At some point, pre-BC, bear and cat talents were mostly seperate. There was some overlap, but I mean we even had two end-tier talents. Then, with the Burning Crusade expansion, we saw a handful of the talents combine and make one pretty decent build where you could be fairly decent at tanking, and also fairly decent at DPS.
In the latest expansion (WotLK), a lot of talents got re-seperated. This meant that to be good at cat DPS, you had to pick up all the cat talents, and for bear DPS, you had to pick up all the bear talents. Doing this required you to make a decision and specialize again. If you wanted to switch specializations, you had to pay up to 50 gold to relearn all your talents.
With dual specs, it seems like all of Blizzard’s hard work to make seperate bear and cat talents again is mostly a moot point, as we’ll have the ability to pick up two talent specs and switch between them at a click of a button. Then again, just about everything in WoW seems to repeat itself in one way or another. My guess is that a lot of raiding feral druids may have one bear spec and one cat spec that they can switch between. However, this also locks them out of picking up a resto or balance spec, or from PvP/PvE specialization specs.
Now, I can see why some people are upset about “hybrids” being able to switch back and forth between two specs. With the click of a button, a druid can go from doing great cat DPS to doing great bear tanking, even when some bears can do great tanking while still beating out some DPS on the meters without even switching to cat. Even big bear butt’s druid blog seems to be fighting against dual specs.
One of big bear butt’s arguments is that it encourages people to pick up off-set gear more than ever before. However, there’s a reason why Ashmai of Nath (a paladin) was making songs about druids being “purple monsters” back before even Burning Crusade:
So, we’ve always had druids wanting to be more than one thing at the same time. I mean, a “feral” druid way back before 1.8 was a druid that had feral charge, but still had innervate, but they sometimes tanked stuff or ran around in cat form killing things five times slower than other people.
Druids have made a lot of progress since the beginning of the game. Patch 1.8 was really the rise of the druid hybrid, where you saw people spec for the end-tier balance talent for the first time (ie. when Moonkin form was invented). Druids have been picking up multiple sets of gear in raids since they’ve been able to perform multiple roles in raids.
The way we should deal with wanting multiple sets of gear out of a raid is to just not be greedy. That’s right, put others’ needs before yourself if you want every drop out of the instance. You can either take leftovers, or you can really focus on what pieces you “need” the most. So, we shard fewer items during a raid, so what? I end up picking up anything off-set that no one needs, and in all my time spent running 10-man Naxx, I’ve picked up all but 4 of the leather items that drop there, because no one wanted the loot. There wasn’t any arguing. There wasn’t any crying. They just laughed at their “purple druid” and handed over yet another piece of gear no one wanted.
Problems happen when people are esentially “stealing” loot from someone so that you can throw it in your bank and never use it, or to take something from a raid for your PvP set. Loot rules can just be set up so that your MAIN spec is whatever you are primarily doing in a raid, just like they’ve really always been. Or, you can have more creative loot rules that ensure that loot distribution will be fair.
For that small minority of people that actually switch specs in a raid, if they need priority on a couple of off-set pieces, it’s not going to be a big deal in the long run if being geared for two roles will help the raid defeat new content. In the end, loot should be distributed based on the guild’s needs, unless you are in a PUG raid, and then… well… that’s just a topic for another day. What it really comes down to is: don’t be a greedy loot monster and have respect for the other people in your guild. I know that’s really too much to ask, but it’s just loot.
As for switching roles in raids, there are already guilds that have people hearth out, respec, and come back. People can switch from one character to another in the middle of the raid. This just makes it easier for those guilds to do that. If other guilds want to say that people have one main spec, one main set of loot, and one main role in the raid - then druids can just pick one spec to excel at and deal with that as it comes… just like we always have. Dual specs give people more flexibility and options, but if they are dramatically trivializing raid content by having everyone respec between every boss, I’m sure Blizzard is going to stomp down on it pretty fast.
In 3.1, I’ll have the ability to be tree spec for raids, and moonkin spec for soloing and everything else. I won’t magically steal a DPS raid spot when we would be short on healers that night, as that’s why they brought me for healing in the first place. Having dual specs reminds me of playing in Beta, where respecs are a copper. I’d join a group, teleport to moonglade, ask what spec they wanted me to be, and then spec whatever it was that was needed for the night. That seemed to work pretty well, and it was better than playing on the live servers where I was stuck with whatever spec I currently was, or had to pay tons of gold to switch. I love the change because I want to be able to switch back and forth between restoration healing and moonkin DPS, but I’m not planning on doing both in a single raid.
It’s really not the end of the world… of warcraft.