Healers Have To Die and the PvP Addons Arms Race

I’ll come right out and say it: I like the addon Healers Have To Die. This addon looks through your combat log to see who’s casting healing spells around you; if it detects that a player has cast a healing spell, it puts a big red cross over their nameplate. Friend or foe, it doesn’t matter. There’s also a mouseover function that will sound a chime when the nameplates aren’t visible, though I confess I don’t play with the sound up loud enough to hear it.

In a chaotic place like Tol Barad, Isle of Conquest, or Alterac Valley, this kind of information is a godsend – my screen gets very cluttered, I have trouble seeing who is doing what, and I rely upon nameplates to convey information. HHTD marks those folks who cast healing spells – not healers, that’s an important distinction – and marks them so you can target them easily. In a courtyard scrum or pitched fight in a keep, HHTD makes finding the healers easy, and killing them easy, too.

Healers Have To Die is also one of the most hated addons in the game right now, with people on the forums regularly calling for it to be banned or broken by Blizzard, at the same time people are encouraging its use in Tol Barad. It is a hard time to be a dedicated battleground healer because of HHTD, with opponents focusing on you relentlessly. If you’re sitting behind a group of your teammates, healing away, you may find ranged fire focusing on you. Melee will cut through the crowd to get at you. Stuns, interrupts, CC – all are directed your way, and in some part because of the spread of HHTD. It doesn’t feel fair, and it certainly doesn’t make BGs very much fun.

So here we have a UI addon – just like Gearscore, or DBM, or Recount – which changes how World of Warcraft plays for people. It has limits, but it’s also an incredibly powerful tool when enough people run it.

It’s also a litmus test for how you feel about addons in general, though you may not know it yet.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Addons take information that is already available to players and display it in a different, hopefully more useful, manner. Recount and Skada parse through your damage logs to give an accurate measurement of how your character performed. Deadly Boss Mods looks for boss emotes, buffs, and debuffs to track events in dungeons, raids, and battlegrounds. Gladius helps Arena players answer tricky questions like: is their trinket still up? (Always assume yes, until you see them blow it.)

None of them do anything that you couldn’t, theoretically, do yourself. Recount would be extremely difficult to do in real time, mind you, but you could manually parse the logs afterwards if you really wanted to. DBM shouts out warnings that aren’t necessary if you’re paying attention to cues within the encounter. Are you in fire? Don’t stand in it. Boss yells about something or other? Get ready to move.

Addons which confer knowledge also confer power. You don’t need these addons to play well – you honestly don’t. But by increasing your awareness of what’s going on around you, of parsing information and giving you only the important things you need to know, addons can help you play better.

And that gets to the crux of the first complaint about HHTD: that it makes targeting healers too easy.

You know how I used to identify healers in a battleground before HHTD came out? Easy.

Look at the opposing team’s roster at the beginning of play. Check in periodically. See those folks leading the healing column, without a lot of damage done? They are the healers, memorize their names, they have to die. This is the most straightforward way to identify who the healers are in any situation – see who is healing!

What about when there isn’t a scoreboard?

Hey, those people standing in the back? Wearing cloth or leather, casting spells with green or yellow sparkly bits? The ones who aren’t shooting out black beams or fireballs or lightning bolts?

They’re probably healers. They probably have to die first before anyone else on the other side dies, so kill them.

What about when things get crowded and you can’t see what’s going on?

There are only four classes in Warcraft who can be healers, and their healing specs all have highly distinctive visual effects.

  • Druid hanging out in caster form? Not in cat or moonkin form? Uses travel form a lot? They’re a healer.
  • Priest not in shadowform? Healer.
  • Shaman not running after people to smash their faces in, and not casting big bolts of lighting? They’re a healer, too.
  • Paladin not running after people to smash their faces in? Maybe wearing a dress? Healer.

Members of these classes are highly visible, and any addon that lets you see classes can get you almost all the way to the functionality of HHTD. If they show cast bars (which they should), you can see the spells their casting and be absolutely certain they’re a healer or not.

These methods are all tried, true, and mostly independent of anything other that situational awareness.  The information is all out there, and is accessible in ways that any player can learn to detect.

But Healers Have To Die takes all of that information and boils it down to one thing: a big red cross over a healer’s nameplate.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

Is using addons the mark of a bad player?

This is a serious question. You see this charge thrown around in various forms on the forums, on blog posts, on twitter, usually with more vitriol than I care to repeat. Sometimes it’s about using a specific addon, sometimes it’s about using addons entirely; but when people start making the charge that only baddies use a specific addon, I take notice, because underneath the ad hominen attack, the underlying argument is fascinating.

“Only baddies use Addon X” breaks down to the following logical form.

  1. This game has tasks with a set difficulty.
  2. Addon X reduces the difficulty of performing these tasks by some amount.
  3. Player A is able to complete the tasks without Addon X, thereby completing tasks at their normal level of difficulty.
  4. Player B is able to complete the tasks with Addon X, thereby completing tasks an an easier level of difficulty.
  5. Because Player A exhibited more skill in performing the task than Player B, Player A is more skilled than Player B.

The final statement is incorrect for two reasons, of course. First, Player B may be more skilled at performing this task at the normal level of difficulty than Player A, which would be masked by the different standards each player was asked to perform at. Second, attributing overall competence based upon performance of a single task gets tricky.

And then there’s the unavoidable fact that this is an ad hominen argument – the personal attack upon Player B (and by extension, all users of the addon) has no relevance upon whether players should or should not use it. It’s a logical fallacy, a red herring to distract you from considering what’s being said. It’s not about the skills of Player A or Player B, it’s about the only truth within the entire statement:

Addon X makes the task easier to complete.

That’s it. Ignore all the name calling, take away considerations of the community of users, and you have that simple truth. Addon X makes it easier to do the job.

So.

You have a tool that makes a task easier. You can either:

  1. Use the tool and complete the task with less effort, time, or error than without the tool, or,
  2. Forego using the tool, complete the task without it, and have the satisfaction of having done more with less.

Neither option is inherently right. There can be value in using a manual screwdriver over a powered one; perhaps you need very fine control, or you’re learning how to use a screwdriver in the first place. But that doesn’t mean that the powered screwdriver doesn’t have value, either – just ask someone putting together furniture with many, many screws to tighten!

In some cases, choosing to use addons feels like the choice between manual or automatic transmissions in a car. There’s more to keep track of with a stick shift, but you have a lot of control over the vehicle, you’re always aware of how the engine is performing, and the slight inconvenience of having to shift becomes automatic. At least, until you have to spend several hours in stop-and-go traffic, where having an automatic transmission is invaluable.

In other cases, choosing to use an addon can feel like it’s reading the Cliff’s Notes version of a book instead of the book itself; hindering learning by just giving you the knowledge you need to pass the test, without imparting deep understanding of the subject. I honestly think there’s something to be said for learning to play a class with fewer macros and addons than you use at the end game, just so that you understand the subtleties of your abilities better.

But I also think that once you know what you’re doing, automating actions, making your workflow more efficient, running a lot of addons – optimizing your UI is actually the mark of a good player, not a bad one.

Yes, you can argue that using addons is the mark of a bad player, because it reduces the difficulty of the tasks you’re asked to perform, therefore allowing players with lower overall skillsets to accomplish more than the default program would allow. Running without addons is a great way to learn the intricacies of your character.

You can also argue that not using addons is the mark of a bad player, because they are refusing to use tools which would reduce that difficulty, therefore choosing to play a harder game.

The counterargument to “only baddies use Addon X” is “only baddies don’t use Addon X,” which , in the case of some popular PvE addons, you see a lot of. A good threat meter and a boss tracker are practically requirements for endgame raiding.

Like I said: I find this argument fascinating when it comes up.

THE ADDON ARMS RACE

Due to the nature of the environments, there’s a big disconnect between PvE and PvP addons. PvE addons are reducing the difficulty of a static task with no dependencies on other humans; there may be random elements in the encounter, but by in large PvE is static. The utility of an addon is measured in relation to a static environment.

The effectiveness of PvP addons is always measured in relation to the opponent, and, by extension, the addons that they may be running, too. Magmaw doesn’t get to run DXE to tell him when to interrupt your healing spells, but Ipwnyou-Arthas can run as many mods as he likes to gain an advantage. Addons confer advantages in combat that stack with your natural skill; you can choose to not pursue those advantages, but other players will likely not, and you’ve made winning harder for yourself as a result.

