Friday, October 18, 2013

Are You Using the Proving Grounds as a Marker?

There was a lot of talk about the possibility of people using the proving grounds as a "skill check" for pugs before 5.4 came out.  Many wondered, myself included, if this could be the next best way to get people for your group.  I can not speak for the community at large but from what I have seen so far it doesn't seem like that is happening.

I stalk open raid often, even have seen a few people I have on my blog list posting there and was tempted to join their pug just to get to know them even if they would not know it was me.  Like one person on my list was pugging a ToT run the other week.  I actually clicked on his name and was about to whisper him to join when someone in guild asked me to help them with something and I went to do that instead.  But enough about open raid, lets get back on task.

In all that time I spent there looking around I have yet to see one person ask for proving grounds achievements for an invitation.  Not even a bronze or silver.  I must say I have been surprised.  I thought that the community would jump on proving grounds gold as the new gear score or item level.  I was wrong or was I?

Maybe it is the fact that so few people have even attempted proving grounds which means so few people have gold could be the reason not many are asking for it as a requirement.  When most classes have less than 1000 people that have received a gold, at my last check a couple of weeks ago, you are seriously limiting yourself in who you can have join your pug if you require someone to have a gold to join it.  Could that be the reason we do not see people asking for it?

I know on my 10 man team there are only 3 people have gotten a gold so far, but it is not really their fault because most have not even tried it.  Of those 10 people only 5 have even tried it, 3 got gold and 2 got silver.  The other 5 have never even tried it.

I am one of those people that got a gold and I must say that one of the people that only got a silver is leaps and bounds a better player than I am.  So why did he not get a gold?  Because the proving grounds is not a test of skill, it is a test of problem solving.  He is more skilled than I and I am a better problem solver than him.

I only tried it three times and might have gotten a gold on the first try if I had actually looked up anything about it before time. But I like to try things out first and then look them up.  I used my stampede on the small sha in round eight, I believe it was, thinking it was the last round and when I did get to the last round I had no cooldowns so I just missed it, as in 3% just missed it. 

That stampede would have been what I needed.  It was not even needed for the small sha, I only used it because I thought it was the end.  The second try I let one of the shades blow up because tab target sucks and even when I was spamming it, it would not switch to it and I could not find the plate to click on it manually.  As such, it went boom and so did I.  Third time tab worked and I saved my stampede and it went down quickly with time to spare.

After doing gold it occurred to me, this is why no one is asking for proving grounds, it doesn't really prove anything other then I know how to do some problem solving and pick target priorities. In a raid environment that is rarely ever an issue.  The strategy is straight forward, targets are decided before time, all there is really is in a raid is an execute phase where you need to pull of the predesignated strategy.

I am not saying that the proving grounds is easy, it is not.  I am not trying to take away from the people that have done it.  I know I would not be able to do gold on any of my other damage dealers so it is not like it is push over easy where anyone can take any character and do it without being at least half way decent at it.  What I am saying is that it really is not a measure of skill.  A measure of knowledge of your class?  Yes.  A measure of planning out targets and abilities?  Yes.  But a bang bang representation of how you will do in a raid?  Not even close.

The only people I have seen mention proving grounds in open raid are those trying to sell themselves to get into a group.  It is still a good selling point.  I am sure me saying PG gold hunter LF Flex 4 will go over better than just saying I am a hunter looking for it.  But I don't see why anyone would make it a requirement.

However, with that said, I do think silver should be a requirement, along with item level, to even be allowed to step into the LFR.  Silver is easy enough that even if you are half clueless about your class you can eventually push your way through it but it is hard enough that if you are half clueless about your class it will take you a few attempts and hopefully teach you something about your class in the process.

A proving grounds silver should be a marker for LFR as I see it.  Bronze is useless as any sort of judgement because you do not even need to know your class to get a bronze and gold is useless because it doesn't tell you anything that silver already doesn't and that is the person has a basic understanding of some of the abilities of their class.

I might have been expecting a lot more LF groups asking for golds but I was wrong and after doing the PGs I know why I was wrong.  It is because a gold really is nothing special when talking about raiding, at least as a damage dealer, when you never have to worry about taking any damage yourself and never have to worry about anything fighting back.  There is no way to die, just fail.  Pass or fail mechanics are something you can just keep trying until you get it right.  There is no difference between me that it took 3 tries, someone that got it on the first try or the guy that spent the entire weekend and 20 hours of attempts to get it right.  Looking at the gold achievement we are all equally skilled because we all passed, eventually.

The proving grounds are a good training tool.  That guy that spent 20 hours doing it will surely be a better player having went through the effort of doing it.  He will have learned movement, how to use some abilities he might not have used before, when to burn, how to burn, target selection, and many other little things many of us take for granted.  So proving grounds are a great place to learn, if you are willing to put in the effort to do so.  But they are not a good source of judging talent.  Not even endless mode.

