Importance and priority are NOT the same thing.
While I firmly believe that no single role or person is any more important than the next, I do believe that certain roles and players fall within a priority system.
As a healer I have priorities that I have to weigh on a constant basis. If for example I am assigned as a tank healer, then my priority is to keep the tanks alive. If I am assigned to raid heals, then my priority is to raids. Or is it?
If the tanks are taking massive spike damage and the raid is taking no damage, then my priority is to assist the tank healers in keeping them alive. If the raid is taking damage and the tanks are taking damage easily handled by the tank healer, then obviously my priority is to raid heal. But if the tanks are taking massive spike damage and the raid is taking massive damage and I know that the tank healers need help where is my priority?
I quickly have to process my priority list by weighing how long can the tank survive without my assistance vs. the raid? If it turns out that the tank can last another second without me, then I might heal the raid. But if I determine the tank needs my help, then I will cast a quick heal that way and attempt to save as much of the raid as possible. Do I fail when that happens? Well I guess that depends. My job was to keep the raid alive, so in effect I fail. But if the tank dies and it’s a guaranteed wipe then the raid’s going to die anyway and I fail.
What about prioritizing which dps gets saved and which don’t? Ever have a healer tell you they had to make that decision? We might laugh and scoff at the e-peening dps meters, but we watch them still. We know who has the highest, who has the lowest, who’s the best at their toon, and who’s the worst. We might tease Hunt to no end and have even named the healer channel [LetHuntDie], but I’ll definitely try to save him before I save the 2k dps mage.
One might argue that I’ve made the decision that Hunt is more important than the 2k dps mage, but I haven’t. I’ve placed him on a higher priority list than the 2k dps mage. Both are important to me in the whole context of the raid. Both are equally important to me in their contributions. Both are equally important to me as players. But ultimately when forced with a decision to let A or B die, then obviously Hunt is the better decision for the good of the raid.
These kinds of decisions affect tanks and dps as well. Your rotations, your cooldowns, your targets, etc. They also affect raid comps as well. Don’t tell me you run with 10 paladins in your raids. I won’t buy it. I’m sure you want a nice mix of range and melee in there. It isn’t that a mage is more important than a paladin (quite the opposite in fact, look who you’re talking to. :)), but rather that if you already have 9 paladins, then one mage has a higher priority than the 10th paladin.
Now Mathorvos made mention that he hates loot councils because in his experience they tend to favor tanks and healers over dps. I have been a big proponent of gearing tanks and healers first in the past and I still am to an extent.
In BC the only enrage timers were the short fuses the raid leaders had. Bosses didn’t have them, so theoretically as long as your tanks and healers were geared enough (and good enough), then dps would kill the boss eventually. Wrath changed all of that made dps a little more important than before and there’s a little more distinction between dps and healer gear now than there used to be, but if there’s a common item that’s wanted I would still argue tanks and healers first.
Disregarding player skill from the equation we know the following is true:
But if you had to prioritize those, what do you get?
So I still argue that in a priority list for gearing out: tanks are first, healers second, and dps last even with the enrage timer mechanic. That said, Wrath did change it up a little so once a tank or healer reaches a certain point, they shouldn’t get priority over dps. It’s arguable what that point is because it’s somewhat objective, but ultimately it boils down to can they do their job just well enough to make it work?
Long story short, just wanted to clarify that because people are behind these online avatars they all have the same worth as the next person, but everyone does fall into an ever changing priority list given the situation.