Greedy Goblin

Monday, September 19, 2011

Healer separation

I noticed a strange problem that disproves the "it's just a game, you can't judge the man behind the character". It's most obvious it Tol Barad and visible in battlegrounds too. The healers are much more likely to be in the right place than the damage dealers, causing a rather harmful separation of healers from DDs.

It is quite obvious that healers and DDs are best mixed. 1 healer + 3 DD is definitely stronger than 4 healers or 4 DDs, so in optimal play they are not separated from each other. Yet in non-professional settings like Tol Barad or random BGs I often see the healers moving to the objective while DDs remaining in strategically worthless points. Healers - alone - defending gold mine, losing it of course while DDs are being massacred on the bridge. When I spam "/rw leave ICG, go Slag NOW", it's not rare that the first 6 arriving players contain all 4 healers of the map, while only 2/20 DDs. If you have time, you can watch a random BG and see this happening.

What does it tell us? The decision to go to an objective is not really a gaming skill. My non-playing mother could tell that in a map where you should get flags, you should be near the flags and not on the bridge. The decision is made by the person and this decision is based on his real personality, instead of his gaming persona. It is not a "play to win" vs "play for fun" decision, as healer separation is bad for victory. A "play to win" healer would yell on the bridge zerging morons, go AFK to cut losses, or try keeping them alive in the hope that after they wiped the enemy they move forward to a flag.

It rather reflects to a "I did my job, did my best, not my fault" thinking, which can be just as counter-productive as the motivation of the bridge fighter: "idc lol". The point is that these people focus on their own responsibility instead of the game outcome, and responsibility is clearly a real world concept. If we accept that these people act on their real world beliefs, we must accept that the "idc lol" of the bridge fighter is similarly coming from his true person. The real world persona that does his job is the fake one. He is forced to perform, without the force he would "just have fun lol" in real life too.

But the more important result is that you must watch the map. You must be aware of the healer separation problem and must not be part of it. If you see other healers moving to an objective, you shall not join them, you must find some DDs to heal who are fighting at some useful objective. You must not respond to "inc GM help" instantly but check the healer distribution first. If proper portion of healers are moving there, you shouldn't or you create the problem I seen with RBG enemies often: all their healers and 1-2 DD hold a base, we can't kill them, they can't kill us, we can't take that base, we take all the others.


Carson 63000 said...

Do you think this observation might be related to the fact that PvE content trains healers to do the right thing, and if the DPS does the wrong thing, not to support them in that?

I mean, if one DPS is standing in the fire, the correct action for a PvE healer is to let them die. Burning all your mana on one DPS who seems to be a poor player anyway is more likely to lead to disaster than just letting him die and continuing the fight one DPS short.

So does this lead to PvP healers "doing their job", even when doing that job can't actually work unless the other players do their job too?

Azuriel said...

When I healed BGs, I would head off towards an objective because:

A) I hoped a DD would follow me.
B) I hoped to meet a DD worth healing.

Unlike being a DD yourself, healing essentially puts you at the mercy of other people. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times a single enemy DD stopped me from assaulting a flag in AB, whereas I would routinely throw myself at up to two DDs at a flag on my Ret paladin if I had cooldowns available (good odds at least one was low-resil).

So I would actually say that playing a healer forces you to change the way you approach PvP encounters.

Brent said...

So what you're saying is that if you're a person who can accept and follow instructions well, you're probably doing the wrong thing if your leader gives you bad instruction.

The personalities that are drawn to DD tend to be competitive, independent, and aggressive. For the role those are good points, but they also cause less ability to accept and follow instructions, especially if the person giving them isn't respected (i.e. a stranger).

Personalities drawn to healing tend to be team players who believe that the team working as a group is better than individuals.

If you want to direct a team such that healers stay with DD, you have to break them up and direct the teams together.

"Leave ICG go to Slag" is an example of bad directions, since it applies to everyone. "G1 to Slag" is better since it allows the healers in G2/3/4/5 to stay with their people. Healers who are assigned to a small number of people also are more likely to jump up and down about those people doing what they're told to, since its easier to manage.

Really, don't bitch about people doing what they're told. Those are the people you want to hold on to, and then just direct them more precisely. If you had a team of them, covering all roles, then you'd have a VERY good PVP team.

Botter said...

I believe that the current system made healers the most skilled, knowladgable players in the game.

I say that as a healer myself. In PVE we carefully study the encounters, know when to expect big damage from the boss or adds so we prepare our massive heals or cooldowns, know when the boss or adds do little damage so we will conserve our mana for the real deal. We keep attention to everyone and everything.

