"Support" Class. Lets talk about that.

MVP - World of Warcraft
90 Blood Elf Paladin
HC
0
So, the term support is one that can be very broad. We, as MMO players, tend to think that "support" is synonymous with "healer."

Lets look at the definition of the word support:
sup·port
verb (used with object)
1. to bear or hold up (a load, mass, structure, part, etc.); serve as a foundation for.
2. to sustain or withstand (weight, pressure, strain, etc.) without giving way; serve as a prop for.
3. to undergo or endure, especially with patience or submission; tolerate.
4. to sustain (a person, the mind, spirits, courage, etc.) under trial or affliction: They supported him throughout his ordeal.
5. to maintain (a person, family, establishment, institution, etc.) by supplying with things necessary to existence; provide for: to support a family.


We understand support in terms of MMO's more close along the lines of the first definition; We are there to hold up people as they take incoming damage that is either avoidable or (in most cases for the general population of players) not.

There was tweet that got me thinking about our current understanding of our role as healers, and the trifecta that is currently: Tank, DPS, Healer.

I'll start off by saying that there isn't anything wrong with it by design. When you step back and look at it it's pretty clean, and I can continue playing as is currently pretty happily. Though, if you could just humor me, what do you think WoW would be like if we didn't have so much healers as we had supports?

First, we should clarify what would define a support - and what wouldn't. I think healing abilities are a natural step in the 'support' direction - as that's the way it's been in well, any fantasy game ever. But an important tool to look at when we're talking about supports is utility.

Yes. Utility. Like a hunter's Frozen Trap, or a Warlock's Demonic Gate. These tools, in most other genres, would be considered support spells. And while support/utility abilities aren't limited to a support/healing class, it's interesting to me to think - perhaps, what would a support class be like in WoW?

Are we talking like a Bard from perhaps Rift or FF 14? Are we talking about a character design similar to Leona or Nami from League of Legends? The parallel to these comparisons are that they all posses a strong form of utility that allows them to strengthen others. Bards in Rift buff other party members while either providing a small bit of damage or healing. Final Fantasy's Bard's have their overall damage output while playing a constant song that provides incredible benefits to their party. Nami, and Leona, are both utility supports that can turn the tide of a battle in a press of a button.

When we look at these sort of strengths, it's easy to be allured to the idea of 'Well what about WoW?'

My question to you is - if say, the developers were developing a class that was more of a utility/'support' class, what would it look like to you? What do you think would work. What wouldn't?

Just a thought. :)
Edited by Practical on 8/2/2013 6:58 PM PDT
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90 Worgen Druid
9545
Personally, I think of Disc as a support class. Providing damage, healing, preventing damage, and lessening it.

And I'll go more into detail about my thoughts on a support class in just a minute.

The idea of a support class, is often thought of as buffing other players to preform their role better. In a MMO environment, a true support class would be a very hard task to pull off, especially in today's age of gaming. Players want to feel powerful. So for a support role to work correctly, they would have to truly make a difference in the damage/healing output of another in order for the support class to truly be wanted to be played.

The question truly is, what "buffs" would the support class be providing.
How many of the 8 "main" buffs would they provide, if any? Would they be changeable in order to be more flexible in groups?
How would the "support" buffs be provided; on a single target, for the entire raid, or for a group inside a certain radius?
What types of buffs would they be? A percent damage/healing increase? A temporary stat increase?

How would the "support" buffs interact with the buffed player? Would they continue following their rotation, or change their rotation up based on the buff?

How would everything be balanced? Would the support class be required in a raid group? If so, the buffs have to be significant enough to warrant their presence, or they would also have to provide enough healing/dps themselves in addition to their buffs. If not, why not just bring another dps/healer instead, and require more from the individual players?

Would each spec's healing/damage be balanced around their individual damage/healing, or with the support role in mind? What if a support's ability's interaction with a certain ability made the certain ability overpowered? Which would be nerfed, the buff or the ability, or would the interaction between the two be nerfed? If the interaction would be nerfed, then there would be a lot of "if thens" attached onto the buff's tooltip.

