Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Balancing Around Fewer Healers

In a comment to the previous post, Green Armadillo asks:

Rohan, I'm curious, how do you answer the enrage timer question? I don't disagree with anything that you've said, but the Crab does have a point; it's hard to design an encounter for 5 healers that isn't easier with 7 healers, unless you put a harsh and unforgiving DPS check on it.

This is my take on encounter design and raid make-up. To start, the number of tanks a raid needs is determined by the specific encounter, and is really independent of any any other concerns. Generally, the number of tanks is fixed. You need as many tanks as there are things to tank, or how the tank rotation plays out, or Hateful Strikes work, etc. This is all very encounter-specific.

The mix of healers and DPS is determined by two competing constraints: the minimum raid DPS required; and the amount of damage done by the encounter. You need to take enough healers to heal the damage done, and you need to take enough DPS in order to meet the minimum raid DPS required.

The minimum raid DPS requirement can be determined by a lot of elements in the fight. The very basic requirement comes from the boss' health and the enrage timer. For example, you have to do 4.75 million damage to Void Reaver in 10 minutes. That's a minimum requirement of 7920 DPS from your raid. Another example would be the amount of DPS required to kill an Astral Flare on Curator before the next Astral Flare spawns. High minimum DPS requirements are what make fights challenging for DPS players, and push them to improve their skills.

The damage done by the encounter is pretty obvious, but there are a couple of wrinkles. First off, though most of the damage is done to the tanks, there's a limit to how much tank damage is actually healable. There's a point where the tank will just get gibbed before the next heal can land. So encounters start doing more and more damage to the raid, like in upper T6 and Sunwell content.

However, the number of healers and DPS is related. The easiest way to meet the minimum raid DPS requirement is to drop healers, and add extra DPS. In our Void Reaver example, with 15 DPS, individual DPS needs to average 528 DPS (over the entire fight, remember that ranged is dodging orbs). If you can get by with one less healer, and run with 16 DPS, the individual average drops to 495 DPS.

So the basic tension in encounter design is between the minimum raid DPS required and the damage done by the encounter. If the minimum DPS requirement was close to zero and the damage done was high, the optimum raid would be all healers, as you could guarantee that they would keep the raid alive and--eventually--kill the boss. Similarly, if the damage done was zero, and minimum DPS requirement was high, the optimum raid would be all DPS.

At this point, it doesn't seem like it would be hard to balance around a lower number of healers. You simply increase the minimum raid DPS required, and decrease the damage done by the encounter. But there's a second wrinkle to the number of healers required: you need enough healers to cover the "gaps" in healing when some healers need to pause healing, and to cover when a healer dies.

If there are fewer healers, a single healer death is more likely to lead to a wipe. For example, doing Karathress with only 5 healers might be hard, because you'd have 1 healer on each tank, and 1 healer on the raid. Losing any one healer will probably result in a wipe. But then again, tanks suffer much the same problem. In most encounters, losing your tank is a wipe.

The easiest way to explain covering the "gaps" in healing is to look at the Terestian Illhoof fight in Karazhan. Illhoof is a fairly hard fight to learn with only two healers, especially when a raid is still mostly in blues. If you only have two healers, and one gets Sacrificed, the remaining healer has to keep the main tank, aoe tank, and the Sacrificed healer (who is taking 1500 dps!) alive all by herself. And if the Sacrificed healer dies, it's pretty much a guaranteed wipe if the remaining healer gets Sacrificed. This gets easier once the raid gets better better gear and the DPS is able to blast the chains quickly, but when you're learning the fight, it is much easier to do Illhoof with three healers.

A lot of fights have similar mechanics, where you take extra healers to cover the case where multiple healers are incapacitated. For example, Tidewalker is probably healable with 5-6 healers. However, if 2 or more healers are Watery Graved, that's a wipe. You take extra healers to cover that probability. Leotheras is similar, as is Teron Gorefiend.

The best solution to this issue is to prevent healers from being affected by encounter elements such as these. For example, if Illhoof never Sacrificed healers, it would be very easy to balance Illhoof around 2 healers. If Tidewalker never Watery Graved healers, you could balance Tidewalker around 5 healers easily. These effects often exclude the tank (where the tank is usually considered to be the person highest on the threat meter). You could use a similar metric to identify the healers. The healers are the top 5 people on the healing meter. That's probably correct 99% of the time, especially once you get about 30s into the fight.

