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Vectivus

Class Roles + Rebalancing

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But don't you see..... this is EXACTLY the beef that some people have. Druid's Feral spec can tank AND dps respectibly with just a gear swap. What other classes can do this?? This has always been the complaint of people who don't play hybrids. No other classes have this sort of flexibility (which is the point of hybrids), but there MUST be a trade off cost for this. That's the whole point.

The problem is that we are trying to make every class/talent spec viable in all situations (PvP, PvE, raiding). In the end all we have is a cycle of buffs and nerfs that always create just as many problems as they solve.

I agree that "Hybrid" isn't true anymore since the design of classes forces almost all "hybrid" characters to spec full down one tree making them a pseudo healer/tank/dps anyways.

Yes i can see it and i agree with you to some extend, but that was not the point of my post. I was just pointing out that "hybrids" are no longer forced into the healer role like pre TBC.

As pointed out by Krollin afterwards Druids are a special case here within WoW. I would go that far and say that druids are the only real hybrid in WoW. Because they are filling two different roles in everydays raids with one spec.

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Over time, they've moved more abilities from being core to talents, for example warriors and druids both used to have 'good enough if you're not in blues tanking against epic DPS' threat generation untalented, but that's not really true now. They've made talent trees deeper and the made more 'must have' abilities.

I think this is in part a consequence of the raiding environment. In terms of balancing (PVE) content, if a boss can be tanked by a 41/20 resto/feral build druid, barring some gimmick the same tanking duties could be expected to be fairly trivial if performed by a prot warrior. If an encounter is tuned to be extremely difficult but doable with an off-spec tank it's almost irrelevant that the offspec *can* tank it because the prot warrior is still a better choice.

Basically, leveling and initial raiding were built around many flexible talent options, and wacky off-specs could perform acceptably well in most situations. Then as content difficulty began to ramp up, players began taking advantage of heavy specializations to make things easier, thus future content began to be designed to take specializations as a baseline. By virtue of adding *any* new talents (even at the bottom/middle of a tree) along with a level increase a build that is hybridized between two trees is weakened.

Because specializations are assumed at this point, I really do think it'd be useful to have meaningful hybrid gear. I actually think that an interesting way of accomplishing this would be to have sets of gear along the lines of Benediction/Anathema; that is, to have an item budgeted for a certain role, with an on-use ability (possibly on a cooldown) to transform it into a same-slot item for a different role.

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While i agree with you about pure dmg classes not being threatened by hybrids in raids from their dmg output by now i have to disagree about your point of heal specs being common for all "hybrids".

In vanilla WoW basically every druid was healer. So was pretty much every shaman, pally and priest.

With TBC this at least changed for druids, priests and shamans imo. I have the feeling that feral spec is much more common than heal for druids. Holy priests are rather rare at least in my expirience.

Maybe I'm biased as feral druid and it certainly differs from raid to raid , but i have the feeling that my current role in raids is much more demanded than pure healing. This has several reasons. one being that each faction gained one additional healing class with TBC. With the reduction of raid sizes classes that can change their role throughout a fight are just priceless. Druids really shine in that department as we can fill two roles with one spec.

Well, its hard to argue this without statistics, but there are two points you are not taking into account:

- Back in Vanilla wow most healers could heal as off-spec just fine. I raided for about two months on this toon pre-bc, and I healed ZG and MC just fine as a 30/0/21 shaman. Back then you could be "off-spec" and still heal.

- The proportion of healers in the raid has either stayed the same or increase for most encounters, which means that there are as many, if not more (see above) hybrids dedicated to healing. Given raid sizes, the proportion of "off-specs" has probably decreased (especially when you consider what spec most palladins were before +healing plate gear appeared). If anything, hybrids didnt need to be as "raid viable" as they are now because it was simply easier to get a spot on 40 mans.

