Previously I’ve written about how many players of Heroes of the Storm focus on the statistics screen and use that as a measure of how well or poorly a particular hero performed. Recently Blizzard changed the stats page to remove the metric of how much damage a particular character received during the match, and this has caused upset within the player community, particularly with those who enjoy playing tank characters, who often used that metric as a gauge of their own success on the team.
While nothing about this change has affected the mechanics or rules of the game itself, it has dramatically altered the way tanks in low- and mid-tier matches have been playing, in efforts to “prove their worth” to their teams. Today I’m taking this opportunity and using my platform to plead and beg tank players to resist the urge to engage in two specific activities: taking camps and applying DPS.
Tanks Shouldn’t Take Camps
Not content to merely write an entire article about the strategy and mechanics of mercenary camps—and just as importantly, when not to take them—it’s important for me to point out that there are very, very few situations where a tank should be away from the main teamfight or out of lane, trying to take down a camp. This is particularly true if they aren’t backed up by some heavy damage dealers.
Tanks by and large have anemic, or at best very situational, damage output. Diablo and Garrosh have primary abilities which displace and stun heroes—effects that are largely worthless against NPCs. Johanna and Muradin have great survivability —again, largely worthless against NPCs.
Not only do tanks not do enough damage against the mercenaries to make taking camps a viable tactic for them, they are explicitly far more useful elsewhere on the battlefield. Unless an entire team is rolling through a camp, there’s almost no reason for a tank to be there. Taking a camp may be flashy and send audio and visual alerts to the entire map, but it’s not what a tank is best at.
Every minute that a tank spends trying to win over a mercenary camp is a minute that they aren’t contributing to the team fight. As discussed most recently in my last article about trickle deaths, having an uneven number of heroes at a fight is almost always disastrous for the smaller team. If a tank is off futilely swinging their slow or ineffectual weapons at mercenaries, they aren’t able to perform their primary role. Bringing me to my second point—
Tanks Shouldn’t DPS
Assassin and Bruiser characters are designed around providing widespread mayhem and damage to enemy teams. That is their specific role, one at which they excel, far outstripping any other class of hero who may try to help. This isn’t to say that no other class can provide damage, but rather that damage is their primary focus, and so they are the best at it.
Tanks neither have the capacity or are designed with a heavy damage output in mind. Though they may have large health reserves and often self-sustain talents, their primary role isn’t to soak up damage, either. Again, I refer to my guide on tanks for more information.
The most important role a tank can play, and one that almost each and every one of whom is built for, is peel. This means keeping enemies off of your own squishy back-line, or moving opposing back-line heroes out of position so your assassins can strike. A tank’s focus should not be to chase down enemy heroes—almost no matter how low their health is—theirs is to provide opportunities for their (actual) damage-dealers to forcefully engage into or safely disengage away from battle.
Too often of late I have seen tanks charge into the enemy lines with reckless abandon, perhaps trying to increase their “hero damage dealt” statistic as a way to make up for the loss of their “damage taken” ranking. I presume they feel that by looking like they are dealing damage, and by taking a great amount of the same—which then ties up the healer’s vital resources—they are participating in the match in a way that is visible to their teammates.
The Stats Don’t Matter
I say this as someone who loves metrics and analysis, who frequently laments Blizzard’s explicit decision to not provide API access for Heroes of the Storm match data. I tell you here that the end-game statistics don’t actually matter. A key point of my article on Useful Metrics is that data only show what the data records, and it’s in the interpretation where everything gets skewed.
Just last night my friends and I were playing in a match where we were honestly outmatched, only pulling ahead and winning by virtue of some very unfortunate decisions by the other team near the end. A good friend of mine was sitting atop our match statistics, with something like a 10–1 kill to death ratio; what looks like a great showing for an assassin. Another hero had 6–5 kills and deaths, and while by looking at the statistics screen it may appear that they weren’t terribly effective, there were actually long stretches of the match where they functionally carried our whole team, keeping the enemy at bay and giving us time to regroup and charge out in force.
With the old statistics screen, a tank boasting about taking a lot of damage didn’t impress me much; that’s as much (if not more) on the healer than it is the tank. What I want to see is that the assassins and bruisers have a low death count—that shows me that the tank is correctly peeling for their teammates, keeping the teamfight active and their team protected from danger.
Not every game you win is a good game, and not every game you lose is a bad game—there have been plenty of terrible games where we ended up victorious, and great matches we ended up defeated—similarly, not all high stats are necessarily indicative of good play. So much of what a tank does isn’t measured in the statistics, can’t be determined by the number of camps they help take, that a player’s focus really should be on the specifics of the match in front of them, rather than the metrics generated about their play.
On behalf of healers, support characters, bruisers, and assassins, please don’t play tanks as camp-clearers or high-damage characters; that’s literally not what they’re built for.
Header image taken from promotional material for World of Warcraft, showing the Dwarf leader Muradin, who also appears in HOTS.