Thursday, November 11, 2010

Are Druids really jacks-of-all-trades?

Alas of Kiss My Alas recently hit her 1-year blogoversary. If you don't read her blog, you should stop reading this post and go head over there for a while. Then come back. Don't forget to come back.

Anyway, to celebrate she put her inner dominatrix muse on blast and declared that she would be willing to dictate donate post ideas for any interested parties.

Chronically late, but still never one to turn down a free idea, I jumped in on this. And instead of one idea, I got two.

The first is to write an Alamo-inspired guide to kitty DPS. While this sounds insanely fun, it's also a high standard to live up to. My inner Alamo is quiet and buried very deep. It's going to take some time to appropriately channel him.

The second is to write some advice to those looking to roll a Druid due to the appeal of its jack-of-all-trades nature. I've been Feral since day 1. I'm now on Day 1713. Needless to say, my experience is a bit limited. But I think I can still make some reasonable observations.

The Druid really is a flexible class. We can tank, heal, melee dps, and range (magic) dps. And as of right now, we can do all of them pretty well.

But if you're rolling a Druid because you want to do all of these, the very first thing you have to do is temper your expectations. We can't do them all well at once. It's a choose 2 kind of situation if you want to be the best you can be at both choices. If you're willing to accept being good enough (but not excellent) at both melee DPS and tanking, then you can choose 3. (I'm not going to delve into that. Alaron did a couple of amazing writeups on that subject this week.)

Now granted, respecs are relatively cheap. And with addons like Talented out there, they're relatively fast, too. So you could, theoretically, learn and advertise yourself as having all 4 specs. And if you're ready for that kind of mental gymnastics, you're a better person than me.

But there's more barriers in your way than just limited spec space.

Like limited bag space. A full set of gear is 16 pieces. (17 if you're using an MH and OH instead of a 2H.) If you want to carry around gear for each role you can play, you're looking at a full-time 50-slot investment to your bag/bank space. More if you carry around situational gear on top of just having a basic set. This is becoming less of an issue with every expansion, but it's still a concern.

Then you have to go about acquiring that gear. Not even going into issues of trying to prioritize said specs (Main, Off, OffOff, OffOffOff) you're going to have to find time to build up all those sets. If you've only been playing for the last year or so, this may not seem too daunting. It's become relatively easy to jump right from dinging 80 to being decked out in full T9 and equivalent gear. From that point it doesn't take a whole lot longer to become ICC geared.

But ICC's been open to us for almost a year now and there were three tiers behind it. That means those three tiers averaged about 4 months. Unless you're in Premonition or Paragon (and if you are, you're probably not reading my blog) you're not going to be farming each of these places from day 1. It's going to take time and effort to progress through them. Gear is going to come slowly. And you're not the only one going for drops. Even with a main and off spec, it's not uncommon for an off-spec to lag at least a half tier behind you main spec, if not more. (Four months is 16 lockouts if you don't extend any. 16 lockouts...16 gear slots...)

You may point out that people currently manage to keep more than one max-level toon up to current gear levels, and that's true. But two toons can run more raids than one. It's easier to build up a separate toon's gear than it is to build up a different spec's gear.

There's also the issue of expectations. If you can tank or heal, you're going to be asked to spend most of your time tanking or healing. It's the nature of the beast. Those are the specs that are the most under-represented. If they're not your first choice of role, you probably don't want to advertise that you can fill them.

Bottom line, it's probably most worth your time to pick two of the roles, spec and gear them, and go from there.

"So Saniel," you're saying. "You just wrote a mini text-wall about how being a jack-of-all-trades is horrible. Why would I want to roll a Druid if that was the major appeal for me?"

There are reasons.

First, if you decide you want to change one of those two roles, you don't need to go through the hassle of bringing another character up to 80. The long part is over. You can just use your current specs to help you acquire a new set of gear for the new role, then swap it all in when you're ready.

There's also the familiarity aspect of it all. Each spec has specialized abilities unique to it, but the basic toolkit is available to all Druids. You already know the basics of your forms from leveling. You know what Moonfire and Wrath do. You know Regrowth and Rejuv and Nourish. All you have to do is learn how to use them to their fullest. It's a much smaller curve.

But that doesn't really answer the question. If the idea of being able to fill any role is what gets you to roll a Druid, by all means, roll a Druid. But if you want to play a Druid, you should do it for the same reason that you play any class: because it's fun for you.

I love the complexity of the Kitty DPS rotation. I love balancing the debuffs and DoTs. I love the idea that my DoTs aren't just lingering magic effects, but open, bleeding wounds. (Yes, I'm a little sadistic at times.)

I love the idea of a Bear tank. I love that I'm running out there with no armor but my fur and no weapons by my teeth and claws and I'm standing up to anything these bosses can throw at me. I love that my abilities are fueled by my anger. I love being more about avoidance than absorption.

And, honestly, I love having forms. It's There's no other way to describe it.

I don't want to discourage anybody from rolling a Druid. It's absolutely my favorite class. There's not even a close second at this point. But if you think you're going to be able to hit 80 and do it all with your Druid, you're probably going to be a little disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post!

    I have a druid at 80 but poor thing is just a farmer. I am in awe of anyone who can work out kitty dps since I generally fail at melee. I will say that if I wasn't so in love with my mage, this post would inspire me to take another look at the versatility of a druid.