Class Population for Cataclysm

Hatch has written a great (and quite daring) post, predicting what percentage of the player base will pick each class in Cataclsym, based on the current previews. I suspect that I will fret about it briefly before sticking with my warrior because she’s still fun, dammit. And that’s why no major changes are a good thing.

Of course, there are still potential worgen and goblin alts to pick – and the lure of hybrids who can switch roles is undeniable. But then, some of the new race/class combinations are also appealing: troll druid, tauren paladin, undead hunter, dwarf shaman, night elf mage …

We still haven’t seen the new talent trees, and a lot of the detail will be in the tuning. But what do you think? Have you seen enough to make your decision? Do you agree with Hatch that paladin population will go through the roof, or do his predictions not go far enough? Are hybrids too appealing right now?

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17 thoughts on “Class Population for Cataclysm

  1. I suspect all hybrids will be popular with Druids right up there with Ploddies (Tank/Heal/DPS is great for the undecided and how can we be decided till 2-3 months in?). However I suspect as with you I’ll stick with my main. Duel speccing from the get go gives two options and thats normally enough for most people.

    What will also be intresting is raid composition. Dealing with duel spec and all those new tanks that have emerged from the LFD dynamic and now want a crack at Tanking plus all a fair few people have been healing 5 mans ….I think we’ll have more folk wanting to try out different roles than ever before.

    I also think, echoing Gevlon, that as Blizz have now made it so easy to try tanking and healing and easier to level as those specs we’ll have most trouble finding quality DPS for raids in Cata as a lot of good players will be tanking or healing instead.

  2. His numbers are probably about right. I’m thinking of rolling a new Druid if I come back, that triple hybrid goodness really is awesome.

    His conclusions are… odd.

    “Yes, I am predicting that about a third of all players will main either a druid or paladin. Have fun forming raids in 2011, kids!”

    It will be incredibly easy to put a raid together. Take any random 16 players and 9 triple hybrids who can fill any needed roles.

    “a disasterous healer shortage ”

    Erm, Paladins and Druids were healers last time I played.

    • Agreed. Current state of the game a raid entirely of Droods, Ploddies or a combo thereof would be doable, especially the last (Bear Tank, Protadin, a few retris, a few Boomkin, palatankhealer, droodraidhealer). In Cata with some nerfs coming to both healers mebbe not but really thats really reading the tea leaves!

  3. Being with Protection Paladin through big and thin for 5 years now, having seen four fundamental Class changes during that time, and facing the third Addon now, I am just plain tired about another “Let’s disclose Kids attraction of the changes!”.

    Hear, Hear, Paladins are popular. Never thought of that noticing that the only plate wearing class for Hordes most wanted race is a Paladin.

    Also I have never considered dual specialisation encouraging people to chose hybrids. As some smarty mentioned, Tanks are still needed more for Dungeons than for raids. Surprisingly tankable hybrids chose a tank specialisation for Dungeons, gearing up for their favorite role in raids.

    I just frequently read through Blue posts and still I am surprised that Gohstcrawler has to repeatetly explain the healers change over and over again, for month now. Every healer who ever spend at least half an hour during a classic raid or during BC, knows what he is talking about.

    I don’t get that Captain Awesome mentality. It’s about fun. Healing is in no way fun at the moment. Even I who found out at level 17, that I could heal myself, am able to take my girl friends healer and heal in a raid.

    Also tanking as a Paladin is no fun at all, it is good to have easy tank classes like Bears and Paladins, to encourage part-time tanks to try the role. Increasing the number of tanks for Dungeons.

    Besides “Rating” Changes is beyond me. I do have a DK, Warrior and a Mage, besides my Paladin. So I watched the previews closely and neither made me overexcited. Because they are very vague.

    Protection Warriors are in a pretty good shape, so it was quiet clear that they would only receive some cosmetic change.
    DKs have the problem that they were created without keeping dual specialisation in mind, which made the hybrid talent tree model obsolete. Besides, their concept would not fit into Cataclysm’s specialisation model, which requires set roles per tree.
    Paladins have one Tank rotation for every encounter, which is not much a surprise, since Tanking is one role out of three. Druids abilities cover four roles, so their set of tanking abilities is even smaller.
    So compared to Warriors, Paladins need a second set of rotation. How they are going to do this with the current set of abilities will be interesting to see.

    Sorry for a lengthy comment, it was actually a short one, before I unfortunately checked the article you based your article on.
    Actually I like my Warrior a lot, my guild already makes jokes about me, not being able to roll a class without ending tanking.
    Also, my decision which Character will explore Cataclysm is based on how much fun he will be. Which would be the Warrior at the moment, because a flashy animation every 3 Minutes does, not make my Paladins boring routines fun.

