Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 31, 2009
How do you measure tank and healer skill?

About half a year ago I did an experiment with my priest, tried a shadow spec, researched what the current builds were, asked my readers for help on the spell rotation, and practiced that rotation on a dummy. In spite of wearing mostly "healing gear", I managed to get a spot as dps on a Naxxramas raid, and ended up doing 3K DPS during that raid. Which means that under the definition of a certain goblin, I'm not a "Moron & Slacker". In fact you could even say that my performance was in line with said goblin's theory that gear doesn't matter as much as skill. On the other hand, while "holy priest gear" isn't totally perfect as "shadow priest gear", it is nevertheless close, so the fact that I was wearing full epics certainly helped.

It is certainly true that some players are just plain bad at playing their dps class. I recently was in a group with my protection warrior as tank doing a 5-man dungeon, and at the end of the dungeon I looked at Recount (a damage meter addon) and was surprised at seeing that I had dealt more damage than the dps death knight in the group, who was at just over 1k dps. That death knight could certainly improve his overall performance by a significant margin by looking up a good talent build and spell rotation, and practicing it a bit on a dummy.

But dps in this discussion is the simple case. There are usually 3 dps in a 5-man group, all having the same role. And that role is easily quantified with any damage meter addon. Even taking into account variations of gear, it is easy to see that the guy who deals 3K DPS is a good damage dealer, and the guy who deals 1K is not, especially if the two just went through the same encounter. And for dps the spell rotation that maximizes damage is usually independant of the target. That is you can look up a spell rotation for your class and talent tree on the internet, practice it on a dummy until you master it, and you'll do well enough in most dungeons and raid encounters. I'm certainly not calling everyone who doesn't do that a moron, because it might simply be a case of not being interested enough in the kind of encounters that require higher dps. But if you *want* to improve your dps, it certainly isn't rocket science to arrive at some decent output.

For tanks and healers the matter isn't quite as simple. That starts with the problem that you can't use the training dummies to practice your craft. Yeah, you can first damage the dummy and then heal it to measure your heals per second with various healing spell rotations. But as the famous How To Top The Healing Meter jokes show, being the best healer and having the top heals per second on some meter are two very different things. I would be very, very careful before making a screen shot of the healing meter at the end of a 25-man raid, and then pointing fingers at those who aren't as high as the others. Coming low on a healing meter can be a function of having less fast spells, or it could simply be a result of the healing assignments. And unlike dps it depends a lot more on the nature of the encounter. If you reset the healing meter before each boss fight, you'll have encounters in which one class tops the healing meter in one case, and another class in another case, depending on whether just the tank, or just a few players, or the whole raid gets regularly damaged in the encounter. And how do you practice tanking on a dummy, or measure it with a damage meter?

The other big problem of measuring the skill of tanks and healers is that in a 5-man group there is normally only one of each. You can compare the performance of the 3 dps, but you don't have any comparison for the single tank and the single healer. The only thing you *do* know is whether you succeeded in beating the dungeon or not. If you did, both tank and healer were obviously competent enough. If you didn't, in spite of a tendency to always blame the healer, it is totally possible that either the healer was bad, or the tank was bad, or even that the dps messed up aggro management. For example a mage who does AoE damage in a situation where he shouldn't have will look perfectly good on a damage meter, but still be responsible for the wipe that followed.

The underlying reason that you can't practice tanking and healing on a dummy, or measure it very well, is that both activities are a lot more interactive than damage dealing. Which is why I play them in the first place. But the theory on tanking rotations and healing rotations doesn't reach further than simple tank'n'spank fights against a single boss, and there are barely any left of those. Being a good tank requires you to be aware of every mob in the fight, and putting the right priority on managing the aggro of each of them. Being a good healer requires you to decide who to heal, and with what spell, not just producing the maximum amount of healing per second.

And to close the circle and to come back to the eternal gear vs. skill debate, it is certainly true that a tank is more gear dependant than any other class. Tanking gear is more difficult to acquire than any other sort of gear, for example it is impossible to get tanking gear as reward from PvP, and it is underrepresented on every loot table. It is much, much easier to get a set of gear together that allows you to reach 3K dps than it is to get gear together in which you have 540 defense, 30k armor, and 30k health unbuffed. (If anyone knows of a guide how to get to that sort of warrior gear the fastest, I'd be very interested.) PuGs don't even invite tanks for lack of gear. Any guild knows that if their main tank walks out, he is far more difficult to replace than their best healer or their best dps. I have a faint suspicion that Blizzard is regulating the speed of guild raid advancement by limiting how much tanking gear they hand out.

So in the end we do have a system evaluate the skill of dps classes, even if that measures the mix of skill and gear. But for healers and tanks we don't have any good way to measure skill at all. And so we are stuck with "blame the healer" when a PuG wipes, and tanks being judged solely on their gear. That not only negatively affects the eternal lack of tanks and healers, it also makes it a lot harder for those tanks and healers to improve their game.
As you said, the MT of any guild is likely the most important member, and generally (at least in successful raiding guilds) one of the more dedicated players. You can't really be a casual and hold the MT role, not only because knowing the fights as the MT is tougher than a DPS class (who likely follow the same rotation regardless of who they hit), but because if you miss a raid and tanking gear drops, your whole guild falls behind.

