Today I am Going to Fly

Some men are born posthumously. ~Nietzsche

Am I good tank or a bad healer?

Posted by penuruloki on October 21, 2009

Last night I got to tank in our 10 man Ulduar run. The only time I’ve ever gotten to tank in Ulduar before was on Razorscale. I’d been on all the boss fights we faced last night on previous runs, but always as a healer. My first toon was a tank from the first talent point I spent, so getting to step back into tanking on fights that still challenge the guild, even for just a night, was an exciting opportunity. I haven’t gotten to tank consistently since our first guild heroics last December.

And we did pretty damn good. We dropped five bosses in two and a half hours, with no wipes (we did have some downtime from bios and afks). After all the wipes I’ve healed when we’ve tried to do Ignis on prior runs, Geofon and I tanked it for the first time (it was the first time she faced him at all), and we dropped him in one go. We only had one death on the fight at all (Warlock in the slag pot). Last week it took 2 tries each to drop XT, Razorscale and Ignis, and 3 tries to drop Kologarn. This week we dropped them all on the first try, and with lesser geared tanks and healers too.

That begs the question, why are we struggling so much on our other runs? Certainly we had top notch dps last night, and that always helps. Low dps causes more problems than people realize. Most people place all the credit/blame with tanks and healers and ignore the problems of longer fights or shorting the group on healers to compensate for low dps. That said, you do have to look at tanking and healing, and I have two reasons for being suspicious of our performances there.

First, although we have a lot of tanks (half the raid had a tanking spec/set last Sat!), we don’t have stable assignments. We switch tanks a lot, and it’s hard not to notice differences in results (sometimes dramatic) when we do. A big problem on our raid last Saturday was tank deaths. Some of this was tanking assignments not being clear or not being followed well enough. Aside from that major problem, the stats also showed a significant difference in damage taken over the other tanks we’ve had on that fight (about 3k-5k more per hit, and not avoiding nearly as often), for reasons I still haven’t completely settled. The tank in question is not unskilled, but he was consistently taking more damage than I could handle for an extended duration of time. Being able to compare performances, there clearly had to be an issue with that tank (on that night anyway). Right? Apparently not all tanks are created equal, and not being a bad tank doesn’t make you a great tank. Or maybe not being bad is good enough?

Am I a problem as a healer? I’ve gotten used to being complimented on my healing, going all the way back to the days of off-spec healing in leveling dungeons, but how sincere are the compliments, and what am I being compared to? I’ve given my own reasons for healing, but someone else gave their view over at World of Matticus recently, and in both the article itself and the comments that followed, “I’m good at it” seems to be a prominent reason. How do they know they’re good? They know because people tell them. People tell them because they drop bosses and get loot. But is that really the full story? Two things can make you above average: you can be really good compared to others, or they can be really bad compared to you. Considering that healing is probably the hardest job in the game, and gets harder or easier based on the quality of the rest of the group more than the fight itself, it’s entirely possible that the average healer really isn’t very good. It’s also possible that healers that are merely average get thanked and complimented just to keep them healing so that people can get runs. Like tanking, the question becomes, does merely not being bad make you good?

Add to all this that I still haven’t been in on an Assembly of Iron or Freya kill (they were dropped on runs when I wasn’t there), and I’m left to wonder if I’m really all that great at healing after all. Certainly I’m not a bad healer, but maybe I’m only mediocre, despite compliments.

So given the stark contrast of last night to prior runs, what conclusions do I draw? Do I assume our tanks aren’t as good as I thought they were? Are we letting low dps sabotage our efforts too much? Or are our regular healers (including myself) overrated and not up to the challenge? Am I a good tank or a bad healer? Or is my contribution to success really not all that significant altogether?

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