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Off-specs and TBC


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#1 Mearis

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 03:16 PM

I am not interested so much in the relative power of the traditional offspecs come TBC, but in the social impact that having several viable builds will have on guilds, expecially guilds that aren't totally cutting edge and hardcore.

Right now the only true class that can fullfil two roles in raids viably is the warrior, but apparently in TBC there will be an attempt at reigning in the relative damage of warrior to other DPS classes, and making all the various offspec options of classes viable - shadow priests received a huge boost, druids received huge boosts to both of their offspecs, paladins might end up making viable dps and offspec classes, etc...

Right now, priests/druids/paladins in particular have only one viable role in raids and offspecs are mostly so people can be more viable outside of raids and in pvp, so even the people who played those classes for the versitility ends up pigeon holed into doing one thing and one thing only in raids. Priests at least tend to be very happy healing, and even our shadow priest respec'd to a PI build and is an excellent healer, while we have several paladins who are already looking forward to loldps'ing come expansion, and druids who can't wait till they are viable as feral or moonkins.

How will the influx of all those non-healing roles impact healing in raids? For warriors at least, we have one active protection tank, and every other warrior is either MS or Fury with a smattering of points in prot, and they share tanking fairly evenly, but all jump on the chance to be DPS whenever they can. Will we see the same thing for healers, with healers choosing 'offspecs' and accepting a healing role in raids, but with a sub-optimal build so they can be self sufficient outside of raids? Will we see a divide and no longer associate priest/druid/paladin with healer? How will people decide among hybrids who ends up in what role?

What I predict happen for my guild at least is that people will end up taking sub-optimal raid specs that allow them to perform their raid role passably, and spread out the healing/damage gear evenly among healers - this is obviously very poor for a raid progress stand point but the least socially painful option.

#2 spronk

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 03:43 PM

totally unguessable until they open up the 25 man raids and we see how the bosses are. naxx type, where every person has a very clear role and spec? or MC, where anyone can do anything they want?

#3 Nite_Moogle

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 03:49 PM

The problem with off specs is that as someone else noted in a different thread, the best way to improve your raid is to take as few healers as possible, the fewest tanks possible, and stack the rest of the raid with DPS. Off specs tend to be a sad compromise between healing and damage or healing and tanking. Even with the right gear, you simply can't be as effective of a healer without the healing talents, and you can't be as effective as DPS or as a tank even with the the talents and gear for it. If a fight calls for you to change roles in the middle it's an even harder trade-off thanks to item budget compromises (ask any druid with Genesis). Increasing the depth of the trees to 41 talents and making the deepest abilities knockout awesome just widens this gap; you're going to see a colossal difference between a Shaman with 41 resto and another Shaman with 21 resto in identical gear, and the same holds true for most other healing classes. Combine this with the non-healing gear selection that non-healing specs often choose even within loot systems that cater to them and you have a significant difference in healing capacity.

The designers have tried to make some other abilities useful in the larger context to promote synergy, but at some point the question will arise of whether or not it's better to just have that class be a healer, or to replace that class with a DPS class. A 41 Ret paladin looks great on paper: keeps other judgements up longer, improves crit for the rest of the raid, can heal passably, but if your raid doesn't need the healing and already has 2 other Paladins for the major blessings, at what point are you just better off dropping him and putting in a rogue that will make up the DPS and then some? How much of a Rogue's damage does a Shaman have to maintain in order for his buffs to the group to win out? Does the mana a Shadow Priest can pump to a group matter enough to warrant a spot instead of a mage? Many of these questions can only be answered through the encounter design we haven't yet seen. There's a damn fine line to be walked in terms of balance: the sum of a hybrid must be greater than each of its parts but none of them alone can eclipse the classes whose primary responsibilities that the hybrid infringes on, they must instead rely on other classes to take advantage of their benefits. An enhancement shaman does no good in a group of casters, and a shadow priest is a huge waste in a group of melees. There's some serious juggling going on to make this all work, and I think the answer will be different for each guild depending on its population, bench depth, and overall class distribution.

Eh, my nostalgia goggles aren't as good as they used to be.


#4 Manabar

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:05 PM

I just hope we don't see a huge influx of feral and moonkin druids. I've read threads about druids believing they are going to be on-par with mage/rogue dps as far as end game goes and feral druids thinking the same. All of us have seem the short clip of the feral druid hitting for 2500ish and even one major crit for 4000 but really, I don't think that those specs are going to be more viable than a druid that was spec'd for healing.

