There have been a lot of discussions about the tanking meta/paradigm lately. Some hate it, even if they go along with it. Some love it, even knowing it might not always be this way. Some disagree with the whole premise and stubbornly wear full 210 Fending gear to a 22k HP effect. But I’ve also seen discussions largely unrelated to the meta be hijacked. People who are leveling who come in to compliment SE on a job well done, only to have their threads pulled off topic by people taking their words to mean things they never meant, and applying their thoughts and ideas to a context they weren’t meant to apply to. This prompted me to think (uh oh), and figure out what’s going on.
The Meta Problem: Cliff Notes Version
In high end content, tanks who build their characters’ “tankiness” are not rewarded, and tanks who do not emphasize and maximize their own DPS by throwing caution to the wind will (generally) have a much harder time succeeding. Some say it’s an encounter design problem, some say it’s a job design problem, but a lot of tanks agree that this isn’t what we signed up for. When people complain about the meta, that’s their context.
But There’s More Out There
But here’s the (actually rather huge) thing: endgame content and progression raiding only account for a rather small component of content where tanks can actually tank. We have a huge body of group content 1-60 in terms of dungeons, trials, guildhests, and even raids that are all a bit more on the casual side of things. As others have pointed out, the most successful endgame gearing strategies and gameplay methods are beginning to be seen and even promoted in this wide body of content, but this may be a misjudgment and misapplication of paradigm by the community at large.
Where I’m Fuzzy
Is this paradigm/meta problem even an issue in the rest of the content in this game? I know for me, as a tank, I feel a lot more confident and a lot less squishy in these places if I go in full Fending versus a few/full Slaying, and it doesn’t really affect my ability to tank either way (the mitigation and DPS gains from gear at any level less than 40 seem so marginal that I could get away with tanking in my Cavalier uniform, though the healer might yell at me). I definitely have a lot more success in this more casual content when I stay in Shield Oath, and it’s been my experience that Fending gear is actually incredibly desirable up until ~180 iLvl (getting to that “HP threshold”). And even then, I feel like my HP yoyos a lot more in slaying versus fending gear, throughout leveling and patch content, and even looking into much of normal Alexander.
So I guess I’m asking, is this paradigm/meta problem that we’re seeing even an issue outside of Alexander Savage? I know community mindset may be an issue here, but I want to focus on mechanics and group success in the rest of the game, and whether or not a tank in Slaying gear will help casual groups’ success any more or less than a tank in Fending gear. Because at least to me, it seems like career tanks have (almost) nothing to worry about in the rest of the game, so long as they can hold threat (which…actually feels a lot harder in DPS stance, I’ve found), and ignore players who tell them they’re doing it wrong (when, in fact, they may be doing it right).
Note, I’m also asking for opinion here, not just giving my own. What are your thoughts on the matter?