Hybrid Theory returns under the banner of column-newb Alex Ziebart. Incredibly biased opinions await you. If you are reading this, you have already been made a victim of his inability to create interesting graphics. No World of Warcraft players were harmed in the creation of the previous image, though that does not mean it won't hurt you.
When I decided on my topic for today, I was mighty excited. A fire raged within me, and my fingers flew over the keyboard as soon as I sat down at the computer. My first column! Awesome! Yes! About three paragraphs in, I realized I should probably make sure my predecessor, Jason Lotito, hadn't done the topic yet. Unfortunately, he did. Fortunately, I completely disagree with what he said in every possible way.
What is a hybrid class? The basic answer is pretty simple: A class with multiple viable roles. Paladins, Druids and Shaman are obvious examples of a hybrid class. If you disagree with the fact that they're hybrids, you must be playing the wrong game. Holy, Retribution, Protection. Feral, Balance, Restoration. Elemental, Enhancement, Restoration. All of them are viable specs, especially in raiding. As fun as it is to mock Retribution Paladins, even they have a place in the end-game.
Basically, Shamadruidins are hybrids. Don't try to argue that they aren't because you will lose.
Beyond that, it starts to break down a little. Specifically: Warriors and Priests. My predecessor said no, they are not hybrids. Me? I say yes, they most certainly are hybrids. Prior to The Burning Crusade they probably wouldn't qualify, but at this point in the game they're far less specialized as a class. Nowadays, what determines how capable you are at any given role comes down to your talent spec. For example, you didn't even need to be Protection specced to tank Naxxramas back in the day. Warriors were simply the token tanking class. Sometimes you would have a Warrior doing damage(and lots of it) but overall, they existed to tank. The same thing applied to Priests, but for healing.
The Burning Crusade hit and it turned into a completely different game for these classes. Your spec matters, and these classes' off-specs are no longer simply 'tolerable'. They became even more viable, and legitimately useful. Arms/Fury Warriors are not just space fillers in raids anymore, when you're down a damage class. They are wanted specifically to do damage. Their personal damage is respectable, in addition to things such as Battle Shout(old) and Blood Frenzy('new') to buff their raidmates. That 4% damage shouldn't be underestimated. My raid usually runs with anywhere from 6 to 9 physical damage dealers. Each of them receives the flat 4% damage boost.
Priests? My word. Shadow has become unbelievably good. Are they the highest damage dealing casters? No, nowhere near it. However, having at least one Shadow Priest in the raid is nearly mandatory. A Shadow Priest's role in a raid is even more similar to that of the hybrid classes than a warrior. It is not the Shadow Priest's duty to do as much damage as possible, though that certainly helps. Their role lies in their utility. Vampiric Embrace, Vampiric Touch, Shadow Weaving, Misery. To a lesser extent, Mind Control.
Hmm... what does this sound like? Could it be... the Shamadruidins!? Multiple viable specs with high utility, all of which fill different roles? I think the signs are all there, honestly. The different roles for Priests and Warriors play very, very differently from one another. Hunters have utility, but their three specs essentially fill the same role. Ultimately, you shoot things in the face until they fall over. Your talent spec changes the base nature of the Warrior and Priest classes. Shadow is as different from Holy as Elemental is from Enhancement. Priests and Warriors don't have three roles they can fill, no, but they do have more than one. That is good enough for me.
In my not-so-humble opinion, Warriors and Priests are hybrids, just as much as Shaman, Druids and Paladins. As I continue writing Hybrid Theory, this will be reflected in my coming columns. All of these classes have their very own columns nowadays, so I'm going to be specifically focusing on the viability of their offspecs, and how to handle being a hybrid. I'm going to try covering a wide array of topics and gameplay styles, from PvE to PvP to maybe, maybe RP. Probably not RP, but you never know! As a warning, I'll probably be covering some topics Jason Lotito did some time ago, but as you can see already, our opinions on things differ greatly. Buckle up and prepare for a wild ride!
If you have any questions or comments, or have topics you would like to see covered in Hybrid Theory in the coming weeks, don't hesitate to post them right here or send a note our way!