Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tanks, but no Tanks

I was clearing out the Tatooine bonus series quests on my Jedi Sentinel when the call came through on Gen Chat.

"LFM for World Boss."

It's not like I haven't seen that before.  Even WoW got back into the World Boss business with Mists, so you'll occasionally see recruitment messages in Trade Chat in much the same way you'd see pug raids in the old days.*  Still, I used to eschew World Boss runs in much the same way that I passed on raids:  I simply didn't have the time to invest in the gear grind and then the raids themselves.  Perhaps I'm not being entirely fair about raids these days, with LFR and all, but watching guildies smash themselves against ICC day in and day out for 3+ hours at a time kind of turned me off of raiding as anything more than an occasional diversion into AQ40 or Sunwell.

Still, one nice thing that the World Bosses in TOR have going for them are that they're level appropriate for the world you're in.  If you're at the right level for being on a specific world, you can assist in taking on that planet's World Boss.  No gear grind needed.**

Before I could talk myself out of it, I whispered the player rounding up the WB attempt and promptly received an invite.  I took a speeder out to the Dune Sea and scanned the list of people who joined up; I recognized a few people from Heroics I'd run, and one other person I'd run a Flashpoint with.  The slots were quickly filling up to the max of 16, and by the time I arrived people were splitting themselves off into the three parts of the trinity.  There was only one thing...

"Do we have a tank?" someone asked.

"Um," I replied, scanning the lists, "I don't think we have a tank spec at all.  But we've got a LOT of healers."

Indeed we did.  I counted seven Commandos alone, and three Jedi Sages.  There were a couple of Gunslingers, and one other Sentinel besides myself.  One person piped up, "I'm the only Scoundrel here? :-("

"Yeah," I replied, "but you're OUR Scoundrel."

The player organizing the run quickly spammed Gen Chat with "LF tank for World Boss" until our fifteenth slot was taken.  "Hi!" the tank said.  "Who's the main tank?"

"You are," someone said.  "You're our only tank."

One of the Commandos added, "Yeah, but you've got about 10 healers backing you up."

"Okay, cool.  I'll get there and we'll do this."

Playing toons whose damage can really spike --a Mage (WoW), a Barbarian (AoC), or a Gunslinger (TOR)-- taught me the value of waiting before joining in an attack.***  So I had a ringside seat of watching about a half dozen glowing green lines on that tank when he started in on the WB.  I'd have laughed if I wasn't so intent on getting into position, because it looked like the old Chain Heal spell run amok.

But what I really had in mind was this Order of the Stick comic.

We DPSed down the World Boss without losing a single toon.  In fact, I don't think that either myself or the tank dropped below 75% health for the entire fight.  Hell, it's entirely possible that I could have tanked the WB with that much healing available; not that I'd want to have tried, mind you, but it does illustrate the value of having excess healing to go around.


To piggyback on that WB adventure, I can make the conjecture that in a battleground a healer is far more important than a tank.

While having tanks and/or melee DPS is nice to have, BGs are won or lost by the number of healers a side has.  My completely unscientific observation has been borne out by months upon months of grinding through Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin, where you can make a reasonable assertion which side will win purely based on which side has more healers.  

A good healer can turn a squishy Mage into a tank.  No healer can turn a Warrior into a sitting duck.

And while a Ret/Prot Pally has a very limited number of heals before they run out of mana, the Feral Druid and Shadow Priest can hang around, dropping far more heals, even though they are technically a DPS spec. I've recently been in an Arathi Basin battleground where a Shadow Priest, a Mage, and a Feral Druid kept six players busy at the Stables.  Sure, they eventually lost, but the corresponding loss in time to taking them out meant 1/5 of one side kept 1/3 of another side from impacting the game. Spreading 9 people across four nodes meant that nodes were shorthanded, and the other side could (and did) take over at least one other node.

A good healer, just like the Demonology Warlock with their Wild Imps, can swing the battle by being a force multiplier.  Sure, you've got others with pets, such as the Hunter and Frost Mage, but a healer is a force multiplier without needing a pet at all.  By keeping teammates upright, the healer has an oversized impact on the game.  And if that healer can drop AoEs like the Druid can....

Well, you get the point.  A healer is a prized commodity in the BG world.

*Old days = pre patch 4.3.  Not to make you feel ancient or anything.

**Imagine a Knucklerot on steroids in every region of WoW, and you get the idea.

***Well, that and being a smudge on the floor when the boss smacks you good.

EtA:  Corrected a logic issue in the last paragraph.


  1. Yay for downing your first TOR world boss! :D

    1. Thanks! It almost felt like cheating when we hit the WB that hard. Almost. ;-)