Monks, Souls, Hybrids And Life Support For The Holy Trinity

Pandaren Monk

Pandaren Monks. Filling every role and making every other class obsolete.

Let’s face it, the holy trinity mechanic for MMOs isn’t going anywhere. No matter how restrictive it is, no matter how much it impedes gameplay, no matter how much it puts the whole silly concept of raiding at odds with the leveling game (I just despise the idea of a single ‘main tank’), its here to stay for a long, long time. Regardless of how much we might want the holy trinity to accidentally asphyxiate itself during a sordid little sex game with its dirty sandbox cousin, it’s never going to die, especially not when developers have found a way to keep the darn thing on permanent life support. Y’know what I’m talking about – the concept of hybrid classes and versatility.

Indeed, it seems as if those cunning MMORPG designers have come up with a way of bypassing a lot of the restrictions that the holy trinity gameplay model of tank/healer/DPS introduces – they’re just allowing all classes to fill multiple roles. This fad really kicked off seven years ago when WoW first launched and introduced the idea of talent trees for different purposes. Paladins could DPS AND tank AND heal. Same went for Druids. Even ‘normal’ healers or tanks could fill the role of DPS if desired, all-in-all a true departure from the original concept way back that healers healed, damagers did damage and a tank was a tank and nothing more.

This versatility was, of course, a jolly good thing because it meant that those guys (and gals) who’d spent their entire leveling career as a tank but didn’t, for whatever reason, fit the bill for the single main tank role on a raid could still switch roles and join the 20 or so other DPS classes. Same went for healers (see what I mean about the whole disjointed raid experience now, don’t you?). Plus it helped with balance issues.

Over the years this idea of classes being able to fill more than one role has become very popular and we now see games like RIFT and SW:TOR in which every class can fill at least two of the holy trinity roles, sometimes even all three of them. RIFT’s soul system is particularly versatile and I have to say quite novel in its offering of Cleric tanks and Mage healers, Trion proving how much they want to make the old holy trinity model as accessible as possible. Likewise, Blizzard has also shown renewed recognition in the power of flexible classes and both their latest offerings, the Deathknight and now the Monk, are hybrids, the latter being able to perform all three group roles.

So it seems that versatility is the next big thing in MMOs and we should easily expect the next few games to be announced to do away with the notion of classes being able to only perform a single role. After all, who really wants to play a Mage or a Rogue that can only do damage when they could play a brand new shiny Monk and get access to a whole range of different play styles? As fun as they might be, I certainly shudder at the thought of just playing a DPS class and knowing that I’ll never be able to fill one of the more desirable and scare roles. Give me a hybrid for quick dungeon queue times any day, that’s all I can say.

Still, all of this flexibility is really just a band-aid for a style of gameplay that we all know is ultimately flawed but no one has yet to come up with a better solution for. I know I certainly can’t think of anything (and I’m not saying it would be an easy feat, by any means). However, I can’t help but think that maybe we’re being a little lazy and looking for the easy way out here. Of course, making sure everyone can tank, heal and DPS will smooth out issues with grouping and raiding but isn’t it just a cover up for a more fundamental issues at hand? Perhaps that the sheer concept of raiding is broken? Or that no one actually likes playing tanks or healers in the first place?

Then again, maybe I’m just overthinking everything.


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Related Posts

  1. I Don’t Hate The Holy Trinity, I Just Don’t Think It Works
  2. Why Blizzard Are Going To Kill The Holy Trinity
  3. DPS Only Classes Are Now Redundant
  4. The Problem Is Just That No One Likes Tanking Or Healing
  5. Tanking – A Dying Mechanic?


  1. Nils says:

    It’s not that difficult to make a game without healers actually. It might be less interesting but still fun eneough. What seems impossible is to make a game without tanks.

    Tanks mean that the enemy mob(s) remain relative stationary instead of runing around. And we all know that mobs running around isn’t fun. Now, we can still try to make tanking collision-based instead of threat-based. And of course, different mobs might be tanked by all kinds of different characters.