I think the behavior of the top raiders and gladiators helps illustrate this point.

  • Take a look at a world first boss kill, or any hardcore raiding video. How many are running stock UI, no Omen, no raid frames, no CD tracker? I would wager you can’t find a single one that doesn’t use addons.
  • Watch tournament Arena games. How many are running modified UIs? None, because they’re not allowed. Stock UIs and macros are all you get, and it’s to keep the playing field level.

On the one hand, you have top players using addons to make progression raiding easier. I don’t think this is limited to world-first guilds, by the way – most raiding guilds I’ve encountered have requested UI screenshots to validate that you’re running certain addons. This is part of a hardcore raiding philosophy – you do whatever you can to make downing a boss easier. Addons make the game easier. It’s a simple truth, and it doesn’t have a thing to do with being a good or bad player. By presenting the right information to the player, addons can make anyone play better, both in PvE and PvP.

The lack of addons in tournament PvP play sheds light into the nature of addons. Addons are inherently unbalancing – they augment player’s skills, and in PvP, that means that when all else is equal, addons can tip the balance. Getting the right information at the right time and making the right decision off of it can lead to clutch plays – that’s why people use Gladius in Arenas to consolidate information about their enemy’s status. Tournaments ban them precisely because they are unbalancing, and at that level, the matches are truly supposed to be about skill versus skill.

But outside of tournaments, addons are prevalent and extremely useful.

Addons in PvP are an arms race. If you don’t have them, your opponent almost certainly will. Just like gear is likely to not be equal in any given battleground, there is no standard interface people are required to run in normal PvP, and I’m a big advocate of pursuing every single advantage possible.

The spread of Healers Have To Die has been part of that arms race, and an interesting one at that. In places like Tol Barad, the more people on a side who had the addon, the more efficiently they could eliminate opposing healers, which often led to victory. But, word certainly has gotten out, and now there’s a more equal distribution curve between factions, which negates the early adoption advantage – but it doesn’t nullify the effects upon healers, which is that they are dying more rapidly now than before.

I’m not arguing that you should download a crapload of addons from Curse and that running them will make you a better PvPer. Picking the right tool for the job is essential if it is to improve your play.

But not running with an game-changing addon like Healers Have To Die in today’s PvP environment is deliberately crippling your own play. It’s totally fine if you don’t do it – but you can probably find healers faster with it than without it. You’re probably going to be more effective in battlegrounds if you plug it in.

Choosing to bring a knife to a gun fight is always a viable option. You’re just better off bringing a gun with a scope.

Show me the healers in this screenshot. I dare you.

HEALERS HAVE TO LIVE

We’ll just start off with this: all healers are your friends.

I do not care if he is from a different server and has a silly name, he is your friend. Bad people are going to try to hurt your friend.

Save him and he will reward you by making you immortal.
Do not ever abandon your friend to the rogues.

- Dusk’s How To BG

The problem with Healers Have To Die is actually very simple: healers are dying more than they used to. Now that a critical mass of players have downloaded the addon, healers are finding themselves focus-fired in battlegrounds where they formerly were assured relative safety in the crowd. No more – now healers are finding themselves huge targets on the battleground, unable to do their jobs while getting cut down by ranged fire and charging melee.

My first battleground healer was a druid. I went into lowbie battlegrounds and had a blast running around, healing from caster form, hotting everything I could reach. People didn’t bother me, apparently not suspecting that the night elf running around behind the lines, waving her hands with green swirly marks might be, you know… healing?

But it all changed when I got Tree of Life form. Shifting into ToL meant I became an instant target, and BG healing became a lot less fun. A tree is a highly visible target, one that I reflexively sought out on my Warlock, and being on the receiving end of that focus was absolutely miserable. No one helped defend me. Two rogues climbing all over me? You better believe teammates would run past me.

I mean, did my flailing branches look like they’d be super effective at swatting the rogues away from me? Did my running around spamming glyphed Healing Touch on myself inspire confidence that I had this under control?

Being targeted as a healer sucks. Being targeted as a healer without peels or support of any kind sucks even more.

And there’s the one real problem with Healers Have To Die – it makes it easier to spot and kill a healer, without the corresponding balance in healer survival. There is no corresponding Healers Have To Live addon which alerts you to healers on your side, those folks who need protection, who you need to be watching out for at all times.

Except… wait. Healers Have To Die also picks up the healers on your team and marks them. Healers Have To Die has the functionality we’d want out of Healers Have To Live, only it is not having the effect you’d expect. It could be used to protect your own healers… but it isn’t. Why is this?

Some of this is due to interface limitations. Much of the time, DPS run with Enemy nameplates on, not Friendly nameplates on, just to reduce screen clutter. So the information that there are healers on your side may not even be communicated.

But I also think that the UI is only part of it; I think it’s just hard to realize that someone needs help in a battleground. There is so much shit going on when taking a base in Tol Barad, I barely know who is targeting me, let alone how to help the healers that I don’t know about running beside me.

There’s the real problem. Unlike in Arenas, where I’m watching the status of my healer(s) very closely, in a random pug BG, chances are I don’t know you’re a healer until you do something to let me know. If you talk about it in /bg, if you are on the scoreboard with a lot of healing, if I actively see what you’re doing – then heck yes, I can defend you as a DPS.

One of my favorite addons for PvP is a simple mod called SaySapped. When a rogue saps you, you say “Sapped” to alert your teammates. You can modify the files to yell it, or say something different – but it is extremely effective because it communicates your problem to people who can directly help. I know what the sapped visual looks like in other players, and I watch out for it when guarding flags and towers – but actively, automatically communicating that information to people who might not know, or might not spot it is hugely valuable. People dismount, spam AoE, and find the rogue when that addon fires off. It’s awesome.

SaySapped helps illustrate the problem of making Healers Have To Live a reality. HHTD is personal information, only available to the player running the addon. Spotting a healer is something that can be done without the addon, players are learning that the healers have to die first, and there’s nothing stopping people from running a macro that says:

/bg %t is a healer, they have to die first!

(Interestingly, HHTD does not do this yet, though it’s a logical extension of the mod.)

I don’t actually see that level of communication in most pug BGs, but it’s a good macro to have in your toolkit, because it transforms the personal information of HHTD into intelligence the rest of your team can use.

SaySapped conveys this intelligence automatically to the people around you who are best suited to help you. This is what’s lacking in HHTD/L – actually conveying the information the mod picks up and making it information everyone can use. (I think this is actually a good thing, since you want to be selective about which healers you’re targeting. Not everyone who casts a healing spell in a BG is a healer.)

If I were to offer any advice on how to make Healers Have To Live a reality, it’s that healers need to be more proactive in battlegrounds about letting people know they need protection. The way to counter HHTD is not more nameplate mods, but rather a good macro:

/y I’m a healer, and I’m under attack by %t! Please help!

Bind that macro to a key, and when you get into trouble, hit it. Put a healing pot on it as well, or a free action potion, or Barkskin, or other defensive CDs – but take the initiative to secure your own safety and get assistance from your teammates.

And if you’re not playing a healer? Simple.

/bg %t is a healer and needs help!

They have to know you’re a healer in order to know that you have to live.

BANNING ADDONS IS NOT THE ANSWER

I’ll come right out and say that I hope Blizzard doesn’t ban HHTD. It sets a bad precedence for addons that provide any kind of information in PvP. Gladius tells me if someone has their PvP trinket up or not. SaySapped tells my teammates that I’ve been sapped, reducing the effectiveness of Rogues. Vuhdo and Healbot help me heal my teammates faster than I can do with mouseover macros – Vuhdo even tells me what direction people are in!

The real complaint against HHTD is not the addon, but that there’s no corresponding defense against it in PvP. It doesn’t share information positioning information like AVR did, or even exchange information like SaySapped does. It makes finding healers easy. And people are using that to kill enemy healers while not protecting their friendly healers, and that’s the crux of people’s complaints. Banning HHTD doesn’t address this fundamental problem, which extends far beyond the scope of a single addon.

What we need here is more aggressive identification of healers on your own team, not less. If you’re a healer, speak up. If you’re not a healer, find the healers and call them out to your teammates. Calling out healers should become your second priority in battlegrounds, right behind calling out incomings.

If you feel nervous about putting yourself forward as a healer, don’t. Your team needs you. Your team needs you alive, they have to know you are there to protect you. It’s better to be vocal and win than to be dead and lose.

If you feel nervous about calling out healers in your battlegrounds, remember: healers are your friends. Do not abandon them to the rogues.

