DPS Population Imbalance

Step back from what you know about how popular certain classes are and reconsider the acclaimed LFG tool. The slots are for one healer, one tank, and three DPS. From a naive perspective, the non-DPS classes are getting screwed here. It looks especially absurd coming from City of Heroes, where support stacks nicely and groups are often more than half support classes, or The Lord of the Rings Online™, where an ideal six includes an off-tank, secondary healer, and/or controller/debuffer. Cap the group at one, while the DPS classes get three slots? It would seem like you’d have a much easier time finding a group as DPS.

But no, the population is so absurdly slanted towards DPS that they are waiting. Tanks and healers queue and instantly get groups. This is still true even now that people know they can skip the queue by switching talent trees, and few groups are going to kick you for having lousy tank or healer gear. Granted, if you are a Mage or Rogue, you are stuck as DPS, but that Paladin could spec and queue as any.

A system that explicitly favors a preponderence of DPS is de facto the largest buff to tanks and healers ever. This mostly comes down to what I said about static groups: anything that makes grouping easier makes group-friendly classes and builds more viable. As the population has time to react, group-friendly classes and builds will become more popular.

The upcoming Star Wars has a different approach: the Jedi/Sith classes are the tanks and healers. If you want a shiny lightsaber, you don’t get to play DPS. Yeah, right, I say that, but you can already hear the forum wars mockery of all the Jedi/Sith that focus on damage. “DPS Sith lol. Can we get a tank that can tank?” Or, as DK tanks currently say, “But Blood Stance heals me!”

: Zubon

12 thoughts on “DPS Population Imbalance”

  1. I really wonder if some games have a different proportion of tanks/heals/utility/dps to others now, because if there is an actual usual proportion, it’s something that group sizes could be designed around.

    The other thing with tanks and healers in WoW is that if people are like me, they’ll have one alt on which they tank and one on which they heal, and all the rest will be dps. You end up thinking ‘well, I’ve done my time with tanking, and I know this is my favourite tanking class. Why would I bother doing it on another?’

      1. Yeah, my pattern is to level one DPS class, maybe one of each type (melee, range), and then fill the rest with support. I never got into City of Heroes Scrappers because they were all just variations on melee damage. My main was a Blaster; why level another ranged DPS class to the cap so I can have a slightly different DPS option, when there are so many differences between the types of Controllers and Defenders?

  2. In our LoTRO kinship we have a preponderance of tanks. In fact we now have our tank raid spots full with people left over.

    We also have a good representation of dps classes (anecdotally in LOTRO the most popular). But it seems easier to fit them into a raid or instance, especially champions as heavy armour wearers so they can fulfil a dual dps/tanking role. Also instances increasingly seem to involve dps races to succeed which favours dps classes; is this intentional? In addition there seems to be a move in instance design in LoTRO towards making them easier for groups with hybrid classes, including the warden, the second tanking class which is more of a hybrid because of it’s ability to group heal and remove corruption debuffs.

    None of this works in the favour of pure tanks such as the guardian. Playing a guardian, I have an interest in this!

  3. Most if not all people “solo” nowadays in MMOs. Yep, the “levelling” game/world, all the mobs and most quests there, are designed to be experienced by a single player without support.

    And we wonder why tanks and healers are rare. Basically, you have to kill stuff – a lot of mobs. And this is what the “DPS” part of the trinity does arguably better than the “tank” and “heal” parts.

    I levelled a Paladin in WoW after release. They were slow to kill stuff. But I quite enjoyed that it was really difficult to die as a Paladin, they were just tough as nails. But what happened? Warrior Tanks don’t do damage, Paladins are killing too slow, people cried.
    The result for WoW was giving tanks and healers some more DPS in their tank/heal specs and adding the dual specs feature to the game.

    It is also not okay that many games assign so much importance to the tank. Aggro breaks – you die almost instantly after 1-2 hits. Unless you are an off-tank DPS in heavy armor or something like that. This was a problem in WoW, and I guess it still is. LOTRO is a lot more forgiving in this regard.

    It is time to abandon the trinity. Even hybridization and dual specs cannot hide the problems inherent to the design. Think about it from the other side, how many tanks does a raid need? Suddenly the tank has to fight fiercely for his raiding spot.

    I will end this comment with a rather common demand, KILL THE TRINITY and finally come up with some other systems.

    1. I really wonder what the genre would look like today if the dungeon finder had been in WoW on launch day. Do people solo on principle (e.g. hate other people), or do they solo because of the logistics of finding a group? Between easier group finding and shorter dungeons, it really might have been possible to level entirely via group content. Would Blizzard still have had to make all classes more solo-like if you didn’t NEED to solo for lack of groups?

      My guess is that there is still a big gap between solo and group play in tolerance for AFK needs. Even so, it’s possible that the group finder will have a bigger effect on the post-Cataclysm leveling game than it has on the level 80 gear grind endgame.

  4. Protection was widely agreed to be and could still well be the best leveling spec there was for WOTLK following Blizzard’s changes for the class in the expansion. Back in TBC a prot warrior was probably the most useless solo character you could have. Paladins apparently work pretty well as prot for leveling too and a druid can tank with pretty much the same spec as he can cat-DPS so the soloing issue is really not that bad anymore. Don’t know about PVP or how much of a difference in player spec preference PVP-viability might make though. A major factor might also be the relatively low number of tanks and healers required in raiding as some have pointed out. It would be better that desire for your chosen role doesn’t suddenly disappear as you move up in group size of the content.

    The dungeon finder does make grouping easier on top of that but since those soloing changes didn’t really manage to change things much I’m pretty dubious an LFG system will. I might be wrong of course, now the lack of balance is at least very clear for all to see.

  5. Argh please don’t spread wrong assumptions about DK specs even more. Any one of the 3 trees can be specced for viable tanking, especially blood. Saying otherwise is like saying one healer class heals better than the other.
    Sorry couldn’t resist :P.

  6. The dungeon finder below level 80 is a horrible experience as you have level 71-79 DK’s and idiotic Paladins and warriors and the ilk Q’ing as a tank then getting into the dungeons and just getting ROLLED.

    SO yes the solo option has not only killed the average player’s intelligence but also taught people how not to be ready at level 80 and led to a preponderance of DPS EZ mode players.

    In fact I will go so far as to say that the solo garbage has even led to DPS’ers being terrible in their first 5 mans because they use the same AOE spam attacks 99% of the time and forget half their other skills.

  7. And there are many viable DK tank specs (as rulez pointed out), but any of those specs tanking in blood presence and not frost presence is probably confused or still trying to figure out what they’re doing. If you’ve had a bad blood tank and he was in blood presence, it’s not the spec…

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