Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Hybrid envy

Of Teeth and Claws, a WoW druid blog, takes up my analysis of hybrids and dismisses it as hybrid envy. As I said before, you can't really very well separate emotions from rational analysis when discussing class balance. Of course the specialized classes are more likely to be for nerfing hybrids, and the players of such hybrids are against it. Nobody believes his own class is overpowered.

Nevertheless I would like to respond to Teeth and Claws' argument that flexibility is a fallacity, quote: "99.999% of the WoW population decides upon a spec before a raid/instance run, and does not change it until well after that run has completed."

My comment to that one was: I think you underestimate the value of flexibility. If you enter lets say Naxxramas with a typical 10-man raid groups with 2 tanks, 3 healers, and 5 dps, there will be *some* encounters where this is exactly the perfect mix. But there will be other encounters in the same raid dungeon where lets say 1 tank was enough, or 2 healers were enough, and the surplus tank or healer would be better used doing damage. A druid tank, switching just gear, not talents, deals a lot more damage than a warrior tank. A druid healer deals a lot more damage than a holy priest. That flexibility has a value for the raid, and increases the chances for such a flexible class to be invited over a specialized class.

So what do you think? Is flexibility completely worthless (and I'm not just talking druids here, also for example the added flexibility of a death knight off tank), or does flexibility have to be considered when looking at class balance?
As a Death Knight, I say Death Knights have too much power and too much flexibility, and are not a hybrid class.

I've also raided as a druid at 60 and 70, and although the state of your priest class may be questionable (great job Blizz) do not be so quick to envy druids.

Neither feral nor balance were at all viable at 60, of course at 70 and 80 this has changed and yet they really lack alot of the tools and abilities that make a dedicated caster or meelee class fun in feral or boomkin spec.

They may be brutally effective, yet they are also brutally dull to play.
While a resto druid spamming Starfire damages more than a Holy priest with SW:P-MB-Smite, this damage is still a joke, so I seriously doubt that anyone chooses a druid over a priest for this reason. However if we watch flexibility as "I can turn from tank to healer for 50G", it is a huge advantage, and pure(er) classes must be compensated for it. It is possible that a guild prefers a druid healer over a priest because he can respec tank if no tank is online.

I think pure(er) classes must be better in what they are doing in return of being able to do less thing.

However what Zode wrote is right and can be considered a compensation within a game played for relaxation. Since hybrids have 1 talent tree/job, you are more or less forced to play a certain spec and spell rotation.

A priest can have several viable healing specs and spell choices, while a resto druid practically spent 67 of his talents on the second he chose to heal (or considered useless) and can only decide between regrowth and glyphed HT as *auxilary* spell beyond the mandatory 3x LB on all tanks.

While I could respec moonkin, I rather leveled a mage from lvl1 to be able to have an own playstyle instead of the mandatory IS,MF,SFx3 - Wr on Eclipse

As a hybrid you can chose to tank, DPS or heal. As a pure you can chose *how* to tank, DPS or heal. Fair trade.

PS: the longer I roll LB, the more and more having the motive to roll a healer priest.
The discussion of this topic on the various blogs shows me that the concept of true hybrids (tank/healer/dps) sucks because it is too hard to balance in a way that is perceived fair by most players. The only hybrids that should exist are dps specs for healers and tanks so they can solo without danger of brain melt.
No one wants to be a mediocre healer/tank/dps that is compensated for their suckage with some theoretical possibility to do other things mediocre as well. Everyone wants to be the best at what they do and don't be second class and substitute.
Hey Tobold,

I responded over on my site as well (to your comment), however I can elaborate here.

The quote that you choose from my article refers to the fact that the majority of players (i.e. the non-hardcore elite) DO NOT respec within the duration of an instance run. I think you will agree that this is true. (How many feral druids have you seen swap to resto for a single fight, and then back to feral - as an example?) This means that for the majority of the game's players, they are stuck in a single spec for the 2-3 hours they are raiding. I would assert that in the case of a Druid this means:

Feral-DPS spec: Excellent DPS, off-tanking is possible, poor healing
Feral-tanking: Excellent tanking, average dps, poor healing
Balance: Excellent DPS, below average healing, no tanking
Resto: Excellent healing, below average dps, no tanking

So while a hybrid can perform an offspec duty within the context of a single raid, it is at below average (and often unacceptable) capacity.

