Monday, January 11, 2010

Should Tanks and Healers Get the Biggest Rewards?

Gordon, from We Fly Spitfires, recently wrote a controversial guest post on World of Matticus, Tanks and Healers Should Get The Biggest Rewards.

I think a lot of the controversy comes there are several issues entangled together in this piece. If we unravel the issues, I think a clearer picture emerges.

Gordon says:
Tanks and healers are the most important classes for any group...These are the two most important classes that exist in any MMORPG. But the DPS? They’re just meat in the room.

This statement is true for certain levels of play, but completely and utterly false at different levels. At the lowest levels of skill--for example, normal dungeons, easy heroics, Naxxramas--yes, the tanks and healers are the most important. A solid tank and healer can carry the DPS to victory. A bad tank or healer will probably wipe the raid.

But at the higher levels of play, the DPS takes on more and more importance. Good DPS becomes supremely valuable, much more so than tanks and healers. Excellent DPS can carry decent tanks and healers on difficult content, while the reverse cannot happen. In my view, the single greatest difference between Royalty guilds and the rest of us is that their DPS players are significantly better than most of the DPS in lower tier guilds.

I mean, it’s in our culture to reward those that do the most and work the hardest, right?

This line goes to the heart of the issue. Gordon assumes that tanks and healers do the most and work the hardest. But he never actually proves that they do.

In my experience, good DPS works just as hard as tanks and healers do. They theorycraft, get the best gear, and hone their rotations on the target dummies. Kind of honestly, the DPS in my guild do more work than I do.

I think a lot of the problem here is that Gordon is conflating "scarcity" with "moral value". Specifically, it is undeniable that tanks and healers are less popular roles than DPS. But that does not mean that DPS players players choose DPS because they are lazy. Or that tanks choose tanking because they are noble souls devoted to the betterment of humanity.

There are many other reasons. DPS is more active. You are actively killing the enemy, not just holding the line the way the tanks and healers do. The DPS archetypes are often more popular and may resonate in the imagination to a greater degree. Hunters, mages, and rogues in particular are very iconic archetypes. Retribution is much closer to the archetypal paladin image than Holy is.

So I don't think that tanks and healers "deserve" the biggest rewards. "Deserve" implies connotations about moral value that I do not agree with, especially given how important superb DPS is in the harder levels of the game.

However, it might still be a good idea to give tanks and healers higher rewards. A higher reward might nudge more people into trying tanking or healing. It's like the new rewards for Oculus. If you complete Oculus, you don't "deserve" better rewards. It simply isn't that hard, especially after it was nerfed. But the rewards do encourage people to stick with Oculus, leading to a better game experience.

Similarly, a higher reward might convince some DPS to switch to tanking or healing. More tanks and healers mean faster dungeon queues for everyone, making everyone a winner. Extra badges would be a bad idea, because that would gear tanks and healers up faster, encouraging them to stop earlier. However, extra gold might be an interesting incentive.

But to reiterate, extra incentives to play a certain role does not mean that role is morally superior to the others.


  1. The problem is that "DPS in royalty guilds" is about 1-2% of "all DPS".

    The "average DPS", exactly because of their wast numbers is very close to the "800 DPS scrub carried by tanks and healers". So unless Blizzard would introduce some official "scrub" flag (which would be terrible for their bottom line), and treat "DPS" as a monolith, they should somehow reward tanks and healers to keep boost them.

  2. Completely agree. I play a Prot/Ret pally and, From a tanking perspective, I know I can get a group for a random heroic as a tank within seconds of queuing, any time of the day or night. Tanks are rare and players need to be encouraged to play them. On the other hand, my Ret spec struggles to maintain a DPS thats in the middle of the pack in raids because all the hunters, mages, warlocks et al DPS I play with are awesome and put a lot of effort into being that good. Giving rewards to tanks and healers is not a case of them deserving more, It should be seen more as an incentive to play an unpopular role.

    However I think you are glossing over the tanks and healers DO have a tougher time of things in a group. The tank has to constantly watch for adds and pick them up as soon as possible, re-taunt mobs that were being held through AoE and decided to switch to a DPS that was shooting them instead of the tanks target. It is a constant stress fest. Healers have the same, constantly watching who's health is dropping fastest, who can suvive long enough to pop off a big heal or who can manage with a little one. DPS pick a target (preferably the same as the tank!) and spam rotation, rinse, repeat. No stress, little risk and a great big high horse to ride when the group wipes because it must have been the tanks fault.

