Who is the most important person in your group?

One of the great things about well designed team games is that every single member of the team can feel important. They each have a part to play. If they play their part particularly well, they can see it make a difference to the team.

And that’s good because, for self-esteem, everyone likes to feel that they were contributing. (If you aren’t in the team for self esteem then what you mostly want is everyone else to think you were contributing while you actually find somewhere quiet to hide at the back, in much the same way that I used to pick my position in the school rounders team.) I wouldn’t be surprised if the boost to self esteem from running in successful groups is one of the reasons people enjoy grouping so much in games.

I’ve seen a lot of blog articles and forum posts since the new dungeon finder came out explaining how the writer and their class/ role single-handedly can carry a group. I’ve read posts by smug tanks, healers, and dps explaining how it doesn’t really matter what everyone else does, because they are the sole reason for success. And I think … well, OK, but they can’t all be right. Can they? Even allowing for people playing with rose-coloured blinkers.

If the team game is genuinely good, then each member of the team should have a chance to shine. That means it shouldn’t always be one team member who has to shoulder the burden. So probably it’s right that everyone sees this differently and feels that they personally carry their groups to victory.

From running instances recently in WoW on different alts, I changed my view on this. (Note: this does vary based on different encounters, different classes, and different games but I think it’s interesting to compare how in control the different roles and classes can feel.)

As a tank: Yup, I control the run. I can make it smooth and easy as long as the other members of the team are vaguely together. It won’t matter if all four of them are undergeared and inexperienced, I’ll make things work. It might feel like hard work at times, and I can’t always make up for a really incompetent healer – although I have soloed a few bosses from about 20% to dead in the past couple of weeks. If the group is bouncy and insists on pulling way too many extra groups, I can probably handle it although it’ll make me grouchy. If anything goes really badly wrong with a pull, I can pick it up as long as I get some heals along the way.

So yes, I feel pretty much in control as a tank. If the group is good, I can find fun things to do to keep my interest. I can step up the pace, or give myself marks out of 10 for getting all the mobs in a pull on top of each other when I use shockwave, for example.

As a healer: I almost always feel useful, but I never really feel that I am carrying a run unless something else has gone catastrophically wrong, in which case I still need the tank and dps to be doing something about it. All I can do as a healer is buy them time. I can make up for poor dps to some extent by simply not running out of mana before a boss dies.

So I don’t really understand where healers feel that they can single handedly pull things together. The only way that happens is if everyone else has failed horribly, which isn’t really that common. If the group is really good, it’s quite dull to heal (which is good if you want to sit back and farm some emblems). If not, it can be extremely exciting with plenty of chances to shine – when you spin the random dungeon you don’t know which you might be getting or how quickly a group can switch from one to the other.

I don’t feel in control as a healer, but I don’t heal in order to feel in control. I heal when I want a break from that and want to just chug along behind the group and sling some heals around.

As a dps: This is where I changed my mind after having pimped up my Death Knight to the point where I can talk my way into TotC and ICC PUG raids and have people asking to put me on their friends list afterwards. (6.5k on ICC trash yesterday, I don’t even know how that happened!)

As a high powered dps, I do feel that I am a powerhouse in groups. It barely matters what the rest of the group are doing, I will kill things quickly, can pull annoying mobs into position, have some crowd control, and can even tank in a pinch. So I feel really useful in runs where things are going well, but also really handy in an emergency where everything has gone pear shaped. Plus, even if all the other dps die in a fire, I’ll make up for them in boss fights.

I don’t control the run, but I have a lot of power over the more important side of it – the bits that involve mass slaughter of innocent mobs as efficiently as possible. If the group is good, I can always try to beat the other dps on meters. It may partly be the Death Knight, which feels incredibly potent as a character, since I don’t remember feeling like this on my warlock.

I don’t know which role I prefer, because it depends on my mood. I do like having the options available though – only possible for me because I’ve been playing WoW for long enough to have a few geared alts. But I do find it funny that so many people feel as though they are the most important person in every group they run.


27 thoughts on “Who is the most important person in your group?

  1. Isnt that a sign of good game design? Everyone feeling like the world revolves around them (ie you are 0,0 centre of referrence).

    In any case its good that established players can pretty quickly gear themselves and their alts to be able to experience the game in all its facet so we can switch to whatever role takes our fancy these days.

