25 August 2008

I spoke too soon

How's this for timing? We get a blue post on the issue of raid composition on the same day I kick up a fuss about exactly that.

Ghostcrawler listed the reasons why Blizzard is examining raid buffs — and to put words in her mouth, I think raid utility as a whole. Not surprisingly, number one on this list was the fact that with a new class, and more 10-man content, raid stacking will becoming increasingly difficult in Northrend.

She also made this statement on raid-wide buffs:

"We are moving almost every buff to affect the entire raid. There are only a few exceptions, and these tend to be short-term, bursty abilities."

You can't call vampiric touch short-term or bursty. Does that seal it then? Will we become raid-wide mana batteries?

But this reason, to me, is the most interesting:

"Stacking a raid in order to get the right buffs has started to feel a little like a crutch, much like stacking consumables felt not so long ago. Because some of the buffs scale so well and have so much synergy with other classes, you may sometimes feel that you should pass over a really skilled player in order to pick up a buff that will bring more to you group. We'd rather get back to bringing good players or, gasp, even your friends."

On the one hand, that's exactly the right approach to take. It shouldn't matter what classes you have, you should be able to take on any encounter and succeed. But there's a sting in the tail depending on how you read this. Does it mean they will be balancing the damage output of hybrid dps, so they can compete, or does it mean you will no longer need to bring hybrid dps for their utility?

That's one frightening conclusion to this business. With raid-wide buffing and less dependency on group buffs, it's the support classes that stand to loose the most.

She goes on to give some examples of the changes we can expect to see:
  • The ability to easily get all major buffs and debuffs in a group while still having slots to spare
  • More parity in which classes can raid — that's right, they promise a degree of equality for all 'classes' when it comes to raid slots (note: not 'specs'); whether that means only one viable spec for each class (holy priests, for example) remains to be seen
  • More overlap in buffs and debuffs and very few unique abilities — multiple classes are going to be to deliver the same utility, like we've already seen with mana regeneration
  • No two classes should have the same set of buffs and debuffs, so there's always something unique they can bring to the group
I personally think these last two points are contradictory, but we'll have to wait and see how they deliver it.

Ghostcrawler gives a few examples, trotting out mana batteries as a prime — shadow priests, ret palandins and survival hunters will all be viable in that role. She forgets to mention frost mages and shaman too, of course.

"The goal is to get more people into raids and to let you bring the people you want. Ultimately, that should benefit everyone."

Well, I can't argue with that. But I'll reserve judgement until I see the execution, I think.


Aerei said...

I believe the last two points are meant to indicate that differing classes may have buffs/debuffs that have the same sort of effect, but approach it slightly differently, AND that no two classes will have a great number of abilities in common.

PS- WoW Insider featured this in their blogger roundup. :)

Anonymous said...

Ghostcrawler is a she

Merlot said...

"Ghostcrawler is a she"

Sorry, and thank you. Corrected.