Pride and Progression

Imagine, if you will, a guild. A group of people united in the common interest of slaying internet dragons. This guild consist of three groups of people: tanks, DPS, and healers.

Meet Bella. She’s a healer, a paladin healer in fact. She’s had quite the time adjusting to the game changes, but she’s managed to hold her own. Bella feels ready and capable of facing any challenge that the game might throw at her. However, what Bella doesn’t know is that there is one challenge she isn’t ready for, a challenge that comes from…

The Healer Core.

You see, Bella has this philosophy about healing. In our 5-man runs, she disapproves of DPS or tanks actively healing themselves or others, or any excess use of cooldowns. This seems like an asinine philosophy at first, and the rest of the healers are diametrically opposed to it, but there is some logic to it.

She likes a challenge. She likes to know that the healing the party is receiving is coming from her, and she likes to gauge how well she is doing as a healer  on her ability to keep the party up through thick and thin, by herself.

The logic I was referring to is this: if DPS or tanks are healing, or when the aforementioned are hitting cooldowns to mitigate relatively minor amounts of damage, she no longer has a comparative standard with which to judge herself. The intent, then, is that she is seeking to improve her performance, whether it be a higher throughput of heals or increased mana efficiency or what have you. Truthfully, none of us can say that is an ignoble goal.

Now, before everyone gets up in arms about how irresponsible it is to put all of that pressure on one person’s shoulders, relax. She takes up the mantle willingly and, if I may say so, quite well. If, for whatever reason, she simply cannot do the healing all by herself, she voluntarily leaves the group and lets us find another healer, though this has yet to happen in my experience.

Where her attitude becomes an issue is with paladin tanks. From what I know (and paladin tanks, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), once the tank establishes a proper threat lead from the DPS, it is considered ‘good form’ to start using the HP you generate to heal yourself via WoG.

Bella gripes about this practice. She feels it’s violating her healing philosophy, and she won’t be able to properly measure her performance if the tank is healing themselves.

So the question becomes: is this a legitimate complaint? Let’s look at an example.

General Husam in heroic: Lost City of the Tol’vir.

Last night, a few guildies and I got together and decided to queue a random heroic. Anafielle, frequent guest poster over at Righteous Defense and our guild’s dedicated offtank, was leading the charge as our meat shield. We queued into Lost City and were on the big guy pictured above, the first boss of the instance. We reached the 30% mark when our healer (not Bella) died. Rather than call it a wipe, we continued onward. I started using my HP on WoG heals, and Ana chained cooldowns and also healed herself using WoG. We downed the boss moments later with the rest of the party alive and well.

Could we have recovered if the healer had died even earlier? Probably. It didn’t seem like the boss was hitting all that hard; all we had to do was to avoid the shockwaves and bombs and we were golden.

Could we have done that encounter without the healer altogether? Maybe. I’m not a healer so I really can’t say that with any certainty, but Ana was doing so well sub-30% that I was using WoG on our DPS as well.

Tying this into Bella’s argument, depending on the encounter, a paladin tank can keep themselves alive for a considerable amount of time without receiving a single heal from the healer. If the tank is taking incredible amounts of damage, it is inconsiderate of her attitude towards self-healing, but it benefits the whole party by keeping the encounter going that much longer.

In the end it becomes a decision between pride and progression; an easy choice, if you ask me.

So what can our troubled pally healer do? My advice to her would be to treat the WoG heals the tank is throwing on themselves as a passive buff or proc, or even a mini-cooldown. Rather than having the tank get out of a very good practice, she needs to re-evaluate her position and, if nothing else, take one for the team.

What do you think? Do you agree with some or all of her viewpoint, and why?

25 Responses to “Pride and Progression”

  1. Rhidach December 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    I can see why she would think that’s a good idea, I don’t think that she insists no one refrains from healing themselves out of ill intent. Her hearts in the right place. But, I find it really hard as the tank to hold of WoGing myself, or popping cooldowns, because if I ever didn’t do those things and then died, my death would rightly be my own fault. I can’t live with that guilt!