    • Couldn’t agree more! I love being able to see all sides of a group in practice. IFor sure, I had the alts anyway but it’s amazing how much difference the dungeon finder has made because now it’s no effort to throw them into groups.

      (In fact, they’ve all been thrust into the coal face of instances to earn more frost badges so that I can turn it into primordial saronite for Spinks. I feel like a gang master with a bunch of exploited navvies.)

  2. Wotcha Spinks,

    An old gag I pull with friends is to say at the end of a run; “Well, you were all pretty good. I was fabulous”.

    It is, of course, a gag. I don’t really feel that way. But the point is that we all feel like we did great, and everyone else was just there. Perception is weird that way.

    Speaking from a healer point of view, I have never felt able to Control a group with a big letter “c”. However, without me, everyone dies. And denial of healing is what gives me control over other player’s actions. It’s seen dps start to manage aggro, it’s seen tanks slow down and wait for my mana to be replenished, and it’s seen people behave over need/greed rolls.

    That’s control of a different sort.


    • “But the point is that we all feel like we did great, and everyone else was just there. ”

      I think that’s the beauty of well designed classes, roles and encounters. It’s great when that happens.

      You have to watch out a bit for the passive aggressive healer thing backfiring though. I was in a group today and the first thing the healer said when he zoned in was ‘gogogo I don’t have much time’ (but spelled worse and in capitals). So I said, “If you don’t have time then leave now and we’ll find someone who does.”

      The instance proceeded in frosty silence. I had wondered if he was going to not heal me but I guess he figured he might as well settle down and get his badges.

  3. I agree with your analysis of healers and tanks, however I think you are very wrong with DDs. There is nothing more unimportant than them. I’m quite sure one tank and one healer would be able to two-man most of the actual heroics even without raidgear. Try that with some DDs. Sure, if the other two DDs of a usual group fail you can fill in for both of them, but at the same time, if you fail they can fill in for you. Or if you all fail a good tank and healer can do it alone. If you do a good job or not doesn’t matter at all.

  4. Very interesting post. I think you’ve really illuminated one of the key strengths of the Holy Trinity system.

    Regarding healing it has become less possible to feel special as the game has become easier. But back in the day a great healer made an amazing amount of difference – you juggled a lot of balls and if you dropped one the team wiped. Gearing was genuiunely strategic instead of “stack sp and haste”. Triage was real – healing that rogue might leave the tank to die when you were oom.

    As for dps I think some people see damage as work and dps meters as evidence of work done. If I’m in the Library shelving books and I shelve four loads while my colleague shelves one load I feel like I’m carrying him. Same as if I do 4k dps when someone else does 1k. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine people who consider themselves to not only be carrying the 1k dps lightweights but also carrying the tank and the healer if the chart shows them as low. Stupid notion, but not inconceivable that there are a lot of players looking at things that way.

    • I think since I’ve been running so many instances lately, I’ve gotten quite interested in group dynamics. And having different roles definitely keeps things lively.

      I do remember healing felt quite different when you really had to be careful with mana, throw in a few shackles, and could downrank spells. I don’t honestly know if it’s more fun now.

      • I don’t think so.

        After 8 years of tanking (5 in EQ, 3 in WoW at the time) I leveled up a priest just to see how the other side of tanking lived.

        Healing in BC was interesting–you had time to think (most of the time) and make somewhat interesting tactical decisions about who to heal, when to heal them, and how to heal them.

        Now, my impression of healing is spam AE heal and occasionally drink. My healer has been benched for most of Wrath.

      • I am not even sure that is a fair question any more.

        The games are from different eras even–auto attack was a mainstay ability for warrior and there was little strategic use of cool downs. Most abilities were so basic and simple that you spammed them when they came off cool down without thought.

        That said, managing the melee push was interesting and lead to constant thinking. Every physical attack in EQ pushed the mob a little bit and if the tank weren’t careful his back could end up in a wall, and DPS dropped, and sometimes DPSer dropped due to parry/repost.

        Raid tanking was based on a 3 minute duration ability–defense IIRC–that cut agro and damage taken by 30%. 10 minute cool down so most raids needed at least 3 tanks.

        The way the game was structured very differently. You would “camp” some part of a dungeon, pulling the same sequence of mobs, usually on a 42 minute respawn timer, and get to know you party and group mates. Combat was slow enough itself that most classes could chat in combat and you would see the same people zone after zone leveling up.

