My apologies to the parrotheads for hijacking Jimmy’s song for my blog title.
I’ve been writing this blog thingie for quite a while, and I feel safe in believing that my long time readers, those who have stuck with me, have a pretty damn good sense of humor.
Either that, or they’re masochists and are needing their pain fix. Either way, works for me.
If you enjoy humorous posts from someone that does, occasionally, provide some helpful posts too, then you probably read Jong over at Forbearance.
Yes, I’ve mentioned him before. Hey, as long as he’s willing to handle all of Meg’s drama, I’ll keep plugging him. Patience of a saint, is all I’m sayin’.
Saint Jong of the Endlessly Enduring. Has a nice ring to it.
Most recently, Jong highlighted a guest post over at World of Matticus.
This guest post at Matticus has acted kinda like a rocket amongst my friends.
When I asked one person if they’d seen the post, they said yes, and when I asked them what they thought, the answer was kinda garbled. Like, the ability to form coherent words out of individual letters was temporarily lost.
All I got out of ’em was “Wdlj tho0 Fuoba wasl;ib tha[oitn periknaf thinkoauhfg?”
Now, that was a very illuminating look into the thoughts of my friend, but that’s not the kind of coherent I was looking for.
I don’t find it nearly so difficult to frame my own thoughts on that post.
And oh my yes, I do have a few thoughts on it.
First, let me say that I feel that the situation as presented was well described. As things stand now, yes, 5 person instance groups generally consist of a tank, a healer, and three DPS players of various classes.
Also, again generally, currently all the variables that affect a 5 person instance group at level 80 are resulting in groups where, so long as the tank and the healer are well geared and well skilled, the exact composition, gear and skill levels of the DPS players are not critical factors in the success of a run.
However, after that point, we kinda diverge in drastically different directions.
For example, I don’t really think that the situation calls for accepting the way things are now as being the “normal state of affairs”, and then sucking off the tank and the healer for being awesome enough folks to bear the responsiblity of carrying the group on their slender shoulders.
No, I take a completely different approach.
The case as described is that DPS are, how did he phrase it? Oh yes, “just meat in the room”.
Well, instead of accepting that as the case and moving forward, how about wondering WHY?
For starters… we’ve had a gear level reset without a corresponding reset of content. We have the majority of existing 5 person content remaining the same, and in some cases being nerfed, while the gear available from running that content has leaped ahead.
Yes, the purpose was to get more people past the Naxx/ToC/Ulduar gearing point so that folks can enter ICC as a functioning guild, but a consequence has been to dramatically lower the difficulty level of 5 person content.
Add in to this the fact that the 5 person heroic content had, even before Ulduar, been tuned so that Crowd Control was optional and mostly disregarded, and you have a clear prescription for removing the utility of DPS classes except for basic buffs and pure damage.
Add one other factor. Most tanks now do, in tanking spec and gear from Emblems of Triumph vendors, more damage than fresh level 80’s in all item level 200 gear.
That’s right, your average level 80 in Heroic drops and crafted gear will usually do less damage than a tank in pure vendor gear from those same Heroics, because Emblems of Triumph are that powerful.
That certanly contributes to the feeling that DPS is an afterthought, doesn’t it? Tell me, have YOU ever heard someone in a pug say, “You suck, the tank is doing more DPS than you”?
If you’re the asshat doing the saying, I don’t want to hear it.
Do you remember Burning Crusade?
It was very common to have encounters with multiple mobs difficult enough that the majority of groups used crowd control to lock down at least one mob, maybe two, while the rest were burned down.
In Burning Crusade, it was not expected that a tank be able to take and hold everything successfully, and if he did, surviving was questionable. It was expected that a tank be able to take and hold most, but that some mobs would be distant enough ranged types, or dangerous enough fearing/stunning, powerhouse types that CC was desired, and skill in using it was sought after.
DPS was desired not just for their damage output, but also for the other things they could bring. Group utility.
Things change. It’s a fool that puts his hands up and tries to stop the tide as it comes.
But we can also take the time to point out that, just because things are a certain way, it doesn’t mean we are supposed to accept that it’s HOW THINGS SHOULD BE.
If DPS is undervalued, then to me it’s clear that things need to be retuned, if not now then in the next true content level, so that they are once again universally acknowledged as being an essential, respected part of the success of a run.
Earlier, when talking about how ‘generally’ the case for brute force was true, there were and are exceptions.
Halls of Reflection is an outstanding one.
I don’t care how good the tank or healer think they are, if the DPS players do not put out the raw damage in a fast enough manner, in a focused enough fashion, then Arthas will not be defeated. Period. (We’re pretending they soon hotfix the current following exploit, okay?)
I frequently see Crowd Control being used in Halls of Reflection, without the direction of the tank, to nail down riflemen and mages. And things work smoother because of it.
Things can be intentionally tuned so that, no matter what, the tank can’t ‘get ’em all’.
Think they can’t? Blizzard can always decide that tanks are getting out of control, CC is completely underutilized, players of DPS classes are feeling maligned and abused, and Blizzard can then go out and CHANGE IT.
Blizzard hasn’t really swung the nerf bat in years. Years.
The way people are acting, the air of entitlement I see, the elitist asshats in pugs, I really want it swung hard in some ways. Especially on those that play DPS classes that have been taught that spamming buttons for DPS on the recount meters is the only sign of skill at a class.
Used to be, a Hunter brought some ice trapping skills to the party, and a good trapper was damn well respected. Did he do DPS? Who cares, was he able to chain trap? THAT was a mark of skill.
