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When Tanks and Healers Disagree

Acidmaw and Dreadscale

I’d like to talk about an issue that has a tendency to crop up when you’re playing a tank class in dungeon settings. The problem is disagreeing with the healer when something goes wrong. Before I get into that, though, let me tell you about what happened last night in WoW.

I was playing my Death Knight, hanging out in Dalaran, considering running a heroic. On a whim, I said what the hell and let LFG know I was a tanking looking for any raid they felt comfortable having me in and gave my stats – I don’t do this shouting your gearscore stuff.

I’m still at the stage where I’m a little nervous about raid tanking with people I don’t know. I haven’t done it yet to really feel comfortable in every encounter. Anyways…

I wind up joining a group for 10-man ToC. The group consisted of 8 members of one guild, myself, and another random person. The healer was in vent, being really nice and telling me what I’d have to do.

I felt good. Everything went great until we hit the worms. Phase one went great. I didn’t have trouble keeping threat and the healer was keeping me cruising right around 50% with the occasional bump up. Then, as we got closer and closer to the boss burrowing in the ground, those bumps stopped and only the HoTs remained. Before I knew it, I’d died. This wasn’t a quick two tick thing, either. I had long enough to pop my trinkets, DK skills, summon and kill my ghoul, before watching my health fade into nothingness.

The other non-guildie started calling out for me to be rez’d so I could pick up threat again. Thirty or forty seconds later, he did and told me in vent to “pick him up again.” I did. He healed me to max, put on a HoT, and started taking care of other people. We got to the stage where I got petrified and poisoned, which semi-slowly eats away your health. Again, heals stop and I tick away and die – right as the paralysis breaks.

Following this, the entire raid wipes. No one says anything. The healer then, hesitantly, says “get better gear before you come in here again, Uh, ‘kay? Thanks, bye.” From my position in the raid, it was clearly not MY fault that the raid wiped. He was just well known enough to pin the blame on me before people started asking questions. At least he was nice about it. Kind of.

On one hand, this pissed me off enough to log out – though, I didn’t say anything rude to the group I’d been in. On the other, though, I have to wonder what it was like from the healer’s perspective. Maybe from his point of view, I’d been the one sitting there doing nothing. It could have been as simple as their guild’s tank didn’t require as much attention, so I’m to blame for things not going as smoothly.

The DPS, paying attention to their own job, probably wouldn’t know either way. So, it comes down to a tank/healer stand-off. Whoever draws first and has the most fans in the crowd wins. I see this happen a lot in heroics, as well.

We hear a lot about tanks and healers having arguments with the DPS, but not so much about arguments between themselves. That’s interesting, I think, because tank and healer relationships are incredibly polar. When things go well, it’s great. When they don’t, one of you is to blame and you never want to be it.

And I feel bad about it afterwords, at least in raids. I don’t like having a hand to play in an attempt failing. I want to do my job and do it well. Even in situations like this one, I find myself thinking about it later, wondering if I’d messed up somehow. It’s possible, I’m still new raid tanking. But, hell, is HoT healing standard in raids too?

If so, Cataclysm couldn’t come soon enough with those mana-limits. Something about that and tanking DoTs just feels lazy.

I wonder if healers go through the same things.


For those interested in knowing what stats I had entering this group: 33k unbuffed HP, 542 defense, 25.6k armor, 24% dodge, and 19% parry. My avoidance is a little low but different sites and players said I was ready for this.


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  1. Docholiday

    I’ve never played WoW but I do have both a tank and healer in LOTRO so I can at least chime in from the general side of things. It does sound like there was some sort of communication disconnect between you and the healer – which is pretty important, especially when you’re PUG’ing. As you clearly were expecting more heals, and the healer was paying attention elsewhere. I’m sure there are all sorts of potential answers to the question of what happened, but perhaps you piping up on Vent (if that was possible) when you were blowing all your heals and last resorts or the healer telling you up front what he was planning could have averted the wipe.

    But it sounds like you at least handled it well and didn’t go off on them :). The only other thing I could suggest would be to ask the healer or someone from that guild to chat with their tanks to see if there was something else you could’ve (or should’ve) done in that situation.

    Tanking and healing are pretty unforgiving roles in any group and even more so in raids but it isn’t always obvious which one is screwing up just that the combination of the two is failing.

  2. Stabs

    WoW has changed a lot since the early days. People used to be prepared to wipe over and over when raiding. Now people tend to bail with snippy comments.

    I look upon it with something of a competitive streak and I usually try to one-up these clowns. If someone had said “get better gear before you come here again” and then left I would say “lol, that guy who just left was healing my ghoul, what a noob”. No one else is to know whether that’s true and it neatly persuades everyone that the issue was not my gear.

    1. Maxivik

      “WoW has changed a lot since the early days. People used to be prepared to wipe over and over when raiding. Now people tend to bail with snippy comments.”

      This is 100% accurate. All the new changes to gear score and grouping really give people a way out when there is a wipe one or two times. Instead of spending a couple of hours working on it to prefect your skills at a particular encounter, it is a lot easier to bail out after one failed attempt, and blame gear or the pug in the group. In my experience if a tank dies, all you have to do is look at the healers mana pool. If its not 100% drained, it’s the healers fault.

  3. Mark

    sigh so many of my favorite blogs all ran back to the grindfest lately, I miss the old posts! Oh well at least ya’ll are having fun I guess, for me it’s LOTRO and COH!

    1. Chris

      I’m actually thinking of letting my WoW account lapse this month and going back to LotRO myself. I’m back into the heroic rut I was in with my mage. Too many more experiences like the one above and it’s a for sure thing.

  4. Heretica

    I’ve always played a healer and it seems my approach is quite different from that off the healer who shunned you. I don’t know what class they were, but since I mentioned HOTs I’m assuming they may be used to more of a raid healer role.

    As a paladin, it’s my main priority to keep my tank up and help raid heal when possible/necessary. If a tank goes down, I usually feel that it’s my fault and try to see where I can improve for the next fight. Like other comments have pointed out, it is important to have good communication between the tank and healer.

    If this 10-man was sporting only 1 healer, the healer should have been good enough to handle it, and if they thought it might have been an issue, they should have either run with a tank they know & trust, or they should have recruited a tank with a specific gear score in mind.

    To blame it all on your gear after the first attempt seems rather rude (not accepting any responsibility themselves), but on the other hand, by blaming your gear they’ve admitted that YOU did nothing wrong, and it was their inability to heal you that got you killed. So… I wouldn’t feel too bad.

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