Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dual specs part 2

How do you plan on using the dual spec feature once patch 3.1 hits? In a previous post I talked about some of the arguments for and against the feature, and talked a little bit about how I planned to use it. Basically, I generally plan to make my characters' second specs only small variations on their primary specs. I can think of a lot of different ways people will likely make use of the feature though.


Probably the most obvious idea, and no doubt one of the reasons for the feature's very inception, is speccing for both PVE and PVP. This allows you to share in both halves of the game whenever you want, without having to worry about respec costs. Towards the end of TBC when PVE was winding down, a lot of people were doing this because they were bored with PVE and tried some PVP on the side. Some people spent boatloads of gold weekly in so doing. I think Blizzard wanted to make it easier to spend more time in the game doing different things, especially when content patches become further and further apart as they are.

Raiding vs soloing

This one is for the healers and tanks, and is also one of the most obvious uses of dual specs. Healers and tanks have traditionally complained about soloing and grinding slower than their DPS counterparts. Blizzard's answer seems to have been to make soloing and grinding easier and easier, with more and more daily quests that involve no combat at all. Matticus recently had an entire post about dailies like this for healers. There's about 20 of them on WotLK! I think they've gone a long way to making soloing easier on non-DPS classes already, but this'll be handy for a lot of people.

Single-target vs AOE

A lot of people have mentioned something like this. This is one of the only options that might occur to a pure DPS class that really just plays PVE. One spec could be built for maximum DPS on bosses, and one for trash, or whatever multi-target encounters might show up in Ulduar or beyond.

This idea isn't limited to DPS though. Shortly after the feature was announced I speculated on the idea of a boss-tanking spec and an AoE-tanking spec. That would be handy for Sartharion add tanks. Death Knights are especially interesting here since they can have two tanking specs in entirely different trees for different purposes. Along the same line, healers could also have a tank-healing spec and raid-healing spec. Glyph choices in particular would figure in prominently with this type of speccing.

Utility specs

This is one that I can see coming up a lot. Things like having warriors on Malygos bring Improved Spell Reflection or needing extra Divine Guardian paladins for heavy damage phases like Sartharion + 3 drakes. Classes that can move some of these special use abilities into a slightly suboptimal second spec will enjoy an advantage by not having to nerf themselves on every boss just for a little raid utility on one of them.

Specific vs General Purpose

This is kind of a general strategy that rolls all the previous ideas into one. I think a lot of people will have one no-nonsense spec built to do one thing very well, be it progression PVE or arena play. Their second spec could be a catch-all of useful things for a variety of situations. For example, my resto druid might have a straight tree spec for PVE and an alternate healing spec that has a few PVP talents for battlegrounds, a few DPS talents for soloing, and a few odd talent choices that might be effective at single-target healing, something I rarely do but sometimes simply have to (e.g. Patchwerk).

Testing new specs

This will be a handy tool to have for people that like to experiment with different specs or constantly tweak. If you want to try something a little wacky on one of the easier bosses you can, knowing that you can easily switch back into your comfort zone for the harder bosses if you think your latest experiment needs to go back to drawing board.

Are purebreds getting the shaft?

A lot of people have argued that in PVE dual spec proffers a competitive advantage to the 6 hybrid classes that can spec for completely different roles, as opposed to the 4 pure classes (mage, hunter, warlock, rogue). At first this seems reasonable. But clearly there are benefits to dual spec for pure DPS classes as listed above. In fact, hybrids will find it much harder to use their second spec for personal reasons since they have more ways they can benefit their guild in PVE. E.g. A mage will find it a lot easier to dual spec as PVP than a moonkin will. In fact, Rohan argues that the big losers in a dual spec world will be hybrids that primarily DPS since they will be pressured to take a dual spec that can PVE tank or heal.

I don't think either of these concerns are that big of a deal. I'm not sure what purebreds think is going to happen that will cause them to lose a raid spot to a hybrid. Obviously it will be nice to have extra healers for certain fights. One of the examples people often cite is Sunwell where the optimal number of healers could swing from 5-6 on M'uru to 9-10 on Eredar Twins. So let's say as an extreme we need to swing our raid makeups by 2 healers in either direction. If you bring 7 healers normally, you'd want 2 of them to be willing to spec DPS (obviously not a problem) and 2 DPSers willing to spec healing. If your raid doesn't already have at least 2 hybrid DPS classes that can heal in similar gear (shadow priests, elemental shamans, balance druids) then I would point out that hybrids are already statistically underrepresented in your raid and they could use a little competitive advantage. The point is no one's going to bump out a purebred DPS because they want a raid makeup that can switch to 10 tanks and 15 healers because no fight will ever favour such extreme make-ups.

A related concern is that hybrids will be rolling on more loot because they can use it 'one of' their specs. Obviously this will be a matter for guild and raid leaders to decide, but I'm pretty certain there won't be any changes to the way this is customarily done now. Guilds give preference to loot to a player's main raiding spec and PUGs give preference to a player's spec at the time of the raid. The fact that hybrids can make use of off-spec gear a little more easily than they could before won't change that.

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