Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Underdog Strife

I started playing World of Warcraft as a hunter during Vanilla. I began my first MMO adventure by experiencing what it was like to be passed over for groups because of the class I played. Hunters didn't have the best reputation and that's something that really hasn't entirely gone away - it isn't as prevalent as it was, but "huntard" started back in my day.

Basically, if you didn't know, Blizzard literally gave Hunters an enrage dispel in order to make them an attractive option to bring to raids. I was of course in a guild that was all right bringing me and other hunters to dungeons and raids. Strat and Scholo being 10 mans and UBRS being 15 man made it easy to bring hunters along, even though we were "useless and stole other classes' gear". This, along with my own natural perfectionist personality, drove me to be as knowledgeable and skilled as possible so that people would be happy to bring me along to dungeons instead of that mage or rogue.

Hunters got a lot of crap for the kind of gear we needed - we didn't have armor specializations in Vanilla, so leather was often a much better option for us than some of the mail available to us. We needed melee weapons with agility and no matter who wanted it, it was never for hunters. Even warriors demanded dominion over melee weapons, even if they were dripping with agility. Dual wielding [Bone Slicing Hatchets] (Original) both with +15 agility enchants was an attractive option for hunters and usually easy to acquire as rogues couldn't use axes, except for when the warrior decided that because it was a melee weapon it was his. The only gear that no one argued with us over was actual mail - but there are still necks, rings, cloaks, trinkets, and weapons that invariably were just not as good for hunters as they were for whoever else wanted to argue that they were theirs.

It was of course common courtesy for hunters to pass melee weapons to warriors and rogues and in return, they left our ranged weapons alone. I waited quite awhile for my [Core Hound Tooth]. We didn't take leather from rogues or druids who needed it - we made our own groups and called dibs on things if we had to, but only an uncouth savage of a hunter would actually take gear that wasn't equally valuable to us from someone else.

Still, loot that was perfect for hunters and free, open game to anyone - necks, rings, cloaks, and trinkets - weren't "ours", according to some players. I had a friend who was a rogue. He wasn't even that skilled and he didn't raid. I won the [Cape of the Black Baron] (Original) over him and he was outraged. Outraged. "That's way better for me!" he said. It was this kind of thing I couldn't believe - it's not even like hunters were hybrids, we were pure dps alongside rogues. Other players just wanted to make excuses as to why they deserved gear and I didn't. It set the whole mood for my entire MMO gaming experience.

It didn't help things when my first favorite alt was a druid - and feral was my first specc. Now, even gear that was equally valuable to me - sometimes even mathematically far better for me - was absolutely not mine. Leather with strength and agility was still the rogue's, even though they got 1 AP per Str and we got 2 AP per str, which was because our weapons were actually stat sticks - but that's something I was used to. And even after I mastered that druid, even after I geared her up and proved that I was a perfectly viable option to bring to alternative off night guild activities by performing well and out-performing others, even pures - I wasn't. I just wasn't, because I was a hybrid.

It didn't matter how often I performed better than other people's alts, it didn't even matter that we had a main druid who played feral and showed everyone what we were made of - I was an inferior hybrid. I went to ZG and AQ20 with my guild on that druid and they made me put on my caster kit of shame and heal the raid, which I did as feral and still managed to do exceptionally well. All I did was play this game and strive to excel at what I enjoyed doing, and I did - I was good at what I did. My druid was still my alt and I didn't have access to epic raiding gear, but believe me when I say I squeezed every possible piece of gear out of the content I had available to me. I loved that druid so much that I main swapped to it.

At the very end of Vanilla, a friend convinced me to respecc to balance. He said they were amazing in battlegrounds. I admit I gave out my account info to friends back in the day (all the way up until authenticators came out actually), and I let him play my druid at night. He played it so much that I would never have become exalted with the Warsong Outriders without him and he would send me screenshots of being top KBs with few to zero deaths. He was great at PvP, though, but because of him I was staying balance, so I got used to it for PvE.

too bad achievements were added at the end of TBC

It's no surprise that I encountered the same issues, but I was even worse off now - try to think of all the great intellect leather available in Vanilla. You're going to be trying for awhile, because even restoration druids used a lot of cloth pieces. Now I was dealing with needing gear that was below my armor tier AND being a hybrid dps. Due to my class choices from the very beginning, gearing up was something I had to debate and fight for. It wasn't enough for me to be lucky and have the gear I need drop - I had to explain why I should even be allowed to roll for it. Luckily both of the major guilds I was in during this period of WoW understood math, reason, and logic, but pugs were an entirely different animal.

I was balance for the beginning of TBC, but once T5 came along, my guild needed a healer and I said sure, why not. I stayed resto until around about when we started Brutallus progression because balance had raid buffs and they specifically asked for me to swap. I still managed to end up being a burn healer for this encounter, even though I specifically swapped speccs for it. They let me DPS for the other fights, though, and in typical fashion I proved that hybrids are powerful when played well. I wasn't top of the meter back when the hybrid tax was still a real, mathematical thing - but I was consistently top five out of 25, which means I was outdpsing pures.

While I was resto, though, I apparently hadn't had enough of being challenged about my dps due to the class I was playing because my primary alt was a retribution paladin. I played the same game I did when I was feral in Vanilla - I squeezed every piece of gear I could get my hands on out of the content available to me, and I rocked it. I outdpsed plenty of pures and I held my own consistently. I was often removed from groups before they even began because I was ret, and only rarely was I able to join a group without having to assure the group leader that I was entirely capable of putting out dps.

I easily proved myself to the ones who were willing to listen, though it's tough when you're second on the damage meter and that somehow still means you're useless. Someone had to be second, and I was still above the guy who was third. The hybrid tax was still real and my Karazhan gear wasn't going to outperform the guy in T5, math was still math, but the fact remains that the guy below me was still a pure dps who couldn't get his act together against a "useless" specc.

not good for balance druids apparently
After the hybrid tax was removed and pures and hybrids alike both had raid utilities, along with armor specialization, you'd think these issues were a thing of the past. It doesn't happen often, but I still often got flak from healers for rolling on "their" spirit gear. I can use gear with hit OR gear with spirit, so to them it's unfair for me to roll on a piece of gear that is unarguably better for me just because it has spirit.

Unless your raid is specifically having issues with healers needing gear in order to progress, if I have more DKP/EPGP and I'm saving my rolls for this piece of gear and you're not, then it's mine. That's how this works. Healers won't even be in the market for needing spirit for the regen - just like my rogue friend wanted to argue with me about the Cape of the Black Bar on, healers try to come up with a reason why they need that gear more than me just because they want it.

Warlords is changing the entire game, though - literally, and in regards to stats and gearing. There's no more hit or expertise and everyone's sharing more gear than ever before. I feel like this will actually cause even more of a rift between raiders when a paladin and a rogue begin to argue for the first time over who deserves a piece of gear more. I know the end result is that they want to have to have smaller loot tables and not have guilds disenchanting gear from their first and second kills of a new progression boss just because no one can use it, and they will surely achieve that. Who knows, though, maybe everyone's BiS lists will look different, but I feel like we're going to have a lot of overlapping.

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