Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Restrictions and Skill

If you've read my posts, you know that I'm a pretty strong proponent of no restrictions on talent specs or loot distribution. I feel that such restrictions are inefficient, and in the long term will be detrimental to the raid. One of the major reasons that I think restrictions are bad is that they interfere with developing skill.

I'll start with a definition:

Skill is the ability to make good decisions.

A person who makes better decisions is more skilled than someone who makes poor decisions. In a raid, this can be decisions with positioning, or skills used, or timing of abilities. For a healer it can mean deciding who lives and who dies. But it can also be decisions on how to spec, or what gear to take.

Skill is not absolutely innate. It is learned. As you use your abilities you learn how to make better decisions, and thus you become more skilled.

Restrictions on gear and spec make the decisions for you. Thus you cannot truly improve your skill so long as those restrictions bind you. If you are prevented from speccing Shadow, you will never learn exactly how Shadow limits you in raids, and that knowledge is valuable for future decision-making.

I believe that a Holy/Disc priest who has tried Shadow is a more skilled priest than a Holy/Disc priest who has never gone to the dark side. A skilled paladin will have tried the different options, and makes a decision based on the knowledge gained.

This even extends to loot. If you are prevented from taking loot that you think will help your character, you will never learn how to value loot appropriately. I have an Unstoppable Force, and it is seriously annoying me. It's next to impossible to keep a Judgement stuck on a mob. The lesson learned is that I don't like really slow weapons, and they are ineffective for my playstyle.

Of course, the problem is that sometimes we only learn by making mistakes. And occasionally that will mean spending DKP on the "wrong" loot, or using the "wrong" talents. But if a player is prevented from making mistakes, how can they learn?

Choice is intricately bound to skill. Anything that interferes with a player's choices also interferes with a player's skill development. A guild that is truely interested in having skilled players would be best served by allowing members to make their own choices, understanding that this means that sometimes members will make mistakes.


  1. yes i've found as shadow it's a little hard to heal. on the other hand i last longer than some of the other healers due to spending more time in 5 man getting +healing and +mp5 gear. This is what i have so far which seems to be enough to have prepared me for longer fights and for the fire:

    We are only up to the Baron in MC (We got him once so far) and ZG .. not sure if we've done Hakkar yet I have only been with these guys a few weeks.

    I have considered respeccing but the warlocks love me :) and we have quite a few locks. And our priest "class leader" - not really official - can't wait for the mana regen of the 41 point shadow talent. ...

    I am not sure if I should respec to a raiding shadow build (remove silence etc) or just all the way to disc/holy. It's not like i'm doing bad, with dark runes and major mana pots I last to the end of bosses and don't go OOM (it's close though - and i'm out of runes! heh it figures i went farming for demonic runes and only found felcloth! usually it's the other way around :) )

    We don't have enough healers for me to dps on bosses so I have no idea if it's viable, but I'm #4 on damagemeters for trash .. we have 5 priests for MC usually, 6 warlocks, and a bunch of shaman, usually only 1 or 2 druids some feral some resto.

    So yeah.. it's good to try it before respeccing and learning what you really "need". I'm in the odd position of being the only shadowpriest but with a group that actually wants a shadowpriest - but i kinda feel like i should be healing :) Shadowpriest take up 4 debuff slots which right now is a lot.

  2. hmmm after reading what I just wrote I'm having a hard time understanding it .. heh.

    I'm still learning a lot, I'm doing well enough and lasting throughout the boss fights... but hitting my limitations. Part of me wants to respec for better mana .. part of me sees how the shadow vulnerability debuff and VE are helpful.

    Until we get more serious about healing assignments, there's a lot of overheal anyway. So really respeccing will only go so far we have to also get more organized... rely on emergency monitor less, etc.

  3. hey guess what i respecced to 21/30/0. Now it feels like I have an infinite supply of mana :) As shadow I couldn't downrank my heals to such a great extent, and so had to use consumables on boss fights. But this week in MC I didn't need to use any consumables except on Mags which was our first takedown of him, because I was solo healing the two OTs on one of the dogs which really took forever.

    Though the people I raid with (and my other 5-man friends) have a lot of locks so they were sad. But with only 16 debuff slots and shadowpriests taking up 4 I worried that the tradeoff was not worth it. I might go back when BC comes out with 40 debuff slots and the mana regen talent.

    But waiting to try it out both ways really helped me decide where to spend my talents, and to appreciate the extra room holy gives me. Otherwise I'd probably feel annoyed and forced into something. It also helped me spend my talents more wisely than just copy some build.