Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blizzard on Healers in Raids

Josh sent me a link to the following statement by Ghostcrawler (Blizzard dev) on the beta forums:

Ideally around 2 of each class should be in a raid. It can't be 2.5 because most raids require 7-8 healers and not 5. Changing this would be pretty difficult as it would mean adding stiffer enrage timers and other penalties for bringing too many healers. Shamans, paladins and druids (and maybe priests) are probably going to be closer to 3 per raid because their specs are so different and one of them can heal. The question remains of who goes home if the DK comes in? Though a just as valid question is who goes home if the moonkin comes.

First off, Ghostcrawler is probably right in that it is harder to create interesting encounters with fewer healers.

However, my problem is that it doesn't look like that many people want to heal. In my experience, healers are almost always the bottleneck in recruiting, and they burn out the fastest. Then the top tier guilds recruit healers from the lower tier guilds, and that means the lower tier guilds have even harder time picking up new healers.

At 8 healers, that means that each class uses 2 of their 3 spots on healers. 2 of 3 paladins are Holy, 2 of 3 shamans are Resto, etc. There's only one spot left for a non-healing spec. Want to be a Prot Paladin? Better hope there isn't a Ret paladin in the raid.

The basic fact is that the number of healers Blizzard wants to balance around simply does not match the number of players willing to heal. That contributes to the instability of raiding, and makes it harder for people to actually raid.

The thing is that a lot of people won't adjust to the healer requirements. If it's a choice between healing or not raiding, a lot of people will choose not raiding and end up quitting. Healing is simply "not fun" for many people, and trying to force people to do something that is not fun "for the good of the raid" will drive them out of the game.

Lack of healers causes guilds to fall off the path of raiding. If encounters were less interesting, yes, that would be a loss. But the last three years have shown the reality of healing, and Blizzard needs to balance around reality, not an unsustainable ideal.

15 comments:

Typhoonandrew said...

I don't really understand how the statement by Ghostcrawler helps clarify anything. Just saying one of each class is not really a good measure for a balanced run - its role dependant not spec dependent. Role = tank, heal, range and melee dps.

I thought the idea was to take the 5 man mix (tank, heal, 3x dps) and scale it upward for the size of the run. 10 mans = 2x tank, 2x heal, 6 dps, etc...

However it seems that as you increase the size of the run you increase the healers needed, keep the same tanks, and reduce dps. eg. Kara run with 3 healers.

If we ever did 40 man stuff again (which I hope not), you'd have like 10 healers, and two tanks? pffft, that would suck.

Pitty the DK does not heal, its what we need more of.

Ngollon said...

This statement also woefully omits any mention of the planned 10-man versions of every endgame encounter. Especially low tier guilds like mine are really looking forward to be able to play all the content.

Class balancing will be even more interesting there. :)

Green Armadillo said...

@Typhoon: Actually, the DK in its current state puts out more passive healing than a Shadow Priest thanks to a bunch of self-heal/passive heal on damage abilities that affect the whole group. I suspect this is not the design intent (then again, one tank DK and four Blood Aura specs may be the only Outland groups available for months after Wrath launches) but time will tell.


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.

Josh said...

Just a note, Honorshammer forwarded the quote to me. I haven't been trolling the beta boards.

Preston said...

As a holy pally that raided as a healer prior to the BC I can say that healing was a blast in 40 man raids. The big reason is there were about 8 healers. One healer per 5 people, which scales exactly to 5 man dungeon runs. Usually the tanks group got two healers, and the ranged dps didn't get any, or they had a shadow priest or some sort of passive healing. This worked out amazingly well and no healer in the entire group felt it was his fault alone if the group wiped because the tank died. Healing was fun, and playing wack-a-mole is easy when you are drunk. Then again only 25% of the raid was actualy paying attention.

