What happened to caring about whether or not the tank lived?

Note: I started this thread before the 3.2 changes came out, and delayed posting it to talk about the 3.2 changes. Now that the dust has settled, I’m updating it a bit and posting it while I’m busy with my sister’s wedding stuff this week. If this is outdated, it’s because I saved it too long…

So, recently, Sydera at World of Matticus posted what Healing Meters do and don’t tell you. Everyone needs to go read it. Right now. Just click here.

Come back after you’ve read Sydera’s post. I can wait…..

Done yet? If not, go read it….

…. Done now?

Good! Lets move on.

I see a really, really major problem with the mindsets of a lot of healers right now based off reading the WoW Healing Role forum. What’s that problem? Well, mostly reading recount & other healing meters without understanding them. There is a major problem with blindly following the output that recount gives you, thinking that HPS gives you the same information as DPS. The problem with promoting competition between people to top the meters is that they work on topping the meters rather than sticking to assignments.  Only “raid” healers top the meters, wheras anyone assigned to tank healing does not top the meters. This means that recount and WWS meters effectively measure how MANY people you healed during a boss fight, not how well you healed each person during that boss fight.

This means that paladin healing is “low” on the “how many people did you heal?” meter. It also means that holy priest AOE healing is high on that meter. It also means that our Tier 8 bonus has a tendency to inflate the resto druid numbers on that meter, because a bunch of instant 1500 heals add up over time.

However, I really like this recent quote by ghostcrawler that I’m going to pull out of another thread:

Yes, I know that CoH and WG look really good on the meters. But topping off 5 people isn’t nearly as useful as saving the life of one person. You can still target players and heal them. Players do it all the time. PvE healing does not rest entirely on smart, AE heals (though they might look really good on the meters).

We forget this because Ulduar has an over-abundance of raid damage. Just about every single boss fight has high-risk damage to raid members, which is what forces people to have to move, and forces healers to have to “think on their toes”. However, this ridiculous amount of damage taken by the whole raid (combined with no more crushing blows on tanks) means that in a lot of fights, even the people assigned to tank healing are… not healing the tank the vast majority of the fight.

While shaman & paladin healing styles have flaws, what is really the most broken right now is our perceptions of what makes a good healing class. We’re forcing everyone into AOE healing homogenization because we’re following healing meters as though they are superiority rankings, rather than actually caring about whether or not our tanks died. We’re also not caring enough about whether the tank is dieing or not, because in the majority of fights, the paladins and discipline priests (with a little HOTs from the druids) in raids do such a great job of keeping the tank up (sometimes with cooldown rotations for the healers & tanks) that we just don’t even focus on tank healing as a priority anymore.

I know that I’ve accidentally let a tank die when I was assigned to healing them, just because I was too busy spamming my AOE heals on the raids that I missed crucial and unexpected burst damage times (which is why I got myself switched to raid healing to play with the 4-piece T8 bonus instead of being on tank healing the last week).

This style of healing feels new, and it sucks sometimes. I miss the days of caring about how much healing was done to a tank. I can stack all my HOTs on a tank and then spam nourish, but the vast majority of the time, all the tank needed from me was a HOT or two to keep them topped off until they get hit with whatever big magical effect comes on “predictable” intervals. At least in the days of crushing blows, you wanted to constantly heal the tank because you knew they would take random large bursts of damage, so your overhealing was likely to be a worthwhile strategy.  We were also able to downrank our spells to make overhealing a worthwhile number to look at. Right now, tank healing feels much less worthwhile, and so everyone only cares about how much AOE healing they can do, because keeping the DPS alive seems like a much more important job right now, with enrage timers and huge burst damage on all the raid DPS being so abundant on  Ulduar fights. Hard modes also became “dps faster” modes, so raids are having to drop healers from their raids and stack up more DPS (gooo dual specs!).

The best way to fix healing at this point would be to bring back tank-healing fights, and reduce the amount of AOE healing fights. This would prevent Blizzard from needing to completely homogenize all the healing classes like what is happening right now, with paladin & shaman & even druids needing to be given better raid healing tools to keep up with Holy Priest AOE healing – and nerfing priest AOE healing to make the other classes look better on the meters.

So, back to tank healing. How can we make tank healing fights hard & enjoyable for everyone in the raid without having them be “tank and spank” fights? Well, I don’t have an answer to this question, but it’s something that the developers really need to start thinking about (and maybe we’ll see some show up in the new instance!). We need to have at least some fights where healing the tank matters more than healing the DPS. I miss the days of being able to let DPS die because I’m keeping up the tank, because right now, tank healing means that I sometimes put HOTs on the tank while I’m throwing around wild growths & rejuvs on everyone around me, which is why my Nourish numbers aren’t that high.

