Friday, April 1, 2011

Not so Homogeneous

There has been a lot of talk now for the last - well since 4.0 dropped - about class homogenization. For those of you who don't read dictionaries for fun, that means how Blizzard is making all the classes similar, taking away their "uniqueness". Blizzard started with buffs, removing some, and changing others, to make people "bring the raider, not the class". However, people are complaining that the classes are all losing their appeal, the things that people liked about their class are being removed or changed. Although I'm wondering if this is as big of an issue as people are saying it is, are there really too few differences between classes now?
Well lets start with the buffs. Is anyone really complaining about the fact that there are too few unique buffs now? Okay I know we all liked getting the 10% bonus from kings, and then the additional bonus to attributes from Mark of the Wild, however this is a sweeping change, it's not as though one faction lost it, the other didn't, so it's the same across the board, so really no loss here (Blizzard will be making changes to the raids based on this lower total attributes). Most of the buffs that were changed are in the same boat, there are only a few that I can think of that were dropped completely (Priest spirit buff comes to mind, wow do I miss that buff now...). So effectively I think that the buff changes were for the better, however I am probably a little biased considering I raid 10mans, where it was previously impossible to get even close to all the buffs you could in 25mans.
As for the class spells there has been huge changes that's true. The first change that comes to mind is healers (because I am a healer and have healed this expansion, at least in some normal dungeons, on 3 of the 4 healing classes). All four classes have seemingly similar main heals now. The amount healed and mana costs are different, however you can easily break them down into 3 categories:
  1. Slow, low healing, mana efficient spell.
  2. Slow, large heal, not AS mana efficient spell
  3. Fast, weak, extremely INefficient spell
But is this change a big deal? I don't really think so. Blizzard has still kept the things that make these four healing classes unique. Holy pallies still have beacon of light, and I don't care what anyone says, yes it's nerfed from Wrath but that's because it was pretty OP back then, I would say it's now a little more on par. Their mastery needs some work yes, but they have kept their unique style. Shaman have kept their shields (earthshield/watershield/etc.) and chainheal (yes I know it's expensive, but it's still there) and of course their amazing totems! Resto Druids are still the hot based class, and that's pretty much all I know about them so I'm going to stop there. Priests, well what do I say about my favorite class? Discipline is still the master of mitigation, with the unique new atonement mechanic. Holy is being true to its name as the "masters of healing", they seem to be great tank healers (although I would argue Shaman and Pallies do have an easier time with it), and to be completely honest I think they are the best raid healers in the game. Of course they have always kept their signature spell that no healing priest should be without Prayer of Mending. I actually never really thought about how unique this ability was until the other night healing Chimaeron with a tank that had never done the fight before (as a tank), and I mentioned to our tank healer Janyaa that I would try to keep Prayer of Mending on the one taking the double strike. She seemed confused why that was such a big deal so I linked the spell to her. She had no idea a spell like that existed, it seems to be the Priest's deep dark secret, that we have such an amazing spell, and it's especially amazing on double strikes on Chimaeron, where it guarantees a tank has enough HP to survive that second hit!
What about the Homogenization of tanks? Well you may be thinking that there is quite a bit of variability in tanks, with one that wears leather, and one that really seems to act more like a dps looking at its spec, and you would be right. There are a lot of tanks that talk about losing certain parts to their abilities, to make them more homogeneous, such as Ardent Defender being an on use CD now, but overall they definitely have different strengths and weaknesses, and coming from a healer, are completely different to heal.
Well this is about as comfortable as I feel like taking it from a specific standpoint. I really don't have as much knowledge of classes as some people, and definitely don't know a whole lot about changes they have faced, given I have only been around for one expansion so far. As one final note I think it's important to realize that to some degree there does have to be some amount of homogenization between similar roles. If mechanics between classes were to differ too much, it would be nearly impossible to balance encounters, or to make PVP a "best player wins" sort of environment, rather than a rock-paper-scissors game. We've already seen this to a degree with the world first Nefarian
So thank you Blizzard, for making the hard choice to find the sweet spot in homogenization, to ensure a more balanced game.

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