Of course, that means that healers never get to enjoy some of the fun mechanics in certain fights. For example, killing her Inner Demon on Leotheras is a lot of fun for a healer because it's very different from her standard gameplay. But once you identify who the healers are, it becomes possible to include them without completely randomly hosing the raid. For example, right now Tidewalker randomly selects four of {healer, DPS} to be Watery Graved. This means that anywhere from 0 to 4 healers could be Graved (though 3-4 healers being Graved is highly improbable). But if you identified the healers, Tidewalker could randomly select 1 healer and 3 DPS. Guaranteeing that only one healer is ever Graved at a time would make it much easier to balance around fewer healers.

To sum up, the basic balance between healers and DPS is governed by the minimum raid DPS required and the damage done by the encounter. These numbers should be able to be balanced around a lower number of healers. However, right now most encounter elements do not differentiate between healers and DPS. Because healers and DPS are targeted equally by many effects, more healers are required to cover the improbable cases where healers are disproportionately targeted. If healers and DPS were identified and targeted separately, then this factor would go away. Identifying healers should be fairly easy using the standard healing meters, and identifying DPS should be easy via the damage meters.

Identifying healers and DPS, and treating them differently, could also lead interesting encounter elements that challenge healers and DPS differently. For example, consider a fight where the DPS gets separated from the healers into different rooms, and each team is faced with a unique challenge. The healers might have to kill their mob quickly, while the DPS might have to kite and kill their mob without getting damaged. In addition to reducing the number of healers required, identifying healers could even lead to even more interesting and varied boss fights.

27 comments:

Winnea said...

Terrific post Rohan. You hit the nail on the head as far as raid composition is concerned.

Whenever Blizzard deviates from the 1:1:3 tank:healer:dps ratio, it's always seemed odd to me. That's the ratio of players leveling and instancing together. To ask anything else is to arbitrarily create a vacuum of one role while causing a bloat in another.

Anonymous said...

I think the one alternative is having phases of the fight that require different balance.

E.g. healing heavy phases and DPS heavy phases, boss enrages for 15 seconds of each minute (predictable increased damage bursts, with decent gaps). However this forces extreme min/max specialisation rather than hybridisation.


Another is to require improve the synergy between healing/dps amongst the healing classes.

E.g. The insta cast smites after crits. See also Greenskin Shamans in WAR where the optimum cast sequence includes both heals and nukes.


Shifting to spellpower rather than +damage and +heal is a step in this direction. There are also some talents that seem to encourage this idea.


Another option is to have separate threat tables based on Damage and healing, then increase the threat from healing. This would keep total healing the same, force more people to share the healing load due to threat, but if damage and healing threat are two separate items, once healing threat capped they can dps for a bit. (this would make vampiric embrace more useful).


In general I like the idea of having say 4 primary healers, 4 part-time healers. That way your Elemental shaman, moonkin, ret pally, shadow/disc will heal say 1/3rd of the time.

SolidState said...

> If the minimum DPS requirement was close to zero and the damage done was high, the optimum raid would be all healers, as you could guarantee that they would keep the raid alive and--eventually--kill the boss.

Either that or the healers would go OOM and the raid would wipe... ;p

Cormack said...

There is at least one way to work around the hard limit. I'm thinking of RoS phase three where there's a stacking damage done and damage taken buff for the entire raid.

If you bring fewer healers, you will have more dps able to take advantage of the buff, but you won't be able to last very long to let it stack up high. If you bring more healers, you will have fewer dps able to take advantage of the buff, but they will have it stack higher as your raid lives longer.

Peke said...

@cormack

No idea how guilds do RoS right now, but I would expect right make-up is very determined by previous/next encounters (but for the most hardcore that might swap members in and out for maximum efficiency).

But in a vacuum, if that was an encounter you just walk into ala Onyxia, I would expect it will quickly degenerate in the 'few healers, lots of DPSers' model, because DPSers are a dime a dozen. Out of the two options, one is a lot easier to set-up and requires less average 'skillz': an awesome DPSer in an bad DPS group will raise the DPS cap by himself, tank threat permitting, whereas an awesome healer amongst horrible healers will save his tank, but the raid will wipe nevertheless when the other drop the ball.

If a lot of encounters would use that mechanic, I expect the effect would be similar overall, and raids under the same paradigm will fix at the few healers model... why go the other route, and why fight for the relatively few healers available in a server when DPSers would do?

