So how is ‘bring the player, not the class’ working out for you?

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?

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30 thoughts on “So how is ‘bring the player, not the class’ working out for you?

  1. When everyone is special, no one is special. That’s what’s going wrong in WoW and by design the whole concept of specialized classes is going down the drain. Like you wrote about the stealth: there is no need for it. Even if cc comes back in Cataclysm, there will be similar or even more effective methods than sap to do the job.

    For me it’s been no. As a prot warrior I would be competing with paladins, druids and dk’s, all of which can serve as secondary DPS more easier and more effectively if/when need be. Heck, they deal more dps in general, even when tanking, so why even bother?

    It’s not about bringing the class or player anymore, it’s more about bringing the right gear.

    C out

    • “It’s not about bringing the class or player anymore, it’s more about bringing the right gear.”

      Thus pointing out one of the backbone design flaws of WoW. If it were about player skill, bringing the player would matter, and even be enhanced with homogenization. Since it’s more about gear and time investment, that’s where the social pressures settle. Gearscore is perhaps one obvious indicator of that.

      • I suspect that if it was more about skill, the game would be even more elitist. The whole point of the emphasis on gearscore and achievements for entry to PUGs is that they are the nearest approximation available to measuring skill.

      • True enough. Homogenization and “welfare epics” to combat elitism? Pick your poison, I guess… and in the interest of making the game accessible to the mainstream, homogenization and welfare make things more palatable to a wider audience.

      • One of the issues with ‘bring the player, not the class’ that I’ve noticed with Guild Wars, at least with regards to how I pick among acquaintances to group with is…

        …there are some people whom I will never go anywhere with.
        …there are some people I will only go with if I am feeling inclined to ‘carry’ them.

        I’m not sure if this is any fairer than an infinite spiral gear-stat based system. Mind you, I like GW much better, because it isn’t a gear-stat based system. But with regards to bringing, or not bringing someone, I’m not sure that bringing the player, not the gear, is any better.

        At least, not for the person who doesn’t get brung!

        Oh, and lest I sound like I discriminate purely by playing skill (when really I use any excuse to discriminate! moohahaha!), there’s also:
        …players who can play really well, who are really unpleasant, that I avoid at all costs
        …players who can play really well, who are really fun, that I squee up, and sometimes end up being friends with.

        SQUEE!

  2. It seems to be a leap of logic to go from “it doesn’t matter which class you bring because they bring the same buffs” to “it doesn’t matter at all what class you play,” i.e. as if the only difference between classes is what raid buffs they bring.

    As for the rest of the post, I can’t really offer anything interesting.

    • … after thinking for a bit longer, though, I have to say that I don’t think your difficulties in getting raid spots as a DPS DK has anything to do with the buffs you bring. I’m going to assume that you’re talking about PUG raids, and in my experience they generally don’t have the luxury of being picky about the raid buffs – it is instead more important to obtain the appropriate number of tanks and healers, to ensure a balance between melee and ranged DPS, and then to check on the quality of their gear, to make sure you’re not taking someone that still has questing greens into ICC.

      Then again, I play on a server where my faction is suffering under low numbers, so it’s possible your server has enough people that raid leaders can afford to be a little pickier about who they bring, but I still think the popularity of melee DPS this expansion is why your DPS DK is having problems getting into raids.

  3. > I think this has tended to blur roles and make the
    > tank/dps classes feel more similar.

    Having played a feral druid in TBC I can only appreciate this. Being second class citizen gets old very fast.

    “More similar” is only a problem if you play the better class. :)

    Skipping Nightbane because your raid uses a druid and a paladin as tank and has only one priest is not so much fun. (I’m talking pre 2.4 where Nightbane was difficult for adequate geared raids.)

    • Since feral druids have been best or second best raid tanks all expansion, I think perhaps we should stop living in the past :P

      What I’m talking about is more whether the various options feel as fun and different to play.

      • No we can’t because my example was exactly one huge problem of Wow they completely fixed with WotLK.

        > best or second best raid tanks all expansion

        That’s really irrelevant because every tank can tank every encounter these days. There is not a single encounter that’s impossible with any tank class. Sure, a warrior has a lot more trouble to tank the Rotface slime and a DK might not be your preferred tank for most fights.

        But it can be done.

        That wasn’t the case before WotLK.

        You have two choices.

        1. Give an ability mandatory for an encounter to every class in one form or another (shield wall, last stand)
        2. Do not allow the encounter team to use an ability which only one class has (fear every 30s which requires a tank who can turn immune to fear)

        Bring the player and not the class is here. And a huge success.

        My main is a Warlock since back in Vanilla. Trust me, I know what it means if you play the inferior class. It sucks. It really does. It’s no fun if you get destroyed by mages in 4 out of 5 fight in ToC just because 4 out of 5 fights are mage-gimmick fights.