        I would expect that modern EQ, 5 years later, is a more active, involved beast, though I hope managing the push is still something tanks have to do.

  5. I’ll agree with you on this one, Spinks. As a tank it’s easy to feel like you’re totally in control of everything and blah blah blah. I was humbled of this fact the other night in Pit of Saron. Prior to Monday night I had never wiped in there. I was coupled with a healing priest, decently geared to heal me. Normally the runs go without a stitch. Everyone moves fast, no one complains about mana (which I’m watching anyway, btw) and we finish in 15-20 minutes, tops. After wiping to trash and blowing my cooldowns 3 times on it, he admitted he was watching the Vikings game. After killing 2 DPS on the first boss, he said “shutting off the tv :(” and admitted it was also his first time in the instance. We did the second boss without a hitch, the DK died to stupidity, but generally it was OK. I admit I was frightened of the first 2 pulls on the gauntlet, with the 3 caster vrykul and 2 melee. We got through it though, and I felt more confident. And then, the tunnel. Made it to the large revenant quickly. Killed him. Then I started to move to the last edge of the cave and before I got my charge off I was dead. Whatever. I just want the run to end, I don’t say a thing, we just do it again. Finish the gauntlet, slowly. Get to Tyrannus, start the fight. Healer gets WTFpwned by adds that are supposed to be tanked the NPCs. Hunter says “stand further from the door next time,” priest again states it’s his first time and that he’s sorry. We do it again, kill the boss, and guess who doesn’t get an achievement for completing the instance? The priest. FML. Moral of the story? No you’re not as important as you think. Without a good healer, a tank is a corpse. Thanks for posting.

  6. DPS isn’t unimportant, but they are in excess supply, creating an impression of being expendable. It doesn’t help that they are one of three rather than unique in their role. A person is the healer, someone else is the tank, and then three other people are this group of generic DPS.

  7. As a Tank, I agree with you on your tanking comments, though at least a marginal healer is required. I can see what you mean about healers, however, that is largely because most Heroics are so easy. By way of example: Halls of Reflection. I can carry a group through any heroic in the game, but an undergeared/underskilled Heroic HoR group is all about the healer being on their game, if they aren’t, there isn’t much I can do about it.

    As far as DPS goes, I think that is largely a DK thing, just because you can take some of the hits. I have a hard time seeing a mage or a rogue for example really taking over everything.

    • You’re right, but I think everyone more or less needs to be on their game. If DPS or the tank is too slow, you’ll wipe just as easily as a healer who’s not 100%.

      • I think if I’m running progression content or something hard, then I absolutely do want a great healer who is on top of their game. And it makes a big difference.

        If it’s a farm run, then anyone who is paying attention is fine. But in a farm run, a top notch dps can really make things zoom along and I’ll notice the difference.

        So I guess I think that good healers only really get a chance to shine when the content is hard or people really mess up.

  8. I have to disagree about the healer’s contribution. They aren’t limited to everyone else doing their job – they’re limited to one other person doing their job. Which, to be fair, is what each role is limited to.

    A good tank + healer combination is the most obvious one: a bunch of sucky DPS can continue to suck the whole run, and a tank and healer will just grind away the mobs (enrage timers excepted).

    A good tank + DPS will blow through an instance far too fast for mobs to be a threat. CC & off-heals can make up for a DC’d healer. Many achievements are easier when the healer switches to a DPS spec, someone pops Bloodlust, and the boss is dead before it can get the tank below 50%.

    A good healer + DPS can just bruteforce their way through a dungeon like nobody’s business. It really feels like bruteforcing because the tank is really only around to “off-tank” the non-focus targets while a DPSer facetanks a main target. I’ve also seen plenty of pulls, even boss pulls, “tanked” by a retpally or a DK with a powerhouse healer behind them.

    I think your article implied that a good healer and some decent DPS can’t make up for a terribad tank. And I quite firmly disagree.

    • I’ve never actually seen a tank that bad is the thing, and I’ve run quite a few instances as dps or heals recently. I’m sure there are plenty, but it doesn’t seem so common in my experience (either I’m lucky or else tanking isn’t that hard 🙂 ).

      But one thing that does come home to me is that even though a tank and healer can carry an instance, it’s very slow and boring to do it. I really do get to appreciate how good dps can make instances snappier and more fun for me.

