Pet Based Healing Terrifies Me

One of my goals for FFXIV was to get Arcanist to 30, which gives me all the Disciples of Magic classes >= 30. That means I can ditch all the sub-30 DoM gear from my bags, which frees up all kinds of space. I just did that yesterday. I then went ahead and unlocked Summoner and Scholar, because why not?

Summoner I understand. It’s a pet/DoT DPS class. Scholar? Scholar terrifies me.


Scholar. That pet fairy? More healing spells than I have.
Scholar. That pet fairy? More healing spells than I have.

Scholar is a pet based healer. That is, the two pets you can summon now become faeries, and they have healing/support abilities. In fact, at level 30, my healing fairy has more healing power than I do. I only have two healing spells: a single target heal, and a single target heal that puts up a shield. My pet has more abilities. I’m sure this will flesh out later, but it sent me into a fit of terror.

Healing, to me, is all about triage and decision making. I only have so much MP and can only output so much healing at once. Figuring out where and how to direct it is the heart of what you’re doing. I really don’t trust a pet AI enough to offload some of that to it, nor do I want the extra work of babysitting a pet (both in terms of healing targets and in positioning to avoid bad things). There’s more than enough going on already without that extra work.

Fear And Confusion

As anybody in free company chat last night can attest, I didn’t know how to react to this. I started asking all kinds of questions. The idea of actually trying to use this to heal terrified me, especially when I have the warm, fuzzy blanket of White Mage to fall back to. That’s a healing class I understand. The idea of a pet based healing class is so far out of my comfort zone that I recoiled in abject fear from it.

Fairy healing spell bar
Fairy healing spell bar
Scholar healing level 30 spell bar
Scholar healing level 30 spell bar

Is that fear justified? Probably not. I’ve been healed by lots of Scholars (and their pets) in my time as a Black Mage, and aside from noticing some mechanical differences, they always got the job done. But, understanding that at the rational level doesn’t make the fear go away. It’s still there today, when I think “maybe I should try that Scholar”, my immediate reaction is “maybe I should start leveling a tank instead”.

I understand the root of where this is coming from. I really cut my teeth at MMO healing in WoW, doing progression raiding. For quite a while I was a raid guild’s healing leader. I had a huge toolbox and all the freedom and control to deploy it however I wanted. Thus, success and failure (or for the group, life and death) was on me. Losing some of that control of the outcome to a pet AI sets off all kinds of negative reactions.


This really comes down to control, which is why pet classes in other contexts don’t bother me. I’ve often summoned a Unicorn in D&D and used it as a healing pet, but due to how D&D works, I’m still functionally in control of it. DPS pets are okay, because they don’t need the same kind of babysitting to do damage (target changes are less frequent and it’s less likely to kill someone if I let the AI handle it).

Taking healing control away from me and giving it to a pet just… ugh, no. I can’t even form a coherent thought because of how much it rubs me the wrong way.

Maybe one day I’ll work up the ability to overcome this and give the class a fair try. For now though…

White Mage Robes are like a warm fuzzy blanket
White Mage Robes are like a warm fuzzy blanket.

I just don’t “get” Marvel Heroes

One thing I really like about FFXIV is that it doesn’t obsolete old content the way WoW does. WoW players know what I’m talking about: there’s reams of old raids and dungeons from past expansions that are just empty wastelands now, because there’s no point in doing them. If you do, stat inflation makes everyone so powerful that mechanics hardly matter at all.

I just finished the Crystal Tower raids in FFXIV last night, and it was great to see people still doing it. We still died if we ignored mechanics or do them badly. Was it easier than when it was new? Absolutely. But the game both gives incentives to do older content, and thanks to level synching back down makes it so it’s not totally trivial. It’s a great system.

Marvel Heroes – I don’t “get” the appeal

Before anybody says it – I’m not saying it’s a bad game. Lots of people I know like it. I just for the life of me don’t understand why.

I’m a software developer, and part of my day job is taking things that employees are doing that don’t require anything but repetition, and automating them. That’s how I feel when I’m playing Marvel Heroes. The game is so mind numbingly easy that I didn’t require thought when I played it. In fact, I could automate everything I was doing with this pseudocode:

while (enemiesAlive) {

CastSpell(mana > 0 ? ChainLightning : FreeLightning);


For those who don’t read code, that simply says this: while there’s enemies alive, cast chain lightning if I have mana, or the free lightning spell if I don’t.

I spent 5.7 hours (according to Steam) in Marvel Heroes, and that was pretty much all I did, playing as Storm. Either I used the lightning that cost mana, or the one that didn’t (because I had no mana). Nothing particularly required thought, or paying attention. I spent a bunch of that time actually watching TV while playing. If the game allowed mods that can cast spells, I could automate my combat actions with a couple lines of code. Day job me sees that as a problem in need of fixing, not something fun to do in my spare time.

I’m told the difficulty goes up later, and Rhiss offered to level my character for me to that point so I’d give it another try… but almost 6 hours is quite a lot of time when I’m bored. If a game can’t get my interest by then, what’s the point?

People who do get it

Given the game’s popularity, obviously quite a lot of people do enjoy it. I asked some of them why, and I got several responses. The one I saw the most often is that it was fun precisely because it didn’t require any thought. There’s no stress. You can unwind playing it. One person said that specifically. Some people also like repetition and grinding for stuff, like Rhiss with the endgame of Disgaea (which is massive grinding for huge numbers).

I also assume it gets harder later and that people can find a challenge with some of the later content, for those that like such a thing. Plus, it has a zillion things to collect. Heroes, skills, more currencies than I can count, etc. If you have reasons that I missed, feel free to add them in comments. 🙂

I don’t get those reasons either

The reason that stood out to me was the appeal of a no stress, easy game. I don’t get that either. To me, games are finished once I feel that I’ve got the whole thing figured out and can beat it at will. That’s how Disgaea games all end for me. I get set up for the endgame grind with all the specialists and such ready to go, and the maps unlocked… and I’m done. I did the part that’s interesting to me, know I can do the rest, and thus there’s no reason to actually do it. It’s not a story game in the endgame, so unlike say Final Fantasy IX, I’m not going to keep playing just for the amazing finale. I do love story games though, which is part of the appeal of FFXIV.

Clicker Heroes
Clicker Heroes – featuring ever bigger numbers

As for getting bigger numbers and more stuff… I have Clicker Heroes for that. That’s a silly game in which you buy heroes, who kill monsters, to get you loot. You use the loot buy/upgrade more heroes to kill more monsters and get more loot. The wrinkle is that the heroes kill stuff. The game runs while you’re playing it, and while it’s closed or your computer is off. Thus, I get to buy the upgrades and figure out the best place to spend money for maximum DPS, without the actual effort of tedious grinding.

For the people I know who like the grinding part, they find this idea totally absurd. And I understand why, but I find it pretty enjoyable. It’s got the thought part and none of the grinding, which suits me perfectly. When I’m done, I go do something else and the grinding happens on its own.

In the end both things are just numbers going up, but with this one I’m freed up to go be challenged by something like XCOM or the upcoming Anno game.

Fundamentally, the friends in question and I just want different things out of games. As it turns out, Marvel Heroes provides what they want and just doesn’t provide it to me. I can look at it dispassionately and see that it’s well put together and does a lot of things that I could like, but it just doesn’t work for me.

For those that it does? Great! Have fun!