  3. I have played all three roles and honestly cannot see what the problem is. No one deserves extra anything, everyone contributes to the runs completion. If some people contribute more (perceived or real) well thats part of life.

    If the DPS is doing their jobs properly then they are working just as hard as me when I am tanking or healing. Maintaining your rotation, mana pool etc whilst keeping up your situational awareness these are things that everyone does regardless of their role.

    I dispute that tanks work harder, the only extra job I have is to set the pace and sometimes gently (with boot to rear) point out to dps that they might want to consider other factors (ie healers mana).

    I feel the main issues are with people who dont have the same attitude towards instances as I do in that they dont care what the kill order is, the pace the tank is setting or the healers mana bar.

    We have all had the pug dps who has no clue about his class or the dps who consider themselves gifts to all mankind and blast off without waiting on the tank and healer.

    Dont even get me started on those who chose tank/healer just to get a quicker queue time then ask if someone else can do it when they are in the instance......

    Or the attitude of some tanks and healers where just because their queue times are massively shorter than the dps they expect to be coddled and each whim of theirs catered to and if you dont then usually they leave group.

    Really it just needs everyone to calm down and realise that they are just a cog in the mechanism. Eventually dps will learn not to overstep the tanks tps, healers will learn who to keep up and who to let die. Until then the learning curve will remain steep and in some cases insurmountable to some people

  4. In short the answe is no. Healers and tanks do not deserve special treatment.

    I do think, from a healer's perspective, that I have to watch way more things in a random PuG verses running with people I know, but that is something I acknowledge as soon as I queue up.

  5. My only problem/thought about encouraging people to play a healer or tank that are normally inclined to play DPS is this; If you play DPS now and love playing DPS no matter how good or bad you are its still about bring the player and his/her skill. So if a higher end DPS decides to heal or tank, they will probably be good at it. (by higher end I mean they have a rotation, understand what spells do what and when they should be cast and have gone and look up info on their class and sought advice from others to improve skill.) They understand the mechanics of the game and its classes and boss fights.

    If you are a "scrub" DPS that facerolls thru heroics and doesn’t have a rotation and you don’t target the tanks target and don’t learn your toons abilities, then you will probably NOT be a good healer or tank (because you’re not a good DPS). If you cannot take the time to learn your class and gain the skills you need to group with that particular DPS then what makes anyone think that same person is going to learn the skills and abilities it takes to tank or heal.

    For end game all the “Skills” are of equal importance, Healers and Tanks cannot accomplish anything without solid DPS. I would not want the noob type of skill level player tanking or healing for me. I can carry noob DPS and some noob tanks (thru heroics), but if you’re a noob healer or tank you will most likely wipe whatever it is your trying to do (if its way above your level and skill, like Heroics).

    A lot of DPS falls into this category because of the nature of the game, when you level your toon its usually easier to level as DPS spec you can push one or two buttons and kill most creatures on your way to 80. If you don’t take the time to lean your DPS abilities in a group setting and just jump into heroics, you will fail. So if your 80 and switch to Prot for the first time and expect to tank a heroic, think again, get some friends and go into a non heroic UK or Nexus and learn the skills, same if you’re a fresh 80 DPS, go into the normal mode of lower level dungeons and LEARN TO DPS because what you did while leveling is not going to cut it.

  6. While I don't think that healers and tanks should really get a bonus of sorts... as the bonus is really the whole faster group thing.

    However, I do think that tanks kind of assume the leader role more often then not. They do determine how the run goes, tempo, ect. And while I think they don't really deserve much of bonus, some gold to help offset the larger repair bills that tanks tend to accumulate for getting beat on.

  7. I have noticed two types of characters using the new LFD tool:

    1) Characters in royalty guilds, they are already swimming in triumph badges and are doing a single random daily for their frost emblems (or a specific instance for a specific drop).

    2) Everyone else that are chain farming heroic to "gear up" and have a better gearscore.

    While this is oversimplified and there might be some categories in between, these are my observations.

    Creating incentive for tanks and healers will probably provide even more QQ, especially from characters that cannot perform such a role. I play a rogue, I could never get the tank healer incentive beside re-rolling.

    And I do agree with a conclusion somewhere, bad DPS will probably make bad tank / healers.

  8. While no one would say that tanks and healers are morally "better", I do think they work a lot harder than DPS has to. Namely, a scrub healer and tank can't do heroics, but a scrub DPS can (and often does).

    We've all seen 1000 dps (or less) scrubs, in blue and green gear. They don't usually get kicked out, and they get their badges. What would you say about the equivalent tank or healer? People would die, and they'd get the boot ASAP.