Healers are much the same in that regard, but the main 'issue' with healers is not getting them geared up, but it's keeping them from burning out.

That's the whole meta-game part of raiding, which gets a little reduced when you go from 40 to 25, and further then the overall difficulty is dropped and you introduce more room for error.
The problem with both tanks and healers is simply that their performance is relative to that of other players rather then that of the game.

And while the game is static, other players are not.

From a healer perspective: Going into a heroic with an undergeared group is kinda like trying to do dps a level 80 mob at level 74. You can do it, but you need to pull all the stops all the time.

Going into a heroic with a overgeared group as a healer, is like doing Deadmines at level 80; you need to be there to make it happen, but you are dangerously close to being redundant as one or two spells/abilities does the job and the rest is afk-mode.

There is of course also the encounter itself to consider, some provides much damage to the raid/tank - others are more lenient. Even so, what the raid does tend to weight heavier when it comes to the need for a healer. If 10 people stand in the fire, you will be busy as a healer. If they move out, its not a problem. A tank that uses cool downs properly creates less of a healing emergency then one who saves them for a rainy day.

So, in order to find a tracker/meter that should measure healing, you need one that calculates the performance of the group relative to the encounter. I am sure its possible to set up such an algorithm, but I am pretty sure the result would be just as subjective as the gutfeeling you have after an instance when you consider your own performance. After all, it means quantifying not only all encounters, but also general skill in game - and that's a very rocky road...
Actually, druids can get good tanking gear from PvP, due to the fact that they don't need defense. I believe that at least at one point in WotLK, the "best in slot" tanking gear for druids was from PvP.

As for gearing up a warrior, there are plenty of guides around to getting to 540 defense. That will only get you to around 22k health, which is enough for heroics but probably not to keep PUGs from booting you, but maybe you'll get lucky.

Once you've hit 535 defense (you only need that for heroics) I'd recommend running the new 5 man on regular over and over again until you've gotten most of the tanking purples there, including the amazing tanking trinket. Once you've gotten a reasonable amount of epics from that and whatever heroics you can fit in, start running the new 5 man on heroic, as it drops very good 219 ilevel tanking gear.
I don't think you are going to do 540/30k/30k.

IIRC, Guthammer, my warrior, is over 32k health but AC is maybe 26k--and its good enough.

Assuming you have a bit of gold or time, the Titansteel gear is very good entry level tanking gear--the helm, particularly, has silly amounts of stamina on it.

I haven't looked at the loot tables from ToC (5 man). I know the Black Knights Heart is very nice stm trinket--though I am 0 for 10 or 12 on even seeing it drop.

I do find tanking a really engaging game play style.

Good tanking and healing also don't call attention to themselves. If your tank tanks an instance perfectly, nothing will ever go wrong and people have to notice the lack of excitement/death to tell the tank is doing well.

I don't think if you haven't tanked you are going to as easily notice great tanking.
dps-meters are quite bad even for measuring dps. The only thing you can really compare are same class for same encounter. Some fights are good for meelee, some for ranged, some for aoe, some for single-target etc. In many fights specific toons need to do a lot of stuff other than dps, like interrupts, kiting adds etc.

For dps and healers I think the best tools are log analyzers like wowwebstats.
Here you can get a quick overview of dps/hps etc, but also see exact details on an action- and millisecond level, spell rotations, who heals whom etc.

An important measure is also number of deaths. Dead dps = no dps.

For tanks, a couple of runs will very quickly show if the tank is good or not. No measuring is necessary.
I got the complete set of BoE smithing epics. And I got the Black Knights Heart, the item which is so good that on my server it is generally just being called "the tanking trinket". I found it relatively easy to get up to 540 defense, but I'm at under 28k health, 24k armor, and find that getting health and armor up is slow going. Note that this is will full iLevel 200 gear, the "Superior" achievement, and just two or three blue pieces left.

Lots of heroics to do, and then more often than not either the tanking piece you want doesn't drop, or the dps death knight and the healing paladin roll need for it. Gearing up a dps class is a lot easier.

I've been told repeatedly that with my gear I wouldn't be able to tank Trial of Champions on heroic. Only tried it once, and promptly failed, although as I said, I can't be sure that it was entirely my fault. The perverse thing is that tanking gear is more important than the gear on other roles, so tanks don't get invited to the places where they would be most likely to improve their gear.
It really is possible to determine if a healer is good, but it takes a good healer to identify one and it is much, much more difficult than measuring the quality of dps even if you factor in aggro management, aoe and things like that.
For example if you're trying to evaluate a discipline priest (people usually have problems with that):
- Ask your tanks if he holds a Weakened Soul debuff on all of them 100% of the time
- Look out for the very distinct Pennance effect. Does he use it regulary or is he just a shieldwhore?
- Don't let yourself be fooled if he appears to be much, much lower on the meters than any other healer, thats normal
- If everyone knows a large amount of AOE-Damage will happen in a few seconds, does he try to shield everyone beforehand?
- Have a look at his skill breakdown on every fight and overall. Overall there should be no spell that he hasn't used. Even Renew can be used on Movement Fights. On a single fight you can check if he uses the logical choices of spells, for example NO renew for tank healing while tank & spank.
- Last but noch least you should try to develop some situational awareness beyond your own character. I can usually see a wipe coming and when it happens I usually know exactly why. Lets hope it was some DDs fault and not the poor healer we have been dissecting ;)

You can evaluate any healer like this, but it takes a very intimate knowledge of the spec. Just reading the EJ-article about them isn't enough. These guys are pretty good, but sometimes they forget something because they think of it as self-evident or an article is not up to date.
Notice how the preceding comments immediately focus on gear!

