Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Be a Good Hybrid

I woke up this morning with an idea for a post. Then I read some comments over on Larisa's blog from people with clearly different opinions. There were some assumptions made and still others were crying out for facts regarding Blizzard's subscription status and/or financial sitation.

So I did what any accountant would do, I went and researched Blizzard's financial statements and announcements over the past five years through the first quarter of 2010. The FACTS I found I would like to share with you, but it will take time to organize, so expect those FACTS later this week.

For today I'm going with my original idea that I had upon waking up from a particularly bad dream. Every morning I read books. It's a nice, calm way to start the day, plus it gets my mind jump started in a way significanly more useful than, let's say, SportsCenter. Lately I've been revisiting the Harry Potter series. It's so well written, I really do like to read them about once a year. I'm in book 5, Order of the Phoenix.

In it is the foul Dolores Umbridge, senior undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, fat-head Fudge (fat-head isn't his real name, just a given name by me). She was appointed as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and is making the students read a textbook every class instead of actually practicing magic. She has some prejudices, however, one of which is her disdain of Half-Breeds - like Centaurs and Werewolves. One of Harry's former teachers, and friend of his late father James Potter, is a Werewolf named Remus Lupin. Umbridge seems to think that all Half-Breeds are an abomination and undeserving of treatment given to a more pure form of wizard or witch.

So what about Hybrids? Were they ever or are they now looked down upon as a second class --- class? As for the former I can only speak based on anecdotal evidence, not personal experience. It seems that earlier in WoW, the various hybrid classes weren't really the best all their various roles. Pure DPS classes such as Rogues and Mages were better than the Druids and Shamans and Palidins. Priests were the supreme healing class while Warriors were the tanks. I think these assumptions are pretty accurate, so I'll skip over the rest of what I never actually saw and look to the present.

Rogues and Mages, the really good ones who know there class, can still do more DPS today than anyone else, so that really hasn't changed much. The difference is that just about all other class and spec (save a couple really under-utilized and underperforming raid specs like Subtelty Rogues and some, only some Frost Mages) are nearly equal in DPS performance and can compete with the top on occaision. All healing classes have competitive specs that have their specialized and powerful uses as well, Priests are no longer alone at the top of that pile.

Tanks, well, each class able to tank can do it if the person behind the controls is good, so I'm not going to disucss something anymore that I'm not a all familiar with.

So now you are starting a new character, and you want to avoid the pure DPS classes (Rogue, Mage, Warlock, Hunter), you want to roll a hybrid. Not all hybrids are equal, Priests can heal with 2 specs and DPS with the third. Shaman's can DPS with 2 and heal with the third. Druids can range dps, melee dps, tank and heal - ooh, you're so awesome. Paladin's can Tank, Heal, and DPS. DK's can Tank and DPS (currently you can do both with all three trees, which is very interesting, but come Cataclysm will only be able to tank in Blood). And finally the almighty Warrior, original Tank and now DPSer to boot.

No matter your choice, there will be external expectations heaped upon you, some of which you already have for yourself and others you will fight every day you log on. So here's my first tip in being a good hybrid.

1. Manage Expectations
I know it, I've experienced it many, many times. I decided to level both my Priest and Shaman as DPS, but every time that I ran a dungeon and ESPECIALLY when I hit 80, it seemed that nobody realized that either had any other available spec than HEALS. There were massive expectations to heal, and I fought those tooth and nail for months. Eventually I decided that it wouldn't hurt me to try healing. Making a long story short, I am now a top healer in my guild. I still get the chance to DPS, which makes me very happy. Giving in to demands isn't what I did, I made the choice to try and do something that I viewed as challenging. When I did that I found that I could manage the expectations because as I could switch specs upon request, people stopped expecting anything from me and were glad that I had the ability to fill many roles. Learning your specs helps you manage expectations.

2. Dont' Slack Off
If you gear up your tank set (as offspec) because your GL didn't want you running as Ret every week, don't begrudge it [ too much :) ]. When you're running randoms with the guildies helping you get your starter gear, try and do your best at a role you're unfamiliar with. Don't purposely fail and say at the end "I just can't do it, I'm goin' back to ret'. Try and learn your gear strategy, gemming, enchants, spells, abilities, and your role in a fight that is clearly different from what you're used to. Working hard to be good at every skill possible (currently 2 with duel-spec) will not only make you valuable, but provide you a way to keep the game fresh by allowing you to do the same thing two different ways, thus providing a completely different experience. Slacking off may just lead to burnout, while working at it will keep you playing and having fun.

3. Be Flexible
Should be easy, you're a freakin' hybrid. Last night I had my Shadow Priest in a weekly raid with my guild. We had some new tanks and healer and it wasn't easy. There were times when the new healer would die and I had to stop DPSing, pop shields and renews and flash heal our way through the end of the fight. Even through a few wipes when a few were impatient and a bit irritated and said, "Why is [Gronthe's] DPS so low? You really need to be higher with your gear," I didn't get upset because I knew that my ability to be flexible during the fight got us farther than if I kept my head down and mashed buttons. BTW, I calmly reminded this bloke what I needed to do, and to please refrain from criticizing me who was consistently 1 or 2 on the charts for fights that I didn't have to off-heal. /Sigh Some people.

4. Don't be an Umbridge
If you can at all remember what it felt like when everyone asked you to learn a new role you had no intention of doing when you first started your toon, good. Remember how it feels to want to fight back against those expectations and don't push other people in the same way you were pushed. Sure, encouragement to others to fulfill as many hybrid roles as possible is a good thing, for the group and for the person as well. It's nice to feel useful, and hybrids are in a perfect position now to fulfill all the roles at the highest levels of the game. Don't dispise others because of who they are; if that Druid just doesn't want to heal, ultimately it's his choice. Don't treat make him an outcast because he's not like you. Be accepting of his chosen role. Small encouragement is still good, but don't push it!

It's a good age for the hybrid, I for one love it. We can do everything and do it well. I'm sure this hybrid love will continue on in Cataclysm.

Until next time, adieu!

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