Tobold's Blog
Monday, December 13, 2010
Gevlon has a point

Sometimes I ask myself why I keep Gevlon's anti-social drivel blog on my newsreader. And then he writes something to remind me why, usually a highly intelligent analysis of something, followed by a completely disgusting interpretation and rant about morons and slackers. So if you manage to just ignore the sociopathic nonsense, you'll find that Gevlon has a point in his analysis that Cataclysm dungeons can be trivialized by simply taking two healers.

Of course if you look at it closely, the same analysis is true for Wrath of the Lich King heroics: Bosses don't have an enrage timer, so if you come with 2 healers and a tank sufficiently competent enough to keep aggro from the healers, a group can't possibly lose a fight, and thus will by definition eventually win. Only that in WotLK of course the group would also most probably win with just one healer, and bringing one more dps makes the dungeon go faster.

In Cataclysm wipes in dungeons are more common. I even wiped several times with guild groups in the new dungeons, because we were all of the mindset that it would be better to just try stuff out instead of getting a ready-made video guide from YouTube. So we fell in all the traps, like killing the fourth puppy at Beauty in Blackrock Caverns. We laughed, it made for a great story in guild chat, and we moved on. In a pickup group a wipe is likely to lead to the break up of the group, and not necessarily to players learning something and doing better next time. Thus with dungeons being a lot harder, a strategy to never make a pickup group wipe is definitely a possibility to consider.

Of course the analysis of the social consequences by Gevlon is completely wrong. The two-healer method is not going to become the standard for pickup groups, because it requires the tank and the first healer to queue together, with the healer "disguised" as dps, in order to get a second healer assigned by the Dungeon Finder. For that to work we need tanks having special relationships with one healer, but not with anyone else. That will happen rarely enough to not make any difference on the queue time for DPS.

What is more likely is that certain classes realize that they can benefit from being hybrids, and heal a bit in tight situations in dungeons. For example Tranquility is a great spell to heal everybody when things are starting to go south, even if the person casting it is currently a Moonkin. It is *because* everybody tends to blame the healer that even pickup groups might feel that some added healing would allow them to overcome their problems, and they might ask hybrids to help out with healing a bit.

Furthermore the discussion on how to make heroics easier is one which will only pose itself for a few month. Of course now, with people just reaching 85, heroics are very hard. But they will most probably stay at exactly this level of challenge for the next two years, while players on the other hand will continue to improve their stats through gear. Cataclysm didn't fundamentally change the emblem system of Wrath of the Lich King. Doing heroics long enough will still end you up with a set of gear that outgears the heroics. And if I understood the new system correctly, there is even a built-in progression, where heroics rewards get better over time, while people reach new raid dungeons. In a year nobody will consider bringing a second healer to a heroic a good idea. Right now it is a neat trick.
"special relationship with a healer" is very common, it's called "being in the same guild". Guy says on guild chat:
"LF2 DPS and healer for doing random HC with 2 healers, guild exp/rep/achie works if 4 of us are guildies" or "LF tank, DPS and healer for doing random HC with 2 healers, guild exp/rep/achie works if 4 of us are guildies"

Please note that running with 2 healer is a bliss exactly for bad players as it trivialize most content. If they get Stonecore or Grim Batol, they just bail and try again later.
Despite having played WoW for a few months last year, I can't claim to be up to speed on the detail of the mechanics, particularly group mechanics.

Is it not possible for Healers to respec on the fly? Are you committed going in to a particular build or spell set? I don't recall any equivalent of the Guild Wars system for example, where you have to choose a specific subset of
abilities prior to entering an instance.

Or are the choices you make while levelling up now so immutable that you are either a Healer or DPS despite your "archetype" being Priest or whatever WoW calls it?

What I loved most about dungoneering back in the days when I did a lot of it in various MMOs was the flexibility. I loved classes being able to swap roles at need, and being required to. I loved seeing everyone in a group have to think or their feet after a bad pull or unexpected adds. I loved seeing the Necro step in as emergency healer when the Cleric went linkdead, or the Skald offtank an add just long enough for the tank to finish off his target and take over.

This sort of behavior didn't need to be pre-organised; people just knew the full range of abilities of their class and what it was capable of. Sometimes it went horribly wrong, but often it was glorious.

The more tightly-defined are the imposed roles in a game, the less scope there is for players to feel they are having the adventure they signed up for.
Bhagpuss: you can dual spec, so that you can switch between healer and DPS between fights; or if you are a paladin or druid, healer and tank.

