For more than 4 high school careers, the standard for raid leading role has been delegated to the main tank. It’s not always the case, but it is damn near 99% of it. This is just the archetype for MMO’s and has been around as long as the genre. Tanks have always been the leaders. I can see why. In the beginning, they are the ones that took on the most responsibility. Tanking used to be a hard, think Sunken Temple hallways or Heroic Shattered Halls. Not a lot of people did it. The group lived or died based solely on the tank. Dungeons and raids were very tank centric, and that was a metric fuck ton of weight to carry. Someone willingly accepted the role to be a tank. Some might consider that heroic, but I consider it a character flaw. However, that trait also made this martyr the ideal candidate for even more responsibility. When you found a good tank, you made friends with them. Like, stalker friendship almost.
As you can imagine, there simply weren’t enough people that had this level of motivation, desire, masochism, whatever. Blizzard said that was a problem, so they started changing things around in Cata and well into MoP. They began changing how the tank worked and thus the type of person the tank was. People who never wanted anything to do with that kind of role before began flocking to the new tank. No more threat issues meant that anyone could be a tank now. With a decent healer a bad tank was a good tank. This change had trickle down effects to dps and healers. DPS cared less about CC and threat which in turn made them care less about standing in fire. Healers basically became the catch all for all the fucks that were lost. More and more healers were being blamed for not keeping people alive. So, the dynamic of the healers mentality began changing, picking up the plight of the tanks from a forgotten era. Don’t believe me? Que for a random anything and tell me if the last person to make the group is a healer or not. 91% of the time, it is the healer.
This article takes this concept to the next evolution and I propose the following. Much like the arena scene, where the healer is directing the general flow of the game, the healer should take over the raid leading role in raids in similar fashion.
I know this sounds like heresy, but hear me out as I have some experience with all facets of this idea. I have progression tanked T4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15 and have tanked T10, 11, 14 outside of progression. I have also progression healed T11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. That pretty much covers every WoW expansion ever. Yes, there is that shitty time in Cataclysm where I quit, but who honestly cares about Firelands and Dragon Soul.
Why not Tanks
Tanks have a lot of shit to worry about now. Boss mechanics are harder than ever. The tank’s personal responsibilities have increased 10 fold in this expansion over the MoP raids. This is compounded by the rededication of the active mitigation in Warlords.
Not only do I have solid anecdotal evidence from 2 good friends that tell me this every raid, but I also can see it as I am the one healing them. It is extremely noticeable when they are concentrating on raid leading duties along with the myriad of responsibilities like, tank swapping, moving out of fire, positioning the boss, facing the boss a certain direction, picking up adds, picking up more adds, dropping a debuff away from the raid, taunting, interrupting, laser beams, kiting, bombs, and and more bombs. All this comes on top of managing their resources to be able to manage their active mitigation in order to manage the bosses abilities. So, having them watch others when they are concentrating on not fucking up is asking a lot, I believe.
Why not Deeps
We could ask a dps to do it. However, any dps worth his salt is already concentrating enough to eek out every drop of damage they can. As damage is what actually kills bosses, we don’t want to hinder them. Raid leading certainly will diminish their capacity to fulfill their primary dps role. Let’s just be honest here and point a finger, the only thing dps care about are meters and who is on top regardless of the fire around them. Raid leading just doesn’t fit.
The case for Healers
That leaves us the healers. Not because of process of elimination, but because they honestly have the best grasp of the battlefield now. Let’s talk about this. The Healer’s UI is setup to monitor the Raid’s health and debuffs. It is very easy for them to see who is standing in fire. Healers also have their UI setup for positional awareness and the ability to quickly transition from looking at their raid frames to environment. Healers also must know a thing or two about incoming damage. Thus, timers, warnings, and Boss HP are extremely important to Healers. All of the main necessities of a Raid Leader are already at a healer’s light filled fingertips.
Healing raid slots are also very flexible. Depending on preference, a raid team can be comprised of 1-4 healers. You can’t say that for Tanks and the more DPS the faster shit dies. I personally like the 1 healer for every 5 raid members mantra. Our group often runs with the 3/15 and 4/15 (healers/total raid members) depending on which healers show up. Even with the 3/15 there is a lot of opportunity to for the Healer to devote time to the Raid Leader role. If you group has a HPally and a Disc Priest, at the very least a HPally, that really frees up a healer outside of the large damage phases to devote energy to telling people not to fuck up. The reason is these classes can carry the load of the healing. In the current healing meta, that is just the reality. They are output classes and every raid should have them. Druids with a 4-piece T18 can also fulfill that role.
This idea hit me in Hellfire Citadel on Iskar, if I remember correctly. I don’t know why or what made it click, but it happened. I guess this zone highlighted these issues perfectly. It is hard to argue that this is not the natural step in Raid Leading. If you do, tell me the last true dps race boss and then we can start our “discussion”.