I've heard plenty of people who've tried to tank, complain about how difficult it is. Actually I don't think I've ever heard someone say "wow, this was fun!" the first time they do it. One could really wonder why people keep at it at all. It's difficult not only skillwise, but because you ultimately are fighting not only the mobs, but against your own group as well. Not only do you have to play your class, you have to bend to the will of everyone in your group. They won't help you, they will fight against you. This might sound pessimistic, but if you start tanking with any other ideas, you will be brutally disappointed. Unfortunately, Blizzard have designed tanking to be a teamwork effort, just as healing and dpsing is a teamwork effort. Dpsers need the tank to position and keep aggro on the mobs. The healer needs the dpsers and the tank to use cooldowns and not stand in bad stuff. The tank need dpsers to help out with interrupts, cc and focus fire. When one fails to help out, they are not the one who gets the blame, but the one who fails with their job. Dps dies in a fire, it's the healers fault. CC target kills the healer, it's the tanks fault.
Another issue about grouping is that there are 3 of the dpsers but only 1 of the healer and the tank. When the tank (or healer) has a problem, none of the others will care about it because it is not their problem. The healer doesn't understand your issues and the dpsers won't either, and even if they do they don't care. Or if they happen to have a tank of their own they expect you to be able to handle every situation as perfectly as they are, although you probably don't have 5 years of experience, run with guild groups and mostly epic gear. You wouldn't imagine how bad people are at understanding that just because something isn't difficult for them doesn't mean that it isn't difficult to someone else. It is these people who will scream at you to make bigger pulls (with no regard as to the increased difficulty level for the tank and healer) just because they want it to go faster or to be able to use their fancy aoe skills. It is these people who will laugh at you for wanting to use crowd control, with no idea that good cc makes it alot easier for the tank and healer.
It is true that alot of tanks are rude, selfish and bossy. Although I could say this is true of most people in a pug, it shines through the most in a tank. There are several natural reasons for this. Some I will talk about further down, but also the tank is supposed to be the natural leader of the group. Experience can turn a tank who usually tries to make everyone happy into a tank that forces everyone to do it his way - here you might get an understanding as to why this is.
1. When you tank, people expect you to read their minds
Good tanking is ultimately about being provided with good information. If you know what to do and how to do it, tanking is really easy. When you know that something will be ccd, or that problem X will be solved by someone else, you know that you can focus your energy somewhere else. In random pugs, because the written communication is hampered by the fact that we also use our keys to tank/dps/heal, you will have to learn to read peoples minds instead. People will rarely take the time to stop pressing their buttons to type out some information to you. The only one who occasionally does this is the healer, who in the same time threatens everyones lives by stopping to heal to tell you something. Ideally dpsers would help you out, but they never will.
- When a cc breaks you are supposed to know whether it will be re-ccd or if you have to tank it. People won't tell you, so you have to make a quick decision as to whether you trust the player who ccd it or not.
- When you make a pull, you are supposed to know which target each dpser is taking. If you don't, and lose aggro you're a "bad tank". It doesn't matter if all dpsers choose different targets, don't go for your marks or the fact that it really is them who should take your target, not the other way around.
- You should know when the healer needs mana. The healers are fairly decent at telling you when they desperately need mana. They won't tell you however if they think they need mana when they are at 30-40-50% mana before a boss pull. Some healers need all the mana they can get, some do just fine with half a mana pool. You should know which kind of healer your healer is without having to ask. If you ask, you are a tardy tank who pulls too slowly.
- You should keep track of everyones cooldowns. You can't mark for a repentance when it is on cooldown! The paladin won't tell you it is, but you should've known that before you pulled.
2. Whatever choice you make, it is the wrong one.
There are five wills in your group, and you have to accomodate everyone (and know what they want without them telling you, see above). Each and everyone of those has a different idea about how fast the dungeon should be done, how to make every pull and just about everything else about the instance. If you try to please one, you will step on the toes of the other - this is a fact.
- If you wait for healers mana, you pull too slowly. If you don't wait for healers mana, you pull too fast. Like I said above, healers expect you to know whether they need mana or not, and if you make the wrong choice (which you will), you are a bad tank.
