Skip navigation

Over at Bio Break, Syp is asking if healers should be pressured into DPSing. At the risk of being monstrously unfair to Syp, I’m going to go with “well, duh!” because you aren’t there to heal, you’re there to help your group complete the dungeon. If you’re playing a specialised healing class then yeah, keeping people alive is the most important part of your contribution, but as long as you’ve got that covered you should always be on the lookout for ways to help out the team. That’s what teamwork is, everyone pulling together (gung ho as the US Marine Corps has it) rather than standing back and going “can’t do that squire. Not in my job description. Union rules, innit?”*

Yeah, I am being unfair to Syp. He doesn’t strike me as the sort of person who would say that, and I’m not a huge fan of the optimisation-mad crowd who harangue their teammates in an attempt to shave eight seconds off the instance run time either. I’m just gobsmacked that this is even a question, and I think it relates to the recent posts by Keen and Bhagpuss about how a lot of MMO gameplay has simplified and streamlined roles (and a lot of other things). Modern games tend to expect you to perform one role, and one role only. The tank tanks, the healer heals, the DPS roll ‘need’ on everything they can. Each is very good at their job and sucks at everybody else’s. Older games were less stratified in roles, had more hybrtidisation and things were more likely to go pear-shaped but be recoverable by prompt action from the group. In DAoC the friar could stop meleeing and throw out some heals long enough to save the group; the mercenary, normally a melee DPS, had the tools to tank for a bit even if it did put a strain on the healers keeping him alive, and the cleric could smite (if he wasn’t 100% focused on saving the bloody merc’s worthless ass). If everyone pulled those trucks out at the right time, you could turn a bad pull into glorious victory. That’s unlikely to happen in WoW because the characters as so good at, and optimised, for their normal roles that assuming they’re doing content tuned for them, that’s all they can do. An enhancement shaman doesn’t bring the healing needed to keep a tank up through more than a light trash pull, and a combat rogue doesn’t have the tools or survivability to cover for a dead tank.

We’ve become very good at what we do, at the price of that being all that we can do. We don’t have to think about what we’re doing so much as focus on performing our assigned task as perfectly as possible. I view that as a loss, personally, and see it as devaluing the game experience… but that’s a whole other blog post.




  • for those younger than I am or from other parts of the world, the above quote  is a caricature of the British work ethic c. 1975.


  1. I think it’s a familiarity thing. As one is newer to the game and the various dungeons, it *is* stressful to try to remember to swap in and out of Cleric Stance, watch the party’s health as well as the mobs, and so forth. I’ve been playing long enough that I’m familiar with the dungeons, so I know when I can leave the tank’s health a little down while doing damage vs when to top him off. Plus post-50 as WHM or SCH I’ve got the “oh snap!” buttons in Lustrate or Benediction (and had the AST’s since … level 18-ish? I don’t play my AST enough) to pull out the clutch saves too.

    But as a newbie… I’m happy to let a newbie observe the fights and learn the flow while focusing solely on healing. Eventually they’ll be comfortable enough to say “I don’t need to heal now and I’m bored, so let me toss some damage.” Until that happens though … I’ve got no problem letting them “just heal.”

    That said… I actually ran a dungeon with Syp while I was on Scholar and according to my own blog post written when it was still fresh in my mind, I only dropped out of Cleric Stance for about 15 seconds during the final boss fight but spent the entire rest of the dungeon in CS becuz it was just Toto-Rak and the fairy could handle it…..

  2. More than anything else this is why I stopped playing Balance Druid in WoW, my main character for 5 or so years. I was able on this character to fill a lot of potential gaps. I CC’ed, I off-healed (tranquility mainly), I tanked adds (Boomkin damage mitigation was good at one point), had the valuable battle-res and of course I did damage as well. Then suddenly all classes within a given role had to be equally as good and suddenly we Balance druids were pressured to just get on with nuking things. I’m not sure if it’s the content that changed or the players but either way I just don’t enjoy playing him anymore.

    I did start to stance-dance a bit on my FFXIV character when healing as Scholar but maybe the element of playing group-familiarity or the lack thereof is part of this? In WoW we never used to pug, even when the dungeon finder came in. In FFXIV it was just two of us playing so pugging was mandatory just to get the MSQ progressed. I guess I’m happier to push the limits and risk doing more than the core job if I’m playing with friends?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: