Flexible

7 Oct

I took a moment yesterday to catch up with an old friend from my World of Warcraft days, whom I consider to be a respected authority and someone that I have a lot of love and respect for.  At some point in the conversation, I mentioned that I felt a whole lot more comfortable with the idea of healing as a discipline priest, when she added that she was starting to learn how to be a shadow priest.  I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of the two of us both trying things that were so outside of our comfort zones and imagining how well each endeavor would ultimately pan out. 

This got me thinking about just how flexible healers should be.  In World of Warcraft, each healing class has the ability to perform other roles, as well.  Druids and paladins can tank or DPS.  All 4 classes can do DPS.  Priests could also choose to heal one of two ways.  I admit that I didn’t really understand the need to be flexible and how important it was until I started playing Rift.  Maybe this is because the idea of performing multiple roles is something that was ingrained into the game from the start and not something that was added in later.  I knew going into Rift that this would be expected of me and so I took to it much easier than I did before.  I think it also helped that I was so overwhelmingly curious about all of the potential souls that I didn’t want to settle for having just one set of three souls.  I wanted to try a little of everything and did not want to feel tied to just one role.

While I had become more comfortable with the idea of being a general healer and not being defined by one spec, I was less comfortable with the idea of being asked to tank or DPS, when needed.  During the last couple of raids, I have felt incredibly bored.  I feel as if either my group takes too many healers or the ones that we do have perform so well that there isn’t really anything to do.  Some healers are asked to go DPS because of this and this is something that I don’t feel comfortable enough to volunteer to do.  Even when we reduce our healing roster, I still don’t feel like I have enough to do.  I don’t feel like there is imminent danger coming from a lack of healing.  I’m really and truly bored.

Things kind of came to a head last night, during one of our farm nights.  I think we were running the bare minimum of healers that we needed to clear the zone and I still had very little to do.  Some people are fine with that, but I am not one of them.  I need constant stimulation or I’ll start to tab out and lose interest.  I saw that one of our rogues had been benched or was sitting out, so I asked if he could take my place.  I wasn’t mad or upset.  I just wanted something to do and I wasn’t finding that in my raid.  I knew that they would be fine without me and that they would have more than enough healing to get them through what they wanted to accomplish for the night. 

When I logged on this morning, I found that I had been demoted to a casual status in the guild.  I can’t say that I was surprised or terribly upset about it.  But, it did get me thinking again about healer flexibility in the games that I enjoy.

I’m sure I could have offered to go DPS and I would have been entertained enough where I wouldn’t have felt the need to leave and find something else to keep me occupied.  I didn’t have to sit out for a DPS, when I could have just re-specced and performed that role myself.  I had opened myself up to being a better healer by learning how to heal in various ways.  But now, I feel like I have to take that one step further and be a better cleric or priest, in general.  It’s not enough to just be a healer.  I have to be a tank and a DPS, too? 

The number of healers required in Firelands seemed to bounce back and forth.  This seems to be the case in Rift, too.  I was open to being a Purifier in Rift.  I am now open to the idea of being discipline in World of Warcraft.  Why don’t I feel like that’s enough?  Why do I feel like healers are being asked to be something they’re not, in order to get a raid spot?  What happened to the days when we were asked to heal and do nothing but heal?  Am I the only who feels this way?  Mind you, nobody has ever asked me to perform any of these roles.  But, if you only need so many healers to get past an encounter and you have more healers than are necessary, what else are they supposed to? 

I’m a healer.  I love to heal.  I love seeing 20 health bars falling dangerously low and knowing that I have to pick them back up again.  I get a rush from seeing a tank’s health bar bounce back and forth, from full to half-full to really low.  It gives me purpose and it gives me something to do.  I know that if I’m not there, those health bars may not fill up as fast.  It gives me a reason to log on, to sign up for a raid.  That’s how passionate I am about what I do.