    The holy trinity seems actually pretty good to me and very versatile. It shouldn’t be replaced by mobs runing around likke crazy certainly. But there’s lots of polishing that could be done.

    • Gordon says:

      My big issue with the Holy Trinity isn’t the concept of tanks or healers but rather the make-up of groups and how it effects MMO gameplay in the real world. The concept of a tank class just doesn’t work when people spend most of their time soloing and/or then raiding.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I think perhaps you’re listening too closely to the “loud and bored” minority if you believe players as a whole are fed up with the Holy Trinity. Plenty of people know what they like and aren’t looking for novelty or versatility.

    Most of the people I’ve played with in more than one MMO over the years have played roughly the same role in each. If they played a cleric in one game they’ll try to find the nearest thing to a cleric in the next. We all know people who only ever play rogues or always play a tank as their Main.

    It’s very useful to have hybrids that allow the more flexible players to swap roles as needed, but most players are probably going to settle into one role for most of the time, regardless of how many other roles they could have, In Rift I very rarely swap from the build I think of as that character’s “class”, even if it’s not the most efficient. I will do it if I have to, but I’d rather not.

    Given the choice, in a group I’d always play a healer. My one big concern about Guild Wars 2 is the stated intention to do away with the healer role altogether and let everyone heal themselves. I think GW2 has enough other good things about it that I might be able to swallow that stone, but it IS a possible choker.

    I’m all in favor of spreading the roles around and encouraging flexibility, but not at the expense of the actual roles themselves. The worst possible scenario is that we all end up as DPS, in which case I will stop playing.

    • Gordon says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I do like the variety of roles, it’s just that it becomes very hard to work them into ‘modern’ MMO gameplay mechanics. The best case scenario is that everyone in a group has a specific and unique role (like tank, healer, CC, damage, buffing etc) but in reality it causes problems like making it very hard to form groups, solo or fit into raids.

      Plus, I do think people are just getting a little bored of seeing the same mechanics in every single MMO.

  3. Carson says:

    Guild Wars 2 is definitely the elephant in the room. If it crashes and burns, and SW:TOR’s completely un-Star-Wars-like trinity succeeds, then I think we can forget about the MMO industry ever getting out of the late 90’s rut.

    • Azuriel says:

      [...] then I think we can forget about the MMO industry ever getting out of the late 90’s rut.

      Rut? You know, the shape of the steering wheel and mechanics of windshield wipers has pretty much been static for the last 50+ years. Are we in a steering wheel/windshield wiper “rut?”

      I believe it is entirely possible that we have reached a fundamental, underlying design law, so to speak, in regards to holy trinity gameplay. It fundamentally answers the question of “How does my creature AI determine who to attack, in a grokkable way?” Having creatures attack randomly would not be especially fun for players. Having creatures attack by proximity (whoever is in the front line), is essentially making proximity a “threat increasing move.” You can mix up the formula occasionally by having individual creature types or whatever attack spellcasters first, attack the most damaged, etc, but too many differing rulesets will overwhelm players. Nevermind how it is indistinguishable from those qualities (spellcasting, damaged) simply generating threat themselves; a spellcaster kiting a mob while nonspellcaster whack it means the spellcaster is the tank.

      The whole concept of threat is like HP, in my opinion: how can you possibly improve upon it? Even if you get a Health bar instead, below the surface numbers still determine everything. Certain games may blur the line between the roles a bit so as to make “everyone” the healer or “everyone” the tank (players will still self-segregate, and this assumes class choices are balanced to begin with), but trinity gameplay is not ever going away. At least until we get lasers wiping our windshields or energy shields keeping the rain/snow from even touching the glass.

      • Nils says:

        There is a difference between the threat mechanic and the holy trinity, Azuriel. You could omit threat and introduce collision control. Unless you insist that collision control is just a special case of threat, this would be a viable alternative. If it is technically feasible…

        • bhagpuss says:

          Surely you answered your own question there, Nils. Collision detection IS just a special form of threat. In many ways it’s a superior mechanic because it’s more transparent, but there’s no intrinsic difference between making a mob fight you and not someone else because you it can’t get past you and making it fight you because you are pumping out “threat”.

