Why The Hybrid DPS Tax Isn’t Working

For a long time, ret wasn’t really a viable spec.  In vanilla wow, the tree had no cohesiveness – it was the tree where “everything else” was put.  In Burning Crusade, we got a bump, but because of the admitted inequality, and VERY heavy reliance not only on gear, but group comp, it was hard to find more than a handful of ret’s in endgame.  The mantra was to keep Ret’s (and by extension, all hybrids) approximately 40% lower in DPS than other, true, DPS specs, to balance out the utility they bring.  I was treated to my fair share of “lolret’s” and “ret-ard” comments.

Thankfully, they cleaned and trimmed it up for Lich King.  We now are not only a viable tree to play, but at one point (actually several points) in the expansion, we were the Flavor of the Month spec.  The current mantra is to get them within 5% of true DPS classes, but still keep them behind.

Let me just let that soak in a bit.

Because you chose to roll a hybrid, and probably didn’t know what that meant when you rolled it, you are taxed 5% of your dps (approximately) because you *can* swap it up and heal or tank.

I’m here to say that it isn’t working – not only from a technical standpoint, but from a PR standpoint.

So where does that leave us?  Can anyone produce a reliable, and consistent set of parses *that blizzard will accept* (that’s the key here, blizz must accept them) that shows this 5% tax?  Can anyone produce a reliable and consistent set of parses that will prove that this 5% tax even exists, regardless of weather blizz accepts them or not?

I’m willing to bet the rediculous amount of profit I make off of prospecting and cutting gems from 500g worth of ore that you couldn’t.  Why?

The Encounter Factor

Each encounter is going to play into the hands of a particular class a little more than others.  In less than optimal raid makeup (hello 4 hunters) in a 10 man naxx, and all of the buffs therein, I can easily crank out 3700-4k dps on Noth the Plaguebringer.  My faithful lock partner in crime can barely pull out 3k in a setup like that.

However, later on patchy, that same lock partner can pull out 5k dps from his bag of tricks, while I am left trailing at about 3.2-3.4k.

The simple fact of the matter is that Ret paladins have a very strong AoE presence in the raid, while our single target is lacking a bit.  And, each encounter is going to be like this.  Kologarn, where the eye-beams chase my lockie around, he can’t hardly dps while he is running (outside of his DoT’s), but I get to sit there nearly 100% and just burn the boss down (unless I am in the Love-Glove).

The developers recognize this, and they even use this as an argument when one class gets all riled up about being behind in dps, and tries to link a parse.

The Player Contribution

If you are a raider, you have had em.  If you are a raider, your whole raid has probably had them.  Bad days, is what I am talking about.  Those days where you can’t seem to do anything right.  Or, those days when your healers can’t get the heals off fast enough (I know, I know, don’t blame the heals, but honestly, sometimes it is just as simple as “hey man, im sorry, I missed that heal – I freely admit that when I heal) and you end up munching on the floor.

Its days like these that effect the parses as well.  If I’m having a bad day, and I have plenty of them, I can’t get the rotation right, it can tank my dps by 1k or more.    how can we find out if we are truly doing 5% less DPS if we cant reliably say, I am at the top of my game every single one of these parses – and so are those that I am competing with.  We all like to think we are, but even something as small as a sneeze can mess up rolling DoT’s.

The Hardware Problem

How do you account for Latency in the parses?  You can’t.  I used to (try to) raid naxx with 2k lat.  I live out in a very rural area, and I am stuck with a wireless laptop connect card as my sole means of internet access.  When I was first starting out in naxx, I think my raid group really doubted my ability to perform.  I would pull 1500 dps, which is fine for someone starting out, but I knew my stuff and wasn’t horribly geared.  I should have been doing more.

They stuck with me, and three weeks later, my network got upgraded (3g, boy do I love you), and BAM, literally overnight I went from about 1.6k to 3k DPS.  They were as amazed as I was at how bad my lat really effected my gameplay (boy oh boy, I could never have raided ulduar with 2k lat).

So if 2k Lat effects DPS that bad, how does 1k?  400?  I don’t know (I currently average about 4-500 MS lat on good days, 1k on average).  But I am sure it does.  How can we reliably produce a set of parses if we aren’t directly connected to the server, in the next room?  And even then, the server is known to be laggy (when BC first released, Naxx was 2k lat all the time, until they posed limits on the number of instances that could be launched).

I’m not even going to go down the path of bugs.  That’s just something I think blizz is terrible at, and really needs to work at MAJORLY, but sufficed to say, they do have an effect on gameplay.