That being sad, there are a few other classes (paladins) that could turn out bad if they forget their primary rolls and try to retard-adin spec attempting to compete with other dpsers. I for one think that there are clear defined rolls for classes in a raid set up but I guess we won't know until some of the 25man content is available.

#5 Uziel

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:16 PM

I was intially a paladin, and when my guild started raids, I was apalled at the idea of being a healer more than dealing damage. I ended up making a warrior and am the MT of my guild. With that said, my warrior will be full protection, and I will begin playing my paladin again as a retribution specc'd pvp character. I will likely hop into a few raids as my paladin though to pick up materials for the crafted weapons if need be.

Plenty of guild members will be going "non-raid" specs (in the content we know now) and it kind of worries me. But then again, the arena system and new pvp content makes me think I will enjoy PVP more.

#6 Feorthas

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:22 PM

That being sad, there are a few other classes (paladins) that could turn out bad if they forget their primary rolls and try to retard-adin spec attempting to compete with other dpsers. I for one think that there are clear defined rolls for classes in a raid set up but I guess we won't know until some of the 25man content is available.

Oh, I dunno; Crusader Strike still seems pretty awesome, even with the 10s CD (up from 6). Keeping up all of the raid's judgments on one target while doing at least the same damage as a mildly rage-starved BC MS warrior with equivalant gear sounds like a good deal to me.

I think I generally agree with the sentiment that we really can't tell what BC is going to require in a raid until we actually ~see~ some of these raids though; 'off'-specs may be extremely valuable to have, with the population of non-hybrid classes suffering in raids as a result, and they may be utterly useless with raids catering entirely to 25-man warrior/mage/priest groups (the other extreme). Of course, I'd ~like~ things to be somewhere in the middle since I tend to like my spec, as well as see the value in at least a few others, but that's just me.
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#7 henaki

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:23 PM

Ret Paladins actually seem like the MOST justified off-spec, to elaborate:
Once the other 2 Paladins place a Judgement on a boss, they can continue tanking/healing without interruption, which leads to more "healing" (since the Paladin doesn't have to interrupt healing to place Judgement of Light on the target) and mana regeneration done. They provide about 30-36% crit (assuming 15-18 damage dealers), and if they require even a small amount of upkeep they become more viable DPS (similar to a Warlock, since Paladins regen mana through getting healed). I think Ret Paladins look fine in the future, just a nitpick.

However, after the first Ret Paladin, they are fairly useless.
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#8 Judia

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:32 PM

We cant comment on "off specs" because we have no idea what the "mainstream spec" of the hybrid classess will be come expansion.

There is only 1 real rule with these situations.
Everyone will want to dps, and not enough people will want to heal/tank.

Its like playing football (soccer) in the park, doesnt matter how many people you have in a kick-about, noone wants to go in goal.
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#9 Judia

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:35 PM

[Double Post]
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#10 Zephro

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:38 PM

I just hope we don't see a huge influx of feral and moonkin druids. I've read threads about druids believing they are going to be on-par with mage/rogue dps as far as end game goes and feral druids thinking the same. All of us have seem the short clip of the feral druid hitting for 2500ish and even one major crit for 4000 but really, I don't think that those specs are going to be more viable than a druid that was spec'd for healing.

I hope we do, because that was how the class was sold in the promotional literature, the user manual, and the trip from 1-60. A lot of druids are justifiably pissed off that they rolled a 'hybrid' class and ended up a second-class healer - not because they don't like healing, but because being stuck in one role is the very opposite concept of hybrid.

If the hybrid aspects of the class are not viable in TBC, expect to see even fewer druids running around than there are now. The class is the least-played for a reason, and I am seriously considering deleting mine to focus on other classes that can do what they say they'll do on the tin. At the moment the only reason to bring a druid to many raids is 1) GOTW and 2) Innervate and I'm not prepared to play a two-spell buffbot who takes a priest's spot on a raid.

Mearis: to answer your question, there are only really two options. Either you enforce specs or allow a free-for-all. If you allow a free-for-all, buffs to dps will result in even fewer people wanting to tank or heal, and your guild will be short of those roles. You can't easily force one person to spec healing while another specs dps without causing a load of horrible drama.

