Tobold's Blog
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Switching gear

A reader sent me an interesting idea to solve the problem of tanks and healers being unpopular because hard to solo: What if there was gear which had different stats depending on whether you are alone or grouped? That way you could for example equip a tank with gear that helps tanking in a group, but increases his damage output when he is questing alone. Or healing gear that has more spell damage and less healing bonus whenever the healer isn't grouped. What do you think?
I would prefer healing and tanking quests. It should not be hard to make some quest where you for example should heal a NPC or tank for a group of NPC's. In that way people would also get some practice in healing and tanking outside instances. And isn't that the hole point with quest - to learn your characters skills???
Funnily enough, the cheap new blue rep PvP set allowed me to switch to Retribution (from prot) on my pallie for soloing at a fraction of the cost I would have had before the patch went live.
I like Relmstein's solution better (as written here: )

He says:

I think that there is a nice solution to addressing the different itemization needs for classes caused by talent trees. Quite frankly the current gem bonuses on gear are underused at the moment and most people don't even bother getting the correctly colored gems. The bonuses are simply too small and really don't add anything to the gear. In the expansion though I can seem them being used to increased the number of different classes who could use an item. Picture an item with different gem bonuses and the one that is active is dependent on a master gem slot. Put a red gem in that slot and the item gains intelligence and spell damage. Put a blue gem in that slot and it gains intelligence and +healing.

Example Item:
Gauntlets of Extreme Usefulness
Type: Plate
AC: 1200
Sta: 25
Master Gem Slot: ( )
Red Bonus: 20 str and 20 critical strike
Yellow Bonus: 20 int and 40 healing
Blue Bonus: 20 sta and 20 defense

Why would an item system like this be more useful than simply switching all dungeons to a token based system like badges of justice? This was the first question that occurred to me and it was easy to answer once I thought about the benefits to talent respecs. This system would easily allow players to change their talent tree focus without forcing them to collect an entire new set of gear. A tanking warrior who wants to go mortal strike for a bit could simply buy a few red gems to change his gear.

This would almost eliminate the problem of loot dropping in a dungeon which no one in the group could use. Players are already used to customizing their gear with gems and I think this would be a logical expansion to the system. The only problem of course is that it would make fights over items much more common. Though there would be a high amusement factor in seeing a feral, moonkin, and resto druid all fighting over the same item.

Another possible solution would be to have two sets of specs to choose from. One for soloing and one for doing raids/dungeons and such.

Of course you would still need two sets of gear, but your little gnome warrior could do well as fury-specced while questing and grinding and on the next evening he could be a decent tank in your next raid event -- only with changing armor and weapon and activating the second spec set.

Same applies to Druids wich could have both a Feral and a Resto spec set.

Yet, note every class might benefit from this in equal ways.
tobold can you review the lich king expansion ?
my main is a warlock so i don't have this problem much but i'd like to see more gear that goes along the lines of the benediction/anathema (the lvl60 priest staff of awesomness)
Don't think it would work. How many times are you grouped, and not near each other? i.e. warlock gathering souldshards, waiting for a queue, etc.
Gear helps but I don't think the fundamental problem with the shortage is gear. The game rewards DPS more than support. It's that simple. As long as that dynamic holds true there is nothing they can do in world of solocraft to fix the imbalance.

And even when grouping was basically mandatory we had a lesser shortage. The two roles are not as desirable. Thats a challenge of game design the devs have avoided.
I suggest something like the Priest staff from pre-TBC. In one hand you had a very good healing staff and later you could have very good damage staff. If more items had this type of benefit it might help. Adding +damage to healing gear was a step in the right direction though.
Hmm, I tend to shy away from this idea a bit. We already have people that will fight over gear, adding additional stats will just make the Tanking and Healing classes have to compete more for the gear they need. Part of the reason I enjoy playing a priest is that my items are mine alone, I don't have to compete with the mage or warlock if the major stat is +healing.

I also don't support a two-spec system. I've heard this idea before, along with being able to change spec at a reduced or no cost. The problem is that a) it only benefits support classes, and b) would make the quality of tanks and healers go down.

As for reason 'a', I feel there is not much needed to explain on this. As for the lesser quality of tanks and healers? If you can change specs on the fly your support role will tend to be more focused on the solo content and will choose DPS gear over healer or tanking gear. Part of choosing a spec means you are constantly aware of what you're role is. Without that reminder people will slack off on the collection of proper gear and you'll end up with a fury geared warrior tanking with a dps geared priest healing.

