Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What Class is Easiest?

I am asking this not to start an argument, but for an opinion on what makes things easy.  For me playing a hunter is easy because I have been doing it so long but that does not change the fact that looking at it from the outside looking in a hunter is probably one of the harder class in the game to get the maximum out of for a new player.  I am sure many disagree, but I will explain my theory for that in time and I would like to hear opinions anyway.

From the Damage Dealing perspective...

Having recently played a few specs I had not played much of in the past, shadow priest, elemental shaman, and demonology warlock among others, it has me thinking, which class is really the easiest for a new player to get the hang of.

Each class has its respective issues that add difficulty to it.  Like the reason I think hunters are a lot more difficult for a new player than people give them credit for is because they have so many abilities it leaves it open for many mistakes.  When there are a lot of things on your priority list all off cooldown at the same time the chance for hitting the wrong one is a lot higher.  Being hunters have so many abilities and there are always multiple ones available to press at any time, that means that every single cooldown someone can press the wrong one, even if they know what is right. However, with hunters, even if you do hit the wrong one you can still do respectable damage, hence the reason for the belief that they are easy.  Even when you hit the wrong things you can still do okay.

But who wants to just do okay?  Maybe most people seem to be fine with it but I am not.  Okay is fine when you are alone but in group content people need to try to be better than just okay.  Lets face it, a hunter with a 500 item level doing 40K is not, repeat, not okay.

So what class is the easiest to be more than okay with?

The hardest, in my opinion, are feral druid, enhancement shaman and hunter of any spec, all for their own reasons.  None of which those three classes share.

The easiest used to be an arcane mage but the addition of mana being an important factor for them it has actually bought a little complexity to what would otherwise be an extremely easy rotation.  Like I said however, every class has its points of complexity and I think what it all comes down to is what we, as the player, can handle best. 

Some people are great a multi dotting and other suck.  Some people are fine with watching mana and others forget about it and it hurts them.  Some people have no issue managing combo points and others lost track of them.  Some people can manage multiple debuffs as if it were second nature while others easily get distracted by doing things that do damage and forget the debuffs make that damage higher.  It is all about what our minds have an easier time handling and we are each different.

If we wanted the easiest rotation for any human brain to handle it would be the three button rotation.  1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, and do that over and over, nothing ever changes.  Even if it were extended to a five button rotation 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 over and over, it would be easy for anyone to get a handle on.  The problem is that there is no rotation in the game that simple.

But which one is the closest to that?

In my opinion it would be the assassination rogue.  But even if it is that simple, in theory, it isn't, there is more to it.  For example I can give you my assassination rogue rotation, in numbers not names, and any assassination rogue would be able to tell you what I am doing skill wise.

Open from stealth with 5, hit 5 again, then 2 or 4 if it proced then 3.  Now I do 2 three times, or 2 times if 4 procs which makes it 2 times and 4 once, then 1.  Then 2 twice and 3 and back and forth between the 2 three times then 1 and 2 times then 3 switching out 2 for 4 when the target is under 35% and doing twice as many 4s and I did 2 each rotation.

See, 5 buttons basically.  But I did that rotation completely wrong.  There is so much more to it.  I have 6 and 7 as cooldowns and Alt 5 to put me back into stealth and what about Alt 2 if I need to interrupt or so many other utility abilities I have on alts and shifts or other numbers and letters.

See, even the easiest rotation, as I see it, has a lot more to it then just those 5 buttons.  Even with only those 5 buttons did you see all those conditions I had on it.  Three of this ability but only if another does not proc and if it does then only two of that ability and the one proc one.  So it is not 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.  It is not easy.

Sure, it is really easy once you do it enough and it is second nature.  But it is not easy to just jump in on.  I have a sense for the game and for me, even not playing a rogue well, I was capable of learning it quickly.  But I am not a fresh player.   So me saying assassination is easy would not help a brand new player.  It is still hard for them.  So it might be the easiest to learn for someone that understand the game but not for a fresh face.

So what is next on the list that I consider easy?