It would be a rather large hassle to add a support class into this game; one of which, is not worth it. Like Blizzard has always said, "How much content would you be willing to sacrifice for this?"
Edited by Malrius on 8/2/2013 7:39 PM PDT
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90 Tauren Druid
8435
The way I would imagine a support class - given the current talent systems - would function is as a means to augment; DPS, Healers, Tanks.

I have no clue how this would or could work. All I do know is that one way or another, this will eat up another raidslot.
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This sounds a lot like hybrids in the BC era. They weren't really brought for their damage, they were brought to buff the pures or to provide nifties for the healers.

I liked that style quite a lot, actually.
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90 Pandaren Monk
15705
Nami from League of Legends


Hate that hero <______<

But I think they moved away from supporty type of healers. Shamans/Paladins back in classic-wrath were more supporty and buffed the raid while doing very little healing.

I'd like to see a healer who has random little bs things they can do to support the raid.
Edited by Suplift on 8/2/2013 7:48 PM PDT
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100 Orc Shaman
HC
16845
My question to you is - if say, the developers were developing a class that was more of a utility/'support' class, what would it look like to you? What do you think would work. What wouldn't?


Vanilla, Shaman/Paladin since iirc they referenced them directly when speaking of a "support." But also moved to say something along the lines of they're not sure if they would be supported in today's game environment, which I can somewhat see.

The game simply can't support it with their direction of homogenization =[. Even if we had 3 support, 3 healer, either those 3 support brought all the same things or you would be required to bring 1 of each to the raid while the "healers" would be w.e. Utility triumphs output when it comes to healing, this was seen with discipline priest early expansion when they were more than "20-30%" throughout behind the other healers, yet still brought to early kills.

I'd be fine with it, but their design isn't =[.
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90 Worgen Druid
12780
Oh, you mean like EQ bard and enchanter classes?

No.

Just no.

Nothing worse than having to have a bard and enchanter in every group for a raid, and them being so slow, painful and abysmal to level that the supply is short, and the demand is high.

We actually used to box them as buff bots for a while because we couldn't get any.

I have one of each in EQ2 and Ill tell you. If I want a raid spot, I have it. Period. Just... I don't want it...
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The shamans of old is what I'd imagine as a base for a "support" role. As for what kind of abilities they'd bring, Stormlash would be my main examply of a support spell: Press one button to grant additional something to the raid, but the presence or absence of it will not truly make nor break your raid (no one is stacking over 10 shamans for Stormlash).

I really do not consider healing as support, at least not from a real healer's point of view. However, abilities like Ancestral Guidance, Vampiric Embrace, etc, I do view them as support.

Basically, for me, a real support class would be one that can not dedicate itself fully to healing, nor dps or tanking, but is capable of enhancing the team temporarily either to give some simple increases of throughput, defenses or simple utility on the level of totems like Tremor and Windwalk.

The problem with a support role nowadays is that the game model has evolved to NOT allow the existance of such role. The utility would have to either be too good to the point that every raid team would want at least one, or the utility would have to be so unimpactful to the point that there'd be little justification to bring them over a DPS/healer. An ability like Stormlash works because it's brought by an entire class that has specific roles; an entire class or spec devoted to similar support would simply not be able to exist in today's game.
Edited by Korghal on 8/2/2013 7:55 PM PDT
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90 Worgen Druid
12780
08/02/2013 07:52 PMPosted by Korghal
The utility would have to either be too good to the point that every raid team would want at least one, or the utility would have to be so unimpactful to the point that there'd be little justification to bring them over a DPS/healer.


Pretty much this.

In EQ and EQ2, they were pretty much mandatory. EQ2 there are two bards and two enchanters(different variants of each class).

One enchanter(illusionist) provides mostly caster dps buffs, procs on spellcast, etc and mana regeneration. The other(coercer) is primarily melee buffs and gives a hate gain buff to the tank, as well as mana regeneration.

Bards, dirge provides melee buffs as well as Cacophony of Blades, which procs damage on melee hit, gives a single target buff that increases healing done for a short time, and a variety of debuffs. They also have meager mana regeneration and a channeled, crappy heal.