When you have mages who can heal and do damage, plus clerics who can DPS while healing, and both seem to provide more utility and healing than a healing cleric can, what’s the point of even showing up?  To me, there isn’t one.  I feel that the original intent of make healing more inclusive by allowing more people to be able to heal is doing more excluding than anything else.  There are only so many spots to go around and far too many healers to fill them all up with.

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15 Responses to “Flexible”

  1. Jadissa October 7, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    It’s an interesting point you strike here, and it’s something I’ve grappled with for a while in WoW – basically, the more tanks and healers gear up and do their job better, the less needed they are. We’re one tanking more fights in Firelands than we did at launch, and sometimes we drop to two healers. Obviously we’re still doing primarily normal modes, and working heroic modes, and I know that if we started working heroic modes that we’d absolutely have to move back to the standard 2 tanks/3 healers raid composition.

    We always planned our raid groups around the beginning of a patch – knowing we were going to need those 2 tanks and 3 healers (or 2/3 tanks and 6/7 healers in 25), and then have done the gradual decrease over time, but it’s always felt unfair. As DPS get better, you generally wedge more and more of them into a raid, whereas tanks and healers always end up needing to go offspec or sitting. I personally cannot stand playing Retribution in WoW, and I generally dualspec Prot/Holy, but it’s really rare that a raid is short a healer and wouldn’t suffer from being short a tank if I swap.

    Why are raids designed around the implicit assumption that the more selfless roles (tank/healing) will naturally give up their spot or at least what they originally planned on doing?

    Also, sorry to hear about you getting demoted. Are you going to try and get that resolved with the guild officers?

    • Oestrus October 7, 2011 at 10:51 am #

      It does seem a little strange (or even unfair) that tanks and healers can be scaled down, but you rarely will hear someone say that they’re swapping out a DPS for more tanking or healing. It happens, but not nearly on the same scale as the previous example.

      In terms of the demotion, I’m not upset about it. Like I said, the raid is doing great. Fantastic, even. I was posting out most nights and asking to leave early because I had nothing to do. I can still sign up for raids, as a Casual and if they need a healer again, I can certainly push to get promoted again. I’m really and truly fine with it. If anything, it gives me more free time to work on some of my next big projects for Rift Junkies.

  2. Juvenate October 7, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    This is a pretty controversial subject. I haven’t played Rift nearly enough really talk for my own experiences, but with WoW I think there’s some give and take that’s needed with raid leaders and raiders. WoW has quite a few hybrid classes and they were all designed to be flexible.

    I know personally I’ve DPS’d for fights that require less healers. Our raid team usually runs with 7 and I usually go lazerchicken for bosses like Baleroc. The same can be said for tanks and dps as well. Majordomo Staghelm requires only 1 tank, so our Blood DK sometimes ops to step out for that fight. If we are short on healers, we sometimes have one of our lazerchickens go heals.

    If you can’t balance out roles because people don’t WANT to do something then progression can’t continue and everybody loses.

    • Oestrus October 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

      But, there again, it places the emphasis on the HEALERS to make your raid work. If WE do not have cooldowns, we do not get taken to the raid and the raid essentially will fail. If WE do not go DPS on a fight where not as many healers are necessary, then we’re hurting the raid and have to be sat. There seems to be more of an emphasis on healers having to be all things to all people than what tanks or DPS experience. I don’t feel that’s right.

      I think we’re asking people to be flexible beyond the definition of flexible. If that makes any sense.

      • Juvenate October 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

        I think it’s always been like that tho, even back in Wrath. Depending on encounter mechanics, it’s always been “do we need more dps or hps?” It’s a constant balancing. I also don’t think the healers are always the ones that suffer from having to be flexible. In my raid in particular, we’ve had rogues switch to their Holy Pallys for Alysrazor pre-nerf. It was a tough decision for our raid leaders but we were lacking in hps and we had no other options. DPS can get yanked around just as much as healers. The only role that I think that gets off is tanking and even then it can depend on whether you need 1 or 2.

