Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mmm... Meat

Ok, so I've been hearing a lot of talk about some post that got reposted, then blogged about, and then someone blogged about the blog. I started to feel left out, and I've decided to drop my 2 cents in the fountain.

Apparently, this all started with a guest post at Matticus, and then it was slammed by Forbearance, and I picked it up on Big Bear Butt and just a few minutes ago I read more on this topic at Azure Shadows. I'm sure many, many, many, many others have posted about this, too. Apparently, DPS as just "meat in the room" is the comment that set this all off. I've seen plenty of ideas on how to fix this perception or why this perception is just plain wrong (which it is... mostly), but not much exploration on the psychology behind it. SOOOO......

When someone starts playing the game, they have one of two options for their first class: 1) ask a friend (or consult a website or something); or 2) pick at random (random meaning without prior knowledge such as "I like rogues because they're sneaky"). They may continue to play this class or roll up a new toon with a new class and try that one out. I know I did. I started a pally, got bored mid-teens. Then I played a mage up to level 30 or so. Got bored again. Started a druid to mid-40s, then played a rogue to 70 (in BC) which was my main and I finally finished getting the druid to 70. Now, that druid is my main and I like it the best. I heal and tank offspec. I enjoy that. Why? Because, I have two jobs. Bear: keep the mobs attention; Tree: keep the group alive. There is one yardstick for my performance in either of these roles. Is the boss dead? If the answer is yes, then I did my job. If the answer is no, then MAYBE it was my fault (I'm gonna go with it probably wasn't me, but that's because I'm just so darned awesome *sarcasm intended). Here's why.

As a tank, you're expected to hang onto threat on all of the mobs (at least those to which you're assigned). If you're keeping your attack rotation on mobs constant, then you're doing your part. The healer is supposed to keep you alive. That's the deal... but what about the dps? Anyone who has ever tanked for any length of time has experienced those fights where there is one dpser who CONSTANTLY pulls aggro. When you ask him to watch his threat, he either listens or he says that you suck as a tank because you can't hold a mob over their elite dps. No thought to the fact that you marked the healer mob to be killed first and he feels the need to aoe or target another mob entirely. Call this guy "meat in the room" all you want. He pisses me off every time. Then there are those times when you have dpers who understand what Omen (or any other threatmeter) is and they pay attention. Mobs die fast and your job as a tank is easier. Good tanks shouldn't look on these dpsers as meat.

As a healer, your job is to keep everyone alive. Simple, right? Well, it should be. Barring aoe or random damage, only tanks should be getting hit, right? Dps should be watching their threat, interrupting, etc. If only the world were perfect. Any healer, I'm sure, has had the pleasure of watching a mob break free for a clothy who doesn't pay attention to the main target or his threat meters, and the guy gets 1-shotted. "wtf? where were the heals?" Not quite understanding that if a mob kills you in under a second, there's nothing a healer can do. "Meat in the room" applies here. When I'm healing a group of dpsers that pay attention to threat and put out the PAIN, well.... I'm really not healing them. They don't get hit (much). No meat there.

Basically, if everyone is doing their jobs correctly, epic win. Easy tanking, easy healing, no deaths, no repair bills. The question then is, how do we get to where we are that things don't run this smoothly much of the time, and why is there meat in the room?

Tanking and Healing is Boring:
In raids, it can be a lot of fun. But really, how much fun is it to heal/tank through 79 levels of questing and grinding? And tanks/heals don't put out the damage that dps specs do. This slows down soloing a lot. What this leads to is players choosing dps classes/specs overwhelmingly. By the time they hit max level, dps is what they know. Switching to tank or heals is not easy and it takes time. I only switched to heals as my main spec because it was easier to get into raids. Of course, this kind of limits my ability in pvp. I may be nigh unkillable (one-on-one) in tree form, but I also can't kill anyone else before they can run away. As a dps, you can raid or (pvp) drop in on someone and hit them for over 50% of their hitpoints before they realize what happened. Try that as a healer or tank.

Recount is Overused:
I use Recount. There, I said it. But, what I don't do is say, "if you're doing under X dps, we're booting you." I also don't say, "oh look, I'm way out-healing you! You must suck!" and refuse to bring someone on raids. Unfortunately, this is just not true with dps. I have had to endure raid leaders nerd-rage over low dps. Such a big deal gets made out of what someone's dps is, that most dpsers just concentrate on sheer damage output. Maybe the reason we wiped had nothing to do with dps, but because healers were overtaxed because no one was interrupting casts. Maybe the reason no one was interrupting casts was because they were so worried about getting kicked for having low dps. Or maybe they weren't interrupting because they wanted to look at Recount and see their name at the top. Screw the rest of the group, they did their job, right? Look, I'm not saying that Recount is bad. If it's used properly, someone can see that another person who is higher than them is using x spell more often than them and that they need to revisit their cast rotation. Basically, Recount is a tool and so are the people who use it improperly.

Tanking and Healing take Responsibility:
Yeah, this is pretty much true. Tanks set the pace of the pulls. The fight doesn't (or shouldn't) start without the tank. A good tank has to pay attention to everything, not just themselves. They have to be aware of all the mobs involved and the players in the raid. Healers have to pay attention to their mana at all times because if they run out, chances are, someone dies. If a dps runs out of mana mid fight, they can stop dpsing for a few seconds to regen. With 15 or 16 other dpsers in the fight, not casting for 10 seconds won't likely cause a death. (not that anyone should run out of mana). Not everyone wants the responsibility that comes along with healing or tanking.