      • Generating aggro in a heroic isn’t that hard these days.

        Pulling the correct next mob pack isn’t that hard in a heroic which is just a tunnel.

        I’m leveling a DK tank at the moment and run all the BC 5 mans again before and at level 70. I miss these instances where one wrong pulled group causes a wipe.

        I miss “difficult” to pull pats (Blood Furnace, Strat undead), stacked mobs (Mechanar, Botanica, LBRS), mobs with tons of annoying abilities like fear, stun, charge (as long as they don’t stun the aggro lead and switch to the next target) (Mana-Tombs, Shattered Halls, Sethekk Halls). Mobs where you had to do something to survive (The two guardians in front of the doors in heroic slave pens with adequate gear.)

        The DK has a talent (http://www.wowhead.com/?spell=49039) which removes and makes you immune to fear for 10 seconds on a 2 minute timer. My first reaction was “This is great! I need that!”. The guid tells you “This is a PvP talent, in PvE nobody fears.”. And I mentally went through the list of WotLK instances… yeah… there is the raptor…

        Tanking is fun.

        Walking along a tunnel producing AE threat is just tanking-light.

        Same with healing. If your mana doesn’t matter it’s either boring (iLvl 200 heroics) or just SPAM-heal-or-die (all TBC heroics, HoR) which isn’t really funny either.

  9. I like to think I am a good warrior tank. Mostly in T9 welfare epics now–Triumph badges are a joke now. (I have ground out over 200 in the last week of play.)

    I can take the hits in any heroic 5 man in the game, over gear Heroic ToC 5, and significantly over gear the older 5 man instances.

    My ability to carry a group is directly related to how much I over gear a place. Original Wrath instances? The healer can more or less put me on auto-follow, and use a dippy bird for some heal or another and I will happily chain pull with 3 auto attacking DPSers.

    Trial 5 man? The DPSers need to be paying some attention as its just tuned a bit harder.

    Halls of Reflection? I am geared well enough, but all 3 pieces need to be there. Spot on healing, because picking up 6 mobs, with 2 casters, is something that just takes time. Someone who isn’t me is going to get smacked. Good, focused DPS to keep Arthas from melting Ms. Proudmoore’s face. And coordinated enough to do this all on the move and not out agro me on the tenuously held mobs.

    Really, if the tank is paying enough attention, is ability to compensate is all about the gear.

  10. Regardless of your role in the group, whether you’re the Tank, Healer, or DPS, you are not the most important person in the group.

    Sometimes through fight mechanics specific to particular encounters you WILL be the most important person in the group, not because of the role you fill, but because of a Buff or Debuff you happen to have obtained (“You’re the Bomb! And I don’t mean the good kind!”), or because the Boss has singled you out, such as Kara’s Big Bad Wolf confusing you with Little Red Riding Hood.

    If you’re DPS, the Healer and the Tank are the most important people in the group. I’m not saying you’re not important, because obviously if Mobs & Bosses aren’t taking damage they’re not going to die, but you’re not the most important people in the group. Yes, the Boss won’t die if you don’t bring the pain, but if you out-Aggro the Tank you risk wiping the Raid so if you’re DPS, the Tank (& their Aggro) is (usually) more important than you.

    Now, in an apparent contradiction to my previous statement, if you’re the Tank, the Healer and DPS are more important than you. It’s your job to Tank the Mobs and ensure they stay off the Healer and DPS, and if you do lose Aggro, it’s your Job to get it back (except when it’s to a CC’d Mob). But while you can hold that Boss’s attention all day, without DPS and Heals he (or she) is not going down, so if you’re the Tank the Healer and DPS are more important than you.

    Finally, if you’re the Healer, contrary to what the Tank & DPS think, you’re not the most important person in the group. If you’re the Healer, the Tank and DPS are more important than you, because the Tank & his/her Aggro are the only thing standing between you and a world of hurt, and (do I have to say it again?) without the DPS the Mobs are not going to die.

    In summary, regardless of your role, the most important person in your group is (almost) always someone else.

  11. I think there are still alot of worthless classes in the mix. I know plenty of classes that I hated to have in my groups.

    Just think of Rogues. As a healer I hated them with a passion. Every rogue wants to be top dps, and take so much damage because of all the aggro that it makes a healers job twice as hard as it should be.

