Greedy Goblin

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tank and healer burnout

It's a the well-known phenomena that healers (and tanks) tend to burn out, and get old with their "job". DPS on the other hand is considered "fun".

So let's see some facts:
  • There is always a "LFM tank/healer/both to X instance" spammed on the channels, showing there is a shortage of them.
  • Blizzard desperately try to make healing/tanking more desirable, they made DK-s tank, united +heal and +spelldam to let healers respec to DPS without gear change, gave higher DPS to tanks...
  • People widely to agree that "DPS is fun, heal and tanking is job/responsibility"
  • People tend to reroll DPS, rerolling to healer/tank is rare and usually on direct guild request.
  • The good DPS perform a perfect spell rotation to maximize his DPS. Unless he has a CC-duty, he performs his perfect rotation again and again and again and again and again until the boss finally drops. They have business only with the boss (and adds), therefore the same bossfights are always the same. (Sounds boring to me, but that's an opinion, not fact.)
  • Healers and tanks always have to adapt to the current situation. Reclaim aggro/don't pull aggro while still healing, heal those who got AoE, rotate the boss, pick up the incoming add, use emergency abilities. As healer or tank you can never have two identical bossfight. (Sounds constant excitement and challenge to me, but opinion again)
For the solution one has to notice (the obvious) fact, that tanking and healing has lower error tolerance. If you underperform as DPS, you go down the charts. Unless it's the difference that makes the boss enrage, it does not make any difference. As healer, if you underperform, you can easily wipe the raid. As tank, if you underperform, you surely wipe the raid. So bad players usually end up being DPS. A bad DPS can exist, a bad healer hardly, a bad tank cannot.

While this is obvious it's also irrelevant. You don't have to play with the playerbase of of the realm, you usually play with your guild or with a PuG you choose. No one force you to heal or tank for LegoIass who cannot avoid being cleaved. You can be guilded with skilled DPS, the unskilled ones are just doomed to spam "LF2M tank and haelr to dialy heroik" for eternity.

Secondly as a healer or tank, your farming/daily-questing capacity is lower unless you buy dual specs, so it's harder for you to farm money. While you can trade in the AH, the DPS-er can do the same, so the difference stays.

While this is also obvious, it's not without inherent compensation. The tank and healer is capable for something that is on demand, so inherently profitable. If I'm one of the few who can craft X item you want, I can charge high. If I'm one of the few who can tank/heal an instance where you want to go, I can charge high. A tank/healer never has to farm, he can live from the money he gets for tanking/healing.

The problem is that while they have the power to live happily in prosper, in the name of "being good", "being nice", "being friendly", "being helpful" they choose to have a miserable life, that they suffer until they burn out, leave or reroll DPS.

At first while constant wipes forces underperforming tanks and healers to give up, underperforming DPS does not make an instance unfinishable, just longer. In the name of "being good and nice" the tanks and healer don't demand performance and don't replace underperformers, but suffer the 1 hour longer instance. Who to blame for their suffering? Being in the group is profitable from the point of view of LegoIass, he get quest and loot for low performance, so he is doing what a good goblin would. Having LegoIass on the other hand is unprofitable from the point of view of the groupmembers so replacing him would be the good move. On the other hand telling someone "sorry dude, you suck, get out of here so we can find someone who damage more than the tank" is "harsh, unfriendly and rude", so people usually don't say it. So because of their own mistake they have to suffer LegoIass.

Secondly, in the name of "being friendly/helpful/selfless" tanks and healers rarely if ever request payment for their service. Even worse, for the same reason they don't even refuse to go to an instance where they expect no quest or loot. When friends, guildmembers ask him to "plz tank/heal X for us" he goes, although he wanted to quest or farm. So his very profitable profession turns into a reason for slavery. He becomes the slave of the DPS of the quild. Who to blame again? The DPS-ers did the profitable thing, they found someone who does the job for nothing. Well done! The healers/tanks who accepted to be unpaid servants made the stupid move so they have no one but themselves to blame.