11 Comments

  1. Talwin
    Posted June 25, 2009 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    Great post and one I agree with wholeheartedly.

    I was thinking about your last question and immediately came up with the Prince fight in Kara. Think back to appropriate gear level and not using the doorway exploit.

    This was a fight that (when learning) you had to manage your mana in the first phase, overheal in the second and minor (compared to these days) raid healing in the third phase.

    Everyone had to be on the ball… Movement (particularly melee) and co-ordination was the key. Before we were geared enough for it to be a walkover this was the last boss that I was genuinely ecstatic to get down. Everyone had to manage cooldowns, mana, movement and execution.

    Bring on more fights like that where we need to care about the tank and watch our own backs to eliminate most of the raid damage. Of course with no more crushing blows this might be harder to implement than it seems.

  2. Posted June 25, 2009 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    Great post.

    Its on my mind at the moment because I kept dying in the gauntlet on Thorim last night. I had a paladin healing me and he just isn’t one of our better healers. wtb decent tank heals ;/

  3. Kuhbus
    Posted June 25, 2009 at 4:43 am | Permalink

    it’s always just a question of gear and the number of healers in a raid.
    for me (resto dudu) emalon 10 with being one of 2 healers is a pretty hard job for mt-heal (only naxx10/25 gear).

  4. Posted June 25, 2009 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    One word: Emalon. Like with what Kuhbus said being one of two healers on 10 man Emalon can be stressful if either you, the tank, or both are slightly undergeared.

    Or if the ranged are standing too close to one another in any section of the fight. Or if one to two of them don’t quite make it out of the blast radius due to lag or bad timing. Or if you’re on adds tank duty and sometimes get overwhelmed when they start to enrage and do crazy amounts of extra damage.

    There isn’t much time between spikes on the tanks to do any extra proper healing on the raid, which can result in dps wipes and certainly then raid wipe because of the mechanic of the adds.

  5. Posted June 25, 2009 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    i totally agree with this article…in fact, its a shame to see heal meters becoming a race to the top and who heals over 3k per second. it used to be about keeping people alive…but now, its a joke, its become a dps look-a-like where players burn through their spells so they can show off because single target healers like paladins usually drop low due to mt healing assignments.
    there are some encounters where healing is intense and raid heals are required by everyone in my opinion. 25 Kologram requires the pallies to drop beacon on the tank and raid heal just like the other heals, because in short, obilvion and the hand grip are raid wipers hands down, and when theres no one left to heal, it proceeds to wipe phase.
    as for people saying wotlk doesnt have hard tank heals, i beg to differ in many aspects. mimroms beam cannon in phase one can drop a tank in seconds, literally. razorscale also becomes a tank heal fight when the stacks add up to the remaining tank when razor blows for large amounts. Sarth +3 has a 70k breath to the tank, and healing through that plus even something small like his melee can cause a headache. ignis and his infamous fire pot, in 25 man, can kill players, and though its not the tank in there, dead raid members can mean the evercoming wipe.

    main point is, there are some intense heal fights. but people have boiled the game down to who does the most heals/damage in a fight, when really, it should remain about keeping the people up and downing the boss. druids have hots, and while helpful dont keep a tank up during a beam cannon. shamans heals can hit 3 people for a decent amount, but wont save a tank from steelbreaker using fusion punch…and the worst part? people compare different healing styles like its all the same…
    you heard the saying, “hug a wall, save a raid”
    the one i like is, “dont post meters, and save a headache”

    whew…done typing
    btw, awesome site, i play a resto druid, and a holy pally, so my views are split pretty well :)

  6. Sydera
    Posted June 25, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the link Lissana! I totally agree with you about a return to at least a few tank-healing fights. I know my guild would appreciate a 4-MT fight so that all our regular OTs could have something fun to do.

  7. Posted June 25, 2009 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I somewhat disagree that we are lacking in “tank healing” encounters in the game right now. While there are a good number of encounters that are more about raid healing than tank healing, there are also quite a few that are, in large part, about keeping the tank alive as well.