Troubadour, the other bard, is primarily caster dps buffs. And Jester's Cap. This increases cast time and reuse speed of all abilities by so much, and it's pretty much fought over by everyone.

Dirge btw, is the easier of the two to level. They debuff noxious, which helps their spell abilities, and most all of their buffs affect melee. Troubs are mostly magic caster buffers, and their damage outside of raid settings is pathetic. They're harder to find as a result.

They're also the only scouts that can't use poisons. :/

But yeah, you need at least one bard or enchanter in each group. Specific preference depends on the group make up. My guild preferred one of each in each group, since most buffs are group only.
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90 Troll Druid
9910
Depends on blizzards interpretation of a support class. Rift did it will, never played another mmo that did it.

I wouldn't like a copy & paste of rift, as it was done well, but I personally didn't like it.

The problem with a new role is, once they do that, what was the point of them consolidating the buff system over all the years (wrath/cata/mop). Honestly all that thinking & work just goes down the tube unless they reimagine the idea of support.

Its an extremely touchy subject that have to take carefully.
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90 Night Elf Druid
6995
I do like the idea of a support class but I think in the current raid dynamic it would be too hard to implement. I do imagine a support class being how I played a warlord in D&D 4.0 providing buffs to my allies and granting them extra attacks. Warriors would be a good options for a support class actually due to their already implemented shouts and banners and spells like shattering throw. Make shouts give some of their effects to allies and have banners be on shorter cool downs. They would deal less personal damage but greatly buff the raid and provide a massive amount of utility. But I do not see this happening anytime soon.

What I would honestly like to see is Blizz implementing multiple roles for each class. Like I could see a rogue being a tank or a ranged dps specializing in throwing weapons, or a mage tanking (like a sword mage in D&D). Obviously all classes can't do all roles. For example I find it hard to think of any reasonable way to explain a warrior or a rogue as a healer. But I can see warlocks tanking as demons and healing by channeling their own life into allies while healing themselves with passive regen or stealing health from enemies. I find it exciting that Druids can do 4 different roles and I think they should do it for other classes too.
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90 Night Elf Druid
9605
08/02/2013 10:10 PMPosted by Grizzlebeer
I do like the idea of a support class but I think in the current raid dynamic it would be too hard to implement.
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90 Night Elf Druid
14840
to be honest if i want to play support i go play my Plat 2 LoL account but this is WoW and i just wanna to heal and thats it.....dont wanna do anything else besides healing kthx
Edited by Nillie on 8/3/2013 12:36 AM PDT
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90 Human Priest
16220
Bards in FF Tactics (I didn't play 14, but I imagine they were similar) were my favorite class because of how insanely useful they were. Within a few short turns they could completely supercharge your entire team's stats and turn you into, essentially, a five man army. That's the kind of thing I see when I think of "Support." Little strength on their own, but a huge asset to any team via buffs.

Would something like that work in WoW? I doubt it. With the way Blizzard tends to balance, I imagine they'd be either so good that other roles are being sat in multitudes for them, or so weak that they aren't worth bringing.
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90 Night Elf Druid
9605
Bards in FF Tactics (I didn't play 14, but I imagine they were similar) were my favorite class because of how insanely useful they were. Within a few short turns they could completely supercharge your entire team's stats and turn you into, essentially, a five man army. That's the kind of thing I see when I think of "Support." Little strength on their own, but a huge asset to any team via buffs.

Would something like that work in WoW? I doubt it. With the way Blizzard tends to balance, I imagine they'd be either so good that other roles are being sat in multitudes for them, or so weak that they aren't worth bringing.


Remember when you get BEOWULF AND HE JUST LIFE DRAINS WHOEVER YOU WANT FOR 999 HEALTH FROM LIKE ALMOST ANYWHERE!?
YUS!!!!!!!!!!!
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90 Pandaren Shaman
14345
This is a topic I've been discussing with friends over the last week, I believe we read the same tweet. However I think that rather than adjusting a current role, adding in a new role completely could be fun and solve a number of problems.

One of the current problems with the game is that classes have too many abilities. Having a support class could aid this. For example, cooldowns. I believe most classes currently have far too many cooldowns. What if we removed most (not all) of these cooldowns, for example damage cooldowns. We could leave each class with one that makes that class feel unique (eg: Ascendence), and the support class could be responsible for buffing the raid's damage.