On the top of that, this phenomena causes tanks and healers to burn out and leave, increasing the "pressure" on the remaining ones. Notice, that the "pressure" only exists in their heads. No one force them to work for LegoIass and no one force them to do it for free. They force themselves in the name of "being good, being nice, being friendly".

- What else could I do? -he cries.
- Say NO! Stop doing it, do what is profitable for yourself and be happy! That's the goblin way!


phoenixboy said...

Once again, you nailed it. But theres something that you forgot telling to all the tanks and healers. The DPSers NEED you more that you need them.

If you dont want to group with somebody because they make less DPS than the tank, well, say: either he goes or i do because he doesnt cut it. 90% of the time, they will choose you, if not, they are going to be the ones in LFG, not you.

Its way harder to find a healer and a tank than a DPSer, so you can have your BS meter as high as you want, if you dont want to do it, then dont. Just as simple.

Of course, i am not saying that you go mad with power. Im saying that if you dont go to a pug for X, you can go to the next one, its your call.

Thunderhorns said...

There are plenty of bad tanks and healers. A bad tank or healer makes an instance last alot longer than a bad dps. A bad tank and healer causes multiple wipes or has a hard time controlling aggro making it so DPS has to hold back.

I've got a fairly geared shaman and Death Knight. If I'm with a bad tank and healer, it can take forever to finish an instance because I have to watch what I do or I will go beyond the tanks threat.

My shaman is dual specced healer and my DK dual specced tank. I like to do all the roles when given the chance.

And though some tanks and healers burn out, alot of tanks and healers love what they do. They thrive on pressure and like knowing the whole raid hinges on their abilities.

Sometimes you get an MT and he will not leave that position even if someone else wants to tank. Same with some healers. That's what they do, that's all they like to do. They could care less about DPS.

The one part I do agree with is that tank and healer are two spots that raid leaders have no choice but to fill with their best people. In our guild we've had quite a few people that wanted to be tanks, but they just weren't good enough.

So our best tank monopolizes much of the tank time. But he is the only person that has successfully tanked Malygos so far and is our best aggro controller, so the other tanks have to take a back seat to him. We've got a few other tanks close to him, but not close enough to take his spot.

Now people that like to heal on the other hand are rare. We have had a hard time building our healing corps. Healing is a thankless, stressful job that makes farming and questing harder while leveling up.

All that being said, some people undervalue the importance of good dpsers. And Ulduar is once again making being a good DPS important on top of needing a good healer and tank. I'm happy for that.

Joe Nothin' said...

No, no, no.

Tanking isn't hard, and isn't stressfull. That's what's cuasing the burnout.

Once you pass a certain point in gear, no one can steal aggro from you, no boss can kill you, no mob can scratch you.

Add to that the plathora of good dps, and you get a yawnfest that is endless.

See, the problem is excatly the opposite of what you describe - its not the added chalange and the amount of bad dpsers who make it harder, its the amount of good dpsers and how easy it is that tunr something that used to be chalanging and intersting into somthing so easy a monkey can do it.

When i go to an instance as a tank, i know we'll win without a single person dying. My threat is so high and so easily generated that i need a 3k dpser just to peel something off of me, and when that happens, i taunt it back to me. My mitigation, even after this last all nerfing patch, still allows me to get hit by 10 or more mobs before i notice it, and if that happens, i pop a cooldown and get on with the game.

So, when i tank, there is nothing to tell me that i'm getting better, even though i still need some stuff from instances [well, just the trinket from AN].

On the other hand, when i dps, there is a little number that tells me just how good i'm doing. My dps goes up and up and up still, with each new item i get, but ultimatly, with the skill i gain. Its measurable, and i allways try to beat my last record [4061.6 right now, blood lusted on XT-002]. There are allways upgrades to my dps gear that could allways make it better.

See, that's the problem - dps is always a challange, even when you can steamroll an instance. Tanking isn't. Healing i dont know, but i'm thinking that as tanking goes up, healing goes down and becomes a sleepwalk. In the end, everything but DPS becomes boring and easy, and that's what's causing the burnout.

