Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Unwanted healers - how DPS is all that matters

People wonder why healers seem to be in short supply, and it's no wonder, really.  I feel like there is a push for less and less heals and more and more DPS.

Remember how all those days of crowd control and focussed DPS - we still have the focussed DPS but these days all the DPS have to do is hit stuff and avoid a bit of bad stuff on the ground.  Crowd control is for people who don't know how to tank.  And NUMBERS are so important now - it's not about how you play but how big numbers you can get, and of course your raid awareness comes in a distant second.

Sometimes it gets so bad that people don't want to interrupt their rotations for DPS to go and do other things like kite a mob, kick a turtle, or break traps because they are so fixated on their numbers.

And yet, healers are expected to heal more than ever.  Most high end guilds gear their DPS first and then their tanks and then their healers (I could be wrong, maybe it's tanks first) so that an encounter can go down faster and so in reality there is less for the healer to heal because the encounter is so quick.  And the numbers of healers now required in a raid seem to hover around 2 instead of 3.

And interestingly, the converse is true also :D (but not in my case!)
Healers and tanks should have an offspec, a lot of people say.  Because some fights need only one tank and 2 healers so then the players can still have a role in the raid otherwise they will have to sit out to bring in what we need.  But I really ENJOY healing. If I wanted to DPS, I would roll a DPS.  It seems a little unfair sometimes to me that healers can have an alternate role (like DPS or tank) but a lot of DPS have only that role - DPS.  Hunters. Mages. Warlocks. Rogues.  They don't do anything except hit bosses and having to do things outside the hit-stuff-and-break-it is boring.  Look at Dark Animus.  The warlocks in my guild thought it was the most boring fight ever and stupid, and they were not the only ones!  Rogue friends of mine from other guilds said the same thing!  I found the fight fun and cool because it was different and I still had a lot of healing to do - I wonder if I would find it as much fun if there was no healing to do and people just had to avoid bad stuff.  I guess if that was the case, then you could run a raid with no healers if there was nothing to heal.

The other day we were doing Immerseus which we now 2 heal and could even one tank, and in the last stages, there were only two of us healing the blobs at the end.  Aza complained that it was the slowest kill ever - but really, how fast do you think 2 healers can heal all those blue blobs?  I'm not that great at it - 4 is my maximum and that's if they're in range - but when you got 6 DPS beating on blobs of course it's gonna be quick in the early stages!  Now if we had 3 healers the last phase would go quicker, but the first phases will go slower, but no, nobody thinks about those things.  It's the healers going slow!

As it is, healers are hard to come by.  They keep getting broken - Bish got sick of healing and wandered off to have a break.  Taloski was awesome but had other things to do.  Asys is going strong for now, but he did switch from tank last Tier and was saying he wanted to DPS next tier (but has since changed his mind).  Bladewind had a baby and now has a second one on the way and doesn't want to commit to raiding anymore.  Gutsy left, Voe stopped playing and Priestietute went away for a while but now she is back.  The only healer that has been around consistently is me.  Now whether that means I have no life except this game OR that I am the only one crazy enough to stay in one role all the time.  Perhaps it's because I'm not a Gen Y... but really it's because I love healing. If you get pushed into something you don't enjoy, you're more likely to give it up.  That's the same for real life work - if you hate your job, it's hard to keep going at it.  Lucky for me I love healing for a job AND in game or my life would be damned miserable indeed.


Even Jasyla, whom I looked up to for healing, is now a mainspec hunter.  Healing was boring for her in 25 man (AoE heal AoE heal AoE heal) and now she's having much more fun healing alt 10 mans as there is more to do (I asked her this at Blizzcon).

I am fortunate that the officers have offspecs and alts who can fill in the healing whilst we patch up our roster, and I over-recruited some healers to help fill in for the times I can't raid.  However, Kyxyn and Aza said that we really had to start 2 healing these encounters... and I couldn't help but bristle even though I know why they said it - because we needed more DPS to get the encounter down, not more healers and certainly not an undergeared healer.

The problem is two-fold - if you keep making a healer sit out for a DPS, then that healer will stop turning up to raid.  If you keep making a healer DPS who doesn't like it, then they will also start sitting out because they don't feel important or useful or perhaps don't even ENJOY playing the game like that.  And healers who sit out are not getting gear.  Not getting gear means you can't keep up and uh oh you're falling behind in healing - vicious cycle!  We should play what we enjoy - that's why we play!  So, when all your healers are gone and the DPS or tanks are forced to heal because of lack of healers - won't they be upset because it's not fun for them too?

Last night we had no bear/cat and no hunter, mage or windwalker so we didn't have crit.  That probably affected our DPS a lot, but we still managed to get Nazgrim down even though it was a bit of a struggle compared to the cakewalk it was last time.  It made me think about what the others said, and about my offspec, which is tank, which I like because I can run around on the Isle and not die and still kill a few things.