The Developer Effect

Things change.  And they rightfully should.  The developers are privy to a heck of a lot more information than I think any player could possibly imagine (and I am sure the theory crafters at EJ would flip over just HALF of that data).  As a result, we are constantly buffed, take the nerfbat to the face, buffed, nerfbat, over and over ad nauseam.

The effect is an ever changing, nebulous state of DPS.  I can’t rightly say that I, or anyone else, could say that if I put out a parse set, with all of the above taken into account, that I could reliably reproduce this 5% tax.

The High-End Guild Constituent

And who do the developers go to when they need something tested?  Well, internal testing for one, but they also look to high end guilds like Ensidia.  When Ensida or other high end guilds speak, generally they are heard – I am sure they have a direct way to get a message to the dev’s outside of just the forums – probably an e-mail right to GC.

Let’s assume, just for a moment, that the 5% DPS tax was a tangible fact.  Something that could always be reproduced, reliably, didn’t matter the encounter.  What would High End Guilds do?  The answer lies within the bigger question – if and only if it was 5% (in the scheme of 3k DPS, 5% is 150), would it really matter to them enough to scrap players (or force players to reroll) and loose the cohesiveness and synergy of their team? Because it takes players so long to master a class, and even longer for a team to form the cohesiveness to play in a cutting edge guild like that, I don’t think 150 DPS on a 3000 DPS fight is going to force guilds to drop existing players.  It might be enough to me a *minor* consideration when recruiting, but only a minor one.

The Community Effect

So what are we left with?

We are left with a nebulous number, which we can’t really contest to blizz, because they cite all of the above as reasons why they can’t accept community generated parses as fact.  We also see that it would probably not be enough of a difference to sway a high end guild’s roster one way or the other.  But then, you really have to ask yourself, is the DPS tax really there, and does it work?

The answer to the latter question is NO.  It doesn’t work.  When I can blow a lock away on Noth, then I am doing too much dps.  So they nerf me.  But now the lock is hands over fists above me on patchy.  So I am buffed.  We get into this vicious cycle of buffs and nerfs for the sake of the 5% tax.  Why?

Because you rolled a hybrid silly!

But why should that matter?  Just because I *can* tank, dosen’t mean that I want to.  The same goes for healing.  Heck, when rolling my paladin, I never, ever, ever, dreamed I would be healing on him.  I choose to DPS on a plate wearing class, that is traditionally used for combat (hello D&D).  I chose combat, rather than medic.  And now I am being taxed for that (supposedly).

And even if we could remove the human component, and the hardware component, we are still left with the fundamental mechanics of the game, in which in certain encounters a paladin is always going to excel, and a lock is always going to drop behind.  What then?  Then it becomes a hidden, intangible number, one that the developers like to cite when the numbers aren’t flowing well with what they are trying to say.  And that number isn’t even going to effect a guild’s decision (lets face it 150 DPS on a 3k DPS fight is not that big of a deal) to drop a certain class from their roster.

What we are left with is bad game design, and it shakes the confidence that I have in the developers to put two and two together in the game they helped to design.

8 Responses to “Why The Hybrid DPS Tax Isn’t Working”
  1. Ten'nen says:

    Good post. Really, a very solid post. In fact, I started writing a response, realized how long it was, and decided to just make a post about it. Expect some linkbacks to your page soon 🙂 And thanks for bringing some form of logic to the whole thing. Your posts put mine to shame–I’m all about the rambling, which is funny because when I take notes for class, or outline a paper, or anything, I’m all about the roman numeral outline form of OCD organization…if that made sense…

    • Firespirit says:


      Thank you for the kind words. I put a lot of work into this, and I’m glad it shows.

      Don’t be to hard on your writing style. Honestly, it suits you. I once read an article in TIME in which a writer was ranting about the editor going through and red-penning the whole paper. It was rather hilarious, but the main point is that language is “many and varied,” and writers tend to cover all ends of the spectrum.

      I have my fair share of rants, and stream of consciousness posts (Hell, I have a category just for that). But, I like to tweak things until they convey the meaning that I want. If it happens to be chicken soup, then so be it. If it happens to be T-Bone Steak and Fries, all the better.

      I’m being a little long winded here, but my main writing influence I had was my English 101 teacher – Professor Hood. He was rather famous around campus, and me being the cocky upstart college student, I ignored all the advice I had to stay out of his class. The first night, people tried to “Crash” the class (basically, add themselves to the roster if there were openings). Hood (no Mr.s’ for him, he was just Hood at the end of the semester) told them to stand outside, and wait for rollcall to be finished. After it was, he went out, yelled “NO” at them, and slammed the door shut. That was the beginning of a rather storied class, which was full of paper shreddings, desk throwings, paper burnings, etc… He even refused to grade a paper, once, because it was not written well enough for him to read the entire thing. He gave that student a big fat zero for the assignment. It was hell, but honestly, I am a better writer for it. He opened my eyes to a lot of things in writing, some things that are obvious, and others that you can just barely see through the lines (so much so, unfortunately, I see things, especially in movies and advertising, that I wish I hadn’t learned, and could turn off 🙂 ).