If there are people that are being led to believe that an entire group of players can, amazingly enough, be referred to as “just meat in the room” with a straight face, then maybe things do need to change.
I’ve got a few suggestions. Maybe they are utterly unrealistic for WoW, and their implementation would result in something like what happened in Star Wars Galaxies. I don’t know.
But let’s talk about changing the dynamicfor a few minutes, something that Tish Tosh Tesh is outstanding at talking about.
We’ve got tanks, healers, and DPS in our 5 person runs.
In a group, one gathers up the enemy and holds their attention, one keeps the tank and, when necessary, the rest of the group alive, and then thereare the DPS whose function is to kill stuff.
The idea here is to have a group of people working together as a team. The nature of the roles provides variety, imposes a certain amount of built in tactical direction, and guides defining how a team succeeds.
But there are drawbacks, as we can see.
As things stand now, tanks are meant to generate and hold aggro on the enemy, and also survive awesome damage. Enemies have to put out epic damage, to keep a healer busy, and also to keep any old DPS from stepping up and being a tank. So tanks have to be able to survive massive damage, and mobs have to deal lots of damage, to differentiate them even more from DPS.
As long as we’re talking about keeping healers busy.
In instances, there are getting to be ever increasing AoE and persistent damage types, all designed to challenge a dedicated healer. Since the team has to HAVE a dedicated healer, that player has to be kept busy somehow. And if all you do is jump up damage to one target (tank) to really stress the healer, then it will inevitably result in wipes from the tank being one shot. So, to keep the healer occupied without frequently one shotting the tank, they have to spread the damage around to the group. A lot. In imaginative ways. Plus fears and things designed to make damage jump anyway.
The power of the current gear as related to the content, and the way Crowd Control is unused, can be fixed by changes in the next content level. Designing dungeons that don’t allow easy line of sight pulling of mobs that include ranged DPS in different directions would certainly help. Make them hit like a baastard or Curse or Fear, and you’ll quickly see some CC being brought in.
But this tank and heal thing is a poser, isn’t it.
What I’d like to see, to start with, is the elimination of damage output in a tank spec.
That’s right. I’d like to see tank specs do nothing BUT cause threat. No damage, or if there is damage, it’s so small a sneeze would bump it off Recount. Acknowledge that a tank’s role is to acquire and hold threat, NOT kill everything all by themselves.
Second, give EVERY class a tank spec. Every single one. And have that spec use the classes’ normal DPS gear stats.
Rogues? Give them a tanking spec that takes the feel of Dodge Tanking and runs with it. Threat generated by Dodging, AoE taunts, tricks like smoke bombs that stun or blind groups of mobs and cause high threat, the whole thing.
Priests? Enhance their bubble with multiple layers, let them do some serious threat from resisting damage and have them be healed by damage done to their bubble, have them base their tanking on holding fast in the face of the enemy and trusting in the Light.
It can be done.
Take away the option of pouty little children that “Take their toys and go home” if they don’t get their way in a group.
Oh, did the tank leave in a huff? That’s fine, he sucked anyway and was prone to tantrums. Which of the remaining four of us want to tank the rest? We’ve all got a spec and gear for it, after all.
Dedicated healers? Do away with them as well.
Give every class a mix of healing and damage spells. Every class would be hybrid DPS/Healers.
You could choose to specialize in DPS or heals, the same as any other hybrid, but the capability of tossing heals would still be there, just like the Shaman, Druid and Paladin.
If you change the dynamic, tune content so that the DPS are mostly responsible for healing themselves, and working together to toss the tank a heal or two but mostly work together to control and kill the mobs.
Perhaps even modify things even further, so that as with Blood specced Death Knights, the more DPS you do or the spells you use to CAUSE DPS are what you use to heal you.
Improved Leader of the Pack is all about self heals from your own successful critical strikes. Take that a step further.
Making it work comes down to tuning the instances for it. Less “All out damage on tank”, more wide spread damage.
You would go from a situation where the tank is normally getting nailed with a boulder in the face and chain healed, to a situation where the tank is being nibbled to death by ducks for little bites of damage. He’s there more to hold all the nibblers off the group and give them a chance to focus on killing the enemy in order of importance.
If the tank is NOT doing damage, then you can’t win just by keeping the tank alive. You HAVE to have people doing DPS. If each player is capable of SOME self healing, then if the tank dies, it’s not necessarily a wipe, it’s just a more chaotic situation that has to be recovered by the players all combining their heals and DPS in a skilled fashion on the fly.
And truthfully, without being locked into a “We MUST have a dedicated main healer” situation, the door would be opened for much less spiky damage and silly mechanics in the first place.
Do I think we’ll ever see anything that drastic in WoW?
No, never. It’d be a completely different game. I’d like to see it, myself, but no we never will.
People say, with justification, “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”
And the millions of customers that play WoW are a pretty strong indication that it’s not broke.
But I do think that we’re in the middle of some strange times. And I also think that, as things stand now, asshats are feeling encouraged to believe that this is the way it’s supposed to be, and are being abusive to others in groups and feel entitled to throw their elitist attitudes and elitist DPS standards in others’ faces.
I look forward to the day when doing the current Heroics will give rewards nobody wants for end game, in the same way that Burning Crusade Emblems of Heroism and drops are still useful for a little while while leveling, but are then abandoned forever.
I only hope that when that day comes, things will be designed and tuned so that DPS classes will be acknowledged once more as having utility in a team above and beyond pure damage output, and people will no longer have the effrontery to call them “just meat in the room” and expect to be taken seriously.