Now, I think a specific problem that exists in the game right now is that there is a hybrid feral spec that gives 95% tanking capacity alongside 90% dps capacity - and in the hands of a skilled player, this can be extremely potent. (In fact, patch 3.0.8 only exacerbated this - full DPS gear is actually crazy-good for tanking now - it's beyond ridiculous.) I would actually be quite supportive of anything that Blizzard could do to fix this, because a feral druid is overpowered in this regards at the moment, however I am unsure what form this fix could take. The feral talent tree is already extremely dense, and adding more talents seems like a poor option. The solution may actually lie within the Druid gear mechanics - but it'll be bloody hard to puzzle out a solution that is both fair and continues to allow Druids to share rogue leather. It remains to be seen if this is possible.
Flexibility is depending on the player skill, sadly: there were quite a few comments where people whined about how hard it is to switch from one role to another. I've never found that to be too hard, but then again I've never competed against DPS or Healing meter. I've played the game like a goalie: everything goes as long as the boss is dead.

I agree to the point with you, Tobold, being played druid from pre-BC to current Outlands (not WotLK content).
I agree that the only hybrids in the game should be Healer/DPS and Tank/DPS, and only because they need to be able to DPS to play solo. If you go further, like Blizzard did with druids and paladins, you are creating an unsolvable balance problem: If they don't perform noticeably worse than specialized classes, it is unfair and broken. If they do, they would never get a spot on a raid.

Tank/Healer/DPS hybrids should have never existed. I hope they learn this valuable lesson for their next game.
I'd still feel uncomfortable tanking an instance with my dps build as a DK. Respeccing is possible and with a summon, it's easy. But noone would take a tank to dps or a dps to tank if they have a full time tank/dps avaiable.

But does it really matter if your healers do poor or very poor dps? Is that really a reason to prefer one class?
Tank/Healer/DPS hybrids should have never existed. I hope they learn this valuable lesson for their next game.

This seems an issue as much with how raids and talents are designed as with class design, actually. Because raids and skills are designed so that people can only be performing one role at a time (A bperson must use the same mana and the same time for healing and damaging, for example) (The stats may still also be different for different roles, adding gear competetion, though nowadays this may have been reduced), and that only specialized players are useful (One person takes most of the damage in a raid, for example), players must be specializaed to compete effectively. This means that only specialized players will be useful in a raid

The talent trees also add to this problems, as instead of having talent trees that improve all roles, but in different ways, the talent trees specialize a character towards a particular role.

If the game were designed so that, say, stats were more shared equally between roles of a class, more damage was dealt to other members of a raid so that damage reduction abilities were more useful, threat worked differently, etc., than having a mixed tank/damager/healer would be a lot more useful, and the classes could be designed to flexibly move between and combine these roles.
The Hybrid mechanic-- as it is-- is overpowered. Truly, when I started wow and rolled my druid, I had visions of Not being the best at dps, healing, or tanking-- but being very good at each role and being able to weave a dance with each in the occasional fight.

Personally, instead of doing awesome damage as a balance specced druid, I would love to be able to stop dpsing, rez the healer, heal the healer, and take over tanking for just a few more seconds after the tank goes down. But that won't get me invited to a raid.
Death Knights are Hybrids. They are either tanks or DPS. Just so happen they don't have to respec as severely as other hybrids do to do either job effectively.
I rerolled warlock to druid, and now have 4 sets of ilvl 200+ gear for every occasion.

The only difference between the druid and having 4 different alts (which I did up until Wrath) is that you can think of all epics that drop that druids can use as 'bind on account' epics...and that the druid is its own 'account'. That's the advantage that we have over other sets-of-alts. When running as a warlock, I used to have no opportunity to pick up otherwise-disenchanted tank gear for my warrior, and so forth.

