WoW Tanks Are Top DPS??

I realize nobody wants to read about WoW, but historically I haven’t played it much, and about 90% of it is still new to me. Well "new" isn’t the right word exactly–it’s more that WoW’s implementation of familiar MMO tropes is new to me. For example, I’ve made a shocking observation in my low to mid-range dungeon runs: The tank almost always does the most damage in the group. Sometimes by a very large margin.

That's the tank up there at the top.
That’s the tank up there at the top.

It’s a bit of a mind-blower when I’m going in with what I think is a pure damage spec, only to get out-damaged by the tank! In every other game I’ve played, the tank has almost no damage output, and is usually second-to-last before the healer.

At first I thought that low to mid-range dungeon runs in WoW are so easy that people simply use a damage spec instead of a tank spec to get through the dungeon faster, relying on their damage to keep aggro. Because it can’t possibly be that the WoW tank specs deal massive damage and withstand massive damage, can it?

Yep, that looks like a Protection Tank to me.
Yep, that looks like a Protection Tank to me.

It seems so. As further evidence, when I play an Arms Warrior, my damage is usually pretty high among the group without any special effort. But when I play a Warlock or a Mage, my damage is usually last place among the damage dealers. I haven’t had the nerve yet to try playing a Protection Warrior to confirm the super high damage. (Not that I think it would be hard; I just don’t want to get yelled at for going the wrong way.)

Perhaps this is just an artifact of the leveling process, and everything will balance out at the level cap. That is, perhaps Warriors do better damage while leveling, but at the cap the Mages and Warlocks catch up. I hope so, because right now it doesn’t look like there’s any reason to roll anything but a warrior for damage.

2 thoughts on “WoW Tanks Are Top DPS??”

  1. What level range are you in? I see some low hit points peeking through that second chart.

    I noticed when I was in the 1-60 run with my protection spec’d paladin back in August, I would frequently be at the top of the DPS charts, often by a fair margin. In part, the pally is well suited for damage, and has a pretty health rotation. And when undead are involved, when holy damage gets a boost, look out. Plus, it feels like the specs are very focused on later game content, so tanks often feel over powered early on, in my opinion. There have been a number of points where DPS got lost and the tank and the healer pretty much finished the instance.

    Also I think in part it is because being tank is a more serious job. People who go for that role do not do so casually… or they don’t last if they do. When I play one of my tanking characters, I tend to spend on equipment to keep damage up because it helps keep aggro on me.

    At later levels… I have also been doing some Burning Crusade and Lich King instances, it starts to level out some, but I think it is all focused on hitting the right balance for the current expansion. My own latest post is about our group hitting an instance renown for being tough and just powering through because so much has changed in the game.

    And our tank was second on the DPS chart there.

  2. That was probably in the mid- to late-40s I’m guessing. I’ve been working on leveling a mage exclusively in dungeons (I’m not sure why, except I haven’t seen WoW dungeons before). It’s kind of frustrating because I keep feeling like I’m doing something wrong because my damage is so bad. :) (It’s still entirely possible I’m doing something wrong, but I’m not seeing it if I am.) Good to hear it will even out sometime later.

    True on tanks.. almost every one I’ve seen in WoW has been a pro. I think that’s a common trait of tanks everywhere, actually. That and a lot of self-confidence.

    I was playing around with a level 25 protection warrior and discovered that the Shield Bash ability does an absolutely ridiculous amount of damage at that level. It practically one-shots the mobs when I’m out there soloing.

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