It would still be an interesting mechanical shift (even if I doubt it would lead to real flexibility) but it would also be very tedious on the long run if all/most of the encounters would put a debuff stack on you...

Aizell said...

Great post, if only Blizzard was thinking about this harder.


Winnea said...
>Whenever Blizzard deviates from the 1:1:3 tank:healer:dps ratio, it's always seemed odd to me. That's the ratio of players leveling and instancing together.

Is this ratio actually true? My experience has been that there is always a lack of healers and tanks, even at 1:1:3.

Tanks and healers tend to have it harder levelling and grinding, which is one large disencentive. Also Tanks get no possible rewards from PVP, making 1 less route to upgrading gear.

While large parts of the game revolves around some ratio of requried tank:healer:dps, Blizzard needs to ensure that this is closely reflected elsewhere in the game.

2ndNin said...

To be honest, even in encounters like Akama the ratio is more 1:2:2 for the sides (the tanks take quite high damage), and lower for the middle.

An encounter design that forces you to split up more towards the 5 man / 10 man style is much more appropriate, though actually the ratio in 5 mans was typically:

1:1:2:1 for Tanks, Healers, DPS, and "the 5th Man". Typically that role was filled by a DPS, but it could often be a less utility/cc based class such as a ret paladin or a shaman.

Thus for a 10 man there is:
2:2:4:2

and a 25 man:
5:5:10:5

The design of instances typically required 1-3 Tanks for trash, and 1-2 for Bosses (with the rare one requiring more), making the make up:

2 Prot: 5:10:5+2+1 Feral
(the Feral is effectively a third tank / dps as needed).

Those extra slots, if we assume the traditional 5th man as DPS then go to the Healers instead of the DPS to give these classes a role in the raid (maintaining the 2:3 ratio of non-dps/dps).

To make the ratio of Healers lower, you need to realistically make the 5th man slot capable of acting as a Healer / DPS or Tank / Healer Hybrid. while increasing the number of Tanks required.

If we alter the ratio to a strict:

3:5:10:5+2 (3 Tanks needed / suggested for each boss, essentially there is no boss other than perhaps a few such as Illidan [who has adds he summons] that does not fight alongside their Minions and Mini-bosses.

Our Parties then start to look more spread:

Tank + Healer + 2 DPS + 5th Man
Tank + Healer + 2 DPS + 5th Man
Tank + Healer + Healer + 2 DPS
Healer + 2 DPS + 2 5th Man
2 DPS + 2 5th Man

+2

Again though unless the damage is light we are likely to need a raid Healer, or similar to meet the requirements... in short there is no way to easily reduce the number of healers unless there is a viable off-healer/dps hybrid in a way which does not sacrifice their DPS. So a Shadow Priest being raid wide (and generating aggro per person not all on the SPriest), a Ret Pally being the Party Healer (Heals related to Holy Damage etc).

*vlad* said...

Blizzard also loves to have mobs target healers, so on a fight like Morogrim, you are guaranteed to lose healers unless you are very lucky.

The fewer healers you have, the more work they have to do, and the more stressful their game. Much easier to push your DPS into doing more damage than expecting your healers to perform miracles.

2ndNin said...

On Morogrim you should never lose Healers.

Your Paladin Tank spams Holy Lights on a Lock (even in full tank gear I hit for 4K on a Lock), with righteous fury up we hit for ~ 45% * heal or roughly 2K threat, x 2-3 (4K -6k threat) across 10 Murlocs.

None of the other Healers should be spamming such large heals at this point, so the Murlocs come directly to your Paladin Tank.

If you are using a Warrior or Druid change your pickup points to well north and south and bring the murlocs back, don't try and pickup in the middle as you would with a Paladin.

This fight is not a Healer killer, and in fact shows how you could ideally use 5th man classes to keep the tank up while the real healers are incapable of spamming big heals, instead lots of little heals from 5th mans may work.

Anonymous said...