The actual functionality of the class is fine. My feral druid is geared to the max (7600 ap unbuffed @ hit cap), and it does about 80% of the damage of 'pure' classes in raids even with optimal rotation. My druid tank is built for tanking 3 drake Sartharion, but it's not competitive with warriors or death knights for aggro/damage reduction. My tree set has 2000 healing, but I get owned by paladins and priests. My boom set is more for entertainment value than anything else, and does slightly more damage than my cat (maybe 85% of a pure class). So in my opinion the 'flexibility tax' has already been baked in.
I think Hybrids are overpowered, my main is a Druid. I have out-tanked warriors as feral spec, I have out-dpsed mages as boomkin spec (I have yet to have a proper crack at resto). As a trade off for that flexibility I think Druids should not be quite as powerful, although that flexibility is nurfed to a small degree by the talent respec cost.
World of Warcraft is a game of specialization. People specialize in roles as defined by what they want to do. In PVE content, that means tanks, healers, DPS. All healers and tanks are hybrids. The only pure classes are DPS classes which are mages, hunters, warlocks, and rogues. Although our intuition tells us hybrids should suffer a performance penalty for their flexibility, actual experience shows us that such performance penalties destroy the hybrids' flexibility. The only viable spec for a hybrid becomes the one with the least performance penalty which historically has always been healing. This was clearly seen in Classic WoW. All hybrids were forced to become healers. The only viable tank was warrior. Hybrids were hybrids in name only.

From a performance point of view, hybrids should not be penalized. This brings up the question of why choose pure DPS classes over hybrids? The difficulty in addressing this is the theoretical meta game. In the meta-game, there are advantages and disadvantages for both pure and hybrid classes. In addition, player preferred play style comes strongly into play in matching that player to the class. These are thoughts for another day though (got to get to work!).
This is a really hard problem to solve, and it probably get worst with the announced "doble spec" where you will "easily" exchange your talents/glyphs.

To put an example, its true a RL would not probably select a balance druid doing less DPS than a mage. But the thruth is also that DPS output being the same if they are given the capability to "change to heal" for a given bossfight ...well mages better find a good spot to AoE farm, no raid for you...
"(In fact, patch 3.0.8 only exacerbated this - full DPS gear is actually crazy-good for tanking now - it's beyond ridiculous.) I would actually be quite supportive of anything that Blizzard could do to fix this, because a feral druid is overpowered in this regards at the moment, however I am unsure what form this fix could take. The feral talent tree is already extremely dense, and adding more talents seems like a poor option. The solution may actually lie within the Druid gear mechanics - but it'll be bloody hard to puzzle out a solution that is both fair and continues to allow Druids to share rogue leather. It remains to be seen if this is possible"

The addition of the bonus armor to Survival of the Fittest was a bad idea. It made me as a cat a MUCH better OT in Naxx, and I can MT most heroics now. That bonus armor needs to be moved to a purely tanking talent that a feral cat would not want.

I agree that it is going to be very hard to prevent this as long as we are using the same gear as Rogues. It's just a bad combo because of the fact that Rogues have nothing but DPS they can do whereas we have that pesky tanking tree. So if the gear is not going to be itemized for tanking then it can only be made up in talents, and as long as that is the case you are going to have the problem where somebody is going ot be able to get pretty close to being able to do both really really good. You can't nerf one because then that puts us back to being the Tank nobody wants or the DPS that sits on the sideline.
P. S. I miss being Random Poster :(
The problem is that blizzard never made seperate mechanics for the hybrid specs. As long as druids can wear rogue gear and pallies can wear plate or pallies can wear cloth to become healbots and they use the exact same programming functions this will persist. Hybrids should have thier own seperate mechanics that can be tweaked in the game without affecting core classes. That and each class should have thier own gear that no one else can wear. Of course this makes loot drama 10 times worse. Not sure there is a solution at this stage of the game. Any fix makes something else worse.

However I'll say this. Most people who wine that druids and pallies are overpowered do it because of a few awesome players that they see and they don't realize that 98 percent of the hybrids are gimped because they aren't that good or don't have 3 perfect sets of gear. the other 1 percent have one really good set of gear and are good at ONE spec
Trying to take a completely balanced view, there maybe a small amount of envy, but I think the druid in question looks at it from a micro-perspective. Yes people won't generally respec during a run, but what about when you come back tomorrow to finish the run and a healer couldn't make it? Or suchlike.

Also, a wonderful example of why I think hybrids have a fundamental advantage happened on Sapphiron two nights ago - he was moonkin specced, similarly geared to me (I am mage, FFB). The raid got quite stretched at one point and the healers were struggling to keep ontop of the AOE as our tank was taking too much damage. With my IB gone I could do nothing to help myself and just looked on as my health dwindeled down to zero, the moonkin next to me popped out of form, healed himself up and then carried on DPSing. At the time of me dying we were pretty level on damage. So me, as a 'pure' dps class... do I bring more utility to the raid? Nope. More damage? Not really. Can I spec Healer or tank if I get bored next week? No.

