re: Tanks and Healers Should Get The Biggest Rewards


There has been a whole lot of hoopla about this guest article over at World of Matticus (I’m slow, what can I say?), with many different replies, some of them very angry.  (My favorites:  Angry Healers, Troll Bouquet, Looking for More, Spinksville, The Noisy Rogue, Artisan Elitist, and Blessing of Kings.)   Let me first say that I have large issues with the language of the article.  No one likes to be called “meat” or told that they are a dime a dozen.

– Rewarded?  REALLY? –

Rohan at Blessing of Kings really hit on part of the reason healers and tanks -should- be rewarded. It is about retention of a talented minority of an already minority role. Acknowledging the members of that hard-to-find group will encourage them to stay with you, even if they’d rather be doing something else. (Like DPS!) While the original article speaks only to loot as this reward, I think that other rewards should be considered. Very rarely do healers and tanks get told how well they’re doing or how much they are appreciated. Positive comments tend to revolve around how fast mobs are being killed and about DPS numbers. Unfortunately, the support classes tend to only get their performance commented on when they do something wrong. Rewarding your tanks and healers with verbal praise in front of their peers can go a long way. If you want to go a step further, perhaps a guild policy of buying raid or buff mats for your healers might be a small gesture to show how much you appreciate them.

My belief about gear has always been one of “for the good of the raid,” which I’ve talked about before (right here), but given the current context of new bosses/gear it should be touched on again. When a raiding group moves to harder content, the first members of the raid to really “carry” the group are the tanks and healers.  Even on fights that take high DPS like Festergut, the first brunt of the learning requires tanks and healers to be well geared. In this example, having your DPS decked out while your support classes lag won’t help you when Festergut two shots your tanks because they don’t have enough health or because the healers don’t have the throughput to keep them up.  Having enough DPS to be able to wipe out Festergut in 3 minutes doesn’t do you a lick of good if you have no survivability. In this situation, “rewarding” healers and tanks with preference when it comes to gear isn’t really about the people or roles, just about what is good for the team.

In the end, it is more about rewarding quality than raid roles. Giving an upgrade to a mediocre priest over a fantastic mage does more to hurt the raid than help it. It is very much about doing what you can to help the group, therefore the true assets should be the ones who put in the time and effort, no matter what they play.

– But who’s job is more difficult? –

This is one part of the discussion that I have to agree with the original article about. I’ve read many replies of people who argue that being a support role is not more stressful than a damage dealing role, nor that it takes more skill. To quote Spinks in one of her comments, “Being great dps also seems harder to me than being a great tank or healer, it’s not always obvious how to improve.” I’m going to have to completely disagree with that statement, as someone who has raided progressively as both DPS and healing.

The main difference in difficulty between roles lies in what you are responsible for. DPSers are responsible for themselves, for staying alive and for doing reasonable damage to a boss. If they are not meeting this responsibility, they have only their own actions and rotations to improve upon. A healer, however, is responsible for every single person in the raid, including themself. They have to take into account mana efficiency, speed of heals, reaction times of the various members, watching the health of multiple people at once without tunneling and getting killed by fire themselves… In plain language, it comes down to: “I died in a fire. Next time, I should Disengage out of it.” vs. “That hunter died in a fire. Could I have been faster on a Flash of Light without endangering the life of the tank through Beacon fail if he died anyway? Was he out of range of the other healers and if so can I move closer to him without putting myself in danger of Gormok’s spell lock-out?”

I support the claim that being a healer is more stressful than being a DPS, with the caveat that being a -great- healer is more stressful than being a -great- DPS. Being satisfactory at your role, no matter what it is, isn’t stressful at all. Being top of your game is much more so. The main reason stress lies on the healers more is, again, on the placement of their attention. Great DPSers work inwardly, even when they’re doing things like Kidney Shotting things that want to chew on the clothies. They look inwards to their own abilities and strengths, which builds up as focus more than stress. At the end of the fight, they are able to look at their numbers to see that focus in a competitive form, an immediate pay-off to their ego that requires no other person to inspire. Healers on the other hand have to work together and trust that the 5 others in their section are doing their jobs. You have to worry about what 25 other people are doing at all times. There is very little leeway for a healer to screw up; if you make a mistake, someone will die and sometimes everyone will. If I miss a Hand of Sacrifice timing on the tank, the tank dies and so does the raid. If my hunter uses her Rapid Shot at the wrong time, I lose some DPS. Add to this that there is very little ego pay-off for healers, as what little we have requires other people to inspire, an unlikely event.