To say it's a sliding scale of outgoing damage and minimum raid DPS is oversimplifying it a little bit. Suppose a guild is attempting difficult content with a theoretical ideal of 5 healers and 17 DPS and having difficulty with the encounter for whatever reason. Lowering their raid DPS will obviously make it even more difficult and increasing the healing will make it easier, but by how much. By switching one DPS out for a 6th healer they increase their healing by 20% on average, while losing only 6% of their raid DPS. That is why the balance is hard to hold at 5 healers. The pressure upwards for one or two more healers is disproportionate to the pressure downwards for more DPS. Sure, it would be theoretically possible to tune the enrage or similar mechanic to the point where even that 6% loss was debilitating, but imagine for a moment an encounter so tightly tuned. Would the SKs and the Nihilums of the world find that it was tuned around 17 DPS, no fewer? If so, would the months-behind guilds also be able to do it with 17? The fact is that the ground-breaking guilds would rely on their skill, dedication, and heavy consumable use to make up the loss in DPS and go with more healers to mitigate the risk of deaths. This is exactly what you find even today, with ground-breaking guilds often bringing 9 or 10 healers, and later guilds finding they can handle it with 7 or 8.

In short, I suspect it's extremely difficult to tune around 5 healers without tuning the DPS so tightly that you make it impossible for any but the best guilds to beat it. It's too bad though, I'd like to see them try a little harder. TBC was at least better than 60 when the ratio was even worse.

Fiola said...

What about the impact of offhealers? Certain hybrid specs are very well suited to tossing out heals in between nukes. (mostly the spellcasting DPS hybrids)


On the Illhoof encounter, if you had 1 such offhealer, they could help keep the Sacrifice up (when necessary), so you could run with 2 healers. (And have 2.5 healers overall)

Stop said...

I totally disagree.

Separating the roles still wouldn't change the fact, it would only prove Blizzard's argument that you could offset the encounter with more healers. If Felmyst never encapsulated a healer it would totally trivialize the fight. By making abilities not select healers would only strengthen the idea about forming the raid with the most amount of healers possibly to limit the raid wide damage.

If Illhoof never sacrificed healers then you'd just need a Paladin and 2 healers and you could do the fight. Nobody would get sacrificed, the paladin wouldn't run out of mana and could tank and dps everything down at the same time. If you add an enrage timer, then yeah you'd be forced to bring more dps, but even then you must balance it on a very low gear requirement. It would be like the Illidan enrage timer. It's not there to push dps, but to make sure you wipe if 20 people are dead.

The governing factor in the amount of healers you need is indeed based on the amount of raid wide damage being done, but it is also very dependant on the individual mechanics. Splitting the mechanics out for individual classes would be a nightmare to balance if the encounters kept becoming more difficult.

If the Demons never targeted healers on Leo it would be much easier. If Tidewalker never target the healers it would be much easier. Increasing the minimum raid dps from a design stand point isn't as easy as assuming the raid can just bring more dps and less healers, because then it becomes a matter of gear. An assumed gear level on all three roles factors into it as well, and it's why as you keep killing bosses you can lower the healing requirements.

Again, if Felmyst never encapsulated healers, you would simply bring the healers you need and group them up all in one spot, and fill in the rest of the dps with ranged classes to minimize the distance people would need to run. Melee would become a hindrance because the entire mechanics of encapsulate doesn't target the healers.

So maybe this type of change could work in the easier level raid encounters, but the difficultly ceiling would be much lower as you created more raid encounters. The easiest way for Blizzard to keep making harder and harder bosses is to keep increasing the amount of raid damage being done. There is no other mechanic in the game that can truely lower healing requirements and still maintain the balance of everything else.

2ndNin said...

The problem with that is that at current, a DPS / Healer does not exist.

While a Shadow Priest can keep a tank up for a short time and their group heal is useful, its no substitute. Ideally your raid wide healing (barring targeted raid wide damage eg: bloodboil, Naj'entus, etc) could be handled by making your 5 "off" slots into:

2 Ret paladins
2 Shadow Priests
1 Ooomtree

(and having these classes generate healing / mana regen while dpsing).

Without having a viable DPSHealer in a similar way a druid is effectively a DPSTank you can't have them effectively filling healing slots, and on fights with high raid damage thats targeted its a massive issue, either the boss is trivial and the 4 healers can keep up the raid, or its not and you need more raid healers.

I would like to see more fights where your party turns on you, forcing you to dps the boss and deal with your raid, it means classes that can spot heal suddenly become valuable as they can cover that small gap.

Either that or a Synergy Class, imagine a ret paladin with:

Spiritual Fury: When healed upto 3 friendly target near you gains 20% of the healing done to you. You take 10% more damage while this ability is active.

