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Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Twilight of Pures

At this point in WoW’s development I am beginning to think that Pure classes are one of the issues holding back the game’s development.

               Last week Ghostcrawler wrote a post about the five models of specs in WoW. Sadly, the one that is most interesting to many of the forum posters is the fifth which Ghostcrawler outright stated would not happen in time for Mists. I find his reasoning for why it can’t happen funny, “[model five is] not the kind of thing we could change today without taking an enormous amount of effort.” Given that in Cataclysm and every expansion before it they have made huge talent changes to classes. In just this last expansion Paladins and Warlocks gained new resources, Blood became Death Knight’s only tanking tree and the list goes on. Suffice to say sweeping changes to the talent trees are possible. The post focuses primarily on DPS specs, which are certainly tricky; hunters and rogues especially are going to have trouble being differentiated (currently the Mists calculator shows only a two active ability different between Marksman and Survival hunters). However in the comments and in its undertones it hints at a greater issue WoW is facing; Pures in general.

Bring the Player, not the Pure

               I lead a small ten man raiding guild; we have 13 players and we’ve been together since Karazhan (some of us had been in the same Molten Core run in Vanilla) so we’ve had quite a bit of experience. Over time we’ve shuffled around characters and we’ve had a few members come and go but much of the roster has stayed stable the entire time. That said, we’re now at the point where we are making progress through Dragon Soul (we started late due to missing most of December due to Holiday related events) and we’re looking ahead towards Mists with the sometimes tossed query of, “So what do you want to play in Mists?” and some of our players have asked me directly, “What class do you want me to bring?” sadly, while I know plenty of these players are attached to specific characters, we’ve had to accept that sometimes we have to ask people to play something different so that we have all the major roles fulfilled.
               The trouble I face as a raid leader is that I do not want to bring a Pure DPS class when I have the option of a hybrid. The hybrids bring everything a DPS does, plus the option of having a backup Healer/Tank if someone has to sit out one night. The Hybrid tax used to make some argument in the alternative but with it gone there is no real reason for a Pure to have a spot if a Hybrid can take it….especially since we’re saying “bring the player” the problem is that I would prefer to see, “bring the player as the class they want.” In my opinion it is time for pures to go the way of the Dodo, because in a way they are almost a “selfish” choice, for bringing a Pure sub-textually tells your group that you are there to DPS and you don’t care about the success of the group. Even if it is because you really like the feel and flavor of the class, you are putting yourself ahead. For PuGs and loosely affiliated guilds this isn’t as much of an issue, but for a group of friends it can be frustrating. Not only that, if you are bringing a Pure, then in my opinion as a leader you had better be playing the highest DPS spec of that pure. You really like having a spirit beast? Tough, you’re survival because you are here to DPS, not to show off your awesome pet. I find myself even willing to give more lee-way to hybrids because of that versatility and I dislike that feeling.

Utility for Pures?
               One possible benefit they could give Pure classes is additional utility to counterbalance their role limitation. If they can’t give them more DPS then Blizzard could try giving them something useful. However as of this writing I haven’t been able to think of a utility they could give any of the Pure classes that would avoid making them mandatory. Some of the arguable Utilities are:
-        Tricks of the Trade and Misdirection: but with threat as high as it is these are rarely useful.
-        Feign and Vanish: with so many bosses causing automatic death with a wipe (Zonzz is difficult, Morchok sometimes, Yor’sahj depending on his oozes, Ultraxion you can’t escape, etc) the potential wipe protection from these is minimal.
-        Summon; with mass summon this is less enticing but nice to have.
-        Healthstones: These are good but giving them to the other pure classes leaves Warlocks with little and since you can only have one…well you’d only need one pure.
-        Food: Really somewhat unimpressive with how easy it is to get other types of food or feasts for each wipe. Even making the mage’s table act like a feast wouldn’t help since again you’d only need one mage.

So now the challenge that is being faced is how to give Pures some unique tools and benefits without making any of them mandatory, and while making sure they are useful before the first pure in your group…a lofty challenge.

The Alternative, my proposal

               I propose it here, though I am surely not the first, that the Pures be done away with….but not with the classes themselves. What I recommend is turning all Pures into hybrids. Combat rogues could easily become a sort of Duelist-themed tank. Demonology Warlocks and Beastmaster Hunters could tank through their pet, passing the owners aggro onto it, which would also provide a unique, somewhat Pokemon-esque feeling of tanking that the game hasn’t yet scene. Arcane or Frost mages could be made to heal, either could find justification (or even Fire for that matter, what with spells like Cauterize). Even so, all of these could be done without taking away the DPS options of those specs: We already know that Blizzard is willing to give a class four specs (see druids). This issue adds three new tank classes to the game and a new healer; it eliminates the issue of Pures being somewhat deadweights on raids and may have an impact on the queue times of LFR and LFD.
               Let us make “Bring the player, not the class” really mean something, allow any ten people to have a solid chance at forming a successful group.

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