    She can make that request, but I find it nigh-impossible to comply.

  2. Saprea December 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Like Rhidach says, if I did die, I failed my job, my job is to keep the boss on me and make sure I’m alive, if that requires using WoG, then I’m using WoG.

  3. Kaboomski December 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

    I’ve got mixed feelings about this situation you describe. A couple of my thoughts:

    1) It’s selfish – plain and simple. I say she should measure her own performance in some other way, to avoid stress for those that also watch others’ health.

    2) Although it is a noble goal, even if the group she runs with agrees to give it a try, if there is a wipe due to low healing / not enough damage mitigation, drop the attitude and try things the normal way – pop cooldowns and self-heal when necessary.

    I personally think it best for her to try and find other measures in which to evaluate her healing. For example, how difficult did she find the healing? How much mana does she have left after an encounter? Did anyone die due to low healing output? Asking those questions won’t force a group into doing things they might not be comfortable with, yet should give a reasonably accurate impression of her healing.

    That said, I completely understand where she’s coming from. If I were still playing a healer, I would understand and possibly even try the same. On the other hand, I notice when other people heal themselves, so if they beat me to it, or if they heal themselves during times that I cannot, I can take that into account when evaluating my own performance.

    Of course, we’re talking 5-mans here. Heroic or not, it’s not a raid and there’s just one healer (usually). If people don’t mind, let her do her thing. If people aren’t comfortable with not self-healing or popping cooldowns at certain times, she should either step back and let them do their thing, or drop group. Simple as that.

    Sorry for the Wall of Text :)

  4. saif December 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    It sounds like a reasonable and fair request when testing a new spec or after a major tweak of a class mechanic or something to make sure the healer understands their new circumstances and I would certainly be happy to tank given that request, but if I was doing a random and someone said “please don’t use WoG or AD or DP or GoAK” I think I’d go a bit cross-eyed trying to hold my finger back from using mechanics the developers gave me to keep myself alive.

  5. Kae December 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    As a healer, I do understand wanting to measure your personal success. Unfortunately you can’t live in a vacumn, where only your performance matters. Even if the tanks/dps don’t heal themselves, they will still change the outcome of the fight and affect how the healer needs to heal. For example, if they CC mobs, or have very high DPS, then the fight will be less healing intensive.

    It’s also a bit unfair to the team, because they are working around an artificial constraint that prevents them from fully contributing to success.

    Maybe she could ask for a run once in awhile where no one else heals, but then the rest of the time let everyone follow normal practices.

  6. Vidyala December 17, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    I’m going to echo most of what’s been said here and say it simply: It’s not all about her. By its very nature, it’s impossible measure simply *your* performance in any group play, because… It’s group play. Even the healing she’s doing might get a boost from other players – a shaman’s totem, buffs from other people – the same way I get a DPS boost if there’s someone causing a boss to take 13% more spell damage than I’d be doing if they weren’t there.

    It sounds counterproductive. Ultimately, when you’re doing group content you are doing what’s best for everyone in the group. You can’t ask your teammates to not use their own abilities so that you can feel better about yours. I welcome any contribution, and I use my Gift of the Naaru for great justice, along with any other tricks my class has up its sleeves.

    • Burningbeard January 10, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

      This. Exactly this. Well, without the Alliance part. FOR THE HORDE.

  7. Maoridin December 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    Nice post first and foremost thanks mate.

    As a pally healer also or healer in general i like that she always active in better improving her healing. One question is she open to say letting a tank do the same in wanting to pop all he has in better understanding is class and spec? or a DPS wanting not to be healed so he can best learn his O-Shit buttons………..if not then yea i would have a problem it but if she is open to this then im happy for her. Im all for anyone wanting to improve there gameplay constantly and if she has found a way to do this then more power to her. Hmmmm i also asumed it was a her…. any way i agree with most of the other comments to.

