Let us mourn the loss of the holy trinity

I had actually wanted to write a first impression about TERA (after figuring out if they’re still under NDA – but I don’t think they are. Especially as the game has been out in Korea for quite some time). Unforunately, they (the EU version, so Frogster) had massive issues which meant that the servers were online for an hour or so in which lots of people tried to get online (while bookahnerk and I were still hurrying throught he aisles of our nearby supermarket after spending an hour at a store trying to get faster internet ^^) but apparently, nobody could even create a character because there was some kind of error message. On Sunday, they finally announced that the sneak peek event was cancelled.

So, you’ll get another rant of mine instead. I want to mourn the loss of the holy trinity with Guild Wars 2! I doubt I was the only one shocked when they announced that on top of them not having tanks (which they already didn’t have in Guild Wars, at least not in the usual sense), they would also get rid of dedicated healers.

The very first class I played in my first MMORPG (World of Warcraft) was a priest. And I played her as a healer. I liked doing that. It didn’t feel like “whack a mole” at all. Let me tell you an anecdote. At the beginning of my WoW career, I also had an Undead priest and took her to Wailing Caverns (a 5 man instance which was, back then, for level 22 (+/- a few levels) players). That was before I used any addons that changed the user interface. I hit F1 – F5 to target myself and all group members. I had all spells on hotkeys and knew the numbers. Which meant that my eyes were on the monitor and on the scenery (I’ve learned how to type with 10 fingers, so typing blindly is no issue at all for me and I have the luxury of staring at the screen ^^). I saw what happened and I was aware of my character’s surroundings. Usually, I’d actually been the one paying the most attention and saw when a “patrol group” was coming closer. I even had the time to type it out. And the tank had sent me a whisper saying I’d been an exceptional healer! That made my game-day. ;)

At the same time, I was never into playing the tank classes. I didn’t feel like being the one to lead the group. When Warhammer Online was close to being released, I participated in the open beta. I deliberately chose a class I wouldn’t choose when the game went live because I didn’t want to spoil my fun yet. So, I chose the one archetype I didn’t like: A tank. To be more specific, Gronkh, my black orc was created. Little did I know back then that I actually really love playing a tank class. Once WAR went live, Gronkh was recreated and that was my main character for quite a while (I did create my shaman as I’d first thought I would but he wasn’t my main character). I still fondly remember when I’d switched to the dark elf region (when the game was released, they had cut 4 classes and only released them later on. One of those was the dark elf tank which means that in the dark elf area, there were no tanks unless the tanks from the other two starting areas switched over to the dark elf one – which I did) and I walked through a forest and had about three dark elves following me closely. Whenever I stopped, they’d stop as well. Whenever I ran to attack something, they attacked it as well (which was alright as it was a public quest – something like a rift in Rift or an event in Guild Wars 2). And I loved that role! Being the one that leads a group, having others follow you around, making it so all the NPC mobs attack you and nobody else… Hach. I loved that. :)

But that is all over now. We will not have tanks or healers in Guild Wars 2. So, let’s rejoice about that! Because let’s be honest here, as great as those archetypes can be, it’s become quite old and boring by now. And too many players rely on those poor souls who love being the tank or the healer. Lots of players have become lazy and instead of thinking about what THEY did wrong, they simply blame the tank or the healer. With Guild Wars 2, there will be no more laughing at the tank for having such bad equipment that he has no chance of keeping the threat of the mobs. No more being annoyed at damage dealers who attack that one single target that you hadn’t put enough threat on yet. No more blaming the healers for not having received any healing even though the combat log clearly shows you did (must be something wrong with everybody and the whole game but certainly not you!). No more blaming the healer that only has HoTs to keep your clothy ass alive when 20 non-elites decide to beat you to death because the tank has not a single attack to put threat on all those mobs but you decided to spam your AoEs anyway (yes, I’m still very annoyed when I remember this situation because it was the last thing that made me drop WoW for 1 1/2 years and it was the last thing needed for my decision to never raid again).

You’ll be responsible for yourself… hopefully! If you don’t move out of an attack, it’s your fault! If you don’t use your self-healing abilities, it’s your fault! If you’re not aware of your surroundings, it’s your fault!

Although… I do wonder how much of that will be the guardian’s fault for not having put Wall of Deflection up. Or the ranger’s fault for not having put up a Frost Trap up in time. In the end, we will probably always try to find someone else to blame. But it won’t be as easy as “the tank!” or “the healer!” anymore. ;)


  1. Barbarian Shaman in EQ (real men don’t wear pants… it’s a comfort and space issue…)
    Dwarven Cleric in Vanguard (a healer who could also tank because he was just that BA)
    Night Elf Druid in WOW (also an herbalist because – dude!)

    10+ yrs all together…
    Raiding guilds and social guilds…

    I have a few “war stories” that I look back on fondly also… that time when the raid was going to wipe because the main tank was going down (in fact, the raid leader had already told everyone to just “die in place” to facilitate faster recovery after the impending wipe) but the agro dropped to my dwarven cleric next because of the massive amount of healing I was pouring out in the attempt to keep the tank on his feet… we were sooooo close to taking out the boss mob too… so I whispered my friend (playing a ranger) to keep pouring in the dps, and told the raid to go full dps and I would hold the boss for the next 12 seconds minimum… everyone was amazed when the boss performed his next ‘special attack’ that routinely took a third of the tank’s HP and should have annihilated any other type of character but my cleric survived the blow (barely) and then blew a cool down to immediately recover full HP (self heal only)… then popped another cool down to go invulnerable to all damage for the next 10 seconds… and while the boss mob went into “rampage” mode and started wailing on me, the rest of the raid poured on the dps without concern for agro management, in a last ditch effort to down the boss, and down he did go… the exultant feeling, as the boss fell at the feet of my dwarf, while my guildmates cheered and exclaimed, and then questioned, “how the hell did you not die like every other pappermache healer we’ve ever seen?” To which I simply replied, “Dwarf…” ;-)

