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Posts with tag hybrid

Will dual specs eliminate the tank or healer shortage?

Reader Patrick commented recently that I was a doofus (well, no, he didn't actually say that but I sort of felt like one after he pointed out what I missed out on) and that I should mention how dual specs will eliminate the tank or healer shortage. With players who play classes that can tank or heal able to spec freely between either of the two, will this sufficiently eliminate the lack of healers or tanks for instances?

Even with the addition of a new tanking class, there are many occasions where players find themselves looking for a tank. With the great improvements to hybrid class' DPS, it's also been just as hard -- maybe even harder -- to find healers for groups. It's extremely common to see healing-capable classes spec for DPS like Retribution Paladins, Enhancement (or even Elemental) Shamans, and Balance or Feral Druids. The question then is if the option were available, would these players choose healing or tanking as another spec? It seems almost certain that players who can will spec either to tank or heal as their other spec in order to easier find accommodation in groups.

Are dual specs really the answer to the perceived tank or healer shortage? Ghostcrawler mentioned that the healer shortage was due to players not yet hitting 80 and were using leveling (i.e. DPS) builds. But now that more players are at max level, we still seem to see the same class roles being sought after in the public channels. The truth is, if players don't enjoy healing -- or tanking, for that matter -- they won't necessarily spec for it. Even if they did, they probably won't appreciate being pigeonholed into the role more often than they're allowed to play the spec they truly enjoy. While the new feature of Patch 3.1 will open up options for players, will it be enough?

Blood Pact: What dual specs mean for the class

Welcome to another edition of Blood Pact! I'd held off writing one because we've got a surprise for you guys as a new, better, shinier Warlock columnist is coming on board to give you the all the infernal goodness (or badness, if you prefer) you need. But since it looks like he's caught up at the cleaners trying to get that brimstone smell off his robes, I'm sneaking into his office and filling in for this week.

Today, we're going to talk about dual specs. You've probably heard of it. All the hybrid classes are squealing with girlish delight at the prospect, but even Warlocks have a reason cackle maniacally. For one thing, dual specs means more versatility for anyone, whatever class you play. In our case, it's the flexibility to deal a slow, painful death; a fiery death; or a torturous death through demonic beatdown. What can I say? That's what Warlocks do. We kill things. Dual specs, more than anything, simply means we get to choose how.

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Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, (Warlock) Blood Pact

The Light and How to Swing It: What dual specs mean for the class

So. Dual specs. More than any other class except, perhaps, for those freakish shapeshifting Druids, dual specs will have a great impact on Paladins. For one, it will save a lot of money on respec costs. I spend at least 600 Gold a week on respecs and re-glyphs, toggling back and forth between my raid and PvP specs. It also allows players to diversify their roles in a raid. At a glance, the feature has a lot of potential and should greatly improve the experience for all players regardless of class.

What do dual specs mean for this Paladins, anyway? For a hybrid class that can fill the three archetypal roles in the game, it means a lot. Healers can become tanks, tanks can become DPS, DPS can become healers... anything, really. It's simply a matter of toggling the proverbial switch both in the game and mindset. You can even bring PvE and PvP specs into the equation, expanding the Paladin's options considerably. When dual specs kick in with Patch 3.1 (fingers crossed), let's take a look at the delicious possibilities that open up for the class.

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Filed under: Paladin, Analysis / Opinion, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

Breakfast Topic: Who will dual specs benefit most?

One of the things that's often surprised me while reading forum threads concerning dual specs is just how wide the gulf is between pure and hybrid classes' perspective on the issue.* Pure classes are worried that they are increasingly obsolete in an age where a hybrid can easily respec between tanking, healing, and DPS. With the damage differences between hybrids and pure DPS shaved fairly thin in Wrath, they've got a point, and it's not that unusual to see resentful players asking why their class -- which cannot choose a different role -- has to risk losing a raid slot to a class that can.