Watch out for each other out there.

***

Update September 16, 2011: I’ve written a followup post on using HHTD to protect friendly healers that continues the discussion in this post. You may find it useful.

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82 Comments

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82 responses to “Healers Have To Die and the PvP Addons Arms Race

  1. Elysiane

    No matter what kind of addon you run as a healer to announce that hey, you’re right here and you need help, very few people are ever going to help you.

    In a battleground, the average player cares about HKs. Killing other players is inherently fun, while using defensive abilities or peels to accomplish this or that objective just doesn’t have that appeal to this kind of players. HHTD prioritizes their kill targets – killing the healer first is more beneficial for them, because in the long run, it’ll mean easier kills and more fun.

    There’s also a “kill the marked target” reflex from PVE. They may not realise why killing the healer is strategically important, or even if it is at that point (when a healer is OOM, sometimes letting them be and killing their partner is a much better decision). There’s just something to kill, the addon says it’s better, and they do that.

    Protecting your side’s healers just doesn’t have that kind of appeal, neither is there that kind of tangible reward to it. Your HKs and KBs are on the scoreboard, peeling for the healer isn’t on there. It’s the same thing as putting someone on CC or kite duty in PVE – people will do it if asked but nobody likes it, and very few will ever, ever take initiative for it.

    No kind of addon will compel the average player to protect their side’s healer more. With HHTD, what will possibly happen is that we’ll have most healers go as DPS in battlegrounds, or only queue with friends who will look out for them.

    • So, it’s interesting that you mention that there’s no incentives for protecting the healers. I agree in that there are no external rewards for protecting a healer. But I disagree, strongly, that there are no rewards at all.

      There was a point when, as a DPS player, I *got* what it meant to protect a healer. I faced 4 horde with 5 stacks of Tenacity with naught but a holy paladin as my backup. That fight was possibly the most intense 2 minutes of my PvP career. I peeled. I dotted. I protected that pally with every ounce of my life while burning down the Horde. There is no way we should have survived.

      But after the dust cleared and we were the only ones left standing, that pally looked at me and said, exactly what I was thinking: “Holy. Shit.” I was shaking with the rush of having beaten those odds, but even moreso with the awareness that for those two minutes, he made me immortal.

      When a DPS player figures this out, their perspective on protecting healers changes dramatically. The reward for protecting healers is that they make you more awesome at killing things.

      But if the DPS doesn’t know, either because they’re focused on killing the other healer or because they’re just not paying attention, well – that’s something we can change.

      I’ve already posted my thoughts on the effects of the battleground scoreboard, but I prefer to deal with things players can do for themselves. I can’t change the average player (whoever that is), but I can try to make battlegrounds more fun for you and for me. I don’t see a lot of healers asking for help when they need it. I don’t see a lot of DPS actively calling out healers, either friend or foe.

      Let’s try it. Let’s change this. Let’s make it so that the best we get isn’t a few folks at the beginning of the bg saying “I’m a healer!” (which is better than nothing.)

      Be vocal, be aggressive. If the DPS still ride by my druid when she’s getting stabbed by rogues and she’s yelling about it, then yes, they’re bad.

      But let’s give them a chance to be good first.

      • Elysiane

        Yes, but the thing is this: Ask any DPS player at all, theoretically, whether protecting the healer is a good thing. Most of them will answer yes. But how many will actually do it? A lot fewer.

        It’s diffusion of responsibility. Everyone on a theoretical level will know they should do it. Most players will assume “Oh, this other person there will do it”. How many ABs/Battle of Gilneas matches have you played where everyone rode past the first flag because This Other Person There Will Do It? How many similar fights end with a loss because everyone else assumes the other person will guard that objective?

        Perhaps I’m cynical, but in a battleground, I expect no protection at all, and most of the time I really do get none, regardless of whether I speak up (on the contrary, most of the healers who speak up get sarcastic comments thrown at them, or just plain ignored). It’s not that people don’t know the length of the time I stay alive is directly proportional to the length of time they stay alive, it’s just that… I hate to put it like this, but they don’t care. There are no tangible rewards, and it’s easier to assume someone else will do it.

        The people who will protect the healers, like you, already know how important this is – but if the majority of battlegrounds were made up of such competent players, we wouldn’t be discussing how we can get more people to protect the healers.

      • Hardsen - Sentinals US

        I do agree with helping out the healers if you actually want to win the BG. I’m not in it just for KB’s, I prefer the tactical and unpredictability of BG’s. There have been many times where I help out a healer and in return the healer has your back the rest of the BG. In these cases is where I find that I end up having the most KB’s anyway, just because I don’t die near as often and can use my traps and slows on multiple enemies at a time (Hunter) without worrying about being healed.

  2. I automatically dismiss complaints about this addon that are all “WAH PVP ADDONS ARE BAD” because how many of the healers railing against this addon use Healbot, Vuhdo, Grid, etc? They certainly don’t complain about addons that make their job easier. Well, as a DPS, my job is to kill enemy healers. Why is an addon that makes my job easier unfair, but theirs is fine?

    (Also, the above is a hypothetical question. I play both a healer and a DPS in battlegrounds and accept that I will be targeted. If I’m not, the enemy team is doing something wrong.)

    As a healer, if it comes down to accepting the additional hardship of HHTD or giving up my beloved Vuhdo, it’s no question. I stick with Vuhdo, hands down.

    • Like you said on Twitter: people want to have their cake, and eat it too. It’s a very natural response, but I also hope that Blizzard doesn’t take it seriously.

      I’m honestly worried that any attempt to break HHTD will also break Threat Plates, which would probably stop me from tanking.

    • Kierbuu

      HHTD reminds me a lot of the old AVR add-on from Wrath era raiding.

      With AVR you didn’t need to pay attention to the world as it was built. Instead you could rely on visual cues drawn into the enviroment by your raid leader. You as an individual player no longer needed to remember where to stand in phase 1, 2, and 3 of an encounter. The add-on told you were to go. However, this broke what was a big part of raiding. If you no longer needed to remember the ‘dance’ for a boss then what was the point in having it. I was glad when Blizzard broke AVR.

      HHTD falls into the same boat for me. HHTD removes the need for a player to pay attention to the world around them. Healers aren’t hard to spot and if you can’t find them you deserve to lose. It removes the need for the player to prioritize targets. If you need a cue telling you to kill the healers first, then you deserve to lose (or at least have a harder time winning).

      HHTD does much the same thing AVR did. It simplifies a game mechanic to the point it practically removes it. Of course, that’s just my opinion and I’m admittedly add-on hostile.

      • EnvoyOfTheEnd

        Trouble is AVR as well as highlighting more obviously that you could see simply though paying attention, it also highlighted that which you were not meant to see.
        Being able to see where the nasty stuff was going to be on the ground before it hit the ground, being able to stand at just a sufficient range which would otherwise be difficult if not impossible to judge.
        Your arguement could easily be used to justify the end of boss-mods, raid frame modifications, powerauras and many others simply because they also provide more obvious cues or indications of information which the default UI provides.

    • Addaria

      Here is the reason this addon is bad: 5 DPS focused on one healer will be guaranteed to kill that healer before all 5, spread around the healer, can be effectively controlled, even if the numbers are even. No player lasts more than a few seconds when focus-fired. Without the add-on, especially in pugs, those 5 dps might have 2 on the healer…the others are blissfully unaware and are doing their best to kill the prot warrior with the flag. HHTD effectively eliminates healers from the pvp game.

  3. I love this post; job well done, Cyn.

    I walked into my first rated bg this weekend with a (mostly) guild group. Before we started, I remembered the HHTD addon and grabbed it. If you didn’t know it already, it also plays a sound when it marks a healer that’s impossible to miss. If I heard the “ding!” in my ear, I immediately spun my camera around to find the healer. I’d immediately announce it over vent.

    But it’s not that much different than what I’ve done in the past, just takes a step out. Generally (being moonkin), I hang back behind the meleers in a bg and I check nameplates for 3 things: lowest health, mana, healing spells.
    Sometimes that’s not even necessary–priest bubbles are showy. It’s impossible to disguise yourself if you’re a paladin healer; you’re the guy with the shield standing still as glowy light swirls around you. As you said, it’s just a shortcut, and it’s up to your bg group to defend your healers.

