How about a training dummy/event for healers?

OK, so there is this awesome new set of training dummies in the Mists beta that gives someone facing, raid buffs, food buffs and flask buffs, can be killed and has about 50 million health. It’s a pretty damn cool new tool for players to try to more accurately judge their DPS in a raid environment without having to actually go in to a raid. It’s a wonderful idea, a great idea and a necessary idea.

But how about one for healers?

So, lets lay it out there, healing is a stressful job, accompanied by a certain sense of anxiety and dread that accompanies healing a group for the first time. I hear horror stories of people getting booted out of instance all the time when they first start healing because they are new and not perfect. It’s a huge fear. One of the things I always suggest to new healers is to pop into a battle ground. As folks on twitter have pointed out, and I’ve agreed with for years, it helps you sort your UI, and it helps you learn some of the aspects of healing like triage. But it doesn’t teach you everything. Healing a PvP group isn’t quite the same as an instance, especially when you have to manage cooldowns and mana usage for boss mechanics, tanks, DPS and yourself.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t heal in PvP, by all means you should as it’s a great way to test out your UI, spells and what they do as well as key binds, but I still find fighting against another group of people is much different than fighting against a raid or boss design. I just want to make it clear I’m not discrediting PvP healing as a learning tool, but there’s no elegant solution to it. I mean, even Rift has healing dummies to help you gauge yourself.

Now here’s a thought that’s been on my mind for a couple months now. In The Secret World there’s a test you have to take for your preferred role to access nightmare content, and it’s called the gatekeeper. What the gatekeeper does is it forces you to respond to mechanics and use your toolkit. When I stumbled upon this I was immediately reminded of a very old class quest in Vanilla World of Warcraft , and I’m sure some of you will already know where I’m going with this.

Remember when you went for your Benediction priests? Do you remember the difficulty of that class quest and how it made you use everything you had to smartly complete the quest? It was an awesome class quest that worked within the confines of the character class at the time.

So here’s my proposal, lets have something, an event,  that you can go into that gives you NPC party members to heal and a faux boss fight. Through this, players could individually test their mettle, get logs and see if they were having issues without having to risk embarrassment or ridicule. Yes I know it’s an MMO and yes I know there are social requirements to be had, but DPS can go to a dummy and test out their numbers, why shouldn’t other classes get something similar? Why not a faux encounter like the Gatekeeper in TSW that lets you test out our abilities in relative safety. Think of how something like this could benefit healers.

Lets take that a step further, how much would something like this benefit tanks as well, or DPS. It would be an amazing boon. It would relieve so much pressure by eliminating at least partially the notion that you have to be perfect on your first time out. You could test to some extent and get an idea before ever having to walk into an instance. I would wager that if something like this was implemented there would be a lot more willing healers, and a lot more willing tanks. I can’t count how many times people in my own guild have said that they would want to try healing or tanking, but don’t want to do so in a manner that would waste someone’s time while they were learning. It’s nice to have friends to call on to learn this stuff, but sometimes they just aren’t around to help at the times you need them.

Yes you could make the argument that you can learn this while you level up and learn your abilities, but at the end of the day I’d be willing to be the amount of people that level through instances isn’t nearly as great as those that level through questing. Even though questing as a healer or tank has gotten better, it’s more often than not more effective to level as a DPS spec anyways. I’ve had healers message me for advice, and then when they get ridiculed in a 5-man or an LFR, or a new raid they just stop because while they were learning, not everyone understood that and made it twice as difficult.

The Gatekeeper system is one of the best things I’ve seen implemented into an MMO in years, it is something I would love to see re-purposed in other MMOs, if only tooled a bit differently. In our case a repeatable event or quest that lets you test yourself, your new gem setup, your new talent choices, your new reforging or just learning how spells work without the opportunity cost of failing publicly before you’re ready. Lets just make it more of an event and less of a test, make it something healers and tanks could use to get a feel for their respective roles.

Is it  a perfect solution, I can’t really say, but healers and tanks need some love too. Having a new tool for DPS to check their numbers with full raid buffs is really nice, but don’t leave out the healers and tanks, the two most stressful jobs you can choose to undertake in just about any game. I just think adding something like this would be amazing, useful, and combined with everything else at our finger tips would just further strengthen our healers and tanks, and their confidence in their roles.

