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Importance vs. Priority

So one of my guildie’s threw in his two cents regarding the most important role debate. And as I started reading it I realized I wanted to make something quite clear.

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:

  • If tanks aren’t geared enough, then healers can’t keep them alive so they die and raid wipes.
  • If healers aren’t geared enough, then tank/raid dies and/or healer goes oom which leads to raid dying and wipes.
  • If dps aren’t geared enough, then raid hits the enrage timer and wipes.
  • But if you had to prioritize those, what do you get?

  • If dps aren’t geared enough, then raid hits the enrage timer and wipes.
  • If healers aren’t geared enough, then the tank dies, the raid dies, or the healer goes oom and you won’t have to worry about the enrage timer because you’ll never get a chance to get that far.
  • If tanks aren’t geared enough, then the tank dies and you won’t have to worry about healers going oom or the enrage timer because you’ll never get a chance to get that far.
  • 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.


    9 Responses

    1. why does the priority for tanks even exsist? any dps or healer in their right mind wouldn’t want +defense or dodge, tank items in general are just that….tank items. As far as healing vs. DPS though they’re are quite a few items that tend to blur the line BUT alot of those items that blur the lines are basically healing items that are DPS attractive, not DPS items that are healing attractive. As such a true DPS would never want to touch them unless it MORE than a complete tier upgrade. Personally, I’m not touching the healer debate, there is alot dedicated dps classes can do to help healers (most of the time)

    2. @evisceratespam – The priority of tanks first existed when you had things like paladins using spellpower to tank. (Ah, TBC….)

      @OP – I don’t know, I think calling it “priority” rather than importance is just using semantics to soothe egos. Having good DPS -is- important in winning, so logically good DPS dealers are more important than bad DPS dealers.

    3. Arg… can’t edit comments! T_T Add to the above that it’s also a matter of tier tokens going to tanks and healers first.

    4. Tank priority tends to really exist only for tier tokens, and even then it’s pretty fungible. I haven’t taken any conqueror tokens yet, the offset items are better for tanking. Responsible tanks will only exercise that tank priority (or responsible loot councils) when it’s to the benefit of the raid.

      Healer priority is a bit more difficult, a lot of items are desired by every healer and caster (rings/necks/cloaks), and a lot of cloth items are desired by warlocks, mages, shadow priests, and holy priests in roughly equal measure.

      We run a loot council, and generally play it by ear between healers and dps, basically depending on the current progression boss. If we’re having DPS problems, loot heads to DPS. If we’re having healing problems, loot heads to healers.

      A well run loot council is the best system for distributing loot for optimal progression. A poorly run loot council is the worst system for loot distribution. Every system has it’s ups and downs.

    5. While I love the detail that was put in to the post, I disagree on the gear priority distribution.

      I’ve always considered healers to be lowest on the priority list when it comes to gear, assuming everyone in the raid is geared to attempt the content they are running (which they should be). The fact that most guilds take more healers than are needed for a raid should be reason enough, but I’ll back it up with some facts and numbers.

      Healers are the only “group” that work collectively as a team on each fight to achieve their primary objective (keeping the raid alive) whereas on the great majority of encounters, tanks and DPS rely solely on their own abilities and gear to do their job. Sure there are skills like misdirection and buffs such as Power Infusion to help them, but if they’re depending on utility to hold their own then they shouldn’t be there in the first place. I understand everyone in the raid ultimately has the same goal, but one DPS can’t make up for another’s lack of output in the way that healers can for each other.

      If a healer does not receive gear, someone else can easily make up the 100hps you’re losing out on by tossing a HoT on your target every 20+ seconds. That same piece of gear given to a DPS class would net an additional 30K+ damage every 5 minutes on a boss fight. Doesn’t seem like much but if you consider those numbers over a span of 5 gear pieces the numbers add up to the point where the boss is dying faster and the healers aren’t healing for as long. Remember that DPS, in theory, is constant where healing, in the form of numbers, is variable which adds another advantage to giving the gear to a DPS class over a healer.

      As far as what method is used to distribute that gear, loot council’s only work if there is trust and respect among the ranks. I agree with Meloree in saying that it is the optimum system for progression, but Random/DKP/SK systems exists because in many guilds that trust and respect between leadership and members just isn’t there.

