How should classes be balanced?
If you’ve visited the official beta forums lately, there’ve been lots of complaints about how powerful monk (and paladin, to a lesser extent) healing currently is in the Mists of Pandaria beta. A good blog post from Beruthiel, an expert druid healer, indicated that she was never able to beat a monk or paladin healer, no matter how hard she tried.
On Sunday, one player went so far to began discussing what specs his raiding guild was planning to “bench” for Mists of Pandaria, which triggered a response from Ghostcrawler last night.
When I’m being outhealed by a factor of two by any Joe Schmoe paladin or monk who happens to wander into a raid…I’m sorry, but skill is simply not going to overcome that.
Overall, I would recommend not deciding who you’re going to bench based on beta testing until we are very close to ship. It’s not a great strategy to try to get your character buffed either.
This is an absolutely key thing to remember — enough so that it’s worth a reminder. For those who haven’t been around for an expansion launch before, there will likely be heaps of balancing hotfixes that go out at the same time patch 5.0 is released. I distinctly remember my feral druid topping DPS meters in ICC, hitting rock bottom as soon as 4.0.6 was released, then coming back up to mid-pack after a slew of hotfixes a few days later. The developers are still prioritizing testing mechanics, not balancing numbers; if you’re in the beta, you should be doing the same.
From there, the discussion took a turn from raid balancing to raid stacking, in reference to Paragon’s bringing 11 druids to their world-first heroic Nefarian kill.
When we see widespread stacking, that crosses the line. In retrospect, the dependence on quick burst for a fight like Spine might cross the line. Overall, we didn’t see a ton of stacking or sitting for the Cataclysm raids and we’ll try to do even better for the new content.
In situations like this, it’s important to consider the game developers’ perspective. They have to ensure content is balanced for all levels of skill, not just those on the top end, while still creating encounters that are varied and entertaining. For the most part, I think they do a pretty good job, and it’s always refreshing to see when they admit mistakes in their design.
What’s your take on the matter? Should Blizzard balance classes based around their theoretical maximum performance, or should they balance around what the average class member can typically accomplish?
It’s open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft’s next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!
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