Thursday, January 29, 2015

What is This Class Homogenization?

Homogenize - to change (something) so that its parts are the same or similar.

For a long time we have been hearing about the homogenization of classes.  When they added spells, when they removed spells, when they redesigned rotations or priorities, no matter what change is made we hear this term pop up.  People saying that the classes are being homogenized.

I am not exactly sure what this post is supposed to be about.  Am I defending the act of homogenization of the classes?  Am I saying they have not been homogenized?  I really do not know, perhaps a little bit of both and a little bit of neither.

It is hard to compare classes really because they are all very different yet at their base they are all the same.  Tanks take damage, healers heal it, and damage dealers kill the mobs.  So no matter what flavor of tank healer and damage dealer you have, their job is the same in the end and they all have the tools to do so. 

From the very first incarnation of the game this has been true. So you can say that even if there are different classes they have always been similar as they all could do whatever their task was.  All tanks have the ability to take more damage than other classes can handle and reduce the damage that they take.  All healers have the ability to heal injured players and all damage dealers have methods that allow them to deal damage.  So aren't all classes similar if we do not go deeper into it?

I was thinking about it a little bit lately when talking about what I liked about classes and disliked about them.  It seems that I always like the same type of things.  I dislike long cast times.  I hate being land locked.  And the one and a half second global cooldown seems like an eternity when you are waiting for it, which also means I hate waiting for things, like energy.

So even if you consider that all classes are the same in theory, as in damage dealers all deal damage, they are really different even if they are similar.  So is that really homogenization?

That is something I don't think we really can answer as a yes or no because it really depends on what your opinion of being homogenized is.  Are shaman and mages really that similar because they both have a time warp like ability?

Being this is something that is opinion based I am going to give my opinion.  To try to level the playing field so that all classes are compared to each other under the same situations I am going to use my proving grounds experiences with them for the basis of my comparison.  I did the proving grounds on all my characters as soon as I hit 100 usually within a 580-600 item level gap.  So all characters were similarly geared to a point.

I am going to base my opinion on how the classes play and not what their abilities are, so to speak.  As in, was I able to do the same thing on all characters because to me, if you can do the same thing on different classes than that is homogenization.  Again, opinion of course.


I only have two tanking classes at level 100 and both of them did the proving grounds the second they hit 100.  For good measure it just so happens that the two tank classes were a druid and a warrior which are the closest in terms of abilities to each other.  They both are strong physical tanks and they both use rage as their primary resource.  In terms of comparing I do not think you could choose two tanks that would, or should, play as close to each other as these two would.  When talking homogenization with tanks, two tanks do not come much closer.

First up my druid which entered the proving grounds and promptly found herself getting stomped on.  My druid was taking copious amounts of damage.  So much so that I think it would have taken two healers to keep me up.  That was even with mild use of cooldowns, thinking long term, and not blowing everything all the time playing fully defensive.

To manage getting it done on my druid, due to the large amounts of incoming damage, I had to change to a completely defensive sort of tanking.  Liberal use of cooldowns, even over use to an extent if that is even possible.  I had to play it as if I did not have a healer and I needed to keep myself alive.  This meant absolutely no rage spent on maul and every single spell needing to be interrupted when able.  I had to limit damage as much as I could just to get by because the in game healer was, in a word, poor.

Then when my warrior got there I figured the challenge would be the same and I was quickly proven wrong.  Very wrong.  My warrior seemed as if he did not need any heals what so ever.  I could have most likely did it without a healer.  If my health dipped below 90% more than two or three times that was probably a lot.

Right off the bat I could see this was like a completely different fight on my warrior than it was on my druid.  He was able to go full on offense.  I could use heroic strike on cooldown as I had no need for the additional rage for defensive reasons.  Strike could be considered, in homogenization terms, the warriors maul.  While they do different things they are both the signature rage dump that does fair damage.

So my druid had to deal with taking huge damage and I needed to work on keeping it alive myself whereas my warrior did not have to worry at all about survivability.  Does that just mean that warriors are that much better?  Perhaps they are in a way, but it was not as if my warrior did not run into problems of his own.

My warrior seemed to have an issue with casters, they always targeted the healer.  Even when I had aggro on them they would still attack the healer.  The flamecaller guys would always throw their first flame under the healers feet and of course the healer would not move or even heal herself while she stood in the bad.  This made tanking it on my warrior all about control.

I needed to interrupt everything I could, the flame guys more so being even if I let one single fire squirt out it would surely be under her feet.

So in my opinion are the tanks homogenized?

Oh hell no.  Even with two tanking classes that have very similar abilities that easily lend themselves to support the people who like too say the classes have been homogenized the proving grounds proved to be two completely and totally different fights.  They played differently, completely differently.  Even with similar abilities they felt different enough for me to say that tanking is not homogenized.  There is enough difference between the classes to make them unique.


I did the healing proving grounds on three different healers.  My priest, my shaman and my druid.  One note I should make is that my priest had no spirit gear so her experience might, of course, involve a little more mana management as it was a really limited resource for it.

First up my priest and her 0 spirit build.  I tried the proving grounds when I first hit 100 just for the hell of it, as I was there having done the damage dealer one already.  I never expected to be able to manage it with no spirit gear but I did.

I'll be the first to admit it probably had a lot to do with the fact that when it comes to healing I am most versed as a healer on my priest having had been healing on it for many years and it being my only character that has been a main spec healer since the moment of creation.  So I admit the familiarity with class did make doing the proving grounds with no spirit easier that it would have been for other classes.  I think the fact the priest did it with no spirit puts it on equal level with the other healers, effectively cancelling out my greater experience on it over the others.

