What goes up must come down

It is part of the general cycle in MMOs that some classes are seen as more powerful than others (maybe better at their roles, easier to play, fewer disadvantages, more flexible, have access to some overpowered ability, etc). Over the life of the game, as balancing tweaks are made, the class on top will probably change.

Although people mock ‘flavour of the month’ players who switch from one powerful class to another, there’s no special reason not to do this if you have time spare to level and gear another class. Or rather, there’s no real in game reward for sticking with a class through thick and thin.

Hopefully if balancing goes well, there should never be a huge gap between classes. They should theoretically always be close enough that people can just play whichever they prefer without being disadvantaged. But for some people, even a small gap is too much when there’s no advantage to make up for it.

Do you think there are advantages to sticking with your favourite class when it is on a downswing? It will be rarer, for a start. People will know that you play it because you love it. Maybe those are social advantages. Or are you also more likely to get bitter and burned out, especially if your class then gets some love and all the flavour of the month players flock back?

On warriors, and nerf/ buff cycles

I wonder sometimes if players enjoy the idea of a cycle  of nerfs and buffs. Where if a class is overpowered at one point, it is guaranteed to be underpowered again when the wheel turns. And the underpowered classes will be buffed up to be the next flavour of the month. It’s like a wheel of fate. Everyone gets what they deserve. The last will be first and the first will be last.

Except that it’s stupid.

Ideally in game we want to get to an equilibrium where everyone is roughly equal for whatever that means. So that people can just play whatever they prefer and if it is below par in some respect, trust that it’ll be brought back into line, without feeling that they deserve to be overpowered as some kind of reward for having been underpowered in the past.

Who cares about tank dps anyway?

The Blizzard developers continue to experiment with giving players a heads’ up about future changes before the specific changes are announced. I think this is partly to allow people to get through their grieving cycle and also to stop players jumping on the bandwagon of overpowered classes too quickly – if Blizzard say immediately, “We think this is wrong and it’s being fixed next patch,” then it probably won’t seem worth the effort.

Changes coming down the line soonish are a buff to warlock damage, and a nerf to protection warriors damage because the spec has been performing too well in PvP. Naturally, since the majority of tanking warriors are PvE focussed, this raised an uproar. In PvE the spec isn’t remotely overpowered, if anything it is slightly behind the other tanks in terms of threat generation, effective health, how easy they are to heal, and so on; so a nerf was never going to be a popular move.

If a spec IS overpowered in PvP then they do need to act quickly, because top end PvP players are notorious for how quickly they’ll switch to the flavour of the month.

And no one really wants to pick a tank because of their damage. They want to pick them because they’re tough, hard to kill, good at keeping threat, and doing whatever other tanky things the raid requires. For a tank, damage is part of their utility, it’s a small buff to raid damage that you get as a bonus when you slot them in.

So I think the warlock buff will be way way more significant to future raid performance than any protection warrior nerf. But it’s still harsh to be in a spot where you think, “Actually, the best thing the raid could do to make this encounter easier would be to bench me and get one of the bears or paladins to tank.” Even worse if they could just grab a lesser geared alt or offspec paladin and still find things easier.

It just doesn’t make you feel good about the game.