          If the end result is that the group designates someone to hold the giant’s attention while everyone else hits it, that person is the tank whether he’s doing it by insulting the giant’s mother or standing in the doorway and shoving him back.

          • Nils says:

            Bhagpuss, in that case even systems where mobs run freely (no holy trinity, no tanks) are just a special case of a threat system. After all, the mobs will attack *somebody* and this one obviously has the highest threat at this very moment.

          • Gordon says:

            The collision detection concept in WAR was interesting, especially when implemented in PvP. Their idea was to make tanks tank players by simply getting in front of them. I don’t think it ever really worked at all as it was far too easy for folk to just run around them :P You’d have to have games in which every tank was really wide or fat and all of the play areas very narrow :D

        • Simon Jones who is blogless says:

          Guild Wars 2 is one of those games that can do without the Holy Trinity because it isn’t following the same model as WoW.

          You’re dealing with what is following a game model closer to something like Modern Warfare than the MMO game. While the levelling experience will be pretty, it’s going to occupy the same role as MW’s single player in that it’s not what people are going to be there for, once the initial run of GW2 is going be our new saviour has run out.

          What you’ve ultimately got is a lobby based PvP game which can avoid things like the Holy Trinity because in the end, they aren’t going to matter to the goals it’s trying to achieve.

          • Gordon says:

            I’m really curious to see how GW2 works out and just how popular it is. Although there’s a lot of hype about it, I’m kinda sceptical about whether or not it’s going to appeal to everyone as much as they think it is.

      • Gordon says:

        “Rut? You know, the shape of the steering wheel and mechanics of windshield wipers has pretty much been static for the last 50+ years. Are we in a steering wheel/windshield wiper “rut?””

        Good point ;)

  4. Tremayne says:

    Blaming the Holy Trinity is a bit of a red herring, I think. It’s a consequence of having a D&D-style hit point system where people fight at full effectiveness until they run out of hit points, and some characters can fill the hit point bars up again. It makes combat a race between two green bars, and the optimum solution to that is to try and make all the damage coming your team’s way fall on a guy whose green bar can last as long as possible (i.e. a tank), have some guys who specialise in keeping his green bar topped up (healers) and let the others specialise in reducing the enemy’s green bar ASAP (DPS).

    If the Holy Trinity didn’t exist, players would have to invent it, because it’s the most efficient way of going about combat in a game that works the way most MMOs do. Even GW2 doesn’t really get away from it – it just fudges things by making everyone a hybrid, but I would be very surprised if GW2 players don’t start buildinmg characters as mitigation specialists, healing specialists and damage specialists and put together groups accordingly.

    If we want to get out of the rut, the solution isn’t to make the tanks’ and healers’ jobs harder (which is the GW2 approach) but to change the combat paradigm. The closest I’ve seen to that is World of Tanks, which has no healers, almost everyone is a tank (well, duh!) and while it still uses a hit point system, you also have critical hits that damage systems and just being shot throws your aim off even if your armour holds up – which means instead of “focus fire, burn one target’s green bar down, NEXT!” it becomes a viable tactic to try and spread your fire across multiple enemies. Any ideas on how a fantasy adventurer version of that would work?

    • Nils says:

      WoT is a bad example as it is a PvP game. WoW’s PvP doesn’t have tanks either. Of course they still have healers, which Wot removed. That that is possible is not new.

      It should also be noted that GW2 is trying to replace tanking with control as much as they can. If it plays better remains to be seen. On previews is sometimes looks like everyone for himself (which is quite realistic in a way ..).

      • Gordon says:

        Funnily enough I always hated the lack of tanks in PvP in WoW… they’re just a useless role (ironic considering healers are so darn useful). I wish they’d follow the EQ2 model and allow mechanics like taunting to work on players. Adds a whole new dimension of tactics.