    • Nevertheless, I’m quite tired of hearing the tanks who’ve been on top for most of this expansion complain about how badly they felt treated three years ago. I think it’s just human nature to focus on the times when you felt inferior though. Even re: Warlocks, you mention vanilla but I remember raids stacking warlocks for Sunwell. They weren’t considered inferior then.

      Rotface is actually a good example of current issues. It’s not impossible for any tank to manage any role, but it’s a pain for a warrior to kite the slimes. The reason is that ranged tanking ability wasn’t considered to be one of the core tank pieces of functionality so there wasn’t any need to normalise it. But as soon as they design an encounter that requires that, it’s clear that some classes manage the role more easily.

      The more similar the classes get, the more similar they need to be, and the blander the encounters will become. I agree that it’s a price worth paying so that people don’t feel second rate (although I’ll note that I don’t remember seeing any raid guilds on my server advertise for a warrior tank all expansion unless they were absolutely desperate for any tank at all), but it doesn’t come at no cost.

  4. As much as I like the guy behind Ghostcrawler and his communication with the fans, and even if the general idea his mantra “bring the player, not the class” is just awesome, but I say it did not really work as intended.

    * It would work awesome for a NEW MMORPG with a NEW non-trinity system.
    * But WoW is at its very core a level and class based MMORPG. Changing that is like turning a fish into a land mammal.

    What did the changes bring for WOTLK?
    * My DPS Warlock had to AoE like crazy to keep up in DPS with Paladins and badly geared Death Knights. Felt very wrong.
    * My buddy dropped his Rogue for similar reasons and started a Shaman. Wise decision, IMO.
    * Dual specs even reinforced the new reign of the hybrid classes

    So, is it now bring the player, not the class?

    * Some classes are more equal than others…!
    -> see the decline of the number of Warlock players, despite Blizz putting some effort into overhauling the class. It is more a problem of the system than the class.

    * Bring not a special class, but the player with the highest gearscore
    - the bane of pugging

    And despite some people claiming CC was only fun for the guy who did it, I simply loved Magister’s Terrace and the CC fights there.

    Maybe the new Cataclysm dungeon instances become again as much fun as were the TBC ones.

    Who knows, maybe Blizzard is working on an atheist new age MMO that spits on the trinity and features a classless society? xD

    I don’t think Cataclysm is bringing too many new mechanics to the world. But rather a new, hopefully better world to the mechanics. Modern style quests, maybe more emphasis on story. Interestingly Blizzard rather goes with the dungeon finder than public quest variations of the one or the other kind.

  5. I think the change in system as a whole, has been a great sucess.
    @copra and Longasc: I’m not really sure what level of gaming you are playing at, but your beliefs in what classes bring what sort of damage, is very skewed to the numbers that http://www.dkdeathgoddess.blogspot.com/ and others have come up with (dks and shammies are at the very bottom)

    The reason why I think it is a success has to do with two things: Guilds lfm are no longer seeking “shadowpriest” as *much* as they used to, now its ‘capable ranged dps who provides…’ And that is really the essence of it all.
    Sure it doesn’t matter (as much) if I am tanking on my DK or if its a warrior, but that only means that individual qualities get to shine through.

    I am no longer the priest dwarf that was the only real healer anyone needed despite me not being good at my class (in vanilla), now I am judged at how good I play my class. I’m sure for some that is a let-down.
    But saying that you are no longer special is very far from the truth. You are more than your class, you are an individual player. Now -more than ever- do you have the chance to prove how good you are, and not just flavour-class of the month.

    WOOOOO

  6. I think it has worked out well. The different classes all play fairly differently, despite being able to cover the same basic set of abilities.

    Personally, I’d find it pretty depressing to be brought just because of some button I hit once before combat.

    As you noted, their system isn’t perfect, but it is a big improvement over BC, and it sounds like in Cataclysm they are spreading out the buffs a bit more.

    Your DK’s problem is more likely the huge number of DKs that are around (or the huge number of plate DPS in general). Unholy provides a really great buff (the extra disease that boosts magic damage), but you don’t really need more than one to get it. If you were a retadin, you’d probably have almost as much trouble finding a group. Having a second paladin is useful, but beyond that you don’t get much benefit.

  7. Yup, the issue with my DK is just that there are a lot of melee dps around. It’s nothing to do with my class or spec.

    Bring the player not the class can only go so far.

  8. Not any easier to get a raid as a Retri Paladin. Too many of them around. :P

    I personally prefer that most of the consequences for my class choice rest on me only. Group suffering is minimized, and I get to pick a class that I find aesthetically pleasing and enjoy the playstyle of. I’ve played 6 classes at 80, and each one plays differently enough that there is at least some meaning to the player for picking a different class.

