Why bring a shadow priest? I play in mid-range casual guilds and have never had to justify my spot beyond personal, competent performance (or lack of). But if you're a top-end raider, this question matters.
that's why the recent Cataclysm news is a cause for anxiety. Shadow priests (and boomkins) are losing a key debuff (misery), and replenishment is being toned down, but the hybrid tax, which keeps theoretical peak hybrid dps a short way below that of the 'pure' classes, is still very much a reality.
The fewer reasons you have to pick a specific class, the more you are going to pick purely on dps potential. So what happens if shadow priests have nothing unique or significant to add, but do five per cent less damage than a mage?
Blizzard's raid philosophy of 'bring the player, not the class' rightly demands that no one class or spec should be invaluable to a raid. This is both a pragmatic decision (10-man raids just can't fill every hole) and an idealistic one (it shouldn't matter what classes you and your mates rolled when you go raiding).
So here then is the paradox: in attempting to ensure hybrids are not special snowflakes that raids can't do without, Blizzard is in danger of ensuring raids only take pure dps.
You could argue five per cent isn't a lot. Perhaps you could even make that up in skill and gear at some levels of raiding, but then the same is also true in reverse. And to be sure, the tax on hybrid dps is lower now than at any time in WoW's history — but so too is the range of tools and buffs that hybrids bring. As Euripedes eloquently observes, utility is no longer the sole preserve of hybrids.
The only remaining argument for maintaining a hybrid tax is the base flexibility of the classes to switch between dps and healing or tanking, but this is a misleading argument. I think to suggest that raids take hybrids over pure dps for their ability to rescue raids at a clutch is rather far from the norm. Even then, if the damage playing field was completely even, I would argue that most raids would chose the utility that pure classes bring over the theoretical flexibility of a hybrid.
The more I look at it, the more the hybrid tax seems counterintuitive to, even incompatible with, the 'bring the player not the class' philosophy. Is it time the tax was finally dropped?
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