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Hybrid Theory: What can I do?


Welcome to another installment of Hybrid Theory, wherein columnist Alex Ziebart assures the world that he does not, in fact, hate Retribution Paladins. In fact, he raids with a Retribution Paladin. Really. He does. Pinky swear.

Let's face it, folks. A lot of raid leaders have very little idea what they're doing when they're brand new to the raiding thing. I was there once, too. Until you have some experience in the 25-man raids, you have very little idea how group synergy works or anything of that sort. As a hybrid, especially one specced in a tree other than your healing tree, this could cause you some issues when looking to break into raiding from the ground level, rather than filling a gap in an existing raid that generally knows what's what.

You will most likely find that you'll need to sell yourself to raid leaders. What can you bring to the table? What can you do that a mage can't? What can you do that a rogue can't? The answer: Quite a bit! First thing to keep in mind, though, is that as a hybrid, you will probably not do as much damage as the other DPS classes in the raid. Healing specced, you will keep up just fine. Damage specced? Well, you won't keep up on every encounter. That's okay though. You don't need to. Why? Because you specifically allow those other classes to meet their maximum potential.

I'll go through each of the damage specs one by one. Tanks, healers, sorry. You come next week. I'm writing a column, not a novel!

Retribution Paladins:
Sorry guys, I'll be completely honest. I absolutely adore you all, but you're the hardest sell when trying to get into a raid group. You're viable, but you're more reliant on others for your damage. You supply utility, but it's a bit more broad than the other hybrids. You don't specifically augment the other melee DPS, or the casters. This is a double-edged sword. You technically augment the entire raid with your utility but it isn't as obvious as the other hybrids. Large, specific buffs are more noticeable than small buffs that reach a wider range of people. For example, Mark of the Wild is technically the best hour long buff in the game that can be cast by players. However, it is often overlooked for something like Power Word: Fortitude when discussing things of that nature. While it is a bit harder to sell a Retribution Paladin to a raid, it is still doable. Here's a breakdown of what your key points should be:

  • Improved Blessing of Might - Pretty easy. More Attack Power for your DPS. No further explanation needed. Be warned, though, that some Holy Paladins pick up this talent, so this won't push you over the top.
  • Improved Seal of the Crusader - This is what I meant about your buffs not being very direct. With three points in this talent, you will supply your entire raid with +3% crit on the target, as long as Crusader is judged. It isn't as big of a direct boost as Leader of the Pack, but it applies to the entire raid.
  • Improved Seal of the Crusader - This is what I meant about your buffs not being very direct. With three points in this talent, you will supply your entire raid with +3% crit on the target, as long as Crusader is judged. It isn't as big of a direct boost as Leader of the Pack, but it applies to the entire raid.
  • Crusader Strike - This ability isn't a massive boost to your raid, but it does make the lives of other Paladins easier. On hit, Crusader Strike refreshes all of the judgements on a target. If your raid has a Holy Paladin, a Protection Paladin, and you, the Retribution Paladin, you could single handedly keep the Judgements of Crusader, Light and Wisdom up for an entire boss encounter. Again, not a massive boost to your raid, but it makes peoples' lives easier. It removes the weight of watching Judgements from the shoulders of your fellow holy warriors.
  • Blessings - No need for a real explanation. Blessings are good. More blessings are more good. Unless you have six paladins. Then you're probably out of useful blessings.
There are downsides to being a Retribution Paladin, especially on the Alliance side. To do competitive amounts of damage, you will pretty much need a Shaman in your party for Windfury. If you're on the Alliance side, your damage is very random and uncontrollable. Your threat can get pretty wild, and you may need to stop and back off now and then. On the Alliance side, you may also run into mana issues if you don't pack mana potions. Seal of Blood pretty much makes that a non-issue for our Blood Elven friends. Of course, you don't want to mention this last bit here to a raid leader you're trying to convince. They probably don't want to hear you need a shaman glued to your hip.

Enhancement Shaman: Delicious, delicious Enhancement Shaman. You single-handedly turn melee into monsters. Your damage doesn't scale incredibly well, your threat is a bit spikey, but you make a melee class's world go 'round.

