Breaking the fourth wall

I decided I needed to check up on my blogroll today so I went for a read through posts that I’d missed. Confessions of an Altoholic had one updated entry that I found really interesting. It talked a bit about impressions of 5.0.4 and then wondered about fourth specs for classes. In 5.0.4 druids got a fourth spec, they are the only class in the game with one. In practical terms they’ve always had one but bear and kitty shared the feral tree.

Now I’ve read blue posts on the forums, where people have suggested potential fourth specs for classes, that say that they aren’t interested in implementing them. I think one blue post, quite correctly, pointed out that it would be like introducing lots of new classes. It’s hard enough to balance one new class, let alone a lot of them. However, let’s play let’s pretend and think about what these fourth specs could be.

This is a true hybrid class already with a tank, healer and melee dps spec. Unless a second spec for the same role was added, like priests have holy and disc for healing, then the only spec left is ranged dps. As was suggested in the blog post I linked a ranged holy dps would be possible. It would mean a second spec for intellect plate, give people who want shockadins to be viable a shockadin. A lot of the functionality is already in the game with Exorcism and Denounce, Hammer of Wrath etc. It would be possible to add a couple more spells for the ranged spec only, to round out the rotation and voila a ranged spec for the paladin. When I was playing swtor, I picked Bounty Hunter as my class, I actually wrote a post about what I’d like to steal from it for my paladin. In my daydreams I imagine a ranged paladin class working a little like the Bounty Hunter, only with holy power rather than guns.

This is a difficult one and the blog post didn’t know what to suggest either. Warriors are about rage, about hitting stuff in the face. Currently there’s a tanking spec and two melee dps specs. This leaves the potential for ranged dps or a healing spec, neither of which really fit the warrior image. Ranged dps is out completely and healing would have to be done from melee. It would perhaps have to be based on healing shouts and battle cries, with as the blog post said, a side order of bandage type spells. Perhaps also it could be based on hitting the boss. Rather than generating dps it would generate healing. There would be a dps element of course but the numbers would be low, then those numbers would be multiplied to make the healing generated. Maybe like a bloodlust, enraged, wolverine type deal but with aoe properties.

Death Knight
The blog suggested healing but I think ranged dps might be better. I’ve heard suggested a few times that unholy could be changed to be more like a warlock. There are a few ranged spells already in the death knight’s toolkit so that would just need expanding. Perhaps though it would be better to change unholy to be ranged as it is a lot like that already. Then the fourth spec would be a healing one. They tried with monks to base healing on a different resource than mana but it was too difficult to balance so dk’s would have to use mana. This could be another way to increase the use of intellect plate, rather than it being just for a single spec. The spells would perhaps work along the line of self sacrifice but what was taken, would be a lot less than what was dished out. The death knight would have to use other spells to keep themselves alive, perhaps some sort of life tap they could use on the boss.

Currently there are two healing specs and a ranged dps spec. This just leaves melee dps or tanking, neither of which fits the priest at all. The blog suggested a tank built on using disc bubbles but it just doesn’t fit. I believe that in lore paladins started as priests with heavy armour, after so many priests died on battlefields. I could be wrong but I swear I read that somewhere. While adding versatility might be nice I think that a second ranged spec is the only true option. Currently ranged is shadow, the dark side of being a priest, so the new spec could be based on holy damage. I know that a second ranged spec doesn’t add anything to the priest arsenal but it’s the only possibility, in my mind, that fits the priest at all.

This is a pure ranged dps spec so the possibilities are wide open; tank, melee dps or healing. Now mages are squishy, they’ve always been squishy. While a mage friend of mine is an expert at kiting once something catches them they’re done for. They are true glass cannons and so tank or melee dps just don’t seem viable. The blog suggesting a healing spec based on the manipulation of time. I don’t quite understand where the association of mages and time came from aside from Time Warp. Anyway I suppose the arcane could be twisted to have a healing element. Maybe using a lot of fire spells to cauterise wounds, or freeze them shut with frost. I think that Frostbolt has a healing effect if cast on the elemental now, so the potential is there.

Another pure dps spec, this time of the melee variety. There is a clear option here, which the blog went for as well – evasion tanking. I’ve done a little evasion tanking on my rogue as it is, so adding a spec based on the same seems more than possible. I was in a group on Slabhide in Stonecore, the tank didn’t understand what to do despite both myself and my friend explaining it. I had experience with the boss from my tanking characters so I hit Evasion, kept Recuperate up as much as possible and moved out of all of his special attacks. His general damage wasn’t that high so the healer managed to keep me up and so I tanked a boss on my rogue. Adding an evasion spec, as I said is a clear choice, and something I think rogues would do well at.

Yet another pure dps spec, back to ranged this time. The blog wasn’t sure what to suggest and I’m not too sure either. Hunter’s are all about bows/guns and pets, that doesn’t exactly lend itself to any role but ranged dps. The blog suggested tanking based on the pet, but then what would the hunter do? I suppose there are already buttons so the hunter can control the pet’s special abilities, I guess that could be added too. However, it adds a level of separation that I don’t think would provide compelling gameplay. Perhaps a mix of pets, with a shared healthpool so as not to overwhelm healers, coupled with heavy use of various traps might work. I don’t know, hunters are kinda good how they are, so there isn’t a real clear option for them to be anything different.

As the blog post noted warlocks nearly got a sort of tanking ability recently. If that was enhanced then a warlock tanking spec would be possible, some sort of Demonguard thing I think it was. It certainly makes more sense than the other two options, of melee dps or healing. Healing certainly seems out, it’s a stretch for death knights but warlocks are even further into the ‘evil’ spectrum. I just can’t see them healing others. I’ve been levelling my warlock lately and really come to love it, I feel like a god when playing destro. Like how in the last boss of Well of Eternity you get transformed into whatever it is, that could be a bit like a warlock tank.

People have been asking for a shaman tanking spec for a long time. I’m not too sure how that would work given what I said about hunters, and tanking through pets. Maybe they’d get strength of the earth which would give them earth shields, and tough skin. I just don’t know really. I love the idea of shaman’s, the whole totem thing and the lore really appeals to me. However, I can’t play one. I’ve tried but I just can’t get into it at all, I don’t like how it plays. I’ve only tried the two dps specs so maybe resto is better. That being said I know next to nothing about shaman’s, so beyond reiterating what I’ve read, about a shaman tanking spec, I have nothing to suggest.

Ok last one given that druids already have four specs, so I don’t need to cover them. This is another true hybrid, just like paladins with tank, healing and melee dps specs. That leaves ranged dps as the option for another spec. Now I’ve messed about with monks on beta a bit, windwalker especially is lots of fun. However, it’s hard to get a real feel for the class like that. I think that they are quite melee based, even the healing spec, which makes a ranged option a difficult one. So  beyond throwing beer or something, I just don’t know enough to make a suggestion.

I guess this is an exercise in imagination, as I pointed out at the beginning it’s highly unlikely any other classes will get a fourth spec. Druids got a fourth spec because they already had one, so adding one to any other class is unnecessary. However, there are some interesting possibilities and I think increasing the hybrid possibilities is a good idea. It would let more people try out tanking and healing without having to level another character. Although I could be slightly biased there, my favourite classes are hybrids.