To respond to the initial question of measuring "skill", I would suggest the following. A healer's first job is to heal the tank, and the DPS second. If the tank dies BEFORE the dps or the healer, something's wrong.

Likewise, a quick measure of a tank's skill is -- does he know the fight? If he stands in damage spots or fails to kite or hold aggro when required, he ain't no tank.

To me, the whole problem of wow-type games is their use of the holy trinity --- DPS, TANK, HEALS. This reduces combat to the stat-spec minutiae that takes fun away from the game. If they really want to change things, Blizzard should have an instance that does not follow the normal threat mechanics of the game -- ie. No one can hold aggro. Wouldn't it be cool if a boss fight revolved around trying to stun him, beat him to objectives and have him swipe randomly at the party. The way you prepared for and reacted in such a fight would be totally different.

In some ways, LOTRO seems more balanced this way, with less focus on tank-control or aggro formulae. Plus, fellowship manouevers add some spice.
Back in my days as an EQ cleric, I had one measure of how good a healer I was: did people ask me to come and heal for them. They did, and I often got told by tanks that they liked grouping with me because they could relax and get on with tanking, without worrying about whether they'd get healed.

I was a classic sit&heal cleric, and my ideal session was one in which not only did no-one die, but where I cast the fewest heals possible. I didn't melee or nuke unless the situation absolutely called for it, which was just about only on something with a timer where even the smallest added DPS might mean the difference between success or failure.

As MMOs developed, healers began to be given other abilities and consequently took or were assigned other responsibilities, including DPS. That didn't interest me. I wanted to heal, buff and lull, nothing else, so I stopped playing a healer.

The current obsession with DPS is one of the worst aspects of how MMOs have changed. Frankly, I don't care how much DPS I do and I don't care if the mob takes 5, 10, 15 or 20 seconds to die. So long as its dead, who cares?

I don't parse my DPS or use any mods that tell me what DPS I'm doing. I don't read guides on spell rotation. I don't even use a specific rotation of my own devising, except inasmuch as I use certain abilities by rote as a habit. I don't care what gear I wear; whatever I get from quests or can craft myself is fine.

The idea of having to to do any of these things in order to be allowed to play with others is anathaemic to me, which is why I now only solo and duo with my girlfriend.

Back when the only criteria for a successful group or raid was "Did we win?", healing was fun. Now it's not. (And tanking was never fun!).
@Shawno "A healer's first job is to heal the tank, and the DPS second. If the tank dies BEFORE the dps or the healer, something's wrong."

That's not necessarily true in a raid. Especially with healing assignments. If you're tasked to heal the raid, yet you take it on yourself to watch the tank instead, you could lose valuable dps and in the end the tank dies anyway because stuff isn't killed fast enough.

"Blizzard should have an instance that does not follow the normal threat mechanics of the game -- ie. No one can hold aggro."

And a no threat encounter is called PvP. While in theory sounds fun, but imagine an instance with nothing but Faction Champion and Priestess Delrissa boss fights.
@Shawno, that sounds a lot like the faction champions fight in ToC - which isn't that enjoyable a fight.

As for how to judge a healer or a tank: Meters are misleading but with a bit of common sense can give you a good indication of the quality of the tank or healer.

Does the healing taken meter match the damage taken meter (more or less all the time) for a fight ? Then the healer is doing his job. The bigger lag between damage and healing, the bigger risk your healer is taking (past a certain threshold) either intentionally or unintentionally.

Similarly, Damage taken/strikes against gives an impression of how good your tank is. Even if he is absolutely overgeared for an instance (with massive avoidance), you should still be able to see the number of unavoidable (ie. non fire standing) attacks on him compared to the dps.

TLDR: healers can be judged on mitigation & repair/appropriate response time. Tanks on how much group damage their presence prevented.
Measuring tank skill pretty much hinges on how good their spatial awareness is and how quickly they adapt in bad situations. If you want to test a tank out, take him on a heroic and force him to chain pull. Make the DPS all attack different monsters to make her constantly work on threat control. Pull extra groups of bad guys "by accident" to see how quickly the tank can react and control the situation. If the tank can't pay attention to this sort of thing, it isn't a good tank.

Healing is similar. Let a DPS pull aggro during a hectic fight, and see what the healer does to prioritize. Bring the healer to a fight that's debuff-heavy, and see whether she can keep people up while controlling the debuffs. "Accidentally" pull extra groups, and see what the healer does in a tense situation, and add as many groups as you feel should suitably tax the healer's attention and mana management skills.

Try doing other somewhat extreme things, like duoing a heroic. That puts it more in the realm of skill and less in the realm of gear.

