Tobold's Blog
Monday, January 28, 2008
Extreme specialization

My mage in World of Warcraft is an exercise in extreme specialization. He is specialized in frost damage, and nothing else. I hit level 50 during the weekend, which meant that he can now use Flasks of Supreme Power, giving +70 to spell damage. Expensive, but it's okay, my warrior can make them and gather the mats. So with the flask, the wizard oil, and all of the "of the frozen wrath" armor my mage is wearing, he now has over +350 to frost spell damage. My frostbolts do over 700 points of damage, nearly 1500 for crits, and as mobs of my level have less than 3000 health, I can kill them with 2 to 4 bolts. They rarely ever reach me.

I have an addon named Recount, which measures damage per second. Funnily my level 50 mage does more dps on a level 50 mob than my level 70 protection warrior does on a level 70 mob. Because the warrior is also specialized, but in tanking. That works well in groups, but not all that well in soloing and PvP. Soloing with the mage is very easy, I'd guess he'd be very useful in a group, and in PvP as well.

Why is it that of the three group roles: tanking, healing, and damage dealing, only the damage dealing is really good in soloing and PvP. The other two abilities seem like support roles, and when there is nothing to support (solo) or very little cooperation (WoW PvP), these characters aren't quite as good. No wonder tanks and healers are always in short supply for groups, people prefer classes that solo better. Is the future hybrid classes like druid healers and death knight tanks, who can then easily switch to damage dealing when soloing? Or will we see better damage abilities for holy priests and protection warriors in the future?
That's more of a problem with warriors than tanks in general I think. Paladins usually prefer a protection build after a certain level to aoe grind mobs down, and level faster than a retribution build. With druids tanking and melee dps talents are in the same tree and makes it very easy to switch, provided they carry two sets of gears for each role.
You bring up a good point, Tobold. A good friend of mine plays a protection speced Paladin, and while he is a fantastic tank in heroics and Kara, he in unable to do much of anything alone. I am an Elemental Shaman, but I used to be restoration speced. Two contributing factors to my switch was that I wanted to be better in PvP and I wanted to be able to actually get my daily quests done in a timely manner.

Its worth noting that any class in wow can solo, obviously to various degrees of success. But I think its interesting how Blizzard's approach to soloing has worked out. In Everquest the vast majority of classes couldn't solo. Sure they could kill a few mobs, but the downtime they'd incur from it ment soloing was vastly inferior to grouping. The exception was Necromancers who had a number of spells to mitigate the downtime, and druids who could kill 4 things at once for the same mana cost of killing 1.

Wow got rid of the downtime concern by adding food and water, and basically that removed the need to have a healer with you while leveling. Instead the idea became that so long as you can kill 1 mob before it kills you, your fine since you'll be back up to full to kill another mob in moments. And while every class can kill 1 mob there level before it kills them, obviously the classes whose role is designed around DPS are going to kill it faster, and the faster it dies, the faster their back to full killing another mob.

Blizzard recently made healing gear grand about 1/3 as much spell damage also. This was to help healers I find that the limiter on soloing is usually not the gear but the spec. If I'm for example a Holy Speced priest there is nothing preventing me from equipping a full set of DPS cloth that I have been gathering and carry around with me. (Like how my Elemental Shaman still carries around my resto gear for fights in which extra healing may be needed) Nothing is stopping a prot warrior from carrying around a ton of items with atkpower and some nice weapons.

No the problem is not gear, its spec and I feel the only solution would be to do something I believe Everquest 2 has. There is an alter or some kind of item in Everquest 2 that you attain from raiding, once you get it, it allows you to switch back and forth between two predetermined character specs free of charge. So a warrior could set one spec to be Prot and one to be Arms, and when he's raiding he can switch to prot mode, throw on his prot gear and go help his guild, and then when he's done switch back to Arms and go do his daily quests and whatnot.

The current Respec system just seems like a needless money sink that harms healers, hybrids and tanks more then it does pure DPS classes.

One last note, A lot of people have been suggesting some type of conversion for Defense gear where say every X defense also grants X atk power. similar to how healing now grants spell damage. The problem with that, and the reason its unlikely to ever happen is that a healer who's healing gets no benefit from the +spelldamage he's gained on his gear, it only benefits him when he's not healing. A druid or warrior who suddenly gets a bunch of atk power added to their gear is actually going to end up as a better tank, they'll be hitting harder, and hitting harder results in more aggro and obviously more overall damage for the raid.
i can only speak about the prot warrior thing cause i know that problem toooo well (been mt from early MC to naxx in our guild).

the problem you discribe *was* a *big* problem back then pre bc but it is no problem anymore since devestate.
put on your fury dps gear, switch to dual wield and devastate the hell out of the mobs.
with good dps gear you have nearly no downtime and kill fast anough for everything.
This is why the new class is going to be bad news. I can't help but predict balance issues and guild drama because of it.