By contrast, most of the hybrids to whom I've spoken see dual specs -- not as a competitive advantage, but rather as relief from the financial drain of constant respecs. 50g may not seem like a lot of money in Wrath's economy, but it adds up, to the point where you realize that the two hours you spent doing dailies will only net you about 20g after, say, respeccing to heal a heroic and then respeccing back to tank or DPS for the night's raid. Thus hybrids are equally resentful about the demands made on their time and e-wallet that pure classes don't have to worry about.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Classes

Breakfast Topic: How hybrid DPS could still get screwed in Wrath

Recently a bunch of the writers here were talking about all the changes we're seeing to various hybrid DPS specs. Retribution in the beta is known to bring some serious pain, cat DPS has been given some pretty sweet buffs, and Shamans...well, Shamans seem to be in a state of flux, but when is that not true? With tank AoE threat buffed, the need for crowd control may also be a thing of the past, thus eliminating one of the more annoying roadblocks to hybrid desirability in 5-man groups. For 5-mans, at least, hybrid DPS should encounter significantly less difficulty (we hope) getting a slot.

However, it was my contention that, for the purpose of raiding, it doesn't ultimately matter how much these specs get buffed. They could do amazing DPS, bring incredible buffs, have any number of raid-saving abilities, and fart gold on every crit -- but you're still not going to see a lot of hybrid DPS running around Wrath raids for one very simple reason: someone has to tank and heal, and neither job is sufficiently attractive to allow most hybrid players to come as DPS. When it's a choice between respeccing resto or the raid never getting off the ground, most players will respec resto -- and decisions like that tend to be fairly hard to escape. The next night rolls around and -- um, do you mind coming as resto again?

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Death Knight

Moonkins aiming to get DPS and group utility

Paladins weren't the only ones to get some attention from the crab last night. The Balance Druid post wasn't an especially information-filled post, but mostly served as a reminder that even though the devs may not respond to your threads, they are paying attention. Ghostcrawler explains that whlie she may be focusing more heavily on Feral Druids, that doesn't mean she isn't aware of Balance's needs. She clarifies their role in a raid (caster, duh), and states a Moonkin's needs to meet that role. She lists the following:
  • Competitive dps. Mages and warlocks just tend to get a lot of attention, maybe because there are more of them, or more races of them, or they are more archetypal classes (in the familiarity sense).
  • Good AoE utility. Encounters and dungeons tend to get designed with the assumption that the ranged DPS can do AoE. Hurricane is phenomenal now. I healed a run today and did really competitive dps with Hurricane on the ranged pulls. And I wasn't even Balance! I love Starfall. It's a rare spell because it feels new -- it isn't single target and it isn't classical Hurricane-style AoE either.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: Beta Impressions

Totem Talk's Matthew Rossi is in the beta now, and has been playing his shaman around the Howling Fjord as much as he could get away with. Today he'll be talking about his experiences with the quests, the drops, and the mobs leading up to Utgarde Keep.

It's kind of a precarious situation to discuss things like this. On the one hand I'm sensitive to the idea of spoiling content for people who want to experience it firsthand, and on the other I am also sensitive to the demands of those who want to know what's coming. The easiest way to deal with it is to load up on spoiler warnings (and in this case, not much I talk about in this column will be a spoiler, it's all things that have been revealed in other places) and to post behind the jump, which for the most part will be the tactics employed here.

First, however, let me say this much: I have seen my character, a shaman with Kara/T4 quality mail, take a large jump in his DPS. His attack power is up by an easy 300 points. If you are a shaman who has collecting what we used to call 'hunter mail' you will see a serious reward for equipping it in Northrend. The chestplate in the screenshot is what I'm wearing now: on live it grants 88 AP. On test, it's granting 156 AP, since I have the talent that converts int to AP. Clearly (and yes, I'm aware it's an unfair comparison, as that quest reward is leather) you're not going to be dumping your epics for the first quest rewards you come across.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Quests, Expansions, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King

Shifting Perspectives: A Feral Druid's Advice on Karazhan Part 1

Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week John Patricelli, the Big Bear Butt Blogger, tries to roll a bunch of feral druid advice together to help new druids get up to speed in Karazhan.

"Hi, I'm Windshadow, and I'm a Feral Druid."

This is a statement of pride, not of shame.

