Rules of Groups

I thought I’d take a moment to write my Rules of Groups. As it happens, these apply to a heck of a lot of group games, though some may not have “healer” available.

  1. There are three Jobs – Tank, Heal, Damage (also called Assist). Everything else is a task.
  2. The primary duty of a Tank is to get all the enemy to attack it. Doing damage to the opponent is secondary. Personal kills are secondary. A great tank is known when after the battle it’s determined that nobody else took damage from a direct attack. (Area of Effect attacks happen.)
  3. The primary duty of a Healer is to keep the Tank alive. So long as the tank is doing his/her duty, the healer should have nothing to fear. Healing anybody but the tank is of secondary importance. With a good healer, nobody dies. If the tank and the healer are performing perfectly, the tank never dies even though EVERYTHING hits the tank.
    1. Subnote. In games where there isn’t a healer, there may often be a capability to mitigate or reduce the damage on another unit.
  4. The duty of the Killers is to kill the enemy. There are two decisions to be made here. If the enemy can be killed so swiftly it’s essentially a single shot, then that much damage should be applied. If a single shot is not possible, the Killers must constrain their damage output so as to avoid overwhelming the Tank’s ability to keep enemy attention focused upon it.
    1. An important subrule applies here. ALL KILLERS MUST COMBINE ATTACKS on one opponent at a time. The math has been done on a number of both games and reality. It boils down to this: Each time an attacker is destroyed the sum of damage is reduced a step. For this reason, it is my usual preference (but the MK’s decision) that the Killer team concentrates on removing the easily killed assets first even though this may let the Hard Hitter get lots of attacks.
  5. All other assignments are extra duty. They are useful but not mandatory provided the basic rules are followed.

Now, the way I prefer to set up a group is to clearly identify the tank, the healer, and the lead killer (aka Main Assist). The tank gets to decide who pulls. Yes, there may be an outstanding pulling class in the party, but if the tank’s not comfortable with being able to get the attention of the pulled opponent(s) then the tank gets the veto. Period.

The healer should discuss with the tank when certain heals and abilities should be applied. For example, when healing I like to apply a shield to the tank if his/her health drops below a third – it means things have gotten tense due to the enemy damage capability and I need to catch up. But the tank gets to decide because it cuts into the ability to draw attention. That said, the healer is the ultimate decision maker on what heals and protection are applied at any given time.

The killers… There needs to be a main killer. Every party member who is not Tank, Healer, or Main Killer needs to target the same opponent the MK is targetting. Ideally this should be done with a macro to reduce the time it takes to get on target – and the chance that killers spread their damage across multiple opponents. In my opinion, the easiest way to do this is to create a set of macros that are tied to the keyboard, which 1) assist the main killer; then 2) cast the selected attack. Then, when you cast those selected attacks, they automatically go to the appropriate place.

This is not to say that various assignments aren’t useful. Crowd Control is always an asset, whether in controlling how many opponents are in the fight at a time or in stopping the runners. Likewise the various backups – Off Tank, Second Healer, “safety” (responsible for intercepting enemy that charge the healer and/or other soft targets despite the tank’s actions) – have their place. But they’re secondary, and should never be allowed to supercede the three main jobs.

  • The Tank grabs the enemy’s nose.
  • The Kill Team kicks the enemy’s ass.
  • The Healer keeps the Tank alive while the KT does its job.
  • All else is grass.

If you think you saw this before, you probably did. I’ve written it in a few places. I’ll be copying the warcraft posts I’ve made on other sites that I consider relevant – usually with some cleaning. This one first appeared in


~ by Kirk on July 6, 2007.

One Response to “Rules of Groups”

  1. […] my rules of groups post I mentioned that the tank should decide who pulls.  I stand by that, and when I write in the […]

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