As a druid with feral and resto specs, I can't tell you how to quantify what a good tank or healer is like, but I can tell you if a tank is good from healing them, and vice versa. In raiding groups, I suspect this gets harder to monitor the healers (although tanks is probably similar, due to them falling down quicker if they aren't as good), as there're multiple healers. Even then, I tend to have a good idea of who a good healer is if I'm also healing, as I end up incredibly stressed if they aren't much good.

Also, as far as I'm aware, I'm pretty good at both, if people I PuG with are worth listening to, as I relatively frequently am complimented on the role I'm playing, whereas I haven't seen it often said to other people. Obviously taken with a pinch of salt, but still, nice to be told :)
Measuring healers (and even worse, tanks) skill is next to impossible. Between the various roles a healer can have (single/multiple targets) and the fact that Discipline Priests typically do not get measured correctly because they provide damage avoidance rather than actual heals... no way.

This is, as a raid leader, quite frustrating. You can always go on Patchwerk and compare your DPS classes.

You don't know how to measure healers' skills. And in Gevlon's "M&S" category, a discipline priest can always tell you "hey, I am the best in the world but you will not see it on Recount"...

I link this to the continued scarcity of Tanks and Healers (at least on my server- is it true elsewhere?)... DPS have it easy, with somewhat objective measurements available. Healers and Tanks... have no way measuring themselves adequately.

Been a (shaman) healer myself since the good old days of Molten Core, and I love it, but there is probably a flaw in Blizzard's design philosophy for Tanks and Healers that make their roles just too frustrating for a lot of people.

Frankly, I don't care how much DPS I do and I don't care if the mob takes 5, 10, 15 or 20 seconds to die. So long as its dead, who cares?

That depends on what the "end condition" for the fight is. Lots of fights have an enrage timer nowadays, so after 10 minutes the fight is over. If the dps classes don't deal X million dps in that fixed time frame, you can't beat the boss. I've been in such fights as healer, and with everybody still alive when the timer went off me and the tank obviously couldn't do any better than we did, so then it purely comes down to exactly how much dps the dps classes do.
Whenever there is a wipe, usually the tank or healer gets blamed, but it's almost always the fault of the DPS. Funny how that works. :)

I've played all archetypes at raid levels, and definitely find tanking to be the hardest of them, with DPS being the easiest, and healing just trying not to get bored to death.

Gear for tanks is critical, because no matter how good you are, there is still the numbers under the hood deciding things. But the key for a tank is paying attention, knowing the enemies, and knowing how the fight will play out when planned properly. A bad tank will focus on a single target, while a good tank will not only be aware of the current group, but every other group and enemy around.

With healers, gear simply makes their life easier, it's not critical. They also need to pay attention, know how to use ALL their skills, not just rely on one or two. So many healers I see just use the same skills, and let a whole slew of other helpful skills go to waste. Most healers aren't that good, but they get the job done, and that's typically all people care about.
The measure of tanking or healing is not raw output--ever. Measuring raw output doesn't make sense. In the case of the tank, I guess that would be aggro accumulated? Doesn't make sense.

You measure healers and tanks by if people in the raid died and why. A good tank may slip up rarely, a bad tank will lead to a lot of deaths. Same thing with a healer. Although there is always avoidable idiocy that DPS classes and unaware/poorly-played healers and tanks can get into to cause wipes, in normal situations taking note of deaths and resource expenditure to keep the death count at 0 gives you a good idea of how good tanks/healers are.
I just recently rolled a druid, got it to 80, and started tanking with it. I've been a healer with a shaman for a few years now, and I've also done DPS on all sorts of toons.

Healing is a little mini-game inside WoW. You basically end up trying to keep everyone healed, debuffs removed, without running out of mana, standing in the fire, or letting someone die. I like healing, in fact, so my second spec on my druid is resto.

Tanking isn't really hard, just a different type of mini-game. While tanking, you have to keep aggro on mobs and pick up aggro on adds/pats/mistakenly pulled mobs. You have to move mobs out of fire and void zones so that you and melee DPS don't die while doing their job. Finally, you should know what hurts the most, and use special cooldown abilities to mitigate as much damage as possible to make the healer's job a little easier.

DPS is basically avoiding fire and maximizing DPS via an efficient and planned out rotation of spells/abilities.

As someone who both tanks and heals, I find it relatively easy to see if someone is a good tank or healer.

If the tank is aware of where mobs are at, whether in a group of pulled mobs, or a mistakenly-pulled mob, they are probably decent. After all, the tank's main job is to try to get everything hitting it rather than the other group members. I spot a good tank from a mile away when they see that another group member is about to accidentally pull a mob, and immediately go to pick up aggro and tank it. I do it when I see a group member get feared into a pack of mobs, or gets too near a pack of mobs we are skipping.

If the healer is able to keep the tank healed, while also able to throw heals on the group when there is raid damage, or DPS aggro, the healer is probably decent. As someone else said, healing isn't really that hard, it just takes a particular type of player to play whack a mole with health bars.