With that said, the hunter that managed to get gold in tanking, now that shows a special type of talent.  I am really impressed with that.  But even at that, it is more an issue with problem solving and how to deal with various different things.  Just like the bad damage dealer will sooner or later learn how to do more to get gold, he learned how to tank on his hunter to get gold.  More power to him for putting in the effort to do so.  But getting the tanking gold on a damage dealer does not mean he can play the roll of a tank in a raid just the same that getting a gold as a damage dealer does not mean someone is capable of playing the role of a damage dealer in a raid.  Hence the reason it is not asked for by the people assembling groups.

What do you think the proving grounds could add so it would actually show a level of skill for raiding, something to be used as a marker?

I would add some counters for some real numbers that mean something, like how many bananas where thrown and how many you were hit by?  Maybe adding ground effects that do damage to the person and show how often the person is hit as a percentage?  Then make achievements for the lowest percentages.  So a 0% and a gold combined might actually mean something.

I think if they added data, real data, stuff you can sink your teeth into, you could read a lot more about a persons skill or ability in playing their class in a raid environment.   So while I expected to see a lot of people asking for proving grounds achievements to join their raid, I was wrong, they are not asking for them, and after doing it, I know exactly why.  A gold does not mean you are a good raider.

What do you think of the proving grounds?  Hard or easy.
Do you use it to judge others?  Do you think people should?


  1. On my Holy Pally I have got the 'Proven healer' title, having got to wave 30 on Endless.
    The biggest hurdle you have in the healing Proving Ground isn't really the healing per se, it's the interrupts. Without interrupting the Hive SIngers effectively, you are not going to get very far. Now I'm struggling to think the last time I actually had to use Rebuke during a raid; the only time I did was playing my Ret off-spec on Alysrazor, and had to interrupt the pyroing druids. Hm

    As for the dps challenge; I've managed to get Silver, but I'm struggling on Gold. My dps character is an Affliction Warlock. I play this character quite casually, so I don't claim to be any good at it, but I find the rounds with the exploding banshees very difficult to deal with. Kill 3 shield guys while having to nuke down a banshee that explodes after 10 seconds; for a dot class I really feel that is difficult. I need to practise Soulswapping and Soul Shard management a lot more I think for me to be able to do this effectively.
    Do I need any of that in lfr? I don't think so. Generally when things have to die fast I leave it to the classes that have decent burst or an aoe that works better than clunky Seed of Corruption.
    There is a similar challenge on the Sha in SOO, where you have to kill 3 shield guys and a larger mob, but that doesn't explode after 10 seconds, and even if I failed on that (which I don't) it doesn't wipe the raid.

    1. I have not done the healing one, but does that mean my priest is screwed as it does not have an interrupt? Would really suck if that were the case. I only tried it on my hunter and after doing it on that one I have no intention of going back, maybe for the endless achievement when I get bored toward the end of the expansion, but that is it. Don't think I will step in there on my healers, but if I ever did it would be my priest.

      I am not much of a lock person myself, but I would think by design afflic is the hardest of the three due to ramp up time of their damage. This making target switching and burst harder. Demo would be better for burst or even desto with saving blots for it. Just my opinion. As I said, it is more working on a plan than actual ability. I just do not have any suggestions as to what plan to use as afflic, and I played afflic only my entire life as a lock up to this expansion and have no clue. lol. Then again, I was never all that good at it.

      I love and hate that one in SoO. Love it because it is a great way to see who your good burst players are and hate it because you realize how many really can't do it. When doing a full flex and seeing half the players that do down can't do it, it makes me want to cry sometimes. Our gold healer can not do it, can do gold, but can not do that. We just stopped sending her down, it is a waste of time.

    2. I couldn't get past wave 19 on my priest main. I had the mana management and even the burst healing pretty well under control as both Holy and Disc, but without interrupts I couldn't prevent npcs from randomly getting gibbed. People have certainly done it, but I didn't feel like I was making any progress.

      Once I switched to a druid and used Beru's CC rotation, the difference was amazing. I couldn't believe I was previously healing through all of that aoe damage.

    3. I guess I am sort of screwed then because my favorite to heal on is a priest. I guess I will have to go second favorite, shaman, if I want to actually get anywhere. I wonder how priests deal with not having an interrupt. Psychic scream maybe?

      Druid healers, based on stats, grossly over ability that. It is the only reason I see that could explain why there are more druids healers that got gold than all other healing types combined.

  2. First one I did was dps, on my monk, got gold after half a dozen attempts, mostly improving each time (although I borked one early and wiped it). I didn't change anything, just went in with my gear and standard reforges and figured I'd make changes if necessary. It wasn't.

    Later that week I did the tank one, also on the monk (who I have a bit of tanking experience with but not a ton and nothing progression-oriented), with the dps gear set and reforges and without changing anything. That took me about the same number of attempts, might have taken 8, to get gold. Also had a similar progression, I'd get a bit further each time. Problem solving, as you say.