    By the way, I leveled to Warriors to 80, so sympathy clearly heads towards Charge.

  4. The Paladin thing has already happened in my guild. About 90% of the people either have a Paladin main or a Paladin Alt. Myself included. We can easily field up to 6 Paladins in a 10 man. Druids are similar too (again, myself included, but I levelled a druid before they were cool… or anything other than Resto) we can guarantee we’ll get atleast one druid healer in raid every time.

    Because of the way the classes are created, respeccing a Druid, a Paladin or a Shaman is essentially just re-rolling a new character at max level. Especially now that in Cata, each spec uses the same gear (atleast, physical to physical and magic to magic specs) there will be even less of a barrier between switching as you won’t even need to change gear.

    There are 4 Roles to be fulfilled currently, Tanking, Ranged DPS, Melee DPS and Healing.
    Druids fulfil all 4 of these.
    Paladins and Shaman fulfil 3.
    Priests, Death Knights and Warriors fulfil 2.
    Rogues, Mages, Hunters and Warlocks are pure DPS.
    I think that to balance things out for those pure DPSers is to give them another possible role to play. Like giving Warlocks a melee spec (like Demonology and make metamorphosis a core ability), give rogues a tanking tree based on pure avoidance.

    Or they could shock us all and change the team dynamics and give us a fifth role. Like Ranged Tanking (Examples might include Disc Priest, Frost Mage or Survival Hunter) or a spec that focuses on improving mitigation rather than pure healing (like a Disc priest, but give it to another class and make it more of a core role, like DK’s magic shield)

    Otherwise, new players will be told by their friends (and lets face it, anyone joining WoW now is being brought in by friends) to play a hybrid like Druid, Paladin or Shaman. The single role classes in particular need some more tricks in order to remain popular.

  5. Well everyone is probably neglecting the fact that Cataclysm as a “new content” provider will not last very long. Inevitably people will roll multiple characters, restart other characters and return to previous characters. Even if everyone is on Pally bandwagon for the first few months, i’m not convinced WoW is that “fresh” that people have only 1 character and will only play this 1 character.

    So chances are, -everyone- will eventually have a paladin in some form. They will also have a class “they just like playing” and one “they hope gets boosted in the future” and one that is “just plain cool even though it sucks in raids” ……

    WoW is getting old, people is going to simply add more characters to their existing ones. So people might play a given class more often, but it’s not like they can’t pull out another one if the population balance is not right.

    The only issue i see here is who can play their class of choice -the best- to warrant them being in the raid as said class.

  6. I think dual spec “ruined it” for pure dps classes. On the other hand in annoys many hybrids why are they suddenly expected to excel in two roles and swap as raid leader demands?

    I hate dpsing, and I hate being nagged why I don’t have dps offspec. On the other hand, I know quite many moonkins and shadow priests who feel offended when everyone assumes “naturally” their dual spec is healer (some have pvp specs etc.)

    In the world optimized around people not swapping roles in the middle of raid there wouldn’t be such preference towards hybrids. Hands ups, how many times did you see “LFM ICC healer /w dps offspec” (or dps /w heal offspec, whatever).

    It’s also a raid design problem, if one boss requires tons of healing while another is lenient on healing but strict dps check there’s more pointing towards benching some healers or having them “conveniently switch to dps”.

    This issue rarely touches tanks, but still does, there are some fights where that 1 more tank isn’t needed.

    And yes, I agree that popularity of prot and ret blood elf paladins was caused as well by making them the only race denied the warrior class. 2 expansions later it might be too late already to try to fix it, people who played their blood elf paladin for 4 years won’t be so eager to swap now, especially that race change exists, but class change doesn’t.

    My personal feelings about class previews?

    The Druid. My main is a resto Druid, and will stay a resto Druid because it’s the best Druid spec and the best of all healer classes (yes I tried all 4). The tree of life change is great, I was hating that ugly tree form all the time, but well, the playstyle was so fun no other class could overshadow it, so I had to suck it up. But no more! Now I can have fun and look pretty, what else could I ask for? New healing spells? Why? Just make the current ones work well. One of the weak points of WOTLK was making Druids concentrate only on very narrow toolbox. In Naxx I spammed Regrowths and Lifeblooms, in ICC I’m spamming Rejuvs and Wild Growths. I’d rather use full toolbox…

    The Death Knight. Mine is a sworn blood spec DK tank. Of course I love the upcoming changes and I’m thinking of making the DK my main, I didn’t before because it was a class without history and with a noob stigma, I was a bit ashamed to have “a DK main” but it’s slowly becoming something of the past. Especially in comparison to my Druid I see her so unwanted while everyone ask for tanks, another argument to switch to DK.

