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Vectivus

Class Roles + Rebalancing

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I don't think you can ever settle down and be sure Blizzard won't tweak your class such that your preferred playstyle goes 'out of fashion' for some particular aspect of the game. It's just the nature of the beast. And that means that sometimes you can roll your class for some perceived role and later find that tweaks have meant that another class might have been a better option.

I also don't think they have a big vision for where the classes are supposed to be. Among game designers, it's largely assumed that balance is something you can easily tweak for once the rest of the game is in place, so if one tweak doesn't work maybe another will. I think they do want to give every class a variety of viable specs for PvE and PvP, but viable doesn't mean the same as optimal.

Talent trees largely fail as a game design mechanic - but it has been fun and it's given players access to a wider variety of play styles than a more streamlined approach would have done, imo. ObBalancingPrediction: I believe shadow priests will be 'nerfed' in the next expansion, not by an actual nerf but by a rehauling of the mana regen mechanics which will make them less essential.

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Please no, tranq required bosses were just silly, hunters and raids hated it. You weren't taken because you were wanted you were taken because the entire raid was completely hosed if they didn't have tranq shot. As a hunter I want to be taken because I'm genuinely wanted.

One thing many people miss when they try to really start differentiating things is that you can run into very big problems like the whole tranq situation. Not all guilds are min/max or have an ideal class distribution. However you should reasonably be able to complete a dungeon even if its a bit tougher if you have others to fill that roll.

Yeah that's exactly what I meant by a gimmick fight. I think that the idea of breaking down the different classes into CC sections would also basically be a gimmick. I think in order for it to work it really has to be a case where there are more utility classes. Thus you are optimized if you have an enhance shaman in the melee group but you aren't totally screwed like you are when you need mages to sheep in TK and don't have enough on.

Another idea that I've though about would be the idea of differentiating more between physical damage (melee/hunters) and magical damage. I think that it would be really interesting if blizz made it possible to have versions of either so that you could run an all physical damage raid or an all magical damage raid. I think the latter is possible already, but the former would require a class that has better aoe. Blademaster that has a whirlwind type ability that can be spammed like arcane nova?

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There are fights that do require a specific class when theres multiple classes available to do a single job in order to make the fight go smoothly.

Take the Kael'thas fight for example; You require a warrior to tank lord Sanguinar to counter his AoE fear, a warlock is helpful when dealing with Capernian as they can mitigate some of the damage with soullink while still keeping a decent amount of TPS and Kael'thas himself is alot safer to tank with a warrior due to shield wall and the health they can get from last stand and a nightmare seed if a pyro is going to hit more then once.

Theres also fights such as fathom lord that warriors struggle to tank well because he hits so fast, shield block is used up before it's ready again and the warrior is open to crushings alot. it's fights like that where a druid shines with high AC and health to lessen the damage crushings inflict. and theres the murloc adds that are summoned where a protection specced paladin is great to use.

I think Blizzard need to keep those things in mind when making raid encounters to ensure the unique abilities and strengths a class brings when theres more then 1 class doing the same job is wanted, and if they add further unique strengths, they give them the opportunity to use them.

Giving classes dinstinct strengths over another class doing the same job isn't going to work if they make a fight that doesn't require those strengths. It seems a difficult task though when trying to ensure DPS are also given such diverse roles as theres only 3 types, melee, ranged and AoE. if a fight is melee unfriendly then you simply stack the raid with more ranged dps which could be any of the 3 'pure' ranged DPS classes and if an enounter requires AoE dps, just stick a mage of any type in there.

As for healing, my experience healing most encounters is non-existant so I won't comment on that.

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It's the reason we're not seeing a legitimate attempt to make Ret a viable PvE raid spec: There's just really not room for them. Without bumping the raid cap to 30, they're going to have 5 classes with 3 members in a raid and 5 classes with 2 members in a raid. And when you're cutting classes, you tend to cut the "pure" DPS classes, as they don't offer the synergies of the others.

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There are fights that do require a specific class when theres multiple classes available to do a single job in order to make the fight go smoothly.