    I switched to my priest (with my primarily Atonement rotation I've mentioned before) for the healing trial, again, didn't change any reforges or talents, had little issue until getting to gold but struggled there, 90% of my issue was mana... I had to move away from Atonement more than I was used to (Atonement works better in a multiple-healer environment, I think, although it can be viable in 5-mans and such as well, it's just not ideal for those) and the gear scaling put my mana regen in the toilet so the "feel" was totally different in a way it wasn't for dps or tanking, they felt slower but it didn't result in any significant changes. Healing was different, I had to really think on my feet and play smarter than I was used to.

    Probably took me a dozen attempts but I got healing gold as well and never changed anything, just tweaked my rotation, figured out when I needed CDs for burst, avoided any overhealing that I could, etc.

    Having done all three, I'm quite comfortable saying that ideally I'd want pugs for raids to have those skills. I thought going into 5.4 that PGs would be a requirement, too, and I also agree that it hasn't happened much, if at all, but if I'm putting a group together, I'd either want it or would at least prioritize someone who has it. I've mentioned before that I'd generally prefer running with someone with less gear who plays closer to optimal level than someone with a ton of gear who slacks off, especially when the gear isn't individual... I'd rather have gear go to people who will get the most benefit from it (not those that are getting the biggest upgrade, but those who will get 95% of the iLvl benefit vs someone who'll only get 60%).

    Are PGs an absolute representation of raid fights? Of course not... but I think the skills you learn &/or demonstrate in PGs translate well to raids. If someone can get gold (or even silver) in a PG, they should be able to learn to run out of the fire.

    One of my longer-term goals is to get gold on multiple classes, or at least different types (do dps on a ranged toon, healer on a direct-healing-only toon, etc), just to verify that the two toons I used don't have some sort of natural class advantage (if they do, it was fluke, I only ran those toons because they were my "best" toons in each of those roles at the time).

    1. Maybe one day I will try it with my tanks or my healers, but doing it as DPS I am almost sure that I am not skilled enough on any other damage dealers to do it. Might have to work "progression" on it with them if I wanted to do it, not just go after it like I did with my hunter.

      I agree, the basic skills needed for at least a silver, while not huge, are a clear marker of someone that can be a raider. If they are is another story, but they can.

      As class advantage goes, I would say hunters by nature have that. Ranged and can shoot on the move. So anyone that is even a half way decent player should be able to do it on a hunter. Sure, might sound like I am insulting my own class, but I am not, hunters are just designed for this stuff.

      Do it one a feral druid. I saw on MMO that only 33 have gotten gold. Now that should be hard.

  3. When I've talked about Proving Grounds before I've said that I don't think they are very realistic, and never not a good judge.

    That being said I mandated that I personally got silver on my alt before being allowed to join my guild flex run. It wasn't a requirement that was officially set, just something I required of myself.

    Also, I think part of my dismissing of Proving Grounds is because I'm not very good at them. I like to think of myself as a decent tank, I am hardly ever the first one to die, I have soloed a boss down when the rest of the team has died. I think of myself as a utility player, so I think about healing and dps too and not just self healing. I do try my best, I am not that good a tank, my co-tank is better than I am, and there are thousands of other tanks who are also much better. I'm average but I'm not bad. I can't get very far into endless, about wave 5 and I'm down and out. It's a kick in the teeth for someone that thought they were decent. So I use my defense of "oh but it doesn't mean anything as it's not realistic" in a vain hope of making myself feel better.

    So yeah Proving Grounds, I kinda hate them and like them at the same time. I just want to do better. I want that title!

    1. Practice is all you would need. All those things are patterns, nothing more.

  4. I've yet to step foot in there. I really have no desire to mess with it, unfortunately.

    1. I was like that too but got bored and gave it a try.

  5. dps bronze = first attempt
    dps silver = third attempt
    dps gold = one attempt and realised that I'll just need to learn the waves to build a strat and decided to leave it until I'm bored - I've got plenty to do in game without eeking this one out.

    1. That is when I finally did it, when I got bored. Really that is all it comes down to is remember the waves and working on a strategy.

      I am sure you will get it when you get back there and figure out the waves. Good luck when the time comes.

  6. Just ran into this post after a really frustrating flex raid last night. Scenario set up - three healers who far outgeared the rest of the raid being blamed for continual wipes. After I quit apparently some typical raid passive aggressiveness was going on and the healers were "called out" for not having this achievement. I had never been asked for it before, as people who've had me as a healer are fine with my performance. I went in, one shot Bronze healer - but silver (as a pally) seemed inexplicably hard to finish. I could manage health and mana right up until the very last moment when someone would suddenly inevitably die to a massive explosion. Since when is a raid healer on interrupts? What kind of a healing test is this?

    1. That is why I failed it on my priest. No interrupt as a priest sadly. With that said, my priest alt whom I only ever run as a fill in if someone is out is, while under geared, 100% capable of healing heroic SoO. Sure I only have about half of it done but that is more my group than me alone.

      With all that said. I can heal heroic raids and I could not get silver in the proving grounds. So proving grounds mean nothing.

      We had a paladin healer who ran with us one time that had the achievement for gold in proving grounds. My hunter out healed her. Nope, not kidding. Hunters do not heal, how the hell can I out heal a gold healer? Once more, proof that the proving grounds mean nothing.