That is my argument, flexibility has no cost at the moment. Specialists should be slightly better in their feild of specialism, no?
I like what Zode said. You can talk about druids all you want, but in my guild (large casual raiding guild) almost all the druids no longer play their main and are playing Death Knights. If druids are so great, I don't see a lot of people playing them.
I love playing my mage, always have. Casters are just a lot of fun. In the past I played a priest alt a lot, leveled to 70 and healed in PvP and PvE. I have since had to cut back on my play time and only have time for one class, which is my mage. However, I do get tired of seeing nothing but "LF healer, tank for [fill in the blank]" and not being able to do anything about it besides go level another character.

Maybe it is one of those things that once I had the capability I wouldn't use it, but I have to say I envy those of you who can shift some things around and fill other roles. I would love to be able to shift my mage into my priest from time to time. I think once you make hybrid classes as good as the main classes it makes less sense to play the main classes. I want to explore all roles in the game without having to level (and lets face it, maintain) alts.

It isn't about being over-powered for me, I don't think that the hybrids should suffer because blizzard gave them more options. I just want the same opportunities for game play. I know there are strong reasons for not doing so, but why not make all classes hybrids in some way?
This conversation will only get more interesting once dual-specs arrive. The flexibility of a druid or paladin to heal 1 heroic and then tank the next is huge for getting groups together quickly. Poor mages/locks/rogues will sit in LFG forever more.

Or even changing specs during the run? Much of Naxx 10 only needs 1 tank (even glob), but for thaddeus that boomkin is now suddenly the OT...
I have always been a Resto Druid from 11-61, then upon hitting Outlands I switched to Boomkin because the damage output of the Tree just couldn't match the health of the mobs. So from 61-80 I was Balance Spec. I could throw some decent Off-Heals just on the basis of my spellpower being high enough. Upon hitting 80, I volunteered to respec back to Resto and I was taken into a Heroic Old Kingdom. I must say, that is definitely not the way to break in a healer.

I'm a well geared Resto Druid, I can pretty much solo heal Plague Wing in Naxx, and probably other parts too (haven't run enough to truly know), but I also have a decent set of Balance gear and can keep up on dps (1600-1800) when pushing myself and cycling my spells properly.
If we are ever short healers, we have our shadow priests respec to heal more than we do our feral druids. Shadow Priests who can top our DPS meters...and our healing meters, for the same cost a druid can. Does that mean that they too should be nerfed or are overpowered? I have not heard that argument from you Tobold, but wouldn't the same theory you are using to declare Druids OP fit for Priests too?

While druids and paladins (the only two "real" hybrid classes under your definition) do have the ability to do many things, but I would wager that once people have chosen a perferred playstyle they very rarely, if ever, deviate from that style. I leveled to 60 in Vanilla WoW as balance, and respeced to resto the second I hit 60. Leveled to 70 feral and respeced to resto the second I hit 70. Leveled to 80 as resto. I have never raided anything other than resto, and I've never respeced to tank an instance or DPS an instance. That is what I have an 80 mage for!

For those people that think it is brutally unfair that any class be allowed more than one viable job, let me give you a visit back to WoW v.1, where that is how it was. You are in a 40 man raid environment, and you play a druid. You want to be invited to a raid, but you are told if you aren't resto with an innervate you are not spec'd to raid, and will be benched. The topper on that fine deal, is that you don't even get to use your own innervate, you are required to pass it to a priest with more spirit bonus as they will get more use out of it and you must chug your hard farmed consumables to keep your mana up. Let's say instead of a druid, you are a paladin. What? No Kings? No Imp Wis? You are ret spec'd? Sorry...we only have room for 5 HOLY paladins...and we all lol at your horrible spec, because you know that you are nothing more than a buff and dispell bot. You know that you have fun spending 4 hours every raid refreshing buffs every 10 minutes and cleansing. And if you want a spot in this raid, you will be holy and you will heal. They may as well have limited those classes to ONE talent tree, as the other ones were useless. To be fair, shadow priests were equally laughed at and written off as useless.

While I will never be anything but resto, I am happy blizzard made ALL classes with what were considered "sub optimal" raiding specs viable. This encompasses not only druids and paladins, but priests, shamans and warriors can almost even make the same arguement for some of the "pure dps" classes. A rogue can now spec mutilate without be lauged at, a hunter can be beast mastery without being on the bottom of the damamge meters. While I think warlocks are broken at the moment, they have been given the option to choose between a fire and a shadow spec. Even mages get some variety and choice in how they want to play.

