Understanding Team Roles

Within a team, each person plays a specific role. In the same way that a band has different members playing different instruments and playing different tasks within music, each player has a different role essential for a successful team. In a band, you have the drummer keeping time, a bass player keeping rhythm, guitars keeping rhythm and melody, keyboards for special effects and melodies, and vocals for melody. Guitars work together, bass and drums work together, and vocals and piano work together. This works the exact same way in a successful team in an RPG.

The Tank

The tank is the player that is built to take the damage. These characters aren’t often built for damage, but they are built to survive it. The tank character is the character with the highest defense rating and the abilities designed to get the enemy’s attention. The tank is an essential role because it keeps the other characters from getting damaged so they can focus on their own job. But the tank can’t do this alone, he needs help from other people.


The support characters are the ones that are designed to aid the tank. While the tank is taking damage, the support characters are dealing damage to the enemies and increasing party strength. Combat support involves beating up the enemy and dealing damage quickly, but this involves making sure the enemies don’t turn around and start hitting them back. Though fighters and warriors may be able to withstand an enemy beating on them, stealth classes such as rogues and hunters may not be able to survive as easily.

Ranged support involves dealing damage from a distance. This can be very fun for many players, though some people may see it as “cowardly”. Just like with the combat support, you don’t want to grab the enemy’s attention away from the tank. Whether it is a combat or ranged support character, the key is to be able to make sure you don’t deal too much damage and attract the enemy away from the tank.

Crowd Control

A very fun role to play (though overlooked and underappreciated) would be crowd control. Crowd control keeps the enemies under control. If too many enemies are on the team, crowd control will deactivate some of them. If enemies lose interest in the tank and start attacking others, crowd control will stop them from attacking anybody else until the tank can deal with them. Crowd control also makes enemies have a harder time of hitting the team. Crowd control is difficult to play alone most times, but in a team it can be essential to survival.


Without a doubt, the healer plays the most vital role in the team. Without the healer, survival is near impossible (if you can survive without a healer, you either have a God-like team or you’re not fighting anything difficult). The healer’s job is to make sure every player stays alive. That means the healer needs to focus primarily on everybody’s health bar, and must be able to cycle through each player effectively. If the healer makes a slip up, you can say goodbye to the team. The healer is personally one of my favorite roles to play, but the call of duty is higher than anybody else’s. Without the healer, the tank can’t do its job, and the support and crowd control are more prone to death. The healer receives the most praise, but also the most blame.


Stealth classes are fun, but are a form of support classes. The stealth classes tend to focus on staying behind or away from the enemies, and often have abilities that allow them to set traps. In some games like Dungeons and Dragons Online, the stealth classes are able to deactivate traps and keep their party safe. These classes are often overlooked by players. A sad trend in increasing in online games, however; the stealth classes are being more and more neglected, and their usefulness is diminishing.

As you can see, every player plays its own, individual role in the team. Understanding your role and knowing how to play it is the most important part of playing an RPG. Without team dynamic and coherency, a team will fall apart. But when every single player plays their role, nothing can stand in their way. From experience, I’ve been in teams where every player knew exactly what they were doing, so we were able to sit there for four or five hours of real time killing powerful enemy after enemy after enemy without ever having to rest. The only rest time we took was the occasional 10 minute break to use the bathroom and grab a snack. Clearly, a powerful team involves knowing your role.


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