        The cooldown argument has been very touchy with healers, especially Holy Priests and it has been acknowledged by Blizzard (thank God). I think that fail was more on Blizzard’s end for not making Holy competitive with raid encounters that required cds to survive. The cooldown argument probably won’t be an issue in 4.3 and Holy Priests probably won’t be asked to go Discipline because the buffed DH will be competitive with Barrier.

        Overall, it comes down to HpS vs DpS and what your raid needs more of. In my personal experiences, the DpS have been asked to be flexible just as much as our healers.

        • Oestrus October 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

          I disagree with you about DPS being asked to rotate as much as healers do.

          The cooldown issue is still very present in the current state of things. Druids are still adamant that they need a shield of some form or that they are suffering for not having a cooldown. The very idea that holy priests needed a raid wide cooldown in the first place says something about how much emphasis is placed on cooldowns that healers can provide. I wouldn’t say we have heard the last of the cooldown subject, by any means. If anything, it could become more intense in patch 4.3.

          • Faeldray October 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

            For us, there have been way more times that our players have been asked to heal instead of DPS than the other way around. Perhaps it’s because we’re the casual sort and everyone just seems to like DPSing better than other roles. There’s a reason that my alt tankadin/holyadin has been in more guild heroic runs lately than my hunter main. There’s just been no one else who wants to fill the spots.

  3. Windsoar October 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    I’ll be honest, I have never liked the pure healing model. I actually shied away from playing healers most of my gaming career because I hated being pigeon-holed into a role that allowed for nothing but healing.

    My first healing character wasn’t even in WoW, it was DDO. I played a cleric/paladin, and it remains one of the best healing experiences I’ve ever had. I could beat things on the head, but I also had the flexibility and oomph to bring myself and others from the brink of despair.

    I didn’t start healing in WoW until they added dual-specs and I could at least get out of a healing spec if I desired. I honestly would choose a hybrid model of healing over a straight model any day because I love the freedom that being *able* to heal allows me, but I get tired of being the healing machine (or worse, the extra baggage!)

    • Oestrus October 8, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

      I agree with you, in the sense that I like being able to have another spec that I can slip into if I want to do dailies or if someone else is a healer and they want to run something, but you can’t squeeze 2 healers into a 5 man. In those situations, it’s great.

      Otherwise, I do feel a bit envious, when it comes to pure DPS specs. I would love to see a pure tanking class or pure healing class. I know that DPS classes have to change their specs, depending on performance (such as fire mages for Alysrazor) and I’m OK with that. But, they can still do what they love to do (or should be enjoying doing), which is DPS. They don’t have to take on another role, simply because there isn’t a need for that particular one. The flip side to that is that a pure DPS class could be sat altogether, if they can’t do anything other than DPS and more heals or tanking are needed.

  4. spinks October 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    I remember being in a similar situation tanking in Wrath, where there were some fights that only needed one tank (and that was before you even started optimising). But the thing was, you never needed ALL your tanks/ healers to switch so hopefully there would be some who enjoyed dual speccing who’d want to volunteer. (With tanks, it was generally harder to stop them volunteering but melee was stronger back then.)

  5. Liore October 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

    “What happened to the days when we were asked to heal and do nothing but heal?”

    Wait, in WoW? When were these mythical days?!

    As others have said above, the nature of healing is that the better your guild gets, the less you are needed. That’s always been true, and it means that on a team of, say, six healers (assuming a 25 man) by the end of a raid zone’s lifecycle we would have two of them DPSing. Fortunately, we usually had a couple of folks who liked doing something different, so it was never really an issue. As to why those switchers came out to raids.. I assume it’s because they liked the company, enjoyed playing the game, and wanted gear upgrades.

    • Oestrus October 8, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

      Hi Liore,

      Writing this post has been an eye-opening experience for me. I was very surprised by the responses that I received, which made it sound like the opposite is true. More DPS are having to heal, because there aren’t enough healers to go around or there aren’t people who are willing to do the job. In my experience, it has always been the opposite. The healers were rarely asked to do anything other than heal. Until recently, that is. Now, healers have to drop for a DPS, because the DPS is light. Or, they have to go DPS and assist or even go tank.

