Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More on Tanking and Healing

Gordon responds to the previous post:
Secondly, I'd like defined "harder" in this context. I think leveling a healer or a tank (with that spec) is tougher and more time consuming than leveling a DPS class. Yes, tanks could level as a DPS spec but then would suffer the consequences in their grouping ability and/or be forced to pay the 1,000g to allow for dual speccing. DPS classes don't face this obstacole.

I disagree with this. First, you could always tank and heal normal instances regardless of what spec you have. The base class always includes the necessary tools to heal and tank. Back in 2008, I wrote a post about Retribution Tanking for WotLK normal dungeons. It's really only when you hit end-game heroics and raids that you need to spec for your role.

Second, the new Dungeon Finder makes leveling as a tank or healer significantly easier than it used to be. I've taken a warrior from 15 to 32, and it's been blazingly fast. I would rank it as faster than questing. Not to mention that character has much superior gear for her level. She's almost all blues, without really trying.

With the Dungeon Finder, it is quite possible that tank and healer leveling has become easier than leveling as DPS.

Also, I think there's a fair argument to suggest that both tanking and healing are more stressful roles than DPSing because you are really carrying the weight of your group or raid on your shoulders. I know people will vehemently disagree with me on that point but so be it.

In my opinion as a long-time healer, the idea that "you are really carrying the weight of your group or raid on your shoulders" is an illusion. It is an illusion born of unfamiliarity with the role and the fact that you are an obvious point of failure.

It's true that if the tank or healer makes a major mistake, the group wipes. If you're new to healing, this idea can seem intimidating. This is especially true when you're faced with a new role. DPS is familiar, it's what you did all through your leveling experience.

So when faced with an unfamiliar role, where failure is obvious, it's not really unexpected that the roles of tanking and healing would be invested with more weight than they deserve.

However, once you tank or heal for a while, the unfamiliarity goes away. Once you get as comfortable with healing as you were with killing mobs, it doesn't seem harder or easier, just different.

The first time I tanked on my warrior at 15, I was very nervous. Now, at 30, I'm jaded. I know my role, I know my purpose, and I can take care of my end. That's how fast the acclimation process goes.

You don't have the weight of the raid on your shoulders. It just seems like you do at first. And practice cures you of that illusion.


  1. I have to disagree with the idea that familiarity is all that it takes to reduce the stress on the support roles. Healing is my primary function in WoW and has been for a good 1.5 years, through my group's TBC and WotLK progression. That doesn't mean that there was less stress on me during our Festergut kill last week. Furiously casting Holy Light because your tank can get two-shot is pretty darned stressful. :P

  2. Some of it is just personal preference too. I started WoW playing DPS, then I levelled a healer. Although I levelled as Shadow I healed a lot of instances on my way to 70 and by the time I respec'd to Holy I was very comfortable with the role. on the other hand, taking just doesn't do it for me, I hate it. I've tried in on a warrior, a pally, a druid and a DK - it's just not my cup of tea.

    I started healing on my druid a few months ago and am really enjoying it, and I re-spec'd my pally just a week ago and am learning to heal on her. In the next expansion I'm planning a Dwarf shammy to get a full set :) For all that I love healing (and used to PUG a lot) if I PUG the daily random I take them as DPS. I don't find the healing itself stressful, it's things like the tank immediately running off and pulling the first group whilst I'm still trying to buff, not bothering at all to see if I need to top up my mana, pulling the next group when I've just had to res someone or after a hard fight trying to heal the rest of the group back up to (or near) full health. I'd rather wait 10 minutes to get in a group! As a DPS if I need mana between fights I can just drink, it's no big deal if the tank has run ahead and round a corner.

  3. "...Furiously casting Holy Light because your tank can get two-shot is pretty darned stressful. :P..."

    I agree, but then again, Festergut is an extrem stressfull Boss for everyone, also for the DDs who know it's gonna be a wipe when they don't succeed in pushing the 7k Dps (5 healers) or 7,4k Dps (6 healers)

    This is the damage you need to do in spite of downtimes because of spores or vomiting, wich can seriously mess with your rotation...

    PS I play a tank, and find this fight not too stressfull as soon as the tankswitching becomes routine...

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  5. What you miss here is that there are 3 DPS, so one or even two (depending on content difficulty) can slack or be completely inept without any consequences. Tank cannot slack, healer cannot slack.

    It's not difficulty, it's activity you have to pay. DPS can literally be AFK during a heroic run.

    Previous post deleted because of edit

  6. Gevlon nailed my point. DPS can afford to slack off and/or make mistakes, tanks and healers cannot. I think that makese these roles more stressful and thus harder.

  7. Oh, I also forgot to say:

    When I was leveling my Priest, everyone who grouped or invited me into a group wanted to know what spec I was. Even if I responsed that I was Shadow but could still heal, they would either turn me down or sneer at it before reluctantly accepting. I agree that other talent specs are viable but there is definitely a pressure to be a "proper" healer or "proper" tank. When I was leveling my Hunter, I was never once asked what spec I was.