  8. Walks December 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    As a healadin myself, I can sympathize. It is frustrating to see passive healing outshine your own efforts. When 4.0 first hit, we were being out-healed by Shadow Priests in Heroic ICC content and that fact still stings.

    The problem I see in this sort of logic is that the new encounters aren’t designed for this. Passive-group heal is often expected—and encouraged or automatic, in terms of Blood tanking, Shadow Priestery, and cat-ery.

    For example: a Blood DK will have about 14% of the healing in a boss fight through glyphed rune-tap, deathstrike, and blood worms.

    I’m guessing that her logic doesn’t apply to these types of heals, but man she’s really just letting the team down by holding herself (and the group) to such a standard.

    Next consider the fact that paladins do not have an preemptive heals to counter damage when incapacitated. Her attitude sits counterproductive to the group’s success if the tank’s Lay on Hands could mean a repair bill or not on, say, Heroic Beauty.

  9. Repent December 26, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    i think a number of people have mentioned already it is kind of a selfish attitude to take, shes putting her own *ahem* epeen above the survival of the group. it might have flown in wrath where things where well, easier, but cataclysm has a much stronger emphasis on working as a team.
    survival is as much a tank’s job as much as it is a healer’s job and that most tanks instinctively hit their cooldowns at the first hint of danger. tanks can, and probably will take offense when some one suggests then don’t do their darndest to survive and make their healer’s life easier what with mana regen being what it is.

    general hussam can be soloed down by a tank with good movement skills as he doesn’t melee very hard, lord walden in hskf is the same.

  10. Tam January 6, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    Credit to you for presenting this in such a careful and balanced way – I would probably be “this is bloody stupid.” Sorry that’s not very tactful and I do agree that wanting to improve yourself is a noble goal BUT I think the way she’s going about it is contrary not only the concept of, err, teamwork but also the way encounters are designed. If I’m healing, and the tank and the DPS do NOT use their cds, I basically think they’re not doing their jobs – in fact the way I heal is based on the assumption that everyone will be playing their class to the best of their ability, which, to me, means taking advantage of every class feature, including self-heals and damage reducers. So if the shit has hit the fan, I KNOW precisely how long the tank is likely to say alive on 10% and thus I can save a flailing rogue, for example, rather than having to sacrifice the rogue in order to preserve the tank. And ultimately the more people who stay alive when things go wrong the more likely it is you’ll get them going right again.

    I think it’s good to take pride in your performance but group content is not a closed system, you can’t expect to be able to isolate a specific part of it. It’s perfectly possible to analyse your healing *while also taking into account other factors* and anyone who says they can’t is, err, basically being silly. I do however consider behaviour like this the worst sort of healer wank – an equivalent would be a DPS not wanting anyone else to contribue DPS to an encounter i.e. completely it’s completely absurd. Actually a less absurd but still stupid analogy would be: a DPS who refuses to use procs and buffs to increase his damage because he wants to analyse his “pure” performance. Nobody would have any time for such a DPS.

    No man (person … healer) is an island – I think the whole point of running group content is that you are part of a group. You lose your right to make it about your individual contribution the moment you’re no longer questing alone. The point of an encounter is get the team through, whatever that takes.

    I don’t even think this is “pride” – pride has a place (says Tam, Darcyish). I think it’s mere vanity. And vanity has no place in a team.

    Apologies if I have been overly rude to/about your friend.

  11. Spinks January 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    A simple answer to this is hook her up with a warrior tank, they don’t have a lot of self healing and it’s fairly trivial not to use it if it bothers the healer.

  12. Analogue January 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    This seems rather contrary to a proper healing team member attitude. My husband and pet Bear tank, Reversion, prides himself on proper cooldown usage. He sees that as a critical part of his tanking. I don’t see it as in any way an insult to my heals, or making my job “easier”. In Catacylsm healing is supposed to be a marathon. Burning out because you have to do all the healing is stupid.

    In fact we are discussing the idea of “a tank is a junior member of the healing team”, especially with regard to raids, and I think he’s going to blog about that soon.

