a shield or go bear. But even today, some tanks are so terrible that it's just not worth keeping them on the roster. One reader wants to know how to let a bad tank go.

Hi Scott,

I'm faced with a bit of a conundrum with regards to a warrior in our guild. I'll start from the beginning:

I'm an officer and the Warrior class leader in a small PvE guild on Burning Steppes EU, which has been trying to break into 25-man content before Lich King. As we needed tanks we've been accepting warriors with little experience and gear in order to train them up and get them ready for raid tanking. So far we've had good success, with a number of pre-Kara tanks, including myself, now at the level of MT'ing up to prince. (I downed Prince my first night of tanking him :D)

Now my problem comes in the form of a warrior who is on trial. He's not a bad tank, at least not in instances. But when it comes to Off-tanking in Kara, he's awful.

He's ignoring markings, failing to listen to tactics, and seems to be in a dream world all the time.

Last night for example on Moroes, we had no priests so had to work with the adds a little differently. [. . .] Unfortunately, things went a little pear-shaped. OT tanked the prot warrior, but ignored Moroes. So i got gouged, Moroes went on a killing spree. Somehow we didn't wipe, but it was a VERY messy fight.

Then came Opera, and our event was Oz. OT on Tinman, as always, but when Tinman was rusted, and I say in /raidwarning "Kite him! Run around!", our OT, who has done this fight before, ran literally AROUND the Tinman. I wish i was lying but I'm not. He ran in circles around the Tinman.

In summary, this guy is awful. And he has to be kicked, which falls to my job. The problem is, I don't really know how to kick him. I don't want to be a jerk, but we have spent so much time trying to sort him out that we've neglected other areas, and i don't have the patience to deal with him anymore.

Any advice?


Meatshiéld of Burning Steppes

Tanking, more than any other role in a raid, is about being "heads up." You have to know what to do when everything goes right, but even more important is knowing what to do when everything goes wrong. Players who can't even do the former are going to be useless for the latter.

Off-tanks especially need to be good at this, because they're the last line of defense if the main tank goes down. Some players have a tough time adjusting to OT'ing. They're used to running 5-player dungeons where they are the main tanks, so playing a secondary role is foreign.

Even so, it sounds like your OT is having a longer adjustment period than usual. It's possible he could turn around given enough time and energy, but it sounds like you've already invested a lot of that with little to show for it. One could say it's not just your off-tank who's running in circles.

So, Meatshield, there are two ways to go about this: the direct way and the indirect way.

Here's the direct way. You whisper your warrior and tell him that you're very sorry but it's just not working out. If he asks you why, it sounds like you have a mountain of evidence and anecdotes to toss his way. By no means should you overwhelm him with an onslaught of criticism. After all, you're letting him go and that's critical enough. However, the only way this player will improve is if he is told where he's falling short so he can make adjustments for the next guild that gives him a chance.

In many ways this approach is more honest. However, there are the advantages to taking a different approach.

Instead of either taking him on raids or booting him, you can just bench him for a while. Explain to him why, with several concrete examples like you included in your e-mail. Be respectful at all times, but hammer home the point that this player can't be part of a raid if he can't follow instructions. Emphasize that he's part of a team that's counting on him, and that he's letting the team down.

Of course, this is assuming you actually have a suitable replacement . . .

At this point, he may decide to quit on his own, absolving you of the responsibility. However, if he sticks around, stewing on the bench for a couple of weeks might actually help your words to sink in. Maybe, just maybe, he'll realize he needs to improve his listening skills and his execution.

After a few weeks riding the pine, have a conversation with him and ask him if he thinks he's ready to try again. Then give him one more chance to prove that he can get the job done. But ideally you'll have someone online ready to jump in and replace him if he still fails at off-tanking. There's no need to make nine other people suffer through a full run just to be polite.

One advantage to this method is that you might be able to turn him around and get an adequate tank out of it. When it comes to Kara, adequate is all you need. Another advantage is that your raiders will see that, in your guild, there are consequences to bad play that wastes people's time -- but also that you were fair about it. No one will be able to say that you didn't give him every opportunity to be part of the team.

I get the impression that you've never had to kick someone before, Meatshield. It's like all those cliches from spy movies when they say, "The first time you kill someone is the hardest. After that, it gets easier." Well, it's true about kicking someone, too. Good luck!


Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters! For more WoW Insider gameplay columns, click here.

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