Patch 5.4 Proving Grounds

27 06 2013

Currently, very little is known about one of the newest features, the Proving Grounds. What we do know is that the Proving Grounds will be based on role: Healer, DPS, Tank. Each will feature different difficulties: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Endless, if I remember correctly. For now I will be talking about the healing mode; I do tank on my Paladin these days, but I am not skilled enough as a tank to discuss a tanking mode with any confidence.

So, what is the healing mode? Right now we are not entirely sure. I would assume that you will be placed in a group 10 or 25 NPCs that are fulfilling the tank, DPS, and other healer spots in the raid group. In my mind I envision having to heal the groups through raid-like fights, having to deal with mechanics specifically relevant to your role, and having to heal the NPCs through mechanics relevant to their roles.

What I do not imagine coming to Live servers is a Proving Grounds that is stricly about throughput, although it would be nice if there were a mode with Training Dummies who health are all at 1% and we can test different styles of maximizing throughput vs. mana efficiency. We will likely see encounters that require us to step out of our comfort zones, especially as we up the difficulty.

One of the biggest questions being tossed around right now is whether or not this can be used as a teaching/learning tool. I currently have mixed thoughts about the answer to this question. Will this feature allow new healers to learn their spells and which spells are best used under which situations? Certainly. Will this feature give new healers a feel for what real raids and groups are going to be like? Unlikely.

First off, NPCs are programmed to do certain things and, regardless of how random we may want them to act, there is only so much randomness that can be inserted into an NPC. In the end, we can expect them to follow the mechanics properly and to be where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. In a real raid/group environment you may have someone experience lag or forget that they are suppose to stack and thus are late getting to the stack party. As a healer you are expected to heal that person through the mistake.

Second, I imagine that I will care less about losing an NPC DPS, or even the entire NPC group, than I do allowing one of my fellow raiders to die. When I am in raid and allow someone to die I feel a pang of guilt; when the entire raid dies because of something I messed up, I feel terrible. When I watch their health bars fall lower and lower and my cohealers and I are blowing every CD in the book trying to pull the group through I feel a sense of urgency, anxiety, I’m pumped with adrenaline. While I’m sure that I will try very hard to keep a raid of NPCs alive and will get nervous if I approach failing, the nerves will be more related to the fact that I want to succeed as opposed to I don’t want my raid to fail.

I dunno. What are your thoughts on the topic? Do you think it will help you learn your class better? Will you use the scoring mode to compete against your co-healers? As always, leave your thoughts and comments in the comments below.

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