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A Lack of “Role” Models

January 30, 2013

Dear Reader,

As we’re all well aware, the traditional trinity of combat roles is on its way out.  Newer games like Guild Wars 2 have done away with them, scenarios in WoW have made them irrelevant, and there has been a lot of discussion about their relevance around our gaming community.

It turns out that WoW has done more than just provide us with scenarios to make roles irrelevant; more than they themselves seem to realize.  Throughout the leveling dungeons, roles are already irrelevant, but you still have to have a “proper” five person party to start one.  Allow me to explain.

As I mentioned, I’ve gone mad and started to level some new characters.  My wife and I rolled two pandas: a monk and a priest.  To prevent having to do the same quests yet again, we decided to level basically through dungeons (with a dash of PvP) only.  We’ve done five or six of them and learned quickly that no one cares about tanks or healers any more.  Virtually any class is able to solo all but the toughest pulls – even some bosses – in the leveling dungeons.

I’ve personally seen a rogue solo a dungeon group without falling below half life.  When he accidentally double-pulled, he killed about half the mobs and – I think – vanished.  There was no stopping him.  Hunters, too, are able to solo dungeon pulls with ease.  I’ve seen a mage take out a melee pack without taking any damage at all, and a warrior who admittedly did nearly die solo two packs back to back.

These were all in separate dungeons where my wife had politely asked people to let her pull and was ignored, so she stopped pulling mobs off the offender and I provided no heals.  We’d just go another way with the other dps and let that person do their own thing.  We only bothered to vote to kick once, with another offending rogue, because he was being belligerent about it (and by god my VtK worked; I guess I stopped playing long enough to reset my 4 hour cooldown.  Good lesson to learn: the only way to regain control of your play is to stop playing.  Or, in other words, the only way to win is not to play.  How about a nice game of chess?).

I might chalk this up to being early dungeons if I hadn’t seen the same thing in the BC normals while tanking on my DK.  Since I know how to tank and the healer seemed down with it, I never really complained; if someone dies to their own arrogance, so be it.  I’m not losing any sleep over it.  Still, I saw dps who could clear whole pulls on their own while the other 4 or us were elsewhere.  It made the run faster, and the healer wasn’t complaining, so I didn’t get my death-iron panties in a wad about it.

But wait – if it’s not a problem, why even let it bother you?  If a group of experienced, consenting adults want to speed clear a dungeon that’s mindlessly easy anyway, why worry?

Surprisingly, I agree.  If that’s the situation, if everyone’s in on it and okay with it and knows what they’re doing because these are alts, then you’re right.  Why worry?

But while that may be my situation, that’s not our situation.  My wife is scared of tanking; her first and only experience came to a fast end when a DK that she’d tanked a few normal dungeons in got DESTROYED in heroic Shadowfang Keep and had 3 healers bail on her, all of them cursing her as a “bad tank.”  She was VERY reluctant to try tanking again, but I assured her that she was a good player and that was a bad moment that certainly not indicative of her actual capability.  Starting fresh with a new class would give her the chance to learn as she went instead of being dumped in last minute.

And that’s the overall problem with this “role-less” scenario.  Think what a completely erroneous view ignoring your role during leveling dungeons gives players about end-game dungeons, even normals.  Healers that are encouraged to dps, dps that pull before the tank and don’t care about running off on their own or getting aggro, and tanks who can’t learn to keep mobs because there’s so much chaos going on around them will never learn the proper way to play at end game.  If they already know, then it’s not an issue, but new players don’t know, and they’re the most vulnerable demographic of WoW subs.  You’d think if WoW wanted to keep them, they’d work harder to make sure they understood what was up while leveling and didn’t hit a brick wall at max level.

Additionally, players considering leveling as dps but switching will never have the proper “role” models to learn from unless they end up in a guild at max level willing to teach a new and completely mis-educated player how to properly do things.  It’s bad enough that leveling teaches the wrong lessons about dungeons, now even dungeon runs teach the wrong lesson about dungeons!

Happily, in many of the above listed cases, once my wife explained that she was trying to learn how to tank and would appreciate it if the dps would support that, a majority of the players agreed to help her.  She’s picked up a lot in just the 10 or so levels she’s been practicing, from using aoe attacks to grab mobs running through her area after someone else to responding quickly with taunts when I mark a loose target (yes, that’s me acting like a crutch, but she knows eventually she’ll have to do that on her own).  So let me be clear that I’m complaining about Blizz’s initiative to make the leveling dungeons so easy that a single dps can kill a whole dungeon pull alone, not about LFD or the players therein (this time).  For the most part, they’ve been supportive, and the one jerk who wasn’t got booted.