  9. Sadly, it’s “bring the player not the class, unless you’ve got the non-viable raid spec in which case you can just bugger off”.

    Seriously, did blizz not think it through and realise that the slightest tiniest % difference in class/gear/spec capability wasn’t going to matter and overrule the general principle?

    • There’s the big problem: When we all bring the same buffs, DPS is all that differentiates, so that must be more perfectly balance than if we all had different buffs. With different buffs the class that is 5% down is still worth bringing if their buff to the raid overcomes that. On the other hand, that runs the risk that a raid is too hard without the class, too easy with the class.

      • I was in Slave Pens tonite and after doing Ahune took the opportunity to explore some – I had no idea there was an underwater shortcut tunnel. All the previous times back in TBC we always followed the tank as he pulls trash pack after trash pack, and follow the same tired path every time!

        Which got me thinking – back when classes had unique buffs, there were often different strats accordingly … but now with all buffs generally being available regardless of group composition we see far less variety in buffs.

        I’d like to see a game which encouraged exploration of options according to group strengths. Give us more ways to enjoy the game instead of simply following the tank like sheep.

      • Tell me more about the tunnel… Where do I find that? I’m going to check as soon as the servers are back up. :)

  10. As far as how it works for killing bosses, I think bring the player not the class works great. Just last week I went 7/12 on Heroic ICC 10 with mostly my regular group but half of the raid on alts, no shaman, no pally healer.

    I still prefer to have a mix of classes, however. On our tanking team, I really don’t like it when we have 2 of any one type of tank. By the same token, I much prefer having a spread of healing classes over just having a bunch of the same, even though over the long haul, they will all perform just as well if played and specced correctly. While there has been a lot of homogenization of classes, I think the fine details of how each class does things still do differentiate them.

  11. There has been an inherent loss of individuality over the course of time. I remember a time when only Dwarf priests could fear ward the main tank, and the Horde had to use tremor totems, when the Alliance had Paladins, and the Horde had Shamans. I remember a time when the buffs given by each individual class (and even spec) had a particular impact on the overall raid and most classes felt unique in that they contributed to the raid’s overall performance beyond personal ability.

    In principle I don’t disagree with the change, because it gives you greater flexibility and removes the problem of you constantly succumbing to the lack of a very specific role, but the cost, in my humble opinion, has been too great.

  12. In TBC I suffered through the “lolRet” game. Not as a Ret Paladin – but as a Holy Paladin looking down on those who rolled Paladin’s for DPS. I remember talking with a buddy and saying “for 2+ years Paladins have only been healers… why would someone make a Paladin for DPS?!?”.

    The change has been a good one. I’ve even suggested that more buffs need to be shared (Blessing of Kings and Heroism), because we still saw raids insisting on not moving without them (much less Kings than Heroism, but it did happen).

    “Individual players don’t feel as meaningful.”

    I have an issue with this statement. In Classic WoW I played a Warlock. We provided no meaningful addition to a group in 90% of the content. We didn’t CC except in one fight in MC, and some trash in BWL. Our pets were next to useless (park the Imp next to the tank). I couldn’t even use many of my skills due to the debuff limit. Talk about not feeling meaningful! Yet I still had a blast and raided all the way into AQ40.

    If someone really has the need to feel useful in a group, they should have long ago rerolled Tank or Healer. DPS – regardless of buffs – rarely get that feeling of “without me this boss wouldn’t have died”.

    “When it doesn’t matter what you play, does it actually MATTER what you play?”

    And the final statement:

    It does matter what you play – it matters to YOU. I don’t have fun playing a Rogue, so I don’t play a Rogue. I don’t have fun playing a Feral Druid, so I don’t play a Feral Druid. I *do* have fun playing a Holy Paladin, Demonology Warlock, Frost Mage, Tree Druid, Tank DK, Tank or Fury Warrior… so that’s what I play.

  13. It’s working for my guild (mostly because this was our philosophy even before blizz try to implement it), and it CAN work for other guilds and pugs. I think it doesn’t work because of people’s perceptions.

    Both of our main tanks are warriors and we’ve cleared all the hard mode contents just fine.

    I know Hatch is a good player. If he were to apply to the guild, I’d vouch for him and tell him to bring whichever of the six 80s he wants to play (FYI Hatch, we have EIGHT plate dps and they’re all lootwhores).

    • Thanks. I’ve never seen that tunnel before! :)

      But it’s worthless as the bugs in front of it were the hardest enemy in Slave pens heroic.

      And you could reach the ramp where you leave the water without killing any enemy, even back at level 70 without stealth. We always did it that way.

      • Aye, two six-packs of Bogstroks spread so widely you couldn’t carefully skirt past them like you could with the trash on the more obvious path.

        It’s designed almost as if Blizz wanted to discourage exploration and variety of gameplay. Welcome to the theme park on rails, everyone.

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