    • Imakulata says:

      WoT differs from classic MMORPGs because spotting is a very important part of WoT combat and attacking an enemy that can’t see you to attack you back is a part of the game tactics and makes it possible to have tanks (in the RPG sense) in the game.

    • Gordon says:

      I guess the closet thing to that sort of gameplay would be a FPS MMO in which there are no tanks or healers but just different types of damage classes, all relying on twitch based skills to succeed.

  5. Vortal says:

    Actually this not only applies to MMOs but to other kinds of RPGs (well more traditional RPGs). Take the original D&D for example it doesn’t have clearly defined roles as all classes solo about as easily as one another. However there are Archetypes that can be easily identified within the game to appear to be the MMO’s: Tank, Healer, Damage Dealer.

    Fundamentally the Fantasy genre and most RPGs in essence (which have classes) will have incorporate some kind of archetypal role for the class to not only give it identity but to give the players a reason for picking it. It may not be obvious but it is there. For without this then most classes in RPGs will end up being bland, and very similar to each other. Hybrid classes may be “unique” in the MMO genre, but that’s just a supplement for what most RPGs have. Classes that are proficient in role, yet can solo as well as any other class. So they end up not having “roles” that have been written in stone, but instead classes that are proficient in an area. Like defensive classes, offensive classes, support, and ranged.

    The MMO Holy Trinity may be the most fundamentalist interpretation of this concept that happens within RPGs.

  6. Epiny says:

    I personally prefer the EQ and Rift to a lesser extent model.

    1 Healer
    1 Tank
    1 Support/Hybrid
    2-3 DPS depending on group size.

    There are different ways that threat and combat could be handled to make the encounters more… fluid? not sure how to describe it. I think that the fact that MMO’s use the Holy Trinity isn’t the problem. I think that they haven’t tried to expand how the Holy Trinity works is the problem. Letting more classes fill more roles is fine, but there is alot of improvement that could be done in combat/encounters that doesn’t revolve around “stay out of the fire”.

  7. bloob says:

    If the game eventually converges to a single point i.e. group vs one big mob then as people have said you inevitably get the trinity.

    The problems with the trinity are mainly the practical ones that result from it like solo levelling a class designed for groups, limited group spots for tank classes and the LFG imbalances that inevitably follow. (Although personally i’ve also always hated how tanks weren’t damage dealers too. It’s the opposite of every fantasy story ever written.)

    However all classes effectively becoming the same with a different skin seems like a backward step to me.

    One way out would be if boss fights aimed to avoid that single point as much as possible i.e. it’s always group of players vs boss + minions i.e. crowd control and crowd control where off-tanking was one of the best methods so extra fighters were always welcome.

    Another would be if the main tank could get knocked across the zone so you needed back up tanks to hold the boss until he got back.

    Another would be if HP was luck/morale/whatever and the effect of it running out wasn’t death but a wound which had various negative effects and wounds required hands-on healing out of combat. So you make it so it’s practically impossible to keep the main tank standing throughout a boss fight and when he goes down the second tank takes over until one of the healers can patch up the main. To make it more interesting treated wounds would only be fully healable in towns and even after first aid they have the effect of reducing max hp by some amount. So then it becomes a question of having *enough* tanks.

    Another way would be to make some raids squad-based i.e. as soon as the boss is atacked it raises the alarm and endless waves of minion mobs spawn at two doorways and try to reach the boss over two bridges over two chasms so the raid needs a squad blocking each bridge. A third squad might need to clear a way to a spot above the boss where he has a bunch of orbs which replenishs his hp or something. This squad might need rogues with climbing, jumping, running type skills over various platforms. The single squad fighting the boss can kill it as long as the orbs are smashed and the minions can’t overwhelm them but not otherwise.


    One way to help with the levelling problem would be to design all the classes to be hybrids but still distinct e.g.
    - fighters, tank/dps
    - rogue, utility/dps
    - priest, heal/dps
    - mage, utility/dps
    i.e the healers aren’t as focused on healing as they were but they’re still the best healers (and have some dps for levelling), tanks aren’t as focused on just tanking as they were but they’re still the best tanks (and have some dps for levelling).