    Unsurprisingly, communication made all the difference between rated and non-rated battlegrounds. I only needed HHTD for the first 5-10 minutes; each group had on average 3 healers, and once we all knew their names, it didn’t matter if we had the addon or not–we were looking for “Andaus the pally healer” (although the ding still made it helpful to know when they were nearby). I also knew MY healers’ names, so if I happened to see Laylah’s bar covered in debuffs or Skep’s HoF pop, I went looking for whoever was attacking them (Typhoon really screws those rogues and enh shaman up sometimes. :-D)

    PvP shares an element with PvE that is absolutely, critically vital to both: situational awareness. Did I avoid standing in puddles of fire before DBM told me to? Darn right I did. Did I kill healers before HHTD told me where to find them? Darn right I did. Paying attention is what gets the job done, addons just make it easier.

    • Thanks, Amber! Excellent analogy about not standing in fire and DBM. If you’re paying attention, healers are easy to spot.

      And yes, Typhoon really screws up a lot of people. Cyclone, too. :-(

  4. Detailed and interesting article. I think I’ll go protect a healer.

  5. Solanti

    You can right click on your portrait or on your bar in the raid frame and set your role as tank/ healer/ DPS (similar to the role selector in the LFD tool) and it marks you with an appropriate icon on the raid frames (default ones at least, unsure how VuhDo et al handle it). I quite often see people flag as healers and it’s easier to help protect them. Also handy for AV/IoC when you have a couple of tanks identified ready to pull the end boss.

    • This is a good tip. I think one weakness of raid marking is that not everyone runs with raid frames out – I know I don’t, especially in the bigger battlegrounds. Just like friendly name plates, they can be a lot of clutter without a lot of benefit for a DPS class.

      I need to run with raid frames out more. :-(

    • Yeah! I’ve seen people do this in random BG’s and I love it. Even if I don’t glance at my raid frames during the fight, if I see “So-and-so is now a Healer” pop up in the chatbox at the onset, that sticks with me.

  6. Tracey

    Somehow, you always make battlegrounds sound like fun…

  7. My guild has recently splurged on pugging BGs together and it’s been ridiculous fun. We are actually trying to get some healers to come with us.

    I’ve played a lowbie disc priest in BGs,. I’m going to try to build up my boomtree for it, but we might have another tree already going to do it. It was fun to protect & heal people…but only when they protected me back.

    I typically find my own & enemy healers through another addon — TipTac Talents. It puts a line about which talent set you have in your tooltip; I went for words instead of some 31/3/7 or whatever line. So if you’re Holy or Holy or Discipline or Restoration or Restoration and nearby … I know it. :)

    • Ooo. That’s a good addon, I need to look at that. :-)

      I’m learning how to BG heal – my biggest problem is casting on the move using my mouse. I move with my mouse, so I’m not used to trying to heal folks via raid frames while running with the keyboard. It’s taking some adjustments. :-(

      • That’s why I had to learn how to move with both the keys and my mouse, and why I still make frequent use of both auto-run and click-to-move. By giving myself four options for controlling where my character goes I have much more versatility.

        If I need to cast spells via keyboard/macro/keybindings then I can move with my mouse. If I need to click my healing mod, or need to activate spells/items/whatever on action bars that aren’t keybound then I can move with the keys. If I need to do both then I can wheel-click to turn on auto-run or I can right click anywhere I can see on my screen and my character will run there instead.

  8. Lara

    You make a lot of very good points, Cyn, and I agree that the right solution isn’t just to wield the banhammer.

    That said, this whole arms race exists because of a more general issue with WoW and other games like it, which is that you cannot play the game effectively without being able to see the numbers that make up the game’s internal mechanics. The numbers are the real problem; the addons and other tools we use to manipulate them are merely a setback…er…a symptom of that problem.

    I hypothesize that if we had taken away all addons on the day Cataclysm released (and I’m not advocating we should have, just suppose with me for a moment), most of the existing end-game raid content would be still awaiting world first kills. I’d be willing to bet Blizzard doesn’t even TEST their raid encounters with stock UI raids.

    Once you allow ANY addon to reveal hidden game mechanics to players, the die is cast. Whether or not to use those tools is a matter of personal choice, but you note that very few people use stone-age tools to build houses anymore. We don’t operate alone: Our raidmates and teammates depend on us, and in PvP our opponents will use every advantage they can get against us. So the consequences of our choices affect other people too. The whole “good vs. bad player” question seems beside the point to me. Once we allow players to see game mechanics directly, we’ve essentially required them to use them for optimal performance. Whether or not they use addons to do so is a question of where the deck chairs are located on the Titanic.

    Blizzard’s trapped by this arms race too. If they tune encounters for lots of addons, they’ll be too hard for most players; if they tune to the base UI, everyone will find them a pushover. The middle ground is poorly defined and fraught with unforeseen complications.

    If we really want to “fix” this problem, I think the answer is to take away the combat log entirely. Addons could give us controls and lay out our screens, but no more meters, warnings, stats, or anything else. It’d be a very different game, of course, but it would eliminate the arms race. Should they do it? Maybe. But they almost certainly won’t. That’s a lesson for the designers of some new game we’ve not seen yet. :)

    Once we’ve accepted that the arms race is inevitable, my feeling is we should just let it play out naturally, and not try to regulate it except by what’s possible. Use addons if you want; avoid them if you want. The root of the problem runs deeper.

    Thanks again for the great post!

    • Thanks for the great comment, Lara. I agree that this is a binary situation; either you expose the math behind the game (opening up great theorycrafting possibilities, but also creating problems because of it) or you deny all access to it. This isn’t something you can do halfway.

      It’s interesting contemplating WoW without the Combat Log. So much information flows through it – if I had room on my UI I would leave it open just so I could see all the crap going on around me. But I can’t, and I’d rather have addons pick and choose information to convey to me instead, anyways.

      I think that the most logically consistent anti-addon arguments are those which are totally against all addons, for the reasons you talk about here. Move things around, resize them? Maybe. But new elements? Parsing game mechanics? It’s tough to draw the line when addons expose weak game mechanics (like HHTD is doing here).

      • Lara

        Without numbers, the game would be radically different. How long till the boss is dead? Maybe all you get are visual cues like it moves slower or is missing an arm (“it’s just a flesh wound…”). How much damage are you doing? Maybe the sound identifies critical strikes and other spell effects get bigger as you do more damage. You could imagine having few or no real numbered bars, only percentages…but that would be a much much different game. Would it be more fun, or even AS fun? I don’t know.

        I suspect we have the UI we do because nobody really knew, at the beginning, what information to expose, or how to do it without giving away the farm. Hit points, armor values, mana pools, all those things are easy to understand. As we’ve seen, the players have done what smart people always do, and fashioned tools to turn those numbers into information. We ARE Blizzard’s UI research department. ;)

  9. IMHO, not running addons available to you is all wrong. You CAN repair your transmission on your car with a hammer and wrench, but why would you?

    Using xPerl, I like to sort my raid frames into class types. Tank, Healer, DPS. This gives me a quick view of what’s going on with the group, pinpointing my local healers. Raiding and pugging, it’s great to know when my tank is dead, then I can change my rotation before I pull aggro from the off-tank or other melee classes. I can also see if the healers are taking significant damage quickly.

    • Yeah, as I mentioned to Lara above, I don’t understand picking and choosing addons. Either go for every advantage, or ban them outright.

      I really need to get working raid frames in my warlock UI. Y’all are putting me to shame here. :-(

  10. I’ve been using HHTD for a few weeks now, ever since I saw Cyn mention it in-game. I like having it because it saves me time, but I don’t find it necessary. I did just fine without it before, and I’m doing just fine with it now as well.

    But the addon doesn’t do the same for me that it does for everyone else. Even though I play DPS most often in PvP, healers aren’t always my primary target. I like to play control, and while the healers are a great target for control, they’re not always top priority.

    The major benefit of HHTD to me isn’t that there’s a healer in this bundle of honor kills, it’s how many healers are in this bundle of honor kills. If there’s only a single healer then my control may very well be put to better use on another target. If there are two, it gets a bit iffy based on location, if there’s three or more then healers are the only ones that matter right now and they need to die.

    Location is a key point here too. In WSG I need to know how many healers there are, not necessarily that Bob’s a healer so much as Bob, Jill, and Sue are all healers, because my control is often more useful if I direct it at the EFC (unless the healer can remove all of my CC in which case he needs to die first).