  8. I agree that the new LFG tool alters the old leveling calculus significantly. I'm leveling a resto/enhance shaman right now, and the absolute longest I ever have to wait for a dungeon is 5 minutes, while most of my waits are in the 3-20 second range. Combine that with the very good experience (and gear) one gets doing dungeons at level, and it becomes quite easy for tanks and healers to level in dungeons just as fast as dps out questing.

    As far as dps being able to slack off, I think that depends on the situation and the definition of "slacking off." Are we talking about heroics? 10 mans? ICC 25? My guild is a business casual one that does 10 mans, and in our experience in ICC 10 there's really no room for dps error. Dps may be able to slack off in heroics, but if you define "slacking off" as not mashing as quickly, missing some CD's, not closely watching threat, not always being on the right target, and other minor mistakes and neglects, tanks and healers can (and do) slack off to that degree as well. The net result is usually the same, in fact: one of the dps dies.

  9. About the not slacking, that's nonsense. I know my friend routinely wears... rubbish while tanking, just to keep himself vaguely entertained. Otherwise he tanks heroics in a semi-fugue state.

    Healers healing even average tanks with average dps have boring ass job where they essentially do nothing for long stretches at a time.

    Yes, both will wipe the group is they fall asleep at the wrong time. But the same is true of dps in most heroics.

    In raids, it's totally different, and - if anything - most of the slack in both farm and cutting edge content is available for the healer/tanks.

    Slack dps in raids get replaced (or causes wipes).

  10. It's an undeniable fact that tanks and healers are rarer and in more demand than dps. This alone makes the suggestion that they be incentivized far from outlandish.

    It's also an undeniable fact that there are fewer tanks in a group or raid than there are dps. There are also fewer healers than there are dps. Therefore, it is a fact that no matter what we subjectively think about each role's difficulty, tanks and healers have more *individual* responsibility than DPS. In a top-end raid, there are 2-3 tanks, 5-8 healers, and 14-18 dps. It's simple math that each individual dps matters less than each individual tank.

    No matter what we think subjectively about "difficulty" or "moral superiority" (I have no clue where that came from, btw), these 2 facts are just that: facts.

  11. Add onto the end of the second paragraph above:

    "DPS as a *whole* may be of equal or even greater value than tanking or healing as a whole. But on an individual, per person basis, one tank is always more important than one dps."

  12. Actually about levelling... Levelling in tank spec is very pleasant. You can solo elites and group quests and never bother spamming general chat for help while for example Mage is helpless if the elite is immune to slows / snares / cc and can't be "killed before it reaches me".

    Levelling as healer is tedious, your dps is weaker than the tank and your ability to take a beating is low, you can heal that up, yes, unless mobs are interrupting / silencing / fearing / otherwise breaking heals, then you're a toast.

    Not sure about Warriors (but I heard they aren't bad now), but Paladins, Druids and Death Knights aren't "slowed" by levelling in tank spec. Being able to take a beating from those mobs is a plus as well.

    While questing as a Holy Paladin or a Resto Druid is a totally different experience...

  13. I agree that the base class has the necessary tools for healing and tanking normal dungeons. A few years ago when I levelled my ret pally I ran a lot of instances, mostly healing them, sometimes tanking them, very rarely dpsing them, and I did it all as ret spec. I just collected a set of healing gear as I levelled, and acquired a sword and board for tanking, and it was all fine. In fact, when I reached 70 I healed some heroics as ret spec and it was fine too! I changed to Holy later for raids and once I had enough gold for my epic flier, but my little belfadin had many awesome adventures as ret. :)

  14. furthermore, the deeper you get into raid content the greater the number of fights where _anyone_ making mistakes can wipe the raid, DPS shares just as much responsibility as tanks/healers.

    Good DPS also makes fights (including _phases_ of fights) last shorter, which makes a tank or healer's job easier.

    I play a healer too, so this isn't role-protectionism.

  15. @ Andrew: I have to completely disagree with you when it comes to progressive content. A raiding group can survive losing a DPS or two on, say, Twins-25-hardmode, but losing a healer will almost completely cause a wipe. Losing a -tank- will certainly cause a wipe. This is true for almost all progressive content: if a DPS dies or DCs, we're still liable to win, but if a healer/tank DCs, we'd better get very lucky.

    @Anonymous: I just checked my WoL for our Festergut kill and only 7 of our DPS was over the 7.4k mark. The other 8 were below it, with some -well- below it. So while I can't talk to the stress the fight puts on the tanks (the cooldown rotation has to be -tight- on 25-man), the -average- stress level of the DPS was lower lower than that of the healers, for whom no one could carried.

    In fact, look at any of the ToC hardmodes. Of the five, the only one that really puts more stress on the DPS is Jarraxxus and that's debatable. Or the Ulduar harmodes, really. We used to -reduce- the stress on the DPS for Hodir-25-hardmode by -increasing- the stress on the healers and running insanely few of us.