    In the limiting case the dps of each class could be the same in which case in theory you’d only need fighters and priests. You then adjust the utility to make the difference or adjust the dps of the rogues./mages a little at a time till it’s just enough to make it an even choice between another fighter/priest or a mage/rogue.

  8. Ahtchu says:

    The trinity won’t ever go anywhere, ever. It’s combat at its core:
    Someone takes the brunt of the enemies’ attacks (tank)
    Someone takes potshots at the enemy (DPS)
    Someone reinforces declining assets (healer)

    Sure, design a game removing healers or the concept of replenishing health: you just made permadeath. But you can’t allow the player to make another character either: they would be replenishing a health bar of a character they are acting through.
    Extreme? Yes. But taken to a slightly less extreme point: allow deaths but grant respawns. Grats, you still have healing done through the act of respawning (hi FPS!). You’ve effectively removed a key element to combat from player control. That makes for a less tactical game, not more. If you enjoy that sort of thing, that’s fine (FPS players are a huge market), but you’re limiting the problems you can throw at players because they have less tools at their disposal.

    Sidenote: I *love* healing. It is the mechanic I enjoy most about MMORPGs. Never, ever, is there an encounter that is identical to another. Assuming PvE content: every dps has a ‘rotation’, as do tanks. But the content of a healer is the fellow gamer, making for a guaranteed interactive experience. PvP is a different beast, but the statement still applies.

    • Epiny says:

      I enjoy healing too. Playing a DPS never held my attention and I hated solo leveling because I wanted to heal. LFG helped that though. I still love “utility/support” more than healing but it’s been so long since I’ve seen that type of class done well I should just give up on that dream.

      Hell in BF3 I’m playing a medic. I’m getting maybe 2 kills a match but I’m getting top 5 in points due to healing/rez’s.

    • Tesh says:

      Modify that a bit…

      Something takes the brunt of the enemies’ attacks (tank)
      Something takes potshots at the enemy (DPS)
      Something reinforces declining assets (healer)

      …and you can roll that all into a single character. Let everyone have tools to fulfill each combat demand, and you have a much more flexible and tactically interesting game. More demanding, though, if everyone has to be able to use their tools when relevant instead of just settling into a single-note role.

      • Epiny says:

        If you do that then you run the risk of every class feeling the same. Even FPS games are starting to have different classes with specific roles in mind for them.

        Either every class is the exact same or every class in slightly unique. If something is unique players will then optimize that in a way to increase their overall effectiveness. We simply return to the holy trinity.

        Like I said in BF3 I’m playing medic. I run with squad of real friends and we’ve found the most effective group to be 2 Medics, 1 support, and 1 engineer. We have optimized a game into a “Holy Trinity” without all the trappings of your normal MMO. If something is unique then it will always be optimal to have it focus on its unique role.

        • Tesh says:

          Oh, you might have the trinity still, but it’s more flexible and players can step up and change as tactics change.

          Beyond that, FPS games aren’t a good comparison to MMOs; you don’t invest in a character for dozens of hours with no chance to respec.

          Simply, I agree that you can shoehorn a lot of things into the trinity, but there are big differences in how you approach it. If you want classes to feel unique, I say it’s better to give them unique mechanics, rather than lock them into one role.

          • Ahtchu says:

            Mechanics, as liberal or conservative as you wish to define them, will align to a role within the trinity. You will either have a mechanic that directly, or indirectly, influences the ability to take hits, deal hits, and regenerate from hits.
            You said that you can role all the roles into a single person- to this I don’t disagree! But whenever you form a group, the need to specialize arises (casual reference: society). The most elite ’small groups’ out there (SF A-teams and their ilk) all come with members of extreme specialization within respective backgrounds.
            If you want to externally dictate mechanics/roles/classes, that’s a design point. If you want to allow the players to do so, again, a design point.
            My argument is you cannot attempt to remove anything beyond the trinity. It’s the lowest common denominator to combat.