In the past this wasn't a problem because there was a clearly optimal raid spec for each of these classes. All druids must spec resto, etc. Now with other specs more viable it's going to be harder to argue that. It'll be very very difficult to say, ok, priest numbers 1 and 2 must spec Holy, but number 3 gets to go shadow!

So yeah, a huge drama-bomb and lots of deleted healing characters. That's what I predict.

#11 Cathela

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:41 PM

The problem with off specs is that as someone else noted in a different thread, the best way to improve your raid is to take as few healers as possible, the fewest tanks possible, and stack the rest of the raid with DPS.

This works well if you need the same number of healers and tanks for each encounter within an instance. Otherwise it fails horribly.

If different encounters within an instance require different numbers of tanks and healers, your options are:

(1) Overload the raid with both pure healers and pure tanks and let them twiddle their thumbs on encounters where they're not needed.

(2) Have a large number of benchwarmers standing outside the instance waiting to be called in for the encounters where they're needed.

(3) Bring people who can actually switch roles as needed for any given fight.

I'm sure some guilds will stubbornly try to make (1) work, and a few large heavily-progression-oriented guilds will be able to brute-force their way forward with (2), but for the vast majority (3) is going to be the most viable and most efficient option.
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#12 Snow

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:41 PM

We cant comment on "off specs" because we have no idea what the "mainstream spec" of the hybrid classess will be come expansion.

There is only 1 real rule with these situations.
Everyone will want to dps, and not enough people will want to heal/tank.

Its like playing football (soccer) in the park, doesnt matter how many people you have in a kick-about, noone wants to go in goal.

It seems the majority of warriors/paladins in my guild are most excited about tanking. 2 of us, including myself, are going prot, 1 is staying holy/ret, 1 is going fully holy, and I only know 1 who is planning on going ret. I suppose the general sway of the masses might be different though.

#13 Judia

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:42 PM

@Zephro
Yes because Druids are the only class in the game and should therefore be the default best at everything :eyeroll:
Lets not turn this into a "Why my hybrid class should be able to do everything" thread on page 1 please.
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#14 Judia

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:49 PM

I'm sure some guilds will stubbornly try to make (1) work, and a few large heavily-progression-oriented guilds will be able to brute-force their way forward with (2), but for the vast majority (3) is going to be the most viable and most efficient option.

I think you missed part of the OP's point.
It is a misconception to believe that your hybrids will be changing smoothly from tanking 1 boss, then healing the next, and dpsing the third. With the new deeper talent trees and specialized itemization the difference between your healing hybrids and your tanking hybrids will be massive, and similarly with your dps hybrids. Sure your cat druid might be able to swap into cast form, but that alone does not make them a viable healer. And if you can get by with a half-arsed healer, you probably dont need them healing at all.

Hybrids will be more specialized in the expansion, which will singularize their role to a great degree than current content, if that content is not to be trivial (i.e. your Resto Druid can MT it). As the game stands any healing class (regardless of talents) can chuck on a set of healing gear and be an acceptable healer. This is less likely to be true in the expansion, and therefore the hybrids are becoming less versatile within a given instance (though more versatile if you include their ability to change talents between instances).
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#15 Mearis

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:52 PM

I am not so concerned about the usefulness of relative offspecs; for the sake of argument suppose that the various hybrids are all useful and worthy of a raid spot: What now?

I am more concerned how guilds will handle who will do what role assuming blizzard obtains their stated goal of having all specs be viable and useful. I rather enjoy healing, so I am going to spec into the best healing spec once I hit 70 provided there is hard single group content that drops useful upgrades, and that the group content provides better upgrades than single person mindless grinding as is currently the status quo.

I am rather concerned about what Judia and Zephro pointed out, with all healers wanting now to be DPS'ers and nobody wanting to heal; or, similar to the current situation now, where all warriors are fury with a smidget of points in prot and tank only when strictly necessary but do DPS whenever they can and take a mixture of DPS / tank gear to be able to fullfil either role. We never forced specs, and I absolutely don't intend to do it, but we tend to 'enforce' roles, so we ask shadow priests/feral druids to heal if the raid calls for it. I just have this dystopian vision of a future where shadow priests unwilling heal fury warriors who unwillingly tank, and everyone fights over who gets to be the one dps'ing.

