Will Jedi Knights Be Tanks?
First a little background on me. The only MMO I have played to date is World of Warcraft. In WoW, I play a Tanking class called the Protection Paladin. I love Tanking. It’s the most fun role there is in a party.
So as I look at my chosen class for SWTOR, I wonder if Jedi Knights will be a tanking class.
I realize this presupposes that SWTOR will use Tanks, but I believe I make this assumption on solid grounds. Now I know many things can change during the development of an MMO, but we have to go with the knowledge we have at this time.
We got the first hint of how The Old Republic will use the Trinity (Tank, Healer, DPS) in an interview done by MMO Gamer with Daniel Erickson, Lead Writer on Star Wars: The Old Republic and Jame Ohlen, Studio Creative Director, and Lead Designer on Star Wars: The Old Republic. While discussing combat mechanics James Ohlen said: “we want to appeal to MMO fans who like the strategy and tactics involved in MMO combat, where you have the different character types, the guy who’s a tank that jumps into battle and everyone focuses on him while you have your ranged DPS guys. We still want to have that.” (emphasis added)
Okay, so let’s say you’re feeling generous and you are willing to accept that SWTOR will have Tanks. Why then do I think the Jedi Knight class will be a Tanking class? Why not the Trooper, or Smuggler or Consular? I’m not saying those other classes won’t be tanks, they very well might have tanking builds or templates or whatever the terminology will be for SWTOR. But I think Jedi Knights definitely will be Tanks.
Let me direct your attention to an interview done by Gamespot with BioWare’s director of production Dallas Dickinson and senior game designer William Wallace on the Jedi Knight class.
During the interview William Wallace discussed the Jedi Knight in combat. “[The Jedi Knight] has a number of strong single and double lightsaber attacks to damage his enemies and keep them from damaging him. In group combat, the Jedi knight excels at staying at the forefront of the fight and has a number of ways to keep the battle focused on him, letting his allies concentrate on what they do best and also keeping any Sith lightsabers away from unarmored targets.”
As one of the more elegant forum posters once said, Tanking is ticking them off good and then taking it like a man. Tanks maintain threat to keep the Enemy attacking them and then absorb those blows through various skills, spells, and talents.
Look how both of those elements are encompassed in the answer provided by BioWare. The Jedi Knight “has a number of ways to keep the battle focused on him”. That is the first element of tanking. All the damage mitigation in the world isn’t going to help you if the Enemy isn’t attacking you. You might be a brick wall, but the Enemy might choose to beat down the wooden wall instead. So you have to keep the Enemies attention.
The next thing he says is that the Jedi will protect their allies by “also keeping any Sith lightsabers away from unarmored targets.” Specifically now we see the example of keeping the Enemy Sith away from the more squishy members of our party.
Threat is all well and good and necessary, but just as important is the need to stay alive once you have threat. Anyone’s whose played a DPS class in WoW can tell you getting threat isn’t that hard, surviving a couple of attacks from the Boss is much more difficult. In the interview, we can see the second element of Tanking.
The Jedi will have combat maneuver that “keep them [his Enemies] from damaging him.” So the Jedi keeps the attention of the Enemy and then keeps the Enemy from doing damage to him. Perhaps by parrying the blow? Parry is a major skill in WoW that every Tanking class except Feral Druids possesses.
In the interview Mr. Wallace describes the Jedi Knight as leading the group. Typically the Tank is seen as the leader of your party. He directs the pace and the pulls and keeps the party together. The Tank will often be the one to set the strategy as the strategy generally is heavily influenced by his abilities.
We can clearly see from this interview that the Jedi Knight has been designed with the two major elements of Tanking in mind. This doesn’t preclude other classes from being Tanks nor does it mean that Jedi Knights are only going to be able to fulfill the Tanking role. Mr. Wallace specifically mentions the Jedi Knight still being an asset “Even if the Jedi knight isn’t leading the group.”
This is really a smart move by BioWare. Going by my WoW experience, Tanks are the most difficult role to fill in any group, followed by Healers. Many expect the Jedi Knight to be the most popular class in Star Wars The Old Republic. So right off the bat, you will have a large supply of Tank capable players ready for whatever type of End Game content BioWare is designing.