Monday, March 19, 2007

Did Blizzard ruin melee DPS?

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the declining role of melee DPS classes and specs in the new tBC PvE environment. Top tier dungeons, heroics and the raid zones have such specific demands for crowd control, tanking and healing, that it has become necessary to pick and choose the class balance and more and more, guilds and groups are opting for DPS classes that can play multiple roles and still turn on the heat when the need arises.

Add to that, the apparent implementation of cleave, short range AOE, and other mob abilities that make it almost impossible for a Rogue, Catform Druid or DPS Warrior to stay in range and keep up with Warlocks, Hunters and Mages on the damage meters. So if the classes simply can not produce the same DPS as a ranged class, offer less raid viability and crowd control options, why would anyone want to fill spots with them?

Last night in Gruul's Lair, the top five spots on our guild's damage meters during our High King Maulgar kill were: 1) Affliction Warlock 2) Destruction Warlock 3) Shadow Priest 4) Marks Hunter 5) Marks Hunter...

The two Warlocks (myself and Sendrak, respectively) died with close to a minute left in the fight and still ended with close to 50,000 more damage than the #3 spot. Sendrak tanked one of the adds (Olm the Summoner), providing massive raid utility, and I was debuffing every mob with Shadow Embrace and Curse of Shadows, also providing utility over pure damage.

To me, the above two paragraphs imply a broken mechanic in the PvE realm. In fact, it has become so widely recognized, that top tier guilds have painted the strategy for the cleanest boss kills in Outlands as requiring two tanks, four tank healers (one of each healer class for raid buffs), five shadow priests, five affliction warlocks, and eleven destruction or SM/ruin warlocks. Any time that taking sixteen of one class to a twenty-five man raid is optimal, then mechanics and balance are currently major game issues.

Guildmates of mine mentioned last night that Blizzard has acknowledged the close range mob ability issue, however despite my searches, I can not locate a Blue response to this issue. In looking beyond the raid content currently available to most guilds, the disheartening fact remains abundantly clear... unless Blizzard makes significant changes to melee classes or to mob abilities, this problem will only continue to grow, rather than decline. As ranged classes gain greater and greater utility and mob cleaves grow in power and effectiveness, this divide will grow more pronounced and the spaces in raids for those effected class types will continue to dwindle.

Militiae Templi has a very skilled Rogue core, and we have one exceptional DPS warrior who continue to compete despite the challenges that they face. As a guild who values skill and commitment, they will always have a home, however we are not the norm for hardcore raid guilds, and the min/maxing guild officers are going to be seeing this trend and eliminating the less useful players and classes.

What steps must Blizzard take to fix these unintended mechanics? Retuning mob abilities is one step, or reworking class abilities to grant more viability in close combat with AOEs or Cleaves is really the only solutions. Do you see this trend or have suggestions on how to correct it?


Ben said...

It is not just melees dps (which is a huge problem in heroic instances), but the warlock class is also a huge problem. Blizzard gave mages a dmg nerf a few patches ago on the "presumption" that mage damage was too high in instances. I have yet to see mages consistently in the top 5 in the 25 mans. Once the seduce issues is "fixed" in heroics, why would you take a mage when you can take a warlock (except for food and water).

Let's see (1) more dmg (2) soulstone (3) healthstone (4) renewable mana in a boss fight (5) 3 types of cc (6) pet.

Shrug, I'm a raid leader so I'll always have a spot but why would I take more than one mage if I have warlocks willing to go??

Cyndre said...

As a Warlock, I dislike any meme that indictaes we need a nerf, but the game mechanics really lend themselves to continuous sustained DPS on multiple targets.

In Gruul's Lair, there is so much running around that many classes don't have the time to turn on the 'juice' while warlock dps continues to tick away uninterrupted.

Either way, I'd say I agree with you except that I feel that mages are almost essential in heroics. My ideal group is Feral druid tank, warlock, mage, hunter/shadow priest, pally/priest

Ben said...

I agree that having sheep makes a mage indispensable in heroics. But for raid purposes, warlocks just have so much utility and dps compared to the other classes.

I try not to use the n word :D.

richard said...

I'm beginnging to hate Blizzard ;)

My main's a Mage, and whilst I have a heap of fun, I'm not seeing us in the pinnacle of DPS (I think Kalgan's quote was "DPZ = zomg").

We're good, we're not that good, and with Warlock overall utitility, it's becoming hard to justify the existence of the other prime DPS slots: Mages, Hunters, Rogues, Shamans.

I do [b]not[/b] want to see Warlocks nerfed (my wife plays one :), but rather a buff or alteration of instances that sees all classes feel like they're truly heroes and having a good time. There's too much emphasis on normalisation across the board - oh, if Mages do too much damage, give them a nerf, because they shouldn't do more than Hunters (e.g.).

It may come as no surprise, but Kalgan (lead game designer at Blizzard) as well as Blizzard's COO play Warlocks. Hm?

Tobold said...

requiring two tanks, four tank healers (one of each healer class for raid buffs), five shadow priests, five affliction warlocks, and fourteen destruction or SM/ruin warlocks. Any time that taking nineteen of one class to a twenty-five man raid is optimal, then mechanics and balance are currently major game issues.

Where did you get those numbers? 2 tanks, 4 healers, 5 shadow priests and 19 warlocks adds up to 30, and not 25 players.

Cyndre said...

Good call Tobold, 11 Sm/ ruin is what it should read.

Cyndre said...

The reasion you limit the number of affliction warlocks is because you will push the debuff limit if you have more than that. CoA, Corruption, Siphon Life, Unstable Affliction is 4 debuff slots per affliction warlock. Eleven corruption slots and one Imp. Shadowbolt slot for your sm/ruin locks. Shadow weaving and 5 priest DoTs, and the last three slots for Sunder, thunderclap and demo shout.