  • Totems - Totems totems totems! Sure, every shaman can drop totems, but you should have the Enhancing Totems talent which gives a little boost. The fact that Resto Shaman have them doesn't take away from the fact that you also have them, either. You can never have too many totems. Windfury, Strength of Earth, Searing, Mana Spring. Go! Make sure you remind your party not to use sharpening stones, poisons, or similar things on their Main Hand or 2-Handed weapon. They won't receive Windfury if they do.
  • Unleashed Rage - On crit, you increase your party's Attack Power by 10% for 10 seconds. At raid level stats with Windfury on both weapons, you should have no problem keeping this up 100% of the time. One crit every 10 seconds while Dual Wielding? Easy. 10% AP on your party is not a small boost.
  • Bloodlust/Heroism - Heroism is amazing, and knowing the right moments in a boss fight to use it is a huge boost to your raid. Rotating Bloodlusts into the melee group is a tried and true tactic, so it never hurts to have 3(or more?) of these in your raid.
Your ways of supplying utility in your role are not as numerous as a Retribution Paladin, but they are more targeted and give a larger benefit to those melee in your group.

Elemental Shaman: Sorry, guys. You're viable, don't get me wrong, but you're not exactly high on the list of awesome things right now. I feel for you, because all the world needs to be a better place is a little more Chain Lightning. That being said, you can do one thing that no other hybrid can do. You can increase one of the single most important raiding stats.
  • Totem of Wrath - This totem, your 41 point talent, is rather mediocre in 5-mans, even moreso in solo play, considering your choice is between this totem and Nature's Swiftness. Raids, its true potential shines through. This totem adds 3% Spell Hit and 3% Spell Crit. This is rather amazing. Classes that have difficulty reaching the Hit cap will love you, and those already at the cap will be able to switch out some of their Hit Rating for other stats, such as crit or additional spell damage. On encounters where you need to run heavy Stamina, this will lessen the blow of needing to remove some of your strong Spell Hit gear for more HP.
  • More Totems! - Yes, more totems. Totems are awesome, even if they don't chase you around like puppies and require being relaid every so often. The buffs are varied, they're powerful, and they're plentiful. Totem of Wrath, Wrath of Air, Mana Spring, uhh... Stoneskin..?
  • Large Burst Damage - While this aspect of Elemental Shaman keeps getting nerfed(unfortunately), it can be quite a plus in PvE. Specifically, fights with adds and similar mechanics. An elemental shaman being able to quickly knock down adds can immediately lessen the stress on healers in some encounters.
  • Bloodlust - Pewpewpew. Stabstabstab.
You don't quite do to casters what Enhancement does to the melee, but you still bring some strong tools to the table.

Feral Druids: Sum catz is 4 bite.
  • Leader of the Pack - 5% Melee Crit to your party and some healing for the melee. I don't know how to make more crit sound impressive yet again so I will describe it thusly: Happytime confetti explosions.
  • Feral Faerie Fire - Do Restoration Druids have Faerie Fire? Yes. Is it easier for a feral druid to keep it up on the boss? Very yes. Is it as useful as a Moonkin's Faerie Fire? No. QQ.
  • Mangle - +30% Bleed damage. Seems a little 'teehee' at first glance, but raiding Rogues will be striving for a 100% uptime on Rupture. I guess it helps Deep Wounds, but really, who cares about Deep Wounds?
  • Tanking Capabilities - Feral druids are lucky in that their physical DPS tree is exactly the same as their tanking tree, with only minor talent differences between them. Cats, load up on some tanking gear. Being willing to use it when needed will drastically increase your chances of finding a raid.
  • Innervate/Battle Rez - Just because you're in catform doesn't mean these spells stop existing. Being able to step back from the action for a few seconds and Innervate one of the healers or casters, or drop a resurrection on an essential raid member in a tight spot, that will be what makes you truly shine.
  • You're A Kitty - So cute! Except the Tauren. They can go sit in a corner.
I'll cover you guys some more when I cover Bears, as that is a pretty huge part of what makes Ferals viable.