I would imagine the support class to work in a similar way to a healer currently, but instead of casting heals, they are casting buffs and debuffs. You might have single-target damage buffs, AOE damage buffs, and raid-wide damage buffs. They might also handle debuffs on the boss, or AoE debuffs for mobs to be kited in to.

They might also handle the majority of dispels. They would have a wider range of dispels than current healers, and their dispel would have a charge mechanic. A healer can dispel once every eight seconds, but a support can dispel twice every eight seconds.

to be honest if i want to play support i go play my Plat 2 LoL account but this is WoW and i just wanna to heal and thats it.....dont wanna do anything else besides healing kthx


Yeah, if blizzard implemented roles into the game other than healing I might just un-subscribe.

Nothing worse than having to have a bard and enchanter in every group for a raid, and them being so slow, painful and abysmal to level that the supply is short, and the demand is high.


There could be a few ways around this. I personally favour the idea of giving them stances. You could have a stance for support, and then perhaps a stance for healing and a stance for dpsing. The healing wouldn't be as powerful as a proper healer, but enough that if you lost heals in a fight you could help prevent a wipe. The DPS stance wouldn't be as powerful as a DPS, but again like the heals. It would also make leveling one bearable.

I was planning on opening a thread discussing this but I have so many ideas for it, I was having difficulty in laying it all out neatly without a wall of text.
Edited by Lightsx on 8/3/2013 5:28 AM PDT
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90 Human Paladin
15480
Would be very difficult to implement this type of role. Everything is so entrenched in the three role system that the sheer amount of redesign would be staggering.

The other issue would be that this type of class would become mandatory. Raid design would have to be tuned around having that class present. Then throw in multiple in 25 and none in 10 it seems real difficult.
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90 Pandaren Shaman
14345

D) The alternative would be to not add a class but FINALLY give pures a fourth tree that was support. So locks, mages, hunters, and rogues would essentially get a fourth tree designed around providing buffs, debuffs, off-healing and some damage..........but then where would they fit? It would have to be at the rotational level where you would essentially have a choice in what spells you use rotationally to pull this off. I mean, where would support fit into 5 man LFG? How about LFR? Scenarios?

I just don't see it.


A rotation would be perfectly viable. Think of the way rogues currently work. Build combo points, spend them on finishers. In this case, "finishers" become debuffs on the boss, or buffs to raid members. They would have x secondary resource generated by y spells.

The other issue would be that this type of class would become mandatory. Raid design would have to be tuned around having that class present. Then throw in multiple in 25 and none in 10 it seems real difficult.


I haven't played eq, but I'm told there are melee supporters and caster supporters? So you'd have the same thing. It would fit well, for example for a rogue to have a fourth melee support spec. So you tune the support class the same as healers. AoE support spells affect a maximum amount of targets. Multiple supporters make it easier to keep up certain mandatory buffs/debuffs. In 5 mans you'd bring 1 tank, 1 healer, 1 support, 2 DPS. This helps with role-diversity so that DPS queues are nowhere near as long as they were. Pures can also get a faster queue from their new fourth spec.
Edited by Lightsx on 8/3/2013 9:05 AM PDT
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90 Human Monk
15675
For reference, i made a blog entry about this:
http://mentalunlockdown.com/2013/08/03/wow-musings-or-breaking-down-the-class-role-walls-and-embracing-the-force-that-binds-them-all/

Essentially, I'm for the addition of a support class role. BUT I also acknowledge its implementation requires a serious overhaul of the game, especially in regards to mob/boss tuning in endgame content.

But lets face it, WoW is getting stale and its age is becoming more and more apparent each time a content patch comes out and each time a competitive game is released.

A game like Rift started with a four-role end game from the start and it's not something WoW couldn't do. Saying no to this system out of fear of changing or redefining something you've known for years is like saying you don't want to play a game that continues to challenge.

Staying the same means WoW gets left behind from other MMOs, which means less and less players, which means WoW's eventual closure. In short, if the game doesn't change with the times, it's time is up, period.
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