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- Back in Vanilla wow most healers could heal as off-spec just fine. I raided for about two months on this toon pre-bc, and I healed ZG and MC just fine as a 30/0/21 shaman. Back then you could be "off-spec" and still heal.

Oh yea. Nothing like being the primary off-tank and having a 17/0/34 Fury/Arms spec - something quite unfathomable by today's measures (except in highly farmed trash content).

Another reason why Feral tanks are so darn popular is because they do so much more when they're not tanking. They can switch to cat-form and do some pretty reliable DPS (even in full tanking gear - far better than any Prot-Warrior or Prot-Paladin). They can provide heal as well as a Prot Paladin, but provide the much needed Innervate/Battle-Res that can prove crucial in many circumstances. Druids are the true hybrids because they actually have the capability to fulfill all roles within 1 fight to a certain degree.

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This whole thing about rogues or mages losing raid spots to shamans and pallies is simply not true. That is just because of the way blizzard has designed the buffs these classes bring. There is no need for more than one ret pally in a raid, or more than one enhancement shaman in a melee party, as their buffs dont stack.

I could be wrong, but don't Retadins have most (if not all) of the Blessings available to them? So the first Retadin brings Salvation, the second brings Might, the third Wisdom, etc. The first Mage brings Arcane Brilliance , the second Mage just brings more DPS.

Its exactly this stack-ability that makes Paladins DPSing on par with rogues/mages/whatnot more difficult to balance.

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I could be wrong, but don't Retadins have most (if not all) of the Blessings available to them? So the first Retadin brings Salvation, the second brings Might, the third Wisdom, etc. The first Mage brings Arcane Brilliance , the second Mage just brings more DPS.

Its exactly this stack-ability that makes Paladins DPSing on par with rogues/mages/whatnot more difficult to balance.

But ret specific buffs and judgement renewals dont stack. If anything, a second ret pally will compete with protection or maybe even holy pallies, but never with rogues.

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My favorite part of the game is the 5-man content. I've never been a huge fan of raiding because the logistics are very difficult for someone like me.. it's not easy for me to have a segment of time free when 24 other people are free to be able to do a run. Pre-TBC my friends and I would entertain ourselves by doing speed runs and shortmanning all of the 5-man instances.. speed-running scholo was our favorite. What I love about 5-man content is the amount of skill required _when the content is sufficiently difficult_. I love the fact that almost every spec in the game shines in some regard.. you can only bring 5 people, there's no way that you can have every buff, and the encounters change so much from fight to fight. it's nothing like gruul where there are specifically 2 fights that you need to be prepared for (the trash largely being a joke). In our speed runs we highly valued the hybrids... a druid tank can pop up and heal the group after a fight while the healer drinks, saving precious seconds. When TBC came out on our relatively young server the Heroic instances provided this challenge..

1. They were tough,

2. They were fun,

3. They didn't require a whole lot of scheduling,

4. There were tons of instances available at one time (compared to working on raid dungeons 1 at a time).

5. They had a reward system that let any spec acquire gear without fear of item competition (badges)

6. Meters mean almost nothing in heroics.. since there's so much more emphasis on CC, positioning, pulls, debuffing, keeping things under control.. there's way more to focus on than making your dps the highest it can possibly be.

Unfortunately, the heroic instances peaked and now they're no longer much of a challenge at all. The surest way to rekindle my hope in this game is to buff the heroics (not nerf them!) perhaps creating a legendary mode? They could also go through the azeroth dungeons and do the same thing.

Every class and every spec gets to shine in the heroics, some are better suited for specific dungeons than others. Look at the rogue.. the rogue is a one-trick pony in 25-man raids with just a couple of specs that are competitive (and vary so slightly between one another). In 5-man heroics each of the rogue trees brings something quite different to the table.. think of what a subtlety rogue brings to the table compared to a combat rogue or an assassination rogue? None of them are bad, they're just different.. and it's much more about stylistic difference and preferred playstyle than it is about viability. That is something that's really tough to capture in 25-man raids but easy in 5-mans.