Take the Kael'thas fight for example; You require a warrior to tank lord Sanguinar to counter his AoE fear, a warlock is helpful when dealing with Capernian as they can mitigate some of the damage with soullink while still keeping a decent amount of TPS and Kael'thas himself is alot safer to tank with a warrior due to shield wall and the health they can get from last stand and a nightmare seed if a pyro is going to hit more then once.

Theres also fights such as fathom lord that warriors struggle to tank well because he hits so fast, shield block is used up before it's ready again and the warrior is open to crushings alot. it's fights like that where a druid shines with high AC and health to lessen the damage crushings inflict. and theres the murloc adds that are summoned where a protection specced paladin is great to use.

I think Blizzard need to keep those things in mind when making raid encounters to ensure the unique abilities and strengths a class brings when theres more then 1 class doing the same job is wanted, and if they add further unique strengths, they give them the opportunity to use them.

Giving classes dinstinct strengths over another class doing the same job isn't going to work if they make a fight that doesn't require those strengths. It seems a difficult task though when trying to ensure DPS are also given such diverse roles as theres only 3 types, melee, ranged and AoE. if a fight is melee unfriendly then you simply stack the raid with more ranged dps which could be any of the 3 'pure' ranged DPS classes and if an enounter requires AoE dps, just stick a mage of any type in there.

As for healing, my experience healing most encounters is non-existant so I won't comment on that.

I don't know if I will really be able to explain the difference, maybe it is just me. But what you describe above is min/maxing in my eyes. That's fine there there are differences between tanks. It adds flavor while at the same time not being such a huge difference that you can't go ahead and do the fight without the optimal tank (well you probably couldn't for Keal, but who doesn't have at least one warrior or pally tank in their guild?).

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I've seen EQ mentioned a few times in this thread and I have to say the one fundamental thing that WoW lacks in raids that EQ had as far as raids in rolls was a debuff role. Originally Warlocks were said to be the "debuff class." When I say debuff I don't mean a single curse or something I'm talking about the role of a Shamen and Enchanters in EQ. Tash, Mala, Slow etc... Somehow between Beta and now the line between debuffer and high DPS got obliterated and this game is too far along to change a current class to this role, its going to have to come from one of the Hero classes.

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I'm with you here, about the trees in general. Warlocks have affliction/destro raid viability choices and affliction/demonolgy PVP viability choices and Druids have 2 (more or less) raid-and-PVP viable talent trees (with feral being maybe the most successful 2-role talent tree already,) and now they keep working on inching towards 3 when some classes are kinda scraping by on one or one and a half? Its silly.

Because everyone wants an option for a valid dps tree, regardless of class. A lot of people who rolled classes that in theory were in support roles are really upset that somehow they are pigeonholed into not being a dps class, expecially at the lower end of the raiding spectrum.

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I've seen EQ mentioned a few times in this thread and I have to say the one fundamental thing that WoW lacks in raids that EQ had as far as raids in rolls was a debuff role. Originally Warlocks were said to be the "debuff class." When I say debuff I don't mean a single curse or something I'm talking about the role of a Shamen and Enchanters in EQ. Tash, Mala, Slow etc... Somehow between Beta and now the line between debuffer and high DPS got obliterated and this game is too far along to change a current class to this role, its going to have to come from one of the Hero classes.

Problem is balancing such role in small scale PvE, raids, solo and PvP. Additionally, you got to make debuffing fun. I mean, think about that - after the fight, people are checking their DPS meters. What can our debuffing warlock boast about? "Hey, I was channeling Slow for 80% of the fight and used Weakness twice when boss were about to use his special, yay!" Then after 10 raids warlock is spent and rerolls. It would be something along the lines of healing, but significantly less challenging.

Additionally, gear-focus of the game would make debuffing class unable to progress. You reach lev. 70, you get your max. lev. spells... then what? Gear only makes your DPS, healing OR mitigation better - but there is no gear that makes you buffs or debuffs more powerfull. Basically, fresh lev. 70 pally got just as powerful buffs as pally-the-Illidan-killer. It would be the same with debuffer class.

For debuffer and buffer classes work game would require completly different reward and character development system, that actually rewards acts of buffing and debuffing alone, also making them much more engaging then right now. People like to click buttons, preferably different buttons in different combinations that depend on situation around.