I wonder just how many players would miss talent trees if Blizzard's next mmorpg doesn't have them - I wouldn't.
Talent tree's are an interesting idea with some big implementation problems. IMHO all talent tree's should include *reasonable* DPS capabilities. For warriors it should be your stance/equipment which determines if you're tanking or DPSing. Make the differences between stances more pronounced and now you're cooking with gas. Effectively druids already have this with their ability to switch between bear and cat form.
Up until a year ago i only played tank classes in MMO's last summer though i started an Assassin in eq2, and found the same thing you did that soloing was much more easier on damage class than a tank or healer.

I think that tank and healers should have some sort of Damage modifier while they are soloing so that they have similar dps as solo dps classes.

Like while the healer is solo all damage spell or meele hit for 2,3,4 more than normal (so there on par with dps classes)
"I think that tank and healers should have some sort of Damage modifier while they are soloing so that they have similar dps as solo dps classes."

That would cause problems in PvP. Imagine a deftank with similar dps as a rogue, but all his damage reducing talents. Or a priest with damage like a mage in addition to all his healing spells. DPS-classes would be crushed without a chance ;)

[ That would be nice after all that time when my poor holypriest got crushed without a chance by some rogue or something *evil grin* ]
like beezle said: "the problem you discribe *was* a *big* problem back then pre bc but it is no problem anymore since devestate.
put on your fury dps gear, switch to dual wield and devastate the hell out of the mobs.
with good dps gear you have nearly no downtime and kill fast anough for everything."

i know many prot warriors and haveing one myself. Only few of them have these issues but always they lack some important things: 1) a decent off equip (which should no problem to aquire if someone really wants it)
2) 3/3 focused rage (protection tree)
3) devaste 1/1 (protection tree)

All you have to to ist put on your off equip - equip two 1h weapons go bersekr stance and use whirlwind and devastete. there you go.

and GOOD NEWS Blizzard has found a way to ease soloing for protection warriors - if you look into the PTR 2.4 Patch Notes you will find:

"- Devastate now strikes with both weapons while dual wielding."

This is Blizzards way to give protection warriors the equivalent to 1/3 Healing = +spelldmg.

Yes it takes a bit time but go AV grind Honor and get twice the Mainhand swords, axes or maces (speed 2.6) so you can maximize the weapon dmg devastete will deal from your offhand.
Yay! Dual-wield Devastate in 2.4.

I'd disagree with your assertion that healers aren't good in PvP, Tobold. A good healer is incredibly powerful in AV, WSG (having a healer behind the flag-runner, whether the flag-runner's cooperating or not, is the difference between getting the flag back and not getting it back) and AB, at least.

Holy priests are horrible to solo, though.
Ah, good news. Dual wield Devastate would be exactly what a protection warrior needs for soloing. And as he is unlikely to dual wield in a group / raid, the change doesn't affect group play at all.
"- Devastate now strikes with both weapons while dual wielding."
This was from the fake patch notes. Doesn't mean it can't happen, of course.
When this are really fake patch notes than Blizzard should copy that concept - the idea is quite good because prots would be enabled to solo better and can put out ok-ish dps in raid situations where there is no need for their protection capabilities. kudos to the fake-notes-writer.^^
a dps dmg run is what you get when you take a game based in killing Dragons and convert it in a fantasy pewpew pvp game

the designers already admited the classes are not balanced, changing the game style destroy the style more
Why not turn it the other way around. I think its cool that soma classes that are good at pve are hard to level. It makes these classes even more prestigeful and interesting to me.

In fact I wish that Blizzard would add some waek and fragile classe, that would be a great challenge to level for guilds and ambitous players. Of course these classe should some skills that would make it worth the effort.

The problem with WOW from a pve perspektiv is that all the classe allways have to be pvp-balanced. That sucks because every class ends up being the same!!

So plz give me for exampel a very fragile healer that shines in that would be a real guild-quest :)
As long as damage is an exclusive group role, there will always be a huge discrepancy in soloability.

The moment you remove damage as an exclusive group role is the moment you can even out the soloability factor.

Since tank Druids and Protection Paladins don't need as much as a boost as Prot Warriors, I vote that all warriors get a new trainable skill:

Battle Knowledge: When in Battle or Berserker stance, XX% of your Defense rating is converted to Attack Power. With 490 being the "uncrittable" Defense rating, a 200% conversion = 980 AP. Add that to normal Attack Power and you should be pushing 1200 or more AP.

Now your warrior can keep his mad T6 epics, strap on a shield (or DW) and switch stances to destroy his opponents.

By making it tied to stance, you don't have to worry about a Warrior tanking through DPS. It would also help high-geared warrior tank lower instances... they will be able to stay in Battle stance and generate more rage through DPS.

Oh, and while a Prot Paladin can AoE grind pretty easily, it takes me forever to kill an equal mob in 1v1 combat while wearing my tanking gear.
The addition of free + damage did interesting things for Holy Paladins.

I used to use a mix of ret and spell damage gear in a mix of greens to ilvl 125 epics for soloing. Even then it was a chore.

Now? Supreme laziness I swap my pvp trinket for a epic spell damage trinket and spend 30-40 mins to do 6 dailys and I pretty much covered for a day to two.

