To keep with the currently flow here of the difficulty of roles I want to touch on the difficulty of tanking and healing as I see it.
While in recent posts you have heard me say that I believe damage dealing to be the hardest role in the game, and I will always believe that, my saying that is based on the fact everyone that already knows how to play their class. If all know their class well, that is when DPS becomes hardest.
The three roles, as simplified as can be, are the tank keeps aggro, the healer heals people and the damage dealer deals damage. With those basic descriptions damage dealing is without doubt the hardest role in the game because as I have said, once a tank can do their basic job of keeping aggro they can't keep aggro more, they either have it or they don't. Once a healer keeps everyone alive there is no such thing as being more alive, you are either alive or dead. Once a damage dealer deals damage they have to continuously get better and do more damage. This is why I say it is harder. Once you know how to tank and heal your job is done. Once you know how to deal damage your job has just started, now you need to get better at it, always.
So why are tanking and healing considered harder?
They do not follow a guide.
While you can read guides on how to tank or how to heal it is something that you need to do to actually learn. A damage dealer can learn a rotation and go right into a fight having never once dealt damage before and do reasonable if they follow a set rotation based on a guide. Hence the reason most people think dealing damage is easier. In that sense, it is the easiest role in the game. It is the most welcoming role in the game. Anyone can do it, as long as they know the rotation to follow.
Tanking and healing are different. There is no rotation. Each situation is different. The pressures that they have are unique and are directly the result of the damage dealers for the most part. If the damage dealers are good the fight is faster and tanking and healing is easier. If they are not, it is harder. If they stand in bad, they make the healers job hell, if they pull off the tank they make the tanks job hell.
There is no guide that can teach tanks or healers how to deal with these situations. You have to experience them and fail at them to learn.
It is all fine and dandy for a guide to tell you that if that feral druid pulls the pack off you to taunt it back but there is a huge difference between doing that and that actually working. A guide can not teach you how to handle a bad DPS that pulls aggro like that. You need to learn for yourself.
It is something that only practice can teach you. A guide telling you to taunt is useless.
When you are learning to tank you learn to see who is the aggro whore of the group. Who will be on the wrong target. How you will manage keeping aggro on the X when the skull is still up and someone is just too stupid to attack the right target. Actions. That is what teaches you.
Same goes for healing. When you start healing your idea is that you need to heal the tank. In many fights with a decent crew of damage dealers behind you as a healer you will never need to heal anyone but the tank. So reading a guide that tells you the best way to get maximum heals on the tank can help you there but lets face it, how often do you get a great group of damage dealers like that? You will have melee that are not quite positioned correctly and get hit by breath or a cleave. You will have ranged that have to finish their cast before moving from the bad. You will have tanks that are so oblivious to what is going on around them that they do not notice that where they positioned the mob is making the melee stand in bad if they want to continue to deal damage. These things, and how you handle them, can not be taught in a guide.
I wrote a post some time ago about how to teach a rotation for damage dealers. It is basic, it is simple, but it will teach any person that wants to be a damage dealer how to best get results out of their character. Even teaches people where to bind spells and why. After that, the learning is all up to them. Doing the same thing over and over but getting better at doing it all the time. Their real learning, their real difficulty, comes after they learn how to play and learning how to play is as simple as reading about the rotation.
I don't think I could ever really write a post like that for healing or tanking. I mean I could, give the basic ideas but nothing is ever that simple for a tank or a healer. They have to learn by doing. Unless they are playing with guild only they will never have the benefits of always having good damage dealers behind them to make their lives easier.
Tanking and healing is very front loaded in the learning process. You need to learn by doing, not by reading. I think that is the reason they are commonly considered harder. They are hard to start off with and dealing damage is easy to start off with. People only look at the starting off when they say tanking and healing is harder and if that is all they are talking about they are 100% right. They are harder because you need to play to learn how to do things. You need to experience situations to learn how to handle them. There is no clear cut guide on how to be a good healer or a good tank.
Good healers and good tanks are not so much about how much you read as it is about how much you react. It also needs a different type of person. Tanking and healing are thankless jobs. Do your job well, no one notices or even cares, do it badly and you will be called out for it.
Not everyone can be a tank or a healer. Not everyone has the mind set for it. Anyone can follow a rotation, that is why there are more damage dealers than anything else. Doesn't mean they are good at it mind you, but being it is easy to start dealing damage it attracts people and look at those DPS numbers you see in randoms and it will show you, just because it attracts a lot of people doesn't mean it is easy, otherwise you would not see so many people in 372 item level of better pulling less than 18K. Most of the times the entire crew will be under 18K. The thing is, by the time you hit the LFR the tanks and healers should already know how to play whereas the damage dealers are just starting to learn. That is when the difficulty curve changes, in my opinion.
Tanking and healing are hard to start. They are unforgiving. They have a lot of pressure attached to them and they are not for everyone. But in the end the only true reason tanking and healing is hard at the start is because unlike damage dealers they do not follow a guide.
Makes you wonder if tanking or healing could ever really become rotations? I doubt it for healers, there is no rotation for who will take damage and the type of heals those people will need but for tanks, with the new active mitigation model, I can surely see tanks becoming a pure rotation based role to maximize their defensive cooldown up time. Even if tanks when into a direct rotation situation like that they will never be easy like DPS at the start. Tanking is hard to start. Even with a rotation.