Spec Representation and Balance

100 Human Death Knight
19610
This topic aims to encourage discussion that should hopefully prove useful both the developer and player communities, especially when considering balance as it currently stands.

I’d like to start with a basic question that I am interested in hearing from many of you on: How realistic is it to expect multiple DPS specs within the same class to be represented in a somewhat even manner across both the PvE and PvP spectrum?

For reference, such classes include: Warlocks, Hunters, Mages, Rogues, Death Knights, Warriors, Druids and Shamans.

This question obviously presupposes that:

-Blizzard’s intent is to encourage healthy representation for all specs, depending on player preference.

-All specs are intended to be equally viable across a broad range of PvE and PvP content. Performance variance across encounters and arena/RBG brackets is an obvious given.

Intent, of course, doesn’t necessarily reflect current reality.
After nearly two months of MoP being out, it’s safe to assume we’ve seen a decent spread of spec representation in both PvE and PvP content.

Here’s a few more questions to keep in mind when considering this topic:

*To what degree must the representation between DPS specs of the same class differ before one can definitively be termed “underrepresented”? What specs do we currently think of when we think of a lack of representation?

*Is encouraging a spec’s representation necessarily a good thing (consider how it might affect existing comp/raid balance)?

*Continuing from my previous question, if the answer is "yes": Should this automatically mean a numbers buff or a reexamination of design iteration for said spec(s)?

One request before I conclude: Please don’t turn this into a “My spec is underpowered, thus it barely sees representation” or a “Buff me please!” thread. There are plenty of existing threads that serve such a purposes

I’d go on, but for now I’m curious to see what thoughts some of you might have.
Edited by Magdalena on 11/19/2012 3:42 AM PST
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100 Human Warlock
17960
11/19/2012 03:41 AMPosted by Magdalena
How realistic is it to expect multiple DPS specs within the same class to be represented in a somewhat even manner across both the PvE and PvP spectrum?

I have some counter-questions.

What do you define as "somewhat even," and how do you account for fight mechanics that strongly favour a particular spec's toolset over anothers? Ie: How do you balance Frost and Fire when Fire can Impact damage onto adds regularly?
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100 Human Death Knight
19610
"Somewhat even" is something I expect there to be a lot of differing opinion on, which is why I decided not to try and stick a definition onto it.
I think it'd be an interesting exercise for forum posters to compare how their definition of "somewhat even" might match up up with one other (no pun intended!).

As for the latter half of your question, I would hope (read: hope does not necessarily mean that I see this as being the way things current are) that this was something Blizzard took into account when balancing each spec.
Assuming the goal was to see "even" representation (obviously going by their own definition), one would assume that their goal was to see every DPS spec perform amiably when played correctly on some fights and shine on others.

Remember, I am talking in ideal terms here.
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90 Troll Mage
15205
11/19/2012 07:54 AMPosted by Bándet
If you aren't a mage, expect to play one spec, and deal with it.


Locks, rogues, and DKs all seem to be doing quite well with multi specs.
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90 Draenei Shaman
7695
11/19/2012 09:33 AMPosted by Hiroran
If you aren't a mage, expect to play one spec, and deal with it.


Locks, rogues, and DKs all seem to be doing quite well with multi specs.


its always a mage who comes to the defense.

If you're a shaman, you heal or you gtfo.
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90 Troll Mage
15205
Enhance shaman are doing quite well on most fights actually.

Also your little jab at mages. It could possibly be that you are biased against mages and it prevents you from looking at the facts that other specs are doing quite well.
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100 Goblin Warlock
17100
11/19/2012 09:33 AMPosted by Hiroran
If you aren't a mage, expect to play one spec, and deal with it.


Locks, rogues, and DKs all seem to be doing quite well with multi specs.


In terms of pvp that's pretty wrong whereas mages have multiple working pvp specs. Can't be talking about PVE since really it's go fire or go home so yeah in pvp locks and rogues are bottom of the barrel atm and dks have 1 viable pvp spec atm.
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90 Troll Mage
15205
11/19/2012 09:55 AMPosted by Purebalance
Can't be talking about PVE since really it's go fire or go


100% false, frost can do perfectly competitive damage to fire.
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90 Human Paladin
14125
Imagine yourself as someone who's putting together an RBG group. Ask yourself, what class/specs would you not invite? Those are the specs/classes that need buffs. Inversely, you could say the classes/specs that you would invite would need nerfs.

As a 1600 RBG rated Ret Paladin, I had joined a group to do RBGs with and a few of them questioned having a Ret in the Raid as "inefficient". Thankfully a Warlock I know defended me. We lost, but to a team that had 2 Ret Paladins.

Mists of Pandaria's class balance is nearly as bad as it was in Burning Crusade. It's as if throughout the Beta they muted feedback and were more concerned over bugs. In Cata, it took Ret Paladins until FireLands to be in a good spot, and maybe even until Dragon Soul patch. Do we really need another repeat of this?
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100 Blood Elf Death Knight
FBI
13735
I don't want this to sound like I'm tooting Unholy's horn, but it's one spec I feel is particularly under-represented at the moment. Unholy and Frost DKs have very close damage potential, but mechanically, Unholy isn't cut out for Mists-level progression.

Between three raids, Unholy only outperforms Frost on one fight- Elegon, in Mogu'shan Vaults, due to Unholy's sustained disease damage on Sparks when you land a Pestilence. In a raid like Terrace, whose encounters are very melee-unfriendly, Unholy loses potential while Frost (especially Dual-Wield, which emphasizes magic damage) can sustain itself with Howling Blast. Unholy has jarring target-swapping issues due to its unique form of resource management (a single Pestilence can stop an Unholy DK's rotation entirely for 20 seconds if improperly timed), and lacks the burst AoE mandatory in encounters such as Feng, Gara'jal, Will of the Emperor, Lei Shi, Tsulong, and so on. Aside from diseases, every potential aspect of Unholy's "burst" AoE is held back by ramp-up, and even its sustained AoE is held back by cooldowns. In fact, its active AoE in general is an issue, as the rotation requires the mastery of between 8 and 12 different buttons, many of which are single-target due to its AoE constraints. To top this off, many players find a pet UI to be painful to use, which is Unholy's only other advantage over Frost aside from the disease damage.

Compare this to Dual-wield Frost, whose burst AoE is primarily one button that they'd spam in single-target anyway. Howling Blast automatically applies Frost Fever to all targets it cleaves into, which eases Frost's target-swapping and improves sustained damage, and also has a 30 yard range to reduce its reliance on the 5 yard melee range.

This probably would be inconsequential, but I was checking the GuildOx website that came up on the MMO-Champion front page a couple days ago, and Unholy doesn't even show up on the PVE list for popular DK Spec/Talent combinations, while it only holds slot #19 of 20 for popular PVE DK Spec/Glyph combinations. I'll grant that the data is pulled from a very small demographic (the top 5% of raiders, it claims), but it's not hard to fill in the blanks as to how this reflects actual representation, especially considering much of the player base is still struggling to ween itself off of cookie-cutter builds with the recent changes to the talent trees.

Consider this just an example, as this is probably an issue that many other classes see- one spec not simply "outperforming" numerically, but generally being easier to play for equal or even greater mechanical reward, both personally and in terms of raid functionality.
Edited by Leviatharan on 11/19/2012 10:50 PM PST
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