With the additions of pvp & Arena, healing specced players at 70 are actually relativily common, A random scan of lfg for heroic daily would easily find 20% healers. Now tanks? Tanks are totally different.
I'm just wondering why on earth is everybody looking for similar soloability/PvP/Raid capabilities for the classes? IMO the classes should be unique and filling a spot in the overall game somewhere.

The nerfs and tweaks Blizz has done so far have changed the 'power level' of the classes from desirable to undesirable (for example shammy was almost extinct sround TBC), and that has caused the class imbalance in the higher levels. I started a druid when it was thought to be the least capable of anything and at the moment it's considered the most versatile tanking/dps'ing class around... well, pally's excluded.

The classes should be more tightly confined to their basic descriptions IMO. This would create the difference of 'easy to solo, helpless in raid without class x' and 'hard to solo, invaluable in raid' kind of scenarios which would complement the end game as whole.

We already have seen the dire need for tanks and healers all around the game. Will this continue or will Blizz do as Tobold suggested: bring in more hybrids?

I would much rather see the reverse, even if that meant my druid being the laughing stock again.


PS. Then again, my shadow specced, healing geared priest would be a blast!
IMO, the reason that ppl look for solo-ability on all classes is that all classes need gold for raid repair bills, to pay for gear upgrades (gems, enchants, kits), mount money, and other expenses...

So the DPS classes have much less of a time-sink on general questing, farming, and dailies than the non-DPS tanks and healers.
Hybrids don't solve the problem of solo-ability vs. group play. People always think of feral druids and their ability to tank or dps by switching gear, but that's the only example where that is true - a single spec for a single class. Every other hybrid class and spec suffers the same problem as warriors and priests. A druid specced for healing can't solo any better than a priest specced for healing. A prot pally can't dps any better than a prot warrior, etc.

As long as the talent trees remain so deeply specialized and exclusive, and re-speccing so expensive, tanks and healers are going to have it harder than dps classes. I still think blizz should enable a 2-template sytem where you can have one spec for soloing and one spec for grouping (or pvp, or whatever).

The problem lies in the fact that blizzard is hung up on PVE being solo till end game and the fact that the game has become defined by the terms "maximized" and "efficient".

If as a healer I am expected to spend 50 gold to spec to run the instance. then spec 50 gold to go back to my pvp or dps spec, then it has just become inefficient to run a 5 man and group with my friends or a pug. What is the chance I'll make 100 gold on an instance run?

I agree in part with you but the only way it would work is if they rewarded group play more than solo play. Not punish you for soloing.
If they'd removed the grouping penalty instead of increasing the quest and mob kill experience rewards, then people would be 5 manning thier tails off when they leveled thier alts. It would be more efficient to do so. I also think it would go a long way to rebuilding the disentigrating social structure on many servers.

I think the real thing that most people miss about vanilla wow is we had to group to get decent gear when levleling so we made friends and joined guilds and created server wide social structures. Now they are all cracking and splitting and falling apart because people solo to end game and expect to have the same fun social time even though they put no effort into forming those ties with the people they'll need to raid or do PVP.

I agree. Most players seem to rocket themselves up to 70 that they have no idea how to work in a group.

My biggest pet pev is the cost of respec (being a proc warrior). Throwing around 50 gold to respec is ridiculas. Grinding as proc warrior is just 'etarded, no one wants you in a BG and if you're on a pvp server, getting your ass handed to you in world pvp is just demoralising.

I don't have a fix, but I think being allowed to respec once a week for free (resets every tuesday) would be a step in the right direction. If you want to do more then once a week you have to pay.

just me 2 cents

I agree wit you Sam: Blizard is ruining the social aspect of WoW by extending the soloability of the original content to redicilous extremes.

It's like someone said earlier in this blog: there is a tutorial to the end game raiding in WoW, and it's called the levelling. Now that the levelling is made completely soloable, the end game content starts to seem more and more 'challenging' to the late comers (like myself), because the grouping and learning the group dynamics is lacking.

I'm levelling a prot warrior alt at the moment, too, and it's incredibly hard to group for instances nevertheless: people just avoid them or get a boost run for the quests.

Instead of putting emphasis on the classes and/or their balance at the moment, Blizz should consider increasing the grouping, create the social tools for LFG:ing and guilds and start to work the game as a MMOG instead of MMORaid.

On my holy priest I do it this way:

I stopped even trying.

Now that there are dailies I just do those. No point even trying to solo mobs. Maybe that's part of why they made dailies. Of course dailies aren't exactly "fun" they're just another grind. But I can at least do them.

To answer Glen, there are reasonable +damage talents in both holy and disc. If you're just doing 5 man non-heroic and only play around at BGs then you can take those talents and be good enough. But to go beyond you have to really maximize your healing ability (or for BGs take survival talents). I recently respecced out of all +damage talents, (smites went from 1400/1900 crit to 1000/1400 crit) and now I can't even think about going near Skettis. I can do the Banish More Demons daily as long as I am careful.
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