          • vortal says:

            I agree both a Druid class and a Priest/Cleric class (just making examples here, not referencing any particular game) heal perfectly well but they could operate in different ways. They both achieve the goal of healing but it is done through different perspectives. You can have the cleric be totally reliant on direct heals single target heals as well as damage prevention. The druid could be multi target raid wide healing that works as a HOT.

            There can be variety without the need to define a class by simply locking them into a single role.

        • Gordon says:

          “If you do that then you run the risk of every class feeling the same.”

          You could argue that this is what’s happening to all MMO classes now anyway, especially with companies like Blizzard saying things like “bring the person, not the class”. Essentially all tanks, healers and DPS classes can do the same job so really, what’s the difference between a Paladin and a Warrior other than ‘flavour’? They still perform the exact same function to the same degree.

      • Epiny says:

        I want to add that I like BF3 more than MW2 because of this. There is team work in BF3 on the scale that MW2 never saw. Working as a team benefits the team more than going off alone and trying to just lone gun it.

    • Gordon says:

      I think the trinity could be removed… for instance, tanking or DPS doesn’t really need to exist as everyone apart from healers could be a tank. Likewise GW2 is showing us a game without healers!

      • Ahtchu says:

        (I should have checked here before posting over there~>)
        Without healers… yes. But healing is still occuring. The role still exists. And in a group situation, specialization will always occur. Making it a common denominator is great and all, but I personally believe the time and energy would be better spent not trying to abolish a cornerstone of combat but rather seek to make it more unique in its implementation. Flavor, technique, etc.

        Making a given role a common denominator might be a solution depending on its implementation, but isn’t that the very thinking that got us to the present situation in WoW? Everyone can regen your mana, not just a shadowmage! Don’t have a druid for MoW? No problem! Every class can do that!
        I maintain that solving the blandness is in making as many unique denominators as possible- perhaps shared by one or two classes at max. All speculation I suppose :)
        (Great post series btw!)

  9. bloob says:

    I think if you had spells channelled instead of cast and a limited number able to be channelled at once with some more suitable for solo and some for group then you could get the best of both worlds in a very simple way.

    For example say a level one mage starts with a channeling capacity of one and two level one spells, Shield I and Magic Missile I. They can only channel one of them so soloing they channel shield and fight with their dagger. Grouped they’d channel Magic Missile (or if grouped with another mage one might tank with Shield while the other used Magic Missile). At level two their capacity goes up to two and the two spells upgrade so now they could channel Shield II or Magic Missile II or Shield I plus Magic Missile I.

    Just those two spells on their own, if they upgraded and if you could specify how much of each you channeled (i.e. at level 6 the mage could run them 1/5 or 4/2 or 0/6 etc, as long as the combined total was six points of less), would give more tactical flexibility than a lot of games and very simply.

    Similarly for priests, a level one priest might have a holy hammer spell for damage or a heal spell. They could use up their channeling capacity on the hammer spell when soloing and the heal when grouped.

    You’d still get the class distinctiveness while getting round the levelling problem. I also think this sort of system could make group fighting tactically very interesting if classes had lots of situational group skills.

    It’s a bit like a more extreme form of EQ’s limiting the number of spells you could remember while still giving lots of flexibility.

    • Epiny says:

      In a group setting you’d simply be assigned a spell to channel at max. I think it would make solo’n interesting but as you add more people you allow each player to focus on one ability because the rest of the group is offsetting that abilities weakness.

      I think some form of the holy trinity will be around forever in any MMO because at it’s core it allows for you to work as a group. Each member of the group depends on someone else in order for the whole to succeed.

      I don’t at all mind the Holy Trinity. I don’t think that’s our problem. I think the problem is lack of encounters that challenge the Trinity’s team work.

      • bloob says:

        “In a group setting you’d simply be assigned a spell to channel at max. I think it would make solo’n interesting…”

        That’s the idea. Healers are still the healers in a group setting but heal/dps in a solo setting.