- When a cc breaks and you decide to go for it before it gets aggro on the healer you are a cc breaker, if you don't, you are a bad tank. Like I mentioned above, whether you decide to trust the ccer or not, it will turn out you made the wrong choice. The ccer might sometimes re-cc and sometimes not, but you should know which.
- If you don't mark targets, you're a reckless tank. If you do mark targets, you're a slow, cowardish and bad tank. It also doesn't matter how you mark targets, it will be the wrong way "Go for caster first! No the healer! No the other guy!".
- If you use an addon to announce your skills in the party chat (like cooldowns and interrupts) people will be annoyed. If you don't, people will be annoyed (this is true for all classes though).
3. You are supposed to know everything, at once.
It doesn't matter that it is the first time you tank, or do this instance, or do this pull. As a tank you should know exactly how to proceed and deal with a situation. When the dpsers and healer don't know the tactics of a boss, they will turn to you. And if they do know the tactics of a boss, they expect you to as well. If you ask for help you will get heavy sighs thrown your way, at best. Worst case you're kicked. The amount of knowledge you should have extends to tiny details. You should know that you have to sidestep at that precise moment, that you could've avoided that skill by using intervene/anti-magic shell/stun.
4. You have to solve the problems other people create.
In line with all the above issues, when something goes wrong you are expected to solve the issue. Perfectly. If people don't know how to play their class or how to do the dungeon, you are the one who is going to have to fill in for them and fix their mistakes. Why? Because when the group dies it will either be your fault or the healers, it doesn't really matter if the dps were the cause of the wipe. They are 3 against 2 (and the healer isn't always on your side either) and their caps will win.
- If someone ninjapulls or breaks cc or otherwise fails, they expect you to fix it. They won't get the blame if you fail, you will.
- If the dpsers don't kill the adds, you will have to.
- If the dpsers don't know how to cc, you will have to solve the problem of tanking 5 ranged mobs and using all your cooldowns to survive.
Fortunately this has become more equal during Cataclysm than it was before, but it is still a fact that everyone expects the tank to not only have the best skills, but also the best gear. This comes partially out of necessity - the skills and gear of the tank will affect the group the most. If one dpser doesn't perform at max, the group will still probably do well (if all dpsers have bad gear, you have a problem though, but yet again they are three and you are just one). A badly geared healer can still manage to heal a group without problem if the tank is well geared. But a well geared healer can't save a badly geared tank. Survivability is one issue about bad gear, threat another. As a tank you carry the entire group on your shoulders, where a dpser only carries himself. I really don't understand people who wait 25 min in queue and then whine about the tank taking 5 seconds too long before a pull. You might think that I am joking, but this happens commonly in random pugs. Your performance will always be compared to the best performance. If some tank managed to do that pull without cc, you should too. If some tank managed to do this instance in 20 minutes, you should too. They don't realize that the group is completely different now, and that you have to factor in the skills of the healer, the other dpsers and yourself. And gear differences. For some reason, everyone thinks "it is possible, therefore you should succeed". "Best" is of a totally arbitrary and unmeasurable value, which means everyone will have a different idea of how you can do something the best way.
6. Everyone knows how to do your job better than you.
This point sort of wraps up all the other ones - everyone seems to know how to tank, yet no one does it! People don't seem to realize that a tank that gets to do things the way that suits him best, will almost always be the best for the group as a whole. A tank who constantly has to repair mistakes (ninja pulls, broken cc, no cc) will naturally do a bad job. The situation was shitty to begin with, a tank can only do so much to make it better.
As with every other part of this game, people tank because they enjoy it. They want it to be fun. Unfortunately, there is no role where the fun is easier to ruin than the tank role. Tanking is already a challenge, and it doesn't necessarily become easier with better gear. Because we combat the group as much as the mobs, there will always be a high difficulty level of tanking as compared to healing/dpsing with good gear. Towards the end of Wrath, most healers could place a hot, tab out of the game for a minute and return and no harm was done. Good gear made healing ridiculously easy. Dpsers killed mobs so fast that instances were a joke. But to the tank the challenge of keeping aggro is always the same. We do not need or enjoy the added challenge of ninja pulls, broken cc or no cc at all. We do not think it is a fun part of our tanking to repair and fix your mistakes - yet you expect us to feel that way. Because many non-tanks like to make tanking more of a chore than the fun that tanks hope to get, people avoid it.