    6. @Codi – You could argue that it is semantics, but I believe the difference is where you place the value. In one case you place value on the role, task, etc. In the other you place value on the actual individual.

      @Meloree – I love loot council when run correctly, but there’s always that one guy that believes the council is doing it wrong. 😦

      @Ron – Are you saying that dps don’t work collectively to kill the boss? And I’ve known some dps that are so good at their toons that they can make up for the lack of dps in others. Also, I wonder if you’ve played a healer before?

      I can almost guarantee that in progresion raiding that all the healers are constantly casting. If they aren’t, then they’re bitching to the raid leader that one of them needs to switch to dps. This means that they are already putting out their max hps anyway so I don’t know where you think this magic extra 100hps is going to come from.

      Also, don’t take my comments that tanks, then healers, then dps gearing up is a be all end all. It’s an opinion. There comes a breaking point where it is no longer advantageous to gear the tank before the healer and the healer before the dps. My statement is a generality.

    7. DPS does work collectively to kill the boss, but it’s an individual effort. #7 on the DPS chart doesn’t affect what #1 is doing so while they have the same “goal”, I wouldn’t exactly say they ‘work together’ on the majority of fights in terms of actual damage to the boss. You’re talking FF XI play in that scenario. And again, we’re talking straight DPS, not utility coordination.

      DPS can never ‘make up’ damage. If damage isn’t happening it’s ‘lost damage’. No matter how high your #1 DPS is on the charts they’re not able to dish out more damage because someone in the #5 – #7 slot is DPSing less. Healers on the other hand can ‘make up’ healing because healing (outside of mitigation effects) is reactive. I can heal someone or you can heal someone, doesn’t matter as long as they get healed.

      Basically, if you’re out of mana I can cover for you. If you need to pop a cooldown to recover mana, I can cover for you. If a mage is out of mana, is the warlock suddenly doing 2x the DPS they were before to cover for the mage? No…. I hope that clears up the point I was trying to make if my first post did not explain it in enough detail.

      I can’t remember a fight where every healer is spam casting the entire time since Vael in BWL (there may have been, but that’s the last time I remember not having a break during a fight)

      And of course I’ve healed before. A little saddened you forgot me (Preamus) 😦

    8. @ Ron: The reason it usually goes tanks > healers > DPS for cutting edge progression (in my experience, anyway) is that survivability is the first major stumbling block that needs to be dealt with. Think of it this way: it doesn’t matter how much extra DPS a couple upgrades netted the mage if the priest doesn’t have the mana to keep him alive.

      Your raiding group must run incredibly heavy on the healers if you’re not constantly casting. On hard fights, there simply IS no “covering” other healers. If I run OOM on Festergut-25 or Twins-25-hardmode, the raid wipes. The other four healers simply cannot cover for me.

    9. @evisceratespam – <.< I'm stealing your gear… how I wish Drood tanks had a little more definition in gear. There are so many items that are arguable rogue pieces or drood pieces (damn you arp!), but we share so many that it can be frustrating. And there is always a no no that’s for "insert class here" items, like the staff something Nightmares one of the new ones, I had a hunter argue with me about it they said no no that’s a hunter weapon, why would a drood tank want it??

      a) a nice cunk of stam and agi
      b) 2 gem sockets = more stam
      c) no arp (which I find a useless stat for me)
      d) ap, haste, crit all help with threat gem
      e) every single stats is a upgrade, arguably a huge one in some cases… especially the important ones HP, dodge, armour, and an awesome raise in feral ap (by 700, that is a whole lot of threat gen)
      f) no hit! \o/ no matter what i do at this point I am at 10%
      g) I don’t lose anything with the staff that I would then have to make up in other ways I keep my expertises cap
      So yes it 'could' be a hunter weapon, but its a tasteh drood one too.

      @OP – I agree with you wholly especially for cutting edge progression, and you are very correct at a certain point it is better to gear the dps over healers its all dependant on whether there is extreme difficulty for the healers to keep everyone up.
      In my G we will frequently cut the healers and swap them to dps, so we gain X amount more dps to help, its as long as they can cut it.

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