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Debuffs in EQ were only relevant in one expansion, and that was velious, that featured mobs with magic resistence so high that landing the debuff was absolutely crucial. It also made mobs absolutely retarded, since debuffs were so powerful that you needed them on the entire time, and bosses were balanced assuming they had the best debuff on the entire time (Tugur's reduced a mob's dps by 75% before slow mitigation).

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Problem is balancing such role in small scale PvE, raids, solo and PvP. Additionally, you got to make debuffing fun. I mean, think about that - after the fight, people are checking their DPS meters. What can our debuffing warlock boast about? "Hey, I was channeling Slow for 80% of the fight and used Weakness twice when boss were about to use his special, yay!" Then after 10 raids warlock is spent and rerolls. It would be something along the lines of healing, but significantly less challenging.

Additionally, gear-focus of the game would make debuffing class unable to progress. You reach lev. 70, you get your max. lev. spells... then what? Gear only makes your DPS, healing OR mitigation better - but there is no gear that makes you buffs or debuffs more powerfull. Basically, fresh lev. 70 pally got just as powerful buffs as pally-the-Illidan-killer. It would be the same with debuffer class.

For debuffer and buffer classes work game would require completly different reward and character development system, that actually rewards acts of buffing and debuffing alone, also making them much more engaging then right now. People like to click buttons, preferably different buttons in different combinations that depend on situation around.

Yeah I agree, its boring to me thats why I never played one of those classes in EQ but there are people out there that enjoy that type of play style and WoW doesn't offer it. Only reason I stuck with a Warlock was because of how the class played in Beta.

As for progress as a character, those classes were sort of hybrids and could do other things, Shamen could heal, cure and Enchanters were CC and DPS(lol). If you can remember there wasn't anything in EQ that improved those classes debuffs. If you think character progression is through gear entirely then class sets could have set bonuses that increase their potency.

I'm not advocating for this type of class to beput in I'm just saying had blizzard chosen a debuffer path I am sure they could of come up with something and I am sure people would play it and stick with it and it would help alleviate the pressure that 19 DPS talent trees has on raids today.

To go slightly off topic, Mearis bosses like Tunat still quaded for 8k after full debuffs so they were relevant after velious.

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They weren't relevant in the sense that Tunat started off rooted, and you could sit there and take 35 minutes to make sure every single debuff was stuck on him before the pull - expecially given his incredible MR.

After Luclin every boss either incredibly mitigated slow, was unslowable, or slow was assumed to be on the boss at all times. A shaman tipically spent 30 seconds getting slow on then started spamming shitty heals on the tank. Enchanters, well the class right now is such a joke that it isn't worth talking about. They had a brief period of glory with pre-nerf charm in PoP and GoD but that got quickly reigned in

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(..)As for progress as a character, those classes were sort of hybrids and could do other things, Shamen could heal, cure and Enchanters were CC and DPS(lol). If you can remember there wasn't anything in EQ that improved those classes debuffs. If you think character progression is through gear entirely then class sets could have set bonuses that increase their potency.(...)

It's a bit more complicated.

Debuffs and buffs would have to be designed completly differently then they are now (or that they were in EQ) to become valid class/build role. By valid I mean engaging on its own and giving player a feeling that he is getting better (progress) in that over time. EQ debuffs were basically tranquil shots. It's bad design to build class around tranq shot.

Let's take a tank role for example - main areas of interest for a tank is mitigation (of various types) and threat building, coupled with "oh shit" reactions. All those tasks are highly engaging (through innate abilities and consumables/on use items) and scale with gear obtained as character progresses. Same can be said about healing - main tasks are keeping ability to sustain healing, while maximizing healing output and being able to react in "oh shit" situations. Ability to do that also changes as character progresses. For DPS classes it's similarly 3 main aspects - maximizing damage while keeping aggro at bay and ability to do some burst in "oh shit" moments.

Debuffer/buffer class would have to use similar system to become interesting. Something that would allow to say "hey, guy X is great debuffer and Y not so much".

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I think part of the "problem" lies in the class design requirements that Blizzard has taken upon themselves to fulfill.

Blizzard wants every class to be able to solo. That alone makes the 10 classes competing for DPS slots and (relatively) DPS gear.

