That Proving Grounds thing

PG medals

A testament to my skill, or lack thereof.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Proving Grounds silver medal being necessary to enter random heroics in Warlords of Draenor, and until now I’ve been trying to wrap my head about the idea. I didn’t want to have an opinion on this “heated debate” but I do have one. Just not one I particularly like.

I made some comments on Twitter about it, but I deleted them because it was brought to my attention that they could be interpreted differently than what I meant, and I didn’t want that. You might think it’s not such a big deal, and most of the time I agree, but some debates are more important than others, in my opinion anyway. The no-flying-’til-6.1 made me chuckle, and I don’t really give a damn about that and don’t understand why people are getting their panties in a bunch over this, but the Proving Grounds thing is another story.

When I first heard about it, my first reaction was annoyance. For the first time in my WoW experience, I felt like Blizz was telling me I needed permission to have access to a part of the content. Then I thought, well, with all those fresh level 90 newbs roaming the land, we kinda need something like this or it would be utter chaos. Heroics can be really hard, especially at the beginning of an expansion, so those people who have never participated in dungeons need some kind of training to be able to participate and pull their weight in group content.

So in theory, yes, I think a silver medal in Proving Grounds is a very good idea. It will make everyone’s life easier.

But in practice, it’s another story. See, I’ve been playing WoW for seven years now. My second character ever was a priest who’s been a healer for most of her life. I’ve tried all the healing classes over time, except for the monk, and throughout the years I’ve healed heroic dungeons and raids without much difficulty. I know I’m not the best healer there is. I often forget my cooldowns and probably don’t handle mana regen as well as I should. But I’ve successfully healed for years now. So I felt very frustrated when I tried my hand at the healer bronze challenge and failed*. After succeeding at the tank bronze challenge. When I’ve tanked maybe twenty dungeons in the past seven years.

The dps challenge on my hunter was fairly easy, and I won the silver medal on my first try. But my hunter is my main. It’s the character I play the most. I have many hunters of different levels, a lot of them at 90, and I try hard to be the best hunter I can be because it’s my favourite class. There’s room for improvement of course, and there are tons of better hunters out there, but I’m working on it.

My healers? Not so much. For me, healing is a distraction. It’s something I do when I’m bored with the long queues. It’s something kinda fun that I grow bored of pretty quickly. I don’t love healing. It’s not a passion like hunters are. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I can’t beat the healer bronze challenge. But for years, I’ve been used to getting away with being a mediocre healer with no real downside. And what truly bothered me, I’ve come to realize, is that now I have to take a long hard look at how I’ve been handling this game the last few years, and admit I am not as good as I could be at it.

So my problem is not really with the Proving Grounds thing. It’s with myself. I have work to do if I want to heal random heroics in the next expansion. Now the question is: do I work hard and improve at other classes/roles other than hunters, or not bother at all and stop playing classes I’ve enjoyed in the past but are not my one true passion? I have no answer to that question as of now.

I think it’s unfair to pin my problems on something that clearly is necessary for the well being of all players. In the end, I’d rather have to work a little harder, but be assured that when I step in random heroics, it will be with people who want to be there, and are supposed to know what they are doing. This doesn’t protect us from jerks, of course, but it’s a step in the right direction.

*As you can see from the above screenshot, I finally managed to snag the bronze medal with my disc priest after a couple more tries, but barely, which means I’ll need a better strategy if I ever try the silver challenge.

6 thoughts on “That Proving Grounds thing

  1. Erinys

    Wouldn’t making the Heroics truly hard have the same effect in regards to making people flex their healing/tank/dps muscles though? I’m really torn on a personal level, I can see the point in some of “test” if you will but really don’t like the Proving Grounds as a test for healing real people (haven’t tried the dps or tank one in any serious sense unless you count trying to tank with an under-geared even for 463 elemental shaman). In order to get my gold on my Monk, I had to think completely differently to the way in which I heal 5 mans at the moment, reforge, re-gem and use spirit flasks. Obviously this all depends on how they change the lv 100 versions of the Proving Grounds but it’s going to be a hotly debated point for sure.

    1. Lyrestra Post author

      It’s hard to say at the moment, with little info as to how it will play out in the next expansions, but yes, as of now, it doesn’t feel like a true test for group content. Hopefully it will become closer to reality.

      I do think new players require something like this, the ones who are picking up WoW for the first time. They don’t have 90 levels of practice like we did, so I don’t think having them queueing for Heroics the second they can would be a service to them or the more seasoned players. With harder heroics, sure they might try it, die a lot, leave group, but that feels like a waste of time. For them, and the rest of the group.

      1. R

        Two things to keep in mind. #1, at this point, the various PG awards aren’t tuned particularly well and what they’re intending to be a baseline silver requirement in WoD may not resemble what silver entails today. #2, this is the first example of something I’d personally like to see more of, Blizzard basically stepping in and requiring that players learn the basics of what they’re trying to do on their own time rather than mine (literally, Blizzard’s words). I’m, frankly, tired of players coming in and having absolutely no idea how to do what they signed up to do. They’re free to do that with premades but the barrier to entry should be higher for randoms.

