Monday, July 16, 2007

How much difference should a spec make?

Like everything I write, this veers way off in a different direction halfway through. I start to talk about ret.

In Diablo II, your spec was your character. Each playable class had three trees to choose from, and all of your skills and passives were in those trees. If you were a necromancer and didn't put any points in the curses tree, you had no curses. (Though to be fair, Diablo II had a different attitude; every class was a pure DPS class, and all three trees for every class were DPS trees. There was one healing skill in the game, I think, and it sucked.) Other games have no talent trees at all; at best you can customize your guy a little with gear. WoW is kind of middle-of-the-road.

Some of it is class ignorance, but there are some classes where it's not obvious to me what the spec of a player is. No matter what, a rogue is behind the bad guys stabbing them. (If he's in the front, he's probably a combat rogue, but a really bad one.) On the other hand, a druid's spec is easy to see (although if they're in your party, you know what they are by the role they asked to play.)

Having really focusing trees is kind of cool because it allows for greater character customization, but it's also limiting for hybrids. (If you -really- need to be heavy feral to tank, it's like you're not really a hybrid at all.)

I would be in favor of making the trees for the DPS classes more focusing; because they can't really change their role by changing their spec or gear, increased character customization through trees is probably a benefit.

For my money, the best designed trees in the game belong to the druid. The druid trees are -heavily- specializing, but each contains some interesting tools that give the druid abilities in other roles. For example, a balance druid can never heal as well as a resto druid, but they -do- have Dreamstate, which is helpful for healing and inaccessible to a heavy resto druid. Unfortunately, this kind of cross-tree pollination tends to lead to talents that just get ignored, like Nurturing Instinct, and talents that are considered essential for a different spec, like Naturalist.

This is -maybe- what the ret tree could use; a few skills that are deep enough that they'd be mostly inaccessible to the other two trees but which would give ret a little special edge as an off-healer or off-tank. Of course, as Nurturing Instinct is mostly ignored, it'd have to be something that didn't clash with how Ret Paladins want to play. (I think they want to DPS and support by DPSing, not grudgingly stop to heal a lot. Others just want to do a heck-ton of damage, but the former idea is more interesting.)

To get by on 'support' as your class ability, you need to provide an absolute ton of support. Consider that on most 4-pulls, a mage can easily prevent 1/4 of the potential incoming damage and debuffs while making the tank's threat-holding job much easier just by sheeping one of the mobs. How much 'support' do you have to provide to match that? A hell of a lot, especially if you're at vulnerable melee range and it's generally acknowledged that you're not going to do Mage DPS.

If a ret pally wants to max his DPS, he has to judge Crusader, and by judging Crusader he's not judging Light or Wisdom. (This is mostly a 5-man concern, and possibly a 10-man concern.) I've never been in a situation where a ret pally asked to join our group (ex-roommate's a warrior, so we tend to start our own groups), and if one did we probably wouldn't take him unless he out-geared the instance for loot reasons. (There's not -too- much gear for ret pallies that either I or the warrior don't want.) I don't even know what Ret is even for. I mean, it's for DPS, but I don't know why I would bring it over any other DPS class, and on Alleria-US freelance DPS is everywhere. I want ret to be cool, and I don't buy into the DPSer's "Pallies can heal and more-or-less tank, so they shouldn't be able to DPS" (since we can't really do all at once). Some class has to be the worst at DPS, and right now it's us. But Ret, which supposedly justifies itself with support, doesn't.


Michael said...

This is a very long-standing debate within the paladin community.

I too would like to see Ret have better utility, but its also a societal matter. Most players, many paladins included, think Ret Pallies suck, and wouldn't take them on a raid. So unless Blizz seriously buff's the ret-tree, there's not going to be much respect given to ret-pallies.

The other issue is gear. There's very little plate +Spell Dmg gear out there. It'd be nice to see some "Holy Wrath" (i.e. +Holy Dmg) gear start dropping, if just for my own DPS set.

Joyd said...

The "of Holy Wrath" suffix is even in the game, or at least it used to be, but is strangely limited to low-level staves it seems. (I get conflicting reports from the various data sites.) There's one Kara cape with holy damage on it, but that's about it. Specs that are trying to DPS with holy damage are among the most maligned in the game (retadins and lolsmiters).

Even though I'm not ret and am unlikely to switch soon, I value plate spell damage quite a lot, since I don't solo with my healing gear.

Proudfoot said...

Indeed a very long-standing debate.
I've played a Ret paladin since release and have never really felt like I did my job at an acceptable level. Either by adding support or dps combined. My paladin is nearly fully epic'd out wielding a Merc Gladiator's longsword and I still do nearly the worst dmg in our 25 mans. It's not only that ret is VIEWED as bad but that it really is. Blizz needs to add some massive support for the spec and make spell dmg less important imo.

On another note it is irritating to me to see paladins with 900+ spell dmg spec'ing 40/0/21 and nearly keeping up with ME in dmg. Not only can they do about the same damage as a full ret pally but they can HEAL insanely well to boot. I sacrifice everything to be Ret and deal dmg, but I guess holy gets to have their cake and eat it too. And before you say respec to holy then... I shouldn't have to. Blizz needs to work on making Ret useful and everyone knows it.