Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Posts tagged ‘hybrid’

The Hybrid’s Dilemma: Part II

Way back when, in the ICC days, I wrote about the troubles I faced as a hybrid player. At the time, I was playing a moonkin with a side of resto. You can read that post first if you like, I think a lot of it is still relevant to the problems that hybrids continue to face. It’s not entirely comprehensive, this is more of a personal viewpoint thing.

After my experiences as a hybrid moonkin, I swore that it wouldn’t happen again. When I switched to my mage, I was very “mage for life,” and I poured my efforts into her achievements and her mount and pet collecting. Unfortunately for me, even over nine thousand achievement points isn’t an effective deterrent when it comes to character switching (and it was a big reason why I knew I should never be a contender for something like a legendary weapon – I am too fickle). That is why, at this point in time, I find myself coming back to the same issue – only it’s as a paladin.

Tens and the Hybrid Dependency

It must be tough to design encounters effectively for a ten-person raid. Any raid has a set number of “required” tanks for an encounter, although it can be flexible. Some encounters can be tanked with one less tank or one more tank depending – For instance, we did Heroic Halfus with two tanks and three healers, but I’ve heard of guilds that preferred to do it with three tanks and two healers. It all comes down to what you have available to you. A raid team can only be made stronger by having flexible people willing to change roles when need be, but at what cost? At what point does asking players to switch roles become unreasonable, untenable, or even counter-productive?

The biggest obstacle to this is roster size. The majority of ten-person guilds are smaller (deliberately so). Some guilds will maintain multiple tens teams and perhaps a bigger bench, but by and large we don’t have the luxury of world first guilds that could just bring x number of available moonkins because their abilities trivialize an encounter. Sometimes we can have recourse to people’s alts, but for the most part we just make do with what we have.

The design of encounters in this tier has not been friendly for juggling the number of tanks and healers. As a friend of mine has complained, very often the second tank was expected to switch to DPS because a fight simply didn’t require another. Rhyolith is like this, as is Majordomo. An ongoing issue for us after the heroic nerfs was how many healers does a fight need? Historically, we’ve switched between three and two healers at different times and for different content. ICC was largely two healed up until the point where that wasn’t possible, and the roster was adjusted for three healing. We’ve stayed with the three healing model up to and through Firelands, when especially in later Firelands it becomes evident that three healers aren’t necessary or even possible for quite a few of the fights.

That leaves us with a problem – four active, main-spec healers on our roster and only two spots for healers on most nights (with the exception of Beth’tilac, and perhaps it will become more two healable for us but at the moment it’s more of a three healer thing). What this means is that on any given night, we either have a healer going off-spec DPS, or we bench a healer. I don’t think our healers signed up to raid for just one night a week. The other option is for a healer to switch roles entirely. All of these solutions hang on one question – what is the Dragon Soul going to be requiring in terms of healer and tank balance? We’re trying to plan our roster for the new tier of content but we aren’t sure what we should be aiming for.

The Unhappy Ret

We’re fortunate in that some of our players enjoy tanking and DPSing fairly equally. Our excellent druid is happy to boom it up with his laser beams for some fights, and our paladin tank plays ret without complaint. As a moonkin, I liked to heal (but I didn’t actually like to moonkin). Now I am a main spec healer, and I’ve been finding out that I don’t especially enjoy raiding as retribution. Actually, that’s an understatement. I’ve been doing it so much that I’m starting to loathe it. I’m not really great at it, so it’s stressful. I’ve chased heroic Rhyolith’s legs around for hours. Each week I’ve been Ret for Alysrazor – last week saw me dying to a fire sprinkler just before the fight ended. This week I didn’t die, but my DPS was the lowest by a great margin. When I’m DPSing as ret, I always have a niggling feeling in the back of my head that if I would step out for another (better) DPS, it would make fights easier, and I wouldn’t be holding the group back. I love DPSing. I don’t love ret DPSing. And as was my problem previously as a hybrid, I want to be the absolute best I can at what I’m doing. Off-speccing Ret and DPSing a fight doesn’t allow for that. The only solution would be to DPS even more as ret, which just pigeonholes me into a corner where last week I reached the breaking point and turned to Voss and said: I COULD get better at ret. But I really don’t WANT to.