If you pigeon hole a class into only being good at *one* thing, you are going to have an army of classes that only do *one* thing, and you take out any variety in playstyle. Blizzard did that, but those of you who haven't 1) led a raid in vanilla wow and were forced to bench people who wanted to be different or 2) played one of those dratted "hybrid" classes pre-tbc don't understand how bad it was. It's frustrating to listen to people who think that WoW should revert to that primitive mentality =(


p.s. While I like the idea of forced accountability, requiring people to log in makes it increasingly harder to post from work, due to content filters. I can't even use my google account and had to register under livejournal just to post =(
"A druid healer deals a lot more damage than a holy priest"

Is there any theorycraft to back this assertion up? Or has anyone done testing?

It seems very unlikely to me that this is true. A 61 point Resto Druid has very few talents that improve his nukes. And a Holy Priest will pick up a handful of talents that improve Smite etc.

In any event if the main argument for getting rid of hybrids is that resto druid wrath spam is broken, well... just lol

We have moved from a 60 game where hunters and rogues were the most played max level classes and dps could wait a day for an instance invite to a 80 game where paladins, druids and DKs are the most played and groups are as likely to lfm dps as they are anything else. It would be a shame if class envy got these useful classes toned down because players would simply re-roll pure dps and we'd have a glut again.
@Chris: All tanking classes in WoW have viable dps or healing offspecs. So things will actually get easier with dual specs and one-tank fights. BUT there will be a lot of pressure for hybrids to learn how to play their less favoured specs and to gear for them.

I think that it's only unfair that hybrids are more versatile IF versatility was what you really wanted. I'm drifting to preferring more versatile classes since being stuck in one role isn't as fun for me. But at the end of the day I think warrior tanking/dps is more fun than druid tanking/dps and isn't that the most important thing when picking a class?

When I'm putting together a 10 man naxx raid I want 2 tanks, 2 healers and 6 dps of whom ONE should be able to switch to healing on the heavy healing fights. That means I only need 1 dps hybrid, the rest can be any dps who is available and wants to come (although balancing the buffs out is handy). I don't care if they're hybrid or not and I don't need to.

I don't see any way that resto druids do more damage than holy priests though. I suppose it would depend on the spec but it seems unlikely.
Oh...and for those of you commenting on the whole Dual Spec function. Have you read much about it? It is going to have fairly severe limitations on when you can switch specs. So I don't think it's going to be the change in utility for what you are already considering highly overpowere classes ;-)

Hmm, I think it depends on the level that you're playing the game at. I'm in a fairly aggressive raiding guild at the moment, (for whatever that means...) and I've used my hybrid flexibility once or twice since Wrath, both times for my amusement. I was definitely the

I'm a protection paladin by trade, but I try to maintain my hybrid flexibility by collecting a retribution and and a holy gear-set as well. (from drops that would otherwise be sharded) In addition to cast-off drops reducing my DKP for main-spec gear (meaning I have to choose between having gear as good as my other tanks, or being able to be a hybrid), I have to buy 3 sets of gems and 3 sets of enchants. And I've never even raided as holy -- I don't know if I would be very good at it, or whether my gear would even actually work the way I've guessed/read that it would.

It's only 50g for a respec, but it's 10% of my current DKP and 100g or so for each offspec item I actually manage to collect in our current content. If it's a fun 10-man or a heroic, I get the item without the DKP cost, so it's just 100g-300g for enchants and gems for each item. I've actually ended up replacing items I've enchanted and never worn because I happened to get lucky one run later and have only one holy paladin, who already had the plate in question.

The two example that you gave were a bit biased, Tobold -- consider the case of a Holy Paladin re-gearing for DPS or tanking - laughable, no? Or an Enhancement shaman re-gearing to heal one fight. Or a protection paladin dpsing, for an example close to my heart. :-)

I know that I do get opportunities to come along sometimes if I spec Ret that I wouldn't otherwise get, but in guilds pushing against hard content, there's often enough people that the extra slot is going to someone who's usually DPS if a DPSer is needed, rather than someone who's going to need to learn which buttons to press and maybe fish them out of their spellbook.