On the other hand, a mob can only attack one target at a time. This effectively caps the number of tanks at one per mob, or possibly two if you add a gimmick like Hateful Strike.

As a direct extension of the tank design comes the theoretical maximum amount of damage that can be healed through before the tank gets oneshot or before it's humanly possible for a healer to react, which also serves as a cap on the number of healers.

So 2-3 tanks, 6-8 healers and 15-17 DPS. I think it's pretty obvious that one side of the so-called Holy Trinity is heavier than the order by an order of magnitude.

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I'm not saying its viable at this stage of the game, was just saying that had the game originally been designed with a debuff type class in the more EQ style of things(Primary Debuff, shitty at everything else) it would add more variety and interesting and unique aspects to the game as the OP was originally posting about. Outside of Tank/Healer/DPS what other rolls could they add that the classes currently in the game can't already do? The only answer I can come up with right now(6AM) is a true debuffer.

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Problem is balancing such role in small scale PvE, raids, solo and PvP. Additionally, you got to make debuffing fun. I mean, think about that - after the fight, people are checking their DPS meters. What can our debuffing warlock boast about? "Hey, I was channeling Slow for 80% of the fight and used Weakness twice when boss were about to use his special, yay!" Then after 10 raids warlock is spent and rerolls. It would be something along the lines of healing, but significantly less challenging.
Not everyone live for the damage meter and live to feel special because they are on a top of a chart. Being usefull for the raid is more important that one's epenis.

But you need skill for any type of players, that's why you have various classes i guess.

I don't see how keeping debuffs and refreshing them would be less fun than keeping dots up and refreshing them. Of course you gotta have something to do in between, but that's just doing your task as pretty much every task of every player is, like doing ss ss ss ss snd is way funnier... not!

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Not everyone live for the damage meter and live to feel special because they are on a top of a chart. Being usefull for the raid is more important that one's epenis.

That kind of "being useful to the raid" mentality isn't exactly shared by everyone.

You're bound to have several kinds of personalities within your raid group: People who just want to socialize, people who want to get those phat purps, people who are genuinely helpful and want to offer their utility to 24 others, etc.

I would love so much to raid as Ret and give out some yummy buffs AND debuffs at the same time, but if you can't find a GM who can see past a Lock's big ol' numbers, you're not getting to Attumen.

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Not everyone live for the damage meter and live to feel special because they are on a top of a chart. Being usefull for the raid is more important that one's epenis.

But you need skill for any type of players, that's why you have various classes i guess.

I don't see how keeping debuffs and refreshing them would be less fun than keeping dots up and refreshing them. Of course you gotta have something to do in between, but that's just doing your task as pretty much every task of every player is, like doing ss ss ss ss snd is way funnier... not!

It's not about e-peen, it's about change and progress...

Ok, let me go even further in this. Let's agree that debuffer/buffer classes are basically the same, right? They both are focused on adjusting balance between initial parameters of sides involved in encounter - debuffers by reducing parameters and buffers by rising them. So far so good.

Now, let's check two best "buffer" classes in WoW - paladin and shaman. Paladin got powerful buffs that are cast before the fight, effectively making them passive effect present for whole fight. As result, paladin, despite having powerful buffs is not buffer - he is either healer, tank or DPS, because buffing alone is not engaging enough. In case of shaman, it's a bit different - choice of buffs is bigger and they have to be reapplied during the fight, so they are not completly passive effect (as paladin buffs are). But mayority of the fights is designed in a way that actually promotes as passive use of buffs as possible - keeping optimal set of totems whole fight, without switching between them. It's rarely the case that shaman is using GoA for 1st miunte of the fight, switches to grounding at some point to counter some effect, then ends with WoA. As result, shaman is either DPS or a healer, not buffer.

The closest thing to true buffer/debuffer role is refreshing judgements for ret pally, AP buff for enhancement shammies and shadow priest mana battery. But they are still very strongly tied to damage dealing. They are not goal, they are added bonus.

