Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Synergies Between DPS and Tanks/Healers

Saladfork and Phaelia made very insightful posts about the relationship between tanks and their assigned healers a while back. What about the DPS'ers though? We might not have the same instant bond those two share with their assigned life mate in instances, but I definitely have a budding relationship between myself and specific tanks & healers.

With the tanks...
The DPS figure out very quickly which tanks are threat monsters and which are just meat shields. The ability to dish out tons of threat and make a monster hate you above all else, even with fireballs and daggers shooting up that monster's a$$, is a prized skill for groups and raids. For every point of threat a tank can produce, each DPS'er can push out (roughly) two more points of damage without becoming an tasty Gnome-kabob or fresh floor ornamentation. We notice. When I can start outputting damage on a target as soon as a tank engages and lands his/her first threat ability, I notice. When a tank can go from off-tank to main-tank on a target when the main tank dies inexplicably, allowing the mob to start eating the faces of all the melee who were riding that tank's behind threat-wise, I notice. I definitely find myself a bit more contented when certain tanks are slated to tank rather than others, because I know that I can push that much harder and the mob will be dead-er quicker.

With the healers...
There are many, many situations where the melee DPS are assigned a dedicated healer. Void Reaver springs to mind immediately - the melee'ers stay right behind Void Reaver for the entire fight, stabbing away and bending their weapons on his thick armor, getting continually pounded by his PBAoE (that's point-blank area of effect spells, for the uninitiated). In that situation, Restoration Shaman and Circle of Healing Priests are receive my undying love. On Na'jentus too, I often get brain heals thrown at me for the entire fight. It's knowing that the heal is coming that allows me to keep pounding away at the monster's backside without having to stop and either a) bandage myself, b) drink a potion or chomp a healthstone, or, Light forbid, c) use my precious mana on a Holy Light for myself. If I don't trust the assigned healer with my life, my damage suffers, and then it takes longer for the boss to die, creating openings for healer-fail, surprise disconnects, or random acts of tank death.


The relationships the DPS form with the tanks and healers tend to be one-sided, however. While the tanks and healers know who's assigned to whom and can know they have each other's backs, the DPS are simply told to unleash hell on X target, not to rush to the aid of Y tank or free Z healer's hands from shielding Y tank from certain death. Because of that, the tanks and healers don't really have an opportunity to bond with specific DPS'ers. The one exception would be the threat-monster Destruction Warlock or Fury Warrior who's always riding a tank's a$$ on the threat meter - tanks notice them, and grow to either hate them, or at least have less than warm-and-fuzzy feelings about them. Believe me, I know - I played Protection for a while, and the Elemental Shaman whom I have tanked for pushed me to new threat heights, and my first feeling about it wasn't "thanks for making me a better tank!" It was more like "/grumble, that gorram ele shammy is on my arse again..."

Relationships for the DPS tend to be with each other - friendly competitions to blast/stab/smash/gib monsters harder and faster than the guy next to you. Not exactly on topic here, but some players live and die by the damage meter, and take notice of the guy/gal who's challenging his/her spot at the top. On a ZA bear run last week, a Rogue and a Destro Lock had a running competition for top damage throughout the run, and kept jawing at each other until the final gun sounded and the full damage report was posted. I used to run with a Shadow Priest who would constantly update me about our relative position on the total damage meter, and would curse my name mockingly whenever I started beating him. These relationships tend to be mutual, unlike the DPS relationship with the tanks and healers.

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