    In Tol Barad I know that the healers are the ones standing there on the flag spamming casts. There is no exception to this rule, the people standing on the flag on Durotan are either healers or hunters (and the occasional warlock, but the ones with red/purple hands aren’t healers). I don’t need HTTD in Tol Barad, and in fact I’d rather not have it as all those freaking plus signs are clogging up my screen.

    The first time I really delved deeply into PvP was on a rogue twink, before I even knew that nameplates existed, much less mods like this. I found healers there with two methods, first is noting casting animations like several others have pointed out here, and second was watching target windows to see when one moved up instead of down. When I saw someone’s health going up, and I knew my target wasn’t a healer, then I knew I needed to switch to someone nearby that was standing still until I found the healer.

    HHTD does help me with that control in ways I wouldn’t necessarily have used before, and that’s actually the sound rather than the icon. HHTD’s audio alert doesn’t require a nameplate, it does it on mouse-over once it’s picked someone up as a healer. So when I see a group of people riding into my flag room on their mounts, I know just by moving my mouse quickly over all of them if there’s a healer present or not and I can react accordingly.

    I like using HHTD against my opponents as well though, by healing as a DPS class to trigger their addon so that I get some of the focus. I used it to great effect in the arena, casting healing spells on my Shadow Priest before turning on Shadowform and burning people down. In an all-DPS arena team, getting people to make stupid mistakes based on false assumptions often leads to victory.

    The same tactic works well in AB and BfG as well, drawing DPS away from flags who’re eager to say they killed a healer. It may only work once per match, but that healing off spec sure comes in handy in the next fight.

    • Excellent points, Psyn. Often, those Warriors have to die first, especially if you can keep the healer occupied while you do it. Warlocks are pretty much designed to make healer’s lives hell, so I tend to focus on them, but unthinkingly following the addon’s directions won’t always yield the best results.

  11. meski

    The unintended consequence is that healers simply wont run as healers in PVP. We’re all hybrids, we just run our dual spec as a DPS. And laugh when other pure DPS classes expect heals.

    • Oho! This explained why my lvl 49 druid had such a horrible time in the BGs this weekend. I could barely do a thing. It was tremendously unfun, constantly waiting at the Spirit healer. I even typed into /bg that I was being jumped on by 4 or 5 players at a time. It was too much for my rogue buddy to handle.

      As a healer, I expect to be killed by the smart PvPers. It’s the way of the world. But there are many more stupid players in WoW. HHTD has made it harder for me to hide from the legions of stupid. I’m outnumbered.

      I’m a casual player — I don’t do into a BG with premades, just maybe a friend or two. So now that I know about HHTD, I’ll leave the BGs to the pros and the newly-informed stupids. :) I don’t pay a monthly fee to not have fun.

      • Lara

        The theme of all of Cataclysm is: Bring friends. Whether it’s battlegrounds or heroics or even normal dungeons, the quickest road to misery is pugging.

      • I did the same thing and found playing my Disc priest painful. Absolutely dreadfully painful. I had 10 deaths in a 7 minute long AV. I half considered putting a raid icon on my own head (Blue Square?) so maybe my own team would help protect my frail little clothy.

    • I believe that, unless you are running a Rated BG, you should play the spec you find the most fun in battlegrounds. If healing gets not fun because of focus fire, you should switch to DPS.

      Having healers makes it easier to accomplish the goals of a BG, but in any given pug, it’s better to have good players filling roles they enjoy filling, than to have people healing because they feel obligated to do so.

  12. Hi

    HHTD author here, first thank you for this great article. I’ve added a link to this page on the main description of HHTD :)

    One little mistake though: HHTD, by default, detects specialized healers only, not just anyone who casts a heal. (it looks for spells only a true healer could cast such as ‘Power Infusion’, not just healing spells)

    You also say that HHTD is widely spread now, but from the statistics I have, less than 20,000 players have downloaded it. (The Curse Client says only 16,000 have it installed).
    For a comparison, Decursive is installed by 541,000 users from the Curse Client statistics.

    I would like to add my personal feelings about HHTD fairness debate:
    At first HHTD only had the mouse-over sound feature. I hesitated a lot before adding the red cross to nameplates. As most people, I was thinking it would be really unfair to healers and that Blizzard would probably instant ban my add-on…
    But, after putting some thoughts to it, I decided to do it and see what would happen.

    Now I actually think HHTD can improve the game, make BG more interesting and more dynamic, bring order to chaos…
    In this way of thinking, someone proposed to also mark friendly healers so they could be protected, I added this feature in HHTD a month ago.

    It’s obvious that healers should always be the first to die (it’s a known fact in PvE) but it doesn’t seem to be understood by the majority of the players in BG… Most of the time everyone is playing on his own! WIth HHTD it creates the illusion of a team at work, illusion that may just vanish and become reality once people are used to it.

    HHTD also reveals the simple and fragile mechanic of mass PvP… Maybe Blizzard will improve this mechanic now that it has become too obvious, make something to promote team work… As rewarding those who protect/save their team mates, things of that sort…

    I do not PvP much myself, I usually went to BG just to test Decursive in raid environment. A day where I had troubles targeting a healer in Alterac Valley, where tens of players are usually packed together, the HHTD idea popped into my mind…

    In the current PTR, Blizzard gave themselves a switch to disable HHTD (hiding sources from the combat log). I don’t know if they’ll turn it on…

    I have some features planned for HHTD (you’ve already suggested some of them in your article):

    - Announce module for both friendly and enemy healers. For now I’m thinking to force it both ways at the same time (“focus XXX, protect XXX”).
    - Detection when a friendly healer is being attacked and alert others through /yell or /say (I would like to make it work for nearby healers only)
    - Announce options will be disabled by default and users will have to write the announce texts themselves. There will be no default texts ready for use.

    I’m currently working on Decursive, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to work on HHTD again. In a few weeks I guess…

    • EnvoyOfTheEnd

      I am curious just what you meant by that “switch”.
      My first assumption is that such a switch would hide the source of hostile casts from the combat log so while not affecting the likes of meters or the friendly support your addon could offer in terms of highlighting the presence of your own healers it would certainly shut down the ability to recognise those on the opposing team.
      Certainly that is judging from previous solutions to addon issues looking to be a very likely route they would take.
      Is there any information out there about this switch ?

    • Wow. I wasn’t expecting this!

      Thank you for the link, and I’m glad you stopped by to share your thoughts on the matter. The news about the 4.1 PTR changes is really interesting, especially since hiding the source in the combat log would have huge repercussions with other addons. I’m not saying it’s bad at all, just… wow. Lots of changes.

      I think I’m under the impression that HHTD picks up anyone healing because of all the lowbie PvP we play – it seems like it gets a number of Ret Pallies in addition to Holy ones, Feral druids in addition to Resto… but that may be level-appropriate behavior on the addon’s part? Will have to 1) make sure I’ve updated it recently, and 2) check my settings. I am running default settings, haven’t made any tweaks.

      Also, I think the download numbers are really interesting, especially since with every post about HHTD more people download it. I wonder if this is the case of a self-fulfilling prophecy, where HHTD wasn’t responsible for healers getting focused, but was a convenient scapegoat early on, but now (or in a month’s time) it becomes widely distributed and so causes the things people were afraid it was doing before, but wasn’t.

      I like what you said about how this exposes a weak mechanic in PvP. That’s absolutely true. No one can survive getting focus fired by enough people – not a healer, not a DPS, not a tank – no one. If you’re going 1v5 you are going to die quickly, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Someone will stun or interrupt you, and then you’ll take massive damage before you can respond. That’s fine, that’s part of the game, you can’t be balanced for 1v1 or 2v2 or 3v3 and still be balanced 1v5. The problem is that healers are rightly getting selected for focusing first in random environments, where it’s not expected. In Arenas or even rBGs you’d expect it, but it’s unexpected in a pug.

      Thanks again for the work you’ve put in to HHTD (and Decursive!) and hopefully we’ll get to enjoy some of the improvements you’re planning!

      • just started into spvp grounds. Keep up the good work with explaining strats even for the lowbies, and addons. Personally from the low lv point of view, I figure addons give me a sligth edge when I’m fighting through alot of BOA geared folks…more power to me. I don’t complain about BOAs though, I think its a challenge and it’s hilarious when they get focus fired on and burnt so fast that thier eyes bleed. But your ideas, strats and guides are very helpful for a N00bster like me. I’m wondering if you might not ever post lowbie guides as well. My experiences have been mixed there. Yes, non BOA person here. I can work to get geared and enchanted but looking for solid strats concerning the low lv BGs. Anyways thanks for the info!