  13. Solunne January 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    I think “selfish” is a pretty strong word here. There’s nothing immoral about her asking the rest of the group to abstain from healing if she’s confident she can still finish the encounters.

    I still would advise against it, though, because of the experience of Wrath heroics. In Wrath, heroics nurtured bad habits. On raid night I could tell who’d been running a lot of heroics that week because they’d stopped interrupting, stopped being careful about staying out of fire, gotten lazy with threat, etc.

    It only takes a few instances without self-healing for players to fall out of the habit, just like with interrupting and CC and whatever else. Best to find other ways to handicap her performance, like trying to finish with more mana or something.

  14. Rades January 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    I’m going to disagree a bit with popular opinion and say I don’t think this is unreasonable…in a group of friends. Some responses have said that she should find a way of testing this on her own, or in other situations. But healers don’t HAVE “healing dummies” to test this stuff on. The only way to test anything healing-wise is in life or death situations. And I’d much rather a healer try out her tricks and learn the extent of her abilities in a heroic than in the final 15% of a progression raid boss.

    I absolutely would not be fine with doing this with strangers, however. In a group of friends though? I’ve tried to do some bizarre things, out of curiosity or simply to find out if it works. Sometimes it ends in my death. Sometimes it ends in a wipe! But if it’s friends, no one really cares, AND I potentially learn valuable things about my class.

    Is running an instance a group activity? Absolutely. And if by practicing and really testing her healing abilities helps her become a more competent healer aware of her capabilities and limitations, I say that her friends should have no problem helping her in this endeavor.

  15. Have Trowel Will Dig January 10, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Bella seems to have a very narrow view. First of all, of her contribution to the group. In addition to healing, is she on CC or utility duty? What’s her DPS output? With a broader view of her role, healing throughput is less likely to be the measure of her contribution and thus less important to measure.

    Second, rather than looking down on self-heals and CDs, she could ask for pulls big enough that self-heals and tank CDs actually do make the difference between success and wiping. If she really wants to improve her own performance beyond trivial content, she needs experience in situations where she cannot keep everybody up by herself. More whelps. Handle it.

    Third, her limited view excludes others’ improvement. She’s doing a disservice to the other group members by not allowing them to gain muscle memory for self-heals and defensive CDs.

    Group content is not about her.

  16. Rhii January 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    I’m going to add my late two cents, having found this story from Tam’s link, and go against the general grain:

    I hate it when paladin tanks use their lay on hands at least half the time. At least half of the times they do it, it’s because they’re jumpy because they *don’t trust me*. Frequently it’s because one of us is being uncommunicative. Or because I have a big, long, usually expensive, and not rarely too-late-to-canceled heal headed their way anyway.

    Would I rather have a tank pop his lay on hands than die? Absolutely. But don’t do it because you think you’re feeling kinda low and maybe I’m slacking. I’m not, I’ve got you. Don’t do it when I’m already casting a monster of a heal on you. Don’t waste my mana. Don’t devalue my skills. Don’t throw away your cooldown too soon. Use it when someone calls it in vent, when the healer’s dead, or when it’s obvious that the healer’s behind. Don’t pop it at 55% because you think I’m slow.

    To a certain extent, I know I’m going to have to get over this irritation. But I still think I’m always going to prefer healing when I know the tank trusts my ability to keep him up, and doesn’t preempt me when I had it covered.

    WOG, cooldowns, and passive healing effects don’t bother me in the slightest, though. Just LOH, and that only because I frequently feel like the tank uses it as a silent rebuke to the healer: “if you were doing your job right, I wouldn’t have to heal myself.”

  17. Button January 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    I don’t think the special request to avoid self-healing is an unreasonable one, so long as it remains that: a special request. Sometimes you have a new setup or you’re trying a new style and you want a fair baseline to judge yourself by, and that’s fine. Sometimes you have a nonstandard playstyle that’s just orders of magnitude more fun for you, and that’s also fine. As long as it remains a request, not a demand.