Come BC, healing because much harder. 10 man runs have atleast 3 healers, and it really seemed like every heal was needed much more so then vanilla WoW. Healing went from fun, to stressfull, to boring because of the wipes. This is when my pally earned PvP epics and a Ret pally. Sad story really. I'll still heal 5 man dungeon runs because that is fun, but I don't think I'll ever raid again unless WotLK is more like vanilla WoW.

Preston said...

As a holy pally that raided as a healer prior to the BC I can say that healing was a blast in 40 man raids. The big reason is there were about 8 healers. One healer per 5 people, which scales exactly to 5 man dungeon runs. Usually the tanks group got two healers, and the ranged dps didn't get any, or they had a shadow priest or some sort of passive healing. This worked out amazingly well and no healer in the entire group felt it was his fault alone if the group wiped because the tank died. Healing was fun, and playing wack-a-mole is easy when you are drunk. Then again only 25% of the raid was actualy paying attention.

Come BC, healing because much harder. 10 man runs have atleast 3 healers, and it really seemed like every heal was needed much more so then vanilla WoW. Healing went from fun, to stressfull, to boring because of the wipes. This is when my pally earned PvP epics and a Ret pally. Sad story really. I'll still heal 5 man dungeon runs because that is fun, but I don't think I'll ever raid again unless WotLK is more like vanilla WoW.

Mordiceius said...

Psh! I like healing! Always have and always will be a raid healer. I have no desire to ever DPS or tank. :-(

PawelMaji said...

The best bet would be to add in more raid wide passive healers. It already seems like Blizzard is turning the Holy Paladin into a melee healer. Retribution does raid wide passive healing just by doing damage, and Protection will also be a decent off-healer. Blood spec'd Death Knights will also be a passive healer of sorts, along with Shadow Priests and Feral Druids.

I think there will be an adjustment in bring more passive healers. It may be the way to go in the expansion since you can no longer down rank spells. This helps the direct healing class/specs concentrate on high priority and high risk targets, while having AE healing spells for when a large number of the raid takes damage.

I think a 25 man raid will need no more than 3 main healers, Off healers for handling burst damage and healing intensive fights, and passive healers to help maintain the DPS.

Jordrah said...

I had a small problem with you saying that 2 out of the 3 specs you take to a raid will be healers, specially for holy paladins. The bigger reason you bring multiple paladin's right now is so you can get all the blessings: kings, salv, might, wisdom and light.

as of the beta, they have removed 2 of those (salv and light). that leaves might and wisdom baseline and kings prot-talented. i think we'll be more likely to see 3 paladins per raid, and 1 of each spec. Holy providing wisdom, ret providing might and prot providing kings. by bringing another holy paladin instead of prot or ret you force 1 of the paladins to spec into prot just to get kings and with the current beta talents that would flat out suck since ret seems to be getting a bit more synergy with holy (conviction and sheath of light)and prot providing none other than lowering the cooldown on hand of protection and divine guardian.

ret and prot also got a lot better, with prot gaining shield and hammer of the righteous allowing them to be better main tanks and relying less on passive threat. ret gained a healing whirlwind, a small but stacking (to my knowledge) haste buff, 2% damage now raid wide, maintained its 3% raid wide crit buff and gained a way to not only provide mana for itself but to other raid members as well via judgements.

if raids right now want a ret pally in their current state then theres no way they wont want one after the buffs they are getting. prot will most likely get in as well for their untouchable aoe tanking.

i think that instead of not taking 1 of the pally, druid or shaman specs, its more likely we'll see raids not taking certain mage, rogue, warlock and hunter specs. if you take 1 of each of the hybrid specs and leave 1 of the pure dps specs you get the utility of the hybrids and still maintain the number of healers. remember that blizz has said they want each spec to be raid viable, but i dont think that translates into each spec excelling in raids. the example that pops into my mind is subtlety for rogues.

Typhoonandrew said...

"How do you answer the enrage timer question?"

Just don't. The flexibility to choose your group make-up is better than setting a series of hard laws for group composition.

It hurts small guilds (like mine) and also hurts large guilds who are looking for Alt runs. Keep flexibility in the encounters and we will see them run more often, and therefore better tuned.