So, how do we solve this? Hell if I know! I can only offer my humble suggestions on the topic and I'm sure many of you call them stupid. Feel free, disagree. I disagree with a lot of the suggestions I've read on other people's posts, but that's my perogative. So let's begin at the beginning...

The original notion was to give better rewards to tanks and heals for random dungeons? Has anyone else noticed the huge disparity that already exists between tank/heal and dps when it comes to randoms? If I wait for more than 30 seconds in queue for a dungeon, I'm annoyed. Dps has to wait 15+ minutes most of the time. I think being able to run a dungeon in the amount of time that a dps is queued for a dungeon is reward enough. So, yes, I think this idea is just silly.

Next BBB puts out there the idea of giving every class a tank and/or heal spec. This would effectively make everyone a hybrid class. Wow, am I not for this. Not because this will create a bunch of people who "think" they can tank. We've already got that. It's just that I'm for classes being different. Who cares if you cast a shadow bolt or fireball or steady shot? They're all ranged attacks that do a burst of damage and have a cast time. Does it really matter if you get healed with a nourish or a flash heal? What makes each class unique are their differences. The problem is that lately, WoW just doesn't play up to these differences.

When was the last time you saw a demonology specced warlock? Isn't the thing that distinguishes a warlock from a mage that they summon demons? Most warlocks nowadays just use their imps in raid for the extra dps output. Whatever happened to doomguards? And in raids, do hunters ever use their pets for anything other than added dps? What about all of those traps? Then we have rogues with fan of knives? Wasn't the thing that made rogues different from other dps classes is that they excelled at single-target dps and mages rocked the aoe? And don't get me started on the boomkins.

Then we have tanking classes. Warriors used be tops at tanking one or two mobs that hit hard. But when you got up to multiple mob control, you needed a pally or bear. Neither of these took a cleave the way a warrior could, but dammit they could hold aggro on 5 mobs no problem. They made great OTs while Warriors were the best MTs. Now, it seems that all tanks are built the same. Everyone has the same aoe aggro build, the same damage mitigation, the same hp. Vanilla was never this vanilla.

Lastly, healers. Each healer used to have their spot in a raid. Some were better at raid heals, some were tank healers. At this point, pallies and priests still lean toward tank healing, but shamans and druids have moved into that arena too. I'm sure we will soon see all healing classes be able to raid heal and tank heal equally effectively. Ugh.

The differences made each class unique to each role. Now, while I'm against BBB's idea of every class being able to fill every role, I have to agree with Azure Shadows on adding more utility to dps. The only two fully hybrid classes are paladin and druid. They can tank, heal, or dps. And yeah, it is kind of crazy that retadins and boomkins can put out the same or better dps than "pure dps" classes and that shouldn't be. Respectable dps I'd be ok with, but I've seen boomies top 11k dps regularly (I've heard of 16k+).

Here's the idea to make use of dps other than straight PAIN bringers. At this point, it seems that the dps classes have a hell-bringing dps spec and a pvp spec (for the most part). Why not give each spec a "utility" spec. One that specializes in crowd control or buffs the raid. Why not have a mage abilty that puts a shield on the tank that transfers damage to their own mana. Couple that with an ability to get mana back for doing dps (with their dps much lower than dps spec). How about a hunter spec that relies on debuffs from their stings or increases damage from their pet? How about a demonology spec for locks that is actually useful? And this is just changes that can be made to the classes themselves.

Raids need to be changed in a way that would welcome utility specs. I'm not saying that every fight should be like Razuvious and require a certain class. But fights that require a modicum of CC, contains regular threat wipes, bosses that are immune to one type of attack but take extra damage from another (and maybe give mages an ability to buff their group/raid with protection or buff to their spec. same for shadow/holy for priests, shadow/fire for locks). Who knows? The possibilities for this are endless. What this does is it makes the fights require more than just tank/heal/dps. It requires more than just 3 types of toons to work together. It requires a group with a wide range of abilities to bring different strengths to a raid in order to win.

Oh, and bring back 40 mans for epic epic loot wins.


  1. When my main was a rogue (vanilla and BC) I always had a thing for Subtlety spec and the utility of that tree. Sure my dps wasn't as good, but I enjoyed having more interrupts and better CC because of it. If I tried to pull him out now with Subtlety spec I nowadays I definitely see him getting harassed and kicked from randoms.

    It's too bad that blizzard has dumbed down the game, I really enjoyed Hemo...

  2. Well, the good thing is that you can dual spec now. Keep that sub spec for pvp and roll out with a combat/assassin spec for raiding. Of course, that's 1k gold.

  3. Very true, and I'll probably do that in the future. Right now I'm having a lot of fun bear tanking and learning feral PvP, so my rogue will still have to wait... :)

  4. When WotLK first came out; I only had the drops from reg and heroics. I was a hunter and ran the heroics quite a bit. Except for VH, we'd fight and everyone would sit down and heal and sort themselves out. Then a careful marking, discussion of the fight and we'd go. Good fun.

    Now we have emblem gear and it's kinda nutty. A whoosh of a good time. Over-powering a heroic is a blast.

    However I've been reading about the bad tank attitudes and them having a "rockstar" mentality. And DPS being jerks and just unloading on the target, sometimes pulling before the tank because they have uber-gear. Hate it.

    As a hunter who is OP as well, I've decided to have fun and increase my utility. I love dropping a freeze drop in front of the healer. I run more shooting arcane and aimed because it adds spice. I offer to freeze trap the caster on that big hill after Ick. It's fun.

    I've an 80 Druid healer too. We don't get accused very often for wipes. However, I'm healing pets and rezzing them now more.

    The culture has shifted.
    Be nice.
    Have fun.

    A kind of shift in the culture.