Elemental Shaman.  Start with 2 and use on cooldown, 1 on cooldown, 3 on cooldown, fill with 4.  Hit 1 and alt 2 when lit up, alt 2 replaces 2 only when lit up.  5, shift 5 and alt 5 are all cooldowns.   With this rotation there are also other things you could do, many other things, but that simple rotation will get you more for less buttons than any other class in the game.  All that, and it really is simple.  You have a 4 button rotation, 3 with cooldowns and one filler.  So it is nearly impossible to press the wrong one.  If it is lit, press it, if not, use the 1, 2, 3, priority and 4 if none of them are available, simple as that.

What rotation would you consider to be the closest to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and over again?  That would be the easiest rotation in the game.  At least for a new player that knows nothing about the game.

Just tell them hit 1, 2, 3, 4, whichever is available, and hit whatever lights up over that and then go back to doing that.  Yeap, without a doubt, in my opinion, elemental shaman is the easiest rotation in the game currently.

From the Tanking perspective...

Active mitigation was a game changer and made it that you needed a lot more skill to play a tank, or at least play one well.  Before the advent of active mitigation you could roll a shield tank, gear in tank gear, and just DPS the boss as long as you had the right spec and right gear and unless you where doing pressing content you would be perfectly fine.  Tanking was as easy as hitting your attacks and taunting once in a while when someone pulled.  The hardest part of tanking before active mitigation was finding damage dealers that gave you enough time to round up the mobs.  Outside of that, you really did not need any skill or ability, your spec and gear and the healer behind you of course would be enough to keep you ticking like a well wound watch.

Now with tanks being responsible for keeping themselves alive, which tank is easiest comes down to which tank has the easiest time keeping themselves alive.

While I do believe I enjoy the new active mitigation design and find my warrior and druid more fun to play the survivability award has to go to paladins and death knights in my opinion.  I will not mention brewmasters as I have no experience outside of some time on beta with one playing them.  So I will hold my opinion on them, feel free to add yours.

So looking at the paladin and death knight you now have to go back to what is easiest with the human mind of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 mentality.  While paladins have, in my opinion, superior survivability thanks to all the abilities they have, the skill cap needed to get the most out of it is a lot higher than that of a death knight.  The paladin tank is kin to the hunter damage dealer.  Twelve million buttons to do what other classes can do with 5.  For that reason and that reason only death knights get my vote of easiest tank to play in the current design.

Perhaps my opinion is tainted by the fact that DKs have always been active mitigation tanks from the get go and I've had the most experience playing them that way but I do not think that is it.  I think the reason they are the easiest is because they passively heal themselves so to speak.  Even an unskilled death knight will hit their self heals while just doing damage and the more damage they take the more they heal themselves.  So add in a cooldown here and there and they can take care of themselves a lot easier than any other tank class and really do not need to do anything different than an old school tank did, hit the mob.

From the Healing perspective...

I have two schools of thought on what is easiest from the healing perspective and one of them is contrary to what I said earlier, that 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 is the staple for easier.  But first, the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 rule.

All healing classes have their collection of heals.  There is a small and cheap heal, the big, long and costly heal, the big, fast and extra costly heal, the AoE heal and an HoT.   Five types of heals for our 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 even if healers do not work like that. 

So which class closest resembles that?  We go to the shaman again for that.  Druids just have too much going on all over the place, even if they are the best class on the move and priest have way to many options for healing, some might say they have at least 2 of each of those types of heals, which could lead to a new player getting easily confused on which one to use and paladins are the opposite of druids with lots going on in one place and not nearly as much mobility.  Again, I will refrain from commenting on monk healing as I have yet to try it.

While shaman might also have some of those mobility issues that every class not named druid do they also have only one of each of those direct type heals.  One small heal, one big one, one expensive one, one AoE one and one HoT one.  Yes, there are other ones that could fit those bills, lots of them really with totems and ground effects and the such but the basic heals someone needs to learn to start healing are a no brainer.  There is one of each and more importantly they are all useful.  Unlike the disc priest that will never use their HoT so someone learning to play disc could easily be confused and using it when it really is not the best for them to do so.  Shaman do not have that issue even if they do have a slew of additionals.

