Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Is Enhancement Viable For Raiding?

One question that seems to be commonly asked within class forums pertains to whether or not X class is currently "viable" for the latest raid content. Before we get much further into this post, let us first define what viable means.

Viable: Adjective Capable of working successfully; feasible

This essentially means that to be viable as a raiding spec, said spec would have to be able to be able to compete on whatever chart with its fellow peers within a certain percentage. Let's look at some charts to see how well Blizzard has been doing in regards to balancing the various DPS specializations in our current available raiding formats.

Click on the images to enlarge!

The above images have been taken from the site RaidBots. This site shows us the top 100 parses averaged over the whatever time frame you set it up to show you. Now, please be aware that this site is to be used as a reference, not a bible. Your damage output may vary from what is shown on this site due to either gearing differences, the difficulty you participate in, and not to mention potential player error.

Now, what you're looking at here is the average output of each respective DPS class and spec over the course of the last 60 days for all encounters. Notice how the dark blue squiggly line representing enhancement is smack dab in the middle of the pack of squiggly lines. Let me assure you, this is a very good place to be! For the most part, enhance seems to be within the roughly 10k median range, most often right smack dab in the middle. If you so wish, you may venture over to the site and look how enhance preforms on various encounters. For the most part though, we do indeed preform in an average manner. In some cases we preform better than other DPS classes, some we struggle with, but such as it is with diverse encounters.

What this essentially means is that we're currently not over powered, thus not in the queue for the nerfbat come the next patch, nor are we under preforming to the point where a raid team wouldn't consider taking us to a raid. We will be receiving some minor tweaks come patch 5.2, but these changes shouldn't make or break us, they will simply allow us to swap between out tier 4 and 6 talents to more effectively take on encounters. It also means that we're more than capable of keeping up with the vast majority of our peers on most encounters. Except for those pesky affliction warlocks and arcane mages. We won't really consider them for the moment though.

With all that said, I'd now like to touch on a related subject: how much does viability matter?

This is a rat's nest of a topic, but it is my personal opinion that viability as it were is a rather fluid thing. What I mean by this is that a given class is only as viable as the player behind it and the gear on the character itself. Yes, each class has a maximum potential ceiling that most of us try to strive for. However, unless someone is a robot on a perfect internet connection with all of the available buffs and have the RNG proc luck of the gods, most of us will never see that very top most performance ceiling. It's not that we don't try, it's that we all have our hindrances, be it latency, lack of best in slot gear, or even *gasp* human error.

This is where averages are good to consider. While yes, the above graphs were taken from the top 100 parses, thus represent some pretty fantastic players, they only give us a very broad idea on how each class preforms on average. Some specializations represented are capable of more but are skewed by funky raid comps or lack of representation. Again, this should be viewed as a reference, not a bible. I cannot stress this point enough. The above information needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

The fact of the matter is that unless you're a member of a top 100 guild, the so-called viability of most classes may not matter a whole lot to you since your guild's focus probably isn't aimed at acquiring world firsts, thus you have no real need to know how to stack which classes paired with what to put out the absolute maximum DPS numbers. For the typical WoW player, number crunching down to the last possible percentage isn't necessary. Chances are pretty good that most of you who will read this are in a middle of the road guild, perhaps either fairly casual and just doing your thing or dedicated to the point where you're pushing heroic modes. Chances are also pretty good that the talent within your raid team may vary to a certain degree. That's completely okay. All that means is that the above information shouldn't sway how you play to the degree that it would for the incredibly hardcore players in this game. Should it still be taken into consideration? Perhaps to a small degree, but I think the average player/guild will ultimately find more success in worrying about the people they bring into their raid environment versus worrying about what the top hot classes are for the current patch.

I'll let you in on a little secret: Any well-played class/spec can beat out any so-called overpowered class poorly played. I know this fact first hand.

The TL;DR version of this post is this: Bring the player, not the class/spec. While yes, you should always consider raid composition and loot distribution when you're trying to plan out raids, it ultimately won't matter much if you have a perfect raid comp when half of the players may not be capable preforming up to the group's standards. A decently geared enhancement shaman can very well beat out a similarly geared warlock or mage; it just depends on the capability of the players.

Enhancement is indeed viable. We are represented in higher end guilds. There are enhancers out there who have taken down Heroic Sha of Fear in Terrace of Endless Spring and we are more than capable with keeping up on the damage meters, regardless of the type of PvE content we find ourselves in. We also bring some pretty stellar hybrid healing utility, not to mention personal survivability, to the table. Plus, we're sexy beasts. Why wouldn't you want to play/have a sexy beast on your team?



    interesting graphs! You do some amazing writing Saz!!!

    -roo "And I'm too sexy for Iron Forge"