Healer vs Healer – is the “class X is OP” fight turning nasty?

I’m always interested when I see multiple blogosphere posts on a single day talking about the same issue, particularly if they’re coming at it from slightly orthoganal points of view, but heading in the same direction.

And so it has been today with Kurn and Windsoar, both of them talking about the problems with WoW healing class abilities, but from different angles.

First up, we have Kurn, who has been watching a worrying trend amongst her fellow healing commentators – an increased tendancy to cheer at nerfs to other healing classes:

“When resto druids got a 20% nerf to WG’s healing and a glyph change that is ridiculous, I didn’t cheer, I didn’t express my sheer joy. I was upset on their behalf. When holy priests complained of not having a really viable raid cooldown during 4.0-4.2, I was right there with them, saying yes, it would make so much sense for holy priests to have a real raid cooldown that matters! When they got their Divine Hymn buffs, I was thrilled!

When resto shaman got Spirit Link Totem, I was really pleased for them, same with when resto druids got the reduced CD on Tranquility. And in the early days of T11, I got spoiled rotten by having not one, but two Power Word: Barriers at my disposal, thanks to Kal and Num.

My question here is… why does the success of my class make people feel so angry that they then feel HAPPY when my class gets nerfed?”

Obviously, it sucks to be on the receiving end of a nerf. And, obviously, the internets have never been short on crowing over another class’s abilities being nerfed. Hell, even the devs have gotten into the act sometimes – hence the enduring power of the phrase “to the ground, baby!”.

But I’ve not seen this sort of in-fighting from healers in the past. DPS, of course, and tanks to a certain extent, but I’ve not heard of such competitiveness for the top of the meters in the healing world before. And as Kurn says, she’s not seen it as much, either.

Why should it be happening now? Well, it might just be the result of the state of the world – uncertainty and fear are the zeitgeist in a lot of parts of the world right now, and that spreads into everything. It might be a Winter Thing. Or it might be a natural result of the aging of the game, which sees all things inexorably slide to a fight over meters.

But Windsoar’s post today – which I should stress is not one of the posts that Kurn is talking about, but a commentary on a part of the game that reflects upon the entire discussion – may provide another reason.

Windsoar has been attempting to heal Heroic Warlord Zon’ozz, and in doing so has come face to face with a situation she’s not experienced before – the feeling that the only thing she could have done better was be a different class

“Last night I went to take a look at paladins healing Yor’sahj. What could our paladin friend be bringing to the table that I wasn’t? And I found that it wasn’t something I was failing to do, it was something I downright couldn’t do. I don’t have bacon. No, that’s not right, I always have bacon… Beacon, that’s it. I don’t have Word of Glory. These are frankly, powerful healing tools that don’t stack the debuff that I can’t bring to the table. Every single one of my heals does bad things. I can’t keep Lifebloom on the tank during a purple phase. I don’t feel comfortable casting Swiftmend on anyone (which is why pets are awesome). Rejuv, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Healing Touch, Nourish: all add stacks. And don’t even go near your Tranquility button or you’ll be watching an explosion of your raid mates across your screen.”

It might be my imagination, but it feels like we’ve seen a lot of posts complaining that the balance of healing is off right now, and has been for a while. From Vixsin’s superbly-argued posts on Resto Shamans to Beruthiel’s takedown of variable-healer-number fights, it feels like we’ve been in a very unbalanced place for healers for a while now.

Maybe the crowing over what are seen as nerfs to OP classes are actually a result of too much dissatisfaction and frustration for healers, for too long?

What do you think?

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Matt “Matticus” Low on WoW Insider, blogging, healing and Enjin

Our first interview this week is with Matt Low, better known to the WoW community as Matticus. He’s been a longtime WoW blogger over at the group site World of Matticus, which is also where Rebecca, who founded the Melting Pot, got her start.