    It would be perfectly fine for Bella to ask players to avoid self-healing and cooldowns, in a non-progression encounter, so long as she was willing to take no for an answer. A good analogue would be how I used to ask my guild healers if I could fury tank heroics in 3.3. I preferred it, and they usually acquiesced to it, even though it meant I was a less effective tank. But if they asked me to do it right – which they generally did on HFoS/HPoS (I wouldn’t dream of fury tanking HoR) – I would go prot without complaint.

    What is a reasonable request (can I tank in Fury, can you not WoG) becomes unreasonable when it becomes a demand. I can’t tell from your article whether it’s become a full-fledged demand yet – that is, whether she’ll step out preemptively if someone says they’re going to WoG, “my way or the highway” – but it’s definitely more than a request, as evidenced by how she feels personally affronted when people don’t acquiesce to her preference.

    More-than-requesting a change in someone else’s playstyle for no benefit other than your own enjoyment is not acceptable. (This is to be distinguished from requiring people to spec/gear/play properly for the good of a group or guild, in which one person changes to increase the enjoyment of the many: the magnitude is important here). And yes, I know, she’s ostensibly using it to improve her healing, thus improving the raid’s performance – but she could just as well be doing that a percentage of the time, with friend-volunteers for specifically that purpose or (as Spinks suggests) low-self-heal groups, rather than imposing her restrictions upon groups that would rather not have them.

    I have to say this whole thing just seems odd to me. I can see being angry at Blizzard for making the WoG protadin spec (I certainly am), but I can’t see being angry at a player for making use of the tools available to him/her. Just a really bizarre point of view to me.

  18. Nina January 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Knowing what sort of self-healing other classes have and when they can use those abilities is part of being a good healer in Cataclysm. I’ve got a 40% heal attached to my Evocate, I usually evoke at the end of a burn phase. If my healer knows that, it’ll help her triage when she’s deciding which DPS to top off first. How is she going to learn that if I don’t use that ability when I have it? Plus I need the mana. I could drop that glyph, but I like it for soloing.

    It’s a new expansion, there’s a lot to learn. I understand where she’s coming from but I think she’s gimping her eventual success.

  19. Celendus January 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    Perhaps Bella can keep the party alive under optimal conditions, but what about during lag? To gamble the group’s safety in the name of her ego is, as others above me have pointed out, selfish.

    Speaking as a paladin tank though, I spam WoG not because I worry that the healer isn’t good enough, but to extend the healer’s mana pool to account for when I inevitably herp a derp and take unnecessary damage. I’m paying for my own clumsiness in advance, you see.

    Although, I do also heal party members with WoG sometimes… I guess I just like being a tank with (limited) healing tools. It’s why I rolled a paladin.

    If Bella’s that bored, she could practice meleeing while healing. Seal of insight restores gobs of mana thse days, and CS gives out free HP’s. It’s fun playing as a battle cleric up in the melee.

  20. Celendus January 11, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    To Rhii:

    Any paladin tank that resents having to resort to LoH is a dick, doubly so if they make you feel bad in the process. It’s a 7 minute cooldown; use it or it goes to waste.

  21. LabRat January 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    I can see it as a request, of friends, in content everyone is comfortable with, because it would provide clear results in testing a new spec or testing baseline capability. Or, when everyone outgears heroics, I can definitely see requesting it just not to be as bored.

    As a blanket policy, or a demand, or in progression content? No. Self-heals and cooldowns are part of the way the game works now. At best it’s selfish, at worst it causes wipes.

    As a tankadin I can rise up to a third or more of the healing done on certain encounters in heroics, with no issues of threat. My healers don’t resent it, they learn my patterns of healing the same way they learn the patterns of damage I’ll take.

  22. Inquisitor January 13, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    A druid’s main self-heal is out of their control, coming from Leader of the Pack. A paladin’s requires them to press a button.

    Personally, I’d say that *not* pressing the button distorts things more, since it makes the situation more unbalanced and artificial.

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