And of course, while I think DPS has the "easiest" job, 3 DPS'ers in a heroic 5 man, each doing 3k+ DPS will make the tank and healers job a lot easier. In fact, when I heal with groups like that I end up doing DPS myself, as a 25 second boss fight probably only requires a few heals and time to cast some damage spells.

I think its a lot easier to tell who is a good tank and healer after you've already performed both roles and seen what you have to do to be good at it. I don't necessarily think that tanking or healing are difficult, but both require a lot more general knowledge and awareness than DPS who basically just hit a few keys and watch some timers.

Then again, try raiding as an affliction warlock. Affliction DPS requires monitoring about 7 debuffs, while spamming shadow bolt and trying not to clip DOTs on the target...nevermind the void zones, fire bossess with special fight mechanics, etc, etc.

It's all relative.
Personally I have found that I enjoy healing the most, at least in WoW. It has the right balance of challenge. As a healer if a dps is being stupid you can just let them die and then laugh at them afterwards. And then when they ask why you didn't heal them when they pulled agro I just tell them that I wasn't going to get myself put second on the agro list and die next. I also enjoy how completely different the healing classes are in WoW. I have an 80 shaman, druid and paladin and my priest is 72.

I don't mind tanking as long as I don't have to deal with stupid dps pulling agro or just doing generally stupid things and then blaming it on me.

DPS is WoW is extremely boring in my opinion. You assist the tank, start up your rotation and get out of the fire. /snore

And as far as grouping and gear goes, if your tank is overgeared then your healer can be undergeared, if your healer is overgeared then your tank can be undergeared (to a point), if they are both overgeared then tell your healer to spec dps and heal/dps. Yes, I do realize that this doesn't work as well with all healing classes, healing as an enhancement shaman or ret paladin in instances is a blast with a good tank. It is also fun as a tree healer to try to heal the entire instance while moving the entire instance and not stopping to heal at all.
I'm a very passionate tank. It's my favourite role in raiding.

As a few others have said, the only real way to assess a tank is through his gameplay. Situational awareness, how quickly they get agro on a runner, appropriate use of AOE threat abilities, if they break CC they shouldn't have and so on.

Tobold - an interesting characteristic though which you've not covered is leadership. Generally, in a 5-man, the tank is assumed to lead at least in tactics by their assignment of raid markers on targets. In raids, often the tank ends up being a raid leader too, because of their unique position in the raid.

So some people might assess a tank on his threat/aoe/pulling speed but also on his leadership/tactics/marking.
I remember when CC was necessary in 5 mans, so no 3 dps-er but mixed roles with hunters chain trapping, mages watching their poly...
No dps rush.
And I have to agree that dps meter is not the best tool for comparing dps-ers also in raid, is just a useful benchmark to gear checks and rotation checks.
The only reliable way I have found to measure a tank or healer's skill is to put them in a group or raid with people who are identifiably bad players.

Healer's rely on everyone in the raid to perform their role well in order to do well. A DPS who stands in the fire will strain the healer and strain the healer's mana. A tank who let's mobs hit him from behind or one that fails to hold aggro or fails to react to threat dumps will similarly strain the healer.

On the tank side a DPS who doesn't understand when not to DPS and doesn't understand aggro management will make tanking a more difficult job than it needs be. A healer who is bad at healing will cause a tank to die, obviously.

I find that tanks or healers that can prevail in the above scenarios are at least skilled enough to be able to thrive in an MMO(RP)G environment. After all, MMOs aren't Chess matches.
Here are some tips that I use to gauge how well a tank or healer is doing.

For tanks, an underrated component is threat generation. While DPS needs to wait for initial aggro, after that it's up to the tank to maintain a threat lead. A poor tank will not use its abilities or spec correctly and DPS will get aggro. As others mentioned, knowing the fights ahead of time and situational awareness are other important tanking traits. Finally, considering how trivial the heroic grind is, a slow tank who doesn't pull or mark at a brisk pace is a major momentum drag.

There are many ways to evaluate a healer's ability. One is going OOM, the worse healers in my raid experience don't understand fight mechanics enough to manage their mana pool, even when excellently geared. Situational awareness is another factor -- do they stand in fire and die, do they not respond to fight mechanics (ex: Incinerate Flesh on Jaraxxus), etc. Another sign of a bad healer is if they have both low effective healing and very high overhealing, this usually means they are not only reacting to damage slower than other healers but wasting their own mana with unnecessary heals. If you're focusing your analysis to 5-mans, a good healer is able to occasionally do things a group "isn't" supposed to survive; a mistaken double pull, DPS that pulls aggro, a lagged-out tank. In raids, farmed encounters should only need 5 healers really (2 for 10-man), if you need more than that than someone is not performing well.
" it is easy to see that the guy who deals 3K DPS is a good damage dealer, and the guy who deals 1K is not, especially if the two just went through the same encounter" isn't.

This isn't me as a bad DPS claiming I'm really good, since I don't DPS, I'm a healer. I don't have a DPS spec. I'm thinking about getting one, but at this point I don't have one so I think I'm pretty unbiased.