Subsequently, Matt joined the WoW Insider team, where he writes the “Raid RX” column, as well as working with the rest of the team on general raiding and healing subjects. He’s also the Community Manager for Enjin.com, which he’ll tell us more about in the interview!

Let’s go!

WoW Insider

Hugh Hi, Matt, and thanks very much for agreeing to be grilled here today! So, obviously your highest-profile gig is probably working for WoW Insider. What’s it like working with such a huge blog, and how does it differ from working on a personal project?

Matt A much, much higher reader base. That’s one of the bigger differences. Contributing to WoW Insider is considered a paid gig so there is that as well. The freedom to write is a little diminished.

On my own blog, I can write about practically anything I’d like because I’m my own boss and there’s no restrictions. On WoW Insider, I don’t have that luxury largely because my areas of expertise are limited (namely to healing or raiding). I wouldn’t be the best choice to write about commentary for mages or tanks.

Then there’s the accountability factor: If I screw up on my own blog, I can easily resolve that. If I screw up a fact or something on WoW Insider, I’m usually alerted early on prior to the post being published. If it’s missed, I’ll get a barrage of emails and tweets from people with pitchforks screaming how I misspelled Circle of Haeling. I try my best to minimize those though. I love my colleagues on WoW Insider and they’re great people to work with and bounce ideas off of.

Hugh So you guys think of yourselves very much as a single blog, rather than a blog collective? I ask because obviously there’s such a huge range of styles and expertises over there.

Matt Since we all live in different places and we’re able to telecommute, we do coordinate news or articles idea with each other to ensure there’s no double shifting of posts.

And yes, WoW Insider is a single blog with multiple contributors. Sometimes our expertise will cross with each other. It’s always a thrill getting into internal lore debates or discussing mechanics (or watching others go at it /popcorn style).

Hugh Yeah, that sounds very cool. Does that happen over Twitter, or email, or are you guys all on some kind of IM thing?

Matt We coordinate with each other using our own software.

Hugh Cool.

Hugh Do you ever have a situation where multiple people want to cover the same topic, and how do you resolve that?

Matt Yes actually. If the angles are different enough, sometimes both of them might go through and work collaboratively on the same post. other times, depending on the breadth of the topic, it could just be split up into 2 posts covering different sides.

Hugh Overall, it sounds like you enjoy writing for WI a lot – we’ve talked about the challenges, but what are the best bits?

Matt Sounds really cheesy, but it’s always a thrill working with and meeting the team once a year annually at BlizzCon.

You also get to interact with the readers and the community. Just a whole bunch of exposure and people (less the trolls of course ^^).

Hugh Ah, the trolls. Where would we be without them? Less stressed.

Last WI question – obviously, you’re owned by AOL, and there have been a few reports on the Internet about writing for AOL sites being basically a giant content-farm treadmill, where you get handed article titles and have to write them in tiny amounts of time. I take it that the WI experience is very different – why do you think that is?

Matt Probably because our editors are just that damned awesome. I can’t comment on other AOL sites (I’ve never contributed to the others). Not to mention since our main topic is about WoW, theres’ always something new to see, something fresh to analyze and some question to ponder.

Ideas come to us basically.

Hugh That makes sense. I find the same on the Pot – if you’re short of viable article ideas, something’s gone badly wrong :)

Hugh Do you ever see the Hand of AOL at work in WI, or is all that dealt with at editorial level?

Matt Not really, I’d like to think we’re pretty autonomous.

We’re still a business, we still need revenue streams and all that. So as long as our results are there, we can still do what we do.

Enjin

Hugh So, obviously your other gig is Community Manager for Enjin. Is that a full-time thing, part time, or more of a consultancy deal?

Matt My work at Enjin keeps me busy. Definitely full time.

Hugh Cool. So, there are quite a few guild hosting solutions out there, some a lot more entrenched than Enjin, plus of course there’s always the “just run WordPress/PHPBB” option that a lot of guilds take – so what was it about Enjin that attracted you to work with them? What’s the secret sauce?

