Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to ...

That's right, they've announced the end of Season6, and thus announced the end of the competitive 2v2 bracket as we know it. Well, that's all well and good, actually. In my opinion, this is something that actually should be done now. Before 3.2, I was the first to start the argument for keeping the 2v2 bracket alive and well; I was the poster child of the "SAVE THE ONLY GOOD PVP BRACKET!" However, after the change to resilience, I have come to realize that killing the 2v2 bracket is the right thing to do for PvP to advance.

Do not get me wrong... I still think that the pre-3.2 2v2 bracket was the penultimate showdown of skill and ping (each being equally important... and the availability of one shows off the need of the other more stringently), but since resilience has turned all the underpowered classes with little survivability who got buffs in that vein into unstoppable juggernauts of doom, I'm afraid I just don't have it in me for another season of 30+ minute matches.

That's right, I'm talking about warlocks. They were given 6% damage reduction in shallow destro, they were given their 20% damage reduction back on Soul Link, and they just STARTED to become nigh-invincible... at the very least, you could kill their pet to lower their defenses long enough to usually do some significant damage to either the warlock or the healer's mana pool. However, once the resilience change went through, warlocks who stack resilience and walk around with their Voidwalker are invincible again. There is no dps class who can take them down, it just isn't going to happen. Their pets have resilience too, so they can't get gibbed... the locks pick up Fel Synergy and Improved Health Funnel so their pets cannot die at all, which means they always have Soul Link up... which means they cannot die...

Okay, I'm done.

That's right, done. I'll play the first week or two of 2v2 bracket just to get back to 2200 (or whatever) and sit on that for a Duelist title and rating requirements for the rest of my gear and play the 3v3 bracket.

No, I'm not happy about it... but I gotta do SOMETHING, right?

Let's transition for a moment, I would like to talk about game design, or redesign as it happens.

Do any of you remember playing vanilla? That is, there was only 1 Druid set of gear and it had healing, some crit, int, stam, etc. It was all caster gear. Now, this was a time before Boomkin was, how shall I put this nicely... implemented (Hurricane was the 31-balance spell FFS). Okay, so this is clearly bad because Feral specs don't get anything from these stats, right? So, what does Blizzard do? They make it so that Ferals share gear with Rogues come The Burning Crusade (although they implemented it kind of poorly... Strength was still better for us than Agi, so we'd take weird pieces before true Rogue pieces), and they only furthered this design model in Wrath of the Lich King.

Why do I say "furthered" instead of "improved", you might ask? Well, it is because there is a rift forming since Vanilla, and the Blizz developers only made it larger. Essentially, with every piece of gear that the Feral Druid acquires, he moves further and further from his other specializations and abilities. This is voiced loudly by some in the Druid community who view the class as a true hybrid which should be pushed to use all their abilities, rather than becoming a class who specializes in one aspect of game-play and sits there for the rest of their lives. Ferals just happen to be the most potent example of this, but it certainly exists in other classes as well. For instance, Enhancement shammies share their gear with Hunters (itemization-wise) rather than OTHER Shammies...

Doesn't this seem insane? I suppose there's a possibility that I am the only one who feels that Druids should be getting gear specialized to their class, but it just doesn't sound likely. On the other hand, I can see how Blizz saw this originally, "only one class in the game wears Leather gear with Agility on it, but there are two classes who wear Leather primarily and deal physical damage... only four specs though, three of which are rogues... let's just homogenize Ferals to be rogues but different, that'll solve the problem."

To a great extent it did... but it requires such planning, and tweaking, and retweaking because of way in which both classes scale. Didn't Blizzard already try and homogenize gear to make it more accessible for everyone? I mean, Crit is Crit, right? No longer do we see gear with Spell Crit versus other gear with just Crit, right... and we already changed Bonus Damage and Bonus Healing to both simply be Spell Power, right? So, why didn't we do that with classes? Let's break it down by class and armor type:





Okay, Cloth armor class is broken up pretty easily... there is spell casting cloth gear, and that's it. It makes it simple... sure there will be healer-centric caster-cloth and dps-centric caster-cloth, but largely they are extremely similar. No other armor class is this lucky...