I could practice art of warring until the cows come home, but ultimately it’s not why I’m playing a paladin. Now this is an entirely personal thing – nobody’s been “making” me play ret, but the fact is that we have all these nights with too many healers, and so somebody’s got to do it – or else healers sit to allow DPS to step in. I realized that I would rather sit than work on H Ragnaros as ret. It’s just that simple. I don’t learn the fight from a healing perspective as ret. I probably will hardly even see what’s going on in the fight itself, because I’m too busy hitting the buttons and hoping my Inquisition uptime is high enough and looking to see what’s procced and what hasn’t and what oh that’s fire it’s burning me ow.

I realize this probably sounds very “I’m taking my ball and going home,” and petulant, and I hope you’ll bear with me there (as I insist and reiterate that this isn’t a problem with my guild or anyone in it). I’ve come to the realization that doing most of the fights in a spec I don’t like instead of a spec I do like has been killing the fun for me. It’s not even, “Oh, I’m lukewarm about this,” I logged off last Wednesday and I was probably the closest I have ever been to saying: I am tired of raiding. It is the opposite of fun for me.

So nobody should have to play a spec or a class or a role they don’t like. I wouldn’t do that to someone else, why would I do it to myself? After taking the weekend while hardly logging into any of my main characters (and enjoying a lovely Thanksgiving, thank you) I realized that I had to make this known to both our other officers and my guild. They aren’t mind readers. It’s certainly not fair to them to stew quietly, getting frustrated with my position until one day I’ve just had enough and I don’t even want to raid any more.

The Hybrid Advantage

I still think that being a hybrid is awesome. Having them on a roster is even better! But you absolutely need to know that the people in the hybrid positions are willing and enjoy doing it. Some people are cut out to be hybrids in both aptitude and attitude. They genuinely have no spec preference. I guess, when it comes to my hybrid roles, I’m not really one of them. I’d rather be a holy paladin. But the way that encounters are designed, it leaves a great big question mark for ten person guilds in particular about each tier. Will their tanks be spending a lot of time DPSing? Will their healers be twiddling their thumbs, or will someone who is DPS need to swap to heals for a fight or two? We just don’t know, although the raid cooldown nature of the tank T13 bonuses seems to suggest that there will be a lot of damage going out. I will be happy to go into the next tier as either a healing paladin or a mage, but I don’t want to go as a ret paladin. Alts tend to slow raiding down so it’s not advantageous to swap from one alt to another depending on role needs. Our raid needs hybrids – the question is, who will they be? We never have been able to find an awesome moonkin; the biggest thing for us right now is that our roster is actually over-full. Only two of our healers are willing to DPS (out of four) and I know the others feel guilty about it. But really, why should they have to DPS? Is it a better model to just start sitting healers for a “real” DPS?

If I move to a DPS role it means fewer available DPS positions. We may be doing some more shuffling, with having someone else move to tank and our current tank move to DPS, which would open up a position for me to do that. Overall, though, it’s frustrating. Speaking as someone who loves playing a “pure” DPS, it’s unfortunate that we have nothing to recommend us but our DPS, when the smaller raid size is so favourable for hybrids. Our raid would probably be perfect if we had an ele/resto shaman, a boomkin/resto druid, and plate DPS that was willing and able to tank. We have a fabulous elemental shaman, and he just doesn’t like healing. I can’t blame him! I don’t like melee DPS. I can’t expect him to do something he doesn’t like and probably wouldn’t be good at, and therein lies the problem. Finding 10-15 people with the appropriate specs, personalities, skills and willingness to swap roles is an almost indescribable juggling act. We shouldn’t be unduly penalized for having two mages, or two paladin healers, or whatever. Except that we are. One of the big reasons I am thinking of switching is because two paladin healers for one ten man team is often not just less than ideal, it’s nearly impossible. Neither of us has the raid healing strength to fill that niche. The upcoming changes are working to address that, but it remains that our holy paladin would be better off healing with any of the other three types of healers by his side – not another holy paladin. That’s frustrating, and it’s disappointing to me personally because I love paladin healing.