    After all my experiences in games I think a Tank is the most important. An experienced tank can make a run that much smoother.

    DPS is the most unappreciated even though without them you wouldn’t kill anyone. It is like they stand back, and do their job, but its not hard to spam a spell rotation.

    • That’s pretty bold to say all rogues want top dps and don’t care about aggro to get there. I know plenty or more rets, DKs, warriors, locks, mages or shadow priests that do the same. Not to mention hunters. Putting it all on the rogues or saying one class is worthless is pretty shortsighted.

    • My main is a tanking paladin, my main alt is a rogue. And yes, I do want to be top DPS. Thing is, I’ll open every pull with Tricks of the Trade, I’ll Feign every piece of AoE going, I can and will Cloak of Shadows anything relevant – and I’ve got Vanish and Evasion to hand if that all goes wrong.

      So yes, I usually am top DPS – but along the way, I’ve glued every mob going to even rather mediocre tanks – and I’ve avoided both aggro and all the avoidable damage I can.

      I know I think of rogues as the *least* squashy melee – just because of all the tools they have to hand (rets would win out – but the number you see bubbling to avoid raid damage is way too small. I guess they just never needed to learn, unlike rogues.)

      Not all are any good, of course – but it’s the fault of the players not the class.

  12. Answer: The knowledgeable one (or the good leader)

    I’ve played a healer and dps well enough to have guildmates REALLY want me along on 5 mans and raids. Despite that, and a lot of nice comments, I know my real value by the amount of failures I’ve had in pugs. I’ve probably been spoiled irreversibly by the knowledge of the 1 or 2 folks I am thinking of now where I am willing to go into an instance completely unprepared if they are along.

    The knowledgeable one can easily and quickly explain the key elements you need to know for the fight. If you can do that quickly, politely, and have enough patience to deal with people who may not even realize they need help… you can take almost anyone through an instance regardless of skill. We just took 3 people who struggle a lot (despite having gear) through PoS where I was 2nd for dps as the healer (3 below 1k dps) with no wipes. That wasn’t healing skill, that was someone being willing to handhold everyone through while understanding their capabilities (and limitations).

    So most important role? Has to be the knowledgeable one. I’ve not finished instances with a great tank, a great healer, and also with great dps… and in my experience the most important role is that one person who is capable of understanding both the encounter and the limitations of those he/she is playing with.

  13. Dont forget that some players excel at one role but suck at others (for lack or practise or just plain apptitude).

    I am, I like to think, a pretty good healer with some fancy acheesements and so on to ‘prove’ it [or that I can fake it well enough to get carried] and I used to play a mildy decent Hunter and can fake a days work as a ‘lock….but put me into Elemental spec on my shammy and I apear to me a aggro monkey who gets shouted at by tanks [Sorry] or worse lets well geared tanks drop when the less well geared healer gets swamped [Sorry Spinks!]. And as a tank…well there’s no other way to say this:- I’m just BAD. But I’ll jump into an instance to heal or pew pew with behind the undergeared alts of several tanks I know ‘cos I know they’re that good. Player>Character gear

  14. For the easier heroics, I’ve started running in special squashy high-DPS gear – just enough defence (and resiliance) to hit the heroic defcap from my best tanking/pvp pieces, and ret gear in the rest.

    I’m sitting on 31k unbuffed health, and if I chain pull such that two groups are up at once, I take enough damage that the healer gets a little less bored – which I see as a positive advantage. Also, I get to see if I can out-DPS the DPS.

    Thing is, I usually *do* end up top DPS. I’ll be beaten out by someone in mostly 232s, who knows their class – but that’s about it.

    And, of course, if the healer takes an unannounced AFK, I’m fine (might have to blow a cooldown if they do it at the start of a pull).

    I’ve certainly swapped to my raid tanking gear (the high-avoidance set, of course) and just carried on with the instance sans-healer before.

    I wouldn’t voluntarily do every boss that way, but I managed it vs. the final boss of AN+, with no off-healing or cleansing support, and that has to be one of the worse ones.

    So… yeah. I out-DPS the DPS, and I don’t need the healer. Guess I feel pretty important. The fact that queue times for tanks are near-zero, and people regularly seek me out to tank for them helps to reinforce that.

  15. Pingback: /AFK – The New Decade Edition « Bio Break

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