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Artistic rendering of an Orc from World of Warcraft, drawn by Lucas Salcedo.
An Orc from the video game World of Warcraft.

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 deliberately attract enemy attention and attacks (potentially by using game mechanic that force them to be targeted) to act as a decoy for teammates. Since this requires them to endure concentrated enemy attacks, they typically rely on a high health pool or support by friendly healers to survive while sacrificing their own damage output.[1]

Since they keep other members of a team alive, tanks often take on an unofficial leadership role:

The tank acts as the de facto leader of the group by pulling and holding monsters' attention. It's up to me to set the pace as we clear the dungeon. But more than knowing how much the party can handle at once, I need to know where those monsters need to be positioned, what direction they should face, and what abilities they can use that might threaten the group. I'm also expected to stay on top of all the current meta strategies for beating a dungeon. When shortcuts are found that let players skip monsters, I need to know them.[2]

The term was used as early as 1992 on Usenet to describe the warrior class on BatMUD.[3][4]


In most games with tank classes, three factors contribute to a tank's survivability:

Depending on the game, a tank may employ any combination of these:

See also


  1. ^ a b Towers, J. Tarin; Badertscher, Ken; Cunningham, Wayne; Buskirk, Laura (2003). Yahoo! Wild Web Rides. IDG Books Worldwide Inc. p. 152. ISBN 0-7645-7003-X. Tanks: Leading the Charge No, we're not talking about those huge army vehicles. Well, yeah, some MUDs do have that kind of tank in them, but that's not what we're referring to. A tank in a typical fantasy MUD is the character who, alone or in a group, is always the first to attack a monster. A mob will direct its attacks at the first person that hits it, so in a group the tank is generally some character with enough hit points to withstand this punishment. Meanwhile the others hack safely away at the adversary — at least until the tank is killed and somebody else becomes the lucky target. Some MUDs now have monsters that can switch their attacks to other characters in the group, so the tank approach doesn't work as well with them. If you're a newbie and are asked to join a group, it's important that you understand this concept. Listen to the leader and only attack after she says, or you may end up tanking something that will toast your hide in seconds.
  2. ^ Messner, Steven (2016-10-25). "Playing a tank in World of Warcraft brings out the best and worst of its community". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2021-06-03.
  3. ^ David A. Wagner (1994-08-07). "tintin++ suggestions".
  4. ^ Richard Hudson (1994-11-30). "tintin++".
  5. ^ "Final Fantasy XI Dictionary of Terms and Slang". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Minmatar Tanking 101 - EVE University Wiki". Retrieved 2021-06-03.
  7. ^ Reply to "strategies for the advent?" by Annatar11. Accessed 17 August 2010.;1584649
  8. ^ "Ragnarok Online - Classes - Crusader - Skills". Retrieved 17 April 2018.