Matt Because Enjin is clearly the best hosting solution for guilds and clans /cheesymarketingvoiceguy

Hugh Does it leverage your dynamic synergy toward a win-win solution?

Matt Hahah! Catering to the casuals!

Now I’m a gamer at heart. I’m not limited to just MMOs. I like shooters, I like RTS games and all that. Some of the other hosting solutions limit their services to guilds OR clans. Enjin was one of the few that offered support for guilds AND clans. Last I checked, almost 5000 games could be supported. That diversity greatly appealed to me.

Hugh So how did you end up hooking up with the Enjin guys in the first place? Was it blogging-related?

Matt Absolutely yes. They initially approached me due to my work on WoW Insider, my blog and so forth. After trying out their system, I made a few requests and offered them some feedback from a GM Perspective (Why this tool is good, this widget feels weird/clunky, I think you should try this approach, etc). They listened politely and introduced a few changes. I’d just continue to keep offering them feedback in general.

I’d introduce them to other contacts of mine I’ve developed within the community and across other games and… then I got signed!

Hugh Pretty cool. So I guess that’s basically a classic “where your blog can take you” story? Or do you think you’d have ended up doing something similar even without WoM and WI?

Matt Yeah, it’s the standard, academy award winning “Work hard at blog, watch what happens story”. But don’t get me wrong. It takes a RIDICULOUS amount of work and time investment. Remember I only started my blog 4 years ago. I got picked up by WoW Insider about a year after that and started at Enjin recently last year. So it takes a lot of time, perseverance and drive. You have to be driven and motivated. If you’re not, then don’t expect to see many results. I’ve sacrificed much to get where I am. At the end of the day, I’m satisfied with the choices but there are times where I think about what could have been.

Without the support from WoM and WI, I doubt I would’ve been able to get to this position. Influence does matter and it certainly helps. People are skeptical about you and your skills unless you have something tangible to back it up with. “Why should we hire you?” is a question that’s always going to come up in the mind of the company. Saying you contribute to one of the largest WoW blogs and are an active writer with multiple years of blogging under your belt is an excellent card to lay down.

World of Matticus

Hugh No kidding! So, yeah, let’s talk about WoM. For an independent blog, you grew it to be pretty darn massive. What did you do and how did you work to get it that large?

Matt Simple. I wrote. A lot. There were nights I stayed up to 2 or 3 in the morning hammering out posts, getting my Photoshop in and all that. Lately that’s gone down a bit but that’s just due to my increasing responsibilities. One of the basic “strats” I use is to just comment on other blogs. Have something interesting and appealing to say. Don’t underestimate what kind of traffic you can pull just for being the first person to write something helpful or beneficial. People DO read comments.

I see a lot of well written thoughts and posts from other bloggers. But there are two things: One, they typically stop writing after 60 days and just give up on blogging or something happens where they’re not able to do it anymore. Maybe they lose interest, I don’t know. Two, no one knows about their blog. Again, tons of great writers but they’re not the best at marketing their blog or raising exposure which is often difficult. It’s a simple concept. If no one knows about your blog, you’re not going to be read. So go out and comment on other blogs. Email other blogging colleagues and ask them to check out your stuff.

Hugh Was WoM your first blog? I’m guessing you learned a fair bit whilst running it – are there any resources you used that you’d recommend to other bloggers wanting to learn how to do something similar?

Matt Yup, WoM was my first blog. I learned much about publishing and site administration during high school. I actually managed my high school’s website for 3 years while I was there. Things like design, copywriting, content management and all that experience came in handy for the blog. One of the challenges I faced then was how to make the site both appealing for my peers and appropriate for the parents and teachers.

For resources, I’d highly recommend both problogger.net and copyblogger.com. Problogger is great for different blog related techniques. things like new widgets, new tech, how to get traffic and that sort of thing. Copyblogger was great because it helps you become a better writer. I don’t mean technically. I mean writing for the web and for people. Not writing for academics (which is what I was doing before before I slowly shifted my style).

