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On Dual-specs: Changing on the fly

February 26th, 2009

The idea of dual-specs hasn’t really been a huge concern for me.  When it was announced, I mostly just thought it’d be nice to have a second spec for my priest but didn’t think much of it.

But now that the PTR is live, the prospect of dual-specs is much more real.  I’ve had time to think it over, how it’s going to affect the game as whole, and specifically how it will affect me.

After reading /hug‘s post about Dual-specs, which lead me to Big Bear Butt‘s post on Dual specs, which then lead me to the post on Forever a Noob about the topic, I started to really develop my thoughts on the issue.  Or rather, on the issues within the issue.

Aurik‘s post was mostly in support, or at least, not against dual specs.  While I think his post was a little more self-oriented, about how they won’t encounter these specific problems himself – which is fine, and I am in a similar boat, I won’t personally be hugely affected.  But nevertheless, there are problems that will occur, and that can’t be denied.

Dual specs in general – I am a big supporter of.  If it means an easier method of switching between your PvP and PvE, or your raiding and grinding specs, I’m all for that.  It’ll make a smoother transition for those changes, with the new item rack and glyph swapping and bar swapping.  I’m all for making things more convenient.

What am I against?  Mid-raid respecing.  Being able to change your spec between one boss fight and the next.  And I have two main reasons for this.

1: Hybrids being pressured into a role they don’t like.

The closest I play to a hybrid is my priest.  He’s a healer.  However, given the choice and ease of dual-specs, I’d love to be able to go shadow for questing.  I find shadow really fun for grinding and questing.  However, I got to be shadow in an instance once, and it was not my cup of tea.

If I was in a raid, happily healing away, and the for some reason it was decided that we didn’t need the extra heals at some point and I was asked to switch to Shadow… well, I’d be upset.  That’s not what I enjoy, that’s not why I’m here.  Also, I just plain don’t know much about being a Shadow Priest.

Now I’m sure there are druids out there that love being a Boomkin.  But ask them to switch to kitty, and they aren’t that happy.  Hybrids are like several different classes in one – and it’s very possible to not like these other classes, even if they’re available to you.  Maybe they like kitty for soloing, that doesn’t mean they’ll enjoy it or be effective at it in a raid environment.

We’ve been surviving for years with single-specs.  Of course some people are quickly willing to change up their spec for a different raid night, and that’s all well and good.  But being able to have a completely different raid composition from fight to fight – it’s just not right.

2: Pure DPS classes becoming fillers, losing preference to hybrids.

While Bear Butt and Dinaer both focused on Mages and Rogues as if they are the only pure DPS classes, Hunters and Warlocks are in the exact same boat.  Sure, we have a pet to help us DPS and to make soloing easier, but in the end, all four classes have roughly the same job -  Kill things quickly.

Yes, we have three different trees as well, and there are differences between each.  But they do not fill different roles.  Unlike the trees for hybrids which focus on different roles that affect everyone, the 12 trees of these 4 DPS classes focus rather on different play styles and preferences about ways to kill stuff, which mostly only affects the player.

As a hunter, my options are: Have my pet help me kill stuff, have my arrows help me kill stuff, or have my traps help me kill stuff.

My mage:  Burn stuff, freeze stuff, or purply-pink explode stuff.

You get the point.

With the restriction of filling one role effectively being removed, why would you choose a pure DPS class over a hybrid?  Because the pure DPS classes put out more DPS than a hybrid ever could?  Given similar gear and skill, this isn’t necessarily the case.  Our Shadow Priests can easily top the charts over rogues and hunters.

In the end…

Again, the problem for me is not the ability to change specs – of course that is already a feature in the game, and always has been.  It’s the ability to change on a whim, or on someone else’s whim.  The fact that they are making it so easy that people will feel that no one has an excuse to not be an expert in two roles or trees.

These issues won’t affect me personally that much.  I have a pretty good guild, and my raid spot is pretty much a sure thing.  I don’t really PUG, and my hybrid class doesn’t really raid, so (as of yet) I don’t have to worry about being forced into Shadow.

But I know people who will be affected. And it will affect me as far as loot council goes.  We’ll have to make sure we know what people have as their offspec, and will have to know how often they use it and give them preference to others, possibly.

My Suggestion

Go back to the original plan: You have to go to your trainer to switch specs.  Make it no more than a more convenient method of swapping specs, which is already clearly a feature in the game.  Make it an improvement rather than a whole new feature.

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  1. The Dual-Spec Decision

7 comments to “On Dual-specs: Changing on the fly”

  1. [...] On Dual-specs: Changing on the fly [...]


  2. I don’t think it’ll make any difference in terms of the way we specifically handle loot. Main spec will still be main spec and offspec will still be offspec.

    Would I rather bring a hybrid with a dual-spec of another PVE discipline (using Druids as an example, Balance and Resto) over a hybrid with a PVP dual-spec (again, Druids, Balance and PVP Balance)? Yes. Why? I’d know right off the bat they’re comfortable with and willing to fill a different role on the fly if needed. Am I going to? No. Why? We don’t ask people to respec mid-raid now and we don’t sub people out because someone else showed up with a more useful spec.


  3. This has been a concern of mine also. I’m hoping the hybrid classes dont make straight dps classes obsolete.

    I do agree with with Beercow though. The group I raid with will never uninvite me for a hybrid. I believe it will simply allow more versatility within your specific group. And if you strictly pug things, you will still be ok. Druids, Pally’s, etc are not going to want a group full of the same classes for loot competition.


  4. I don’t think it will have really as big as an effect as some (myself included, I suppose) are saying… but what I’m mostly against is the whole “on the fly” thing.

    Maybe there won’t be competition for raid spots, maybe gearing won’t be an issue.

    But what will be an issue is how it’s going to make an already easy end-game even easier.

    Need 8 healers for one fight, then 4 for the next? No problem! Just have your spare healers switch specs and they’ll be very capable DPS. Right now, we have to balance things. Sure, sometimes we have extra healers do DPS or extra tanks do DPS, but their DPS is always quite limited. That’s a sacrifice we make by bringing extra people in that role.

    I guess I’m starting to sound like one of those elitists who doesn’t want people to have it easier… But I just feel like it will make things mean less when people can have 2 main specs that they can spend equal time in. Like it just won’t feel the same if you go in a raid with 15 DPS, 7 healers, and 3 tanks and come out the other end with 18 DPS, 5 healers and 2 tanks. It takes a little something away from the whole RPG part of the game.


  5. I agree with your assessment. And I agree with the idea of only making switching specs at the trainer. Another idea would be to put a CD on spec switching, say an hour or 2. This would make people analyze and second guess if switching a dps to a healer is really worth losing a dps for 2 hours, or vise versa.

    “But what will be an issue is how it’s going to make an already easy end-game even easier.”

    Don’t count your chickens just yet on the end-game. Ulduar is said to be more challenging and it isn’t even the “end-game”. Lets wait to see what’s in store for the Raid involving Arthas. After the kinks are worked out with dual spec, i bet they will make it part of the end game strategy. We’ll see.


  6. I have a real big grip with hybrid classes out doing other classes. You roll a mage or a hunter to do damage, then you have a boomkin, shadow priest, or whatever out DPSing you with similar level gear? I’m not happy about that.

    I’m pretty stocked about the whole duel-spec thing though.

    aoirsevlar’s last blog post..Random Comments on Patch notes 3.1


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