Who Has the Hardest Job in Raids

Oh that old chestnut. Despite the fact that I just spent a whole (long) previous post explaining that I felt no need to tread posting ground that was already well-traveled, here I am again. Why? Well I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately is why. Amber’s post on her blog which I read recently just happened to be the proverbial straw that broke the back of my resistance to posting about this. A long time ago, think back to those Nax days of WotLK, I was party to some discussion on forums and blogs about who had the hardest job in raids. Having always been a tank, it’s in the blood you know, I knew that my job was at times difficult, but I never felt that it was “the most difficult.” I had spent a brief period of dalliance into the world of Holy Paladin healing and realized that I didn’t like the pressure of it. Being the tank has it’s own kind of pressure, but one that I rather enjoy and look forward to. I can only imagine there are people who feel the same way about healing. Healing pressure is not for me, however. I hadn’t, at that time, spent much time playing on the DPS spectrum of my class.
I when I started playing World of Warcraft, dual talent specialization was still just a pipe dream, so I made 2 paladins. One whom I resolved would forever be a tank, the other would fulfill the Retribution DPS role. I figured one or the other could give healing a shot if I was bored sometime in the future. Well, dual-spec came out and I decided to go Protection / Holy so that I would basically always have a spot in a PuG, since that was how I ran heroics once I hit 80. My specifically retribution paladin was still hanging out down around 68 so there really wasn’t much dungeon-level DPS experience for me on him.
So back in the Nax days, I firmly believed that healers had the hardest job, tanks the second-hardest, and DPS was a distant third. Now, having played all three specs in Nax, Ulduar, and ToC, I have been forced to reconsider that assessment. As I’ve said before, I never raided before Wrath of the Lich King, so I can’t say how it was prior to Naxxramas. There are so many mechanics jammed into individual fights these days that everyone has to be on their toes in encounters, but I’m starting to feel like DPS needs to be even more on their toes. Patchwerk is a long time removed now, and we can’t expect that all a DPS needs to do anymore these days is plant their feet and blow shit up. There are lots of adds that need to die, lots of fires that need to be run from, lots of chain-lightnings to spread out around, and lots of big AoE to avoid. Almost every hardmode in raids now has degenerated into “blow it up faster” which is rather disappointing to me as my guild’s DPS is on the low side almost across the board. We have to off-tank 3 of the 4 adds in Anub’arak on regular every phase or we don’t hit the enrage timer. But DPS doesn’t have the luxury of fight mechanics to blow bosses up faster. Especially in fights like Faction Champions, DPS really can’t just plant their feet or too many monsters will run free killing people. With CC nerfed retarded for that fight, you can’t even just sap some guys for a minute or chain-polymorph things and win the fight like they were actual monsters.
A tank having sympathy for DPS? Surely this is the end of our society! Soon dogs and cats shall lay together and blood shall rain from the heavens! Tanks have to worry about holding agro and not doing something stupid that gets them killed. Healers need to worry about not getting killed and keeping others from getting killed, DPS needs to worry about killing the boss, not pulling off the tank, doing more and more and more damage, time on target, switching targets appropriately, doing things that don’t get them or their raid killed, and saving the healers when the tanks screw up. That’s a lot of responsibility when you lay it all out there. With so much DPS-hate running around and everyone blaming them for everything since it’s never appropriate to blame the healers it’s gotta be tough to be a DPS these days, so, yes, I do have sympathy for them. It is hard to do their job, but it is by no means impossible, even if, at times, it might seem a little unreasonable. I’m not saying they can never be at fault, or even that we, as non-DPS roles, should ever cut them any slack, but because they have several mutually exclusive jobs (be tops on the meters but make sure to run 10-30 yards away from the boss and everyone else constantly and for god’s sake don’t run through that fire on your way…!) it’s a lot harder than it looks.
The old BC mantra of, “If the tank dies, it’s the healers fault; if the healers die, it is the tank’s fault; if the DPS dies, it’s their own fault.” just feels sadly quaint in an era of intense, unavoidable raid-wide damage (gem and enchant for Stam obviously, lol) and hard modes crammed with so many mechanics at times it is tough to remember them all. DPS, it is still your fault, but I love you anyway (Except you Mortigan, you blame the tank wayyy too much). 🙂 Now hit it like you mean it! Two Rows! I don’t see enough DoTs!

3 Responses to “Who Has the Hardest Job in Raids”

  1. There’s a reason I find DPSing acutally more brain straining than healing! There’s a lot of different stuff to remember for a lot of different fights.

  2. DPS, depending on the fight, may or may not be harder or easier than tanking or healing for that fight, however the level of individual pressure is massively lower. If a given DPS fails, generally it can be compensated for, and sometimes not even noticed. If a given healer fails, people die, and that generally leads to a slow (or fast) wipe. If a given tank fails, it is almost always a wipe.

    It’s not that any one job is harder or easier, because depending on the fight and strategy, it’s almost always different from fight to fight. Tanking and healing require near perfection and high levels of focus at all times, boss fights and trash. Tanks do not get to go afk and autofollow someone on trash (although, DPS doesn’t get to, either, in Edge), and when tanks fail, raids fail. If any one DPS fails, it’s not generally an issue.

    Given that, Edge strategies tend to offload difficulty, as much as possible, into as few people as possible, and it’s very often tanks, healers, and 1-2 dps, so that everyone else can have as Patchwerk-like an experience as possible, and incidentally put out higher numbers and kill boss faster.

    Given that, tanking ain’t easy.

    • That’s true, I really am being too general about it. Sweeping generalizations and stereotypes are never correct, of course. I consider it a significant point in Blizzard’s favor that there is a large variety of boss fights, even though several mechanics are constantly repackaged. This is, above all, just subjective opinions and observations from my own, admittedly, limited experience. Maybe I just don’t play with the kind of DPS who let me take them for granted. 🙂

      Along with the variations in fights, there is the variation in available tactics and guild preferences; so, like I said, my own limited experience and subjective outlook.

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