Timewalking – Know Your Role

Shattered Halls Orc

There are times at which video games foment a terrible sort of righteous anger. That is the kind where you get angry at a teammate, not for playing badly (which one can fix), but for simply ignoring set rules and system mores entirely at the altar of their own convenience. Such was yesterday…

But, I get ahead of myself. I’ve been playing a lot of World of WarCraft since the latest patch release, and the constant motivation to obtain all of the gear begins once again. However, Blizzard added some content that warms the cockles of this frozen, jaded, cynical Blizzard player. Specifically, the Timewalking Dungeons gave me a good dose of nostalgia. For whatever reason, the game now lets us play (only on certain weekends, though) a smattering of old 5-man content from the most nostalgic of times, The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. Instead of making these loot-pinata cakewalks, however, they’ve decided to scale down our level to a place where these dungeons become difficult once again – for the Burning Crusade Dungeons, you sit at about item level 100, and with the Lich King content you’re somewhere in the 160 range.

Clearly, they’ve done a lot of work figuring out how to scale statistics on current characters, because these dungeons show an entirely different mindset from the current World of WarCraft. Some pulls represent harrowing experiences that require loads of crowd-control (remember that?), additional mob management, positioning, and interrupting everything. Otherwise, you just die flatout, possibly from something you forgot. Thankfully, going through Shattered Halls Heroic so many times beats these mechanics into your head after a while (this dungeon used to take 2-3 hours, seriously), and thus it didn’t take long for me to adjust to the old tanking philosophy.

Shattered Halls Orc

I.e., be really frightened of everything and try not to die.

However, that’s less true of my new Druid healer. I’ve found healing an enjoyable experience so far, provided that the tank and DPS know what they’re doing – a tall order, I find. I rise to occassion to heal the most incompetent of players, but there are certain limits to how much I can take. Enter Halls of Lightning, just for example – this instance presented quite a challenge back in the day, and out of the 83 dungeons currently available I’d call it one of the hardest. Just about every trash pull in the place will kill you if you don’t do it right, and the bosses often kill you without proper understanding of mechanics. You simply cannot brute-force your way through Timewalking Dungeons, and trying to do it that way will only lead to pain and suffering.

Of course, no surprise, my group needed to brute-force its way through Halls of Lightning – not by my choice, certainly. Here’s some handy tips on how NOT to run a dungeon with a modicum of difficulty:

1. Don’t be all melee classes. Just don’t. Why? Why would you do this to me?!

2. Don’t queue up as a tank, then arrive in a full set of healing gear. In healing terms, it’s like the boss is ripping up a sheet of paper – that sheet of paper being your health pools. Please don’t do that.

3. Don’t ignore area of effect attacks. They will hurt and kill you if you stand on or near them. Bonus points for not having a tank who also stands in them, is made of paper, and almost immediately dies. Also, I can’t heal any DPS classes if point 2 is true, because I am frantically scrambling to keep up the one person who lies between life and death for the whole group.

4. Don’t ignore interrupts. If you do, everyone might die from some crazy spell cast that you need to interrupt, including the tank. Also, point three applies, because if you get hit by it, good luck getting a heal from me. Also, both 3 and 4 often combine, leading to instant death for a whole lot of people – don’t do this.

5. If you queue up as tank, please know the boss mechanics, however vaguely. I can’t heal you through everything, and if you think you can heal yourself just because you queued healer, think again; casting anything while tanking immediately reduces all avoidance and possible damage reduction, which means you take a full unmitigated blow of damage, if not several. Please do not do this (Yellowtopaz, I am absolutely calling you out for being lazy and awful by queueing up as a role you had no business doing. I don’t care if you have Hellfire Citadel gear on, healing a healer doing a tank job sucks and is not fun).

6. Don’t be a hero AFTER the group wipes. This is fun for the person alive to see how long they can live, but not fun for the rest of the group trying to re-enter. It’s a long walk back to the boss, and I don’t need the boss at the instance entrance waiting to kill me. This is not fun.

Shattered Halls Orc

7. Please know the boss mechanics. Loken especially. The damage is AWFUL.

So yes, I have many complaints. I literally sweat my way through the instance spamming heals, trying to keep everyone alive. I appreciate challenge, just not an arbitrarily manufactured one. MMORPGs are one of those games that don’t reward experimentation in role reversal – do the job you’re given, or you will probably kill everyone. There’s enough variety, abilities, and nuances within that given role to last you a while, but doing dumb things for convenience and “being easy” always shoulders the burden on somebody – specifically me, in this case. I even like healing, but misrepresenting your role, or ignoring it entirely, sometimes makes you reconsider.

I’m pretty sure you know where I’m going with this, so let’s just link 1 Corinthians 12:

14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason [k]any the lessa part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason [l]any the less a part of the body.

That’s the thing which irkes me so much about this situation. Paul, in the verses prior, says that each person receives a certain vocation, certain talents, and a certain set of skills, they are all united by one Spirit. That implies that rejecting those things specific to you creates friction and problems; you must recognize yourself as a part of the body, not just someone that does their own thing.

17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, [m]it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we [n]deem less honorable,[o]on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no[p]division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is [q]honored, all the members rejoice with it.

See, there is a difference between being bad at a game that requires teamwork, and intentionally being bad for no reason. I’m fine with people learning the game, understanding their mistakes, and moving on, but constant failure for no reason other than learned ignorance just riles me up like nothing else. One person can often be enough to spoil a 5-man group run, and that’s no fun. And, I guess, the same goes for a Church: going against your roles makes the entire whole less effective in its purpose to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We lift the weaker members up so that they may become strong, and everybody learns something, but to say “I have no part” is not going to help anybody.

God put you there for a reason; don’t waste it.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.