A Healer’s Lament

Whilst the Kitten Standard was occupying the front page today, another topic crept out of the WoW woodwork, and potentially one that’s more serious for the game.

The current raid content contains fights that wildly differ on the number of healers and sometimes number of tanks required. With the nerfbat swinging as often as it does, that exaggerates the changes even more – a fight that used to require one composition suddenly requires another.

And so today we have two healers lamenting the extremely awkward situation they find themselves in, where they’re forced to either sit on the bench or take a DPS role they don’t enjoy for half the fights in the raid.

First up, Beruthiel of Falling Leaves and Wings chimes in with a typically well-argued post explaining the problem and its effects

“People in competitive raid teams want to be competitive. They want to do their best. They want to be performers. And if they are constantly at the bottom, in their off spec role, it will eventually get to them. As can comments that are meant to be a joke, or even comments meant to be helpful, about their performance in their off spec. The other night I bit the bullet and DPS’d for Heroic Staghelm. It was my first time for that fight in that role. I was mildly competitive with some of our lower DPS – but when push came to shove, at the end I beat the tank. I’m one of our top performers as a healer – and what I got to say about my undergeared, and uncomfortable performance as DPS was “Hey! I beat the tank…at least”. Frankly, I was embarrassed.”

Beruthiel explains the problems, point by point, and successfully demolishes the “well, that’s what dual specs are for” argument. A dual spec is fine – but players tend to prefer one role or another. A game that’s unpredictably forcing players into a role they don’t enjoy and can’t do well at is a game with a problem.

And that’s where we come to the second post, from a more personal point of view. Vidyala of Manalicious has been going through the same pains that Beruthiel has been – and in her eloquent post, she talks about just how damn sick of it she is

“I’ve come to the realization that doing most of the fights in a spec I don’t like instead of a spec I do like has been killing the fun for me. It’s not even, “Oh, I’m lukewarm about this,” I logged off last Wednesday and I was probably the closest I have ever been to saying: I am tired of raiding. It is the opposite of fun for me. So nobody should have to play a spec or a class or a role they don’t like. I wouldn’t do that to someone else, why would I do it to myself?”

There’s no understating this one – if the design of WoW’s raids are meaning that raiders are starting to conclude they’d rather not raid than be forced into an unfun role, the game’s got a problem, and every raid leader out there has a problem. Blizzard are going to have to think about this one – but so is everyone who’s involved in a raiding guild. How can we mitigate the problem of forcing people to play a role they don’t like?

Any ideas?