I am absolutely, now and forever, a feral Druid, unable to be restrained or 'tamed'... although I'm aware some folks suffer from a case of wishful thinking.

In the past, I've released a bunch of articles about gearing up for Karazhan.

Breaking them up by spec like I did, I'm afraid some folks might get the wrong idea about how we play our class.

The assumption may be that only one of those sets is important to you... if you are a feral Druid, you only need a bear tanking set, for example. Even some of those that play Druids may start to think, we have only one fixed role in a run.

That's not the impression I wanted to give.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Raiding, Classes, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

More leaks from the Alpha forums on Shamans, Warriors, and Death Knights has just posted another batch of info from the Alpha forums, this time with Wryxian and Slorkuz talking about Shamans, Warriors, and Death Knights. Primarily, they focus on the tanking abilities of Death Knights and Warriors and delve into some possible improvements to the Shaman Enhancement tree in WoTLK, including possible new talents:


Enhancement Shamans, says Wryxian, will probably see further review. It looks like a lot of the new Enhancement talents will see some changes as well:

  • Weapon Specialization (which gives special abilities based on which weapon type the Shaman uses) will likely be removed
  • Improved Shamanistic Rage (which made Shamans using SR immune to all movement impairing effects and stuns at 2 points) will also probably be removed.
  • Wryxian mentioned a possible replacement for Weapon Specialization: Each melee critical hit would give a stacking buff that reduces cast time by 20% and lasts for 15 seconds. That would mean that at 5 stacks, you'd get a free instant cast spell.
  • Feral Spirit, the 51 point enhancement ability that summons ghost wolves to aid the Shaman, may be getting a second look as well.

For Enhancement DPS, they hope that totems and shocks make up for the lack of melee abilities to keep it interesting, though they may consider a new melee move for Shamans as well. In addition, he promises new totem changes soon.

Read on for some juicy information on Warriors, Death Knights, and Blizzard's vision for tanking in WoTLK.

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Filed under: Shaman, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Expansions, Classes, Talents, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors

Hybrid Theory: Healers, hit, and homogenization

Welcome to Hybrid Theory, where we discuss all things hybrid in the World of Warcraft. Hybrid Theory is brought to you each week by columnist/blogger Alex Ziebart.

Brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. Today's Hybrid Theory is purely guesswork and speculation. In no way will I pretend that these are facts, and you should not take them as such. It's a topic that grabbed my interest, and it's something I really enjoy trying to figure out despite the missing pieces of information we don't have yet. I welcome all of you to add your thoughts on it in the comments section below. Perhaps we can get a decent idea of what's to come.

Let's get started, shall we? In the previous weeks of Hybrid Theory, we've discussed all we knew about some of our favorite classes. During this discussion, matters of itemization often came up. Most notably, the new Spellpower mechanic. This would allow healers and DPS classes to use the same gear, but Healing spells would get twice the benefit.

First thought is that DPS and healers will share gear. Right? Well... maybe. Possibly. There are a lot of factors we don't really know yet. While it isn't always the case, for some classes there is a pretty large divide between gear that is good for a caster and gear that is good for a healer, and the deciding factor isn't how much damage or healing is on that item. In some cases you'll be able to switch seamlessly from DPS spec to Healing spec and not need to change your equipment, but trying to optimize your gear in both cases is not going to be so easy.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Hybrid Theory, Wrath of the Lich King

Hybrid Theory: Shadow Priests and the Wrath Alpha

Welcome to Hybrid Theory, where we discuss all things hybrid in the World of Warcraft. Hybrid Theory is brought to you each week by columnist/blogger Alex Ziebart.

I really thought my excitement over Wrath of the Lich King would fade after the initial onslaught of alpha information and just come back around launch time, but that hasn't really been the case. It's been a pretty consistent type of excitement, and I pretty much devour every piece of information I can find.

We've talked about Druids already, but while I love Hybrids in general, my Shadow Priest is my main and my first love. Yes yes, I'm sure some of you still disagree with Priests being Hybrids, but I'm of the opinion that they are so I shall continue. If you want to disagree, do so in the Comments section below.

