Altosis posted a nice article about role switching in raids, and what you have to be aware of when thinking about starting a new character. I think his thread was supposed to be about whether to be a hybrid or pure class, however I think there is a greater point than the sort of cliche argument that gets thrown around the WOW forums all the time.
That point I wanted to reemphasize is about how hard it is to maintain the ability of being great at more than one role at a time.
A “role switcher” is someone who might be asked to change between tanking & DPS, or between healing & DPS (you won’t have a spot where you would need to switch between tanking & healing very often, but that would classify, too). A pure DPS player is about the equivalent as a “hybrid” player who picks one spec and dedicates all of their time & energy to being the best they can be at that one role. There’s not much difference between a dedicated DPS druid and a dedicated DPS mage if both work equally hard at gearing up that spec and playing that one dedicated role. The “pure” classes are designed to have a slight DPS edge, but both players are essentially only capable of filling DPS roles in raids.
However, the people that don’t usually have much of a chance of hitting “pure” class DPS are the role-switchers. These role-switchers are also usually the ones that the “pure” DPS classes worry about the most when they whine on the forums, however the role switchers almost never fully take the place of someone who is dedicated to only a damage spec, and focused DPS specs (regardless of class) should always come out top on DPS – assuming they have been in the raids about equivalent amounts of time.
- First, you don’t really want more than 3 role switchers in a raiding group. You are unlikely going to do more than occasionally switch one of your healers between heals & dps, or one of your tanks between tanking & dps. You will also have a lot of confusion if you have to spend an hour deciding what everyone’s spec will be for the night, and then there’s the confusion of the raid leader remembering which person is which role at that point in time. This means that it’s usually a matter of losing a single healing or tanking spot in favor of more damage to beat an enrage timer, rather than losing a DPS spot for more heals or tanks in the current WotLK content…
- If everyone is role switching, it’s going to be hard to keep the entire raid geared up for 2 roles, where you have things like people spreading out their tokens to gear up their off-spec instead of their main spec, or spreading their DKP too thin if you allow “greed” bids on off-set gear.
- You may also end up with a lot of mediocre DPS/tanks/heals that aren’t specialized at knowing how to do their jobs. As Altosis pointed out, it’s hard to keep track of how to be totally awesome at two specs at the same time. While I can pump out some really great healing, I tend to lag behind on DPS a little, and I feel like I have to work twice as hard for not nearly good enough results.
- On a similar note, as someone who is a role switcher, I can say with experience that it puts a lot of pressure on me to be at 100% all the time, and to work at knowing more about gearing & the encounters than most of the other people in my guild, and half the time I don’t know what role I’m going to be filling when I step inside the instance door. So, I have to study twice as hard for new encounters, and I have to be aware of things that effect both healers & DPS classes in different ways.
- You can be a hybrid class that only focuses on one role, and is really good at that role. This is the point that everyone always forgets. If you dedicate all your time to one role, then that role will have the best gear, and the best talent behind it. Spreading yourself between roles runs the risk of leading to having lower skill because of less practice with one spec or the other.
- If I have to heal & deal damage in the same encounter for some reason, then both my healing & DPS comes in dead last on any meter. Healing as a moonkin means I am blowing a lot of mana for bad healing numbers. This works okay in a serious pinch, but moonkin healing tools are limited enough that there is a severe penalty for trying to do two things at the exact same time – and you’d be better off just starting out as a healer rather than hitting that problem that caused a near-wipe in the first place.
My conclusions: Healers that swap to DPS aren’t likely to be topping the meters. However, if you dedicate all your energy to being a good DPS druid, then you should be a good DPS druid. Even as someone who spends a LOT of time switching between two druid roles (or more specs, during certain transitional testing phases or research for my guides), I can honestly say that I’m better at healing than DPS, because my main gear set is healing. Healing is where I have my 4-piece set bonuses, and healing is where I get the most practice. While I can do a good job of filling DPS roles, I’m not switching at the expense of the other primary DPS specs (of any class), I’m coming in DPS more towards the middle of the pack – even when I spend hours at a time working out what DPS upgrades I can get to come out to that middle spot. It’s not from lack of effort, but from a limitation in resources. You can be great at one thing at a time in a raid, and you can only be “good” at the rest.
All specs of all classes are masters of one thing at a time. You have to pick that thing and stick to it. Your dualspecs allow you some flexibility, but that flexibility always comes at a cost. I’m a role switcher, but I can get away with it because I spend a LOT of time studying the druid class, raid encounters, and gear lists. Even after all my hard work (way above and beyond the effort it takes to just maintain one spec), I’m still not going to be the master of everything at the same time.