        As an example, I was in a Jade Temple run a long time ago where we were repeatedly wiping on the last boss… our group was fine gear-wise but we just kept dying. We eventually figured out that the healer had no idea how to dispel… that’s something PG would “teach” a healer that they might not otherwise know how to do, assuming you can’t do silver without dispelling (and it’s been a while but I recall that being a requirement).

        Hopefully the next step is to somehow put a control in place so I never again zone into LFR to be faced with two tanks going “alright, neither of us have run this place before, we need someone to tell us how to tank them.” Seems a wee bit presumptuous to assume that among 6 healers and 17 dps you’ll have someone both able and willing to teach someone how to tank fights.

        1. R

          Following up my own reply, I noobed it up in PGs last night with my monk doing some healing. I’m a failed monk healer based on one LFR run back most of a year ago so I’m not what you would call experienced with the spec. I’ve been doing heroic raids as both dps and tank, though, so I’m about as familiar with the class otherwise as I could be.

          I was ready for PGs. I’d done my research, I was properly gemmed and enchanted, I’d hit my haste breakpoint of choice… all over and above what any average player would do, I suspect. No, I intentionally didn’t change anything for PGs which meant my legendary meta and cloak were less than useful and I had less spirit than I might have had otherwise but I can make up that gap with epic skillz, I figured.

          Wrongly, turned out. Smacked my face hard in the 3rd wave of Bronze… OOM and everyone dying in a heap around me. Well then, apparently my experience in old LFR was actually indicative of literal skill level.

          Pulled myself back up by my ego and started paying real attention. Didn’t just skim the general healing strat, I *read* it, paying attention to the synergies that all monk specs rely on to an unusual degree. I paid more attention to the fights… not just that health was decreasing, but WHY health was decreasing. I got bronze on the next attempt but it was far from trivial, I was glad it ended when it did, another wave would have probably done us in again.

          Silver took me about 20 tries to get, if not more. It was a learning experience, getting a bit further each time and coming out of each wave with a bit more mana than the one before.

          Gold is still a work in progress although I’m going to get it sooner than later through incremental improvements.

          I’m basically holding myself up as proof that experienced players can’t necessarily just pick up a new class/spec and be viable… in my original state I couldn’t have kept a 5-man group up in an appropriately geared early-expansion run. If I’d spent the couple of hours in PGs back then, though, I could have figured out how to do it and I (and by extension, any groups I healed) would have benefited heavily from that investment for the rest of the expansion.

          I’m even more of a fan of PG silver now that I wasn’t able to just faceroll my way to it… I think a lot of the criticism for that requirement is either from those who didn’t have any issue with it, or those who aren’t good enough or aren’t willing to make the effort to improve… and I have an issue with those who aren’t good enough for PG silver thinking they’re good enough to be in my random. That may sound harsh but I believe that everyone should be expected to maintain some minimum standard beyond iLvl when running random group content and now we’ll finally have an actual bar indicating the minimum standard. Can’t come soon enough.

  2. Neri

    I’m working on a video about this very subject at the moment. I’ve gone and dusted off my abandoned Feral Druid, put her in her awful healing set and respecced her to Boomkin — something I haven’t played since I used to DPS trash in Firelands! I spent about 4 seconds setting up my bars with what I thought a Boomkin should use and off I went. It’s about as close as I can get to being a “new” WoW player.

    First attempt I wiped on the second freaking wave of bronze. Four attempts later I’m in Silver. I got as far as the second wave before, once again, I started riding the fail train.

    I can safely say I should NOT be in heroics with randoms in my current state. Even with heroics currently being a yawn fest, I would be an absolute waste of space. Imagine someone that awful attempting, say, Heroic Stonecore back when it was current content? Oh, the rage would be glorious.

    It’s frustrating for me because, well, I don’t really like being bad at something, and it’s really easy to blame Blizzard for all my horrible woes. But at the end of the day, my terrible boomkin won’t be banned from heroics completely, I can still trick guildies and friends into carrying me! So, in that sense, they’re not really stopping me from seeing content; they’re just controlling how I get to see it.

    At the end of the day, when I zoned out of those Proving Grounds, I knew a hell of a lot more about my class than before I went in. I can’t in good conscious say that’s a bad thing.

    Great post, and grats on your silver!

  3. Shawn

    Well I am running a Disc priest have been since begining of Cata… Have been off for a year and just got back on and saw the proving grounds and thought waht a good way to clear some rust… Wrong… on the bronze wave i was OOM at round four and died right at begining of round 5… with a couple more tries i got it but again was OOM at the end of round five another 30 sec and i would have wiped again… well i had been healing heroics with very little failer for the better part of 3 years… im a little under geared but from what i understand it souldn’t matter cause gear gets scaled… i have been tring to beat silver for idk maybe 15 tries and i get to wave 7 and OOM less than half way through so i guess im not a good as i thought i was once… i guess the poving grounds made there point lol


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