A simple solution to this would be for Blizz just to make separate leveling dungeon queues; you could queue for “role-less” dungeons and just take the first 5 people who showed up; lord knows tanks do more dps than dps do early on anyway and most healers can do decent dps, or you could queue for “traditional” dungeons.  That would reduced queue times for people just speed leveling an alt and preserve traditional dungeon values for those who want them or need them.  First characters on an account might be locked in to traditional dungeons until 60 or 70 to make sure they get a clear picture of what’s expected at first.  These are all just ideas off the top of my head, though; my point is that Blizz should, in some way, acknowledge their early dungeon design.

So if you’re in a leveling dungeon, take the time to check with the other roles to make sure you’re all on the same page.  It’s better than the healer sweating bullets or the tank pulling out her hair because of your behavior.  It may be that everyone’s down with it, but if they’re not, please respect their wishes to do things as originally intended, even if Blizz has since lost interest.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and progressing)

P.S I’ve added a new link to my blogroll to the Casually Casual Cast.  I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve been hearing there, so I really hope you check it out!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2013 8:10 am

    Ignoring the odd things like a Warlock using the Demon Hunter glyph, have you checked the gear on the DPS? My new Druid has full heirlooms, other than the ring, and more health in Cat than a Bear who lacks the bonus gear. I’ve only managed to get to the first instances, very little time for alts in MoP, so a limited data set but I haven’t seen anyone who wasn’t in at least 3-4 heirlooms. Which means – all experienced players with overgeared characters and little patience for doing it right.

    It’s a great benefit unless you have someone trying to learn a role.

    • January 30, 2013 8:48 pm

      The problem I see with that is that you can never know if you have a learner or not, because learners won’t often identify themselves and likely won’t realize they’re learning anything improperly since they legitimately don’t know better. That’s why I’m all for simple communication:
      “Everyone here okay with a quick run where we just go buck wild?”

      Of course, learners probably wouldn’t say “no” to that, either, but at least you offered (;

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Samus permalink
    January 30, 2013 5:21 pm

    My experience doing instances in Cata, I’d say easily more than half the time (in 1-60 dungeons), the tank would out-DPS all the actual DPS combined. It was clear that tank didn’t really need anyone else, other than the healer for boss fights and to cut down on downtime during trash. It was more important that the DPS follow around to loot bodies than to contribute their small additional damage.

    Part if it was as rimecat suggested, tanks tended to be decked out in heirlooms. But also, since a tank levels most easily in the dungeon finder (no wait for them), they tend to have all the best dungeon gear available as well. So I could easily see a DPS decked out in similarly overpowered gear perfectly able to solo their own pulls.

    The point is, a truly new player won’t have this gear, and won’t have mastered their class as well. They will need to follow the tank around.

    • January 30, 2013 8:50 pm

      I’ve had the same experiences both with my wife tanking and my DK. And I also agree with your conclusion, but I don’t know that a new player would realize that, and might come to the conclusion that they stink because they’re dying over and over trying to do the same thing the other “heirloomed-out” dps are doing. That’s the kind of thing that worries me about these runs.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. January 30, 2013 6:12 pm

    I think it’s worth keeping in mind Blizzard has to tune for the lowest common denominator. Which means someone in greys and some greens stepping into a dungeon without a clue how they work.

    If you throw an heirloom equipped experienced player in the same situation, they’ll wreck it. I remember doing heroics at the end of WotLK where I “tanked” as a shadow priest. Would literally get a plate DPS to queue as a tank and then I would actually soak the hits (spriests had like >50% physical reduction with Inner Fire and Shadowform). I’m sure some people thought it was crazy, but it was faster and easier than using a proper tank…

    …but that’s only because I incredibly outgeared the dungeons and knew exactly what I was doing.

    I’d be curious to see how a group of five new WoW players in greys and greens handled being thrown into a dungeon.

  4. Cain permalink
    January 31, 2013 8:56 am

    I just recently started Horde toons for the first time and therefore have no heirloom gear. I do so little dps compared to everyone in full heirlooms that I’m basically just along for the ride. So I can understand why the early dungeons need to be tuned so low if you had a whole group of those people. Heirlooms really make a massive difference early on.

    As for tanking, I think the biggest help with learning to keep track of mobs is a unit frame addon or nameplate addon that shows that someone else has aggro. With the unit frames the other person’s frame turns red when they have aggro on something, and with the nameplates you just see the mob’s nameplate change color and know someone pulled it off of you. Even the default nameplates help a lot just seeing where mobs are, but something like tidyplates is even bigger when tanking. Neither addon is that useful when dpsing or healing, but for tanking they are huge.

    • February 1, 2013 10:04 am

      Thank you for your suggestion! My wife actually already uses Grid, since she’s primarily been a healer for so long, and grid does have an aggro alert for her. At this point, she’s mostly getting used to management, how to keep dpsing the mobs around her while turning around, targeting the loose mob, and taunting it. I think she’s doing fantastically and learning very quickly, but she’s a lot harder on herself.

      Thanks for the comment!

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