So with a heavy heart, I respecced to feral kitty.  I bought the legendary cloak and handed in my Tier tokens from Flex on Sunday.  I don't like kitty. But without any of the classes listed above, it might be useful to have it, and I will have to practice my Lolcat DPS before I can be ready.  My ilvl is 535 but some of my gear is awful as I hadn't really focussed much on it - from now I will have to change my loot spec to feral so I can get some stuff.  Still, it's not too bad for raid leftovers.  But can you imagine Navikitty and not Navitree? Would it be something like this?


I'm not sure if I CAN DPS yet - I don't think my other healers are strong enough to 2 heal from Wing 2 just yet but they might find their healing a lot better without my sniping their heals all the time.  Sometimes if you stop holding their hands, they will show you they can walk just fine on their own.
"Navi look! I'm healing all by myself! Propped up with this ridiculous fish catcher..."
In my opinion, the new raids can't come fast enough.  No more having to make people sit out with this awesome flex system in all raids except Mythic (old heroic).  Maybe I can get away with being carried in my DPS for a bit with a larger group and switch to heals if they are struggling.

I wish there were more encounters where healing was a good part of the encounter.  Immerseus (SoO) has a healing component, as well as Tsulong (ToES), and of course Dreamwalker (ICC), and that always makes it more fun.  I hope when the expansion comes there is something that requires a lot of CC so the DPS can do something else (and they had better not expect us healers to be doing it) other than hit stuff, get big numbers and yell at the healers to heal better.

In the mean time, I have to make sure nobody breaks my healers, certainly not my new ones.  Poor Asys is already used to copping teasings from me - I think he's think skinned enough to take the pressure that the rest of the raid puts on us. I hope the new healers will be the same, because really, we aren't that tough a group - but that doesn't mean I don't expect great things from you.


17 comments:

  1. The new raids may not require people to sit out because of numbers, but there will still be ideal ratios of dps/healers (I imagine it will be two tanks for most encounters still).

    The reason I have been advocating a two healer strategy when we can is I feel that the encounters atm are ideally set up for the 2:2:6 Tank:Healer:DPS mix and not a 2:3:5.

    Now there may be the occasional fight that is easier with a change to that (Dark Shaman for instance) BUT I think the majority of encounters have felt "cleaner" when two healed. They are definitely faster, which may require less healing overall.

    I personally feel we need 2 dedicated tanks (Hk and I seem a good combo), two dedicated healers (Cranked and you seem a great combo) and the rest of the raiders are dps, with off specs to help out if possible (Moo is a great example of this).

    I imagine that this approach would serve us well in the next xpac as this will accommodate a minimum raid of 10, but should be able to "flexible" to cope with increased numbers when they show up.

    Role mixes are not the be-all-and-end-all of the game. It's similar to way that I feel you want to have a mix of different classes (Plate/Leather Tanks not just 2 Plate). In much the same way that you can 3 heal as opposed to 2 heal, you can 2 Druid Tank as opposed to Pally/Druid tank BUT I don't feel that it is ideal.

    I feel like I am rambling now so will cut it short.

    I suppose the main point I wanted to make was that I don't think the new xpac will really effect the issue you were raising Nav. If we have 2 tanks, 5 dps and 5 heals showing up, at least 2 of those heals will most likely either need to sit or play off spec.

    Kyxyn
    Tyrant of the Frostwolves

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    1. I know that to everyone it feels great to 2 heal (and I do enjoy it), but the reason I am reluctant to always do so is because it has required me to be online every time to do it. Don't get me wrong, I love to heal and I love to raid, but I can't even have a night off without the raid not going ahead, so I wanted to 3 heal for a bit so healers could get comfortable and geared before we go to 2 healing. Besides, it makes DPS lazy IMO because they have extra DPS cushions to get us through an encounter, but I know you could say that the converse is true too - 3 healing makes the healers lazy.

      As we had 2x druid heals for a long time, it is great we finally have extra shamans and priests to break up the monotony of druid heals! And I want them all to get geared up and comfortable so we will always have reserves and we can raid.

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    2. I don't think 2 heals makes dps lazy at all. DPS have a job, normally its DPS output, but can involve other mechanics, AND avoiding damage where possible. This latter point becomes more important in a 2 healing scenario.

      Tyrant!

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  2. Oh that's funny, This will be the only time ever Cat's gear level is higher than yours. I'll have to go tell her, lol.