Moonkin: Man, you guys are hideous. That's alright, though. You're useful anyways.
  • Moonkin Aura - 5% Spell Crit to your party. Confetti. Etc. Stacks with Totem of Wrath for a cool 8% crit.
  • Improved Faerie Fire - Though it requires sacrificing a couple DPS talents to pick up, Improved Faerie Fire is absolutely amazing. 3% +Hit for your Physical damage dealers. While some of these classes hit the cap very easily, others will love you forever. And like the Totem of Wrath, it allows those already at the cap to change up some equipment to increase other stats.
  • Insect Swarm - Lower a boss's chance to hit by 2%? Sure. Why not?
  • Innervate/Battle Rez - See above.
Shadow Priests: Raids basically need at least one of you, if not two or three. They would be absolutely insane not to have at least one of you.
  • Vampiric Embrace - Health is good.
  • Vampiric Touch - Mana, too, is good. This very directly increases the longevity of the casters and healers in your party by quite a bit. Your damage essentially fuels the rest of the raid.
  • Misery - A flat 5% additional damage for the casters? Hey. I'm there.
  • Shadow Vulnerability - 10% more Shadow damage for yourself and the Warlocks. A very specific sort of utility, but it's there. The synergy between Shadow Priests and Warlocks is a great thing.
You guys are in high demand and if you play your character well, I don't foresee you having to work very hard at convincing someone to take you.

Arms/Fury(Fury/Arms?) Warriors: You have more utility than you think. Arms moreso than Fury, though Arms requires more concentration to play properly. Even with Fury as your primary talent tree, there is more utility in you than you know.
  • Blood Frenzy - Specific to the Arms tree, this talent will increase the physical damage taken by your target by 4% when Deep Wounds or Rend are active. Rend is terrible, so pretend that word does not exist in the description of this ability.
  • Sunder Armor - In the event that you do not have a Warrior tanking for you, putting up a stack of Sunder Armor will increase your raid's DPS by a very, very large amount. I don't have an exact number for you, but I can only assume that it is in the range of five billion.
  • Improved Demo Shout - This is easy to reach for a DPS warrior, and being able to put that up for your tank will be quite helpful. Demoralizing Shout is one of those things that are easily missed but actually make a very large difference.
  • Battle Shout - Like crit, Attack Power is good. Commanding Presence, an essential DPS warrior talent, makes it better. Simple enough.
  • Tanking Capabilities - You may need to Off-tank sometimes. It is good to be willing to do this and have a decent tanking gear set waiting in your bags. Being able to fill that role when needed will make you a hero.

Phew. That's a big list! There is a lot of utility that hybrids offer, and this is your greatest strength. Your damage isn't the highest out of all of the classes in WoW, but you are the lifeblood of the other classes in a raiding scene. You are what pushes everyone's limits, you are what turns your raid's "okay" DPS into "holy cow" DPS. For every one of you, there are at least four other people benefiting from your presence, if not many more than that.

However.

However.

This is not an excuse to play poorly. Just because you can lay a Totem of Wrath doesn't mean you get a ticket out of learning to play. Your damage will likely never match up to the pure DPS classes in most situations, but there are still standards, you still need to play to the best of your ability. Just as you are allowing the rest of the raid to push their limits, you should be striving to do the same for yourself. Once you've convinced a raid leader that you really are useful, that you bring a lot to the table, you need to follow through. You may have convinced someone to let you on their team, but the key after that point is skill. Possessing Heroism or Innervate is meaningless unless you know how to use Heroism and Innervate. I've shown you what delicious toys you have in your arsenal. Do the best thing you can do for yourself now and go research, or experiment on your own. WoW Insider has its very own class columns for you, and the internet is full of excellent resources. Elitist Jerks, WoWWiki, among other excellent places. Go. Learn.

Knowledge is power. So is confetti. Also kitties.

Additionally, even if I did not explicitly point it out beneath your particular spec, almost every single hybrid has healing capabilities. Know that, understand it, embrace it. If you need to heal yourself, do it. If your healers are being stretched thin and a few heals from you would help out, stop DPSing and help out. You may not think your tiny off-spec heals will get the job done, but you would be surprised. The idea of dropping some heals may not be the most appealing thing in the world to you, but you are a hybrid. Their ability to do things like that in a pinch is what makes hybrids such a beautiful thing.

Have any questions, comments or suggestions regarding this, or future installments of Hybrid Theory? Feel free to post a Comment below or submit them via the Contact Us link on the righthand side of the page.

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Raiding, Hybrid Theory

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