Are tanks too tanky?

sadmummy_splash_3

This isn’t exactly a revelation, but it’s something I’ve been seeing a lot in my past few games. I’ve spent a lot of games playing Corki and Tristana recently, and I’ve been horribly frustrated by how well a tank can scale.

It actually seems to be a really complicated problem. At first I wanted to blame it on items – Warden’s Mail/Randuin’s Omen is crazy strong against ranged DPS. If you’ve ever chain-slowed yourself against a fleeing Mordekaiser you know what I’m talking about. But it’s more than just the fact that defensive gear (Randuin’s) is arguably much stronger against DPS than the DPS anti-tank item (Madred’s).

There’s at least one more issue, though, and that’s the conflicted itemization between carry items and carry runes. Most DPS players run flat armor penetration runes, which are great early and later against casters, but actually kind of terrible against tanks. They reduce the total effectiveness of Last Whisper, which is a big deal. Last Whisper is still a great item, particularly for the cost, but the fact that you lose any effectiveness whatsoever kinda sucks. You also have to consider that most ranged DPS try to get an Infinity Edge as early as possible. It’s a huge DPS bump, but many of the popular tanks in the game are so good at farming that they’ll have close to 4000 gold by the time you get IE, which means they’ll probably cut your damage in half with items.

The other thing that bothers me is that tanks also have incredible control on top of their high damage and survivability. Taunts, snares, stuns, slows, often a combination of these things, plus very respectable damage output with a Sunfire Cape or two.

I actually miss Alistar these days. Yes, in his heyday he was obnoxious to play against, but it was because of his control and pretty much nothing else. Alistar can take a beating and a half, but you rarely had to worry that he was going to kill you right out. I always thought it was kind of cool that he could pop his ult and rush a turret to push, even if he wasn’t going to bring down your carry. It made him seem nuanced and interesting – a playstyle that was tough to master. The best tanks in the game now are great farmers, great gankers, excellent pushers, and huge damage threats. That’s not really all that interesting, and it’s certainly not very fun.

LoL: Learning the tanks

Alistar base pic.In my opinion there are very few pure tanks in League of Legends. A lot of characters can tank, but that doesn’t make them the best for the position. Tanking is also a bit of a strange concept in LoL because there isn’t an aggro mechanic forcing players to attack the thickest guy on the team. Tanks do pose significant threat to a team, though, not because of their damage output but because of their control skills.

Take Alistar, for instance. If the opposing team is rushing your inhibitor turret with Alistar at the forefront, do you try to focus him down while the rest of the team is out of range, or do you let him beat on the tower and focus the weaker targets, hoping he won’t land a crucial headbutt combo? As negligible as his damage may seem, he can quickly put you in a bad situation.

When I see a tank played well it makes me want to tank. Since I’ve been seeing a lot of solid Alistar players lately, I decided to give him a shot. In my first game I had a lot of trouble. I was blowing through mana, despite my manipulator and a few regen runes. What it all came down to was an overuse of skills, particularly for the item build.

Playing a tank is all about picking the situation. Despite your thick exterior, smart play and attentive farming still works best. With Alistar I focus on last hitting exclusively until level 5 or so, stepping in and out of the brush to keep control of the lane. From there it’s just lending support to your carries. Keep building toward survivability until you’re meaty enough to take a solid beating from a couple opponents. When you’re headed for towers, don’t be afraid to rush in and smack the tower while your teammates handle your opponent. That’s the paradox a tank presents to an opponent. Do they deal with you, in which case you can blow your mitigation skills and back up to prep for some control, or do they let you continue to beat down the tower and try to deal with your opponents.

As with all things in this game, discretion is best. If you’re picking your fights wisely, using lane position and teammates to your advantage, and saving your mitigation skills for moments you truly need them, you should be just fine. From there, it’s all about experience.

Related Posts