One of Blizzard’s mottoes for raiding in Wrath was, “Bring the player, not the class.” Previously, Blizzard had attempted (with varying success) to encourage raid leaders to bring a variety of classes — which mostly worked until one ability was so suited to a raid that experienced players were ditched so that alts or inexperienced characters of the optimal class/ spec could be fitted in.
The new strategy involved duplicating buffs and abilities more between classes. Raid leaders now had more options for assembling the optimal set of raid buffs, hopefully being now able to include the players they wanted to bring.
But how is this really working out in practice? Here’s some bullet points, based on what I have noticed:
- Individual players don’t feel as meaningful. If there are seven different people in your raid who can provide a desirable buff or debuff, it doesn’t really matter that you’re there too. In fact, you may even end up arguing about who should provide which buff or debuff.
- Non-optimal compositions have been really successful in normal mode raiding. (Whether this is because the buffs are spread out or because the raids are easier, I couldn’t say.)
- Hard raids do seem to have more options than previously but some classes are still better than others. Shamans and Paladins would need to be nerfed to the ground not to be optimal in 10 man raids – they simply provide that many more buffs than anyone else.
- If people aren’t being brought purely for one desirable buff or ability, then their base tank/dps/heal capability is the only way to stand out. I think this has tended to blur roles and make the tank/dps classes feel more similar. Healers are due to be more homogenized next expansion.
- I still struggle to get raid spots on my dps DK alt. Maybe if it was an enhancement shaman or retridin …
Blizzard are evidently happy with the results of this policy because they’re extending it into Cataclysm. Shamans will be sharing bloodlust with mages. Death Knight and Warrior tanks will be sharing more buffs and debuffs. And there are rumours of yet more buff homogenization to come.
When it doesn’t matter what you play, does it actually MATTER what you play?