Friday, January 22, 2010

In Praise of Specilization

Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Holy Trinity

Often people will decry the MMO paradigm of the Holy Trinity of Tank, Healer, DPS--but to me they seem to be the most evolved and flexible set of assignments that allow people to succeed in MMOGs and play more interesting classes. Tactics--like genes--evolve.

There are two primary factors that tactics are evaluated on--the first is success, the second is time. Time, of course, only kicks in after you group has passed the pass/fail check of looting the boss. As a raid group gets better at an encounter you will see the number of healers used go down (and maybe even tanks) and the number of DPS go up.

Everything in the group (or raid) is focused on beating the encounter. Encounters are beaten with DPS. If a boss was a brick wall that you had to knock over by doing X million points of damage, you wouldn't bring any tanks or healers. Tanking only exists when mobs do damage to the group in some sort of controllable way--the party can get the mobs damage onto some sort of specialist who sacrifices DPS for survivability. Healing only exists if the damage encounter's damage is large enough to kill DPS during the encounter.

As an example, we know, that caster mobs don't need to be tanked in instances if one of the over geared DPS decides go one on one with them (I am looking at you Facestab of Kargath--back in LBRS). This is an expression of the evolutionary pressures of encounter length--as soon as part of or all an encounter does away with the need for a specialist role, it will be done away with--shortening or simplifying the encounter. You see this all the time with raid groups--the number of healers and maybe even tanks will go down, the number of DPS will go up. If you can swap out a non-DPS specialist for a DPS specialist you do.

WoW, with its 10 classes and 30 specs, is more than rich enough to support player groups different than the holy trinity. I will also bet you, as a player, you were twitchy at first, doing whatever odd configuration you were, and then decided that the encounter was too easy because it didn't force you into your specialist roles. Ever been in a run healed by a shadow priest, in shadow form? That isn't a holy trinity group--no healing specialist. I know it made the players I was grouped with twitchy the first couple of pulls doing it myself. And in walking into SM (Library IIRC) I knew I was over geared and under challenged.

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