Plate is next in line as being pretty close to perfect... there is tank gear or dps gear. There is a divide there, but at least they are close in their itemization (that is, a little hit rating on your tanking gear isn't so bad, and a little defense on your dps gear isn't the end of the world because there will be other stats which spillover into the correct category. For example, most tanking gear has strength and stam, usually it has hit/exp and dodge/block/parry/etc... so you'll get SOMETHING from the strength and the other stats are close, but not terrible). There is only one class who wears spell-power plate, but we aren't going to talk about this class just yet.

The problem I'm seeing is with Leather and Mail gear... there is physical dps gear and casting gear. The only Leather-wearer who uses casting gear is the Druid class, and the casting-aspects of this class were largely worked out in TBC (with some minor tweaks during the homogenization phase of WotLK). The same is true for Shammies and Mail gear; only ONE class wears caster Mail, it's shammies, and they had that worked out before.

We have this area, however, where ONE spec of Druids and ONE spec of Shammies end up wearing COMPLETELY different gear than their other specs (and Pallies are in a similar boat here for all three of their specs... Holy = SP, Prot = Tankplate, Ret = dpsplate). That's right, it's conclusion time... but it comes in the form of a question:

Why wasn't Feral/Enhance (and ALL pally specs) designed (or redesigned) such that Spell power gear of their armor class was used for their specs? That is, why aren't the talents in the Feral tree set up such that Intellect/Spirit were the driving stats behind Feral Attack Power, rather than Agiliy/Strength? In fact, why wasn't Cat Form redesigned such that it didn't use Attack Power at all, but rather it used Spell Power as its damage calculation. That way, there would be no need for Feral Attack Power staves, instead Ferals would use the same Spell Power staves that their Resto/Balance brethren use.

In this way, we change the model from Classes and Armor Class, to Specs and Armor Class Type. In this way, each class has an armor class and one specialization of that class which each of their specs use... so every class looks more like a pure in terms of itemization:

Cloth (all three specs of all these classes use spell-power):

Rogue (all three specs use Agility leather)
Druid (all three specs use Spell Power Leather)

Hunter (all three specs use Agility mail)
Shaman (all three specs use Spell Power mail)

The ONLY other place to look would be in how the plate-wearers are changed... obviously there needs to be some similar treatment to how Druid tanking would be changed... what if all Plate gear was changed to be strictly DPS plate (except for the Spell Power Plate, obviously which would remain Spell Power plate)? Then, we would change each class in this category to use their main-stat gear for each spec, and change the specs to realize that change (that is, Prot Warriors would wear DPS plate, but their Protection Talents would be changed to "for every critical strike rating you have, you deal 1% less damage but dodge 1% more" (or something) so that the same DPS gear would be good for them without making them powerhouses in PvP! Okay, the breakdown here looks like this:

Warrior (all 3 specs use DPS plate gear)
DK (all 3 specs use DPS plate gear, the talents in some trees will be changed to be tank-centric or dps centric as noted so that as survivability goes up, damage goes down)
Pally (all 3 specs use Spell Power Plate gear, the talents in EVERY tree will have to be redone, Retribution's changes will be similar to Feral/Enhance, Prot will be similar to DK/Warrior except Spell Power instead of Physical stats go towards survivability and lowered heal-ability and damage output, and Holy stays roughly unchnaged)

Would this take a lot of work? Sure... but now you've evened the playing field amongst all the hybrids and pures... each class has ONE set of gear that can be used for all specs, though hybrids have multiple specs which can fulfill different roles... this would actually be the reason for having the hybrid tax. "Sure, you can take a raid of full hybrids, but it won't be as strong as replacing those DPS spots with pures... but still doable." My gripe is that right now, hybrids are "taxes" for DPS because they "can fill multiple roles" when the reality of the matter is that all the hybrids have to actually acquire the gear to fill those roles... so walking into Naxx, a druid can REALLY only do what he geared himself for. I walked into Naxx with a set of budget Feral gear; I could NOT just respec to resto and heal equally well...

I know it's a crazy idea... and it would probably be fret with concerns of "what would stop Feral druids from being amazing healers in their own specs... and if you put talents in the tree which lower the ability of that feral to heal, why do the change at all!?" I don't have a good answer for this except to say that Healing and Nuking is part of the Druid design, but Ferals aren't part of this design... Feral seemed an afterthought of the Rogue design based in Shapeshifting... which is neat in theory but extremely hard to balance.

Food for thought, I suppose.