Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dual specs, hybrid classes, and everything in between

With all the recent hub-bub about the upcoming Dual Specs, one subject that obviously gets a lot of attention is gear. As if there isn't enough competition for gear as it is, with hybrids* wanting gear in case they respec, we will now have people rolling on gear for both their specs.

Now, the gear distribution issue is not that simple to solve - at least not in a way that everyone will be comfortable with. For example, let's say we have a Resto/Feral(DPS) Druid and a Rogue grouping together, and a DPS leather piece drops. The Rogue should obviously be able to roll for it, but what about the Druid? Where does he fit in the priority list? If the Druid gets the same priority, it would be unfair to the Rogue - the Rogue can only roll on DPS leather gear, and all of a sudden he now has to compete for the gear with a lot more people (who also get "first" priority rolling for a lot of other gear). If the Druid can't roll for it, it would be unfair to him - he, theoretically, spends half of his time as a Feral DPS and should be entitled to get upgrades for that spec. A compromise would probably be something along the lines of "roll according to the spec you're using for this run", although that has its downsides too. What happens if the Druid preferred to DPS, but was asked to heal instead? Not to mention that if things stay as they currently are, you could switch specs in the middle of the run. What happens when the Priest that has both Discipline and Holy healing specs, one for trash and one for bosses, joins the run? Practically all the gear upgrades would come from boss fights, so does that mean the Priest should only get first priority on gear for the boss healing spec?

See, with all the complaining that was going on pre-BC, at least you knew what every class was supposed to do and what they were supposed to roll for. Priests were healers, and therefor got a lower priority to roll for casting DPS gear than say Mages or Warlocks. But then the hybrids** started complaining - Priests and Warriors couldn't DPS competitively, Druids were considered jack-of-all-trades but masters of none, and so on. Some hybrids couldn't get raiding spots doing what they want, since the class wasn't good enough for that role, while other classes had a hard time getting a raid spot at all. That, obviously, wasn't an ideal situation - especially since, like it or not, raiding is one of the biggest aspects in WoW.

So Blizzard went and made hybrids "competitive". Priests and Warriors could DPS like a Rogue, Druids could do anything as well as any other class, as long as you were specced right. While this move obviously made hybrids happy, it slightly marginalized the pure-DPS classes. Why bring a Rogue, when a Feral DPS can do the same job and even fill in for the tank (or even the healer) if things goes south? The pure classes did still, for the most part, have better CC which still got them spots in groups. But then came 3.0, making "easymode" AoE tanking**  the standard and practically removing the need for CC from the game. I don't know about you, but the number of Rogues and Warlocks I've encountered since Wrath has gone down drastically.

Adn why wouldn't they? Why play a class that can "only" put out the same DPS as any other class, maybe even has very limited AoE options, and wears cloth or leather gear when you could roll a DK and have yourself a level 80 plate-wearing tin can that does excellent DPS (single target and AoE) and can tank, if you feel like it, in just a couple of weeks? When presented with the character creation screen, what reason would someone have to choose a pure DPS class over a hybrid, when the hybrid has so many more options (both in-fight and in choosing roles) and does the same DPS***? Why roll a Rogue, knowing that after putting all that time in to level it up, you'll only be able to DPS, no matter how bored you are with it?

What's the solution, then, you ask? I don't know... Giving "pure" classes will make hybrids complain again, keeping things as they are now (relatively speaking) will make pure classes practically disappear, and letting Rogues heal is plain ridiculous. Let's just say I don't envy Blizzard their work sometimes.

* For the sake of this post, a hybrid class is any class capable of healing or tanking. Since all classes can DPS, the only "pure" classes can be pure-DPS.

** I am not saying that AoE tanking is "easymode". I'm saying that tanking post-3.0 is "esaymode"

*** Well, OK, Hunters/Mages can still, usually, out-DPS other classes in single target/AoE situations, which is why they weren't affected so badly. 

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