There is a naxx fight, I forget the exact one, but it has curses that are really important to get off of people. When all the mages are asked to decurse not all bother to. The ones that do decurse have a DPS drop. The ones that ignore the decursing duties are the guys I don't want to see back on the next raid. Ditto for the folks on CC duty, their DPS will be down because they will be paying attention to when to re-sheep (or whatever), but I would rather have them back then people who CC once then ignore that duty.

Some DPS might also be assigned to focus on targets that take less damage, or move around or even just cause them to switch targets more frequently.

So there are a lot of things that will cause one DPSer to crank in lower numbers then some other DPS on some fights but still be the better DPSer.

That said there are many-many-many fights where the DPS meters tell the whole story. Not so many fights where the healing meters do.

The best I can think of for testing healers is see how long they can heal in a fight where you deliberately hit the enrage timer. Even that has real flaws. It will test the tank healers, but not so much raid healers because nobody will DPS enough to pull aggro from the tank. Sometimes the real difference in raid healing isn't how many people the healer can hold up, but their choice of who they hold up. Lost 3 DPS, but kept the two on shattering duty? Better job then the guy who loses only 2 DPS, when the 2 they lose were the only 2 with enough burst to shatter.

I guess the stuff I enjoy about healing is the same stuff that makes it hard to measure.
I remember the drama when our two main tanks (Molten Core times) left four years ago. The fact that they also had the guilds legendary sword didn't help much. Yes, they were hard to replace.

After reading your post, it becomes clear to me why I love to play DPS. I can compete with other players. There's this cute little list where I have to end up on top off. Being at the number one spot means I did fine. There's no way to see if I healed better then others. Comes with the "Achiever" title I get from the Bartle test.
Unless your avoidance is really bad, your gear needn't keep you from HToC5. (I've healed a tank through it who had 26k unbuffed health.) Is your dodge+parry at least 40%? I suspect you just need a patient, supportive group with a good healer :)
I have to strongly disagree with your statement that tanking gear is much more difficult to get than other types of gear. I agree that tanks have an initial hurdle to overcome that DPS and healers don't have, because the people standing in the back can easily be carried through instances and raids while in greens as long as the rest of the group is up to par. However, no amount of dps and healing is going to help you if your tank only has 20k health and is crittable.

In WOTLK Blizzard has made that hurdle pretty easy to overcome however; I have two tanks at level 80 at the moment and both were ready for tanking heroics about a day or two after hitting the level cap, thanks to the many crafted items and reputation rewards.

And once you are ready to hit instances and raids, gearing up as a tank is easier than any other role, due to little to no competition. If an upgrade drops for my healing priest, I potentially have to compete with the mage, the warlock and the moonkin druid for it, but nobody will want plate with defense on it but the tank so everything defaults to them anyway.
To be honest healing is incredibily easy. It's whack a mole with Grid and limited situational awarness.

I'm bad at DPS and tanking because I have to move my character in and our of ranges and such. With my healer I stand still, heal the bars that get low on grid, and move when something spawns underneath me.

To gauge one is hard on paper, most guilds know how by now. Compare like classes doing like roles. I really think people make to much out of how to rate a tank or a healer, and alot of this is because everyone knows meters aren't reliable. However they are a helpful tool.
You're comments about the lack of tanking gear really hit home with me. I played a feral druid through patch 3.1 and tanking gear for endgame was definitely an issue.

Whenever I leveled my druid I would spec somewhere in between dps and tank so that I could level and do instances without respecing. I loved playing two different ways and getting the chance to take a break from grinding levels and be able to tank was wonderful. Then I hit endgame and had to decide what to do. I chose to do dps to start out, so all my geared ended up leaning that way.

By the time duel specs came out I wanted to get back into tanking, but none of my gear was adequate enough. It was frustrating to look at my raid purples and realize that although they were great for dps, they wouldn't allow me to tank.

I really wish that tanking gear would be easier to come by. It doesn't need to be overpowered and everywhere, but the frustration of having to start over with all of your gear is probably holding back a lot of people who would like to try tanking.

One of the bosses in AQ20 does exactly that. He/It targets players randomly and shrugs off threat - the players affected have to do a merry dance of kiting him around to explosive eggs.

People generally fail at this spot because they assume that at level 80 the raid can burn the boss down. Not so.


As a casual tank, I can easily hold threat on everything except the later raids and Heric ToC - and that's only generally because the DPS that are with me are overgeared by comparison; although I am also terrible at kiting.

I have found that it is so much easier to get into Heroics as a Tank or a Healer but so much harder to get into a raid as one - why? Because you can only have so many Tanks and Healers, and they need to be focussed (those that aren't are easily discovered). As there are so many more DPS slots, its easier to slip into a raid and be carried through. And who cares if someone thinks you are rubbish. The pros of getting better loot outweigh the cons of being barred from a raid for that week...
How do you tell when someone is a bad tank?

"I don't mind tanking as long as I don't have to deal with stupid dps pulling agro or just doing generally stupid things and then blaming it on me."
Right there.

A good tank never blames DPS for pulling aggro. They either never lose it in the first place (unless the fight has an aggro reset), or they immediately grab the loose mob(s) back in a split second and treats it as part of the job. If it's a tank/spank fight, no DPS should ever be even close on threat to the tank, unless the tank is severely undergeared or its a gimmick fight like Hodir/Vezax. In WotLK, the built-in mechanics should allow for all 4 tanking classes to have absolutely no trouble with threat generation, so if a tank is constantly losing threat on mobs, they need to work on their rotation/spec.