Anonymous said...

There is a priest on my server that advertises in /trade his services - boosting runs through low level instances for various flat fees, plus a 'rent a healer' service for him to heal your group through a dungeon. (40 gold, which is not an unreasonable sum - 10 gold each among the other four can be less than the cost of one death)

This is just an anecdote; I have not asked him how effective it is.

Dechion said...

Well thought out, as usual.

A goodly part of why I am so happy with the dual specs is the ability to both dps or heal depending on my mood.

Today was VoA as shadow, because it was early morning and I could put my brain on auto pilot.

One of the other commenters did have a good point about the measuring of dps through recount being kind of like "keeping score"

If nothing else you can try to top the meters. As heals no one cares as long as no one dies.

Anonymous said...

It happened to my paladin healer as well. Those dpser don't even take flasks and food buff while their dps is lower than the tank.

While it's semi-pug (Half Guild Members), RL consider it's okay.

I argued couple of times that even their gears was not enough they at least make up with flasks etc.

I give up hope after they rejects the idea so many time. I stopped raiding all together, I am just not willing to waste my armor repair fee and time with them anymore.

Dan said...

Same can happen with a skilled DPS player as well. Tying this post with one you made earlier this week, the DPS who is consistently going above the call of duty (5k or more DPS consistently) can burn out just like the tank who severely overgears the instance, making it trivial for his/her skill. The healer can be in the same position, severely overgearing the instance making his/her job trivial as well.

iluvbacon said...

In BC content I was a tank, It was something I loved to do and I loved going on raids to have fun with friends/get loot. That is the way our guild is set up, we raid for fun, we are not a hardcore raiding guild. The problem was that after we farmed the hell out of kara, farmed the hell out of gruul, farmed the hell out of mag, and so on it got boring. People are the same so we still had fun but the actual tanking go boring to me. So I took a break from the game and now I'm back in Wrath as a DK(yes I know this class is overplayed :P) like in Joe Nothin's comment I find DPS just that much more fun because even though its the same fight I know I am improving because of the little number next to my name in recount. As a tank all I saw was that during the fights I didn't have to pop CD's anymore.

Anonymous said...

I think there is another aspect about tanking/healing "profit." In raid or heroics, if a tanking/healing piece drops, you have a much higher chance if not a guaranteed loot depending and class and if these groups follow "main spec roll" ideas. Either way you generally have less people to roll against, helping you attain loot faster.

Unknown said...

Joe Nothin' successfully gives the other half of the story.

DPS: high tolerance for under-performance or mistakes = low stress
DPS: easy to strive for and measure improvement = fun
Tank/Healer: low tolerance for under-performance or mistakes = high stress
Tank/Healer: hard to strive for and measure improvement = less fun

The wildcards are Responsibility and Control and Being Needed.
If you are responsible for not screwing up, if you are in control of who lives and who dies, if the raid Needs you in order to run, for some people these wildcards outweigh the inherent stress of the tank/healer role.

Townes said...

Or maybe people just play what they find fun. I used to raid as dps in TBC. I switched to healing for variety and challenge and responsibility when we were halfway through Karazhan. It was fun. That's still what I do.

But a bad PUG is just as bad if you're dps or healer or tank, and I avoid PUGs. Guild runs are fun if I'm dps or healer or tank. Not only are the people nice and social, but they know what they're doing. I get burned out on doing the same content, not doing the same role. Some folks like to tank. Some of us like to heal. I don't know there's any deep meaning or that the game is so different for us. (Except out questing or in PvP).

I'm not sure we even have more responsibility. I was re-reading your link to someone complaining about his guild's dps on Malygos, as my guild had our first attempt at Malygos this week. As he wrote, the healing was easy, but the enrage timer got us, as dps was learning to manage sparks. They are the ones with the challenge next time, not the healers.

Anonymous said...

The only real stress on tanks is from idiot dps who can't burn the boss before the enrage timer. Very few fights require complex efforts or strats. The other point of stress is from the idiots who like to blame the tank because the rest of the raid is failing. The tanking itself isn't that hard, once you get the gear.

