Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Move along, people...

The true sign that summer is definitely over: eyes popping open at 4:00AM with a long list of the day's events. 

It's also a good time for me to catch up on various articles, etc. Stumbled upon this one, written by Matthew Rossi, regarding killing the pure DPS class: http://wow.joystiq.com/2011/09/02/is-it-time-to-kill-pure-dps/

An excerpt:

Any WoW player who played during The Burning Crusade can remember the clarion cry of "LF1 DPS Slabs, CC" that meant that, say, a fury warrior needed not apply. That role in other games is often called by varying names: the mezzer, crowd control, and so on. If we include the role of mezzer to a discussion of World of Warcraft, we suddenly see that we in fact have a more complicated situation. Two classes can only tank or DPS (DKs, warriors), but the rest all have some form of crowd control. (Priests can Mind Control or Shackle; shaman Hex or Bind Elementals; warlocks can Fear or Banish; paladins have Repentance in one spec; druids have Hibernate, Entangling Roots and Cyclone; mages can Polymorph; rogues have Sap; hunters have Freezing Trap.) If we include this role, then we come to see that we already have no pure classes in the game.

If we decide to include crowd control in the discussion, of course, then we have to consider how and when it is used. Groups are notorious for hating to crowd control, to the point that AOE tanking in Wrath of the Lich King reached a fever pitch of ludicrousness, and many DPS players complained they never got to Sap, sheep, or Hex anything. (I know a DPS warrior who didn't have those options ... oh, wait, it's me.)
As a result, Cataclysm increased the difficulty and damage of individual mobs in the opening months of the expansion, and even though gear inflation has rendered some of that content AOE-tankable, it's fair to say that even very well-geared tanks simply can't pull all the trash in the Rise of the Zandalari dungeons without greatly taxing the healer. I just experienced this today, in fact, as a tank with pretty solid valor gear blew himself up pulling the four-pack before Jan'alai without any form of CC on the Flame Casters.

I highlight the list of what class can crowd control what for when I play Luperci. Perhaps I should make a quick index card, with a cross-referenced spreadsheet for which can and cannot be crowd controlled. For example, you can elemental bind one of those humanoid things in Grim Batol that flashes around and hollers like a revenant when destroyed; or, you can only shackle the undead, but sometimes it's tough to tell if it's undead or just really pale. Most things, humanoids and animals alike, can be hexed, (love my hex) but not everything. And there is nothing better than stepping in one pixel too close and pulling the mob to you, while the tank rolls his eyes and the mage flips out. I have tried to tell newer players to take a breath and cc on the fly, which can be done, but when something is about to eat you, it's difficult to remember your Boy Scout training and play dead for a second while locating your "bear please don't eat my head" spell.

I have been not-so-gently told to "READ THE TOOLTIP" and, I do. But I don't have the inclination to memorize not only my tooltips, but those of every other class either. And that kind of defeats the purpose of multi-player social gaming--it's about the communication and support. Standard protocols of triangle=hex and moon=sheep don't always play out either. One man's purple diamond is another man's green triangle: how these cultural nuances occured over time I have no clue. Did Scarlet Monastery missionaries go out into the world, spreading the gospel of "Put out thy Moon, and Shepherd Thine Sheep?"

I am not sure of his observation, suggesting that the ability to crowd control is creating an impurity in class. (Maybe I am reading that wrong: it is early.) It seems the crowd control is absolutely a pure quality of DPS players: we are the riot cops in the crowd, creating the pentagon of healer=tank=fighter=fighter=figher, all supporting one another's abilities. The second highlight, regarding the tank in the Zul fight, reminds me that even though I tanked the snot out of that fight, and the other bosses, the group dynamic wasn't there. Those players just didn't dig my stuff. It happens. Hard to imagine, I know, because to know me is to love me. 

Here's the thing (as I ramble on)--sometimes, groups just work better and are more fun than other times. I can't explain it. Was in Shadowfang Keep the other day as a tank, and it was a blast. Yes, the DPS was great, yes the healer was great, but it didn't keep us from pulling more than we could handle by mistake, and it become a saloon-brawl, and really, really fun. I winced when the druid was so apologetic--so tired of that nonsense. To clarify, this poor druid must have been put down and bullied by other players at one point to be so apologetic.  It's meant to be fun, people - and it's okay to admit you're having fun. This "never say it's just a game" is, well -- your choice. But I still say paradoxically, you're having fun nonetheless whether you think it's a game or serious business. No one is paying you to do this, you are completely and intrinsically motivated (or not). It is more than a 'game' if we take up any recreation to the  level of avocation or hobby. Hobbies are serious business, it's true. 

As far as DPS is concerned, though perhaps "we" are considered dime-a-dozen, expendable, etc., I still maintain that it's not just about high dps numbers. It is knowing when to crowd control something to support the healer, bringing down the tank's target first, and working cooperatively. Showboaters need not apply.

Postscript: I just remembered that the shadow priest in that ill-fated Zul said something like, "I am helping heal, too." Oh dear. I have learned the hard way that when playing dps, play dps - the faster the monsters go down, the better it is overall. This is not to suggest a dps race, but to say it's important to focus--that helps the healer and tank more. 

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