    The Paladin. I’m not really sure what to do with my Paladin, and I don’t really agree why people say Paladins got lucky. Holy gets some improvements, but I doubt it will be anywhere as interesting as other healer classes, as for now it’s most boring of all healers, 1 button spam spec, giving them “slight” improvements is still miles behind. Tanking? Whispers in the wind say they will be nerfed, because they’re “too easy” and “too popular”. Why should I keep tanking on my Paladin while currently my Death Knight is already better and more fun? Yes, there was a period when my Death Knight was weak and underpowered, while Paladin was on the top, in the TOC age. On the other hand the Death Knight was surpassing Paladin in Naxx and Ulduar age. But it seems the trend is going this way, the Paladin will be weaker and DK will get better. Poor Paladin.

    The Shaman. People only wanted me for the Bloodlust. Now that Mages are getting it I agree “no amount of healing rain can save shamans”. Totems are awkward in the world of raiding where half the fight difficulty is not about your abilities but positioning and running around the room. And no “cast on the run on long cooldown” can patch the shaman weakness in comparison to druid or holy priest, and that is lack of instant cast spells. In the world-of-run-around-the-room-craft.

    The Priest. Getting viable Gheal? Yes please. Getting bonus after spamming Prayer of Healing 3 times in a row? Yes please, it’s exactly what I wanted, Serendipity only accounts for the first cast and then I feel I could really use some extra burst. Holy Priest is already a very fun class to play, I fell in love with Guardian Spirit from day one. However the “life pull” move makes me a bit less excited, as I share the worry with doomsayers that every slacker who cannot get the hell outta fire will blame the poor Priest for not pulling him out.

    Warrior. Actually I never managed to level a Warrior, but as I see the previews I think now I will finally do it. If not now, then maybe roll a Goblin in Cataclysm. With the levelling optimizations and dungeon finder I’m sure future for a new prot. Warrior looks brighter than ever. Abandoned mine somewhere in TBC because “you can’t level as prot” and so on, then never had time… now the time has come.

    Now as much as I ought to feel sympathy for poor under-represented Rogues and other “pure dps” I don’t like dps so don’t plan to reinforce numbers of those classes. How cruel of me?
    Wait, what, didn’t you just say there’s a healer and tank shortage..

    To sum up, classes I want to play more in Cata: Druid, Death Knight, Priest, possibly Warrior.

    Classes that I might leave aside in Cata: Shaman, possibly Paladin.

    And I’m not really interested in Worgen, I’d rather roll a Goblin. I just dislike playing Humans and Worgens are just that, Humans with a twist. I will roll a Goblin to see the starter area, for sure. Will I stick to it? Depends how the final art design will look like and how the racials will be balanced around, otherwise I might be better sticking to some Troll or Blood Elf (2 horde races with racials useful for healing).

  7. Interesting article with some great insights, though I think that some of his class preview ratings are biased towards the foregone conclusion – for example he rates the warrior preview really low even though he thinks that the rage adjustments will be great and I’m sure many warriors are dying to get heroic leap. Conversely I didn’t find the druid and paladin previews all that exciting (and I play both of those classes at 80).

    I can also back up his observations that there are currently too few tanks for small group content but too many for 25-mans. I’m always waiting for the tank for my random instances and in ten-mans finding them can be tricky as well, but my 25-man guild constantly gets applications from wannabe raid tanks whom we have to reject simply because we have no room for more tanks.

  8. To be quite honest, I think both Hatch’s reasoning and stats are somewhat suspect.

    * Armory data mining makes no distinction between Mains and Alts. Paladin population numbers were high in Vanilla (16% of the Alliance faction) and high in TBC (14% IIRC) but at no stage were they as fun as the ‘Pure’ classes, and viability depended on the content. This deep into Wrath you’d rightly expect that all those Paladins, and a few others, will have been levelled to 80 but it doesn’t immediately follow that they’ve all supplanted Pures as a players’ main (quite the reverse given Achievements). Hybrids are also more likely to be alts, purely because they allow you to experience a role outside of your Mains role or give you flexibility in Heroic role Pugging and PvP. But still, you’ll be taking your Warrior/Mage/Priest into ICC for boss kills.