I won't comment on healers, since I don't play one, and unlike others here, am not going to soapbox on something I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon, you make a completely theoretical point.

In practice, the service of tanking and healing is in very high demand, but is consistently offered for free. If anyone is paying you for your healing services they are morons from a goblin perspective: they could be getting the same service for free.

You could say only sucky tanks tank for free but that is simply not true: people can tank well even if they are morons from a goblinish perspective, they are cognitively fine even though morally challenged/enslaved.

This is exactly as with professions: no sane person would pay for something no matter how useful it is (time for crafting in this instance) if that same something is offered somewhere else at the same time at a *negative* price (i.e.: lower than mats).

If you want to live a healthy/happy life you need to go 'far' from the morally challenged ones, either geographically, by switching realms, by differentiating your product somehow else.

Anonymous said...

This is something I have never considered. I'll have to try out charging for my services as a Holy Paladin.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon is an inspiration. I play a raiding druid with feral and resto dual-spec. I was constantly getting nagged by guild DPS to heal instances I didn't need - and I say "abused" because when I wanted to run Glory of the Hero achievements that I wanted, nobody would come. Since I started reading GG, though, I have learned to take a stand. I now say, "sure, I'll heal X if you'll come to Y with me right after."

At first people seemed confused by my "selfishness" but since then they have slowly caught on. Since then, I have achieved all but 4 of the Achievements I want and my interest in the game is rekindled. GG made me think about how little of this game has anything to do with Blizzard, and how much has to do with the decisions you make about how to play and how to insist others play if they want your services. Thanks Gevlon!

Carra said...

I personally do see the tanking or healing spots as "more responsibility".

But the reason I like DPS is that it's more competitive. I've got that nice little list that I like to be on top of.

You can't quite measure how a tank or healer performs. If no mobs attack the dps/healers we're fine. If noone dies, we're fine. It just doesn't matter if you do 3k/4k heals or threat as long as noone dies.

Sydera said...

Ha! For once I play like you do. I never heal an instance I don't want to--and my alt heals in raids. I really like doing it, and if I like the group, I will heal something from which I need no gear.

However, I disagree that the dps are the worst players. As you get into serious raiding guilds, the dps are often some of the best. Your MT is hopefully very good, and at least some of the healers are very good. However, because dps is the most measurable role, at the top end, dps players really have the tools they need to analyze and correct their play. At a certain point, healing feels like the easiest role (to me anyway). You learn your own mechanics and the fight mechanics, and it's all good from there. There's no competing against a theoretical maximum, because there's only a certain amount of danger to the raid, which decreases over time.

Perhaps I am biased. The worst player I have ever seen in one of my raiding guilds was a healer. There will inevitably be some low-performing dps, but I find that those players (who stick it out) perform more over time than your bad healers. I swear, I used to play with this one guy who could only target one person per raid. He had no understanding of unit frames and would just cast everything on the rogue. The rest of us managed to carry him, because sometimes if the overall healing is fine, and the players healing done is fine, it's hard to figure out that you've got a useless healer.

Anonymous said...

Bent says

Joe Nothin has it right!!!

As DPS better gear means you see your DPS climb. Your doing the samething again and again but your number go up. They run stuff for the purpose of seeing how much your numbers go up after you respec/gear

As Tank/Heals as your gear improves your job becomes more and more lax. You go from having to Pot and pop cooldown on a boss to just being able to heal through.

I am a warrior prot/arms. And ask if I switch to my DPS for a bit to see where I fall from time to time. As in I may have done 2.5k last time, but gotten some better gear and want to see how much I went up. With tanking. We oneshot the boss last week, what to I look for, there is no way to measure improvement, progressing from 7 white hits closer to zero?

It's the same for heals. If you heal a certain tank through a boss you can do the same thing next week. What do you work towards? Less overhealing? You already downed the boss last time, less overhealing if meaningless.

Bristal said...

Let me just say to the DPSer's...puhfreakinleeeeze.