And it won't matter to the "hardcore" raiders, as they'll switch and re-jig to whatever is there anyway. So the first sets of folks need flexibility, and the raiders don't really care.

Rohan said...

Jordrah, remember that we're adding Death Knights into the mix.

If healer classes start taking 4 or more slots, that means the DPS classes lose out. We'll end up with 1 mage and 4 shaman. And that's not really fair to the mages.

There just isn't enough raid slots for multiple non-healing specs from the healing classes.

Baseline, there is 2 slots for hunters, rogues, mages, warlocks, death knights, and warriors. Then 3 slots (2 healing + 1 off-spec) for paladins, priests, druids, and shaman. All we have left is one single slot. All those healers put a major squeeze on your available slots.

Andrew said...

GC said 7 to 8 healers. How many guilds in the game have the playerbase to go to 8 if 7 will do?

So that frees up one more spot (for what it's worth). So you've got, lets say 6 spots for the non-healing specs of priest, shaman, paladin and druid. And 7 specs.

Who's the loser at the moment?

RJ said...

While I don't disagree with the points being made, I think a few people may be forgetting that the original statement implied (at least to me) that healers were, for the most part, not factored into how many "class slots" were ideal. 2 per class leaves 5 free slots open for any healer, which just leaves you needing to play around with 2 of the "main" slots to round out healing. It may even be intended that the 2 extra healers are passive healers, such as a Shadow Priest or Blood Deathknight, but there's no way to tell yet since the raids haven't been really designed.

Of course, it is just an ideal, and reality will hardly ever really match. My guild, for example, only has 1 raiding Rogue, so we trade the second "ideal" slot for one of our other healers.

Anonymous said...

What seems the most frustrating for me is that raiding back in MC I know we didn't HAVE to bring 10-12 healers to a raid. If someone has said that an encounter was being balanced around having up to 1/3 of your raid as healers people would have screamed bloody murder.


Enrage timers and boss health totals are just numbers in a spreadsheet and I don't see how that could be difficult to adjust. There are also plenty of fights in TBC that have DPS checks through creative and "interesting means."

Fights like Leotheras and Hydross in SSC that have aggro resetting components that require DPS to start and stop throughout the fight continue to skirt the enrage timers long after your guild has put them on farm. Void Reaver also is a bit restrictive on DPS as threat is very important to that fight due to the aggro loss on the tanks. Supremus makes you constantly move durring the kite phase which decreases many classes DPS.


The problem is some encounter designer somewhere at Blizzard decided that massive amounts of difficult to avoid or unavoidable raid wide AOE damage makes an encounter fun and interesting. Players will obviously go for the path of least resistance and thus half of the posts on the front page of the guild recruitment threads are LF RESTO SHAMAN FOR SUNWELL.

Scallyphant said...

It seems to me that healing has always been buttressed by the fact it isn't terribly popular.

Spec healbot, get a raid slot. Play a fun class like a Rogue or Hunter and expect to be sidelined.

Rather than fixing WoW so everyone can raid they seem to be opening up alternative avenues of play for the players they expect to be sidelined. Rogues are pretty awesome in arenas and have always been god-mode in world pvp. Hunters are great for AV or grinding. DKs look like they will be a fun pvp class.

Do bear in mind that most people make alts. If generic Hunter #3456234 decides he wants to try raiding and levels up a Resto Shaman he gets to see content he wouldn't see on his Hunter while supporting the community's need for raid healers.

Another sneaky boost to the number of potential healers is the Spellpower change. In WotLK a +1500 spellpower Elemental Shaman will be effectively a +2250 healing power untalented healer. A well-geared spell damage hybrid may well out heal a holy/resto in blues/greens with no talent or gear change. It seems likely to me that those sub-classes will come under considerable pressure to heal.

Finally hero classes have the potential for major impact. If the second hero class is a healer and lots of people roll one that will be quite a significant band-aid.