Personally, back in Burning Crusade I levelled up a Shaman and a Mage to have a healing and dps toon; I found it was actually much more enjoyable to learn to play three roles with three different classes than trying to keep up three sets of gear on one character. I may end up doing that again in Wrath. This may be a case where the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but taking advantage of the "hybrid bonus" that people reference definitely has costs unless you run all your own raids and get first choice on gear.
I think it's a hard balance to make. If the hybrids can out-dps me as a hunter, then there's almost no reason to take me along on an instance run. On the other hand, if the hybrids stink to solo (because of lousy dps), then no one will want to play them. Perhaps the solution is to differentiate the classes better? Say, make sure a well-played warrior will trump all other tanks in a boss fight, but a druid is the best trash tank, and a good tank can still do everything, but some things may be harder or easier depending on class.

My guild currently has a glut of druids, one of whom is our primary tank. As far as I know he never respecs, and I know our holy priest healer leveled holy to 80 (with guild help). In fact, most of my guild uses alts rather than respecing. If our tank is DPSing instead of tanking, he uses his DK. Of course my guild is small and a casual one, so take that for what you will.
Honestly, how much flexibility are you talking about here? I'm a holy paladin. I wear plate and have some talents in the protection tree. I can tank a boss for a few hits before the boss runs along to pound on some poor caster. The DPS I produce is horrible. Sure I could switch gear and try those roles, but I would suck at my job because I don't have the core talents to do it. The only chance I'd have to succeed at any role other than healing would be a full gear swap and full respec, at which point I am no longer a healer. The same applies to the other 2 trees.

If you have a protection or retribution paladin switch to healing, and they'll be on the bottom of the charts. It's good enough if you're just below the amount of healing needed to get you through a fight, but otherwise their contributions are essentially negligible.

"Hybrid" as implemented by Blizzard basically means having the full range of roles to choose from, as opposed to 1 or 2. In order to be a viable paladin healer, I sacrificed my viability in tanking and DPS. Protection paladins sacrificed their healing viability and DPS viability to tank. Retribution paladins gave up their healing and tanking viability to DPS. The trend mostly continues for druids. As a healer, I don't have the variety of healing spells other classes have, and have to make up for that with talents and/or glyphs. That's because I have spaces in my class's spellbook taken up by spells and abilities that apply to functions I don't even serve. Feral druids don't have the full range of tanking tricks because they have healing spells and DPS spells attributed to their class, which they can't use while tanking. As a result, we're naturally gimped as hybrids.

I think your main point of contention was how melee DPS and tanking are so intertwined in the druid feral tree. To fix this, Blizzard would probably have to completely re-do the tree to consolidate tanking talents together and DPS talents together and then give druids a free respec.
Similar to how people call others "morons" and "idiots" for driving at different speeds, or for leveling to 80 at different speeds, we are all limited by our own guild experiences. Some people say there is a glut of druids in their guild, and explain it by saying druids are OP. Others say that all their druids have grown bored and are playing DK's. In my experience, I've never seen a resto druid out-DPS a holy priest, in contrast to Tobold's statement. But one of the best players in my guild is a priest who routinely respecs and tries out different damage rotations. In BC, he was often top DPS as a holy spec, while having healing duties also. That's what you get from a casual raiding guild -- a very large variance in player skill.

For that reason, Blizzard doesn't care so much about class balance at those levels. If you have an awesome enhancement shaman who does 1.5x the damage of your next highest DPS, that makes you think that shaman should be nerfed. And you further complain that the shaman can heal himself in a pinch.

So as for the original question: should hybrid flexibility be taken into account when looking at class balance? For casual guilds, player skill and guild class population will be the largest factors. If you are trying to run 25-man content, and there are 5 druids, but only 1 warlock, odds are very good that the warlock will be brought along even though he cannot heal or tank most encounters. Also, that top-DPS enhancement shaman will get a spot too. For hardcore leading-edge guilds, they are looking for mechanics exploits rather than hybrid flexibility. In BC, they were stacking shamans for heroism and chain heal and asking everyone to take leatherworking for drums. In WotLK, there isn't much challenging content, so these issues haven't come up yet. My conclusion is that there's no indication, past or present, that hybrids as a whole are overvalued, overadvantaged, or overpopulated.
I play a shadow priest. It's true -- we do count as hybrids. I respec to Discipline when we're short at Patchwerk. I've even dropped out of shadow to healing mid-Maly 10 when the holy priest died and kept everyone alive for the win.

