Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The problem with off-specs

About two weeks back I made a post over in Paladinsucks.com. It was in response to people freaking out about paladins being described as one of the "et cetera classes" Basically Tigole posted saying that they would be fixing glancing blows, listing it as a fix for, and I quote "We’ve done a tuning pass of many of our dungeons/bosses/encounters to ensure that nothing overly punishing occurs to “melee DPS’ that would lead people to favor ranged DPS over Rogues/DPS Warriors etc." which caused half of the readers of Paladinsucks.com to just freak because this obviously meant that all Blizzard devs hate ret paladins and think of them as an "etc. class". *rolls eyes* Anyway, after doing some brain storming, I came up with his, and posted, but since I posted it a day or two after the post was made, it got missed amongst all the other news. (To see the rest of that post look here: http://paladinsucks.blogspot.com/2007/04/its-almost-like-tacitus.html )

I was thinking about this earlier, and I realized one issue has nothing to do with whether or not Ret/Prot pallies are unwanted, or whether or not Holy Pallies are awesomer than anything under the sun. It's pure numbers.

With tBC coming out, all the new raid instances are 25 or 10 man instances. There are also currently 9 classes playable, which means, assuming you brought a balanced group, you'd have 7 classes with 3 people, and 2 classes with 2 people.

Now, before I go any further, I want to clarify, that one of the major goals I see of the posts made on this blog is not calling for Paladins to be buffed through the roof. Instead, it is for all Paladin talent trees (and to a lesser degree all classes) to be able to spec a certain way and still do their thing in a raid:
Spec Holy: You heal.
Spec Prot: You tank.
Spec Ret: You smash faces.

While this is a good line of thought, as I said, there's a problem. The problem is pure numbers. Specifically the number of primary healer specs.

Let's do some theorycrafting. We have a 25 man raid, and it's the group I listed above (7 classes with 3 people, and 2 classes with 2 people) and each person has a different spec. The 2 classes with 2 people will be mages and rogues, b/c they both have roughly the same CC abilities, and otherwise just DPS (specifically the two "left out" are a Subtlety Rogue and a Frost Mage). This breaks down to:
Pure DPS: Balance Druid, Marksmanship Hunter, Fire Mage, Assassination Rogue, Combat Rogue, Elemental Shaman, Demonology Warlock, Destruction Warlock, Arms Warrior, and Fury Warrior
DPS/Utility mix: Beastmastery Hunter, Survival Hunter, Arcane Mage, Retribution Paladin, Shadow Priest, Enhancement Shaman, Affliction Warlock
DPS/Tanking mix: Feral Druid
Pure Tanks: Protection Paladins, Protection Warriors
Healing/Utility mix: Discipline Priest
Pure Healing: Restoration Druid, Holy Paladin, Holy Priest, Restoration Shaman

As you can clearly tell there are only 5 specs that can fill their role, and effectively heal at the same time. And lets be honest, 5 people can not, no matter how awesome they are, keep a whole raid alive. For the bosses who use AOE abilities, or have adds, the healer for a group would need to not only be healing the tank, but also healing their own group.

As Vaelin said,
"By discontinuing 40-man raids in the expansion and beyond (as far as we know) as well as adding a "new" class to each faction, Blizzard reduced the number of free slots available to any particular class. With the exception of Shadow Priests, this has hurt "off-specced" hybrids tremendously."
And he is exactly right. With fewer slots, there are very few to no slots available for a non-healer, when a healer is needed. This is not a problem that was created by one group. It is a joint mistake caused by, what I would guess, is not enough communication between Class Design and the Raid & Dungeon team.

From here, there are two "fixes" (if this problem ever gets fixed per say).

1) Tigole realizes there too large a need for healers, and thus those that can heal are being excluded, so the "fix" is to lower damage output, increase health, and increase defense/resists. The battles take about as long as before, but instead of requiring 8-10 of 25 man raid to be healers, it only calls for 5-7 to be healers. But now to take the enemy down efficiently you need more DPS and Utility, so you bring more offspecs. Everyone's happy? Well, it might fix the problem, per say, but I think it would also make fights very very boring. With less damage means less pressure. I go into raid dungeons to be challenged in figuring out how to beat a boss, not to kill a bigger version of what's outside. With a self imposed cap on damage, fights would be snorefests, and (speaking only for myself) that's not the answer that I think is needed.

2) The other answer is Class Design sees this problem, and goes in and pretty much retools the Retribution, Enhancement, Balance and possibly Elemental trees, almost from the ground up. Instead of being "DPS with a little support" they are turned into something akin to the Shadow Priest. They do some damage (nothing huge) but though that, healing is done. At core, what's needed is more ways to heal, but ways to heal that don't involve standing at the back being a healbot. The idea I'm thinking about is something along the lines of a certain percent of their damage is turned into healing for all members of their raid within a certain radius (say... 10-15 yards). By having them do damage, they do what is needed (keep people alive) while at the same time they can do what they want (which is do damage).

Also, before anyone accuses me of being anti-holy, my paladin is and always has been a healbot. My spec is 42/19/0, and when I created Alixander, I made him specifically to fill the lacking role of a on-call healer for my guild (this was back before the expansion). Honestly, I prefer standing back in the rear and healing, but that's my prerogative. Paladins, and all classes, IMO should have a choice, and right now I don't think we do, if we want to raid.

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