Dual Unto Others

In a perfect world, we would all be fortunate enough to run with only our guildmates in Heroics and find that perfect unison of one tank, three DPS and one healer that could create that magic and that would ensure those hours of farming gear and Justice Points are nothing short of a blissful experience.

In reality, some have an easier go of it than others. Depending on who is online and who is already spoken for, you may find yourself being one of those stragglers who is forced to throw your lot in with the Dungeon Finder to get what you need. As DPS, the queue times can be unbearable. Not to mention the fact that PuG Heroics already have such a small chance of success that just downing the first boss can be seen as a huge victory.

Some enterprising DPS have decided to use their dual specs to become something that would allow them a much easier time of finding random groups to farm Heroics with – those of tanks and healers. Unfortunately, if not done correctly, this can create an even more painful experience for all involved. So, without further ado, here are my tips on how to use your dual spec to the fullest while trying to do Heroics.

Lesson #1:  Do Your Homework

If you’re planning on playing the part of a tank, healer or even DPS, when that’s not your natural role, you need to at least make sure that you can at least perform said role at an adequate level for the content that you are about to do. You won’t get very far if you can’t generate or hold aggro, if you can’t keep 4 other people and yourself alive or if you are not putting out the DPS to kill things fast enough.

Take a look at what others of your desired class/spec are doing, in terms of talents and rotations. Understand the mechanics and what the abilities associated with that spec are used for. I would put in just as much time learning your dual spec as you would put into your main spec, for something like this. If you’re not going to do it well enough to help your group succeed, then you’re basically doing all of this for nothing and that’s not good!

Lesson #2:  Look The Part

Once you have gotten into the right mindset to really understand the role that you’re trying to become, you then need to make sure that you are just as convincing on the outside as you are on the inside.

If you’re planning on becoming a temporary tank, make sure you have pieces that are fitting for a tank and that you have a generous amount of health and other attributes (like dodge and parry) to be able to take some hits.

If you’re aiming to become a healer, make sure you have pieces that a healer would wear. Anything with Spirit on it is going to be assumed as something that a healer would want, so make sure you have plenty of that on you. Make sure you’re not wearing any trinkets or using any meta gems that would be terribly obvious as DPS caster only.

If you’re in the rare bind of being a tank or healer attempting to DPS, possibly due to too many others like yourself in the guild needing upgrades and not enough runs to support them, make sure you are hit capped or as close to it as possible. If you play a class with CC capabilities, get comfortable using those abilities and become familiar with the symbol assigned to you for marking purposes. Watch your aggro and focus fire the correct mobs down, when it’s time to do that.

Lastly, make sure your gems and enchants go with the role that you are trying to perform, too.

Lesson #3:  Stick to the Script

It can be mighty tempting to want to fall back into your normal mindset in a group. You see that death knight made some strange talent choices or that the feral druid is letting his bleeds fall off too soon. You have experience. You know these things!

Except you’re there to tank. A little advice or a friendly suggestion is fine. Getting into blow by blow explanations and possibly even arguing with them over how things are done is purely bad form.

This rule seems exceptionally true for healers that place themselves into a DPS role. It can be tempting when you see life bars going down to stop what you’re doing and throw heals in rapid succession to save the day. That’s not why you’re there, though. Granted, if the run is on the unmistakable path to a wipe and you feel that you can possibly help save the day, by all means. I would expect any DPS to do the same thing. That should be a rare occurance and not a habit.  However, if you can cleanse something (such as a curse, poison or disease) that your healer cannot cleanse, then by all means, cleanse away!

Things not dying fast enough means the fights go on longer than they need to, which taxes the healing and can cause other problems. In short, do what you came to do, unless the situation absolutely calls for it.

Lesson #4:  Come Clean

There are some professions where you’re not immediately panicked by seeing someone wearing a trainee tag. The cashier at the grocery store. The busboy at a restaurant. That kind of thing.

Then there are those where you really don’t want to know that this is somebody’s first time doing a particular task. The person drawing your blood at the doctor’s office. The pilot flying the airplane you are on. The minute you discover they may not have that much experience is exactly when you start to doubt you’re in good hands.

With that in mind, feel free to state that this may not be your primary spec, but that you do feel confident enough to play it and don’t be afraid to ask for pointers.  This will go over a lot better than people assuming that you are a main spec tank, healer or DPS when you clearly are not.

Lesson #5:  Don’t Quit Your Day Job

At the end of the day, you’re doing this because you have to. You may enjoy what you’re doing, out of necessity or because it started to grow on you. But, remember why you’re really there. You’re there to get a shot at some gear that nobody else can use or to farm the Justice Points you need to buy better gear, so you can be ready to raid that much faster.

Do not get so attached to your dual spec that you start insisting on doing it in your actual raids. Do not think that because you made the most of your dual spec to get through a difficult time that you automatically know more about that class/spec than those that have been doing it since a previous expansion.

In closing, the journey towards becoming the best you can be so that you’re ready to raid should be an enjoyable one. You should be looking forward to watching your stats grow and your abilities hit harder or heal for more and it shouldn’t be something that you dread doing.