    So a tank or healer needs to spend more time gearing up and learning their character at 80 than a DPS does, before they get to do heroics. This doesn't mean all tanks and healers have prepared more than all DPS, but the MINIMUM they have prepared is more than the MINIMUM that dps has prepared.

    Which is part of the heart of the tank shortage. Most people can start DPSing as soon as they hit 80, but healers, and especially tanks, have to work a while to get ready.

    Perhaps more rewards would help with that. Actually I think what would help would be a 1 time reward that gave 1000g extra for the first time you fulfilled a role in a heroic.

  9. First of all I want to see a healer and tank try to do a heroic or any other instance without dps to kill stuff.

    I don't think healers and tanks need anything extra I have a hunter and a healing shaman I sat waiting for a random for 45 minutes on my hunter before I gave up it took me 20 seconds to get a random with my healer and its the same with tanks so they are getting more emblems and gold I have great gear on my healer..

    As far as dps in a raid if you have low dps it wont matter how good your tank and healers are. We did ony we had low dps, stage 2 took so long we wiped about 9 times before we finally manage to get her down(still not sure how we did it) we went back this last week with much better dps and took her down on our 3rd try had some welp problems on first try and some early dps on ony the second try but she went down easy after that..

  10. I think it would be fine to provide incentives to a tank or healer using the LFD tool, since it would reduce queue times for the rest of the dps populace, and thus more instances get running. Maybe a couple extra triumph emblems or a chance at some free gems like Oculus.

    The tank/healer would be getting extra emblems, but if enough people took advantage of the incentive, the dps would be getting more emblems per hour as well from faster queues.

    For raids though, a good dps is worth his/her weight in gold. When my guild did Festergut our biggest problem was figuring out how best to manage tank heals and cooldowns. The dps race aspect of the fight wasn't even an issue.

  11. I think it would be fine to provide incentives to a tank or healer using the LFD tool, since it would reduce queue times for the rest of the dps populace, and thus more instances get running. Maybe a couple extra triumph emblems or a chance at some free gems like Oculus.

    The tank/healer would be getting extra emblems, but if enough people took advantage of the incentive, the dps would be getting more emblems per hour as well from faster queues.

    For raids though, a good dps is worth his/her weight in gold. When my guild did Festergut our biggest problem was figuring out how best to manage tank heals and cooldowns. The dps race aspect of the fight wasn't even an issue.

  12. I honestly wouldn't mind seeing Healers/Tanks get a little extra to try to boost their numbers as every healer/tank in the game if they collect an offspec set/dualspec have the option of DPS. This creates a massive number of dpsers but yet a still limited number of heals/tanks (mostly tanks, but this issue is not nearly as bad as it used to be).

    I completely agree that in the highest end, healer/tank skill becomes so much less. I have personally felt it being in both of those roles when almost every fight now hangs in the balance of the DPS's hands (where previously it was in mine) if I just do my job correctly. Yet, The extra reward would be solely to get more people to be tank/healers in PUGs.

    I think that many people here are trying to think that PUG heroics=ICC raids/ToGC. Which is just not the case

  13. I do think they [tanks/healers] work a lot harder than DPS has to

    This was especially true in BC heroics when groups were geared for the instance and CC was needed. DPS had to, well, DPS and manage their CC target. Tanks had to move the group through the instance, know all the pulls, assign the CC and make sure that CC held when burning down targets. There were times in BC I felt like I should have been collecting permission slips from parents for an outing. This isn't saying that DPS couldn't do these things, but it was the average case.

    First of all I want to see a healer and tank try to do a heroic or any other instance without dps to kill stuff

    True, but for the majority of instances, you only need ONE dps.

  14. I agree with Hana, in most raid fights since WoTLK, DPS has been the deciding factor and the utility of specific DPS classes (like mages removing curse).

    And I like the idea of enticing existing Healers and Tanks to do more RDF but I think that with the increased reward we would see more and more unqualified tanks and healers in the random heroics. The lack of skills and inexperience with the class we would see lots of wipes in addition to the lowered queue times for the DPS. So it could be good and bad. Healers and Tanks (new ones) really need to go thru the training grounds before jumping right into heroics (running regular and lower level instances). ... not like that would matter much for the people who are already geared healers and tanks as they can just carry the group.

  15. First off, thanks for such an excellent response and not for flaming the heck out of me :) I don't usually write such provocative stuff :)

    I take your point about scarcity and I'd like to rebutt with the following:

    Firstly, I wasn't saying that DPS are lazy, just that I think tanking and healing is "harder".

