Thursday, November 11, 2010

Utility, or Just a Buff Bot?

Inspired by the shared topic over on Blog Azeroth, started up by Shop of Runeforge Gossip.

In this day and age of extreme homogenization one begins to wonder "Which classes/specs should I bring to my raid?" With the most recent of changes within WoW it seems now that the variety requirement isn't as steep as it once was. Don't have X buff because you're missing Y class? No problem! Class Z now also offers X buff! So how do you choose who to take in a raid if buffs are so easily covered these days?

I've always been more of a "bring the player, not the class" kind of a person, so long as a certain class wasn't stacked too heavily (after all, four Paladins in a 10 man, no matter what the specs, becomes a bit over bearing loot-wise). With the possibility of strict 10 man only guilds on the horizon though, and more difficult raids at that, many raid leaders are now beginning to look more at what specifically would qualify Z class over X in terms of utility, since now both classes offer the same buffs.

So what should you bring, and why? Well, here's my little narrow scope on what I know.

While our survivability may not be the greatest (ask any Shaman who's attempted to live through the AoE fest that is the first few pulls in ICC...any other melee class can survive quite a few hits while the Enhancement Shaman will die in 3-4 explosions unless a healer is dedicated to them) our utility is pretty stellar, in my biased opinion.

- Hex: Need CC? We got it! While we may not be as practiced as our Mage friends with this talent, it is there.
- Heroism/Bloodlust: This has been our staple benefit to raids the world over for years now. While a certain other class may also bring a similar buff, no one is as practiced in popping this type of spell as we are. Shaman haste is more tasty than any other!
- Totems: How we bring buffs to the raid. While certain totems may be improved for certain specs, over all we can switch out our totems to fit any situation.
- Support Heals: While in a DPS spec (especially Enhancement) our healing spells may not be the greatest, but sometimes a raid aware Shaman can help the raid healers save the day. There's been more than one occasion at the end of a long fight where I've had to pop off a chain heal or two to my fellow melee-ers simply because we had lost one too many healers, enabling the team a few more precious seconds to beat up that beasty.
- Wolves: The Enhancement specialty. These guys don't just up the Enhance's DPS, but they also help to heal us. As long as these guys are out, the healers' mana is not being spent on us. They also have a taunt for those "just in case" moments.
- Super sexy.

Notorious for their survivability despite their leathery gear, a druid is an excellent addition to any raid.

- Cyclone/Bash/Maim: Druids have multiple ways of CCing a mob, but each spec excels with a different form of CC.
- The Almighty Battle Rez: Did your MT die because his healer decided to pick their nose for a moment? No problem! A druid can easily bring them back to life, provided this ability isn't already on cool down because of the noob hunter who decided to stand in the fire.
- Innervate: A healer's best friend. Especially with the new mana restrictions, having a few druids (different specs, of course) in a raid will be a precious thing to have.
- Bear Form: Sometimes a kitty-gone-bear can save a kill if a tank dies! While still a bit squishy due to lack of armor talents, a cat can still take a hit if he/she pops into bear form.
- Insect Swarm: This doesn't have too much of a raid benefit, other than DPS, but seriously...BUGS! Don't make a Boomkin mad, they will swarm you with BEES!!!
- The pimps of all classes.

Them in their cute little clothie armor...they may be a bit on the squishy side, but they're a bit more resilient than you think. Different specs can also potentially bring in certain stuns if such a fight requires it.

- Soul Stones: This can help save a healers life after they lost it, or simply make a run back after a wipe a whole lot shorter.
- Banish: While this may only work on Elemental/Demon types, this form of CC can be awfully useful.
- Healthstones: When used properly by the raid body, this is a healer's friend!
- Ritual of Summoning: Need to get that new DPS that you just pulled into the raid to you in a hot minute? No problem!
- They look wicked doing what they do.

The kings of kiting. The masters of beasts. A hunter specced as Survival is not guaranteed to survive, though. Despite that little fact, Hunters have become an amazing utility class.

- Pets: With the new raid wide buffs that pets give out, a Hunter can easily switch between his/her kids to ensure that your raid has what it needs.
- Burst DPS: Instant shots and excellent burst DPS make hunters excellent for random kill-a-mob-during-a-boss fight. Though, even just on bosses, these guys bring great damage to the table.
- CC: While a Hunter may not be able to turn a mob into a horny toad or a sweet little sheep/turtle/piggy/penguin, they do have a few CCish abilities. Marksmen can Silence with their Silencing shot and Survivalists can put something to sleep with their Wyvern Sting.
- Can you really argue with someone who totes around a gun/bow?

I wish I could give this class love! I just haven't had the privilege of raiding on my Priest yet, thus I feel that I can't give this class the justice it deserves. I assure you though, you'd do well with at least one talented Priest in your raid somewhere. Shadow is deliciously evil, Holy's got them raid heals on lock-down, and Disco brings in those oh-so-sexy bubbles.

Ultimately, when it comes to setting up a raid, it will still be "bring the player, not the class". While some of the more hardcore types will be able to hand choose their raids a bit more to ensure that they have the max amount of utility/buffs, the rest of us will end up relying on what we have, what we know, and a little bit of good ol' fashioned RNG luck.


  1. Priests all the way I say!! =P hehe..
    in my guild our healing team has always been oddly pink-white, so we don't actually get to pick'n chose that much. i'm certainly glad that the 'bring the player' thing is there in WoW or our raidguild would've been facing serious problems in the past. on the other hand, homogenization IS an issue that if taken too far, takes all of the uniqueness of archetypes away. it's a dilemma really.

    and welcome to the blogosphere btw! =)

  2. Thanks Syl!

    In the past my guild's healing teams always kind of shifted, but we *usually* had a variety of sorts. Everyone had their role, we filled said roles, epics and laughs were to be had. If we were missing something, we'd either swap to our offspecs, hopped on our alts, or brought in a PuG.

    This homogenization that we're steering towards is a bit...odd. The uniqueness of certain classes/specs are being lost a bit, and it's making me a bit sad. If I were still running a guild and/or raid leading, and the guild was focusing on a 10 man set up, I'd be slightly relieved, but it still concerns me a bit. With all the blending of the classes, it just makes me feel a bit...disposable. Especially from a Shaman point of view.

  3. Tbh I think we're all disposable and have been since TBC. at the same time, one thing will always be true and never change: good players set themselves apart from the rest. if you're good at what you do, people will want you for yourself, no matter what class you play. and that's an encouraging thought :)
    and I already miss our shammy healers, we used to have 2 of them but both will be off in Cataclysm.../sigh

  4. Have we all been disposable since TBC? Well, yes and no. Sure, you could raid just fine without a Mage's intellect buff, or if you had high enough DPS you didn't necessarily need a Shaman's heroism/bloodlust, nor their haste totems. If you wanted a raid set up though with optimal buffs you had to be a bit choosy to an extent as to what you brought. Now it seems you no longer choose a class because of its niche, you just pick it cause you like the spells...which is nice in a way, but at the same time it's stripping a bit of the "special" away from the classes.

    I suppose I just have one foot in the old ways and I liked feeling special about being the Shaman buff bot : P The new "bring the player" mentality that Blizz seems to be taking raiding is kinda cool as well. As you said, people will begin wanting people more for who they are than going "Forget the second Mage, bring in the Elemental Shaman for hero...I don't care of the Shaman isn't geared, we need hero!"

    Tis a shame that you're missing out on your Shaman : ( Hopefully you guys will be able to pull in a few uber ones to replace them for Cataclysm!