That’s not really what this is about, though. What it comes down to is that it’s usually better to have a hybrid, but when you’re a hybrid that hates your other spec you aren’t much use as a hybrid, and then what do you do?

I hope you’ll forgive the somewhat ranty nature of the above post. I have put off writing about this because I didn’t want to be too much of a whiner (hence the radio silence for the past two weeks while I quietly seethed). I want to do the best thing for my raid team, but I also want to do the best thing for myself, because if I’m not having fun then my priorities are severely skewed.

Edited to add: Beru over at Falling Leaves and Wings wrote an excellent post this morning about this very problem, from a broader overview and 25s perspective. It behooves you (har) to go check it out!

A Furry and Feathery Look at Lowbie LFD

Thisalee (my latest druid!) has been leveling madly, and flinging herself into LFD with gleeful abandon at every opportunity. She’s level 50 now, only ten levels from being able to fly, and I am excited! She’s the first character I’ve leveled since The Shattering, and the difference has been profound and enjoyable.

Familiar, Yet Different

I have loved every new zone I’ve been to so far. I mentioned how I liked the changes to Darkshore and Teldrassil. I’ve also been through parts of Ashenvale and Desolace, and most of Eastern Plaguelands and Badlands. The quests are engaging and interesting, with just enough variety to keep them from getting monotonous. Having not done much research into the changes, I keep running into new zones and going, “Wow! Look at THIS thing that has changed!” It also leads to things like me plummeting into a ravine between the Badlands and Loch Modan, but we’re not talking about that. No, we’re not.

All of the zones have many more resources, which for a dual gathering character is frankly ridiculous. You want to talk about someone being “led down the garden path,” that’s basically this character’s life.

“Ooh, yellow dot! Ooh, another one there! And another! What was I doing again? Oh, I have to kill Lord Whosits. But he’s all the way on the other side of the zone… Wait, I’m all the way on the other side of the zone.”

I think of this as the “Mildred Phenomenon,” in honour of the Forsaken I was leveling with Voss. She was just an herbalist, but she’d follow a path of herbs into a pack of mobs and then I’d yelp and try to run away and Voss would yell (in this awesome Archie Bunker voice) “MILLLLDREEEEEDDDD!”

But Thisalee is a lone reed, and so there’s nobody to be annoyed by my constant forays into gathering. The gathering XP really adds up, too! Paired with my heirlooms and guild XP bonus, I expect she’ll be leveled in no time flat. LFD is actually less lucrative XP-wise, but I’ve been doing it to see how the instances are, and just to break things up a bit.

Hey, hauling around all these feathers is thirsty work. You'd drink, too.

What Big Teeth You Have

Someone said the tool should be called “Looking for Worgen,” and that’s pretty much true Alliance-side. There are many, many worgen – but actually, I’ve noticed a strong majority of dwarven shaman as well. Almost every healer I’ve had is a dwarf shaman! The ones that aren’t dwarf shaman are often gnome priests. Still, apparently Gilneas was just flooded with unfortunate souls and they want to rip up dungeons in retribution.

I am a big fan of the changes to the dungeons in general. Some of them have had their level ranges changed, and the dry spell that was Scarlet Monastery – Graveyard hell in the thirties has been greatly alleviated. Thisalee has run the following instances:

Scarlet Monastery

I only ended up running Graveyard and Cathedral during the course of my pugging. They are the same as they always were, except that many of the troublesome trash packs are now fighting each other and so can be skipped! I’ve noticed this happening in other zones and quests as well, and I think it’s a great design move. You achieve a feeling of an epic battle occurring, without having to fight an hour’s worth of trash. You also get to skip the private hell of pulling wayyy more than you intended to pull and dying a horrible death.

One of the tanks I had in a Cathedral run was having a rough time, mostly because the hunter insisted on pulling for him. This hunter was my polar opposite; My DPS tends to be pretty low in this instance because I’m overcautious. I don’t want to be the one wiping the group or causing a Scarlet mess everywhere. I’ll always remember a Cathedral run where someone ticked off pretty much all of the Scarlets in the Cathedral and then ran out…and shut the door.

