The RNG Gods and the Problem with the Healing Proving Grounds

Proving Grounds have been something I’ve been looking forward to trying since the moment I first heard they’d be a thing. Naturally, the second they popped up in the PTR, I was in there. I figured I would give it a couple of tries to satisfy my curiosity, see how far I could get in endless, give a little feedback (so I could feel like a good tester), and then wait for it to come to live so I could get all my achievements in a permanent sort of way.

A couple of tries turned into a couple more and, at this point, I would not be surprised if I’ve put in upwards of a hundred attempts on endless. I blame my nemesis, the eighth wave (formerly knows as Wave 8, also known as Wave 7 or ‘the one with all the evil Pyroblast-spamming Flamecallers in which the annoying hunter stands in the fire’). I’ve gotten past it twice, and not once since they made Flamecallers immune to fears. I could probably go on and on about all that’s wrong with this wave (and me, given that I keep bashing my head against it even though I know I’m very unlikely to succeed). But I want to talk about the one element in it that I think is problematic on all of endless healing mode: RNG.

Now, RNG is a great thing in most regular fights. It makes them feel slightly less predictable, slightly more interesting. It makes this week’s Iron Qon, where my side of the room got no fire spears during the first phase and healing it was a breeze, completely different from last week’s, where we got all the fire spears on our side and I needed to lifegrip people over lines, Pain Suppress our shammy with five stacks of cinders and use Voidshift so our mage wouldn’t die. Sure, it’s very frustrating to die because you got crappy RNG but, for the most part, you can look back and figure out what you (and your raid) could’ve done to prevent the dying, and hopefully get a little bit better at reacting to crappy RNG in that particular fight. And there’s nothing more satisfying that surviving through crappy RNG.

So what is wrong with a little RNG in Proving Grounds? And let me assure you that there’s a lot of RNG, ranging from the one-hundred-and-something-k Pyroblasts cast on random people, to the bleed debuffs cast on other (or sometimes the same) random people, to your party’s seemingly random ability to interrupt certain spells at apparently random times, to you hunter’s random ability to tell his butt’s on fire.

Nothing’s wrong, really, except in endless. Endless, as you might be (might be) able to tell from the name, doesn’t end. It doesn’t end ’til the health of one of the people in your party reaches zero, and this is only limited by two things: your ability to keep up with the damage, and your mana. There is this ideal point in gearing every healer intent on getting to wave thirty must look for, where somehow you get enough spirit to boost your longevity without making the throughput stat loss make your heals hit like wet noodles, rendering you unable to respond to the HPS requirements (or being only able to do so by spamming your large, or quick, inefficient heals). You also need to figure out the most efficient way to deal with abilities (is it better to cast two Flash Heals to get rid of the bleed? Should I try and use a Flash Heal and a Greater Heal) and how to space your CDs so that they both provide an efficient way to heal through medium damage waves and are up to save your butt during high damage waves.

When RNG goes way wrong (when two high damage abilities hit the wrong person, or your rogue fails to interrupt any AoE attack), though, it punches this delicate balance you’ve woven in the face. You’re suddenly forced to either burn a CD early, or burn through a lot of mana. And when that happensĀ  you won’t be thinking ‘hey, I’m awesome, the tank survived that!’. Instead you’ll have to wallow in the knowledge that, that wave you’re having trouble with, there’s no point in even attempting it because you won’t have the resources needed to succeed.

Because the success of every wave directly depends on how well you did on previous waves (unless you can manage to do a ‘reset’, where your party is sitting at a 100% health and your mana regens to full before the next wave, but that’s pretty hard after about wave five), and there’s no other cooldowns you can rely on but your own, there is no fixing it. There is no way to undo the damage. And bad RNG, instead of being a fun challenge, is the thing that made lose earlier than you should’ve.

So, Blizz, how about we get rid of some of that RNG? Either make our DPS’ers interrupt more reliably, or don’t make them interrupt at all and adjust damage accordingly. Don’t put three pyroblasting loons up at the same time, or make that pyro hit a little less hard. Maybe make the aqua bombs prefer people in ranged, and don’t allow the tunnelers to apply two bleeds to the same player. Make damage a little bit more predictable so we can all rejoice in one of the other joys of healing, proactive healing.