      In any event, just to finish of my hellish story (and because I am bored here at work), the entire grade in that english class was based on 4 papers, and a final essay written in class on the last day. The class started over-full with 35 students. On the day of the final, all but 15 had dropped. Of those 15 students, only 7 of us passed, and there were no A’s.

      That was the best “C” I ever got in college. I am dammed proud of it.

      A couple of semesters later, I actually went back to his office on campus and thanked him for being such an influential force in my writings. He actually remembered me, and told me that he was glad I stuck it out.

  2. What does dual spec really offer a single role dps class? A pvp and pve choice, a set of builds for different encounters?

    I play a DK, and have been a paladin, druid, warlock, and priest – and I can say that nobody remembers the fact that you’re not meant to be top of your role when you’re in that role. Ever.

    If my tanking is sub-prime – I get bitched at. Shadow priest dps not awesome – noted. And in no way can you cry hybrid class and say its not your “role”. Same with Shadow Priests, every form of druid, etc. I think the slight adjustment downward for hybrid is a forum idea that has been taken as a good excuse by Blizzard. We’re all trying to do our best and get the raid slots, so knowing that a class has a lower maximum cap for damage makes it an easier choice for who to leave out.

    Would SPr be even wanted if they didn’t have to be present for Raz in Naxx 25s? Oh, the health buff – yup. Thats worth a class.

    Is it fair that some classes are better at some things than others? Yes, god damn it! I like the way they all feel different, and like the fact they all have different abilities. Trying to balance it is just potentially wrecking the classes. Give us the same max potential, different gimmicks / tricks / toys, and let us enjoy.

  3. jong says:

    I think you’ve built a very interesting argument here—how can they calibrate something that cannot be parsed?

    • Firespirit says:

      Yes, that is a very large part of my argument.

      Another part of my argument is that even if it *could* be parsed, it really isnt effectual (150 DPS on a 3K DPS fight is not going to matter).

      So we have something that we can’t rightfully measure, it has very little, if any, effect on the game, other than to simply put hybrids down, Why is it even in the game?

      I think “Scapegoat.”

  4. Hatch says:

    The root of this is a legacy design problem.

    In TBC, hybrids were given a ton of buffs in their dps specs to make them desirable when their dps was 40% lower.

    In Wrath, they got to bumped up to within 5% (which honestly is a tiny margin not worth complaining over). BUT THEY GOT TO KEEP ALL THOSE BUFFS, and in most cases had more added. Meanwhile, pure dps classes get, at most, one minor raid buff that they can talent into, and mages and locks get an innate raid buff.

    Have you looked at the raid utility of a rogue? They might bring a raid buff if they talent into it. One. Meanwhile, ret paladins bring, I shit you not, 7-8 raid buffs. Unless your 25-man raid is already perfect enough to have everything covered, you have to take the Ret paladin.

    Now that dual specs are in the game and hybrids like us (yes, I abandoned my rogue for a DK because of raid utility and tanking ability, and I don’t notice those 5% dps missing, and neither do the pure classes I beat on the meters) can dps almost exaclty as well as a pure class, the situation is reversed from what it was in TBC. In this new world, what we NEED is to strip most of the raid buffs off of hybrid classes and give them to pure dps classes, then make base DPS as close to identical as possible. No 5% tax that seems to get on your nerves. Instead, your raid utility is the ability to switch roles, while meanwhile a rogue brings replenishment, bloodlust, 4% physical damage, 5% crit, 3% haste, and a bleed buff to the raid.

    Unfortunately a shake up that big won’t happen, so for the foreseeable future WoW is the World of Hybrids. There is absolutely no reason to bring a rogue or hunter to a raid, nor is there reason to bring more than one mage or warlock, especially in a 10-man situation where every person you bring MUST provide a buff. The 5% damage “tax” doesn’t even begin to counteract this. In fact, in a raid you bring more than 5% more raid dps through buffs than a rogue brings in his personal dps.

    So the tax actually doesn’t exist, it just lowers your epeen’s place on the meters. If anything, there is a “pure” tax in the form of lack of buffs.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] class utility. However, this time it’s in a response to Firespirit’s post discussing the failure of the hybrid tax, specifically in the case of the paladin, as well as reiterating some previous thoughts from my […]

  2. […] We are breaking down barriers with the whole “bring the player not the class” thought, but artificially putting them back up, in different form, when you split gear up (and don’t even get me started on the DPS tax). […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: