Tobold's Blog
Friday, February 10, 2006
 
WoW Journal - 10-February-2006

Kyroc made level 52 after another fun evening in the Sunken Temple, with a really crazy group. Me, another priest, a rogue, a warlock and a mage, with only the warlocks voidwalker remotely resembling anything like a tank. All level 50 to 51, except for the mage who was level 60. You wouldn't expect such a group of mainly cloth wearers to get far, but we killed every single mob in the Sunken Temple, except for Eranikus, who wiped us with 70% of his hitpoints left.

I really enjoy the freedom to play World of Warcraft in different ways. Other games have stupid rules that prevent a level 60 to group with a bunch of level 50s. And then of course the fights get so hard that you can't do them except by using the "best" tactics of the holy trinity of tank, healer, damage dealer. By being less hard in normal dungeons, and more flexible with the level range allowed, World of Warcraft allows you to create a group of only healers and damage dealers, or other less conservative compositions. Then the same dungeon you already saw with another, more standard group, changes into a completely new experience. If the game would allow only one way to overcome the challenges it would be a lot more boring.

I picked up some loot in the Sunken Temple, especially the Gemburst Circlet quest reward for summoning and killing the avatar of Hakkar, which gives a big bonus to spirit. So I experimented a bit by emptying my mana pool, and watching my mana regeneration with different amounts of spirit. I had done a similar experiment with the health regeneration of my warrior and concluded that spirit just wasn't worth it. But for the priest the effect of spirit on mana regeneration is significant. Just putting the Gemburst Circlet improved my mana regeneration from 28 mana per second to 30 mana per second.

Of course this sort of mana regeneration is a lot slower than drinking a level 45 drink, be it bought or conjured by a mage, which gives about 100 mana per second. But when you are in a high-level dungeon with a group, sometimes fights can last quite a long time, and it is rarely possible to be "out of combat" in the middle of an event and drink up. (You *can* sit and drink up during the Hakkar summoning event, if you keep a bit by the side). Mana regeneration only starts 5 seconds after you cast your last spell, but even when soloing you can start the combat with spells, and regenerate mana while you finish the mob with your wand. So I'll have to stop neglecting my spirit with Kyroc.

I can probably tone down on stamina instead. I just need enough to be able to launch a shield and/or a fade in a group before an attacker kills me. A big mob like Eranikus kills me with 3 hits anyway, shield included. Having played a warrior for so long I tend to consider hit points as a valuable resource, but they are a lot less so for a priest. And it seems that in the next content patch, 1.10, the shield will be improved at high ranks anyway.

Patch 1.10 is doing a major rework of the priest class, improving many spells, and the talent trees. One major change is reducing the casting time of Greater Heal from 4 to 3 seconds, or 2.5 seconds if you have the Improved talent from the holy spec. Also the mana efficiency of healing spells will be improved by about 10%. Lots of very positive changes, that should make the priest class a lot more powerful and thus popular. And that is really necessary, because this is one of the classes that is always in low supply, and where lots of people like me make a priest alt more for the benefit of their guild than because of it being their first choice.

Now if you are a kind person you would assume that there is great rejoicing on the priest forums about all these big improvements. Unfortunately the average MMORPG forum visitor is a pessimist cynic only able to see the worst in any change. So what you can actually observe is the priests responding to the announcements with a polite "ho-hum, lets see if this is really any good once its implemented". And *hundreds* of angry druids descending on the priest forum, whining and howling loudly that these changes will make their class obsolete.

Now druid the ultimate hybrid class, being able to perform as warrior, rogue, or healer. It is one of the fundamental rules of MMORPG class balance that you can either be a hybrid able to everything reasonably well, or be a specialist class able to do only one thing extremely well. Hybrids are generally better at soloing, while specialists are generally more popular in groups. Druids up to now got the best of all worlds, because if they specced on their healing tree, they were healing better than a shadow priest. Only a holy spec priest was able to outheal them. With priests being in low supply, druids thus were sought after for groups, while still having all the advantages of a hybrid class for soloing. After the changes a shadow priest might be able to outheal a druid, and there might be more priests around, thus the druids fear that they will have a harder time getting an invite into a group.

Well, I played both, my main character on the US servers was a druid, and now I have Kyroc as priest. I would recommend druid as class to anyone who starts to play WoW as his very first MMORPG, because such a person is more likely to solo. As druid as newbie can experience different modes of play, and later decide which play style he likes the most. But I can't support druids wanting to be able to tank as well as a warrior, deal as much damage as a rogue, and heal as well as a priest. The priest changes in patch 1.10 are definitely necessary to improve a much neglected and unpopular class, and most other classes will profit from priests being stronger and easier to find for your group. This class envy where the members of one class are trying to hold down the members of another class to improve their relative value is a very bad thing.
Comments:
Yeah, I do love the fact that WoW allows for such diverse and insane group combinations. I've heard of all-mage and all-Hunter parties (quote from the latter - "Crowd control? We send our crowd to control their crowd!") and more.

In fact, I've been working on an even more insane scheme - with a friend, we've been working through all the instances as a two-man party - one Paladin, one Hunter. We did BFD at 28, Scarlet Monastery at 40-44 (that took a while), 90% of Uldaman at 45-47, Zul'Farrak at 49-52, and now we're two-manning our way through the Sunken Temple at level 54.

It's fantastic fun, very challenging, and, getting back to your original point, in a credit to the game design, possible!

- Hugh
 
~

/agree that WoW's class system is outstanding. Each class truly plays differently and makes for a totally different experience. I've seen this for myself and have heard this sentiment echoed all over the place from others.

I like the idea that you recommend new users play a Druid to experience all the different modes of play.

The only thing I'd take issue with is the idea that Druid's are a solo class. Rogue is the solo class. Stealth allows you to go where you wouldn't normally be able to go without a group. Sprint and Fade allow you to escape trouble where you'd normally need a group to keep from dying. Poison allows for self enchants, something you'd normally need friends and/or guild mates who enchant to do for you. The research at Play On also suggests that Rogue is one of the fastest leveling classes, while Druid is one of the slowest.

Rogue, I believe, is designed specifically with the solo gamer in mind. Druid is the hybrid - they can solo reasonably well, but Rogues specialize in it.

Stormgaard - The Se7en Samurai
 
My personal fav is having non-Warriors tanking. My original main was a Paladin and way back it used to be tough to convince parties that I could Main Tank (MT), even though I could often MT better than the Warrior due to my specialized equipment. (Seriously!)

Thankfully the WoW environment has relaxed a great deal more in the intervening time. MTs are preferably decently-outfitted Warriors but Paladins, Druids, Voidwalkers and Hunter pets will also work and be accepted by many groups.

Likewise for healers. I've seen more groups accepting Paladins as filling healer roles, usually provided that there's at least 1 Druid or Priest to serve as the Main Healer (MH). Still, it's a big change from the old days of 'we need another Priest/Druid or we can't go.'

As for soloing, I think WoW is unique in that any class is capable of decent soloing. You would think the most antithetical damage class, i.e. Priests being *the best* healing class, wouldn't be able to solo well. Just spec Shadow and you're good to go. In fact, that's what most <60 Priests do, spec Shadow, so they can solo well. I can't think of a single class that has "trouble" soloing. Granted, some clearly kill faster than others (Rogue, Mage) and some can handle tougher enemies or more enemies more easily (Warrior, Hunter) but no class is left out in the cold.
 
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I've seen more groups accepting Paladins as filling healer roles

Yeah, I play healer classes exclusively and Pallys are great healers. I've got mine decked out with all "Of the Eagle Stuff" (Int & Sta) - and he's probably my favorite one to play.

Pally's aren't as flexible as Priests are, but in many ways they are much more simple and precise. You only have one spell that takes care of poison/disease/magic effects. You only have 2 heal spells (one big, one little). You can stun. You can shield people (though not as often as a priest). It's a much more practical healer than a Priest, Shaman, or a Druid is even if it's not ultimately as powerful as a Priest. It can take a bajillion hits before it goes down too which is always nice.

Speaking of Healers I've recently discovered that Shamans take a totally different approach than all the other healing classes. They work sort of backwards. Other healing classes are what I'd call "Reactionary" healers. Party member takes a hit - healer reacts by healing party member. While the Shaman has standard healing spells, the totems they throw down at the beginning of a battle (before anyone has taken a hit) account for probably half of the overall "Healing" that they do for the group.

Stormgaard - The Se7en Samurai
 
I remember that evening in the Sunken Temple, I was the warlock :) that was one of my few 5 man runs in WoW before 60, and I enjoyed it a lot :)

Throndoth
 
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