Friday, November 21, 2008

Style vs game mechanics.

There are plenty of differences between various classes.

Lore divides the classes neatly, sometimes even dividing members of the same class from different races. Blood Knights vs Silver Hand paladins, anyone?

Game mechanics of course divides the different classes, even though some are shared. For example, all healing classes have a big, slow, cast-time, direct heal. On the other hand, plenty of other mechanics are different, ranging from armor proficiency to unique mechanics and spells.

The next part is closely tied to the lore, namely the theme of each class' abilities. The names of various abilities are usually a giveaway. Holy Light, anyone? Graphical display of the various abilities are another good pointer. Several of the druid graphics include leaves. I'd also put the look of class-spesific armor and weapons in those categories.

Then there's another game-mechanic side, namely balance issue. What makes a warrior a counter to a druid and death knight a counter to druid? The warrior can be immune to psychic scream and can limit the priest's movement indefinately. Similary, druids can't remove death knight diseases, and death knights can remove HoTs.

To me, the discussion can be summed up as style vs game mechanics. As noted in the title, I'll always envy some class ability of another healer, but that doesn't mean I have to envy the style as well. I try to ask myself, what kind of style feels most correct for me?

Priests' style are based on a mix of between prophets and angels. Armor that looks like wings and ahalo. Spells like Guardian Spirit and Spirit of Redemption. Greater Heal gives a brief display of a ritual circle on the ground when it hits the target. Plenty of abilities with "prayer" in it. All built around the concept of a connection to some higher power. The shadow part is a bit fuzzier. I have two respecs to shadow, for a grand total of about 1 hour of playtime, so I'm not planning to delve too deeply into that.

Druids' style are much more split between the different trees (no pun intended, actually). All are obviously focused around some aspect of nature. D'oh! It's kinda hard to miss that ferals embrace the animal aspect of nature. Restoration focus more on plants and (re)growing. Turning into a Tree is a sort of giveaway, right? Names like Regrowth and Living Seed also helps. The balance part is a bit strange. Part of it resolves around the night elf lore about the stars and the moon (Star- and Moonfire, respectively), other parts resolves around the Wrath of nature and some weather fenomens, such as Hurricanes and Typhoons. Finally, apart from the "Moon" in the name, how does Moonkin aka Space Chicken fit in?

The line between druid and shaman style are very thin some places, but generally, shamans are built on the idea that some people have an inherit ability to sense and communicate with (elemental) spirits, which does not include angelic spirits (those are the priest domain). They also harness their power through totems. Further, restoration shamans seem to be focused around the concept of the ocean and ancestral stuff. For example, (Lesser) Healing Wave, Riptide, Mana Tide Totem and plenty of talents with the word "Tidal". Riptide looks like you're washing someone with water, too. Enhancement are harder to pinpoint, but are at least somewhat focused around storms. Look at Thundering Strikes, Stormstrike and Maelstrom Weapon. Elemental also focus on storms with a bit of volcanic activity added in, from Lightning Bolt to Thunderstorm and Magma Totem to Lava Burst.

Paladins, finally, share some parts of the priestly style, but also focus on a different aspect of them. I will always associate them with the christian crusaders who killed, raped and looted in the name of their god. Which might explain why I don't like them all that much. Even being a blood knight, who care only for the power and not the ideals, didn't really remove the idea in my head. Anyway, paladins also share the angelic and divine aspect of priests, but instead focus more on the ideal of a martyr, a protector and an avenger, respective to each talent tree. More like a divine judge than a prophet.

Inheretly, I like the idea of not pushing your own ideas on others. That doesn't mean you can't share them, but not force them on others. To me, the idea of a judger/avenger/crusader really doesn't appeal to me. It doesn't help that I'm not a big fan of the class mechanics either. There are some, though. I like several aspects of paladin tanking, but find both their healing and dps incredibly boring. While it's nice to be completely immune to everything barring a non-focused priest nearby in PVP, the rest of the abilities are so-so. It got a lot better with 3.0, though. I may overcome my prejudice simply because I like the tanking. Doubt so, though. My desire to tank is a lot less than it was. Healing remains my first call.

That doesn't prevent me from envying some of their abilities now and then, though.

Putting paladins aside, there's three healing classes left which I all feel at least pretty comfortable playing, style-wise. Regarding game mechanics, I can adjust to any of them. Right now, I find priest and shaman most interesting. The primary problem with druids, the removal of endless lifebloom-rolling, has been fixed to a certain extent. I don't know. I'm still not ecstatic about druids. Part of the problem is that I like spells as a part of my arsenal. As a feral, I do technically have access to spells, but they don't pack a squat of a punch. Compare to an enhancement shaman, which is a more hybridish role, and one which I like more. That leaves me with balance and resto. It works, but I don't have a lot of motivation towards them right now.

Then there's the second part, style. Do I like the druid style? I do have a history as a boyscout... I guess I can relate (as opposed to paladins), but I'm not sure...

I like the mechanics of both shamand and priest. I'll just have to realize there'll never be any one class I find vastly superior to the other. I miss dispel (defensive) as a shaman. I miss the serious buffs totem bring as a priest.

What about style? To be completely honest, the priest style is a bit... unclear. Which means that it's hard not to have it appeal in some way. The shadow part doesn't appeal at all, but I've stayed safely away from that for quite some time anyway. I'm probably among an minority of priests that have actually specced holy dps for instancing. It worked quite well, actually, except for the fact that I constantly pulled aggro and had to drink a lot.

I like the shaman style, I think. I'm not more sure than it sounds. It's enough to keep me playing my shaman when I log on. It's probably not enough to keep me away from my priest or druid. There's also one other motivation, but that's more of a defect in my brain. I like shamans because it's one of the least populated classes. As I said, a defect.

Besides, druid is the only class I have that can tank. Unless I roll a DoucheKnight.


  1. Regarding Moonkin... there is a quest line in Winterspring that reveals them to be Elune's creatures that have descended into madness. Made me feel bad about slaughtering them in large quantities until I discovered the apparently cannibalistic ones on that island over by the Exodar. O.o

  2. So they are mad, are they? Fits well, since most druids that spec balance are considered mad by their brethren anyway.

    Seriously, though, thanks for pointing that out for me.