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  3. I wish you the best of luck in recruiting good healers, possibly ones who love to DPS in their off-spec as well. And don't be worried about 2-healing, one of my raids has successfully 2-healed a few bosses with healers with some gear in serious need of improvement. Mostly due to necessity rather than choice.
    I can understand how you feel. I think I've been the only steady healer this expansion for our guild's normal raid, and then I go to flex and we have 5 people who can heal and want to out of 15. I often end up switching to DPS, then fretting about the healing the whole fight. Too many healers in flex, only 2 in normal.
    Although we might be snagging a resto shaman, which would be a nice change of pace from the 2 druids we currently have.

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    1. Oh we have the same! We have been 2 healing for a while now from necessity and I know what you mean about 2 druid heals - we had the same thing for a while! It's funny how your story sounds just like mine - except you're probably more advanced in SoO than we are. Hope to push some progress this week though!

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  4. I keep trying to write a reply and find myself trying to write a book. Heh. I guess there's just a lot to say about this and I'm not sure how to slim it down. I'm going to give it a try.

    I'm not a healer. The last time I healed anything was at the start of Ulduar. That was a long time ago but I do remember two healing everything. I haven't payed much attention to how many healers we had since then so long as stuff got killed. I still don't really care. Stuff dies and we make progression does it really matter if we did it with two or three healers? I think I probably feel this way because my raid group is pretty stable and consistent. It's the same ten people since the start of SoO.

    But you're other point really caught my attention. I think there really is an emphasis on dps. There's even a dps check early in the SoO raid with Norushen. Now about the point that dps don't want to stop hitting the boss to do other stuff... I suppose it's true. But it's also something we're not used to doing. There's the usually stand over here, get out of puddles, but mostly it's stand back and pew pew. I hated kicking turtles not because it would disrupt my rotation but because it's such an important task and if you mess it up it would wipe the raid. It's a big pressure. I feel that way about trying to work the assembly line nonsense. It's important and there's a lot of responsibility on me that I'm just not used to. I'm not sure how others view it. It just might be more of an irritating thing or something else. But any member should know that it's not about your ego but about doing what you can to make the raid succeed. Then winning all the loots XD. Ok. fine. Someone else can have some too.

    The last point was the pressure to have an off-spec that's useful to your raid. I think it's something a lot of people feel. I sometimes get really annoyed that as a pure dps class I can't do more to support my raid if we need another tank or healer. But I use alts to help me with that problem. When we started to find ourselves with too many warlocks and not a haste buff in sight I made the switch from my cute little warlock to my hunter. If I could pick a spec and class without any consideration of my raid group I would love to be a frost death knight again. If I really pushed for it I'm certain my raid group would allow for that switch. But I like my hunter and I love the group I'm in and I want to do what's best for what we already have. And that is my hunter. I think when you have a group you love being with there's always that pressure of trying to figure out what else you can do so that you can be of use to the group. You then have to decide if it's something you can live with or if it's something that's driving you batty and you can't deal with it. And there is nothing wrong with either way. It's important to know what you love, what you like, what you can tolerate a time or two, and what you just absolutely hate and can not do. Then accept that and try to plan how you're going to move on from there.

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    1. As a raider, you should do something to be useful to the raid. As an officer, it's our responsibility to make sure the raid runs smoothly and so we switch specs, toons to whatever's needed and sit out as required. As the guild leader, I want to make sure that morale doesn't get too low and sort out the admin crap (ie loot and figuring out who to sit out) . I've felt guilty because I haven't been pulling my weight to switch specs or other toons to help out - but as I had been the only consistent healer I didn't have to worry about it as much. But now I feel like I SHOULD help DPS if only to set an example that as officers we do our best to make the raid work. But nobody ever said I don't have to feel resentful about it, when I dislike DPSing! I think I've stopped feeling sorry for myself now - and I probably will never have to DPS anyway (I'd rather sit out tbh!) but I felt better after venting.

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  5. I gotta say I am not too shabby on my three healers but lack current raid experience outside of flex on them; I am curious and maybe you answered this but why not Balance? You can get some great DPS our if them and I think the transition in casting DOTs versus HOTs might be fun? Just curious

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    1. The reason I chose kitty was because we lacked a crit buff, which comes from feral/guardian druids. We have no raiding mages and sometimes non hunter - though we will have a windwalker soon so that will save me from having to provide crit :) I also already have a bag full of guardian gear since that's my offspec which just needed a couple of reforges to be be a bit more cat like. I would like boomy but that isn't what we need atm!

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  6. Ideally across a raid instance there should be critical "must do" tasks for each role. Tanks and healers are very used to this, and Dps often get to slide through. I'm starting to think that having must do tasks for Dps as well might force players to step up. Yes, it will be harder, and it will create more deaths too.

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    1. I agree Andrew. Perhaps the new mythics will have that as a true test of class!

