Friday, July 6, 2007

Through the Eyes of a Healer

Warning: Meandering, Ignorance follow

As a long-time healer, I have a very healer-centric view of how group fights go. Every fight is basically a race, a race between my mana bar (and ability to refill it) and the enemy creature's life bar. If my mana bar goes empty first, we will lose shortly afterwards. If the enemy creature's life bar goes empty first, we won. In a sense, except in cases where the monster is putting out damage faster than it's possible for me to heal it, which doesn't normally happen, the monster is really attacking my mana bar. Everything circles back around to my mana bar. (Although you could probably apply similar logic to say that everything circles back around to any other role.) My mana bar is like the entire party's health bar, and as long as we're in a fight, my mana bar has a dot on it as I spam heals to keep the party up. If the tank has low mitigation or if I have to heal DPS classes, the dot gets bigger. When the other party members heal themselves with pots or bandages or drain life or LotP proc or whatever, the dot gets smaller. The longer the fight lasts, the more time the dot has to tick away.

This relates to my belief that all DPS classes all need to be able to do roughly comparable effective damage (that is, the total damage they contribute to the party including the extra damage others do as a result of their buffs); -every- fight is on a timer, and the timer is the healer's mana bar (though some fights are on stricter timers, such as enrage timers). If a class can't do as much damage as a 'pure' DPS class and they want to DPS, they need to compensate for it in some way that keeps the healer's mana bar up. A simple way is off-healing; any damage the ret paladin, enhancement shaman or DPS druid heals is damage that I don't have to heal. "I don't heal at all" might not be the best way to be effective in an instance. (Though, perhaps hypocritically, I scoff at the idea of contributing to DPS.)

Of course, the game is, in reality, much more complicated than that. Most wipes I've been a part of were not the result of everything going smoothly until - due to a combination of my mana pool being too small, DPS not doing enough damage and the warrior not having enough mitigation - I happen to run out of mana and we quietly wipe. They're all the result of all hell breaking loose because of adds or because of aggro mismanagement. There is no class in any role that can do their job as well when chaos breaks loose. Adds and bad aggro don't always result in chaos; it's possible to recover gracefully from either. Chaos seldom occurs -without- them, though. That's where skill, I think, comes in. In a purely gear-centric world, fights would be won or lost based entirely on whether the monster went down before the healer's mana bar did. Chaos exists, though, and the biggest factor in preventing and recovering from it is, in my mind, player skill (including player coordination). (Although gear certainly provides a buffer. Also, I'm not claiming to be master chaos-recovery dude; as noted above, chaos often wipes us.)

1 comment:

GSH said...

This is both true and not true.

In many cases, especially pre-TBC, fights came down to healer mana. But the issue with that, is that once you move past the 5-man stage, you get healing rotations.

This is where you have some healers heal, while the others regenerate mana. Then switch. This leads to effectively infinite healer mana.

Additionally, making the fight dependent on healer mana put most of the stress and responsibility on the healers.

Nowadays, most fights have built-in "enrage" timers. Some enrage timers are hard, like when Curator hits the 10-min mark, he goes berserk and starts one-shotting people. He also has a soft enrage timer, in that he spawns an Astral Flare every 10s that goes around doing damage. If your dps can't kill Flares fast enough, your raid is soon overwhelmed.

These mechanics shift a lot of the responsibilities from the healers to the DPS. The healers still need to heal well, but the fight is no longer waged against their mana bar.

(BTW, I'm probably going to use this in a post on my blog, but figured I should leave it here as well.)