#16 Zephro

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:53 PM

@Zephro
Yes because Druids are the only class in the game and should therefore be the default best at everything :eyeroll:
Lets not turn this into a "Why my hybrid class should be able to do everything" thread on page 1 please.

Hey, I'm just responding to posts. I'm not arguing that druids should be able to do everything, I'm arguing that they're boring to play and should match the class description, and that TBC is going to highlight this with deeper talent trees.

#17 Manabar

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:54 PM

and the trip from 1-60. A lot of druids are justifiably pissed off that they rolled a 'hybrid' class and ended up a second-class healer - not because they don't like healing, but because being stuck in one role is the very opposite concept of hybrid.

Blizzard has defined two "actual" 'hybrid' classes in the game, the paladin and the shaman. Instant cast spells of both of these classes do not restart the weapon swing timer. This is how hybrids were defined. A druid is much more a healer than a "dps" class.

Healers rerolling? I don't think so. Some people take pride in the fact that yes, a healer class is more difficult to play than a dps class. They feel like they are contributing more to a raid environment and in many cases they are. I really don't foresee a major change in the number of poeple that play their respective classes right now except for maybe more warlocks. Paladins and Shamans are in a different ball game really though seeing as they have just been introduced cross-faction.


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#18 Zephro

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 04:59 PM

I just have this dystopian vision of a future where shadow priests unwilling heal fury warriors who unwillingly tank, and everyone fights over who gets to be the one dps'ing.

I pretty much agree with you. It seems there are three possible outcomes:

1) you find the right number of people willing to spec the right number of ways to perfeclty serve guild progression. This is fantastically unlikely.

2) you enforce specs. This is at least consistent, but the guy forced to do something he doesn't like is going to resent the other members of his class, and that's a problem.

3) you have a free-for-all. Most people spec for DPS + 20 or fewer points in some other role, and only heal or tank when it's absolutely required. This is also going to cause resentment, especially if you have a forced upgrade policy - think about the Tier 4 sets, for example. You can choose your DPS reward or your healer reward. Your raid is leaning on you to choose the healing reward because they need more healing, but you hate healing and now that DPS is buffed you feel much more viable, plus it'll help you solo and grind and farm... It's not going to be pretty.

#19 Nite_Moogle

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 05:05 PM

(3) Bring people who can actually switch roles as needed for any given fight.

I don't disagree, however, the encounter design we see plays a massive part in this. The complete lack of variety in MC killed any real need for anything outside of a focused role, and there wasn't much of an improvement in BWL except that you need more tanks than before. AQ is a marginal improvement, but Naxx is the real dealbuster. There's a completely different "ideal"' raid set up for almost every single boss within the zone, which sounds like a great way to promote hybrid use. You know you'll want/need 8 tanks for 4H and at least 2 healers per group for Sapphiron, but you still have to get through Patchwerk with only 16 slots left for DPS classes. Using hybrids appears to be the answer on the surface, but the problem is the encounters are so maddeningly difficult that the difference between cat or retnoob DPS and true rogue DPS can be the difference between victory and defeat. If the requirements for winning each fight in Naxx were loosened by about 10%, then really focused guild with deep benches would beat it much more quickly by swapping people in and out, but at the same time it would make the fights much more hybrid friendly. Hybrids will never defeat a deep bench of focused players, and that's a massive problem with the perception of how quickly raid content is completed by the player base.

Eh, my nostalgia goggles aren't as good as they used to be.


#20 Cathela

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Posted 15 November 2006 - 05:15 PM

I think you missed part of the OP's point.
It is a misconception to believe that your hybrids will be changing smoothly from tanking 1 boss, then healing the next, and dpsing the third. With the new deeper talent trees and specialized itemization the difference between your healing hybrids and your tanking hybrids will be massive, and similarly with your dps hybrids. Sure your cat druid might be able to swap into cast form, but that alone does not make them a viable healer. And if you can get by with a half-arsed healer, you probably dont need them healing at all.

Yeah, I understand that argument, I just don't buy it. Player skill and intelligence (including the insight to pick up proper gear) has always been an order of magnitude more important than talent spec, and I don't see anything in the new trees to significantly change that.

And setting things up so that hybrids are useless in any role except the one they're specced for would be phenomenally poor game design. Blizzard has come up with some boners, but they've never done anything that stupid.
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