I realize not a lot of people share my feelings about 5-mans.. there's just so much more glory in 25-mans.. but it really is too bad that 5-mans are largely forsaken beyond a certain point, I think they're without a doubt the best designed aspect of the game. I should add that the game does a good job of training people on how they should act in 5-mans.. something that's completely lacking in 25-mans.

WTB more heroics.

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But ret specific buffs and judgement renewals dont stack. If anything, a second ret pally will compete with protection or maybe even holy pallies, but never with rogues.

Not necessarily. If you want to add a paladin who is ret-specced, you might need to swap him with another melee class (which translates to a rogue or maybe a warrior if you had two warrior in one melee group) - especially if your groups were already optimized.

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What if respecs were free, instant, and automatically taught max ranks of your skills? Players should be able to save spec templates and load them from the talent pane with a reasonable cool down. Tie it to the combat checker, and it would be fairly reasonable.

This would allow all class to PVE, PVP, and farm solo. It wouldn’t be a game-breaking change, but it would buy Blizzard some time to overhaul the trees if that is what they wish. It would also save development resources as talents like Revenge and Tactical Mastery for the warrior would not have to be redesigned in the name of balance.

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Not necessarily. If you want to add a paladin who is ret-specced, you might need to swap him with another melee class (which translates to a rogue or maybe a warrior if you had two warrior in one melee group) - especially if your groups were already optimized.

But most groups already take 3 paladins to cover all the buffs. Adding a fourth paladin wouldn't bring anything.

You might see something like: remove a rogue, shift a paladin to Ret, add another priest. The number of paladins in the raid stay the same. Just the Ret paladins take spots away from rogues, and Holy paladins take spots away from healers.

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Every class and every spec gets to shine in the heroics, some are better suited for specific dungeons than others. Look at the rogue.. the rogue is a one-trick pony in 25-man raids with just a couple of specs that are competitive (and vary so slightly between one another). In 5-man heroics each of the rogue trees brings something quite different to the table.. think of what a subtlety rogue brings to the table compared to a combat rogue or an assassination rogue? None of them are bad, they're just different.. and it's much more about stylistic difference and preferred playstyle than it is about viability. That is something that's really tough to capture in 25-man raids but easy in 5-mans.
I think part of it is that 25-mans are easier to design, in the sense that you can pretty much guarantee you'll have at least one healing Priest, Paladin, Druid, and Shaman who can each fill different roles. In a 5-man, not too many encounters could be relatively short, but with constant, high AoE damage to the whole party, as Priests (and possibly Druids) out-class, nor with multiple LoS issues, as Paladins and Shaman simply could not deal.

I, too, prefer smaller groups, they feel more manageable, but I think there's a limit to what can be done when you have to design for healer/tank/dps instead of Druid/Warlock/Warrior/etc.

So many problems caused by the talent trees! What if:

1) Respecs were free, instant, with no need to return to a class trainer.

2) You could save spec templates and load them from the talent pane.

I can't help with (1), but I've put together an add-on that allows (2): saving and loading (auto-distribution) of talent specs. I plan to make a topic outlining the add-on as soon as I'm allowed. You can 'look it over' and tell me what you think.

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Unfortunately, the heroic instances peaked and now they're no longer much of a challenge at all. The surest way to rekindle my hope in this game is to buff the heroics (not nerf them!) perhaps creating a legendary mode? They could also go through the azeroth dungeons and do the same thing.

Yeah 5-mans have always been my favourite thing in this game as well. Sadly I guess you just have to accept that the game is about character progression and getting more and more powerful items; this means all content will be slowly phased out and made irrelevant (booring) even if there isn't a level cap increase.

As noted quite a big positive point of the 5-man game is that with 5-mans there are plenty to chose from and you get a varied experience. For myself I don't think I have done any particular heroic more than once every 2-3 weeks. That the experience is varied is part of the fun for sure.