To make paladin/shaman true buffer classes, all blessings would have to follow pattern of BoP/BoF/BoSac while all shaman totems would have to be like searing, grounding or stoneclaw ones. Basically, all buffs would have to be short timed effects - and very varied, to avoid buffers just spamming one ability on and on. Additionally, most of the fights would require various boss abilities that would need be countered at the right time by right buff.

And there is always problem of progress. I simply can't agree with your e-peen comment. Except from people playing completly socially, you always need some way to improve your character. If your primary task is buffing/debuffing, you need a way to progress in that, instead of progressing as a healer or damage dealer. If such progress is not possible, at some point class becomes healer/DPS, or debuff becomes completly artificial gimmick, used by designers to keep class alive (tranq shot-like abilities).

Of course, there are always people that are going to play such poorly designed class. But, like someone mentioned before Blizzard attempts to make all classes equally attractive for players. Creating buffer/debuffer class that can't improve its buffing/debuffing potential over time (always -X% attack speed for example, no matter if it's MC or Naxx), is not engaging for player (cast 1 spell every 1 min.) and doesn't allow player to shine (every warlock got the same - X% attack speed debuff, no matter if it's veteran or noob) is a good recipe for unpopular class. Of course you can argue that not every class have to be similarly popular, but obviously Blizzard thinks otherwise.

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Trying to Frankenstein together some buffer/debuffer class out of bits and pieces of EQ garbage for the purpose of solving a "problem" WoW has with more dps classes than healing or tanking isn't going to go anywhere fast. It'll just end up with

"Yeah and it will shoot lasers from his eyes"

"Yeah! no, no, no, lasers from one eye and robot dinosaurs from the other"

"And they DW internet memes"

Thats just how I see it going down though.

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I'm not omniscient, I don't know, but it seems more and more like the class roles in this game are predominantly being defined by their PvP utility, and their PvE value is assumed ("We balanced the whole game around PvE until battlegrounds came out, I'm sure it's fine!").

Quite agree on this one. Many of the changes actually done to the classes seems to stem purely from PvP, and not making a lot of sense from a PvE perspective.

What's annoying for me is that PvP-centric view, which usually trash a lot of the "lore" or "style" about classes - sorry, but dispelling just doesn't feel right for a hunter.

Additionnally, for warriors, I never understood why the "berserk" tree was for PvE, and the "arms master" was for PvP. Seems to me that it would be much more logical to have the opposite : weapon proficiency, long-term, enduring precise strikes with expertise in dual wielding, for long PvE fights. Rage, burst damage, heavy two-handers, ferocious and very mobile berserk, for PvP fights.

The multiple changes done to warrior trees for the next patch seems to confirm this, BTW. They should just switch the feels of the trees (and rename talents without changing their effects) and be done with it.

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One thing that is lacking to (nearly) all classes is the lack of diversity in the trees. For most classes every tree has but one path to take, with (near) useless filler talents to make it appear more interesting.

This pigeon-holes every talent tree into a single spec, regardless of what it's used for. If they continue to make the talent trees deeper (as opposed to wider) it will only aggravate the issue.

Rather than trying to provide raid-viability with single-line talent trees, they should be wide and diverse enough in itself to support multiple playstyles, with each playstyle having a distinct line of talents in the tree.

e.g. the hunter survival tree has both PvP and PvE talents, but to reach any of them you have to take talents for both activities, which 'wastes' talent points.

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I wrote an enormous post here and ended up deleted it because I'd gone off on a tangent for part (most) of it.

Let me just say this. It is very interesting how dps classes with only one role cite that they should do more DPS than classes that have the potential to spec other roles because of that option they have. Yet say a Shaman who can only spec 2 roles doesn't whine about a Druid (3 roles) being as good a healer as him. Healers tend to be just happy if the healing team managed to keep everyone alive till the boss is down/enrage timer. DPS seem to care far more about their personal performance in comparison vs other players in the raid.

I suppose the competetive and aggressive nature could be spawned by the large number of DPS specs out there as mentioned earlier, and having to fight for raid spots. Still fascinating the difference though.

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Thats one thing I hated about playing a hunter on my dead end server, It was very difficult to get a raid spot. I hope blizzard tries to put more tranq bosses in WOTLK to make useful besides auto attacking and going afk.

