Recycled Post Day – Why The Hybrid DPS Tax Isn’t Working

Zelmaru gave me a completely good excuse to skive off writing a totally new post today.  Today being Earth Day, and all, Zelmaru decided that it was a good idea to recycle blog posts.  And so I am.

The particular one I am recycling is not because I think that it hasnt gotten traffic.  It has.  In fact, it is one of the more popular articles I have ever published.  No, the reason I am reposting is because I think, more than ever, As cataclysm winds up I feel these sentiments more than ever.  But I will let it speak for itself, and give myself illusions of grandeur and hope that blizz actually reads it.

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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 can’t 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.

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  1. […] at Light’s Fury recycled his post on Why the Hybrid Tax Isn’t Working, which becomes even more relevant as Cataclysm draws […]



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