This seems very Scooby Doo-esque to me. “Maybe they won’t know we’re here, guys! Look, there’s an exit behind the bookcase.”

I might be thinking of Culling of Stratholme here, though, to be fair.

Scholomance

This instance is still very Hogwarts in flavour. My group for this was pretty fun. I’m finding that the dungeon quests tend to lend themselves to greater group cohesion. People all have the quests and so they want to finish them – and they’ll stick it through ’till the end to do it. Moving this instance to the early forties was a good choice – it’s one that I really enjoy and it was a shame for it to get passed over in the late sixties in favour of Outland instances.

We did have a bit of an incident at the end where the tank let a stray mob eat the healer’s face – and then ass-pulled Darkmaster Gandling. I dropped moonkin form to heal him and DPS throughout both of these fights, even though my mana was running on fumes, we managed to pull through. It’s some kind of paladin phenomenon that (sorry, paladin friends) the pally tanks I meet think they really ARE all that and a shield too.

“No worries, I’ll just self-heal, lol,” the paladin said, preening and strutting when we managed to kill the last boss without the healer.

What, those heals I was casting on you? The ones that kept you from eating dirt? Those ones don’t count because I have a sword symbol next to my portrait. It was all you, paladin. No, really!

Dire Maul

My experiences blundering around here proved useful when nobody in the group started the silly imp running at the beginning. (My bad, too, I completely forgot he was on the left hand side). I tried my hardest to make them wait at the spot where he runs while I teleported out to cat-run along with him.

I’ll give my pug group some credit – they managed to stand still a whole forty-five seconds before pug diffusion claimed them and they started heading towards the next boss.

“Just hang tight, guys,” I urged them. “The imp will be there in two minutes.”

I had the last laugh, though, as the imp ran PAST them on their way to the next boss and they had to double back to reach him. We finished all the quests in the instance. I actually like Dire Maul, although I only ended up queuing for the first part of it. It seems to have been broken up into manageable chunks. You are meant to head down into the gardens at the end, though – something that wasn’t immediately apparent to anyone in the group. Not exactly intuitive, but we managed!

Zul’Farrak

I enjoyed this instance as much as I ever did (which is to say actually quite a bit, because I’m one of Zul’Farrak’s biggest fans!) There are many quests, as usual. I swear they’ve made these bugs bigger, don’t you think? They’re bigger than my moonkin.

I think it’s Zum’rah’s Vexing Cane that makes me like the instance the best. I always want it just as a flavour item, so that I can hit people with it and just be generally vexing.

And you think that regular-sized bugs cause the heebie jeebies.

Stratholme

This was the first time I’d ever run this instance at level, and my pug was hilarious. It started out with the tank saying that the healer was just grabbing coffee.

Me: “Sure, no problem.”
Tank: “Now he’s going to pee.”
Me: “TMI, TMI!”
Tank: “Well, I told him to grab a bottle, if he had we¬† wouldn’t be having this convo…”

I had no words.

Now that the quests are all grouped nicely at the beginning, I was able to grab those as we went along. About halfway through, I started to get annoyed that I didn’t have any Stratholme holy water. So I did what anyone doing this quest would do – started opening crates.

There was an outpouring of rats, bugs, you name it. No one had really noticed what I was doing (we moonkin are so stealthy) and so periodically they’d just get a bunch of bugs biting their ankles. Eventually, our ret paladin said, “WTF?”

Tank: “It’s because I have this [Fine Aged Cheddar], the rats want it.”
Paladin: “Really?”
Tank: “No.”
Paladin: “Oh.”

I ‘fessed up. “The rats may or may not have been coming from the crates I’ve been opening… But they have holy water!”

The tank said, “Haha! Only the sparkly ones have holy water. The other crates are evil crates.”

I told him (and I still maintain) that what’s the point of having evil and good crates if you can tell which are which just by looking at them? I swear that’s new, but I could be wrong. In any case, I kept my moonkin hands off crates after that, until I found a sparkly one. We joked around about my baby moonkin – he tries to fly, something I can never aspire to as a moonkin. We discussed whether Ragnaros can be used as a cooking fire or not (outcome not clear). I pulled an entire pack of mobs with my moonkin ass (I warned them it has a large aggro radius).

We finished Stratholme to much acclaim and decided to move on to another instance, which ended up being Blackrock Depths.

Blackrock Depths

Even with a map, this place still confuses me utterly. It didn’t help that I was lower level than most of our folks, so they had quests that I didn’t have. I never did end up completing one of the quests I had at the very beginning of the instance. We spent more time going around attacking bosses that were red to me. I did manage to squeak out level fifty in this instance though, so it’s not that I’m complaining exactly. I still had fun, I was just thinking of all the herbs there are out there waiting to be picked, and ore to be mined.

A mole machine and a repair goblin at the beginning of the instance are a nice addition and make the place more manageable overall. I freely admit that with this character I am DPSing because I want to avoid responsibility. When I’m healing, I have a particular soundtrack. It goes something like, “Oh my– what the heck was — you’ve got to be kidding me,” and occasionally, in tones of great disbelief, “SERIOUSLY?”

When I’m being a crit chicken, sometimes I literally sprawl in my chair and just spam two for awhile (assist macro is a great boon here). I may have also been starting a hurricane cast and then reading Twitter or other blogs. It’s a luxury I enjoy. I also have a theory that you get better groups if you are not pugging as a tank or a healer. Feel free to tell me I am full of it, but here’s why I think this.

Most people that want to level characters together opt for a tank and healer team. Nine times out of ten, when two people are from the same guild, one is tanking and one is healing. I’ve done it myself! It’s a solid strategy. You don’t hear a buddy saying, “OK, we want to make sure this run goes smoothly, so you DPS and I’ll DPS.” No. They say, “Okay, I’m going to tank, you heal me, and it doesn’t really matter who the three DPS are.” Consequently, I have pugged into some very stable and friendly groups. Tonight’s was especially fun – talkative and jokey (I have no idea how a tank can talk like this tank did while tanking, but whatever works for him). So cheers to <Free Beer and Chicken> from Mannoroth, you guys were a blast. Like I said, next time I expect the beer. I’ll bring the chicken again, with a side of moonfire.

Queues have also been very reasonable – all of the worgen and new classes being leveled are populating LFD quite heavily. I haven’t had to wait more than twenty minutes at the most, and often the wait is between five and ten minutes. For the opportunity to relax and really enjoy the instances, I think it’s a fair trade – all that herbing and mining takes time, anyhow. Lowbie LFD is currently very fun and efficient, something that really isn’t the case for end-game LFD, so I am going to enjoy it while it lasts!

From Vid's "Ill-Fated Pug Files," I left this run before it began because our 'tank' wouldn't stop bouncing around in cat form.

The Hybrid’s Dilemma

With Wrath winding down and Cataclysm just on the horizon, everyone’s mind is on the future – fresh new raids, leveling, and this strange broken Azeroth we all inhabit now. We’ve been focused on making sure our roster is “set,” and it pretty much is. We have some player shuffle; no one is leaving but several folks have switched characters. We have a druid migrating to a warrior, a hunter becoming a shaman, a paladin becoming a rogue, and a moonkin becoming a mage (that’s me).

What you might observe there is a distinct lessening of hybrid classes. We’ll lose a healer who could also DPS, and a DPS who could also heal. Especially in a ten-man setting, these hybrids can be crucial. Being able to off-heal for our group was the major motivating factor behind my switch to Moonkin – I’d actually planned to be more or less full-time resto, but it so happened that we recruited an awesome resto druid that week. Three resto druids isn’t exactly a stellar combination, so mostly I was an owlbear. And it was okay. (I did enjoy the “forest for the trees” jokes, though). But there were many things that were less fun about it, and I’ve been thinking about why I’m more or less okay with our group losing some hybrids.

"What, there's a dragon behind us? Never noticed."

Jack Of All Trades, Master of None…

For some people, not excelling at any one role wouldn’t really be a problem. They embrace their versatility (and it’s wonderful). Don’t get me wrong, I flatter myself to think I was a decent hybrid player. When I healed, I wasn’t standing in fire. I did the best I could. But I could never quite match our “regular” healers. Even though they didn’t think so, I always felt that I was a handicap and that we’d do better if we had a “real” healer for that night. I know, it’s a mental obstacle – but it was there.

Likewise, when you are a hybrid that plays both your hybrid specs, it can start to affect your play in either role. I felt that my DPS always lagged behind where it could be on many encounters. It was just never quite there. Keep in mind, I’m talking about raiding when it was actually still tough (before the thirty percent buff was finished rolling out, and while we were still working on heroic modes we hadn’t yet downed). Every point of DPS counted, every HPS could be crucial. I was actually healing for our guild’s first Sindragosa kill, and that was pretty fun. I healed it for a few weeks – and the first time I DPSed it I didn’t know exactly what I was doing.

Yes, I knew my rotation – but it’s the subtle nuances of a fight that are hard to remember when you aren’t in it that make the difference. Can I use my Treants at the very beginning and have them ready again by the time we use Heroism? Should I put a DoT on the iceblock while I’m dodging (the answer, by the way, is no… At least it was that time we narrowly avoided being blasted into oblivion by a block that broke a bit early). It turns out I was also meleeing it with my staff. Don’t judge me.

The Landscape of an Encounter

I was trying to explain this to Voss the other day and I hit upon a metaphor that really works for me. Imagine that each encounter is a landscape with specific challenges. Perhaps they are hurdles you have to jump over. As a DPS player, you approach that encounter from the perspective of: “Anything that causes me to stop casting at any moment is the enemy.” So movement is your hurdle, as well as other mechanics. Depending on the encounter, you might have specific tasks, and there are things that will force you to move. Let’s take heroic Blood Queen Lana’thel as an example.

DPS: We arrange ourselves in a loose circle, with the center area being reserved for folks who are linked. Don’t stand too close to someone else because of the proximity damage. Perform your rotation as hard and fast as you can because this is a DPS race. Your obstacles are:

  • Movement: Plan ahead for what you can cast while running to another player if you’re linked. Make sure you have an eye for where your shadow flames will go if you get the debuff for those (if you’re a druid, keep a cat-dash macro handy).
  • Planning: If you are the first DPS bitten, you’ll need to make sure you know where the next DPS is standing and not be too far from them. If you are to be bitten, try to get near (but not too near) to the bitten person.
  • Be ready to scatter when she flies up in the air and casts her fear. Don’t be near anyone else. Hit it like you mean it.

That’s the fight from the perspective of a DPS player. If you’re following along with my simile, picture it as a tophographical map with mountains you have to jump over, and valleys you have to avoid stumbling in. You’re running over the ground and those mountains and valleys fall at fairly predictable places. You know them. You don’t have to look to keep your footing. Suddenly, the healer is unavailable for that night. Guess what, hybrid with the gear to do it? You’re healing! Here’s the fight from that perspective:

Healers: We still arrange ourselves in a loose circle and don’t stand too close to anyone. Depending on your assigned role (are you tank healing? raid healing? HoT spamming?) your focus will be different. Let’s assume you are a raid healer. AoE damage is crazy in this fight – something I really didn’t know until the first time I healed it. So you have your own topographical map… Let’s say the healing version has boulders being thrown at you from above, which is really what it feels like the first time you heal a fight you don’t know. I knew there would be boulders hurting the raid. Did I have any idea where they’d come from? Not a clue.

  • Movement. You still have to run to linked players, but you also have to heal yourself while you’re doing it, or hope another healer is covering you. Likewise, if you are tank healing and you get the shadow flame debuff… nobody is healing those tanks while you’re running unless the other healers know to do so (they’re dropping boulders on the taaanks!)
  • Planning: Like the DPS, you will always be casting, but you’ll be HoTing the heck out of the raid. Suddenly, you can’t just ignore the people who are linked if they aren’t you – they need healing now!
  • Still be ready to scatter when she flies, but also be ready to heal everyone because damage from this phase is heavy.