Chances are they will not be acting like a tank or healer either, they will be in a dps mindset. Tanks will be going for damage instead of control of the mob, healers will try to dps between heals, not a pleasant sight. I've had the misfortune of trying to do an instance with a fury spec'ed warrior trying to tank, two in fact. It was horrible, they knew nothing about aggro control and since their gear was all about dps and not defense or armor they were losing health so fast I honestly though they were wearing leather.

Even with the solo content not being aimed at healer or tanks we still get practice at healing and tanking, especially with escort quests and the random "Hey, lets team up on this guy so we both get credit for the quest" moments that are getting so rare now days. The reason we slowly get our talents is so we learn how to use them and in what situations. This requires a full time investment, I refuse to believe a person who only spec's to a healer or tank when a group needs one will be in the same league as a one who's been playing one for the last 50 hours, even if they have the same gear.

I think the best solution so far is for there to be tank and healer based quests or even just more group quests.
no arrow the solution if you go that way is to require more grouping for advancement. You can directly tie the increasing difficulty getting good tanks and healers to the game focusing on solo content. There was a shortage before but not so bad. Then the DPS classes got the option to solo. So they solo to endgame. Then the problem they were able to ignore is just worse because the healers and tanks made friends and don't need that dps'r at all.

The more the game focuses on PVP and soloing the more the grouping side of the game will continue to slide. It's like you play two seperate games. One to level. Then the game completely changes and assumes you grouped and made friends along the way. As you had to pre BC.
I never understood why tanks and healers are in the lowest tier of dps in most mmo's. Using gear that would vary depending on your status in our out of a group would be a gimmick and the easy way out.

The game designers need to work harder on game balance.
Actually there was a semblance of balance then they tried to merge PVP and PVE. It's pretty much been screwed ever since.

We thought it was bad before BC but the PVP vs PVE balancing is far worse than any raider vs non raider stuff from vanilla wow
tobold can you review the lich king expansion ?

Review it? Now? Appart from a PowerPoint slide with a bullet point list of features and a couple of screenshots, we don't know anything about WotLK. I will certainly report about what I see from WotLK at the European Blizzcon in June, and once it will come out I will write about it. But right now WotLK isn't even finished designing yet.
But right now WotLK isn't even finished designing yet.

C'mon, tobold, how are you going to let something minor like "The game not anywhere near being finished or released yet" get in your way. (Yes, this is a joke.)

As for the actual topic, this does seem an interesting idea. it would cause more competetion between classes, but as well as helping non-DPS specs farm stuff, it also seems likely to help even out the loot between different people doing instances/raids, as well as perhaps allowing specs not to get pigeonholed into certain types of gear. (So, for an example, pieces of mail armor could be released with more spell abilities for elemental shamans without causing as much annoyance for hunters or other shaman types.)
A better idea:

1) Make all classes DPS classes, with a specialty role in addition to that.

Warriors: DPS and take damage
Rogues: DPS and debuff/stun
Priests: DPS and heal
Mages: DPS and crowd control

2) All gear/effects that increase DPS also increase the specialty role, or vice-versa. That way, there's no need for multiple gearsets.

With this in mind, there's no reason people wouldn't take or play healers -- they could solo or play a DPS role as effectively as any other class, and in groups they'd have an alternative important function to perform.
I gotta go with Mallika's take on Relmstein's solution. I think the gem idea is freaking brilliant. One drop, you choose your gem and the gem determines the itemization.

Nice and simple, fits with the K.I.S.S principle.
no arrow the solution if you go that way is to require more grouping for advancement. You can directly tie the increasing difficulty getting good tanks and healers to the game focusing on solo content. There was a shortage before but not so bad. Then the DPS classes got the option to solo. So they solo to endgame.

Oh, I completely agree. There needs to be some mandatory grouping before hitting Outland. I shutter when I think of leveling an alt and doing the first Instance of Hellfire. Having more group content is a vital part of making Tanks and Healers a more dominate class.
Why not have them like Anathema/Benediction? It seems whether you gem to switch stats, or maybe the item lets you "use" it and switch forms, or even the game detect when to switch stats (I don't like that one personally, I don't want the game deciding when I want to change) it seems everyone is in agreement on variable stats on equipment.
I honestly think they should make sure there is solo content. Plenty of crafting patterns etc for people who want or need to solo but there needs to be a path that is rewardign enough to group. I'm sure the devs are going nuts because you get more experience quicer and gear up quicker in the instances. But this falls apart rather quickly when it can take 2 hours or more to actually get the group. I still think they should add badges to all instances and have vendors that sell epics of every 10th level. Run Deadmines 30 times and get your epic 10th level sword...etc etc all the way to the top.

then the soloers can skip it if they want.

What would we Druids do with all our bag space! The realm economies would go nuts as we would all buy garbage just to fill up our slots!
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