As for judging how good a healer is, meters do give you a decent idea. Also, you have to look at how fast damage on the tank or on the raid is getting healed backed up. A good healing team should be healing up most damage within 1-3 seconds.
I would say measuring is easy. Did the group live? Did the tank die? Did the DPS die? Did the healer die? No? Well good job all. This topic has been used and abused to death. Nothing new here honestly. Kind of surprised by that.
At first I thought we manage to clearly prove that tanking is not gear dependent. We could gear 2 tanks to be crit-immune in blue gear what is much worse than crafted titansteel gear. As long as the tank is not one-shottable by the boss, he is geared. If he is not healed up between two hits, that's an incompetent healer and not an ungeared tank.

The old saying is still true:
- healer died: tank failed
- tank died: healer failed
- DPS died: he failed

That's being said, while it's obvious to decide who is "good enough" or not, it's pretty hard to decide who is "better" healer, while it's straightforward who is better DPS.
Is it just me or is it sad that you have to measure skill like this in a game? Talk about optimizing the fun out of the game...
Tobold, 540 def and 28k health is MORE than enough. In fact 20k health is fine for tanking heroics. I think that's about what I had when I started.

I am now inspired to write about a heroic run I healed just pre-patch where the tank had 18k health and half the group left at the start because they didn't believe he could do it.
Well, toc heroic isn't quite the same as other heroics. I tank regular heroics all the time. But even be.imba shows my character in the green zone for regular heroics, but in the red zone for toc heroic.

You're incorrect.

If the tank is not healed in time and gets 2shotted you simply cannot then label the healer "incompetant". You don't seem to look at the bigger picture and always take things in either Black or White with no shades of grey. You're either "Skilled" or you're a "Moron or Slacker". This is wrong.

If this was a 5man heroic and the damage is too widely spread and the healer heals the tanks original damage, then heals the 3 dps (healing the tank between the 3 dps too) and the damage on himself then goes to heal the tank after another hit and then theres another flux of damage, this does not equate to the healer being incompetant.

I've seen this happen in ToC heroic when the Rogue boss is throwing out poison all over while the warrior begins to Whirlwind, catching people before they have time to move.

You always appear, by what you write, to be one of these people who cannot stand wipes in raids and begin calling everyone else morons as soon as there is a wipe.

Patience, empathy, understanding. These are important traits when taking part in anything that involves other human beings.
I healed a tank in blues through TotC heroic in a PuG the other day.

I was thinking 'no way', until the point I realised she was taking it seriously, to the point of flasking for it.

One wipe, and a couple of deaths, but we got through it. Which was nice. More interesting than most runs in that place, too. (My tanking gear has 10k more health than hers did at that point - and is itemised in a balanced fashion, not stacking stam). The clear signs that she was going to take it seriously were key, though.

Personally, my measure of success when tanking heroics is 'how much time is left on my seal when the final boss goes down?'. It's got to the point where a couple of the guild healers are building specific gear sets for when I'm tanking heroics (lots of mana regen, nitro boosts on the boots, no need to worry about spellpower), and are actively angling to use them.

People look at me funny when I complain that Violet Hold heroic is far too slow - they're used to calling it a 'quick' instance. I run everything as though it's on a strict timer, and find it much more interesting as a result.

Good way to practice pulling with random subsets of your abilities on cooldown, too.
As long as the tank is not one-shottable by the boss, he is geared. If he is not healed up between two hits, that's an incompetent healer and not an ungeared tank.

As frustrating as this is, it's actually true. I've only played a healer, and I have to say a lot of blame can be filtered down to inept healing. Sometimes that ineptitude is my own, and I am so guilty of it when it occurs. But I've noticed healers seem to be "above blame" or something, and I'm assuming it's because people think healing is more difficult or just harder to measure, so they keep their noses out of it or something. Even if I ask the MT to explain how he died, it's almost always "Didn't get heals" and I read through the healing meters to see who was healing him the most, and whether or not that healer has a problem that I could fix by adjusting his assignment by telling him to follow this tank around exclusively.

Healing isn't as "fickle" as a lot of players seem to think it is. It's simple, and measuring success isn't that hard. As much as I hate "The boss died; that's what mattered" summarizations of encounters where half the raid died to flame walls or stared at Yogg and went insane, I still think explaining that "The tank died; that's what matters" is how you deal with inept healers. There's no way that gear is an issue; a raid's failure it's based on how bad players are, and there are some plainly awful healers out there. The only people that seem to notice them are their tanks or other healers that can pinpoint what they're doing wrong. I still find paladins that use Beacon of Light on themselves during every encounter, still watching a tank die and figuring they weren't responsible. They were. In an indirect way, they were.
There are plenty of things the tank or healer can do wrong to get DPS dead, and there are plenty of things that the DPS can do wrong to get the tank and healer dead.

In fact, I'd say that the only thing that's much easier in Wrath is for the tank to keep the healer alive. Healing aggro is way, way down on BC, and pretty much *any* aoe ability will hold aggro from the healers - and they all have AoE on tap now.

