Saturday, January 9, 2010

Regarding tanks and healers in PuGs.

Gordon from We Fly Spitfires recently posted a blog regarding his view on tanks and healers on World of Matticus, in terms of who should get what rewards, and why. Apparently, tank and healers always deserve more because, well, they're tanks and healers. The article caused quite some controversy, and I don't blame them - I usually read Gordon with some interest, he's a likeable guy and is usually worth my time. This time, however, I disagree strongly with his view, and as such, I'd like to take the time to promote why I think rewards should be equal, no matter what.

First off, his argument is demand and responsibility. As DPS, I strongly disagree with the demand aspect - tanks and healers rarely see a full minute of queue. Me, as DPS, have never farmed so much in my life, as I patiently sit through my quarter of an hour queue, soaring around Wintergrasp with my Find Minerals toggled. I don't mind this - while there's a lot of crying about DPS queue time all over certain forums, in my opinion DPS is definitely the ones who should wait the longest. I do not acknowledge that DPS is "a dime a dozen" as Gordon suggests, but we're definitely well represented and should wait accordingly. I don't have a problem with this - I chose to spec ret. I knew what was coming.

The matter of responsibility, however, I feel inclined to somewhat support. Not because it relates to tanks and healers in paricular, but because the success of a good, clean run relates to the player taking charge, no matter his role. I posted a recollection earlier concerning an experience in the Violet Hold, which should illustrate the point. I've single-handedly carried groups with blue-geared tanks and healers through some of the (arguably) harder heroics - the tank who'd never done the Utgarde Pinnacle or Halls of Lightning gauntlets before, the healer that desperately tried to dispel Eck's icky snot at the expense of healing. Do I say they are bad players? No, simply inexperienced. But as a player who've tanked every heroic in the game a hundred times and DPS'ed them almost as often, I'm in a position to guide them through it and actually try to learn them tips and tricks making life easier on them - instead of just inspecting the tank and press leave group.

So where's my reward? Since Gordon states in black and white that we "simply don’t deserve the equality of rewards", I guess I shouldn't have one. But the tank that learned the instance from my tips and hints, all the while being carried by my 5k Seal of Command letting the group progress at a reasonable pace - he should get a bonus for having the most resposibility? Sorry, but I don't agree to this. Finally, the argument that the tank dies not because the healer failed, but because DPS failed to burn down the mob fast enough - that's a fiery brand if I ever saw one.

First of all, DPS is relative to the tanks ability. I know my Omen, I have unit frames allowing me to quickly switch to the tank's main target, and I usually use these tools very rigorously. At my gear level though, my DPS is limited by the group's threat roof, unless I want to offtank. If the healer can't manage to keep up the tank because DPS is too slow, then I somewhat doubt that healer's ability and gear level to be playing this content, and I really doubt that the tank is both defence capped, hit capped or in any way very well equipped. I could be wrong - if all DPS were like me and watch their threat to maximize burn capacity, it wouldn't be an issue. But even at 700 DPS, most things in heroics die fast enough for any defence capped tank to handle it. You may have to eat and drink between pulls - too bad. I've been doing that for years. On my tank.

Long story short - the article Gordon presents is black and white, and extremely one-sided. If it'd been posted on the MMO-Champion forums, there would have been four pages of "QQ more" and "obvious troll is obvious", and while I don't really agree to this form of reaction, I can see where they're coming from. I'll be the first to applaud a good player in a group - whether it's a good tank or a healer pulling off some mean feat, or a DPS sustaining a 5k battle of Recount with me even with a sub-par threat roof - I'll say well done, good job, in party chat. If I cause a wipe (it's happened once or twice - the odd fear, or just too much Red Bull), I always take time to trade the tank and healer 15g for repairs. I know I'm a massive minority in doing this, but I do appreciate the job my tank and healer does for me.

I expect the same level of appreciation for the job I do. DPS at my level isn't a dime a dozen, I'm sorry. It's not about rubbing my own ego or anything, it's about knowing my worth and skill. And I happily bring it to any group that wants me, because honestly? Last time I two-manned Halls of Lightning, it took two frigging hours. Fun that once, if you catch my point.

Rewards should be equal, because role is never a direct parallel to skill. Enough DPS choose to queue as their offspecs to drop the fifteen minutes, and more often than not, it shows. I know I'd be a terrible, terrible healer! If anything, give optional rewards to successful groups. Cleared the instance in less than 15 minutes? Have a badge! No group deaths? Have another! Cleared all the trash in the instance? Satchel of spoils. If we were to have additional rewards (which I in no way endorse), they should be based on group performance, not individual roles. A group is never better than it's weakest link, no matter who that link is.


  1. Nice post, I really enjoyed reading it :)

    I think to understand my point of view, we need to look the motivation behidn the article. As someone who's almost always played tanks in MMORPGs, I've had a lot of experiences as group tanks, raid tanks and acting DPS (I've always played a few healers but I'll focus on tanks for this comment).

    Personally, I've always found the tanking role to be far more stressful and pressured than the DPS one. You have a responsibility to the group you're in or the raid you're tanking. If you don't turn up, the group or raid can't go. I've really had raids cancelled because I couldn't main tank them or groups wait 45mins for me because I was hate home from work.

    Now that may seem like it would fuel ones ego but I actually felt the opposite - it was stress and pressure. Of course, once someone else takes up that role and I went to DPSing the group, it was a far more relaxing experience.

    In hindsight, the article was wrong to marginalise DPS and I've learnt a lot from all of the great comments and blog posts (like this one) that I've read. I still think that being a main tank is a stressful role but now I think that it possible speaks a lot more about my personal experience than anything else.

    I've learnt a heck of a lot about DPS classes and player's opinions and to me that's a good thing and really the point behind the article. I've come away with a new perspective and something new learnt and it's made it all worth while! :)

  2. Do I agree that DPS is just as integral a part to a successful raid/group/whatever? Without question, yes.

    The bigger question is whether tanking and healing is rewarding enough. I'm not thinking in loot/advantages, but clearly more incentive is needed if they are not even removely close to being represented enough in the queue.

    Of course, technically, if every fifth player was a tank, raids would have to change quite a bit, notably with 25mans deviating from that % makeup.