Being a support class really is a thankless job. No one comments with awe about the TPS being put out by the tank. No one gives props to the healers sweating bullets as they dance around orbs while still pushing their HPS to the max. No, they look at the DPS meters to see the rogue pulling 10k DPS on Festergut. Yet, if that rogue does something stupid, nothing really is said. If the tank or the healer does, their mistake is analyzed minutely. That is simply the way it works and support classes accept it. To say that the disparity doesn’t create a disparity in stress levels doesn’t stand to reason.

– But what about 5-mans, Codi? –

Wait, all this discussion is supposed to be about -heroics?- Wow, did I miss the boat on that one, then. From the original article, it seemed to me that the topic was about rewards in raids! I’m actually surprised that there’s this much thought and discussion going into it, then. From what I can see, there already is a reward for queueing as a healer or a tank. That would be the instant group.

I’ve carried 5-mans before. I’m pretty sure all decent players have. That’s just going to happen with PuGs. Queueing for a PuG and then expecting to finish hAN in 8 minutes with no deaths (my current record!) is just silly. Any healer or tank queueing up should do so with the expectation that the group is going to suck royally. If they don’t, it will at least be a pleasant surprise. When I get PuGs where I don’t out DPS people (as a healer) or I don’t end up just tanking at the same time as healing, I’m happily surprised. I go in, get my two badges of Frost and then I’m done for the day. Simple and clean.

Are 5-mans such deadly serious business that all this hoopla is necessary? I guess I’ll go log on my lowbie warrior and tank a random, then. With nothing but Thunderclap. Ah, low levels…



  1. Yes, so much yes @ the end of your post.

    /nods emphatically

  2. “… DPSers are responsible for themselves, for staying alive and for doing reasonable damage to a boss. If they are not meeting this responsibility, they have only their own actions and rotations to improve upon.”

    I have to disagree with this part of your otherwise excellent post. As a rogue, a vital part of my group contribution is the ability to save another player, (often a clothie), from a wayward mob. I do this by stun-locking the mob, pulling threat, and then either vanishing or keeping the mob locked down until I can either elminate it or the tank manages to get it back.

    I have saved many a clothie in this regards in the past. Unfortunately my DPS goes down and then some fool posts the recount stats after the boss. Whatever, I’ll keep working for the good of the group.

    • I’ll quote myself because I’m lazy: “Great DPSers work inwardly, even when they’re doing things like Kidney Shotting things that want to chew on the clothies. They look inwards to their own abilities and strengths, which builds up as focus more than stress.”

      It comes down to the DPS relying on themselves, even when doing things aren’t directly damage related. It’s a matter of narrow focus vs. wider focus.

  3. Hmm … I see what you’re saying. But when I ran instances on my paladin as a healer, (even though I only did it a few times admitedly), I felt the same focus as I do when dpsing. Keep everyone alive as opposed to kill everything and keep the clothies safe. The only difference that I can see is at the end. If someone dies then I suppose the healer may feel bad at that. They shouldn’t though, as players die a lot of the time due to their own actions, (ala me last night.)

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on the narrow focus part. Melee dps can not afford to have narrow focus. You have to be aware of a lot of things that are going on. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of players who could not do the Heigan dance were healers and range dps. Moving around during a fight is a skill – combining it with all your abilities and being situationally aware is the essence of the great melee dps challenge.

  4. Yes, but when a meele have to run around they don’t have to worry about the hp of everyone else. When you are a healer and u start running ppl lose loads of health and need healing, and you have to stop, that may get you killed. And it is very stressful, and if someone dies it is your foult because you didn’t stop and suicide 😦

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