  16. I completely agree. Tanking and healing seemed more stressful when I was DPS. But now that I do both, neither one is entirely more dificult than normal. Sure it's got it's stressful times(solo healing Malygos anyone?), but so does DPS. In fact, I've had a lot LESS stressful moments as a Healer/Tank than DPS.

    -Sady of Flash of Sadysm

  17. I tend to agree with Rohan.

    Having leveled my paladin as holy 1-80, I wouldn't say leveling as a healer is harder so much as slower. There were times where I felt nigh unkillable though. I solo-ed the majority of 5-man group quests in Northrend.

    I also tanked while leveling as holy because my groups didn't have one. I tanked every non-heroic 5-man in TBC including Magister's Terrace as holy spec. The baseline tools are there, no matter the spec. I even holy-tanked Nexus and UK when WotLK came out.

    Leveling instances are designed to be done by "inappropriately" specced people.

    When a tank or healer fails it's more visible than a dps failing, but it's not to say it's more stressful. I healed Festergut the other night and it was hard, but I didn't feel it was any worse than if I'd come on my moonkin to pew-pew.

  18. I think this whole attitude that tanks and healers are morally or personally superior stems from two facets of game design: one, you need fewer tanks and healers than dps players to run an instance or raid and two, Wrath's deemphasis on problem solving (crowd control for example).

    Just cause there are fewer of a certain class does not make them superior or deserving of additional rewards.

    In addition, contrast this with kiting General Drakkisath as a hunter all the way to the Beast's room and back solo and you can appreciate the importance of good dps players to the success of a group when the instance design requires a more active role for the dps players. Since most Wrath instances lack this kind of problem solving, some tanks and healers don't realize the value of good dps players.

    As a warrior, I never think myself as somehow superior to the healers or dps players. Without them I can't do my job.

  19. Orvillius (Coilfang)8:39 AM, January 14, 2010

    I've been farming regular pit of Saron on my pally tank to pick up some pieces for my healing spec. In running this instance over and over it becomes very clear the difference that having "better" DPS makes. With well geared DPS I am constantly engaged to keep aggro, and I feel comfortable moving quickly from one pull to the next. With "new" level 80's who are doing less damage than I am as tank it gets, dare I say it, boring. The need to keep my TPS rotation tight disappears, and in extreme cases I got by judging and refreshing Holy Shield to see how little mana I could use. I say all of that to emphasize the point that the only difference in running that dungeon with "well" geared DPS and newly level 80 dps is how long it takes to kill things, while if I had a poor healer I would die then the group would go down, or if I were undergeared or didn't know my role and couldn't keep aggro others would die or the healer would get a heck of a workout.
    This is not to say that I don't care about the caliber of DPS I run with, when I run with DPS who are significantly geared better than I am and every fight becomes a struggle to keep my TPS as high as it can be I learn more about my role. I'm forced to be more creative and my reflexes need to be faster, and for me that is where the real fun comes in.

  20. Here's my experience
    I regularly play a pally tank, resto shaman, and 3 dps toons "rogue, lock, and ret pally". (no more than two at once.)

    For leveling, going as a tank or dps spec isn't bad at all. Leveling as a healer is defenitly slower. Not necessarily harder, just slower. Leveling as a tank wasn't any slower than a dps and you find yourself fairly invincible in most situations.

    As far as heroics;
    Tanks: I wouldn't be opposed to tanks getting a little extra incentive. As they tend to set the pace for a group and tend to have to do more work to keep things going at a good pace. How often do you see someone other than a tank marking targets? Or fixing problems created by bad players. IE: dps pulling, not paying attention, or just trying to top the meters and not give the tank a second to pick up mobs.
    Healers: If you know what your doing it really isn't any harder than dps. My resto shammy is geared ok, not great, just ok. Going through heroics is fairly stress free and can be less work than a good dps.
    DPS: good dps will certainly make an instance easier on everyone. But they don't have the stress or extra responsibilities that a tank has. The only thing you have to deal with is longer queue times. but that is easily solved be making friends with a tank or healer. Queue with them and your in almost instantly.

    As far as end-game raids
    The scenario changes here. If you're in a decent guild that is doing end game progression, everyone should be able to get rewarded equally. Good progression relys on tank and healers knowing what they are doing and equally having dps that can output damage fast enough to accomplish the fight. If your dps is too low, you risk hitting enrage timers or your healers running out of mana.

    I don't think the game should be rewarding anyone anymore at this level. Though many guilds do find it helpful to gear up the tank first on new content. As having him survive longer gives everyone in the group more time to learn a new fight.

  21. Ah Bornakk takes the words straight out of my mouth and easily sums up why good dps are important.

    Q. Why is it tanking or healing that makes an encounter hard or easy? There isn't much other than high dps to consider for damage dealers.

    A. There are berserk timers that usually rest on the shoulders of the dps to beat. There are adds that need to be burned down, etc. Tanking and healing aren't that hard on Deathbringer IMO (for example). Managing the adds is the key.