    A few examples that I can think of in Ulduar:
    Phase 2 Thorim – even moreso in hard mode where you have not only crazy damage to the tanks, but the need for solid tanking rotations (think the drakes in BWL);
    Hodir – even moreso in hard mode, ecspecially when you are down to 3-4 healers in the raid (all our attempts so far have had 5 healers, we are cutting it down even more this week, likely to 3);
    XT-002 – even moreso in hard mode when all damage is increased by 15% and your tank is taking 20k+ hits;
    Phase 1 Mimiron;
    Phase 3 Yogg where a full life immortal starts pounding on your tank for appx 22k damage…and you have two tanks taking this beating for the entire duration of this phase;
    Iron Council at any difficulty while steelbreaker is alive.

    Sure…most of these fights *also* have significant amounts of raid healing that has to be covered, but I’m not sure you are giving the encounters the appropriate amount of credit with regards to the beating the tanks are tanking, and subsequently the amount of healing that they require. If your experience is that you don’t have much to do, maybe you are running healer heavy?

    I don’t think that an encounter needs to require 80% or more of your healers healing the tank to make it a challenging “tank healing” encounter like we saw for most encounters in Vanilla WoW. And honestly, I kind of like the more dynamic encounters that we have right now…although they might be slightly overdoing the raid damage at times.

    I think that we have plenty of tank healing challenges in the current content. At least I still care who is healing my tanks and how they are healing and how we lost a tank. We do still have wipes from loosing tanks, so in my opinion strong tank healing isn’t obsolete…it just needs fewer healers to get the job done, I suppose.

    Just my two pennies, for what they are worth =)

    @Sydera – As I understand it, the achievement “Crazy Cat Lady” is a 4-6 rotating tank fight, so perhaps that would facilitate all your tanks needs? =)

  8. Moohtree
    Posted June 25, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    @Beruthiel
    I play both a resto druid and a prot warrior and i have to disagree on the massive tank damage taken in ulduar. Granted some of the fights (Council or Mimiron) have some massive burst damage happening, but they all come at predictable intervals with huge emotes from the boss or DBM screaming.

    It used to be a bit challenging to time the cooldowns (shield wall / Pain sub / Hand of sacrifice … Rince and repeat) but after the first week and the progression done, it’s become automatic now and is more about managing the cooldowns than good tank healing.

    Now for Fights with huge 20k+ physical damage on the MT, i use mainly 2 strats for tanking. I can stack stam, lower avoidance, be at 45k raid buffed and i can eat 2 of these big hits without dying … so it’s a lot less stressfull for the healers. I can also stack avoidance, be at around 39k raid buffed and rotate cooldowns to almost always be at a total (dodge+parry+miss) of 58-63 % avoidance.

    with not getting hit for sometimes 6 consecutive attacks, i can understand why the healers could be tempted to raid heal even if assigned to the tank. And in the rare case where the tank is getting low, he can use his “Oh Shit Button” and most likely survive the next blow.

    Now for the Thorim fight, tank healing can be hard if the tanks don’t switch properly. But it’s not a healing challenge, it’s a tank challenge ! The debuff put by thorim gets my defense down from 548 to 348, so if the OT fails to taunt at the right time, it’s not the healer’s fault if the MT dies … a crit by thorim will 1 shot a tank.

    Ok so now what’s left is the challenge of switching tanks when you get the debuff and switching heals on the tank who has aggro. Let’s just see how many fights in WotLK have this kind of mechanics: Gluth in Naxx, Razorscale, Kologarn, trash before Thorim, Thorim and 2 out of the 3 elders before Freya. That’s a lot of practice for the same tanking/ MT healing style !!

  9. Posted June 25, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    It’s not just the encounter design, but also the attitude that a lot of guilds bring to the encounter. Player attitudes can be changed without the encounters having to be changed. Sometimes, I just think we need to be reminded about things. Then again, the people who need to hear it the most are the ones who don’t read blogs. :(

    It’s really the feeling of competition that leaks out all over the new healing forum that is problematic. People push for changes just based on recount meters, which are inaccurate at best…

  10. Moohtree
    Posted June 25, 2009 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Sadly i think you’re right Lis …
    Some priests don’t wanna spec Disc because it’s “less healing done” … Or some so called raid leaders who don’t want Disc priests in their raids because they are always down there on the meters.
    And that’s not only happening with healing. I’ve seen some DPS switch on adds earlier on Emalon and AOE just to inflate their DPS and brag about it after … /cry

  11. Posted June 25, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    wonderful post, liss. i’ve used this argument to my guild’s healers a number of times, so at least i know i’m not just making things up (or if i am, so are you and GC :D )

    Poras
    Officer/Resto Druid
    -Pango Honoratus-