Suddenly positioning becomes key, if you make it non-smart suddenly you want groups of 4 people scattered around (give a similar ability to other classes :P else its op a bit), you can make healing more effective and need fewer healers by changing how healing works, if the group self-heals to some extent then healers are there to cover the big gaps, not the little ones.

Rohan said...

Stop, it's not about never targetting the healers. It's about reducing the randomness that a bad set of targets brings.

If you only have 5 healers, and 3 of them get Graved, you wipe. This is improbable, but not impossible. If you have 8 healers and 3 get get Graved, you can survive. That's why you take extra healers.

By adding extra control on how healers are affected by fight elements, it becomes easier to balance around fewer healers. If you know that only one healer will ever get Graved, you can increase the damage dealt to make healing more challenging. Or maybe introduce elements that only affect the healers.

Michael said...

Personally, as far as enrage timers, I'm a big fan of 'soft' enrage timers, such as with Gruul or Vashj, i.e. the longer the fight goes on, the harder it is to keep everyone alive, and as such stacking DPS or stacking healers are both viable strategies.

That said, I do hope Blizz tunes raid-bosses for around 1/5 healers (i.e. 2 for 10-player raids, 5 for 25 player raids) making it match with 5-player instances.

Stop said...

Limiting the amount of healers that a mechanic can effect would then just switch it to the minimum amount of healers needed unless you raised the damage so high that in the end you still needed the same amount. You're just switching from bringing 8 healers to now bringing 10 melee.

You aren't accomplishing anything.

If you limited the grave to one healer at a time, but doubled the damage, you'd still need extra healers to cover that increased damage, especially if it went beyond what Blizzard assumed was your gear level.

You'd basically be looking at first Brutallus kill-type of extremes for every single encounter for every role.

I agree there is a healer shortage at times, but I don't agree with a solution that moves the dominance the healing role has in raid slots over to another role.

I mean, with 30 specs in the game, you can't exactly balance raids on 4 tanks, 4 healers and 22 dps.

Raynmaker, Alevas (Uther) said...

I think the soft enrage timers are the key for most fights. Randomness is part of the game and a part of raiding. The Kalecgos fight is the perfect example of this - guilds can plan all they want and strategize, but to be perfectly honest, every member of a specific group in the raid (healers, dps, tanks) has to be completely aware of the others in their type. I healed a specific group (group 5) as a resto shaman, but I knew all of the other healers and paid attention to their portals... several times due to missed portals or healer deaths, there would be a lack of healers down below and I'd have to do double-duty healing the tank and my group. I made tough decisions - "that rogue is biting it hard, but we're at 30% and I'm the only healer down here for another 5 seconds and the tank is at 40% health..." I heal the tank and let the rogue die and get a rebirth or we just continue without him.

What's silly to me is that Blizzard designs fights in the same instance that require different raid compositions - Eredar Twins' current strategy requires 5 or 6 healers MAX (that's 20 to 24%). The VERY next boss' current strategy requires 10 healers (40%). What is that?!?! The top guilds who have killed these bosses figured them out, do you think there's some way to make those two fights equal and require the same group composition once people learn them? I highly doubt it. How are they going to plan 25man AND 10man raids of the same instance and not have balance/composition problems?

I'm really planning on raiding just 10mans in WOLK but I'm not confident that Blizzard will be able to work out some of these issues. Take current 10man raids - starting kara is most likely a 3 healer affair (33%), and once it's on farm it's done by 2 healers (20%)... ZA is the same (3 healers until the gear level from 25mans and farming catches up to be able to use 2 and go for a bear mount... but a lot of people still bring in 3 for Hex lord, and almost all bring in 2.5 with a prot pally healing for ZJ).

So, might Blizzard make some of the fights require 2 healers and the next boss require 4! (I've never seen 4 healers in a 10man raid before).

I guess we'll see what they plan.

As a healer myself though, I really find the lack of tanks in the game much more difficult to deal with. I RARELY find a tank for 5mans. "LF Tank for H MGT"? Forget it. No one will tank there after they get their Commendation of Kael'thas. It's very annoying. I think that tanks suffer burnout faster than healers - most raid bosses require 1 to 4 tanks. So, most boss requirements are 4 tanks, and 6 (sometimes more) healers. Tanks are in a much greater demand and since they can't be used effectively in any PVP other than flag carrier in WSG or tank in AV, in my experience almost 50% of tanks respec dps on the weekends and when not raiding.
Just figuring those numbers, during non-raid times, the ratio of healers:tanks running around could be as high as 3:1. Now find one of those willing to tank an instance where they don't want to loot... near impossible.
That makes me sad panda.