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  7. One that that always annoys me no end is that you usually need 3 (or 6) heals for normal progression then once you get to heroics most fights become a 2 (or 4-5) healing task because the extra dps is usually neccessary which automatically forces you to sit a healer or hope they have an os that is 1. geared, 2. they can play and 3. they enjoy (though this isn't such a priority but really does tie into 2). My biggest wish as a healer is that regardless of the difficulty the raid compesition for fights should remain the same.

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    1. Hopefully that is what the Warlords raid system will do. Then, how many healers you bring will depend on your particular strategy or guild makeup, since mythic is the only fixed size raid group.

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  8. One thing that Blizz has killed is hybrid classes. Remember back in the days with a zillion talent points to spend, one could off-spec a dps/heals hybrid so raid becomes 2.5 healers and 5.5 dps etc. They can also make bosses have higher dmg phases through boss/enviroment/adds etc so the dps hybrid gets put to use. Or at least the shadow priests and elemental shamans can heal instead of dps.

    Remember Gruul's lair where you even needed a mage tank, that was something refreshing. Or back in BWL first boss, where EVERYONE kites a dragon or 2.

    These days the raids are a bit monotonous, I havent raided for a while but it seems I can literally stand in one place as a ranged dps and only occasionally move when I have to. Not much else is required. Target switching, balanced dps across multiple targets, kiting, ccing has gone out the windows. Skills are out of the window (at least for dps) since you have like 3 main spells you use 95% of the time... its all about what gear you have and what numbers you can crunch up.

    haha my priest would be handy for the guild if I have the time (and permission from the boss) to raid. shadow with healing spec :P (and I would have ported my resto/enhancement shammy :P, and also got a resto/dps druid)

    KSret

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  9. I have many thoughts about this. The more I read about the way other guilds operate, and the way so many others feel pressured to take roles they don't enjoy because they are either afraid of being seen as "not pulling their weight" or are afraid that the rest of the raiders will leave for other guilds if progression stalls due to a 'suboptimal' raid composition, the more grateful I am for the guild I had - and the more thankful I am to Glowberry for creating such a seemingly rare experience.

    As someone who is primarily interested in having a good time with people I like, respect and admire, I view the pressure created by this unspoken, implied threat of abandonment as intolerable. I cannot respect or admire anyone who values their guildmates so little that they would quit or demand others change simply to achieve a supposed 'optimal' raid setup. I raided with Cadence all through WotLK up to Firelands, and the only time we ever excluded someone was after repeated attempts to work with them on their performance, during which they became very childish in creating drama and throwing tantrums in gchat. Nobody ever left the guild because we weren't progressing fast enough (or at all), nobody stopped showing up for raids without a very good RL reason (which was communicated in the forums, usually beforehand) and nobody ever threatened to leave if someone didn't change roles/class/spec. We never cared about bringing all the buffs, we never let a lack of progression discourage us from throwing ourselves at the raids again and again, trying new strategies or groups depending on who was available that night. When we were working on the Lich King fight, I spent nights tanking, nights healing, and nights as Balance. We never had the same group of people, let alone toons/specs/roles, two nights in a row. We had quite a few hybrids as mains, and all of us switched out to roles that we didn't prefer at one time or another. The difference was, we did so with the knowledge that it was not going to be a regular thing, we were never going to be required to come as that spec, and when we had nights where we didn't want to switch to a spec we didn't like as much, we could say so and not be judged for it. We were willing to endure whole nights of wiping on one fight with a weird group (one time we had 3 warlocks, 3 priests, 2 pallies and 2 druids going through ICC), because we trusted and respected our fellow players enough to not dictate to anyone what they should play. We also had nights where we didn't raid at all because nobody wanted to either change spec or bring an alt to tank or heal. That was fine, there was no bad blood for anyone involved, and we carried on as usual the next raid night.

    Now, my first thought upon reading all this nonsense about people requiring all the buffs, or an optimal group makeup, is "wow, I must have had a ridiculously great bunch of people in my guild!". But on further reflection, I don't believe that is the case at all. I am sure a lot of guilds are full of great people. So why is my reaction to this post "oh my goodness, how can people be so immature that they would leave or refuse to show up simply because their raid has hit a progression wall"? I believe it has to do with those people valuing their time over the desires of their guildmates. And, to be bluntly honest, valuing their pixel progress over the social experience of bonding together to solve and overcome a difficult challenge with people they presumably like to socialise with.

    Is this a more recent development? Is it that the playerbase has become older, busier in RL, and so has less patience to stall in raiding progression? Are people feeling less connected to their guildies these days, and don't feel that social bond that allows a group to remain motivated and supportive in the face of adversity?

    Sorry for the rant, Navi. I am not even sure I stayed on topic...>.<

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