For part two of what I think makes for the easier heals is more buttons, in a sense, not less.  This goes completely against everything I said about the other roles.  And I do not mean two different small heal options, I mean utility abilities.  Shaman have more of them that any other class.  They can dispel, they have two sorts of CC, they can interrupt, they have a pet that can DPS a pet that can tank, CC breaking totems, group debuff totems, and so many other little tools that make your job as a healer easier. 

Interrupting a cast that does 100K to everyone in a raid is the most powerful heal in the game.  Isn't it better to interrupt it than to try to heal it?  In a 25 man raid that means 2.5M heals that do not need to be cast in 1 second.  Unless your healer can put out more than 2.5M HPS for the mana cost of one interrupt that makes a interrupting better.  That is just one example of why healer utility, more buttons for healers, is good and makes them easier.  It is easier for a new player learning to heal to not have to heal that 2.5M in damage.

So oddly enough I consider the easiest healing class to be the one with the most buttons, but they are most non repetitive buttons.  There will still only be one of each type of heal which is what makes them easy to learn.  A heal for all occasions.

Kind of funny that shaman, in my opinion, rank tops on ease to learn for two specs, but enhancement ranks near the hardest to learn.

What class do you think would be the easiest for a new player to learn for each role, damage, tanking and healing?

My three winners are Elemental Shaman, Blood Death Knight and Restoration Shaman.


  1. Ok my reaction here was "What the ...??" Ok maybe it's because I play a protection paladin, like you play a hunter, and so my mind is geared to playing that, so like you understand hunters I understand paladins. However more buttons? I always felt that paladins actually had less, perhaps not less than death knights, warriors definitely have more I think.

    I have an alt of every class. I've at least tried every spec once but given that it was just trying on beta, when you get gear sets so can mess about like that, I don't know some specs at all really. Plus some classes/specs I have a lot more experience with, so it's actually really hard to say what's easiest, because obviously it's what you know.

    So I'm trying to think this through logically. A new player, someone in regular dungeons, maybe heroics, potentially LFR's. I'm not going to even think about raiding.

    Tank. I think I might have to say brewmaster. I've always found death knights resource system to be tricky. I hit buttons on cd and you can't do that with death knights, sometimes you need to hold off for runes to regenerate. Usually when I play my dk all my abilities practically wind up on cd as I run out of runes. However, monk tanks have really good AOE threat, which is what's needed for more casual content. They have a nice range of cds, some self healing, good movement utility. Obviously I'd love to say paladins are the best tanks, and if I was saying best I would, but I'm not sure I can say easiest. Even now I'll run into threat issues if someone pulls before me in a dungeon. I can't spread my threat as quickly as other tanks and I only have one taunt. I miss the days of righteous defense. At lower levels when people are learning the role, having better tools for AOE threat seems to me to be the strongest must have attribute of a class.

    Hmm I think I wrote too much. It won't sent it. To be extended ....

    1. Healer. I don't have any real experience on resto shamans so just pretend they don't exist for this. Holy paladins are what I have the most experience on, that's what I learnt to heal on. I've been healing on my druid recently and it's a completely different philosophy. On my paladin I watched peoples health bars, they took damage I healed them, direct healing. On my druid it's far more about pre-emptive healing which I'm not sure is a strength of mine, or maybe I just miss the direct healing method. Monk healing, which I only recently started with, can be very powerful, even when you are practically oom and have no idea what you are doing, you can keep going. However, it is quite complex, with the channelling, the hots, the building stacks etc. So I think holy priest might be the easiest option. You have the direct healing, which is easiest for newbies to see when people take damage and deal with it (as opposed to anticipating) and you also have an "oh shit" button in Divine Hymn which I often wished I had on my pally.

      Dps. If you'd asked me this at different times you would have got a different answer. If we're talking solo content then I would have absolutely had to go with melee. Ranged tend to be squishy when they are hit (hence why they are ranged) and newbies can't kite very well and will die a lot. My first character was a mage and it put me off ranged for a very long time. However, I've since had a rethink and I'm going to have to go with Destruction Warlock. The rotation is fairly simple (certainly nothing like the brain hurting demonology) you can get high numbers with low gear. I pull upwards of 40k in dungeons and I'm not level 90 yet. You have a built in tank with voidwalker, awesome self healing with ember tap and healthstones. I was levelling with a fury warrior the other day. He pulled like 10 mobs and died, I didn't have the tanking pet up, they all went for me. I blew a couple of the damage reduction cds. Rain of fire, fire and brimstone immolate and then incinerate. Ember tap whenever I got low (and I was generating lots of embers). I killed all the mobs and was on full health at the end. I'm not sure my ret pally could have done the same at level, and ret healing can be pretty nuts.

