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Words of Truth

Posted by Rem on May 7, 2011

I’ll get back to answering comments and writing my own long winded points of view shortly. Today, however, I would like to just full-quote a post from the RIFT forums, a response to a discussion about the DPS advantage of a Warrior build sub-specing into Beastmaster. Highlights by me.

I’ve never understood the whole “this is the only good spec because it wins the meters by 50 dps” mentality, or moreover the people who are convinced it is a game developer’s goal to create some uber cookie cutter build and just force everyone to play that and only that. Do people really believe Trion hates its player base and is deliberately sabotaging a game their developers and investors have put significant amounts of time, money, and effort into in an effort to rickroll millions of players at personal expense? Of course, if some other spec happened to parse 50 dps higher than beastmaster builds, there would be half a dozen threads about how terrible Trion is for shoving warriors into that spec, and that some people want to enjoy having a pet out and still be competitive.

There will pretty much always be one spec that, for a given set of equipment and utility buffs, deals more damage to a stationary single target than any other in a specific time interval. Capacity for single target damage in perfectly ideal stationary conditions is rarely the only mechanic you’ll have to worry about in an encounter (and in the cases where it is – then yes, you use the “best single-target stationary damage” spec). The question becomes, what is an acceptable margin of disparity, and what other benefits does a spec yield in exchange for that damage? And yes- not having to babysit your pet is a real advantage that can and should be considered when selecting a spec for an encounter.

I personally feel that anything which comes within a 10% margin of the ideal-case spec is perfectly acceptable, assuming there is some element of mechanical difference to be leveraged. I run three different damage builds for various encounters. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages, and these are quite often more than enough to overcome a minor loss in damage from a spec with better perfect-conditions throughput. Way of the Mountain is a real benefit – not having to leave melee range for knockback mechanics can increase your damage significantly. Not having to resummon a pet can increase your damage significantly. Being able to dive into an encounter early, switch to adds immediately, and completely ignore threat limitations can increase your damage significantly. Providing a key buff or debuff effect that your raid currently does not have can increase not just your damage, but the whole raid’s damage, significantly. Having fewer class-based elements to watch and react to during a complex encounter can keep you alive, which will increase your damage significantly. These are all elements that a training dummy will never show you. Some of them can be mitigated by “playing better,” but any strategy or rotation which relies entirely upon sustained perfection is bound to inevitably under-perform. **** happens, and you can’t ‘outskill’ an ISP hiccup. The goal is to meet requirements as consistently as possible, not to set the highest mark in one attempt out of many [Rem: yes, this warrants double-highlighting].

Here are what I view as core problems for the warrior class:
* Dual wielding damage, in any spec I have found, is at least 20-30% behind the top dog two-handed specs. This is enough of a margin to be difficult to overcome via class utility. Furthermore, just about all utility available to these specs can be reached by two-handed builds.
* Certain specs are unique to the raid due to debuffs which are unique to the target. (This is a bug, being fixed in 1.2)
* Beastmaster buff effects do not refresh after zoning; the pet must be resummoned. This is a bug.
* Attack power scaling on warrior skills is relatively low, making AP (and strength) less significant than alternatives such as crit rating (or dexterity). This creates awkward gear contention with rogues, among other problems.
* Strike Like Iron’s tooltip (and % damage scaling in general) is misleading. Perhaps something like “Increases skill damage by 48% of the unmodified value” or “increases damage modifier by +48%” would be more accurate.

Here is what I don’t see as problems:
* BM/champ/paragon is slightly higher than other two-handed builds. Someone’s got to be the top dog, and the margin’s not insurmountable.
* Strike Like Iron is a keystone ability for most specs. It is not as overpowered as the tooltip would lead you to believe. It is still good, adds depth to skill rotations, and forces a choice about immediate returns versus throughput damage.
* Burst abilities do not scale with weapon damage. They’re off the global cooldown, and they DO scale with attack power. The GCD you save by having an off-gcd finisher means another ability which does scale with weapon damage gets used. At absolute most, you’re losing 40% of weapon damage (140% for a 3 AP finisher versus 100% weapon damage at worst for AP-buildup attacks), and even then Rising Waterfall and Enhanced Burst mean it’s rarely the full 40% lost.
* Long-term scaling concerns. I don’t care if the class in its current state will be completely non-functional in 2014. Odds are that bug fixes, the addition of new stats or procs, or general class revamps will occur somewhere in the next three years. Whether the class is propped up three tiers down the road by gear or by developer-based changes, it will still be competitive and still merit a raid spot.

That’s my wall-of-text opinion on the matter, for better or worse. I’m sure some people will agree with me, and some will not, but I feel the statements are justified and well-supported. Thanks for reading, and I hope I’ve at least put a few worries to rest.

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3 Responses to “Words of Truth”

  1. Scraddog said

    Just as an aside to this and from a viewpoint of not knowing Rift at all.

    I hate the cookie cutter mentality of many MMO’s these days or the “you must have this spec of *insert class* to be effective” attitude that so many gamers seem to have these days.

    This sort of mentality has become common practice in many games and it is now perceived as the norm and anything not the norm is therefore wrong and should be shunned.

    Games designers are catering to this and should to my mind leave more choice open to players and still have viable results. But choice leads to complicated and requirement to understand ones class/role/profession and this leads to less people choosing things that appear complicated and games designers seem to be scared of that happenning so a game gets “dumbed down” and made simpler and the cookie cutter classes and specs appear.

    makes me sad that I must be seen to go for a spec that does a whole 20dps more than the one I have chosen or I’m not considered good enough for some people and it does not matter how well I play or whatever any more it’s just become a numbers game to those folks, where is the fun in that I ask you?

    • Rem said

      Here’s the thing: people who research and determine “best specs” do understand a lot about intricacies, intangibles, conditions, limitations and, in general, the big WHY behind the “best spec”. People who copy it and especially those who ridicule everyone who doesn’t copy it, usually/mostly do NOT understand all those things. As an example, you frequently run into people who think “best stat” means “only relevant stat, to the exclusion of all else”, which it doesn’t.

      RIFT is actually very flexible and gives you various different ways to lay out your character with comparable results, but different strengths, weaknesses and styles. But of course, since everything is a mathematical problem, there is a calculable mathematical solution to the question “which spec is theoretically the best”. That’s inevitable. And of course people immediately jump to the conclusion of equating “theoretically best” and “only viable”, most without understanding the “why”.

      • Scraddog said

        So many people follow the spec suggested by this website or that website and blindly follow the rotation etc as set out.

        these people have very little undertanding of the game itself and get in a mess when something doesn’t go their way.

        There is still plentyl about WoW I don’t yet understand and later this year hopefully I will be learning a whole new game :D

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