Why I love class balance and homogenization; A response

This started off as a reply on Dinaer’s blog, but ended up going way too long.  So, we’ll see if I can figure out a trackback.

To start, go read Dinaer’s post on his excellent blog

I’m very much on the other side of this one.

Playing the beta, I’m not seeing homogenization as a problem at all.
First, a history lesson:

  • In my TBC raiding, every hunter in my guild felt pressure to go BM.  The spec simply did the most damage.  SV Hunters in raids?  Hah.  Not fun.
  • Shadow Priests made such a difference in caster DPS in long fights, that casters complained if I didn’t bring a SPriest, or give them one in their group.  Not fun.
  • For Gruul, it was by far easier to go with a Warrior main tank, and a Druid off-tank.  No Feral today?  Sure you can do it, but it is noticeably more difficult.  This lead to bringing people solely because of their spec, not their skill – or worse, asking people to respec.
  • For Karazhan, how much harder is the Opera event without a fear or a fire-spamming caster?  Illhoof without a ‘lock?
  • ZA is built around Druid offtanks, and having a Pally to AOE tank.

In all these fights – and many more (Heroic Shattered Halls, I’m looking at you) you didn’t just need a dps/tank/healer, how successful you were depended on having a specific class and spec.  Sure, you can almost always do the fight other ways, but have you ever not done content because you were missing one specific piece?  Ever left Illhoof hiding back behind his bookshelf?  I know I have.

Have you ever taken a player who is less skilled, or recruited someone who was otherwise borderline, because they fill one of these holes?  I felt a lot of pressure to look the other way on things, simply because “we really need a <fill in the blank>.”

Most of this “homogenization” isn’t taking things away from classes, so much as spreading the awesome buffs around more.  Sure, hunters aren’t unique in the “misdirect” role, warriors don’t stand alone with “last stand”, and shadow priests aren’t the only mana-battery, but this also means that more classes have these cool abilities.

Hunters can now spec SV if they want.  Prot Warriors are actually capable DPS and AOE tanka.  Shadow Priests finally bring something to the many fights that require AOE.  Trying to DPS on a prot warrior in TBC felt lame.  Now, in beta, it is a blast.  Where my SPriest was only a mana battery on packs of trash, my SPriest can rain down the pain.  Far far more fun now.

The Alternative

If you don’t spread abilities around, do you keep designing fights in ways that pressure you to use a certain tank?  Do we get the Deathknight caster-tanking fight, and resign the Pally tank to DPS (or the bench) for that fight?  This simply isn’t fun, and is a major source of stress in setting up 10 and 25 man raids.  Why do anything to make raids harder, before you even get started?

This new method means that bosses can have unique abilites, something more than tank and spank, with the presumption that someone in the raid has an answering abilitity.  Every tanking class can do AOE tanking, and there are far more ’emergency buttons’ than before.  Misdirect has been passed around to rogues.  Mana-batteries galore.  All this means that you can actually build in a need for these abilities – a chance for more people to shine – while not requiring one specific spec/class/race..

Yes, my Priest is loosing Star Shards.  I love Star Shards, so it hurts a bit, *but* look at the new options as a Priest.  I can AOE.  I can tank heal.  I can group heal.  I can do great reactive heals.  I can rock preventive heals.   I choose the role I want, and there is a spec for it.  The variety is amazing.

For my warrior, this ‘class balance’ means that I can DPS as Prot spec.  I can go enjoy PVP as Prot, a laughable idea now.  The spec that I need for filling ‘my raid nitch’ is no longer is a chain around my neck the rest of the week.

This ‘class balance and homogenization’ vastly improves my play experience, and is one of the main things I’m looking forward to in WotLK.

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4 Comments on “Why I love class balance and homogenization; A response”

  1. Jacob Says:

    “This ‘class balance and homogenization’ vastly improves my play experience, and is one of the main things I’m looking forward to in WotLK.”

    Yes, I agree. It’s frustrating to see encounters that assume that my guild has classes that we just don’t have.


  2. Chronic Says:

    I should’ve read this before I posted my own reply on Dinaer’s blog; I agree totally.

    Hopefully DP makes up for the loss of starshards somewhat, although I realise they’re not exactly the same.

  3. Dinaer Says:

    I see your point of view, and I don’t disagree with you. I am sure that it will be easier to put together raids after the expansion. I am just looking at things from a different side.

    Maybe its more touchy-feely, or I’m showing closet RP tendencies, but I want my classes to be unique not for any game-mechanic reason, but just because uniqueness is something I value in my toons.

    I leveled as a rogue, but when it was time to make an alt I made a prot pally. Why? Because my guild didn’t have any. It was unique within my gamer-friend circle. Now that my prot pally is 70, I made a shadow priest. Why? Because my guild doesn’t have any. See the pattern… that’s what I value in the game. Thus, homogenization is directly in opposition to what I enjoy.

    Ultimately, what really set me off was the removal of priest racials. I think that’s a crime. The other stuff is, to me, unfortunate, but not game-destroying.

  4. […] info By Dinaer Categories: General and WotLK expansion not coding wrote a very nice rebuttal to my original post about class […]

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