Hugh I’d second both of those recommendations. Copyblogger’s particularly good – I’ve been following it since it opened.

Hugh So, what’s next for WoM? I saw a mention recently that you’re in the process of doing a relaunch of sorts…

Matt Oh, that would be the Matticast. Our podcast team will be coming back together soon and offering our collective thoughts on a weekly basis for WoW, healing, raiding and all the stuff in between.

Hugh Very neat. I’m not a big podcast person (no commute) but I’l make an effort to catch an episode or two! Any plans for WoM itself, or are you on “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

Matt Write more! I love writing but I just haven’t had the time. I’ve got the ideas and such in place, but argh I just need to make time (that goes for the rest of you bloggers). You need to MAKE time for blogging.

Hugh Seconded. It’s like any other kind of writing.

WoW itself

Hugh OK, so, just wrapping up, two final things.

This has been really interesting, by the way – thanks!

First thing – we’ve talked about sites talking about WoW, we’ve talked about blogging about WoW, we’ve talked about hosting guilds who play WoW. But we haven’t talked about WoW!

So – what’s most interesting/exciting/infuriating to you about World of Warcraft at the moment?

Matt Geeze, all these hard questions

Hugh Old-school interviewer :)

Matt We’re still working our way through hard mode 25 man Firelands content. Standing on my head healing continues to be my main interests. It’s exciting, challenging and it CAN be really infuriating. Aside from that, I’ve fallen back to blowing up stuff on my Shaman, Shadow Priest and Ret Pally. What’s infuriating for me is just being Ret and trying to react to the different abilities and when they come off of cooldown and so forth.

It’s not exactly like healing.

Hugh “standing on my head healing”? Are you saving time by combining your yoga and your raid times? :)

Matt Sometimes its nice to have a different perspective.

Hugh Yeah, I’ve been brewing an editorial on that, actually – it’s increasingly seeming to me that healing and the rest of WoW are diverging as game types. Writing class guides I notice this particularly – healer guides are MASSIVELY harder to write because healing is so much more individual and situational.

Matt Correct. there isnt a straight up rotation like playing a Mage or an Elemental Shaman for example. It’s more of a action-reaction type of deal.

Hugh Nods I see a lot more super-hardcore log analysis and so on out of healers than any other class – do you think that they’re actually harder to play, or just differently hard?

Not trying to trick you into annoying half the WoW-playing world here :)Just curious because, as a someone who doesn’t heal that often, frankly healing frequently looks scary-complicated.

Matt See, now there’s a question I should’ve asked to the Q&A about ease and accessibility for non healers _ I don’t think they’re actually harder to play or anything. I just think that there’s so much more pressure and accountability. When things go bad in an encounter, where does the raid look first? Healers. All that hardcore log analysis is done as a method to CYA so to speak.

Hugh There’s my pullquote for the article :)

Final thoughts

Hugh Other MMOs – are you tempted to go to the Dark Side? Or are you sticking with WoW for now?

Matt We’re expanding to SWTOR. Currently looking for someone to assist me with the GM side of things. So anyone out there with GMing experience looking for a strong infrastructure and support system, come to me. Love to have a chat. I’d only be a casual player in the game since I’m devoted to WoW and all that. I’d love to have a Conquest guild for SWTOR. Sith side though.

Hugh Cool – I’m not sure there’s going to be anyone left who isn’t at least dual-specced WoW and SWTOR come January :)

So, final thing – give us your elevator pitch! Should the guilds reading this interview consider moving over to Enjin for hosting, and if so, why?

Matt Historically, the guild website was managed by the person with the most technical expertise: Design, programming, etc. Enjin takes that equation away. Doesn’t matter what your experience level. It’s extremely easy to use and customizable as well. As a GM myself, I’ve cut down on the amount of time I had to spend managing the site because of that. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend more time playing then administrating a site.

Hugh Nice :)

It’s better than the elevator pitch I’ve got for the Pot :)

That’s been great! Thanks very much for agreeing to be grilled for the Pot!

If you’re looking for more Matt after that, you can find him at WoW Insider , World of Matticus and making guild hosting a better place at Enjin .

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Mole Whacker II – THE RECKONING!

“Meh. I don’t play a healer. It’s just whack-a-mole.”

If you’re a healer, you are probably restraining homicidal rage right now. It’s OK. I understand. The “Whack-A-Mole” comparison has been bouncing around the blogosphere for years now, and more than a few healers are starting to get fed up with it.

Amongst those, it must be said, is Zelmaru of Murloc Parliament. The Honourable Gentlemurloc has a great post today, describing exactly what, erm, game mods you’d need to make to Whack-A-Mole in order to truly have it reflect the healing experience

“There are a few special moles. If you miss a whack on one of them, game over. (The worst part about these moles is that they are whiny.)

Some moles appear to be defective and need extra attention, even though they are not the special moles. (These moles are also whiny!)

Sometimes, when you whack a mole, it doesn’t go away and you have to whack it again. Harder. With feeling. You can use a Large Mallet for those sorts of moles… but if you use it for all the moles, you will exhaust yourself before the end of the game.”

I laughed out loud at Zelmaru’s final line (again, I won’t spoiler it). I can’t help but feel that actually this version of Whack-A-Mole would be rather fun to play, though!

What do you think? Is healing basically whack-a-mole? Or is it rather more complicated than that?

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Would you remove yourself from loot priority?

We all like to get some shinies from our raiding, right?

Well, not all of us, as it turns out today. Minstrel at Holy Word: Delicious has a really interesting piece explaining why he’s removed himself from the loot priority list in his guild altogether

“In our raid group, we have a very, very simple loot system. It’s round-robin. We maintain a loot list and when you get a piece for your main spec, you drop to the bottom of the list. The list adjudicates who gets a piece when multiple people want it. Highest person on the list receives the loot. It’s meant to be fair, impartial and distribute loot relatively evenly across everyone.

And I want no part of it.

Thus we come to my bold step: I asked to be removed from the hallowed loot list. The consequence of this is that it’s never “my turn” for loot. Anyone else in the raid has a higher claim than me, by this decision of mine. I’ll still receive upgrades, but only when no one else needs the piece.”

Minstrel makes a number of very interesting points in this post. I’m interested by the argument (which I’ve heard in several places recently) that DPS’ output is more vital than healers in Heroic modes, and also that there’s a “glass ceiling” for hardcore healers making further upgrades less necessary. And I’ll be very interested to see how his decision to eschew loot affects his desire to raid long-term, and whether it does in fact make the game more, not less, fun for him.

Would you remove yourself from the loot lists?

Article Source: Holy Word: Delicious . I BELIEVE Minstrel is a guy, but may be wrong – please do correct me if so!

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Why Minstrels and Captains make perfect sense as LoTRO healers

Every so often on the blogosphere, a really great post comes at you out of left field. It’s not about current events. It’s not about a class you particularly play, or a game you’re super-deep into. But it’s just awesome.

Such is the case with A Casual Stroll To Mordor’s brilliant essay today, tackling a subject that I’m sure has been a problem for a good half of Lord of the Rings Online players. In LoTRO, there are no priests or druids casting healing spells and resurrections. Instead, all the healing’s done by a guy with a nifty line in songs – the Minstrel – and another guy who shouts a lot – the Captain.

Shouting and music as healing? Whut?

