One of the primary inspirations for tank and healer rage- and healer and especially tank shortage- in random groups is the DPS. In a raid, everyone has to be on their toes and executing their roles properly in order for the group to succeed; in many of the fights I’ve been part of, the DPS have more challenging parts in the encounter than the tanks do. Good DPS debuff, dispel, move as needed, switch targets on the fly, avoid needless damage, and keep the pressure pouring on the boss at a rate sufficient to make soft and hard enrage timers. They’re every bit as important to the team as the tank and heals, even if one or two are more expendable when it comes to what determines a wipe versus a skin-of-the-teeth kill.
In most normal and heroic 5-mans, this just isn’t true. As long as the tank and the healer are decently geared and have skill, they can drag weak, underperforming, and sometimes flat-out AFK DPS through the instance. A good DPS can make those tanks and healers feel a bit warm and fuzzy, but the DPS mostly stand out to them in all the ways they can make life difficult instead of easier. Bad DPS can create an amazing number of problems for the tank and healer- and will almost invariably blame said tank or healer, loudly and with foul language, for their own failings. Bad and obnoxious tanks and healers exist, and probably make up the same relative percentage of bads and douchebags, but the absolute numbers of DPS versus tanks and healers makes the stereotype of the aggressively fail player belong firmly to DPS.
Worse than that, there are enough strong tanks and healers, and enough bad DPS, that a large number of them come to actively expect to be carried through an instance- that it’s just not something they can get away with, it’s actually the tank and healer’s JOB to pull everything and hold aggro on it no matter what happens while the DPS stand in the fire to avoid interrupting their rotation. Exacerbating this is that the only real visible measure of success for DPS, the damage meters, actively encourages play that makes the tank and healer’s life hell- by numerically rewarding pulling early, not paying attention to threat, massive AOE early and often, and tunnel vision.
The sensation of constantly being forced and expected to carry people, and being berated when we can’t or won’t, has left a lot of tanks and healers feeling pretty grouchy about the whole arrangement- as well as pretty entitled about our indispensability to the game. A DPS can afford to sleepwalk or loaf through an instance if he or she chooses, but the tank never gets that luxury. Even in heroic Utgarde Keep, which is as easymode as it gets at 80, it’s possible to wipe the group by failing to notice when something starts eating the healer, or failing to keep everything’s attention, including the ghost, during the Controller/Constructor fight. Depending on the healer’s gear and type of healer they get more leeway than the tank (Ossifer Bear in his tree guise used to slap HoTs on me and the most threat-happy DPS, then watch TV while running), he likewise faces a minimum amount of attention span and sobriety level. Meanwhile, it’s possible to be drunk off your face and autoattack as a DPS and not wipe the group.
Due to this, some tanks and healers quit group or grief the group at the slightest provocation, feel no compunction about dropping any instance they don’t like (after all, THEIR queue is only seconds long once the debuff is off), and generally acting like pissy prima donnas- because, after all, they deserve more. I sympathize; I’ve dealt with pretty much every flavor of asshole there is while tanking in randoms, had a bit of a meltdown in /gchat after the second fail HoR in a row*, and don’t spend a whole lot of time in really random randoms in general, because my tolerance has worn down. But, I don’t because it’s simply not fair to the strangers I group with for me to come in toting a planet-sized chip on my shoulder to begin with- *most* of the people I’ve run with are at least adequate if not downright pleasant and professional, and they don’t deserve my bullshit as a fallout.
I don’t believe I deserve more because I’m a tank, because as I see it I’m already getting more. There’s the obvious benefit of having an instant queue on hand anytime I want one that I can offer to my friends when I feel the need for my daily frosts, which is so attractive that a few idiots have tried signing on as a tank and then attempting to convince a plate DPS to tank it instead in hope their desire to get going will outweigh their rage at the line-jumper. (Fat chance.)
More than that, though, what you get in exchange for the headaches of tanking or healing- more responsibility, more blame, more expectations- is yet more extra reward. You’re more likely to get the blame for wipes, BUT you actually get the power to prevent them far beyond anything a DPS could dream of. When you’re a DPS and see things going wrong, you *might* be able to help the healer and tank out in a crucial way with a CC or dispel if the situation is just right- but the odds are your options are pretty well limited to “die, watch everyone else die, listen to the bickering”. When tanks or healers pop cooldowns, they might save the party- when DPS do it, they get somewhat higher numbers on Recount.
If you’re the tank, you have iron control over the pace of the fight and what gets fought and when- and the power to punish the impatient by refusing to taunt when they try and do it for you, and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it except try to kick you, which probably won’t work unless the party is all friends. If you’re the healer, you can refuse to save people from their own stupid, or even cease to heal people who merely irritate you with their attitude, and they are likewise helpless to do anything about it except try to kick. When I got frustrated with tanking randoms, I tried for about a day and a half to go in my DPS spec- and gave up not because I couldn’t handle the long queues, but because I hated feeling like just another space-filler.
With great responsibility comes great power- and that’s our reward, beyond badges, that the DPS just can’t have.
*the line “lol its easy see u just drop consecrate and stand here” still haunts me.