No. The wrong way to make a class more attractive is to put bosses in that require a certain class (1 of the 10 in WotLK). Do you think if Mages go underrepresented, it would be a good idea to throw in MORE fights where Spellsteal was required? No.

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I wrote an enormous post here and ended up deleted it because I'd gone off on a tangent for part (most) of it.

Let me just say this. It is very interesting how dps classes with only one role cite that they should do more DPS than classes that have the potential to spec other roles because of that option they have. Yet say a Shaman who can only spec 2 roles doesn't whine about a Druid (3 roles) being as good a healer as him. Healers tend to be just happy if the healing team managed to keep everyone alive till the boss is down/enrage timer. DPS seem to care far more about their personal performance in comparison vs other players in the raid.

I suppose the competetive and aggressive nature could be spawned by the large number of DPS specs out there as mentioned earlier, and having to fight for raid spots. Still fascinating the difference though.

It's probably also due to the fact that 'optimizing' your healers works differently than 'optimizing' your DPS.

There may be a Healer comp that puts out the most heal per second or whatever, and it might be comprised of, say, all Druids. But you know what? It doesn't really matter. Because even though they put out more healing, the homogeneity of that healing makes it less worthwhile. No one's proccing an armor buff on your tank. No one's Blessing your healers with BoW or Divine Spirit. No Mana Tide or Wrath of Air for your healers. The differences of the healers work together to ensure that even if someone is 'better' you'll still be hurt by taking that sort of healer exclusively.

Compare this to DPS. There's no 'maximum value' for success. With Healers, if everyone's alive at the end you can't really get more successful than that. With DPS, if everyone's doing 1500 dps, you would still improve your raid by being able to do 1600. There usually aren't benefits to doing a specific kind of DPS per se. If Pally heals hit for 12000, you might still want to bring Druids for HoTs, Priests for Power Shields, and Shaman for Armor Procs, Earth Shield, or Chain Heal. But if Hunters Auto-Shot for 12000, no one would argue "Well, there's still added value from having these little DoT spells on the boss over having another hunter."

For DPS it totally comes down to:

-How much damage do you do?

-How much value apart from dps do you give to the raid?

The second one is the kicker... Is Misdirect more valuable to a raid than Battleshout? Windfury more valuable than Vampiric Embrace? Wrath of Air better than Leader of the Pack? This is where all the arguing shakes down.

EDIT: And on a similar note, I've often thought it would be fun to have a psycho boss who flips everyone roles, maybe only for part of the fight. You know, heal the boss to death and dps your friends' health up. Reduce the 'healing' done by damage to make up for the fact that there's 2x as many damage dealers as healers. How would you justify this? I'm not totally sure, but I'm sure they could do it. Perhaps some form of corruption, so as you cast heals on the boss you're damaging the corruption in him? I think it'd be a nice change of pace.

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For DPS it totally comes down to:

-How much damage do you do?

-How much value apart from dps do you give to the raid?

I think it does for healers and tanks (certainly off-tanks) also, with respect to their raid utility.

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I had an idea in the past that might do away with the inferiority some dps classes/specs feel when looking at meters after a boss dies.

Dps is competitive by nature. I think it is Blizzard's intention to give the classes with the least/weakest buffs the highest dps potential. They should (if they don't already) balance the class' potential including self buffs. So a rogue's dps output would be identical to an enhance shaman if the shaman gets totems but the rogue does not. Similarly a boomkin (with aura) would provide the same dps as a mage (without). So at the end of the raid the rogues and mages would be on the top of the dps meter since they are receiving the most powerful buffs relative to the buffs they contribute. You might say all this is obvious. I'd agree. Why bring a rogue to a raid if he doesn't top meters? But this leads to people feeling their class/spec is inferior to the others because the meter says so.

Why not a new dps meter? One that adds the damage increased by a buff to the buffer not the buffee. Ignoring the impossibility of actually creating such a mod, imagine what it would look like at the end. Enhance shaman would get the dps they did, plus the increased dps the rogues did because of windfury. Ret paladins would be near the top since their blessings, debuff, and aura are huge and underrated. Rogues would still be valued since a person is needed to actually benefit from all the buffs. I think a meter such as this would alleviate some of the competition and create a more synergistic view of raid make-up.

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