Mind you, if the healer won't come and stand in the dratted consecrate already, I have to actually work to keep them alive on some encounters.

Still, old saying is dead - Blizzard made the fights more about the boss mechanics, and less about the tank'n'spank threat management. Good change, IMO. Fighting the same encounter a hundred times with different graphics would be dull.
Tobold: be:imba is guessing when they say that. They don't really know what level gear you need to do TotC heroic either. The only way to really know is to try it, I suspect.

(There is a lot of damage thrown around in that instance, but I don't know how much is specifically on the tank.)
In terms of getting 30k health unbuffed, you'll probably need to spend a lot of gold and a bit of time in Naxx-25 or Ulduar. Along the way, you'll probably accumulate enough badges to get some extra ilvl 226 stuff.

My previous guild leader (burned out, switched to horde side, and is now doing it again) went crazy on stamina at the start of Wrath, and managed to hit 30k stamina after a few Naxx-25 runs, as a Jewelcrafter with mostly-health enchants. I'd actually say that 26k health is more than enough for all the Wrath 5-man dungeons, including TotC, assuming that you've got a healer with equivalent gear. (Which would be around 1600-1800 spellpower, and acceptable mana regen - probably on the order of 200mp5 or so.)

A couple good gearing references pre-Naxx are:

Note that these will probably get you to around 22k health or so (+2k from commanding shout), but once you get into Naxx, I'd hope for ~2 upgrades for the first few weeks, and you'll get to 26-28k health fairly shortly (~3 weeks?). The new trinket from normal-mode TotC is very nice as well, as is the gear from Heroic TotC.

Don't be afraid to run H ToC. My tank did that opening night with 27k unbuffed. Despite being a little undergeared I did a great job tanking. A couple wipes but it was the first night of ToC and no one knew what to do. After a few days with ToC and H ToC gear, and new ilvl 226 badge gear I'm at 32k health.

This brings up the topic of a good tank. I consider myself to be a good tank. I know the fights ahead of time. I use everything in my power to stay alive. Including Lay on hands (I love being a pally tank). I'm quick at taugnting (millisecond responce time thanks to all the CS:S I've played). I'm quick to move out of black stuff and fire. All of this I would look for in another tank when using my duel spec for healing.

Healing is harder to assign a value too. I tend to think a good healer is someone who knows the fights and when you watch their mana it moves much slower then everyone else, while still keeping everyone topped off. Smart-cancels, etc...

DPS can't really look at the meters only, but that is the best way now a days because there is very little cc.
The only time a healer is responsible for the lives of the DPS is during unavoidable AE damage.

Other than that Gevlon is indeed right. Tank dies, blame healer, healer dies blame tank.
Up until the 3.2 patch I had not tanked seriously at all. I played a Paladin for all of BC, and the whole time @ 70 I played holy (although I levelled as prot, because ret was terrible).

Leading up to 3.2, I knew the ToC 5 man normal/heroic had some amazing gear in it, and I decided I could level a Death knight before the patch hit, and I could use that dungeon to gear it up, and prep it for higher level content.

So I levelled as fast as I could to hit 80, my wife who has been levelling a DK since WOTLK was only lvl 74, I quickly passed her, and hit 80 with about 2 days to go before the patch came out. So I unloaded all the gold I had (over 8000 gold, it was probably only about 3000 gold I spent on gear though, because I bought it epic flying as well) on every crafted blue and epic I could get, levelled jewelcrafting and got the JC tanking trinket (which is awesome), and basically, as soon as hitting 80, I was sitting on about 26k hp unbuffed, 535 defense, and something like 23k armor. I started tanking heroics, got a couple of badge items before Tuesday maintenance, and then the patch came out.

As soon as the patch hit everyone was crazy to run heroics - By the end of the first week, I had T8.5 chest, t8.5 helm, gloves, the tanking trinket from ToC, all of the ilvl 200 toc gear, a few of the ilvl 219 pieces from ToC. I got in on a Naxx25 run and main tanked it (After being 80 for less than a week, lol), so by the end of that first week at 80, I had 2 pieces of T7.5, and 2 pieces of T8.5.

The down side is that I've sort of hit the tanking wall. There are no further upgrades to be gained from badges of conquest. The only upgrades that will come now are t9 pieces, and I'm guildless so it's hard to get taken on PUG ToC 10 or 25 simply because people are not that trusting of a random guy in badge gear (gear != skill and all that).

I am enjoying tanking so much I've respec'd my paladin. Now the paladin was already a jewelcrafter and I'd previously made the JC tanking trinket to level. I also had a significant number of lvl 213 tanking pieces from naxx runs where gear was going to be sharded, so my tanking gear was up to scratch on the paladin, I just needed to spec prot.

Tanking has completely changed the game for me. It's the only thing worth doing in the game. It's fun, dynamic, and you can actually see how your performance is causing success or failure in a run. I highly recommend it. I'm going to level a warrior next.

I'm with Tobold on one thing though, it takes a lot more commitment to put together tanking gear than anything else - and then when you are "undergeared" you have to basically rely on other players desperation for a tank, for them to take you while you're still in blues etc.
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