Slipping into a role that you don’t normally perform is not for everyone. Some people would rather deal with longer queue times than put themselves in a situation they’re not entirely comfortable with. Listen to your gut. If you know deep down that you don’t feel confident in the idea of tanking or healing (or even DPSing) or you know you don’t have the desire to put in the work to really give it your best shot, don’t do it.

Stick to what you know and what you enjoy. If you can still do that, while ensuring you are on the right path to being the best you can be, then you’re doing the right thing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Thanks for reading and happy hunting!

9 thoughts on “Dual Unto Others”

  1. Nicely written and very informative! As a Tank myself I will rarely need this as finding a group is kinda peanuts, but should I ever level an Alt or find a guildie struggling I’ll keep this is mind. 🙂


    • Hey there! Thanks for stopping by, Arphalas. I was having an issue leaving comments on here, but apparently it has been fixed.

      It is pretty rare for a tank to have to become DPS to get into runs, but I know that healers in my guild have been going DPS quite frequently, due to there being more healers than tanks that are Heroic ready. It’s a strange predicament and hopefully it won’t be permanent. But it can come up.

  2. “Do not get so attached to your dual spec that you start insisting on doing it in your actual raids”

    See, I would have said that if you do get comfortable with the dual spec, tell your raid leader so that they know you’re interested in picking up any unwanted tank/healer loot and that they know you’d be able to pick up the role in a pinch. I’ve always wanted to know as a RL which of my hybrids would be OK with being asked to heal or tank if someone else couldn’t make it.

  3. Spinks is right.

    People who can play the other specs of their hybrid class (e.g. a class with more trees than just DPS) well is a major asset for any guild. The flexibility it provides will save your raidleader many headaches sooner or later.

    In addition, even though modern overlapping raidbuffs make sure that getting particular specs in your raid is not usually a falling point anymore, mastering all your class’ specs should be a point of pride and maturation that anyone should strive to achieve.

    In fact, I think that even pure DPS classes should feel this way, because your current spec might very well not be the ‘best(tm)’ one come next patch and it helps if your DPS doesn’t suddenly take a huge dive in raids while you scramble to learn the subtleties of your new spec.

    A proper mindset with regards to your class and its abilities makes this article nothing more than common sense. That said, it’s still a good article.

    • I agree, completely! I had to clarify a bit and I left a comment on Spinks’ page, to say that I agree. I was mostly coming from a place of how someone goes about letting it be known that they enjoy their off-spec. I was referring to people who make it known, politely get shot down or asked to resume playing their main spec and then that’s all you hear from them.

      They start dropping hints, they drag their feet when it comes to doing their main spec responsibilities – that sorta thing. Otherwise, I think it’s great when people express to the officer core that they don’t mind doing things outside the box and volunteer to try out for new roles.

      Thanks for the comment, by the way. 🙂

  4. Very timely article. For a melee dps, it’s very easy to learn to tank, if you pay attention to the fight instead of just focusing on your CD bars. The roles are extremely similar. (And tank rotations are deliberately made very simple). Talk to your guild tanks and ask them for advice about stats weightings. Watch how your guild tanks pull trash. See where they position the boss. What you’ll find is that you’ll already be doing the same interrupts, moving out of the same aoe anyway.

    @Oestrus It’s actually far more common for tanks to become dps to get into raids. (But not for 5man). Our 25man guild run 2 full time tanks, and fill the occasional 3rd tank spot from our plate dps and feral cats. A lot of our melee dps are previous tanks who have come to the conclusion that there are very very few raid spots for tanks, after graduating from 5/10 guilds. With the rise of 10mans in Cataclysm, there should be a brighter future of new budding tanks however. 10 man will need the same number of tanks as 5man scaling up.

    On the other hand, IMHO, healing is a lot harder to learn for former dpsers. My only attempt on learning to heal on an alt failed abysmally. I found the lack of rotation, the need to cast spells reactively (instead of following a priority system), very difficult.

    • Hey Iilham, thanks for stopping by!

      I would be inclined to say that if you’re smart melee DPS (key word there: smart), then I feel you would have an easier go of tanking than someone who may not be considered smart melee DPS.

      What I mean by smart is someone who interrupts casters, doesn’t stand in things – basic tenets to being a melee DPS class. Sadly, some of those habits have grown out of favor and I wouldn’t think that someone who is seen as reckless or clumsy DPS would be a great fit to tank.

      But hey, some of the better tanks I have run into and had the joy of healing have been the more “Let’s do it!” kind of tanks that just charge in and make a mess of things. But it’s a beautiful mess and it’s not a playstyle that everyone can pull off.

      I had heard that the number of tanks for the new content had gone down and that we may not need to take as many tanks, this time around. If that’s true, you are very correct in that tanks will need to start building a strong DPS set and be prepared to do some damage. That should be interesting to see!

      I can relate to your situation about DPS having a hard time healing – because as a healer, I don’t have it in me to DPS. I’m so focused on my health bars and the health bars of my party and that side of things that I don’t adapt well to how the other side does things. I have a lot of respect for DPSers – or ones that do it well and intelligently. It’s not something I would be comfortable doing or would be any good at, at this stage of the game.


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