The Warrior’s Charge: How class balance changes
When we first got the news about Legion, I wrote this post and I said in it that Demon Hunters weren’t taking our jobs. And that much is true — despite the fact that the Demon Hunter will be a third tank/DPS class (joining Warriors and Death Knights) and a sixth tank (Warriors, Paladins, Druids, Death Knights, Monks and now Demon Hunters) I don’t think that it will have that big of an effect on Warriors.
But I’ve been wrong before.
When recording the podcast this week one point was made that I hadn’t considered. The original World of Warcraft classes were very generic, for the most part. Rogues weren’t thieves or ninjas or pirates, they were broad and capable of filling a variety of archetypes. As the game has gone on and we’ve gotten new classes, those new classes tend to feel both more specialized and more distinct, like improved versions of the generalist classes they resemble. The reason I don’t think Demon Hunters are a threat to Warriors is because we already got the class that feels like an improved Warrior in the Death Knight, the plate wearing, tank and DPS hybrid class that has a strong theme in its necromantic focus and in-game lore.
In essence, Death Knights already stole our kit and did it with more verve. Whereas a Warrior could be anything from an Orcish grunt on the front lines to a Gnome swinging weapons around and looking like they were holding on for dear life, Death Knights brought, well, evil. There’s no real reason to worry about the Demon Hunter, a leather wearing agility class which will use shape-shifting to tank, stealing anything from the Warrior in that regard. We already got Warrior 2.0, and we survived. If I were a Druid, Rogue or Warlock (and especially Rogue or Warlock) I’d be more worried, as the Demon Hunter is going to steal actual abilities like Metamorphosis and the dreamed of Warlock Meta Tanking from warlocks, and just generally make Rogues look and seem less unique by existing. There will now be four leather classes, making leather the most used armor type — again, this isn’t going to hurt Warriors.
So, I’ve done a bang up job of explaining why there is nothing to worry about. Why, then, am I worried anyway?
Well, two reasons. The first is that World of Warcraft has never done better than adequate balancing between classes in the same role. Mists of Pandaria saw Warrior tanks fall to their lowest ebb in years, to the point where the class needed significant buffs in the final patch of the expansion to bring numbers back up to anything resembling reasonable representation as tanks. And this was hardly either new or an isolated incident. As far back as Burning Crusade Blizzard had trouble balancing just three tanking classes. to the point where Paladins and Druids were superior tanks in most five mans and in raiding up till the 25 mans, where Warriors were suddenly very much sought after for raid boss tanking due to superior mitigation and specific mechanics that only a Warrior could handle.
Each expansion has seen its ups and downs when it came to tanking and class balance, and having six tanks isn’t going to make this any easier. We know there won’t be weapon drops in Legion, and Demon Hunters start at level 95 in a special leveling experience, so we won’t have to worry about them in lower level content — but that just means they’re going to have to have a tanking style that can be picked up and mastered in fifteen levels tops. And with Active Mitigation still likely to be the way going forward, we have to be concerned. A style simple enough to pick up that quickly could well be over or under tuned very easily. And since Warriors were the first tanks in the game (nobody seriously tanked on a Paladin or Druid back in vanilla) they often end up feeling like artifacts from a lost epoch when a new tank is introduced. I admit, I am concerned about this.
I’m also worried about what it’s going to look like in melee for the DPS Warrior with another melee DPS spec added to the fray. I’m worried about DPS balance between, say, Ret Paladins, Arms Warriors, Fury Warriors, Unholy DK’s, Frost DK’s, Windwalker Monks, Enhancement Shaman, Feral Druids, all three Rogue specs, and if I’m forgetting anyone I apologize but you get my point. Adding Havoc Demon Hunters to the mix seems like it’s going to hurt just in terms of positioning, not even worrying about how to keep all of this balanced.
Let’s face facts. Blizzard has never really been great at designing raid mechanics that didn’t jam a giant thumb in the eyes of melee, and of all the melee DPS specs the Warrior tends to be one of the easiest to kill by a random raid mechanic. I have lost count of the times I’ve heard Rogues tell me they can avoid something truly hideous without taking any damage, we all know about Paladins, Death Knights have various cooldowns that work better than ours (Die by the Sword isn’t going to do much against most raid mechanics) and now we’re getting Demon Hunters, and I can’t wait to see what button they hit to become un-killable.
Yes, this is cynical and unfair. But the point isn’t really that Warriors are hard done by, because they’re not. It’s merely that the dangers inherent in introducing another tank/DPS hybrid are mostly in how they’ll change balance and affect fight design, and not because they’ll automatically steal our thunder. That’s not likely to happen, but we are going to be affected. Hopefully we won’t just see minimal changes but an actual full-fledged redesign to the class to help stave off some of the potential problems.
Please consider supporting our Patreon!
Join the Discussion
Blizzard Watch is a safe space for all readers. By leaving comments on this site you agree to follow our commenting and community guidelines.