Tank (video games)

A tank or meat shield is a character class commonly seen in co-op video games such as real-time strategy games, role-playing games, fighting games, multiplayer online battle arenas and MUDs. Tank characters distract enemy attention and attacks toward themselves in order to provide protection or decoy for teammates. Since this role often requires them to endure concentrated enemy attacks and often suffer large amounts of damage, they rely on a high health pool or armor level, healing support by friendly healers, evasiveness and misdirection, or self-regeneration while simultaneously sacrificing their own damage.
Tank units are typically represented as large and strong, often heavily armored as well.
In games where players are classified in "leagues", as in Walking War Robots, a "tanker" is a player that intentionally loses rank to pass in lower-level leagues to have more easy access to rewards. The term "" is similar to this use of the word "tanker."

Role in games

"Tanking" occurs when the unit's intention is to be the one taking in damage, and secondly, to ensure that they can survive this damage through sheer health points or mitigation.
In real-time strategy games, the role of a tank unit is to provide a health buffer for weaker ranged classes. Frequently maneuvering or other tactics are used by the tank to make themselves the most tempting or highest-priority target of enemy attacks, thereby diverting enemies away from their allies. Many basic strategies in games such as StarCraft and Warcraft III revolve around learning to micro-manage units so they attack tank units first and that the tanks do not continually attack units.
In group play found in many role-playing games, the role of the tank is to protect players that are low-armor or low-health classes. The role of a tank is typically to survive an oncoming attack, and then ensure that they are the target of the incoming attack. It then falls upon a healer unit to restore the tank unit's health so they do not die and allow them to take the next attack.
In MMOs, there is typically a mechanic that tanks rely on known as enmity, "aggro", or "threat", which is generated from damage and taunts. This makes monsters attack the tank. However, when fighting other players tanks will attempt to interrupt spell casters and apply debuffs, making them a high priority target for damage. Tank units are typically central to group play, and a large amount of responsibility is placed on them. A tank's death could cause the opposition to overrun the party as they cannot cope with the magnitude of incoming damage.


The term originally came in use with players of MUDs, the text-based predecessors of MMORPGs, and was used as early as 1992 on Usenet to describe the warrior class on BatMUD which had high hit points and the rescue skill, which allowed transferring one attacking mob from another player to the rescuing character.


In most games that feature a clear-cut "tank" class or character, there are three factors that contribute to a tank's survivability. The first is a large amount of health for absorbing damage that would normally go to lower health classes. The second is damage mitigation, the ability to lessen the damage attacks do in the first place. This is often accomplished through a high armor or defense stat mechanic. Finally, there is the ability to avoid attacks altogether. Depending on the game and class, a tank may focus on any combination of these. Examples: