Sunday, January 4, 2009

On healers and tanks

I've often thought of publishing a gaming blog, generally having much to say, and appreciating the structure that writing imposes on one's thoughts. Seeing as this is the first post (and therefore statistically speaking, the only post) of my fledgling blog, it will be somewhat general and unfocused. In the hopes that I continue to publish, that will mean that I can lay out some of the general groundwork upon which to build and focus. So here's a quick overview of what I've been up to in WoW.

For WotLK, I decided to reverse the roles of my two main characters. My Protection warrior, long time guild main tank, is now my alt. My resto druid became my main raiding character, and was therefore the first to level to 80. This decision was based primarily on guild needs. A large number of people had decided to switch to a tanking character, due to the new Death Knight class and the general changes made to the tanking role to make it a little more enjoyable. Conversely a number of healers decided to switch out of a healing role, which seems to be pretty common. Healers tend to burn out faster and want to try something else. So we were left with an over-abundance of tanks and a shortage of healers. I enjoy playing both characters and decided I wouldn't mind at all being a primary healer for a while. The promised upcoming dual spec feature meant I would also be able to try a completely different role, probably as balance, without a large investment in gear.

So far I've enjoyed the druid and have healed every raid encounter in the game in 10 and 25 mans. The druid is a very strong healer right now, with an impressive arsenal of heals added to their kit. There are very few fights where I do not end up with the largest amount of healing done, usually by a fair margin. Some fights where there is very little damage are hard to stay on top, since other classes have faster blanket heals (CoH primarily) but since these fights are trivially easy to heal, I'm not really too concerned with who has the most through-put. On harder fights, primarily Malygos, Sapphiron, and Kel'Thuzad, I pull way ahead due to sheer length of the fight and the amount of incoming damage. I have incredible regen capabalities and can churn out a lot of healing without worrying about mana. I give my innervate out to the mana-hogging priests on these fights, and rarely need even a pot for myself.

Healing is a challenging role. I tend to think the most challenging. Tanking I really believe is pretty easy. The hardest part of tanking is done before you ever log in, researching various statistics on gear and stats to determine optimal avoidance and EH and threat for each fight. WotLK has even simplified these elements, making it a pretty simple matter of picking your best gear, then managing your cooldowns. In this respect its pretty similar to the role of DPSer, with just a little added vigilance needed in reacting to damage spikes. The hardest part of tanking is actually nothing to do with tanking per se. The tank ultimately decides every pull, and controls the flow of the raid. It usually falls on the tank to be familiar with every pull, every mob, and every boss. Not only from a tanking perspective but a holistic one. It's possible to raid lead as a healer or DPSer, but one of two things will happen. You will slow the entire raid down a great deal communicating strategy to your tanks or you will find your tanks naturally picking up the mantle of leadership in all the moment-to-moment decisions, leaving the raid leader with only overall strategy decisions or leadership decisions with respect to their role of either healing or DPS, which is really how it should ideally be, with decision-making and leadership the shared responsibilty of about 3 people.

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