    * As Stabs implied, no distinction or even acknowledgement is made of Dual-talent specs in the post when determining role representation. I know it’s hard to do, but it should at least be mentioned if predicting doom and gloom from low numbers of Tanks and Healers.

    * 9.5 for the Paladin Spells? Seriously?

    * Surely everyone who’s wanted to play a Paladin by now has rolled one and done just that? And 12 months into Cataclysm all those lvl80 Paladin alts will naturally have made their way to 85 because levelling is just that easy. Hence, absolute numbers of Paladins won’t change that much, relative numbers will depend on how interesting the lvl1-60 content is for the new Worgen and Goblins, and no numbers you can extract can really give you a good picture of class popularity.

    We’ll see how things shake out over the next few months but I don’t think there’s any real need to worry right now. If, as promised, Blizzard make Paladin DPS and Tanking more complicated than they are right now we should see higher pure representation, by some margin.

  9. Hi everyone! Thanks for the responses to my post!

    I’d like to clarify that the reason having 1/3 of everyone be a paladin or druid is bad for forming a raid is that it gets harder to put together the optimal array of buffs. As someone who focuses on 10-man progression raiding, I’m particularly attuned to that. If you just want to make a raid that has 2 tanks, 2.5 healers, and the rest dps, then it would definitely be viable with a big pile o’ hybrids.

    I concede that being unable to distinguish between alts and mains in the armory data mining and warcraft census data is a weakness. It’s not too big a deal in my view, though, since anyone who isn’t very worried about their achievements will have no problems switching mains to anything they already have at 80, or to a Worgen/Goblin if they are in love with those. The current populations at level 80 was used primarily to see what classes people had available at 80 ready to start leveling in Cata. I don’t see any reason to think that hybrids are more likely to be alts. I know plenty of people who main hybrids and alt dps classes so they don’t get asked to heal or tank on their alts. :)

    My main point is really that hybrids, especially the tri-brid paladin and druid classes, are far *too* attractive in the current metagame, and Cata is giving no indication that that will change. Leveling to 85 and putting out new race/class combos and a new race will have an effect of “shaking loose” a lot of people who stuck with their class because of inertia or commitment at 80, and they will switch to the tri-brid en masse. People will see it as an opportunity to switch to something with greener-looking grass when they wouldn’t have before. IMO, something about the metagame needs to change before there is a mass exodus from pure classes.

    I would go further into why I think having 1/3 of the playerbase only maining 2 of the 10 classes, but that’s actually the subject of my next blog post.

    I can’t cover everything you guys said in this comment, but I read it all and am thankful for it.

  10. The triple role flexibility of hybrid classes makes them the only ones I’ll play for longer than a few days, apart from the Hunter (what can I say, I like the variety of pets). I can do more with them, plain and simple. Now, if I could switch classes whenever I wanted to, I’d be *far* more likely to try out “pure” classes and run with them for a while. When it takes grinding up an alt to switch playstyles, well, I just don’t have time or patience for that.

    • I think you answered the question by mentioning the hunter. If you really only played hybrids, you’d have dumped the pure class, but you didn’t because you enjoyed the play style.

      That’s also why I like my warrior, it’s the most fun of the tanks to play (for me, and also for lots of others).

      I think pure dps classes will do fine actually. They have plenty of tricks and buffs and are specialised in their roles. It’s the dual-role classes who tend to lose out because they don’t get the dps specialisation or utility of pure classes or the variety of the triple hybrids. Plus everyone hates them when they are in dps mode.

      • True enough. There are still many reasons to play beside raiding. Weird, I know. (I’ll never raid with my Hunter, but I could see raiding with my Druid, and I can totally understand sticking with the Warrior that you love.) Maybe if the game really does change to World of Raidcraft, we’ll see more polarization and “optimizing the fun out” of the game.

  11. I think he is quite right. Give Paladins Dual Wield and they can remove the Warrior class completely and call it “quality of life” improvement.

    Hybrids will continue to rule, and not even the quite nice soul shard changes to Warlocks will bring a class that specializes in DPS and DPS only back. The same applies to Rogues.

    And yeah, Shamans will probably the next cool thing to level as alt – because they are not Paladins but also “need” to buffed for some weird notion of balance because Paladins are too uber to be good for the game. Ugh.

    From specialists to hybrid heaven, oh my.

    I was arguing against Dual Specs for this reason.
    Hybrids were in a far better state than specialized classes in the times where they were crying and suffering the most than it is now the case for the DPS only classes.

    Now does anyone wonder why players rather pick classes that can be excellent in every role instead of only 1 or 2?

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