      It seems like we get asked to do more things “for the good of the raid” than others do. That’s just been my experience, but clearly that isn’t everyone’s experience and that’s OK.

  6. Lia October 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    I’m approaching the problem of flexibility from the other end of the spectrum, as a DPS being pressured into healing because DPS classes are a dime a dozen at it seems like on our server, healers are the rarest of the rare. I’m currently just a substitute for my husband’s raid, since work and grad school take up more of my time than I can devote to raiding, and both of my max-level toons are pure DPS classes. Well, I can count on one hand the number of times they’ve needed a DPS sub since I gave up my full-time spot, yet every couple of weeks one of the healers needs a sub. So now, I’m finishing up leveling my priest and trying to learn the Holy spec, so that I can gear up a healing alt and be a useful substitute again.

    I suppose it was my mistake in the first place to level two pure damage classes, but damage is what I’m good at. I don’t know if I’m a good raid healer yet, but if I want to be a part of this raid right now I need to be good enough to step in when they’re short a healer. I think my point here is that flexibility goes both ways, and it’s not always healers being asked to switch to DPS for the night. At least healers and tanks don’t have to switch characters to fill another role. Mages, hunters, rogues, warlocks… they’re one-trick ponies as far as raid roles go. There’s no such thing as a pure tank or pure healing class, at least not in WoW.

    • Oestrus October 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

      Hi Lia,

      Woo! First off, great choice, in choosing a holy priest. Of course, you want to be somewhat proficient in discipline, but holy is quite powerful and handle a number of different responsibilities quite nicely.

      On the one hand, I agree that we seem to be moving towards more classes becoming hybrids (from a general gaming sense) and I think it’s great that if you want to be a healer or a tank you have more classes to choose from that can do that. With that said, I do feel that it also creates more competition for said roles, while also making it so that the fights don’t need as much of said role. If you’re going to make more classes able to heal, you can’t also reduce the number of healers that are required to get by at the same time. To me, that’s counter-productive. I’m not saying they should increase the number of healers, either. But, balance is important.

  7. Tomaj October 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    I think, regarding our raid this Thursday, I can understand where you’re coming from. But quite honestly, the farm bosses in GSB are so much easier to deal with healing-wise than the ones in RoS (at least in my opinion; Greenscale himself aside and maybe Hylas, all of the fights in GSB are typically stupid easy and mind-numbing to heal through at this point).

    I’ve always been one of the opinion that a priest should not be forced to go Discipline, or forced to go Holy, but that all classes should be able to perform adequately and about equally in their given roles (see, my recent post on homogenization). The big difference with WoW and Rift is that, for the most part, being able to dual-role in DPS was largely limited to tanks (what with there being some raid encounters requiring up to 3 tanks, and some only one, and having an extra tank – or not having one – would only be an inhibition to the raid).

    That said, Rift has its hybrids in every single class – all but mages can tank, clerics and mages can heal, rogues and mages can support, everyone can DPS. Anyway, to go back to our raid night. We have a Senticar in our guild, which makes a lot of those laughably easy encounters…. even more laughably easy, because of how strong Doctrine of Loyalty is at the moment. Could we drop down to two healers for Duke and Johlen and Warmaster, or three for Oracle? Most likely. Could it still be potentially problematic? Absolutely. That said, I’d rather have too much than not enough (and as it is on at least Duke, we have too much DPS, and we blow through the first phase so fast that it causes some issues with poison puddle placement for slowing the boss).

    That said, be glad you don’t frequently swap to DPS; using two Burning Powerstones on any non-progression fight sucks. ;P I don’t mind it, because I do enjoy it, but still, that’s a hit on the pocket for sure, not to mention being able to keep up-to-date with the DPS spec/rotation/etc. That said, I hate the xicar specs for clerics. Hate them. I wish they’d DIAF. I don’t mind Chloromancer, because it’s got a different way it works over the way xicar specs do (DPS til 4 convictions, spam DoL when raid takes damage, back to DPS again until DoL is needed). Xicar specs just seem so… unfocused.

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