I’ll write more on this later I’m sure, something more in-depth and detailed, but for now I’m curious to see what you think. Would this be something you’d like to see implemented for healers and tanks?

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About Lodur

Lodur is the right hand shaman to Matticus on World of Matticus, and a recruiting officer of Conquest and Co-Host of For the Lore podcast. Read more of his works at WoW Insider.

7 comments
Lyev
Lyev

I would think that it should be possible to do a dummy similar to the dps target dummy. Everyone in melee range of the dummy is raid buffed and the dummy starts attacking. If you would be killed by it, it reduces you to 1 health and knocks you back out of range (possibly with a debuff that makes the dummy ignore you for a bit so it isnt constantly played with). There could be different ones for high constant damage, medium constant with large spikes, etc to work on basic situations.

Mybele
Mybele

I played a Hunter (pulled Molten Core back in the 40-man days) as my main through classic wow and most of Burning Crusade, then made a Priest to try healing/Shadow.  I tried healing once or twice and hated it (really didn't like having to watch people's health bars instead of boss fights) but loved Shadow, and it became my new main toon.  For years I didn't dip my toe back into the "healing" pool because I was so intimidated by the thought of wipes happening while I was healing.  (In fact it was a common joke around the server that my Priest toon did NOT heal). Finally, a month before Cata was released my guild found themselves with tons of dps and a shortage of healers. The GM (a holy priest since the beginning of WOW) took me aside and said "you're bored with dps and with wow in general, now is the perfect time for you to try healing, we have a guild of people who know you and will be very patient with you.  Why don't you give it a try?"  So I researched Holy and Disc, thought Disc would be easier to learn, I already had the gear (never used). Read everything I could on healing from InSider, Elitist Jerks, forums, etc. My guild ran me through pvp, then 5-mans, then as an assistant healer in raids, then tank healing (all within a month).  I won't lie - the first time I stepped into a heroic 5-man as a healer I think I broke out into hives. The next week they tossed me into a raid as back-up healer and all I can say is thank goodness I had a bottle of wine available... but I absolutely LOVED IT and have been healing ever since.  Going into MoP - I will still be healing. I guess that was a long story to say that I was very lucky to be in a guild with people I had played wow with for 6 or more years and was comfortable with.  If I had to learn to heal with pug 5-mans or pug raids, and their rudeness - I would have tried it a couple of times and stayed dps and never looked back. A healing dummy, quest, or dailies would be awesome for those people who aren't as lucky with their guild as I was.

Coreus
Coreus

Would love to see a Dummy that hit you as hard and often as raid boss does. As long as they added some contrivance to the melee hits like "cannot reduce a player below 1hp" -- or even better if it would debuff the player with something obvious to let them know the damage would have "killed" them. Considering we're getting active mitigation and tank rotations will actually matter this kind of thing would be ideal for testing.

Obviously it's not the same as tanking a boss that's doing all kinds of other things other than meleeing you, but equivalent to DPS target dummies for "Patchwerk-style" rotation tests.

slowpoker
slowpoker

As a warlock, I sometimes offer myself up to healers when I see a bunch at the training dummies. I run in and out of ground heals and spam Life Tap, since I can't kill myself with the spell anymore (it fizzles).

Shanthi
Shanthi

After Mists of Pandaria was announced, Blizzard did a blog post entitled "A Night In Mists of Pandaria" (which I'll link at the end of this comment) in which they mentioned a feature called Proving Grounds. They described it thusly: 

"If I do make some gear improvements, I’ll probably want to hit the new Proving Grounds. They’re like lored-up solo instances that make trying out my rotations a lot more fun since I can chase achievements."

That sounded possibly like the holy grail...a chance to create a system to allow people to try out their spells with some NPCs around to simulate a party. Of course, it's not very fleshed-out in that description, so you have to speculate as to what it was intended to be...whether it's just a fancy training dummy for DPS, or whether they'd make it useful for healers and tanks too. That said, since there's been no further word about them, they were probably silently sent to the cutting room floor. Shame, since it seemed like a very intriguing feature.

A Night In Mists In Pandaria: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/4637611

WTSHeals
WTSHeals

@LodurZJ Rift actually has a healing dummy. I don't know why WoW hasn't added one.

restokin
restokin

@WTSHeals @LodurZJ having HOT overheals finally show up in our combat log saved me from hours of cliff-jumping in beta testing.