      So my winners are Brewmaster Monk, Holy Priest and Destruction Warlock.

      Of course if we're talking the best, rather than the easiest I'd change the tank to a pally, except in the realm of aoe threat. No matter what I do my death knight co-tank rips threat right off me, it's a dk thing.

    2. Your comments were marked as spam for some reason, had to go allow them. Odd.

      It is probably the thing I said about hunters. You might not notice it as it is your main just the same as a hunter with me but paladins have way to many keybinds. It is the only tanking class I can not play without healbot. There are just so many spells I target people with it makes it easier for me to just use healbot to target them. I do know what you mean however. There are times I feel there is a major gap in the rotation where there is nothing to do if you do not need to use a defensive cooldown. Perhaps that is what you are talking about.

      I miss RD myself. I'll take a moment of silence for its passing. I stopped playing my paladin a lot since it is gone.

      Solo content, ranged? Hunter, without a doubt. Even if you do a crappy rotation there is no ranged class easier to quest with then a hunter. Heck, for questing only, there is no easier class than a BM hunter.

      Thanks for your take on what would be easiest for a newbie to learn to play.

    3. No I don't have a rotation gap. That wasn't what I meant. What I meant was I'm not juggling thinking about so many buttons so it seems like there are less CDs. In reality it's not that there are less, just that I use so many automatically, I don't have to think about them, hence it's less overwhelming.

      It's definitely a familiarity thing. I've never used Healbot not even when I was healing. I assume you mean targeting with hands if something?

      I don't find hunters especially easy. I have a much easier time on the warlock which is odd. I rolled a lock in late wrath, played it into Westfall, deleted it and swore blind that was a class I'd never touch again. I liked the hunter a lot better until I couldn't kill stuff, and my pet lost threat all the time. This was in Cata and I was BM specced. I must have been doing something hideously wrong but I didn't know the class, so it happens. My hunter friend told me to change to survival and my dps doubled just from spec change. I still had focus issues though, was out a lot and was forever casting steady shot. Picked the lock up again in waning days of Cata, levelled it to 80 with recruit a friend boosting, so started to play at 80 and wow what a difference. I don't think I took any damage 80-85, my void walker took on everything. No deaths, easiest levelling of any class, things just died when I hit them, I was 2 shotting everything and Mists levelling is just as easy, can't wait to try it at endgame.

      So yeah I think hunters aren't that easy. Though that could just be me, but I find they have a lot of buttons and resource issues. Each to their own.

    4. Yes, I have all my hands on healbot, word of glory, lay on hands. Things you need to target a player for and then cast. It removes the need to find the player to target them. Just click on the name in the healbot frames. Anything that removes the need to target saves time and makes my reaction faster.

      I had the exact opposite experience. My void walker could not hold aggro on a critter that I wasn't even attacking. He was completely useless and I was always taking a beating even if I only put one dot on a mob. Warlocks were horrible. They are much better now. Their pet can actually hold aggro now but they still have little to no survival. At least to me. Perhaps it is a how you play issue for each of us. I find hunters and their pets vastly superior to warlocks and their pets.

  2. I have a bit of a different take on "simplicity" for a discussion involving rotations. I typically learn a new rotation like the game forces you do when rolling a new toon - start with a few buttons and add more as you get comfortable. My choices for classes that are easiest to pick up and learn are primarily based on how functional they can be with as few buttons as possible, combined with how much thought &/or reaction time is involved in hitting them. Few core buttons + slow pace = simple/easy.

    For DPS classes, I'm going with combat rogues, frost mages, windwalker monks and arms warriors. I'd agree about elemental shammies if it wasn't for the insane number of cooldowns involved to do decent dps - generally, the more cooldowns, the less dps you get from the core rotation. Simple classes should have a max of 2 short-mid-term CDs that won't completely ruin you if you don't use them. I'm giving the win to combat rogues since the AoE rotation is identical to the single-target rotation, you just toggle Blade Flurry on. Doesn't get any simpler than that.