Jacob said...

Stop said:
with 30 specs in the game, you can't exactly balance raids on 4 tanks, 4 healers and 22 dps

Why not?

If we pretend that Blizzard wants each class and spec to be equally "fun and viable" for a player to choose, shouldn't encounters be designed with the assumption that players are equally spread among all specs?

There are no 30-man raids, but if each spec were perfectly represented in a 30-man raid, you'd have:

4-5 tanks (Prot warrior, Prot paladin, Feral druid, 1-2 death knight),
5 healers (Resto druid, Resto shaman, Holy paladin, Holy priest, Disc priest),
20-21 DPS (everyone else).

Feral druids and death knights are hard count because their talent trees are more flexible, their specs aren't as easily pigeon-holed as the other specs are. But they don't change my main point.

My main point agrees with Rohan:

If Blizzard wants each spec to be be equally popular, they should design their content assuming that the players are equally divided among the specs.

Current 5-man content does a good job of matching required 5-man roles against an imaginary "perfectly-balanced" player population.

Current 10- and 25-man content does not match a "perfectly-balanced" player population.

Jacob said...

anonymous said:
See also Greenskin Shamans in WAR where the optimum cast sequence includes both heals and nukes

I think that's a very smart idea. If WoW had some good heal/dps synergy, it might compensate for the healer-heavy balance of raids.

Stop said...

Because there are only 25 raid slots, and because if you balance an encounter based on 4 tanks and 5 healers and leave the rest open, then you must have a mechanic which either punishes you for bringing more healers, or punishes you for not having enough dps.

Isn't this what Blizzard said?

Each spec can't be perfectly represented because right from the get go you have to exclude 5 specs. And they won't be equally popular unless they all get homogenized. This is a current problem and synergy stacking. It's the reason there are no dagger rogues, and it's the reason Arms warriors PvE with a crappy PvE build.

If you can complete an encounter with 4 tanks and 5 healers, then the only thing left for Blizzard to do is to place either a very strict enrage timer on the fight, or to periodically kill the dps, but both those solutions are pretty similar. If they start requiring class specific abilities, then you begin over stacking that class. So the challenge of the fight must be pure damage with that setup, because if it's not you'll just bring extra healers and ease your way through the encounter, or bring extra of whatever gimmick is required.

And 5 mans do a very poor job of matching roles to the population, not because of class balance, but because of class stigma and class abilities. Bringing DPS isn't as simple as grabbing 3 non-prot/holy specced classes.

But on the whole, all Blizzard has to work with is raid wide damage and dps requirements. The only option I see is RoS type of mechanics that outright prevent you from doing something.

How much fun would it be if you had to have a food buff, weapon buff, flask, haste/destruction potions, scrolls and have perfect raid synergy to beat Attumen because he enraged after 1 minute. But hey, we only need 2 healers for Attumen, too bad we also need more dps than the gear the encounter was designed for.

A true balance would be 6 tank classes, 6 melee classes, 6 ranged classes and 6 healing classes. Gives you one extra spot for whatever you want. Encounters would need to be redesigned to incorporate unique mechanics for each role rather than each spec, but in such a way that lowering or raising the numbers of those roles didn’t make it easier or harder.

The only problem is, there are 4 tank classes, 4 healing classes and 10 dps classes spanning 30 specs. Either way, someone is staying home.

Azreal said...

You stole most of this from me! This is almost exactly what I brought up when talking to you about Naxx days, I think you may have made a post about it too.

It will be interesting to see how they rebalance certain Naxx encounters, mainly Loatheb (we 5 maned it with shadow priests, if unchanged it could be done with tank + ret paladin(s) and all the others with a very strict raid requirement, like 4 Horseman and Sapphiron.

-Az

Klyein said...

Like Raynmaker mentioned, the shortage of tanks is a sad fact throughout TBC. What disencourages people from tanking is the hassle of respec and the inability to get DPS gear while tanking, since it is a big effort to work on a viable tanking set.