The tank will focus his attention on generating threat and positioning the boss and or adds, and keeping an eye on threat meter. So he keep his attention is scripted. The DD will focus on doing as much damage as possible, kill adds or in rare occasions do other stuff that are part of the encounter (move lever, switches and other stuff). While the healer is focused on the player's and the boss to watch out for big damages, the adds so he won't do high threat abilities that will draw their attention, and will keep a closer eye to the healthbars on the players and any debuffs he need to dispel.

In PvP the healer can make the difference between losing or winning. Since healers tend to understand the fight before going through it is natural that he/she know that they are desperately needed in objective areas (flags, bases, boss chamber) and will assume that everyone is there to win so he/she will naturally move to the right location that will help win the game. Road or bridge fights are not always contributing to win (except maybe in AV near the last base on either side).

We do not need to help the idiotic DDs who are doing unfulfilling activities just because they are THERE, I would rather save my renewable pixel mana for someone worth it.

KimmoKM said...

I don't know how powerful healers are in Cataclysm, but in the past I usually could beat 5 randoms with just 1 random DPS helping me. Healers are force multipliers without doubt, but I think it's still beneficial to focus on objectives even if that meant there wasn't many players (if any) to heal.

Basically my line of thinking in AB/EotS is as follows: If my team is at a disadvantage, it is impossible to win if new bases aren't captured. If there is someone else trying to capture new bases, I can go heal him/her. However, if I'm alone, my best bet is to ignore defending players and those fighting at the bridge: There is a chance someone follows me (giving me someone to heal) or I can try my luck and attempt to ninja the base. Even if I'm not successful, I can still bind a couple of enemy players, which is about as useful as healing players fighting at the bridge.

When it comes to other battlerounds, I had a habit of sneaking to towers in Alterac Valley and recapturing them. Succeeding usually delays the enemy team by a minute or two, which tends to be enough to win the game. Likewise, if there is a stalemate in WSG and I'm the flag carrier, I can usually join the fight against EFC, turn the tide, and then go back to return the flag.

In my experience focusing completely on battleground objectives and ignoring everything else worked pretty well. Yeah, sometimes I ended up looking like a scrub by dying alone in the enemy base without healing a single player, but I used to have around 75% random battleground win rate in WSG, ~70% in AB/EotS and ~60% in AV/SotA. I don't think I could have had such success by using conventional tactics (staying where other players are). And besides, mentioning in the BG-chat that I'm focusing completely on the objectives (and suggesting that other players should do that as well) is quite effective way to encourage players to follow me.

Anonymous said...

There's a reason why the healers are leaders as said in dungeons and dragons. This means the damage dealers should always treat healers as an escort quest. If the damage dealers does not treat the healers as an escort quest, they will fail. To make the battle grounds easier for every, assign each damage dealer to a healer at all times at the ratio of 3:1. The excess damage dealers are the scapegoat that has to stay at their designated tower.

It's important to note that Tank classes are leaders in PVE, but Healer classes are leaders in PVP. That's the major difference between the two roles. Healers are required to be more dynamic player than the Tanks. Scripts are not dynamic, while player action are always dynamic, unless they play like bots.

Look at it another way, Healers are your sergeants that control your squads. The leader is a platoon leader.

Anonymous said...


If you think that about tanking then you're sorely mistaken.

Since threat is typically a function of DPS, tanks maximize their DPS just like DD do, albeit with a few exceptions mostly due to extra threat generating abilities. We've always had optimized rotations and performing outside of them lowers threat generation.

Positioning bosses is a trivial matter. Aside from a little hoping if the the boss is being a bit dodgy, movement of the boss is nonexistent or the movement is small changes (because the more you move a boss the more than impacts melee dps since they lose out when following).

Further, tanks rarely have to do something that impacts another character.

Tanks, more so than DDs or healers, are in the best position to judge what's going on and the reasons why they can't tend to fall into a single large category.

#1 - Crotch staring. Tanks are unable to see what's going on because tank positioning has their back to a wall and it's a huge arsed boss. Even putting the camera pointing straight down will not let them see most of the boss fight area. Most reasons that any competent tank would not have a good battlefield view is do to this.

The reason tanking is tough and most people don't do it is due to the amount of research you need to do to be competent. In that you are right. Tanking is about 90% planning and 10% execution, but once you have your rotation tied to muscle memory, your gear choices appropriate for the fight and are gemmed/enchanted correctly and fulled there's very little left to it except get frustrated over the inability of the rest of the raid to perform their jobs and not screw up.

Ted said...

Checking if other healers are going to a point requires knowing who the other healers are, and especially in TB, this can be difficult. All I cam see is a Paladin and a Druid heading to the point. I don't know if they ate DD or heals.