Well, as CSM’s writer Vraeden explains today, they actually make perfect sense even compared to how things work in real life

“Before wireless communications, or even before wired signals like the telegraph, the principal method for a commander to communicate with his subordinates and orchestrate a battle was through music, usually drums or horns, that could be heard above the roar of battle3. Often the commands they could give weren’t very complex (ie-forward, retreat, halt), but that was the most effective way to tell a large number of soldiers what to do. In addition, each unit often had their own “code” so that they could tell whether it was their regiment being ordered to advance or the one two hills over.

If the advance was being sounded, that would mean your side was doing well. If you heard a horn sounding the retreat, maybe it was time to panic. Drums were used to keep a cadence and set the pace (march, quickstep, double-quick, etc.).

In some cases, music was played to buoy the spirits of an army, and this is the key to tactical healing as it applies to LOTRO. In some cases, bands would play as soldiers would march by and in to battle. In a few cases, musicians played on the field, some being more successful than others. At the Battle of Dargai Heights (in what is now Pakistan), George Findlater, a piper with the Gordan Highlanders was awarded the Victoria Cross for playing his pipes as the Highlanders and Gurkhas advanced and carried the day4. If you’ve seen The Longest Day, you saw piper Bill Millin playing his pipes (in violation of standing orders from the English War Office) as the First Special Service Brigade landed on Sword Beach.”

This post is stacked full of interesting historical detail, as well as an in-depth look at how the combat system in LoTRO differs from other MMOs in order to tie in with Professor Tolkien’s work and how he perceived issues like death in Middle-Earth.

If you’re at all interested in the game, Lord of the Rings, or just want to find out how a crazy idea like healing lute players can actually make sense, I heartily recommend this article!

What do you think? Do Minstrels and Captains make sense now, or does the twangin’ triagist still look silly?

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Dark Night of the Warlock’s Soul

I’m really not entirely sure how to characterise Cynwise’s latest post. I’m not sure we’ve ever featured a post quite like it.

He’s having a dark night of the soul with regards to his warlock character, Cynwise, and the fact that, somewhere in the past while, he has stopped liking to play Warlocks. Warlocks, mind, not Cynwise herself. And all of this spirals into a fascinating discussion spreading across class roles, being useful versus enjoying yourself, the feel of a class, and much, much more .

I’m actually not going to do the usual thing and include a quote here, because I simply can’t find one that gives a good representation of this post as a whole. Instead, I’m just going to say – go read the whole thing. It’s touching on so much stuff – the “healer forced to DPS” issue we’ve been talking about in recent weeks, the discrepant experience of playing a tank versus playing a DPS in 5-mans, the flavour that some classes have and some don’t – and it’s all wrapped up in Cynwise’s personal dilemma. It’s really a remarkable piece of writing, and I think virtually all WoW players will find at least part of it resonates with them.

So – go read, if you have a moment. And then tell us –

What do you think? What should Cynwise do now? And what thoughts did the post inspire for you?

Article source: Cynwise’s Field Notes .

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Would our games be better without a health bar?

Surely knowing how many hit points you’ve got left is vital for any combat MMO?

Well, in a really interesting post today, Scrusi of Procrastination Amplification argues differently.

He’s been playing Fable III, where there isn’t any health readout – just a vague hint of how damaged you are from the effects on screen. And far from finding it made him risk-averse or made it impossible to play, he found something wierd – that it immersed him more

“This lead to a lot of combat situations in which I felt threatened and either focused much more on dodging or defending or drank a health potion. For all I know I might just have had a scratch or I could have been mortally wounded. Because I didn’t know, I had to act as if red borders on the screen meant that I was about to die and play accordingly.

We often talk about death penalties as a way to make players play cautiously, but Fable III didn’t need that in my case. I was immersed enough that the fights made me feel threatened. That’s good. If I had had a health bar, all that immersion would have been gone and replaced by pure calculation.”

It’s an interesting point. I had a similar experience playing Oblivion, where (don’t laugh) I didn’t realise there was an on-screen indication of how much health my opponents had left until about half-way through the game. Whilst that let me play better and make more tactical decisions, it did reduce the immersion and the sense of risk somewhat – I’m left wondering if the game would have been better with no bar there at all.