    For tanks, it's blood DK by a bunch in terms of simplicity... having a main rotation button also act as both your mitigation and self-healing buttons is as simple as it gets, the only way to really screw up blood DKing is if you don't use Death Strike. I believe warriors, pallies and druids all have to choose whether to mitigate or heal with their available resources and monks have a bunch of abilities to juggle...

    For healing, full atonement priest is obviously the simplest (3 buttons, 100% smart healing). Excluding that one, though, I'd say it's mostly a tie between disc priests and resto shaman... I'm giving disc the nod for single target, resto gets the AoE award since HR+CH are actual AoE heals while PoH is, oddly, party-based... I still find that party limitation really annoying in raid content although it's fine for 5-man content. I think a new disc priest with nothing but PW:S, PoM, Penance and Heal will have a slightly easier time than a new resto shaman with any 4 resto buttons (HR, CH, Riptide and Healing Wave, probably).

    So, to answer your question, I'm going with combat rogue, blood DK and atonement priest.

    1. You make an excellent point about the combat rogues. I totally forgot about that one and the change to blade flurry making it hit more than two targets.

      I discounted disc priest since I have been playing one forever, so the ease of it might be tainted by my knowledge and love of the spec. However, you are right. The reason I would exclude it however is that there are a lot of extra buttons that can and will throw new people off. Renew being the biggest culprit. What disc priest ever uses that? If I have one cast per raid boss it is a lot and it was usually because I hit the wrong button.

      Good answers and exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for your take on ease.

    2. Priests could be getting simpler with their AoE healing soon, there was a blue post that sounded like they were considering removing groups from raids... having PoH be raid-wide would be a significant quality-of-simplicity improvement. That change might not happen but I'd be a fan.

    3. If it hit everyone in a 25 man that would be insane. There would have to be some adjustments for raiding if they change it but it will be a huge quality of life change.

      I've gotten tired of offering to be on nest crew and then having to fight to have the nest crew be put in the same group as me because no one understand why I want to change groups even after explaining it.

      It is a mechanic that only priests have to deal with I think.

    4. Oh, not suggesting that... I just meant that it would heal any 5 raid members, not just the 5 in one party. Hell, I didn't even realize it was a party-based spell until about our 6th wipe on Atramedes my first time healing it when only half the raid seemed to be getting my heals. That turned out to be exactly the case. :)

      Without the party restriction it would be somewhat equivalent to Wild Growth, Chain Heal, etc. Hell, if they get rid of the party element, I'd be okay if they just made it a proximity heal... heal the target + the 5 closest players. I just hate seeing 5 people get lit up in LFR, one in each group, and having no clue how to heal them all.

      And yeah, far as I know that spell is the last one in the game that's party-based.

      Also, saw a Blizzard comment that seems to side with me on disc priests being easy. :)

      The concern is more that bad [disc] priests can still be pretty effective with a lot less effort.

    5. The 5 most in need, with a slight bonus on the one targeted originally. I would like that.

      I actually do like the party issue sometimes, it does have advantage. You can heal people all over the place at once. It is a smart heal that keeps the need for smarts on the healer itself.

  3. I had to ask myself this question recently from another perspective - my 12 year old daughter decided to try Warcraft again, but she doesn't want to work too hard at it. I think you're asking which one is easiest to play well, but my question was which one was easiest to do quests, scenarios and dungeons on and not die too often.

    I decided to let her tank, since there are a lot of ways to not die as a tank. She started out playing my warrior but it was too many buttons, things took forever to die without a proper rotation, and she did die sometimes when she pulled too much. She was much better at paladin, but she found true joy and ease of slaughter as a death knight.

    So there's my experimental evidence for tanking. Starting from a complete noob level of expertise and given level 90 characters off the bat, warriors are harder than paladins, which are slightly harder than death knights.

    1. Warrior might have sounded good in theory but they are brutal to level as tanks if you do not already know how to play. I guess you found that one out.

      Starting from level one I would agree that a paladin is easier thanks to the fact they can heal more than anything else.

      Thanks for the input. Perfect example of what I meant.