  13. Jen

    This explains a lot… I don’t know if I’m just imagining things (I’m an infrequent PvPer), but I did seem to die a lot more lately.

    But, regardless of addons, I will still queue as heals. A sometimes-alive tree will always be more useful than a crappy kitty :)

    • Oh my, I totally know that feeling. I tried out a Shadow spec on my priest… I was so bad at it. I’m sticking to Disc, even if I’m getting focused, because that’s what I’m good at.

      And … I’m a very bad cat druid. I should try resto again in BGs, I imagine I’ll have more fun now that ToL form isn’t mandatory.

      • Jen

        As I said, I don’t PvP much, but I remember the times of “ohai I’m a tree… wait I’m dead”. Now they need to see my green spells to figure it out and that takes a bit more.

        (As a side note, thanks to whoever suggested that healers should mark themselves as such in the Blizz UI! I hope that if I keep doing it, people will get the hint and not let 4 hordies gang up on me.)

  14. Val

    Very interesting post. I don’t PvP (though I’ve recently been having this urge to try), but there were quite a few tips that I’d definitely use should I give it a go as a healer (e.g. announcing when I’m under attack etc.) The addon looks interesting as well, and I’m with you that while it obviously does make life difficult to healers, it could (and should) be used to your own team’s advantage as well.

    • If only one side has it, it’s way OP. If you’re lucky, more of your team will have it than the other team.

      But still, calling out focus fire via macro is better than any addon.

    • Andmyhammer

      Val, this is a great point. Unlike PvE, the PvP world has the option of balancing itself when it comes to addons. To say that something provides an unfair advantage would imply that the opposing force cannot do something to compensate. For example, if you pick up DBM and start using it you will probably get better at raiding, and there is nothing that the boss can do to make it harder. In PvP if you pick up HHTD your team will probably get better, however your opponent can choose to install it as well leveling the playing field.

      I realize that this doesn’t make things any less difficult for a healer, but PvP simply is not about any one individual. If you feel that you are at a disadvantage as a healer, make your own addon that consists of some horribly obnoxious notification that points our your attackers whenever you take direct damage or CC

  15. dakotarick

    I switched to healing battlegrounds about two weeks ago while leveling my Priest. Since that time the win ratio has noticeably increased. Am I the difference that makes the BG a win for the Alliance? Sounds crazy to me but, “coincidence… I think not”. The value of healers is vastly underestimated by most of the PvPrs in PUGs. As a healer I will go into situations that I would have steered away from as DPS because I can make enough of a difference to turn the tide of the battle.

    I first used HHTD on my Shaman mostly in the 40′s bracket. I have always played to target or CC the healers but HHTD really helps…. a lot. Not only does it help targeting the healers but it also serves as a reminder when you get distracted chasing that Mage across the BG that keeps sheeping you.

    From a healers perspective I don’t think I find myself being targeted anymore than I should be. If the opposing team knows what they are doing I expect it. The frustration comes in when you are not getting help from your team. If I am being attacked I worry about my own survival and reposition myself so I am obvious to my other teammates. Sometimes this makes a big difference in getting some help.

    • I have found playing certain classes well does make a difference. I won more BGs as a Resto druid than as a Feral one, and it’s not just because I’m a bad Feral. Well, not entirely because of it.

      You make a good point about how HHTD is a reminder – I too have gotten focused on “kill the rogues first” instead of “kill the pally healing the rogue first, or you don’t have a chance.” Looking at my own behavior, that’s definitely what I’m seeing now. I do focus the healers more just because they’re in my face.

  16. paperclip

    Psynister touched on the first idea that popped into my head when I read this. Take a paladin or druid with a tank spec and pop a few heals to draw the fire of groups relying on this add-on. Basically use it as a taunt.

    The idea of the add-on doesn’t really bother me, but then I always felt my best contribution in BG’s, being at best a moderately skilled pvp’er, was to pop tree form and draw the enemy fire. Any time they spent killing me was time the rest of my team was free.

    My other thought was that even if you can’t convince PUG BG’ers to help protect the healers, at the very least the healers themselves could band together and concentrate on healing each other first.

    • Any time I see 6 people dragging me down, especially if I’m in a tactically unimportant spot, I laugh a little to myself. I wasted their time, and pulled them out of position. Job done.

      I once held half of the opposing team’s attention in Arathi Basin by being really, really persistent at the Stables/Trollbane Hall. Someone started yelling at the few of us until me (and others) pointed out that 3 of us were tying down 8 of them, and that they could go 4-cap the field (which they did).

      Some days, the life of a decoy can be a good one.

  17. Anea

    I have still yet to read all these comments – I’m still inspired to write a post! But I have to ruminate on whether or not I should (since my last blog post was… decades ago?)

    You really were very thorough and tied it in a neat little bow at the end of the whole post. I even picked Lus’ brain about the whole thing (though we ran into issues with my theoretical BG situation, since I haven’t actually USED it myself. I assured him you were the BG Guru.)

  18. Tonk

    The defense against HHTD is also informational. If your team could see when your healers were getting targeted and trained, they could base their decisions with that in mind. If HHTD makes healers stand out in a crowd, the antidote is to know when one healer is being targeted by a significant number of enemies.

    It’s possible to tab target enemies in a given range, see who they’re targeting and keep a list of who’s getting a lot of attention. Sort of like threat meters for PvP. Nobody does because it’s time consuming so an addon would be perfect. If the top target is a healer, the local dps could automatically see that and choose to peel, intercept, cc. The main problems, like you said, are that healers tend to be invisible and it’s hard to know when one’s being singled out in a big BG.

    The bottom line is that many people who only play dps just don’t value healers very much. They won’t choose to protect us until they get the sort of dramatic, object lesson you had in how heals can turn the tide of a battle. The opportunities for that are few but, if we can bridge the information gap, some people will start to defend us when we ask. Seems to me that the first step is to put timely information into the hands of people who can set an example. This won’t force anybody to save a healer, but HHTD doesn’t actually force anybody to attack either.

    • I’d love to see something that visually presents the list you’re talking about – sort of a targeting vector map – so you can see when people are focusing on a single target. I don’t know how feasible it is to display that much information, but MAN would that be interesting to watch in action.

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  21. digitalwindow

    I like HHTD as a lazy enhancement shaman I tend to stand near the back in big fights in BG’s and heal. It’s a great way to attract lots of dps for me to kill without having to run around all over the place. So while this addon may be bad for healers it’s great for hybrid dps :D

    • I always look at the mana bar once I’ve targeted the healer. I got suckered into attacking a Prot Pally as the healer once, and that was just enough for me, thank you very much. :0)

  22. Mîsterstîcks

    Hello, love the blog and read it very frequently. I just wanted to mention, onthe topic of winning Tol Barad, that I just won a 5 minute offensive battle. The reason? “Have Group Will Travel”. The horde didn’t even have a chance. How long until they ban this in TB now that many guilds are above level 20?

  23. teslacoil

    Nice post!

    In BGs I try to get the RaidLeader to put marks on out Healers. Doesn’t happen often, but if it does it is a huge difference.

    • I occasionally try to do this, but often there’s a lot of resistance. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want your teammates to know you’re healing? It boggles my mind.

  24. It seems like the common sense thing to do would be to develop “Heal-Killers Have to Die,” which will put a big red X over anyone targetting a healer on your team.

    • I agree. Might be hard to implement target-tracking in real-time, but certainly looking at the Combat Log should be able to tell you if they’ve already started in on attacking your healer.

  25. Laura Roberts

    Aww, I just started my wee healer in the BG’s and was wondering how the heck I was being killed like IMMEDIATELY. LOL. Good to know and one addon I’ll be using myself. Also like the idea of the macro’s.

    I’ll be following this blog as I begin my journey through the bg’s. Great blog.

  26. Razeil

    Very interesting stuff as I have gotten back into PvP on my hunter. Gona try HHTD, but idk. Never been into using the nameplates (if those are the ones with say a full red bar replacing the % or #s for their health). Awesome stuff Cynwise, I started reading what I thought would be just a litlle of this blog and ended up reading the whole article lol.

    • Using nameplates has other advantages in addition to HHTD. You can see classes, low health, and most importantly – you can see people THROUGH WALLS.

      The only downside is you have to get used to parsing that information on your screen, and if you play on a little screen (like I do), it can be kinda overwhelming at first.

      Hope you like it!