    A priceless memory… and I have many others as well, however, none of them make up for one glaring fact; that raid ‘was’ wiping, and it was all due to a couple of the healers in the raid not really paying attention. No matter how well the tank did his job (and for the record, that guy was the best tank I ever had the honor to heal in battle) and no matter how well the DPSers were doing their work, balancing damage against agro generation… the simple fact was, despite the best efforts of 16 players, there were 2 other players who couldn’t be bothered to hold up their end, and everyone was going to experience failure as a result. As it happens, on this particular occassion the circumstances were just right to allow one player who kept his head, and had a contingency plan that could work, to be able to pull everyone’s fat out of the fire but even with all of the good feelings generated from the “win” there weren’t two minutes that passed before fingers were being pointed and accusations were being leveled, and that in a nutshell sums up trinity-based class systems.

    Co-dependency is an inherently unhealthy dynamic in any relationship, and trinity-based class systems GUARANTEE co-dependency will be present no matter what other factors also occur. You might find a great group of players who work to overcome the design flaws and obstacles of a trinity-based class system, and they may even achieve full teamwork and a great esprit de’corps, but they will do so DESPITE the trinity-based class system, not because of it.

    The class system of Guild Wars 2 (based on the limited information we have prior to the game’s release) will allow players to work together in a much more natural and intuitive fashion, and when a group of 5 players are attempting to defeat the challenges presented by some content in the game their individual efforts are joined and multiplied without the group’s overall success or failure be completely dependent on any one particular members competency. In fact, if there is a “noob” member of the group who is still fairly early in their own personal learning curve, the other members of the group can help support that person while they are still learning – instead of pointing fingers at them and blaming them for the group’s failure.

    Those of us who have served in our nation’s military, and been unfortunate enough to have experienced real war in the real world, know that the last thing you ever want to see when someone falters is finger pointing and blame. If the man next to you stumbles, you grab his arm and help him back up, and you expect everyone else in your unit to do likewise. It’s about damn time that a game developer created a playing environment that fosters similar attitudes.

    Bottom line; in trinity-based class systems you are relegated to playing an incomplete character, which lacks self-reliance. This is not to say that high-character players are unable to overcome the desgin flaws inherent to those systems and experience up-lifting moments of true teamwork, but that outcome is due entirely to the quality of the players, and is not promised by the system as many advocates of trinity often claim.

    I celebrate the passing of trinity, and eagerly look forward to the environment of true cooperation and teamwork that GW2 seems to promise. (And I’m looking forward to playing a character that has the capacity to provide support and help to other players and yet also be able to participate in “solo” combat that doesn’t feel like watching paint dry – as was the case with many previous “healer” classes.)


    1. You don’t have a blog, do you? I think you’d be a great blogger (no mocking here). :) I always enjoy reading your comments on our blog!

      And you’re right. There are so many bad things about the trinity that I look forward to not having it in Guild Wars 2. But I still like healing per se. So I hope that ArenaNet got it right when they said that they had a look at what makes playing a class like a healer fun and do that with e.g. the guardian. Although. oddly enough, guardian doesn’t interest me much at the moment. This can change, though. I’ll have to see the game for myself first. ;)


      1. Thank-you… I sometimes worry I’m getting too opinionated in someone else’s space. If I do over-step, please don’t hesitate to let me know… I’ve got thick skin and won’t take it personally. (And “no” I don’t have my own blog… just enjoy reading a number of other folks, and commenting in a few of those that I feel particularly comfortable with – like yours.)

        I’ve got sort of the same feeling on the guardian class… not sure if it’s for me, which is a little odd since I usually like paladin and cleric types. It really does seem like there are a lot of possibilities for folks like us that tend to gravitate towards “healer” classes in previous games… most classes in GW2 at least have the potential for that style of play, depending on weapon choices and utility slot choices.

        I honestly didn’t see much “support” elements in the thief class, but lately I’ve read some things that seem to suggest that theives in GW2 can be played as a support style character if the player chooses to go that way with their skills. There seems to be a lot of flexibility built into the class system, which should result in considerable variance between members of the same class that are being played by players with very different play-styles and preferences.

        A friend from previous MMOs recently asked me about what class to play in GW2 (she’s also almost always played a healer before, and perfers more of a “back-line” style) and I recommend she take a look at elementalist and engineer first, since both easily provide a “range-focused” style of play, and each has some excellent “support” style skills that are covered in some of the information already available to us.

        It might be a LOT harder to “classify” what style of play a character will favor based solely on the choice of class in GW2. Heck, there are a bunch of “support” skills in the warrior class… it’s going to be hard to make quick assumptions based just on what class a person has chosen.


        1. Aha. forgot to answer you. ;)

          You can be as opinionated as you like here. I may agree or disagree but every commenter has every right to have their own opinion.. as long as they know how to phrase it properly (which you do, of course). ;) There’s a fine but important difference between a sentence like “this game sucks and if you like the game, you’re stupid” and “I don’t like this game and I think it sucks and I have a hard time understanding what others like about it”.

          I think ArenaNet acknowledged our “criticism” that the thief class is missing some support but Izzie plays thief as a supporter (if I remember some interview – or even the official blog? – correctly). So it is possible now after they’ve changed the class a bit. I’m curious to see what they mean. Although a stealth class isn’t for me, sadly. I’m much too impatient to sneak up to an enemy. I rather jump right into the action (which is why I think I’ll enjoy the warrior).

          I think I’m probably most curious about how the engineer class will play. I don’t like some of the class’s skills but eh, I’ll have to see and play it in order to really judge it, I guess.


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