Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sterling Order of Knights :: Good priest post

I orginally posted this to the priest forum, but I think that all classes would benefit thinking about aggro management.

The purpose of this thread is to examine an issue that I believe to be particularly troublesome to the entire priest class, although primarily to those doing ST or lower instances. Hopefully, it will improve the mental health of Azeroth's up-and-coming priests, as I hope to examine what may be a repeating and often occuring problem for you.

The priest's main role in Warcraft is that of "healer". The novice to the game will understand the healer's role something like this: "The priest doesn't do damage, only heals others, therefore when I get hurt his job is to heal me. If I die then obviously I wasn't healed enough, boo on my noob healer."

While technically this is reasonable enough thinking, it suffers from being too simplistic. The priest's healing role is subjugated underneath the one big role of the entire group, under which all classes in every group are subject to. What is this secret underlying dominant role?

Aggro Management. By FAR the most important underlying role of all groups towards completing their goals successfully (AND quickly, to the surprise of some) lies entirely in how they manage group Aggro.

But what do I mean by Aggro Management? Let me provide an illustration.

An intrepid group of bold young explorers ventures out of Ironforge, on a mission to wreak havoc and destruction upon Scarlet Commander Mograine. The team is composed of a priest, a mage, a warrior, a paladin, and a hunter. They are all friends in real life, and they are all in the same guild together. They have fun playing but primarily play solo, and haven't done much instancing together.

The first few pulls are a breeze. The mage knows how to poly, the hunter uses some slowing traps, the warrior beats on guys, and the priest keeps everyone's health topped off. The paladin runs around crying about some "seal of the crusader" thing, but nobody knows what he's talking about. At least he keeps up on the blessings.

Then the pulls get just a little bit harder, and the dymanics change completely. Mobs start breaking suddenly, first for the hunter, or for the mage. Their health starts going down fast. They scream for a heal. The priest is confused and worried, these are his friends he's playing with, he's supposed to keep them alive! He's tossing flash heals, renews, and sheilds all over the place, he's using fade at every opportunity, he's shielding and healing himself during pulls to stay alive, and after every single pull he is /oom.

Sound familiar? What has happened is that players in this group have not adapted correctly to the group dynamic.

It is important to note that this is very understandable. When dps classes solo, they always have ALL of the aggro - they are used to being attacked. Why should they think they're not supposed to be attacked when they get into instances, that's what healers are for right?

Again, this kind of thinking has some merit to it, but it's just too simplistic.

In a group, if you are not either A - a tank, or B - an aoe caster who is currently aoe'ing, then you shouldn't need more than one or two renews in any pull, (now of course stuff goes wack from time to time, but that's what all that extra mana is for).

Why is this? If you are taking damage, it means that you are pulling aggro away from the tank. You have violated the most important rule in groups (Aggro Management). For the priest to expend the mana necessary to heal you would likely place him at the top of the hate list, making it that much harder on the warrior to do his job.

It's a Domino effect - if aggro doesn't stay where it should, it's gonna bounce around until the priest is dead or /oom.

For this reason I would like to draw attention between the idea of "healing" and the idea of "covering". If Paul the Priest notices that his best friend Hank the Hunter is in trouble because he's absolutely laying into the pulled mob, for Paul to heal Hank is not "healing" him as much as it is "covering" Hank's CRITICAL error. It is categorically the same as Paul spamming prayer of healing throughout the entire fight. Will it keep everyone healthy, yes, until Aggro gets broken (until the Aggro Management rule has been violated).

When you think about it, it isn't a very "nice" idea - most Priests ARE Priests because they enjoy keeping their friends alive.

What I'm attempting to illustrate is that Aggro Management is not something only a priest or warrior need to know about - it is the single most critical concept towards a good group.

Do you see how this places priests in a tricky situation? If Hank the Hunter violates Aggro, all is not lost - the priest can still elect to heal him. By "covering" his mistake the group is now at a greater likelyhood for a wipe, but the priest feels happy knowing that his friend isn't dead because of him.

My suggestion to remedy the sitution might sound harsh, but it will only be so if you don't understand the concepts I'm talking about. My suggestion to Paul the Priest in this situation is to give Hank the Hunter, his best friend, ONE or TWO renews, and otherwise let him die.

What what waht!?!?

By healing Hank you are preventing him from learning how to play his class properly. He should not be pulling aggro away from the tank. His critical error is only compounded if you heal him.

What I am NOT saying is that you get to be a jerk, that you get to "choose" who you heal, or any of this elitist-minded bs that this forum seems so freaked out over.

After the first pull, I'm sure Hank the Hunter will assume that you simply forgot to heal him. He probably won't even say anything about it. After two or three deaths in a row, however, he might be getting a little angry.

Please, please, please be nice. There's no need to say "cause you suck noob stop drawing aggro." Try to explain to him how critical it is to the success of the group that the aggro stays on the tank. Try to explain that if you (the priest) only have to heal the tank, the run will go faster and smoother than if Hank crams out the last few bits of dps that his character can provide. Try to explain to him that your job is not to keep everyone healthy, it is to keep everyone healthy WITHIN the contest of Aggro Management. Hopefully he'll understand.

"Healing" is a fun and rewarding role in instances. "Covering" is stressfull, thankless (surprisingly), and generally not-fun.

By "covering" the mistakes of other's you allow them to continue playing incorrectly, out of a misguided notion that being a priest means that you "ought" to do such things. Sterling Order of Knights :: View topic - Good priest post

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The way aggro is gained is through much like a poison counter system. Sounds weird but its around those lines. Certain things grab certain amount of aggro. It's not always the one characters fault but the team as a whole.
Here's the way we used to use it in EQ and I believe it is the same system in all MMO's. There is a considered "amount" of aggro a person starts to gather. When a tank (person that should have to most aggro) is fighting, he should have a macro button set up to shout out for assist when he is ready for the rest of the team to start flanking or attacking. The reason for this is so when the others get on the enemy/ies that the Tank has gathered enough aggro to hold the enemy on them, thus making it so the cleric sorry priest only has to heal the tank, of course keeping on there eyes on others like always but this is how we do it. Even on the biggest mobs in EQ this is how we did it, just had clerics in the back healing for safe measure. Warriors are the essence of aggro gaining but they can be outweighed by any caster that starts effecting the mob in some way of some sort to early, so wait till the mob is about 5-10% before attacking. And always wait for the tank to call out for assistance when the time is right.