  27. Sad-BG-Healer-Panda

    I agree with some of the points on your post- I do not disagree with addons that make things easier for people, but i do have issues with addons that make things HARDER for OTHER people. Sure, you may say, addons like vuhdo makes it harde for dps to kill people, but in all honesty, do you see dps quitting BGs because that addon makes the game unfun for them?

    I am a long time BG healer, but i am just not having any fun anymore. The instant i cast a healing spell, i get focused, interuppted and cced and normally die within about 10 seconds. Healing just isnt fun anymore. I find myself just playing my dps offspec when i gear up a healer for pvp, and just wont go back to BGs as a healer at all once ive got my gear.

    The sad thing is, that if blizzard dosnt break this addon, it will become obelete, as healers in BGs will become so rare it wont be worth the memory for dps players.

    • I’m sorry to hear that you’re not having fun in battlegrounds anymore. I don’t think it can be solely attributed to HHTD – dispels and interrupts have become much more commonplace in PvP – but I certainly understand the frustration. I do play several healers in PvP, though none as my main.

      I suppose I’ll have to respectfully disagree with your position, however. I maintain that any addon which makes things easier for a player in PvP makes it harder for their opponents, and so banning HHTD on that ground raises questions about every other PvP addon out there. For example, Gladius tells me if their trinket is up, DR tracker tells me what the diminishing returns are on each character, and Need to Know lets me coordinate my CC with my teammates. Each one of those provides me with information I can use to kill an opponent, making it not fun for them.

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate you taking the time to consider the other side of the argument.

      • daexion

        The major difference, in my opinion, is that they don’t visibly mark the player in any manner. Gaining information is one thing, basically having their head handed to you on a silver platter is quite another. I ran the add-on on my rogue, and was finding the healers without ever having seen them before in the BG meaning I didn’t even have to seen them do anything. That is rather broken, if you were to ask me. It doesn’t surprise me that the author of the add-on doesn’t see anything wrong with this, and, in my opinion, his opinion is highly biased and should be taken with a grain of salt, so to speak.

        The add-on, I think, is simply too much, and turns BGs in some cases into a case of whack-a-mole, and if it’s acceptable to do this style of marking in BGs, why not just put this into other add-ons to make it easier to find those targets as well? That’s part of the PvP-arms race, and it’s simply a matter of time.

        Something to note, for me it’s never been about whether it looked for healers, but simply the fact it could mark their character’s avatar in PvP so easily without the player ever having seen the marked player before. There is, quite literally, no interaction needed and the marking is completely automated.

      • Musemistress

        In Australia, we HAVE to pick and choose addons due to constant 300 average latency. (this is with the 5 addons I have constantly running. DBM, Bagnon, Grid, Clique and Tidyplates). I have to be especially picky due to being on a router and sharing the net while I shammy heal with my partner who tanks. The one thing we’ve really found to be very annoying is when we’re in a group, all on vent, protecting me and suddenly a DK will yank me out of the group (never cast chainheal in BG’s, too conspicious) within the first minute and suddenly a ton of horde have killed me. Then they turn on the rest of the group.
        I then respawn and often am killed before I get very far out of the graveyard. This is a consistent thing. One time I was even yanked up stairs out of my group when I hadn’t healed anything except myself that fight due to being in Ele spec, but the big red cross was most likely over my head and I gave up. You can see it through walls for pete’s sake due to being so large. People can’t work strategies and position themselves around a flag because suddenly a hordie rogue will run round the corner, know exactly where I am, stun me and then the rest will zerg the rest of our group.

        I normally like healing, even when no one is helping me, due to it being so hard for the enemy to take me down. I can stand there and even jump off a cliff to deny a killing blow and it’s how I work, while getting honor for my duties to the fight. It’s when I cast a simple riptide on someone ONCE and suddenly am zerged and smushed, it makes me wonder what’s the point of this particular addon.
        As a shammy, I look around. I see a priest casting something, I hex them or interrupt it, I then shout out for someone to kill them while I protect their hides. I use the addons Clique and Grid to help me heal, it does not give me an advantage over one type of character in a game. It gives me an overall advantage of ease to mouseover toon pics and tap the keyboard while running. The difference is rather obvious I feel. I complain about it because I’m a healer that has been in far too many pvp fights where we’re all very clumped up and practically on top of eachother and a DK STILL is able to pull me out.
        My pally tank partner has been zerged many times, but never when he’s in a group. Only when he’s alone or with me do they do that, and still they will charge me first (this is not the addon’s fault. This is me being squishy in comparison to a pally…chain vs plate? I don’t think so :P ).

        Do I feel targeted? Yes.

        I don’t have as great an issue with other addons. They are overall helpers. They allow the game to run for those who have little time to sit down with encyclopedias of game strat and often having yelling kids in the background. DBM is one such addon that I did without for a long time before I had our baby boy and suddenly my attention was split and the warning sounds really helped make those quick decisions. HHtD? It’s…how do I say it…biased. It targets one kind of thing only and removes simple observation that is now taken for granted. Woe the day when this addon becomes out of date or the creater gets sick on a critical update day and suddenly people in pvp don’t know how to look for a simple healer who’s casting simple and obvious spells.

        Since I lived without DBM for so long until Firelands, I can see the glaring differences between the 2. DBM tells us what we can see anyway, just with nice sounds. HHtD tells us what’s hidden round the corner in a group and only on one or two people and puts a cross on it so people ignore the warrior making off with your flag and kill the cross because it’s there.
        I’m a squishy healer who’s been targeted by this a lot. But in the long run for the pvp aspect of the game in general, it’s not going to be a good thing. Especially for those who’re trained to only look for a red cross.

  28. Gestlain

    Great article! From a pure ranged DPS perspective, tools like this make it easier. But having played the game for years now, if you don’t understand that the healers have to die first, then you’re really just playing CounterStrike with a sword.

    That being said, this “discover”, along with the recent fiasco which was the CtA “improvement” say a lot about how the game mechanics are starting to become a bit long in the tooth. Maybe the answer is that EVERY class needs a healing tree. Or there’s a meta-game of defensive and offensive tactics. After all, maybe the answer isn’t healing, but most significant damage reduction traits (things like shield wall used to be fantastic in PVP because it would take opponents precious time to figure out they shouldn’t be attacking you anymore).

    The bottom line I’m getting at is that this is indicative of a deeper problem than just whether or not a plugin should be allowed. It’s creating artificial scarcity (which is there regardless of whether the addon is running or not) in the gameplay which is not being mitigated through additional robustness.

    Just food for thought.

  29. Pingback: OMFG, No Healers, we’re screwed! « Armaggedon's coming!

  30. Rockstar

    HHTD has a major difference between that and an addon like DBM… With something like DBM, you still have to know how to react to what you’re told. When it tells you that you have a debuff on you, you have to know if it means to run to the group, run away from it, kite a fire, stand in a certain spot, other people need to know if that means to run to you, run away from you, dispel you, spam heals on you, etc. HHTD marks a healer to kill.

    It somewhat takes that need for the situational awareness out of the BGs. Now, without adding the red cross, but just announcing that someone is healing, it would be a completely different addon. You’d still have all the same information, but you have to pick out that player to kill, you have to look at the nameplates and find him.

    Where it gets hard is that somewhere like TB, where you’ll have healers standing in the group for aoe heals, surrounded by 30 other people, some kind of mark can almost be seen as a requirement, but then in WSG, it pretty much takes out the need to have ANY clue what the other team is doing, and just turns into “kill the cross”.

    So, it’s tough… in competitive PvP it should definitely not be allowed. If you’re in arena, or you’re in an RBG, part of winning should involve being able to pick out who is healing by just looking at your screen and know what to do about it. In normal BGs, it’s a little harder since they tend to lack the coordination, that’s more up to debate. IoC, TB, and AV, I really don’t know.

    But it’s not that the addon is a “cheat” or anything, it just removes too much of the situational awareness that you should need for pvp. That’s a little overboard for a competitive, ranked system, that’s supposed to measure skill.

    • Wait… I got lost early on. It’s been a long week and it’s only Tuesday. :-) I don’t think I follow your argument.

      How is HHTD different from DBM? DBM amplifies your situational awareness – yells at you if you’re in fire, times boss moves and phases based on their emotes, gives you warnings when things are happening – all based upon events happening in game. A player can raid without DBM if their situational awareness is good, but it makes these things more obvious.