I DPS. I don't have to know jack about a fight other than the obvious don't stand in the hole/fire/rockslide and do what I'm told when I'm told. The rest of the time I unload and try to hit my 4 buttons at the precise time needed. On ONE target most of the time. Woo hoo if there are adds and I might have to CHOOSE a target. Brain, wake up!

Meanwhile the tank has to know exactly what the boss is going to do and when. And typically takes the responsibility to explain it to everyone else. I've seen my guild's tank try to teach a new tank a boss fight and I'm sorry but it looked stressful. Especially since the whole raid is watching YOU the entire time. DPS can melt into the crowd.

Meanwhile the healers are juggling 6-10 targets and typically have to know precise mechanics/timing of a boss fight as well. Their job requires so much more flexibility to adjust to conditions and the responsibility to save STOOPID people (sorry Gev, M&S).

Sure there are bad healers and tanks. But they either learn their job quickly or find a new one. The tolerance for crappy DPS is MUCH higher.

I just rolled a Priest because I'm sick of trolling/begging for groups. I still haven't seen every instance in WotLK because DPS are a dime-a-dozen, and nobody bothers to ask how good you are because everyone lies.

Sydera said...

Switching targets is not that hard! Healing timing is not as tight as DPS timing. We're more reactive--do Y when X occurs. DPS depends on meeting ideal conditions--your best dpsers will have a good computer, and they'll do their closest to theoretical maximums in the fights that favor their damage type. Healers are more the same fight to fight I think--you learn damage patterns pretty quick, and you learn to read whatever UI you use fairly quickly.

Healing would be hard if we couldn't write macros, but with keybindings, mouseovers, and unit frames, it's totally manageable. It's a hell of a lot easier than melee dps!

Joe Nothin' said...

To bristal:

I'm a tank, and have been since vanilla [started as a druid, turned warrior in late vanilla/tbc, and now i'm a death knight as they have the most intersting tanking mechnics], and let me tell you something about tanking:

I off tanked and main tanked almost everything in the game, and its alot easier then it looks. It used to be a tad harder before wotlk, but it was allways one of the eaiser jobs.

The thing about tanking is that once you figure out your job, skill wise you are 90% there. You just need to make sure everything is hitting you. So the time a dpser would spend looking at his resrouces and cooldowns and what buffs are up, i spend looking around and seeing what hits who. And with aoe tanking, its an even easier job. I rush in first, drop dnd [or TC, or swipe twice], disease everything and then rotate aoe abilities and single target abilties. If by some work of god i lose aggro on anything, which never happens - either the dpser is one of the m&s hordes and doesn't come close to my tank dps, let alone my TPS, or he's a good player that knows what he's doing and just doesn't pull. If it does happen i simply taunt, and keep going. I can mess up my rotation as much as i want, i not use cooldowns, and most of the time i sleep walk through the few tanking sessions i now actually do.

Basicly, it boils down to this - tanking is and allways was piss easy. DPSing *well* is harder and more challanging, becuase you really need to watch what you are doing, keep a tight rotation, and not miss a step. If you do, it showes. We nurture this illusion of "oh, tanking is soooo hard", because it allowes us to get away with being assholes.

Here we're al goblins, so lets face the truth. Tanking is the easiest job in a group, once you get the basic basic gear. Most of the time, is harder to dps *well* then to tank an encounter.

And that's why tanks burn out so fast and often. The job itself gets more mindless as you gear up, the gear you get gets you nowhere anywhere else in the game, and as far as the game goes, its just a downward spiral of fun. Starts out awesome, becomes easier and easier, and then you realize you aren't having any fun and you cant do anything else with all the epics you've got, so you respecc and start doing something else.

About healing - i used to be a druid, so have some expiriance as a healer as well, but i haven't healed anything since MC, so things might have changed. But when i healed, it wasn't much hrader then tanking.

Anonymous said...

Since I cannot comment on the other post I will do it here. I think you will are going to miss your monopoly business when you move servers....
Imagine 50 inscriptionists all undercutting each other every 5 mins!