Of course, removing health bars would totally change how MMOs played. We couldn’t have the precise, millisecond-perfect fights that we do in WoW with no understanding of if our tank was about to drop dead or just had a bit of a sniffle. But guesswork and risk management would take their place – and I’m not sure I wouldn’t find that more interesting.

What do you think? Health bars – good or bad?

Article Source: Procrastination Amplification – great stuff.

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WoW Philosophy Day

After the excitement of Kittengate, The Nerfbat, and similar things, the WoW community appears to be in a brief lull before whatever Blizzcon brings. And so, today everyone’s waxing philosophical, thinking about everything from the tank-healer relationship (I tank, and I date my usual healer, so this one’s close to my heart) to self-image, to prioritising winning over fun:

  • Windsoar at Jaded Alt is asking a question that’s sure to get a lot of strong opinions – is reading up on tactics for a fight pushing winning ahead of having fun in the game?“What is more fun that facing a new foe with a sense of mystery? Is it so bad to spend a night discovering for yourself what exactly is going on in a fight instead of relying on the experience of others to guide you? “
  • Vidalya at Manalicious is showcasing an old, but excellent post, on the nature of the tank-healer relationship and how to improve it“You look into each other’s eyes. You think to yourself, “Now here’s someone who would make a Last Stand for me.” They see a certain something in your gaze, a spark. You might even say a Flash of Light. “
  • And Tzufit at Tree Heals Go Whoosh is considering the moment you first realise you’re not good at an MMO, and how that sudden self-conciousness changes the game“ I have to assume that the majority of us had a moment like this, when we realized that this game was bigger than we anticipated and that we only knew the tiniest bit of what we should. “

Are tactics guides winning over fun? Does self-conciousness harm your game? And do you have an awesome heal/tank combo?

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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?

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2 heal or not 2 heal, that is the question

Thankyouvermuch, I’ll be here all night, try the veal.

Aside from the Firelands Uber-nerf, the big news of the last day has been the discussion brewing over 2-healing raids – is it a valid strategy, a horrible punishment for healers, a way to take the pressure off the DPS?

(For those who don’t know – “2-healing” means healing a 10-man raid with only 2, rather than the usual 3, healers present.)

It all started when The Honourable Gentlemurloc from Murloc Parliament posted a piece entitled You’re Doing So Well That Here’s More Work

“I hate the idea of 2-healing. To me, it feels like a penalty for doing well. We’re finally able to handle the encounter without shitshitshitshitohshit moments, without running oom halfway through, without randomly losing people, and suddenly it’s time to take a member of our team away, so we can beat the enrage timer.”

Lono of Screaming Monkeys responded with a defence of the two-healing idea

“If we go with the idea that the current DPS offering of skill/gear/puppies is insufficient, then we need to figure out a solution that goes outside L2P or DPS harder. The obvious answer then becomes to add more DPS players. So from the point of view of global raid success, if removing a healer or tank is feasible for that fight and if it allows a kill… why not do it? “

So far, it sounds like an extension of the old adage that if you really want something done, you should ask the busiest person you can find to do it – because busy people are likely to be the ones who actually get things done, and hence are the ideal people to ask to do more stuff. (There’s also a Peter Principle at work here – the idea that organisations naturally promote people who are competent until they finally land in a position where they can’t cope any more.)

But then, Tobold stepped in with a really interesting resource-based analysis of the issue

“It is an inherent flaw of the system that any excess of healing or aggro management is a waste, but any excess of damage serves to speed up the fight. If you had a raid team which was perfectly able to take down a boss and the game would allow you to take one more person on the raid, you would always chose a damage dealer. There is such a thing as “enough” tanking and healing, but there is never enough damage output.”

I suspect this discussion’s just getting going – what do you think?

All quotes taken directly from their respective articles.

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