Blizzard could of course add Heroic Stratholme and tune it for a higher item level compared to the other heroics; but then you'd only have one instance to go to and be challenged. Doubt that would be fun for long. Much of the point with heroics now are just that you can chose between multiple ones that all are tuned for about the same item level. As long as gear is appropriate its great; but of course after some time gear is too powerful and all of them stops beeing fun at the same time more or less. Sure Shattred halls and Black Morass maybe fun a little longer than Underbog but difficulty difference between the heroics isn't major really.

Anyway the problem with 5-mans and progression is probably that the people want challenging 5-mans really don't want to have the instances that are progressively harder; so you work on one instance at a time until its tome to move onto the next; but really wants a good many different instances all on comparable difficulty so you can chose where to go.

So Blizzard really can't just add another harder instance every other patch like with Raids. But would rather need to add a new difficulty setting, perhaps Legendary mode, and retune a good number of the existing heroics for a new higher item level so they are once again fun and challenging.

Of course just retuning an instance for higher item level isn't exactly a new experience so we'd still want totally new instances as well.

Not sure if anything like that would even be managable. I mean make one new instance in normal, heroic, and legendary mode. And take maybe 10 of the existing instances and add a legendary mode to them as well. Would be lots of work on retuning old content.

And of course after another two months when gear inflation worked a little legendary mode obsolete once again and its time to add maybe Deathwish mode or something; and retune everything once again....

Would assume that in the end you either have an end-game with lots of options that lets you chose what to do each week and grants a varied gameplay experience, but without much character progression in terms of better and better stats; or you have an end game with progression that makes old content obsolete with time and tends to pidgeon hole players into doing the same instance over and over again.

Not sure what the best model is. Stat progression seems to be a powerful lure to drag players through content. I don't think its really possible to combine a good 5-man game with item inflation since the amount of time spent on constantly retuning old content to keep up with item progression would be pretty significant.

Not to mention having normal mode and heroic mode now is really enough of a hassle with forming groups with people wanting to do different versions. 3 difficulty levels would add more trouble.

Would be intressting to see if an MMO could survive without item mudflation, or even level cap increases, by just adding more and more gameplay options to the world. But never allowing item/power progression to phase out any of the old content so the option to go there for a challenge remains. World of Warcraft wont change in that respect though of course.

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I think part of it is that 25-mans are easier to design, in the sense that you can pretty much guarantee you'll have at least one healing Priest, Paladin, Druid, and Shaman who can each fill different roles.

While it's possible for the devs to assume whatever they want, assuming every raid has a shaman is about the same as assuming every raid has a necromancer. If they design encounters that require a shaman (or worse a resto shaman plus 1 or 2 more buffing DPS groups), then those encounters won't be possible for a lot of alliance guilds as shamans simply are not that common. I know my own guild used to be 'maybe 1 shaman', now we're 'probably one shaman, maybe 2 if we're lucky', and we're #3 most progressed alliance on our server.

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I think this is in part a consequence of the raiding environment. In terms of balancing (PVE) content, if a boss can be tanked by a 41/20 resto/feral build druid, barring some gimmick the same tanking duties could be expected to be fairly trivial if performed by a prot warrior.

It has nothing to do with raiding, it's a choice by the developers about how much 'tankability' (or dpsability or healability or pvpability) to put into the talent tree verus how much to put in the base class. Warriors only get scaling threat moves by being prot, and only get several defensive abilites from the tree, druids get their scaling threat move, 20% health and ability to get uncrittable from feral.

Currently, switching from a prot warrior to an arms warrior to tank a boss moves it from 'normal' or 'easy' to 'extremely hard' or 'basically impossible'. If less tanking ability was in the talents and more in the basic class, then going from a prot to an arms tank would be more like moving the fight from 'easy' to 'normal' or 'normal' to 'fairly hard'.

