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Healing Thoughts: Addons

June 2, 2010

I could dps without addons. I’d be less effective but I could do it.

I think I could tank without addons. I would find it harder but I could do it.

I don’t think I could heal without addons. I just couldn’t.

Why? And is this solvable?

I’m sure some people could. For that matter, with a sufficiently large number of macro slots and a lot of time to practice, I probably could. But while the time is difficult to come by there really are not enough macro slots for a character to have every spell bound to mouseover and I’d have to do that.

The why is fairly simple to my mind; there are too many targets. And more than two too many at that.

I can have a target and a focus. That’s two. But even in a five man there are five. So I can focus the tank and target whoever is most likely to take damage apart from him (assuming I have a load of focus macros, ah well). So I’ll target the mage who keeps pulling aggro, or the rogue who keeps standing in the poison, or the warlock who keeps lifetapping. Hang on!

In a 10 man raid, there are probably 2 healers, call it three. So we can have three targets and three foci. But there are 10 people. Er, still hang on!

Now contrast this with dps. DPS either have a single target or they are doing aoe. In aoe fights, many classes don’t even have to target anything (on my mage I constantly find myself targeting creatures at least three fights away due to the continuous blizzard spam). In single target fights, you generally find your target and never switch off it. Sure there are some where you have to switch and certain points but it is seldom and seen as a major fight mechanic (see the adds from Freya that my guild consistently does least well with of the three types or Mimiron’s third phase). The concept of triage is practically non-existent in normal fights.

Tanking is the same. We’ve all heard about how Wrath is an aoe-fest but it is not exactly something that is difficult. For me, I pick a target for the beginning then put down death and decay and spread my diseases. I swap targets either for the hell of it or because something is running for the mage. But it is not the same as healing, the shifts are not every second of the fight. Not unless you are hopelessly outgeared by your dps anyway and even then taunt is on an 8-second cooldown so they can just take a nap.

Healing is all about shifting targets, changing priorities, keeping the tank up while reacting swiftly to the mage who can only take two hits before he dies. Frankly, my reactions are not good enough to heal without assistance on that front. If it was just tank damage then yes, that would be fine. If it was just tank damage and damage done to stupid dps who take aggro that would be fine. But there is fire to stand in and whirlwinds to stand in and evil auras to just drain away my charges’ health.

So I can’t just heal the tank and be ready to heal whoever is next on Omen. So I need addons to allow me to quickly react and target.

But the ironic thing is that I suspect it was addons that meant Blizzard started to put this damage out.

Firstly, the prioritisation and shifting targets is the fun of healing (even I a dedicated non-healer say that). It was fun when only the best healers could do it (though macros and sheer brilliance no doubt). It is still more fun than simply pouring healing into the tank. It is a different prioritisation to the mana game one they say they want us to play but it is similar. So when addons existed that meant even the mediocre and poor healers could do this, they were able to move the game so that the raid damage existed everywhere. Think of the old world. Not much party damage in the early end-game but it was certainly there in Naxx. Think of BC, not much in the 5-mans but it was there in Kara. Think of Wrath, it is everywhere.

Secondly of course, it made most healing too easy. If there are only a few target shifts then the addons become vastly powerful. If there are hundreds then they are merely necessary.

What annoys me is that yet again, the base UI just can’t cope. It is like raid frames. I know one person at least who walked into a Naxx weekly without raid frames and hated it because she could not see anyone. The Blizzard ones are useless and anyone who is even a non-serious raider will have addons. Anyone who heals will have addons. It is almost impossible not to. And that is a large part of the game that cannot be done using the base UI.

Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ache permalink
    June 4, 2010 10:26

    Nahh, it really does indicate a major weakness in the UI, with the added problem that the existence of ubiquitous and high quality addons means they’ve little incentive to improve the UI. You could use keyboard shortcuts to hop between characters and cast spells, but that’s just an irritation compared to the real issue I have (though laziness does mean that having everything bound to various mouse buttons and inflection keys helps on effort and memory) which is that the normal portrait system spreads the information you need (health, mana, status effects) over a huge area and makes it quite tricky to see who’s actually suffering what and where. If you’re focusing on target A’s health, target B’s is about 5 inches away, small, and not going to be noticed unless you ignore the battlefield instead.

    Out of morbid, what addons do you require for DPS. Omen *helps*, but only really for single-target fights, and the DPS meters are useful for disecting strategies, but not really within a fight themselves.

    As to Naxxramas, if you’re talking about the wee venture into it that I think you are, the isolation was only one of several issues taken, albeit probably one of the two biggest.

    • Arcturis permalink*
      June 8, 2010 14:39

      To be honest, I’m not sure there are any obligatory ones for dps beyond Omen and even that is almost luxury if you are careful.

      There are lots that I find obligatory for general quality of life and a few that I think absolutely vital for raiding. Raid frames (I use x-perl) and bar mods (I use bartender) are both for me.

      As for the Naxx run, I agree the isolation was only one factor. But there is no obvious reason why the UI should make it more intimidatig to play with 10 than 5. I think it does and I think this was a, albeit not the, reason.

      • June 9, 2010 17:56

        Agreed. I think I could DPS happily without addons. Omen, a damage meter of some kind, and various battle text filters and cooldown monitors are all quite useful but in no way essential. No bar managing addons for me, although it’s tempting given how much of my limited screen space the default action bars swallow.

        DBM perhaps, because it helps draw attention to the most dangerous parts of a given fight, but that’s not specific to DPS. And, y’know, I could live without it but I would not be happy to do so.

        As I’m on a PvP kick at the moment, I was interested to note that high-end arena players end up using minimal addons. Granted, they only ever have 2-5 friendly targets and an equal number of opponents, but I still find it an interesting facet. Partly this is because addons are not allowed in tournament play, so you’d better get used to not having them if you aspire to compete there. Partly I think the increased focussed on communication of minutiae using channels outside the game and UI allow for it.

        So my next thought is: are we likely to see greatly improved raid frames to encourage rated BG play? If they really want to make it a viable alternative to arena, and presumably promote the same level of play, the base UI has to scale to raid-sized groups.

  2. June 4, 2010 15:09

    Interesting points.

    I agree on the Blizzard raid frames being largely useless for healing, and the fact they’re not even shown by default is criminal. The first experience of a new raider should not be ‘it looks just like a party, with orange text’. Maybe this will be addressed alongside the abolishing of ‘party’ as a subunit of ‘raid’.

    I could probably just about survive without clique, but it would be a slow, painful process. I don’t have keybinds or macro slots to spare for a billion mouseovers, so it would probably involve clicking to target and then key presses to cast: fairly clunky. Dispelling – often the healer’s responsibility – would also be a pain in the proverbial.

    It is interesting how damage to the raid/party has evolved. In particular, very little damage is completely avoidable these days – no matter how smart your DPS are about not standing in bad, they’ll take randomly targeted or aura damage all the time, and a lot of the various flavours of fire will tick at least once whilst you move out of it.

    Anything which is completely avoidable tends towards one-shotting people if they fail. I actually find this more frustrating as a healer, because I like being able to help fix things when they go awry. Meh.

    Random tangent: I gather some DPS and tanks don’t use raid frames, and as the Blizzard ones suffer from the twin maladies of (a) being awful and (b) being hidden, never really notice the status of the raid at large. I’m sure these people are in the minority, but Blizzard don’t encourage them to do otherwise. I’ve been in many a pug where people have complained about lack of healing when all the healers were face-down in the dirt, for example. How would someone new to raiding even discover the concept of raid frames?

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