The problem is that you have to accumulate a decent set of gear for each set, or you won't be effective in that role. If you're a paladin with lots of +stamina and avoidance stats on your gear, you will have very little mana or spell power available to heal quickly or for prolonged periods of time.

It's not hard to build up a decent set, but it takes a period of time where you focus on the type of stuff you need, and deciding to try out a new spec requires you to start that process more or less from scratch. So you can respec to anything you want, but that doesn't mean you'll be good at it right away.
There are actually two problems with "respec on the fly" right now. One, like Kazim said, is gear. That hits different classes and combinations differently, e.g. a moonkin druid's gear is closer to that of a healer druid than a feral druid's would be.

The other problem is that changing between specs takes about a minute, including getting back to full mana, as the spec change sets your mana to zero. So you can't respec in combat, and between combats you'd at least need to ask your group for a minute break to do so.
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or you could just not suck and play with one healer :|

i mean, is there really anything so hard that people would slow down their runs that much?
It is always hilarious when Gevlon attempts to comment on non-economic player behavior! His understanding of human dynamics is so poor, that it always ends up being ridiculous when he tries to stray from the economic realm.

How much benefit does a bad group get from swapping a dps for a 2nd healer? Obviously more heals are available, but as fights will take 1/3 or more longer, that just means that healers will be strained for a longer period of time. Healers can't help with one shot mechanics (Azil's force grip or rocks, for an offhand example), and as fights will take longer, people will be exposed to more and more of those one-shot mechanics. It isn't viable at all on bosses where void zones expand during the fight (which happens in Throne, HOO, and other places), and is going to make trash far more difficult, since healers rarely have anything in the way of CC.

Also, overhealing exists. Bad players are bad because they don't know what to use when, and are more prone to being mana inefficient than good players. A dual healer approach might increase available healing at the beginning of a fight, but you're just as likely to have both healers OOM during the end/hectic phases.

Even IF it increased chances of success (and it won't on many bosses, and only by a tiny amount on the rest), you will not see people changing to this tactic. It is awkward, "DPS"-ers want to DPS, not do healing offset, there aren't an equal ratio of healers to DPSers, and it is so unnatural and a sign of weakness that few would take that route even if it would help them.

EVEN if some people did - so what? They have to slog through a much longer heroic experience, and they still have to handle every mechanic - almost nothing just goes away by means of spamming heals - with fewer CCs, interrupts, and add picking up ability. It isn't a "bliss" for bad players even if they would try it out.
Gevlon said:
"Please note that running with 2 healer is a bliss exactly for bad players as it trivialize most content."
These bad players are content to not only stack an extra healer (a role they so often refuse to take because it's too hard), but also to make fights take a lot longer? That's bliss? That's too slow and requires too much planning.

The healer-stackers will be people who want to skip ahead in content, perhaps avoiding the ilevel limits (if that is possible by manual entry) to get into heroics sooner. The average idiot won't be stacking healers on anything close to a regular basis. At most you'll see an offspec fill in if they notice the main healer struggling.
I have to wonder if some of the criticism of Gevlon's suggestion is coming from dps who are just insecure about being even less needed. If anything, this strategy will make good dps much more valuable. If 2 dps can do the job of 3, then content can be trivialized with 2 healers.

Running with two healers should COMPLETELY prevent them from going OOM b/c they will be able to use their efficient heals more often and have less need for the inefficient heals. Also, they can take turns healing while the other uses 5 sec rule for mana regen if necessary. And even more important, there will be one less dps taking all sorts of damage from standing in the fire, etc.
Iapetes asks:

"is there really anything so hard that people would slow down their runs that much?"

I'm going to answer this question on the assumption that it was not posed rhetorically. I have tanked a few heroics so far on my warrior. Aside from two greens, all gear is 333 and above, with about 4 pieces of 346; it's about the best gear you could expect without doing heroics. That said, I am finding that in many groups the limiting factor in boss fights is healer mana. Mana is a challenge for a number of reasons, I feel. There are a number of reasons for this: healers are still adjusting to the newly restricted mana environment; compared to what players are used to, gear is low relative to content; players are still learning the mechanics of fights; any dps players that underperform cause fights to last longer, placing greater stress on healer endurance; and some fights may be incorrectly tuned. Bringing a second healer would do a lot to mitigate these problems. As Gevlon notes, most fights lack mechanics that make it difficult or impossible to complete with only 2 dps players, so bringing a second healer makes a lot of sense; it reduces time lost via wipes at the modest cost of increased fight duration. I'm spending nearly half of my time out of combat anyway, waiting on healer mana and marking pulls or explaining strats. I will probably try running with two healers tonight.
the hampster says:

"Also, they can take turns healing while the other uses 5 sec rule for mana regen if necessary."

