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Officers' Quarters: Be kind to your tanks and healers


Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.

If you've queued as a DPS for the dungeon finder lately, you've probably marveled at the estimated time and wondered what happened to all the tanks and healers. Maybe fewer players want to tank when crowd control is necessary; maybe fewer players want to heal when mana must be managed. Maybe it's the fact that gear is more critical at this point in an expansion, so people are shy about signing up for those roles. Or maybe all the tanks and healers are skipping the unpredictable dungeon finder crowd altogether and looking for guilds to join.

Whatever the cause, dungeon finder queues for DPS are absolutely brutal at the moment. If you don't want to wait 30-plus minutes for every run, you're going to need tanks and healers in your guild who are willing to run heroics. You may wonder, why wouldn't they be willing to run heroics? After all, the content is fresh, the upgrades are flowing, and most people still need justice and/or valor points.

The question isn't so much whether they want to run heroics; the question is whether they want to run heroics with you, right now.

This week, I'm going to focus on what players and officers can do to avoid stressing out your tanks and healers and help them to enjoy the game along with everyone else.

It may seem unfair to even broach this topic. Officers should strive to create a pleasant and rewarding environment for every player, regardless of his or her role. However, the fact of the matter is that your tanks and healers are the grease that keeps the gears turning on your loot assembly line. And they are the ones who will be quickest to burn out when they are overworked and underappreciated.

Keep in mind that at this point in the expansion, the reliable tanks and healers in your guild are getting asked to run dungeons nonstop pretty much from the moment they log in. Everyone needs specific gear from specific heroics. Everyone needs the daily random. In a larger guild, that's a lot of people who need runs, every day, and none of them want to wait in a dungeon finder queue.

There's a reason tanks and healers sometimes become divas. They are in constant demand, and it's easy to let that fact get to their head. My purpose here is not to encourage you to coddle them but to help them feel good about logging into the game, rather than dreading what might be asked of them when they do.

As a DPSer

If you play a pure DPS class or if you can't or won't play a different role, the last thing you want to do is annoy your guild's tanks and healers. Here are some tips for making life easier on them.
  • Don't ask for a specific tank or healer in guild chat. Whispers work just fine. If the player doesn't want to run a dungeon at that moment, don't make him or her turn you down in public. It's awkward for them and for you, and it makes other tanks/healers feel second-class.
  • If you're going to ask, ask. Don't fish for sympathy by bemoaning your green trinket or make a case for help by explaining how close you are to getting your camel mount. Just ask.
  • Don't demand, sulk, whine, bully, beg, or offer bribes. If your tanks or healers turn you down for a run, ask when might be a good time for them. If they just don't want to, accept it. They are under constant pressure to run dungeons, and you are probably not the only one they're turning down right now, so don't take it personally. The absolute worst thing you can do is get all passive-aggressive about it in guild chat by typing something like, "If only there were a tank online who wanted to run heroic Deadmines."
  • The dungeon finder still exists. I know it sucks waiting in the queue, but while you're doing that, you could be gathering materials, completing dailies, questing for rep in a zone you skipped, or a dozen other productive things.
  • Stay at the keys. If you have other things going on that prevent you from staying in front of the keyboard, don't ask for a run and don't volunteer for one that's forming. Wait until you can focus on the task at hand before you jump into a dungeon.
  • Enchant and gem your gear. Tanks and healers don't have the luxury of going without enchants and gems while running heroics at this point in Cataclysm. Any enhancement they forgo could lead directly to a wipe. If they see you show up in a set of unmodified armor, they're going to blame you if the run takes much longer than normal or if the healer goes OOM because the boss isn't dying fast enough. Green gems and many enchants are still relatively inexpensive. You don't have to use the absolute best, but at least make an effort to eke out more DPS from every slot.
  • Say thanks. If you specifically ask someone to tank or heal a dungeon for you, thank them afterward. It's a small thing, but it goes a long way. And that goes for DPS who get roped into runs as well!
  • Don't be greedy. After a successful run, don't ask for another. If you'd like to do multiple runs, say that up front and try to find a healer and a tank who'd also like to run more than one dungeon. If you're really itching for more justice points, the best approach is to ask a tank or healer if there are any dungeons they need to run.
  • Would a PUG vote-kick you? When in doubt, ask yourself if your behavior, attitude, or lack of appropriate gear would get you booted from a dungeon finder PUG. If it would, then don't subject your guildmates to it. This one goes for everybody!
Of course a great number of gameplay issues are involved as well, such as not pulling aggro and using effective crowd control, but it's not my purpose here to tell people how to play.

As an officer

Part of our job as officers is protecting our tanks and healers from burnout. Too often, that means protecting them from our own overeager guild members.
  • Schedule specific times for heroic runs. These times could be daily or they could be several times per week. Doing so gives your tanks and healers some breathing room, because when they're asked to run heroics (and they will be asked), they can say they're waiting until the scheduled time to do any runs the guild might need. It also helps your DPS to get into heroics without relying on the dungeon finder -- which means they may not desperately plead for a run the instant a tank or healer logs in.
  • Encourage DPS-spec hybrids to help out. Every guild has members who could tank or heal with their class but who are reluctant to do so for any number of reasons. Speak to these members privately about the possibility of gearing up and playing a tanking or healing spec just for heroics. Assure them that they won't be asked to perform that role in raids if they aren't comfortable doing so.
  • Establish guild-wide crowd control marks. Now that we're all back to using CC, marking and explaining pulls is generally left to the tank, and it can quickly become a tedious chore. You can help out your tanks by asking people to learn a specific set of marks. There are more ways to CC a mob than there are marks, but the most common can be assigned. For example, skull = tank's target, X = tank's secondary target, moon = polymorph or hex, square = freezing trap, star = sap, triangle = bind or banish, diamond = fear, and so on. It won't always work out exactly, depending on your composition, but it can save time for most groups. Likewise, make sure your tanks know that they can bind these marks to specific keys, which saves them an enormous amount of right-clicking.
  • Recruit more tanks and healers. Don't assume just because you generally have enough tanks and healers for everything you need right now that those players are happy with the amount of time they're putting into the game and that they will always be around when you need them. It's better to have too many tanks and healers than just barely enough. Most of them will be quite happy if they get to DPS (or opt out of) a dungeon or a raid now and then, especially later in the expansion.
Let's hear from the tanks and healers. What would you like your guild or your DPS guildmates to do to help keep you sane in this time of unprecedented demand?

/salute

Join us to learn how to survive the leveling process, deal with guild perk freeloaders, and discuss the guild talent controversy or the guild reputation system. Send Scott your guild-related questions and suggestions at scott@wow.com; you may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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