If an encounter is tuned to be extremely difficult but doable with an off-spec tank it's almost irrelevant that the offspec *can* tank it because the prot warrior is still a better choice.

It may be irrelevant to the 1% of the playerbase that min-maxes as much as possible, but not for most players. And even min-max guilds know that not every mob is hard to tank - having an arms warrior who can do like a druid does now and pop over to do decent damage plus a shout and healing debuff after his mob is dead or the phase changes might simply be better overall.

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Edit: regarding cheap respecs, I'd be happy if the cost of respecs was eliminated entirely. The trip to Orgrimmar or wherever is annoying enough as it is, and the 50g is at this point, a formality. I'd even love if they implemented Talent Templates that you could preset and switch between at a trainer, a la Guild Wars' Templates.

This is slightly OT so feel free to delete this post, but there is a mod called "Talented" that does exactly that. I installed it a few weeks ago and can't imagine how I lived without it.

Besides allowing you to view/edit talent templates for any number of classes, it also lets you pick all your talents beforehand and apply them all at once, thus preventing the all too common 100g re-spec where you simply mis-clicked once.

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In general the game would probably be better off if classes default abilities were more robust, and their talented ones were toned down. But this would also be an immense project and would introduce a lot of potential balance issues. But I mean things like:

-Warriors/paladins/druids could have all the baseline abilities needed to tank anything. Talents would focus on improving them and increasing damage reduction, rather than giving defining abilities (like holy shield, mangle, shield slam, etc)

And the same basic thing with healing abilities and whatever else for hybrids. Now obviously you'd still want particularly specced people for certain jobs, but you would get a lot more flexibility if you could pull this off. It does have a rather huge problem in terms of itemization, though. Itemization is just as specific as talents, if not more so, and it's really not realistic for classes to be expected to have 2 or 3 sets of top-notch, enchanted gear ready to do multiple jobs at once. So you end up back where you started at specialized talents using specialized gear for specialized roles.

Feral druids end up working so well because they get defense AND offense from many similar stats far more than other classes (both Agi and Str, for example), so they really can pull off two things at once. Paladins, priests, warriors, shaman, and other druids aren't even really close to this kind of gear synergy.

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In general the game would probably be better off if classes default abilities were more robust, and their talented ones were toned down. But this would also be an immense project and would introduce a lot of potential balance issues. But I mean things like:

I agree with this, and I think it would be good if the abilities had a different flavor for each spec. Maybe something like give the prot warrior 'only against PCs' stuns, disorients, interrupts, snares, etc on abilties that give high threat in PVE so that they become worth killing in PVP; they won't kill someone, but will be able to lock them down.

Itemization is just as specific as talents, if not more so, and it's really not realistic for classes to be expected to have 2 or 3 sets of top-notch, enchanted gear ready to do multiple jobs at once.

While I'd love for the game to move towards actual hybrid gear, I currently have 3 up-to-date sets, one for DPS, one for tanking, and one for PVP. There's 2 pieces of T4 in my DPS set and a couple of PVP pieces for resilience in my tank set (IIRC just one right now), other than that they don't overlap. I also have a hydross resist set that is enchanted (though most of the set is just greens) and a healing set that's about half epic (and is decently enchanted). Maintaining 2 PVE sets with limited overlap is entirely realistic, and adding in a 3rd 'decent' quality one isn't bad either considering how often loot just gets sharded.

Feral druids end up working so well because they get defense AND offense from many similar stats far more than other classes (both Agi and Str, for example), so they really can pull off two things at once.

Feral druids don't get any defense benefit from STR, it's useful for tanking since it gives more threat but does zero for defense. In practical terms, a druid's tanking and DPS sets are going to be seperate aside from 2 pieces of tier 4, and maybe the other tier pieces. Tanking gear works OK for damage, certainly better than it does for a warrior, but it's tanking gear for a druid doesn't put out serious DPS.

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