FYI, 5 sec rule went away with Cataclysm. The new stats sheet in your character tab lists your in-combat regen.
thehampster said:

"there will be one less dps taking all sorts of damage from standing in the fire, etc."

Because healers (and tanks) *never* stand in the fire?
It was rather common to either take two healers or three DPS with good CC into BC heroics while we were in blues. This isn't "trivializing content" but rather using all the tools at your disposal, whether it's an extra healer or lots of sap/sheep/trap. Lich King was pretty broken with the AoE model that got players used to pulling everything and blasting it down with only one healer, ever.
"Because healers (and tanks) *never* stand in the fire?"

Yes but bad tanks and healers don't tend to last so long and they go back to being dps where they can get away with more.
One dead dps - not too bad, fight might take a bit longer.
One dead tank or healer - probably a wipe.

And no, I'm not saying all dps are bad or all tanks/healers are great. Or even that tanking/healing is harder than dps. Just that the really bad players in the dungeon finder are more likely to be dps. All through Wrath they could just tag along doing less dps than the tank, relying on the healer to save them from dying when standing in the fire for too long, not having to worry about anything apart from maybe getting kicked for bad dps if they were unlucky and still go on to get their epics.
I did this with a healer buddy of mine at the beginning of WOTLK and it worked great. Most of the heroics were NOT trivial when WOTLK was released.
People forget that this arrangement was very common back in vanilla WoW. I remember going on multiple original Baron Runs (45 minute version) as a balance druid with full intentions of providing both DPS and heals in a pinch.
If playing a DPS that can off-heal becomes a valuable part of the five man game, do we get back to the idea of a harsher hybrid tax to keep pure DPS classes from suffering? Or does it not matter because A) the random group finder can't be set to take an "off healer" over a pure DPS and B) the five man game will become trivial soon enough, as its predecessor did?
"special relationship with a healer" is very common, it's called "being in the same guild".

Ah, but in the vast majority of cases, a tank and a healer who belong to the same guild can simply assemble a proper all-guild group (which may or may not include a second healer), instead of relying on tradechat puggers to fill the remaining spots.

A tank and a healer who are unable to do that are a rare case indeed.
@Ephemeron: A tank and a healer from the same guild can grab 2 DD, and they queue up as tank + 3 DD, getting one more healer from LFD.
to Brian and other people arguing against 2-healer strategy:

It's all simple math really. When you replace 1 dps with a healer, the total available dps of your group decreases by 33%, but the total available healing increases by 100%. Your group will be able to do at least 33% more damage to the boss (66% dps but lasting twice as long) before healers OOM. Moreover, healers either will be able to use more efficient spells (making mana pools last even longer) OR provide twice heals per second using their fast spells (negating the need for CC on any trash packs, since twice HPS is equal to CC'ing half of each trash pack).

The only downside of this strategy (provided no enrage mechanics exist, and there is almost none on 5-man bosses and definitely none on trash packs) is that fights take 33% longer. BUT you don't have to mark kill order, carefully execute pulls with 2+ CC, etc. Instead you just charge into packs and AOE them down wotlk-style. And you don't waste time recovering from wipes because you don't have any.

To summarize, if 5-man content is tuned for a 1-1-3 group, simple math says it is at least 33% undertuned for a 1-2-2 group. If content is challenging for a 1-1-3 group (like cata heroics in ilvl 333 gear), it is trivial for a 1-2-2 group. And no, 33% is not a "tiny amount". It is approximately equal to the difference between wotlk heroic drops and T9, which is huge.
Ignoring tank damage, you're doing 50% more damage with 3 as opposed to 2. Sales in statistics.

That being said, I love 2 healing as a healer. It feels so controlled.
As noted above, dps from tanks is strong right now, especially considering that dps are spending GCD's on CC. So two healer groups will only be losing 1/4 of their overall party's DPS.

That's a great trade-off for two healers IMHO. I might actually just start que'ing up in LFD as dps and healing instead. It's a long wait, but I usually prefer mixing up questing with dungeon run anyway.
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