The first World of Warcraft: Dragonflight pre-patch is here, and with it, the newly updated and expanded talent trees. The goal of the trees is to replace the borrowed power systems of the past several expansions. This is a step in the right direction of player progression and customization, but it also opens the door for additional possibilities. World of Warcraft employs the dungeon-running trinity of tank, damage, and healer. It has been two years since this site called for all-class tanking. The new talent trees provide WoW with the opportunity to make this evolution happen.
The idea of a damage dealer tanking a dungeon and standing toe-to-toe in a boss fight is common in fantasy RPGs. The class a player selects in Diablo 4, for example, will not prevent them from slaughtering hordes of ghastly enemies and ultimately completing the game. It is only in the MMO sphere this role is restricted to heavy armor, high health classes. Unfortunately, this results in long dungeon wait times when the online tank population is lower than the queued volume of damage and healers. Allowing all classes to tanking addresses this shortcoming as well as offering new ways to play.
Though not a formal dungeon, Torghast demonstrated the feasibility of enhancing talents and abilities to successfully clear content and win boss battles, regardless of class. The talents needed to buff a player will not require a separate tree, but branch along an existing specialization. These are ideas on what specializations can be tuned for tanking. This is data-free, pure speculation. Feel free to offer alternative pathways.
Specialization: Survival. Being a pet driven class, Beast Mastery would be the expected tree, but buffing bombs, traps, and shots are ways to damage, ensnare, and, slow. The hunter tank employs a varied bag of deadly tricks to maintain aggro at distance, along with dodge and pushback melee skills when things get too close for comfort, while its pet and party wears it down.
Specialization: Frost. The mage tank leads the assault by encasing the boss in ice, creating an opening for the damage dealers to attack. Even when the ice tomb breaks, frostbite slows its attack and movement speed. Encasing its weapon in ice disarms the boss and ice slick beneath its feet drops it to its knees. If the boss regains its footing, the mage conjures an ice slide, to glide around the boss at high speed. An extra thick ice shield provides protection. The mage tank keeps the boss off balance and hobbled.
Specialization: Shadow. The priest tank is a true harbinger of misery. A conjured shadow pit drops the boss halfway into a nether realm as spiked tentacles rake it and hold it in place. Shadow magic pierces its mind, creating hallucinations of towering monstrosities. Waves of screaming apparitions assault from all sides. The boss doesn’t know what is real and what is nightmare as it lashes out, confused, without focus, and doomed.
Specialization: Subtlety. The rogue tank explodes out of nowhere, delivering a flurry of attacks before the boss has a chance to react. Enhanced dodge and agility makes them difficult to hit. They are a ninja wasp, inflicting poison, blindness, and pain one moment, gone the next, and back again. The boss that turns away to engage party members receives a devastating backstab to pull them back into the fray.
Specialization: Elemental. A stunning bolt of lightning heralds the shaman tank’s arrival as a tornadic maelstrom hoists the boss aloft, defenseless, and slams it into the ground. Empowered totems circle the boss, snaring and unleashing elemental attacks in concert with your own. Elementals materialize to intercept attacks on party members and retaliate, transferring aggro back to the tank. Astral waves break against the boss, knocking them back and healing the party. Nature’s fury is fully unleashed.
Specialization: Demonology. Not to soil their own hands, the warlock tank summons a huge, brutish demon that engages the boss with powerful melee and spell abilities. The warlock alternates between empowering and healing his demon, at the expense of his own health. They must replenishing their own life force by casting draining curses on the boss. So strong is the warlock/demon connection, damage hurts them both, and the warlock tank has to balance his attention between the two of them. With great power comes great risk. The warlock tank would have it no other way.
As stated, this is all fantasy and speculation, but it shows there is a way forward to broaden class utility and choice. Perhaps in the next expansion.
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