      Same situation with HHTD so far – it takes elements that are present in the game and amplifies them. Cast bars on name plates? They’ll tell you who’s healing even if you can’t see the swirly lights.

      DBM tells you what is happening, and that’s it. It says, you’re standing in fire. You have to know to move. HHTD tells you who the healers are, and that’s it. It says, here’s a healer. You have to know how to kill that healer.

      I think your argument is that because there’s a wider variety of responses to the information DBM gives you, it makes it different from HHTD. If that’s the case, then I disagree – broader scope doesn’t change the fundamental similarity between the two.

      Let’s take DBM’s debuff marker. Someone in the raid gets a debuff. DBM marks them with a raid symbol and announces to everyone in raid, with or without DBM, that the debuff is present on that individual. There is both a visual cue on the nameplate (raid symbol) and an announcement that this event has happened. Someone should probably do something about this debuff – perhaps the person runs away from the raid, perhaps someone cleanses it – but DBM actively marks it both for people with and without the addon.

      HHTD is actually less intrusive than DBM in this case – while it gives a nameplate marker (and an audio cue), it doesn’t announce to /bg or /p or /s, it doesn’t share the marker with anyone else – it simply notes that that person is a healer.

      So if you’re saying that HHTD is different from DBM because it’s simpler… well, I suppose it is simpler. I don’t see how that changes things. People can PvP for rating using any addons they want. If you think HHTD is bad, Gladius is a freaking nightmare – you KNOW if their trinket is up, what their CC DR is, and what their CDs are. Forget figuring out if they’re a healer – you know their spec within the first 5 seconds of watching them.

      Competitive PvP – for money in tournaments – is different than Rated PvP. If you want to ban HHTD for rated play because it removes “needed situational awareness,” then you best get rid of DBM, because it gives you timers on everything – people should pay more attention to when nodes should flip! You should ban VuhDo because it guides you towards players who are out of range. You should ban Healbot because it makes targeting your teammates too easy.

      It’s not that this is a slippery slope – it’s that the logic behind banning HHTD ends up banning a lot of addons people like. There really isn’t that much difference between them.

      I may have missed something, though.

  31. rockstar

    The reason I think its a different kind of addon, is because of the intent if it. I agree, in TB or AV, the thing is pretty important or else every healer is easily just freely casting… but in a 10v10 wsg, its pretty much just marking a kill target. In small scale pvp like that, and competative (rated) pvp, IMO if you can’t tell that one guy out of the three is healing, youdeserve to lose. Dbm gets more of a gray area because it’ll tell you someone gas a debuff, but you have to know what that means. Healbot and vuh do don’t even come close to falling in the same category though, seeing as they don’t start yelling “HEAL”. I have nothing against the addon, but I just don’t think it belongs in a competitive game. Rated is a measure of skill, shouldn’t identifying the healer on a 2v2 team be part of that skill?

  32. me

    Simple change to HHTD to make it better as a defensive as well as offensive tool:
    Enemy healers get a RED cross
    Friendly healers get a GREEN cross

    For bonus functionality, allow the symbols and colors of symbols to be user chosen.

    • Fortunately, HHTD already does that. It also announces when a friendly healer is getting attacked, and by whom. The friendly healer detection is quite good, if you have it on.

  33. I know I am “late to the game” to leave a comment, aaand I have never been here before. However, yours was an interesting article, Cynwise, even if I found myself disagreeing with a few points here and there. As an aside, I am deeply interested in seeing what other observations about WoW you have to share. But, let me get on with the topic at hand: HHTD.

    I exceedingly dislike this add-on and do feel it adds unfair and ultimately ruinous elements into BGs. I only hope I can express my reasoning for being against this add-on as well as you voiced your support.

    To provide a little bit of a foundation, let us suppose their are two major branches of add-ons: Reactive and Proactive.

    An example of a Reactive add-on would be Recount. Recount tells you what you are doing, but simply reorders the information from colorful little sparklies and wiggling fingers and relates that into crunched numbers. While Recount can tell you how much DPS you are doing, your total damage output for a fight, or even where you stack up against fellow party members, it does not tell you what to do or how to do it. You must actually learn your class, learn the game mechanics, and go through a process of trial and error to play the game – actually play THE game. Maybe you start tweaking your rotation, or reevaluate the stats on your gear. Whatever is done, however, requires conscious and active decision making on the part of the player.

    Proactive add-ons, however, instruct the player on what to do. Learning the game is superseded. At this point, you are no longer playing the game, but you are playing the meta-game in real-time. Given enough add-ons, eventually you won’t even be playing the meta-game but will instead be a tool for the add-ons to play it for you. If that is what you like, what is the harm, right? The problem is that with such a huge impact on the meta-game (which in turn then cascades into the game itself), the Proactive add-ons are disrupting the game for those who want to play, well, THE game.

    It is, as you say, an arms race. But, isn’t this against the spirit of the game? Should players be forced to start using third-party software to be able to get full use out of said game? Is it fair . . . heck, is it healthy for the game and the community to give an open advantage in game-play to anyone willing to make a download over someone who may be very skilled at what they do but now has to run around with a sign over their head that says, “Kill me! Noobs welcome!”? In a way, it is a type of griefing by add-on.

    What if it wasn’t healers that were the target? What if there was an add-on called, “Blood Elves have to die – BEHTD”? Could you imagine that every time you engaged in PvP you suddenly had a target above your head calling attention to your presence? What if every time you entered PvP you got focused fired repeatedly and endlessly? Would playing a Belf in PvP be fun? Would it be worth it? After awhile, it would become tiresome. Suddenly, for no game reason but only for a meta-game reason Belfs start dwindling from PvP. And once you start taking away access to activities from players, you start diminishing your player base, either by their willingness to participate in certain activities or in their willingness to play the game at all. Once that happens, the game is a lesser experience, as you start eliminating chunks of players and variety.

    I don’t mind being hunted out in the BGs, but HHTD gives everyone and anyone an unfair meta-game advantage over me that I have no way to counter. It is an arms race with arms only really going to one side. Instead of contributing, I am now dying over and over and over and over again. My biggest BG contribution as a healer now is in honor for the opposing side. This, of course, is the situation only when I come across a team with a prevalent use of HHTD. In BGs without said add-on being ubiquitous, things progress “normally”. Sometimes the enemy players catch on to my healing ways, attack me, and I die. Sometimes I manage to stay out of harms way and can help save the day. Isn’t that the way ti is supposed to be? A mix of skill and luck versus spoon-fed instructions and staggering imbalances of power?

    I am afraid I did not express myself very well, nor even covered even half the points I had hoped to make. Unfortunately, it is late, I am tired, and my brain is refusing to do its best.

    I want to thank you for a well-written article. Again, I may disagree with several points you make, but you do have some very worthwhile things to say and ponder over.

    • Bethra,

      Thanks for your comment, and for disagreeing politely. :) I’ve made my case, and I know that I won’t convince everyone. But I stand by this addon as a legitimate addition to the WoW experience, and think that it’s one of the better UI additions you can make for PvP.

      My response is delayed, in part, because your comment sparked a followup post – http://cynwise.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/using-healers-have-to-die-to-protect-friendly-healers/ – which addresses some of the positives of HHTD which are often neglected in these discussions.

      I’ve been playing my healers a lot more again, and I do find it interesting when I get focused and when I don’t. (My druid is a magnet, my priest is not, why is that?) I’m left going – I don’t know if the opponents are using HHTD, or if they’re good PvPers who can spot a healer, or if they’re just getting lucky, or if I’m not good at defending myself. I don’t know why I end up dead, but I do, and not calling attention to myself as a healer is a problem. When I do *that*, I help break the fragile nature of WoW PvP. If I have protectors, I live (and they live.) If not, I die. It’s a pretty simple equation.

      I don’t think HHTD usage is as prevalent as many people think, to be honest. I think it picks up a lot of blame for a natural occurrence in PvP, which is unfortunate.

      Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve found other things worthwhile here!

      Cyn

  34. Pingback: Using Healers Have To Die to Protect Friendly Healers | Cynwise's Battlefield Manual

  35. Protasm

    I wrote an alternative addon, FocusHeals, to provide a simple report of enemy healer names in a Battleground. It’s about 100 lines of code that just scans the battleground scoreboard and prints the names of healers in the chat window. Command-line switches allow printing to battleground chat, guild, officer, party, raid, or say. No graphical elements, no automatic target marking, just a list of healer names.

  36. Pingback: Episode 157 – Morrow Ribs | Twisted Nether Blogcast