The first time I healed this fight to fill in for a missing healer was, to say the least, intense. I don’t know how the healers were doing it with just two at that gear level, and I understood why it was so hit-and-miss. We pulled it off, I’m not saying “I wiped the raid!” The learning curve was steep. That’s just one fight, and yet the mechanics affecting a DPS or healer are in some respects completely different. It’s a different mindset – a different landscape, if you don’t mind my tortured metaphor. You can learn to navigate both landscapes and even switch mindsets if need be, but it’s a rare player who can pull each one off seamlessly or as well as someone who knows that landscape intimately. I’ve caught myself bracing to throw HoTs in a heavy-damage phase only to remember “Duh, you’re DPSing right now,” or preparing for heroism only to think, “…You don’t do anything special for heroism, you’re healing. Keep healing.”

You will have players who thrive on this challenge – the multifaceted challenge of knowing an encounter from more than one perspective, but it’s not easy. Some fights present less of a challenge than others, but switching mental gears (at least for me) was the largest obstacle.

This was the second largest obstacle.

Can I Have That For Offspec?

In our raid, everyone is expected to have and gear a respectable offspec. Even the pure players have two viable PvE specs that might be better suited to different encounters. I know our other mage is itching to go Frost for Cataclysm, and that’s fine. He’ll probably keep another spec. There are some differences between spec gear priorities that can crop up for pures, but it’s nothing compared to what it used to be like for hybrids. We’ll have to wait and see how that shakes out for hybrid classes in the expansion, with spirit to hit conversions and etcetera. Even with that in mind, though, hybrids will still have a “main” spec, and it takes time and many drops to adequately gear up an offspec properly. I have teased Voss because the one night he had to possibly switch from tanking to DPS he was “not prepared.”

Later that night, he shamefacedly admit that he hadn’t gemmed his DPS gear for a pretty good reason. He needed nearly twenty cardinal rubies to do it! As someone who has kept two sets of gear “raid ready” I sympathize with this wholly. Having plenty of alchemists and jewelcrafters I could afford it, but it’s still a considerable expense that other folks might not incur to the same extent. By the end of Wrath, my moonkin’s two gear sets were equally awesome – more or less equivalent to other folks in either role – but of course I was never going to take gear from “main” spec healers in order to do that. (Our healers were very generous with me, though, and so this is no gear complaint. They’d say, “It’s a sidegrade for me, give it to Shae,” and the cooperative spirit was a big part of the reason I was able to be so well-geared for when we needed it.) Still, things like trinkets are rare enough for main specs – it takes a long time and great fortune for an off-spec to even sniff them, which is as it should be. But it’s part of the hybrid handicap that prevents us from being as good as main healers when we need to be. Your gear can be “the best you’re able to get,” but it will probably still fall a bit short in one spec or the other until the content has been on farm for quite a long time.

Neither Fish, Nor Flesh, Nor Good Red Herring

Ultimately, the burdens and rewards of being an excellent hybrid player depend on the individual. Some people might thrive on the challenge and not mind the confusion and gear lag. In my case, I loved being a resto druid, and I loved being able to help the raid when it was needed. Unfortunately, I just didn’t love being a moonkin. It was tough for me to admit that to myself (and my fellow raiders, who had put the time and effort into gearing a character I no longer wanted to play at the end of the expansion). I still regret that and worry that folks may have seen it as selfishness on my part or a desire to gear a character then move onto another. I had concern that two mages was less useful for the raid than a moonkin and a mage – and in a way, that’s true, but what is most useful for the raid is people playing what they love. I’d rather have ten people truly passionate about their class and role – with less raid flexibility – than a few hybrids who really don’t want to be where they are but will do it “for the good of the raid.”

So we’re going to be a bit less flexible when we start raiding in Cataclysm, and we’re going to have to lean more heavily on our full-time healers. I hope that it turns out fine – and if we’re coming up short, we’ll recruit, because I’m confident in my character choice. I could be a hybrid, but at the end of the day I just don’t want to – and I think that’s okay.

Whenever I'm tempted to be a hybrid "for the good of the raid" Voss yells, "NO. Now, we're short on healers, what do you do?" "Well, I have a paladin that..." "NO!"

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