But priests have a sort of uni-directional hybridity -- we can shield and dispel magic and disease without dropping shadowform if needed. We can stop DPS and leave shadow to throw out Prayers of Mending and sometimes other heals. But healing priest DPS is crappy.

Yet, many people argue that at the top levels Shadow Priests are still paying a DPS penalty for being a hybrid -- something like 400-500 DPS versus the top DPS classes.

To be fair, a counter-argument says we make up that ground on boss fights where we can use AOE effectively or where movement is required.
"A druid healer deals a lot more damage than a holy priest."

Yesterday I respec'ed to tree because someone had to leave before Sapphiron. Afterwards I went to do my JC daily and had forgotten I wasn't balance. Starfire and wrath took longer to cast and did less than 75% of their normal damage. Spreadsheet tells me a raiding resto spec in balance gear has 45% less dps than a balance druid. Conversely, when we lose a healer and no one has Rebirth up, sometimes I'll try to help off-heal, but I burn through mana so bloody fast and still don't get the feeling I'm making a difference.

The major weakness of hybrid classes is that Blizzard seems to have dropped the idea that we can switch roles as needed. If they aren't talented for it, they're working at about 50% performance.
A druid healer deals a lot more damage than a holy priest.

Not by any real margin.
Again, Tank/DPS or Healer/DPS hybrids are not a big problem to balance with pure DPS classes even in 1vs1 PVP. Tank/Healer/DPS hybrids are the problem (paladins and druids).

Imagine paladins as Tank/DPS hybrids like DKs or Warriors, and also imagine druids as Healer/DPS hybrids just like priests and shamans. Tanking would be a "plate only" task and druids would be on equal footing with priests and shamans, but with different playstyles. Now imagine that Blizzard focused on balancing all clases for 1vs1 PVP... One can dream.
There’s a lot of unnecessary confusion being sown here when folks mix modal and fluid hybrid arguments together to suit their position. Tobold himself is guilty of this with a few ridiculous examples in recent posts that are deliberately intellectually dishonest. I’m sure he knows better, but it’s more important for him to “win”.

There was a much clearer discussion at Blessing of Kings on this a while back. Examples…
"If the hybrids can out-dps me as a hunter, then there's almost no reason to take me along on an instance run"

I'd like to address this point which is something very widely stated by pure dps classes when this topic comes up.

This is how most people build a 5 man group. Invite first tank/healer/3 dps to respond. There is an advantage to the hybrid in that they may be capable of coming in multiple roles but 60% of the spots are available to pure dps. 5 man grouping is (on my server at least) extremely healthy with lfm cries going out for all 3 roles. I remember when it always used to be lfm tank. I have never, in 4 years of playing wow, seen someone say don't take rogues/hunters/mages/locks because a hybrid dps can offheal/offtank for more than 1 of the 3 spots. And tbh that was more common at level 60 than now. Dps spots generally are available to people who can do over 1500 dps, if you hit hard you'll get asked back.

Regarding raids raids are built based primarily on how effective players will be in their specialisation. You don't pick tanks because they can off-heal, you pick tanks based on 4 tanking related criteria:
- good gear
- good reactions and awareness, "skill" if you like
- sound knowledge of theorycraft and optimal threat rotations
- very high attendance

Generally in all but the most hardcore of guilds healers are picked because they're on. We raid with about 7-8 healers and we tend to have 7-8 healers on. It's very unusual to have a healer sit out because we have too many. If we do sit someone then generally it's someone who volunteers to take a night off or it's a new recruit/trial.

With dps we're prioritising our strongest players, heavily influenced by the damage meter. We quite often have dpsers benched but they are often trials and or volunteers who want a night off. Our guild master said today that he expects people to be getting to over 3000 dps, that may well be a future factor in deciding who to bench if people are failing to make that. (although we're emphasising coaching them to do the dps they are capable of in the first instance).

None of these criteria have anything to do with the hybridicity of characters. None of these would be helped by having 30 druids and no other classes in the guild. If you want to raid regularly you need to have decent attendance, to have done your homework on rotations and boss strategies and to be capable of implementing your rotations in raids without dying in the fire. You will get your raid spot unless you slack and your rivals for that spot work harder and play better. To claim that you can't raid because hybrids are stealing your jobs is facile, just an attempt to cover-up for your lack of application.
There is no denying that the flexibility helps. An extra off tank for wonky boss battles or crazy trash pulls, extra DPS for the annoying trash clearing between bosses, an extra battle rez for any situation?

