Playing a tank as a solo character

I was going to write a post some time ago about Everquest 2 with a title along the lines of “why did I boost a tank of all characters?” My experiment with instant high level characters in this game started with the slightly random selection of a Shadowknight as my first high level character. I’d played a Shadowknight at low levels a long time ago as part of an abortive duo-team.

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I enjoy the classes mix of melee and spell abilities and the graphics and playstyle are fun – lots of area damage abilities and spells to spread damage-over-time diseases about. The strange thing about all this though is I that of the three standard ‘holy’ trinity roles for MMORPGs tanking is easily my least favourite. I’ll note here that I’ve played tank so far in The Secret World in a casual trio context but that doesn’t mean I’d be happy to be tanking world bosses or dungeons with random players. Beyond that I’ve not tanked much since my WoW years when I always kept a Protection Paladin alt geared as a backup character should the guild need a tank for heroic dungeon runs.

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My new-found appreciation for tank-style characters doesn’t come from wanting to play that role necessarily in group content, but rather from their general survivability and power in leveling content. As a solo leveling character a tank is often very viable with self-heals and defensive cool-down abilities to help you deal with unexpected challenges. Tanks often have good group-damage abilities also to deal with groups of foes all at once. It may not be the original intention for the role but in modern MMOs tanks are expected to do average-to-good damage as well so it’s not the slow and dull leveling experience it once was (leveling as a Prot Paladin in the Burning Crusade era was not advisable).

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There’s an irony to this however that I end up with a character/specialisation at the level cap that I am unlikely to want to play in group content given the expectation that I should actually fulfil that character’s expected role. I may have to be more conscious of the grouping implications of choosing to level such a character in future. Despite this I do have a renewed appreciation for defensive melee archetypes, after years of mainly focusing on ranged spellcasters. Maybe I should be leveling Paladin in FFXIV next…

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