I had more issue with the bronze healing challenge than I did the silver.  I was OOM in the forth round on bronze, I did not hit fumes on silver until the last round.  Some timely heals, some smart decisions, and some luck on my part when I decided near the end to wait on a little more mana for a big heal than casting a small one and hope it would be enough.  Waiting proved perfect as it was just what I needed.  My gamble paid off and my priest managed it on her first attempt.

The group seemed to take AoE damage a lot when I was on my priest.  Oddly enough the tank did not take much damage at all, but if there was something in melee or ranged to stand in, the damage dealers did just that, stand in it.  I needed to heal all 4 of them all the time throughout the entire fight.

When it came to my shamans turn I set myself up with the idea that it would be the same.  Lots of AoE, people standing in stuff and little tank damage.  My shaman had spirit gear yet it had the same issues my priest did.  Went OOM on the 4th round of bronze, did not have issues until the last round of silver.

When it came to the fight my shaman had to deal with a heavy amount of tank damage.  After what my priest saw I would have figured that just throwing an earth shield and a riptide on the tank should have been enough to keep him up but I was wrong.  The group still took some unavoidable damage but nothing more than my small healing totem could handle, but the tank took what seemed like a death blow every other second.

I actually had to resort to using my healing surge, the mana bomb basically draining me, more than a few times near the end to save the tank from near death.  It was at just the wrong moment.  Mana was starting to dwindle, and the most mana intensive spell was the only thing that could keep the tank alive.  It became a race of my mana against the damage dealers to see who would finish first.

I tried to switch things up to a greater healing wave for the slower but more cost efficient heal, but after two of those I could see I was falling behind and needed to surge to make sure he did not dip too low.  I managed it on my first try just like I did with my priest, but it was most definitely a different experience.

Then came my druid, that had spirit pieces as well in most slots, but not all.  I was not sure what to expect but a run like my priest had would easily be best for a druid healer don't you think.  I went in with my mind open and just had at it.

The bronze seemed to be the same for the third healer through it.  It was a mana drainer in the forth round.  But not as much on my druid, as I only went to 70% mana from full instead of OOM from half like happened on my priest and my shaman.

When I moved along I was waiting to see what run I would get.  The heavy AoE version, the heavy tank version.  I spent the entire silver run dancing around as a tree throwing a lifebloom as needed and a rejuvenation here and there for the minimal damage going out.  I also kept my schrooms under the tank of course, like a good tree should.  I basically was casting heals when I was full on mana so I could regain more mana.  It seemed like there was nothing to heal.

When the final round came I was still at 100% mana.  I knew it was over so I popped tree of life and jumped around casting rejuvenation on everyone just for the fun of it.  I was wondering did I accidental manage to find myself in the level 90 version instead of the level 100 version.  I quickly went to the dungeon group finder to see if it would allow me to queue up as a healer, which would be the case if it were the level 100 one, and I could.  Guess it was the right one.

So my druid basically never noticed one single moment when I needed to actually heal anything the entire fight.  If this is how druid healing is compared to priest and shaman healing I have to wonder, why is every healer in the world not a druid right now.

So in my opinion are healers homogenized?

Hell no.  I had three completely different experiences. My priest had to deal with everyone taking damage while my shaman had to deal with heavy tank damage and my druid, well I have no clue what my druid needed to do except dance in tree form.  While all healers have similar tools with some differences, how they handled things were different.  The tasks they had to deal with were different.  Not sure of it was by design that the battles are different depending on the class or they seemed to end up worrying about different things based on how I handled their toolbox, but in the end all three played out completely different even if one might argue that all healing is the same.

Damage Dealers:

I did the damage dealing challenge on my hunter, warrior, rogue, mage, shaman and priest.  I could easily go into details on all the classes individually but it feels as if it would be a waste of time.  I could give a simple breakdown of my starting damage dealing for each class and that would be enough.

My hunter started 4, 2, 1, 3, 3, and followed the bouncing procs, my shaman did 1, 2, 3 and occasionally 4, shift 4 or shift 1, my priest did 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 5, oh hell you get the idea.  It was just a series of number mashing whichever ability did the most damage at any given time.

Each character had to interrupt and had the interrupt to do so.  Each round had the preferred movement and positioning.  Each character had to deal with AoE situation, single target marks and priority targets.  But in the end, it was the same fight for each of them.  Once I did it on my hunter doing it on any other class was as simple as stand here, move there, do your rotation and interrupt that.

So in my opinion are damage dealers homogenized?

Absolutely.  While they vary in how they are played, some with focus, some with energy, some with rage, some with mana, they all have a basic priority system to do the maximum damage.  They all have their interrupts, they all needed to stand in the same places, focus the same mobs,  no matter what class I was on it was the exact same fight.  There were no curve balls, no surprises, nothing.  Some had more instants, some cast times, some could multi target, some had better AoE, but all in all it was the same exact fight.  Unlike the tanks and healers who needed to adjust, adapt, to change what they needed to do on the fly, once you knew the damage dealers proving grounds, you knew the damage dealers proving ground.

The question is, does this mean the classes are homogenized?  I think it does.  Even if they are all different in ways and play different in ways, how the damage dealers handled the situation was exactly the same no matter which one I was on.

The next question should be, is this a good thing or a bad thing?  What do you think?


  1. well, WOW has always been a paper, scissors, rock game. the toons have always been like. It's like hunter pets - they seem to be all the same now, just a different skin.

    I just hope that DPS'ers don't stand in the green goo while doing damage, lol.


    1. I personally like the rock paper scissor design, but now it seems they try to make everyone equal, and that takes something away from it.