        “I don’t at all mind the Holy Trinity. I don’t think that’s our problem.”

        I don’t mind the trinity either but it does have a problem because at the limiting case you only need one tank and one healer and the rest dps. It’s the side-effects of that which causes a problem.

        If you have a solo game which turns into a group game and two specialized group roles which :
        1. Are harder to solo level.
        2. Are required in groups…
        3. …but only required *in small numbers* for groups.

        Then you’ll have LFG type problems because if an individual wants to get a group when the game changes into a group game then at an individual level it makes more sense to pick a dps class because they’re easier to level and there’s more group slots for dps but if everyone goes dps then no-one gets a group because they need the required classes. Catch 22.

        The current trend in trying to solve that problem seems to be all the classes becoming slowly identical with different skins which personally i find really boring.

        I suppose what i’m saying is, instead of de-specializing all the classes just de-specialize the classes that have become scarce through being over-specialized so:
        tanks -> tank/dps
        healers -> switchable between heal/dps (solo) or heal/heal (group)

  10. [...] was rereading earlier a comment by Nils on We Fly Spitfire‘s post about the trinity. The holy trinity seems actually pretty good to me and very [...]

  11. Imakulata says:

    I believe before deciding what to replace the holy trinity with, it has to be decided what is actually wrong with it (or even whether there is something wrong with it). I would even say that it should be decided even before it’s declared fatally flawed. ;-) I believe the comments to this article showed that people do not quite agree on that and I don’t think something can be “repaired” if it’s not known what is wrong with it.

    So I think the first question should be “Is there something wrong with holy trinity and what?” and the second question should be “How can we correct that?” instead of asking to “correct the holy trinity”.

  12. Doone says:

    The problem isn’t really the trinity itself. It’s how it’s used as a crutch when designing game encounters. As others have mentioned, the challenge for designers is implementing better AI to interact with players during an encounter.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a player whose specialty is soaking damage. The problem is that this role is only meaningful when he’s soaking damage. So designers just need to get more creative with player roles and encounter AI.

  13. bloob says:

    There’s a simple numerical problem.

    If a game converges to a point where there’s
    - one tank
    - three healers
    - twenty dps
    you’ve created a disincentive to play a tank and to a lesser extent a healer. If you then specialize those two roles to the point where they’re the hardest to level you increase the disincentive. It’s just numbers and logic.

    Most of the games of recent years have done this to a varied extent.

    • Gordon says:

      Absolutely and this is a massive flaw. It means all roles *are not* equal.

    • Imakulata says:

      This is a less discussed disadvantage of WoW’s model although I don’t find it a part of the holy trinity or whatever X-nity there is in your favorite game. It makes DPS less stressful for most of the people because the responsibilities are shared. Another flaw of WoW model (which is not inherent in trinity but even more games have this flaw) is that DPSers have an advantage when soloing as the soloable mobs deal little damage so the offense-heavy role of DPS is just better.

  14. Ferrel says:

    I know I’m a bit late to the party on this post but I thought I’d at least chime in. I know there is a large culture of DPS players. I think we can all agree this is probably the majority.

    I also hear a lot of talk about doing away with the trinity because it is “bad.” That is all good and well to say but I think the whole notion of versatility gives everyone the option to do what they want and still not be left out. You might not get to be the main tank but you still get to be on the raid. I consider that pretty good.

    There are players that like to tank and like to heal. I truly enjoy the ability to heal and make a huge impact in a raid. It is what I enjoy most. If there were no healers in MMORPGs I would cease to be a player. I’ve done the DPS thing and found it to have too little control of a situation and somewhat boring (for me). I don’t want to stand right up a monster’s back side and execute a perfect rotation while dancing. It just isn’t my thing.

  15. [...] it’s the lowest common denominator. I’ve skirted briefly with the topic before, but recent conversations have shaped a more refined point of view. I share that [...]

  16. [...] read on trinity assertion. What this doesn’t fix, however, is the inherent need for solo viability. If I have nothing [...]

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