Mad Science: Druids Proven to Be the Least Hybrid Class!

Welcome readers to another experiment on Druid class design. On this blog, I’ll be more contemplative. I had this hunch about Druids while checking WoWhead MoP talent calculator. It took me a bit, and only had time to analyze a small part of the database (sorry about the sensationalist title, btw). But the results are already interesting.

I was thinking about hybridism and the whole discussion around Heart of the Wild talent. In short, it is meant to put us in conditions to perform off-roles during 45 sec.

The thing is the old talent description has as long as the Bible, because it had to introduce so many band-aids to make the off-role viable.

I had a suspicion that this off-role viability was greatly influenced by active and passive skills out of reach, due to Blizzard’s new division of Class Skills and Spec Skills. Just as a quick example, all Druids have access to Rejuvenation, Healing Touch and Tranquility – they are Class healing Skills (Spells, rather). But a Balance Druid will never have access to Lifebloom, since it is a Restoration Spec Skill. (Note: I am quite aware of the role that Nurturing and Killer Instincs play in off-role performance. They will be widely discussed on my next blog entry.)

I would like to stress this first assumption I had:

“Performing an off-role is limited by the lack passive and active skills out of reach.”

This would imply my second assumption:

“If a Class has more role specific skills available as Class Skills than skills locked out of reach as Spec Skills, this class is more versatile (i.e. more Hybrid).”

Maybe an example is necessary.

Flash of Light is an important Healing spell, which Holy Paladins actually put to use. It is a vital integrant of their main role rotation – depending on how things are going (triage healing ftw). However, it is a Class Skill, meaning it is available to Retribution and Protection Paladins as well. The same could be said about Divine Shield. Signature spell for a Protection Paladin, but a Class Skill nevertheless, available to Holy and Retribution Paladins as well.


So, my methodology was:

1)      Identify Skills that are vital for a given combat specialization. As an example, Arcane Missile is signature for an Arcane Mage, while Teleport: Dalaran is not;

2)      Mark those Skills as Class Skills or Spec Skills;

3)      Count each type and the Total of vital Skills (adding both Class and Spec Skills);

4)      Calculating the % of vital Skills that are available to all combat specializations (i.e. # of vital Class Skills/Total)

5)      The resulting % was considered, based on the 2 assumptions early mentioned, an indicator of Hybrid potential.

Well, what have I found? Druids look bad. Really bad. Here are my results:

Druid

Balance

 

Feral

 

Guardian

 

Restoration

Class Skills

3

Class Skills

6

Class Skills

6

Class Skills

3

Spec Skills

15

Spec Skills

9

Spec Skills

10

Spec Skills

18

Total

18

Total

15

Total

16

Total

21

%

17

%

40

%

38

%

14

Average %

27

Mage

Arcane

 

Fire

 

Frost

Class Skills

5

Class Skills

4

Class Skills

5

Spec Skills

6

Spec Skills

7

Spec Skills

7

Total

11

Total

11

Total

12

%

45

%

36

%

42

Average %

41

Paladin

Holy

 

Protection

 

Retribution

Class Skills

10

Class Skills

12

Class Skills

9

Spec Skills

16

Spec Skills

13

Spec Skills

12

Total

26

Total

25

Total

21

%

38

%

48

%

43

Average %

43

Notice that, just for kicks, I analyzed Mages, that don’t fit either the classic Hybrid description “being able to perform multiple roles whithout changing combat specialization” nor the most derived one “being able to perform multiple roles if changing the combat specialization”. But it can be seen as filling two purposes here: it still indicates versatility (i.e. a mob is immune to Fire, you can cast an Arcane spell and kill it), and function as a control group. How much versatility between specs does a pure class have?

On this tiny tiny sample size, the pure class showed a Hybrid / Versatility potential comparable to the other classical hybrid class studied – Mages have an average of 41% of their vital spells available to all specs, and Paladins have 43%.

Druids, in average, have 27% of their vital spells available to all combat specializations.

Druids, who are being designed to “be hybrids again”, in Blizzard’s words.

I think it might indicate a new approach to the whole hybrid class design thing. A better approach than consuming an entire talent tier to bake in hybridization. Especially if we are talking about our last talent tier.

Of course, I have a suggestion already designed, and I’ll post in a couple of days. I don’t want to overwhelm you guys with too much info. Plus, I would LOVE feedback based on the present blog entry. It will, of course, help me to polish my suggested design.

Do you see any mistakes? What do you think about it?

– Fakegamedesigner

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9 comments on “Mad Science: Druids Proven to Be the Least Hybrid Class!

  1. Interesting analysis, but I think you’re making a mistake in your initial assumption. When you say “vital skills”, I get the impression that what you mean is “characteristic skills” (as evidenced by your example, Arcane Missiles, being a “signature” skill for Arcane mages). If you’re tallying skills that are characteristic of a given combat specialization, rather than skills without which a given spec literally cannot be played, you’re getting a false outcome. What you have at the moment is a representation of how well a class member of a given spec can pretend to be a fully-functioning member of a different spec, and that’s a useful metric, but not, I think, what you were really going for.