I adore playing my Shadow Priest, but I think all Shadow Priest players agree with me when I say there are some definite issues with the class on some level or another. Why don't we take a seat and see what might be on the devs' minds, eh?

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Filed under: Priest, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Raiding, Talents, Buffs, Hybrid Theory, Wrath of the Lich King, Arena

Hybrid Theory: Is it too much?

Welcome to Hybrid Theory, where we discuss all things hybrid in the World of Warcraft. Hybrid Theory is brought to you each week by columnist/blogger Alex Ziebart.

Here on Hybrid Theory, we've done a lot of glorifying the group utility that Hybrids provide. It's one of their strongest points, and the factor that could make or break their raid spot in a setting of pure recruitment. Recently, I discussed the direction this concept of utility is going with a few raidmates of mine, and some interesting points were made.

The synergy between classes in The Burning Crusade is powerful, but moving in a direction in which the classes and specs become too reliant on one another, or you have to decide which hybrid is more important to you than another hybrid in the same role. Some class/spec combinations simply can't perform in a raid setting without a specific hybrid class alongside them. Some hybrid classes can't perform without other hybrids in their group. This poses a problem for the pure classes, and even though we don't know the exact details of the Death Knight, adding another class may only make things harder.

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Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Paladin, Shaman, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Hybrid Theory, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: Scraping off the rust

One of the interesting aspects to playing a class as varied as the shaman (or any hybrid, really, but Hybrid Theory's on weekends, you should read that too) is the disparate roles you can end up playing. For example, on my slowly leveling paladin, I'm constantly forced to look at quest drops and say "Well, it's a healing drop, but it would be an upgrade to my healing set, so I'll hold onto it." On my shamans, even though I rarely see a quest drop nowadays, I've worked to assemble elemental, enhancement and restoration sets for each: my restoration shaman has been getting some love lately, with certain new drops and enchants helping increase his plus heal to around 1800 or so, but at the same time I've been forced to realize something.

I went three months playing nothing but enhancement and man, I was rusty. The first Magisters' Terrace run I did on the orc was a parade of dead tank, dead me, dead DPS. Now, admittedly, this is entirely due to my own foolishness in trying to heal MgT my first run back on the job, so to speak, and subsequent runs in Shattered Halls and Black Morass went much better, helping me to get my legs back under me. It's not like you actually forget the role so much as you have to take the time for it to become familiar again.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Raiding, Talents, (Shaman) Totem Talk

The Light and How to Swing It: Seals, Blessings, and Auras part I

In the Burning Crusade intro cinematic, we see an extremely cool sight with a Draenei Paladin reading from a libram, casting a spell, and walking dramatically away with his Hammer of the Naaru over his shoulder. That spell that he cast was a Seal, one of the core features around which the class is designed. A Seal lasts thirty seconds (which makes you wonder why the Draenei in the video cast it, seeing as how he'll probably need to refresh it once he's out of the building) and can be unleashed through a Judgement for a particular effect.

Seals are self-affecting magic effects while Blessings, the other core class mechanic, can be cast on others and often have longer durations. Auras are an area-of-effect buff and the third core class feature that rounds out the Paladin's playing mechanics. Although other classes have persistent area-of-effect buffs such as a Shaman's totems or a Druid's 41-point talents, only Paladins have passive, permanent aura. Understanding and mastering the use of these three core features are key to playing the Paladin class.

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Filed under: Paladin, Analysis / Opinion, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

Hybrid Theory: Performance Assessment

Last week we discussed the fact that raw DPS is not a good indicator of the strength of a hybrid. The quality of a hybrid, or a person that plays a hybrid, will not easily be seen by looking at traditional damage and/or healing meters the same way you would for 'pure' classes.

Before I go on, I'd like to reiterate my disclaimer on this topic: Just because your class or spec is not expected to top damage meters, that does not mean you should become complacent about your DPS or Healing effectivenessity(use it, love it) in a raid. You should always strive to be a better player and find ways to improve yourself. If you think you've hit the ceiling of what you can accomplish, work harder to break through it.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Bosses, Hybrid Theory

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