Anonymous said...

tyThe mentality that causes DPS to stay and fight in the middle of the map is not a 'idc lol' mentality. It's a "I want to have fun" mentality. Most players joining random BG's do it so they can PVP, not so they can win. It is much more appealling for a player to run around finding the action, and killing people, then it is to sit on a flag for 5 mins waiting for someone to come inc. and inevitably die after calling out to their teammates for help. If they were playing to win then they would join arena's or Rated BG's.

In addition, you cannot find any feasable relation between someone's play in a random battleground and their personality/ abilities outside the game based on your available information. This is because you are only given one variable, the decision to stray away from flags, and are not provided with all other contributing factors. In order to find out why a player exhibits this behaviour, you would have to have an indepth conversation with the person, rather then come to conclusions based on your opinions.

Rohan said...

To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, healing is the triumph of hope over experience.

That being said, I disagree with your analysis. Here's the way I look at it:

Scenario 1: DPS goes worthless, Healer goes worthless, Outcome is Loss.

Scenario 2: DPS goes worthless, Healer goes objective, Outcome is Loss.

Scenario 3: DPS goes objective, Healer goes worthless, Outcome is Loss.

Scenario 4: DPS goes objective, Healer goes Objective, Outcome is Win.

Of the possible scenarios, the only action a healer can take that leads to victory is to go to the objective. Half the time it won't lead to victory, but not going to the objective always leads to a loss.

Therefore, to maximize the chance of victory, the healer should go to the objective, regardless of what the DPS chooses to do.

Jim said...

If you are having a problem with too many healers answering an incoming call, you should be using voice chat. Rather than have the healers check the map to see what the other healers are doing, it can just be called out. This avoids confusion where two healers look at the map and see each other going to mine so neither go.

Of course that would require you to recognize the fact that voice chat has uses other than boosting so you would have to admit you were wrong. Good luck with that.......

Gevlon said...

@Jim: too bad that the scenario you shown is a prime case of boosting, as I do all the thinking for them. They just obey like bots.

Anonymous said...

Re Jim...@Gevlon

Saying in vent I need a healer at lm and someone says I am coming so you don't get four healers is just communication. No different than typing just quicker.

Anonymous said...

I heal in random BGs all the time (I'm close to Battlemaster).

I totally agree with Gevlon's observations on this. Healers are substantially more likely to be contributing to objectives than DD, in my experience. A lot of DD have a tunnel-vision mentality focused on topping the leaderboard. (I've collected a few dozen screenshots of games I've won when the other team dominated damage, or vice versa.)

Some useful tips for healers in randoms:

1. Set your role to healer. People might notice.

2. Announce that you are a healer at the start of the BG. People might remember. (Announce the other healers' identities, too. I also announce who the healers are on the other side, especially if it's only one or two.)

3. If you are the BG leader, mark everybody who's a healer with a raid mark. (Or encourage the raid leader to do so.) The raid marks are not visible to the other side.

4. Announce to the rest of the group what you will do first. E.g. "I will heal the offense at Blood Elf Tower." This will convince DD to go with you instead of farting around on the road and let other healers know they shouldn't duplicate your effort.

5. If DD are misbehaving on defense (say fighting on the hill at Lumber Mill instead of at the flag), announce in BG chat that if they want heals, they should join you at the flag.

I've had pretty good success with these tips. Especially when I don't lose my temper at my teammates' idiocy.

Jim said...

Gevlon, you have a very strange definiton of boosting. You are not doing the thinking for the other players. They are perfectly capable of thinking forthemselves. In the scenario I presented the problem wasn't players not thinking, the problem was one of too many cooks spoiling the stew. You could have the best WOW players in the world in a group and there still could be miscommunication issues that voice chat would solve. Using your definition of boosting, typed chat is boosting as well.

I understand that you are incapable of grasping that.

Kragnoc said...

@Gevlon: I fail to see your logic in your response to Jim. There is no difference in calling healers to Slag using voice, or as you mention in the original post, typing it in raid chat except the method of communication used. Either way you are boosting people by thinking for them,the only difference being of the two methods you prefer the less efficient option.

Based on your wanting to not wanting to boost people unless profitable, when should we expect a blog post from you where you begin advocating using no form of communication in PvE or PvP encounters. While pretty much unreasonable, anything else would be hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just me, but having played both a healer and a dps in battlegrounds, I think it's less the person and more the class (as I find myself defending the points as a healer more often than as a dps).

Imagine this: you're riding to a point to help defend it. You encounter an enemy. As a healer, you have no choice than to continue to the objective (as 1v1'ing as a healer is impossible AFAIK), but as a dps you have the option to kill him. While this may be the worst option, it's still an option and may be why you see so many dps'ers do this, and not many healers.