    I don’t have time at the moment – and, frankly, don’t have enough knowledge of max-level druids to know what constitutes “absolutely essential” – but I’d like to see a re-tally taking into account only those skills without which the spec is unusable (e.g. “a druid cannot heal without these abilities” – not “cannot heal effectively” or “cannot heal well” but “literally cannot get ‘healing done’ above zero”).

    That said, I do think Heart of the Wild deserves a change, but it’s a significant one and I know it’ll cause unbearable complaining from other classes, which is why it’ll never happen: each class designated “hybrid” should get an ability – Heart of the Wild for druids, The Prismatic Light perhaps for paladins, and this is where I think the ability name “Desperate Prayer” should go for priests – with an instant cast, no GCD, and a 20-30-minute cooldown (to prevent raids sitting until it comes up again), that allows the character to change to her secondary spec and equipment set in combat and without a cast time. (The explicit intent would be that it be used in a macro.)

    Not, as I said, like that’ll ever be implemented, but I can dream. 😉

    • I tried to sort skills that belong to the given spec’s rotation, of course respecting scenario-forced variations (i.e. Flash of Light in triage healing). To this sense, the last time I saw my wife playing, she used Arcane Missiles on her conservative mana phase, I’m not sure if it is still in place for Arcane Mages in MoP though.

      I do think that, the way I’ve selected and sorted, it doesn’t allow much false assumptions. Lets see the Healing scenario: we have Rejuvenation, Healing Touch and Tranquility as the ONLY Class Skills available to all specs. Within Spec Skills, I’ve removed spells like Slow for Arcane Mages. It is a Spec Skill, but it does not affect his main role (Dps) at all. Even so, most of Druid’s Spec Skills are vital parts of their commonly used rotations (which is the cool link between this analysis and my next blog entry :D).

      Right now, as widely perceived by the Druid community, Rejuv, HT and Tranquility are simply not enough to get your healing above the ground. So I think I did reached your spell accounting method.

      What do you think?

      • I think we’re approaching this in two different ways, which is probably the source of the disconnect. As I mentioned above, I think what you’re getting at is “how well a class member of a given spec can pretend to be a fully-functioning member of a different spec” – which, again, is a useful metric. The direction I’m coming from, and the direction I think Blizzard is coming from, is “what’s bottom-line necessary to allow (for example) a cat druid to heal in a pinch for 45 seconds”.

        In other words, I don’t see Heart of the Wild (as it stands, but see the second half of my comment above) as “become a fully-functioning member of X other spec, with access to spec-characteristic abilities and a full rotation” – I see it as “we need an emergency healer/tank/DPS just long enough to make it through this”. In that context, those three spells are enough, because using them, you go from “zero healing” to “more than zero healing”. It’s possible that that more-than-zero healing isn’t generally enough to make a difference, but that’s an issue with those spells and/or Heart’s interaction with them, not with how many spells are available.

        If that’s the case, then you’re working on a different problem than I am, so I’ll shut up. 🙂

      • Oh, generally it is not. Check a Moonkin going bear, for example. We only have access to Barkskin (20% damage reduction), Frenzied Regeneration (a passive heal) and Might of Ursoc (increases max health by 30% and gives you 30% health if below that).

        It simply won’t cut. We loose our mastery, Savage Defense (45% dodge) and Survival Instincts (50% damage reduction).

        Savage Defense, particularly, hurts a lot, since it is a skill that can be used on demand.

        The lack of toolkit cannot be entirely covered by boosting what we have available as baseline. 🙂

        This is actually the focus of my next blog, and what I understood now that you want to address: what would be the minimum necessary to be successful as a hybrid?

        Why can a Ret Pally soak Hour of Twilight in H. Ultraxion and a moonkin can’t? Because they have a larget toolkit, while we don’t.

        And we are supposed to be THE in-combat hybrids, while they aren’t. 😉

    • I agree to a certain degree. The most obvious synergy would be Guardian/Feral and Balance/Restoration. But the thing is they are already investing talents to allow us to cross the barriers. If the barriers were loosened up in our class/spec skills division, the talents could be used more efficiently to set the threshold. I am preparing another post with suggestions on what should go baseline and what shouldn’t. And of course what kind of impact it could have on Tier 6 talents.

      But right now, having 14% of the spells for Restoration as baseline is just absurd, imo, compared with 48% baseline healing spells for Pallies and 30% baseline healing spells for Monks.

      • I look forward to reading about that. I’m still a sapling in the druid world (I started this character about a month or two before cataclysm came out) so I’m still learning to be effective in other roles. I’ve considered starting a second druid to try out feral/guardian on since I’ve never played agi based druid at all.

      • Being effective in other roles is the main reason why they limited our class skills that much. I mean, if you are a Restoration druid, and have to turn into a Cat for whatever reason, would you know how to use Feral’s full tool set? It is like one bazillion buttons.

        Reducing it to three makes things much more intuitive. But as I see, also make them impractical to some specs.

        Plus, if we had a larger baseline tool set from the beginning, while leveling we would have time to practice and get used to it.

        Transforming Druids from incidental in-combat shapeshifters to purposed in-combat shapeshifters is a long and demanding process imo. They should address it at lower levels to achieve that, imo.

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