I think Blizzard could fix this by implementing a tanking points system. Whenever a player successfully tanked an instance/raid he/she should be awarded points based on the performance. Let's say a group of 5 people head into an instance, 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 DPS. Each person other than the tank should have 10 points at their disposal, upon completion of the instance, they should be able to allocate their points to the person who tanked the run, from a scale of 0-10. So the tank could potentially receive up to 40 points for the entire run.

These points then should be linked to some form of reward, choices could be gold, crafting materials, or even gear tokens which could be used to trade in for DPS/Healing gear only. Therefore, the tank could improve his other gear sets parallel to tanking duty, giving more incentive for leading the group. Besides tanks usually have the highest repair bills, so this would only be fair.

Alternatively the same system could be implemented for healers, which should draw much more interest in the roles of tanking/healing because this would be another way of getting some gear upgrade.

This could also be one of those achievements showing how many instance tanked/healed, tanking/healing points received.

Of course, certain parameters must be monitored so this does not get abused, say in a guild run where people might give these points to an alt character who did not actually tank the instance.

But whether Blizzard would be so generous is a different question, it may be their intention to make the tanks/healers do double work in order to do any DPS, who knows.

Winnea said...

Stop, it isn't about who goes and who stays though. It's about being able to raid regardless of individual composition. Wrath is indeed homogenizing every dps spec. Many are bringing similar raid utilities, debuffs, and all are being brought in-line with each other in terms of personal dps.

Specs that previously had trouble in raids like Assn rogues, Arms warriors and Ret paladins are getting very serious improvements in the beta. Therefore, the only thing remaining is to balance all of the raid fights around X number of individual dps roles while limiting healer stacking.

You're bringing up a very alarmist viewpoint without seeing the overall design that Blizzard is moving forward to. They are indeed homogenizing everyone, not just dps. Devs have said that previously, Druid bears were designed with an OT role in mind. In WotLK, they've done a 180 and are tuning all 4 tank classes to be the same, flavor-differences being a minor issue. Even healers are being homogenized (Resto druids can direct heal, pallies can aoe etc).

The idea is to have a pool of X tanks, Y DPS, and Z healers regardless of specs to fill a raid. Currently that's not the case because of bad class balance, itemization, and talent-exclusive debuffs. In Wrath, much of that will be gone and there's no reason to require more healers than 5 per raid when the population doesn't want to support that much ratio.

Stop said...

30 Specs. 25 Slots. Do the math.

As of the last beta build I played, there was no reason to bring a Fury Warrior or any spec of a Rogue as far as what synergies they provide to the raid. If you lower the amount of healers needed, you must raise dps requirements, which means synergies become more important.

They are bleeding over some of the raid buffs to other classes yes, but you will still need more than 4 healers in a raid and you will still stack the most beneficial synergies. There's no easy way to lower the amount of healers needed without making bringing more than 4 trivialize the fight, otherwise they would have done it by now.

I don't think I'm being an alarmist, I'm simply saying that by looking at Sunwell, Blizzard is not moving towards requiring less overall raid healing. They designed it in such a way that all abilities must be accounted for by all members of the raid, not just certain roles.

If the raid is taking 100,000 damage a minute and you need 8 healers for that, then giving Druids and Paladins new healing abilities doesn't change the fact the raid is still taking 100,000 damage a minute. If they lowered it to 50,000 damage without changing anything else than suddenly the fight is much easier. Something has to make up for the reduction in damage dealt to the raid, and so far Blizzard hasn't figured out a solid way of doing it.

Jacob said...

To Stop:
I think we are talking about different things, or the same thing from different angles.

If I understand you correctly, I think you are saying "given the design of encounters, it is not feasible to bring few healers."

I agree with you.

But I'm viewing this from another perspective: if a challenging encounter requires that 33% of your raid be healers, but the overall player population has less than 20% healers, then blizzard made a mistake in their design. They could fix it by boosting the overall player population of healers, so that the overall player population is more in line with the requirements for a good raid encounter.

ontwerpen said...

How about approaching it with carrots instead of whips, ZA style. Beat the encounter within time X and the boss drops an extra item?

Altomancer Mits said...

Fantastic post - good analysis and an enjoyable read.

The real question is to which degree they will let different fights have different requirements as to dps and healing - and whether switching characters between fights will ever be required. I think Blizzard has progressed far enough, learned enough, that such a situation won't occur, but all the same the ideals for flexibility have been raised a lot in WotlK - will they deliver?