    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. 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 :)

    Anyway, thanks again for the great feedback and counter response :)

  16. While your correct about the need for dps to work as hard in leading edge raids, I thought the original point was about heroics.

    But from a personal point of view and this thought came up last night, I am going to have to drop some characters from the random heroic daily rotation and the obvious characters are my healers.As a healer I can easily get pug raids anytime I want and get gear/emblems. Its the dps characters that need every single peice of gear they can get to secure a spot.

    Since tanks/healers are allready gearing up faster and likly to stop doing random heroics earlier. Should blizzard rely purely on queue time to supply sufficient tanks/healers for the sytem to run efficiently.

  17. I found the comment about needing dps to kill stuff amusing, considering my paladin tank is so well geared that I could solo most of the original heroics. If I could que up to solo instances and get my emblems, I would to avoid all the fools I've come across (though admittedly, I've met more good players than I had imagined in the process).

    I don't really agree with the original assumption about about healing/tanking being more difficult, nor that they should receive extra bonuses and rewards. What needs to happen is for there to be a way to quantify excellence in game, and from there, rewarded. I can't see a way for this to actually happen, so we'll just leave it as a pipe dream for now.

  18. On a tangent, I think our vision could be clouded by the 'now and then' disparity. The fact is, tanking and healing was harder before WotLK.

    You used to have to fight for your threat, ask for a few seconds in each pull before dps starts, etc. Your threat rotation had to be polished to ensure the first X attacks makes your Omen bar go way up.

    Nowadays, on my pala tank I don't even keep the 6-9-6 rotation working tightly, really, whereas in TBC if I missed too many steps dps would catch up very quickly.

    Likewise, healers had mana issues. You had to watch what you were casting etc. You had to do a bit of research into which rank to down-rank, your healing-per-mana rations, the lot.

    These days, I spam my way out of pretty much anything, and hardly ever pot. Granted, I don't raid anymore with my resto shammy, but heroics are caek.

    So, right now, the only think that tanks and healers do that makes it more bothersome is having to be on the ball. When I DPS I can pick the phone, go for the door, stop the mana up and catch up later... but the tank/healer will wipe the group if they took their eyes of the screen.

    So I don't think either work harder. But they are a lot more annoying to pug, by far, and their work is dependant on the other one doing it properly, where the dpser can always say: this group sucks, but look at shiney meter, I do l33t damage, you fail.

    I like playing my pala as dps, and would not begrudge the healer and tank getting a freeby. This is not zero-sum, them getting more does not make me get any less. I don't care what they get if my queue goes faster!

  19. I mean, it’s in our culture to reward those that do the most and work the hardest, right?

    thats what they told you in school, but please open your eyes..

  20. I've played all 3 roles and without question, DPS has an easier time. The only way you can tell if they aren't "doing their job" (i.e. not outputting enough DPS) is by running a damage meter.

    Here's a simple litmus test: on your tank/healer/dps, something comes up in real life you have to deal with, by being AFK for 5 to 10 seconds. In what role do you think going AFK for a brief period will be noticed? The fact is, autoattacking for 5 seconds is fine on DPS. AFK for 5 seconds on tank/healer could wipe the raid.

  21. The real difference between tank/healer(/CC) and DPS is that in most traditional MMOs the first set of roles is essential and the second set of roles just makes things easier or faster. Granted, this dynamic can change a bit in raids or cutting edge grouping, but for normal grouping, the easiest role is absolutely DPS.

    My current game is LotRO, though I've played every AAA title other than original EQ and WoW. I've played every role (tank in Dark Age of Camp-a-lot, DPS in EQ2, healer in Mage of Conan, lots of alts of the other archetypes). Tanking and healing are generally proactive roles while DPS is reactive. If the tank and the healer don't do their jobs, the group wipes; if the DPS don't do their jobs, fights take longer, which might lead to adds and might lead to running out of power, but probably won't lead to anything other than the dungeon taking longer. Tank and healer have to think and react; DPS just have to make sure they're hitting the right target and then pound out the same three or four efficient damage-to-power ratio attacks.

    Are there things DPS can do to make the group more successful? Absolutely. Are these things essential to success in "normal" groups? Absolutely not.

  22. I play a level 75 fury DPS warrior, and as far as DPS not being on equal standing your crazy. I have had more than 1 tank thank me at the end of a instance for taking the load off him for a bit and snagging runaways that get loose from him. Keep the rewards equal for all. Its a game and we are a team in there.