Hybrids are hugely superior to the "pure" classes.

But the sad thing is, WoW really doesn't have pure classes. All the healers are hybrids to some extent which sucks for people who like pure support. I blogged about this recently if anyone cares:
I'd agree that hybrids should perform slightly (approx 5-10%) worse than a pure class in a given role. Where I'd disagree with you Tobold, is your conclusion that this isn't the case.

Other factors, such as imperfect balancing, player skill, gear & the nature of particular fights, each make far more than 5% difference. There's also way more than 5% variation in the DPS of different builds of the same class (see, for example, BRK's recent posts on switching from BM to Survival). Altogether these factors completely swamp any variation between classes. It's no surprise that hybrids frequently outperform pures: you'd expect that by chance when the baseline difference is 5% and the "noise" is closer to 25%.

In other words, I'm just not convinced that there's any problem here to be concerned about.
Druids are actually the only class with 4 specs also.
Boomkin -spell dps
Cat -melle dps
Bear -tank
Tree -healer

Nothing is wrong with that and I love my druid.
Although I wouldnt mind see'ing the cat talents shoved in with the boomkin talents.. to keep the tree in its proper 3 distinctions. dps, tank, healer.
Just a thought. :o)

In the end their is never going to be a suitable balance for everyone to agree upon.
Classes will endlessly be revamped knowing there is no real solution.

You balance this class better with class A, all the sudden it throws off the balance against class B... there just can never be a end-all be-all everyone happy solution to this without dumbing down the deversity each class has to offer.

There is always room to break the deversity each class has into a big rant too- discussing which classes you can really specialize in their tree's and some class you must take this, this, and that or that class is useless... but then again that is what you accept with rolling that class. Maybe thats not for you. Delete and re-roll. There will be others that enjoy the class, even the thought of what the class represents to roll one.

In the end -kill the people you can, give them /hugs to let them know its okay because someone will kill you too one day.

-Happy Hunting.
Even better, I love when I decide to comment on something and basically totally talk off topic.
> "None of these criteria have anything to do with the hybridicity of characters"

Scallyphant's comment is the most truth I've read all week.
So, obviously, most of you have never played a hybrid...It wasn't until nearly (like the 2 patches before) TBC that druids, paladins, and shamans were allowed to do ANYTHING but heal in groups and raids. And I do mean ANYTHING. If you played one of these classes in vanilla wow, you will remember that if you got into a group, you were expected to be Restoration and your role was that of a healer. Which, of course meant that priests hated all of us because we were taking healing slots.

Now a preist hates us because we aren't taking healing slots...And wants to make us unable to do anything but heal again...beware the law of unintended consequences, Tobold.
I played a druid for almost 3 years. I had every bad or average priest scream that druids were overpowered because I could heal better than them. I never healed better than the good ones but people always ignore the fact that a really good player can play an underpowered class far better than an average player will play an overpowered class. I leveled a priest once. Didn't like it as much as my druid but the class had far more healing utility than my druid did. And for those who don't know the reason hybrids are at the point they are now is in vanilla wow druids had a hard time getting 5 man runs because they had no OOC res or aggro dump. You guys weren't around when even fellow guildies would refuse to do timed baron runs with anything but a perfect group. Which excluded any druid not in BWL gear or better. Or when druids weren't allowed to roll on Feral gear because it was a waste for a "healer" to get the gear.

The talent system in wow kills the idea of hybrids. A hybrid was supposed to be good at several things but not a master at any. But once you get to raiding you have to be able to hang with pure classes or you don't get to go at all. Thus if specced and geared (which kills the ill informed idea of swapping rolls in an instance run. (except maybe for tanking and DPS and I've seen warriors do that)) they have to be nearly as good as the base class. I understand how much that aggravates people. But I remember when guilds were begging people to play druids because they couldn't get them in thier runs and they were almost necessary if the guild wasn't overgeared for the raid they were running.

As grumpy pointed out. Every change will cause many unintended consequences and then it'll take many changes with many more unintended consequences to fix that problem. Thus the current state of wow balance. It'll never get better long term. It may get better for you personally but when its better for you it'll be worse for every other class. A huge portion of the screaming is perception. I've had priests in gear far better than mine that should have healed better than me in thier sleep scream because I beat them. And of course it was blizzards fault not thiers.

And the wheel goes round and round.
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