Dual Specs: A Review

28 Jul

When Dual Specs were first announced, I was pretty thrilled about the whole idea. I knew right off that I wasn’t going to buy it for my mage because, well, ranged dps is ranged dps no matter what color your spells are.

I was pretty excited to get it going on my paladin though, being a hybrid class and all, so I got it set up on him right after he hit level 40. Lexington’s dual spec happened quite a while ago, and I decided today that I would share with you what I have found with it so far.

First Attempt: Prot/Holy
My first dual spec was Prot and Holy. I knew for sure that I wanted to level as prot, but I also wanted to get a feel for paladin healing since my wife enjoyed it so much with her’s. I had her tell me about the spec that she used, how she healed, what addons she found helpful, etc, etc.

I left that dual spec up for about 8 levels, never using the Holy spec once or even bothering to switch over to it to spend my talent points from those levels.

I realized that Holy probably would not happen very often since finding healers was very easy at the time and finding tanks was serious business. All I did was tank, so I figured the need to heal was worthless. Enter a respec.

Second Attempt: Prot/Ret
I knew that there were some cool abilities in Ret and that most paladins who played with that spec really enjoyed it a lot, so after finding that I would not be a healer I turned the dual spec over to Ret instead. I ran around a bit to get a feel for the new spells since I hadn’t used any of them before, and then jumped back over to Prot and went back to leveling.

When the time came to move on over to Outlands, I found that I still had never bothered using the Ret spec nor had I bothered gearing for it at all. So when it came time to choose quest rewards in Outlands, I went ahead and picked up a few pieces for Ret and actually put it to use on one of the quests.

To be a bit more honest and clear on that, I should say I went into the fight as Ret, killed a single mob, and then switched back to Prot.

A few levels down the road I switched over to Ret and made myself do a couple of “kill X mobs” quests with it, and then I decided that Ret was not for me. Enter a respec.

Third Attempt: Prot/….nothing?
I found out that Ret was not the spec for me, and I knew that there were still plenty of healers in my level range if I needed them so there was no need to bother with a Holy spec. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with that second spec, so I paid for the respec and then didn’t bother spending any of the points.

Outlands had come and gone and I was in Northrend. I started noticing that almost every stinking quest reward in those starting areas were either geared towards Ret more than Prot, or that they were downgrades from my existing Prot gear.

So, since I wasn’t using it for anything else I decided to jump back over to Ret once again. I did a few quests with it, jumped over there to kill some stupid Gnome Death Knight a time or three, and got a pretty good feel for it. The problem was, Ret was slow and boring. Why in the world would I want to fight a one mob at a time when I knew I was capable of taking on so much more with Prot?

The answer didn’t take long to arrive, and I set Ret back on the shelf. Several more levels passed by, and I eventually just gave up on that boring business all together. Enter a respec.

Fourth Attempt: Prot/Prot
So now I know that I don’t care for Ret very much, and I know that not only do I not have the gear for Holy, but I also have no desire to heal as a paladin, and my wife has giving up on the paladin class all together after leveling two of them to 80 for healing.

So rather than trying to make the other specs work, I jumped over to a dual Prot spec. One is Prot/Ret which is what I use for questing and instances, and the other is Prot/Holy which I use for farming lower level instances so that I can have helpful benefits such as being immune to silence and reducing stun/slow times.

I find though, that even with this new spec I rarely bother actually switching over from one to the other. The only instance that I really even need to switch over to the farming spec at all is Stratholme right now, and I have such a large supply of the enchanting mats and cloth that I run it for that there’s really not much of a point in me doing that either. The only reason I go now is to continue my fail streak at getting the Baron’s mount.

But, screw all the respecs, I’m tired of changing.

Looking At Other Classes
So now we get down to me sharing my actual thoughts on dual specs rather that my experience with them.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t want to dual spec a straight dps class because it really doesn’t matter whether my mage is frost, fire, or arcane, it’s still always the same thing with different colored spells. (I’ve got an 80 mage, and I’ve rocked every viable spec in the game. Excuse the generalization there, I know each spec is “different”.)

But surely Hybrid classes would get more use out of a dual spec, right? As you can see in my case here, no we really don’t. At least not in my experience. I think the problem with dual specs on a hybrid class is the fact that we’re hybrids. To explain further, we’re hybrids because we can fill multiple roles, and we can fill those multiple roles even when we aren’t specced for them. So while dual specs seems like a good idea for a hybrid, what I found in my playing was that I never had a reason to bother with that second spec because I performed just fine in the other roles with my primary spec.

I thought long and hard about dual speccing my 47 Shaman to be either Enhancement/Resto or Enhancement/Elemental, but you know what I found in playing him? That’s right, he performs both of those roles (dps/heals) just fine with his default Enhancement spec. So after thinking about it quite a bit, I am almost positive that I will not bother getting a dual spec for my shaman either. I don’t need to switch between Enhancement and Elemental because dps is dps. Sure, having ranged vs melee is good in some cases but that doesn’t make it necessary.

I find no reason to bother with a dual spec on my priest, hunter, or rogue either. I look around for who to buy it for, and where I might use it and constantly find myself drumming my fingers on the desk with almost every class failing to get me even remotely excited about it.

Yet there is one exception: Druid.

I am currently playing two druids. The first one you already know about, Beldinn (Tauren Druid 35). The second is a new addition named Ibewaffles (Tauren Druid 16), and is part of a twink guild that is spawning from some of our existing members of MOTiE where we are all named “I Be (breakfast food)”.

What I have found, with both of these druids actually, is that the idea of dual specs works pretty well for them. Both of these druids already carry multiple sets of gear. Both of them fill their various roles on a frequent basis, even when leveling solo, and both of them could make solid use out of being able to change their spec on the fly.

Beldinn is running a Balance spec right now, and Ibewaffles is running Feral (he’s going to be the FC, doubling as a healer when needed). While questing with them I keep them both in their casting gear and play them as Balance until I run out of mana. If I am in combat then I use the built-in gear manager to switch over to my dps or tanking gear and then finish the fight. If I run out of mana at the end of a fight then I either sit down and drink (which is hard on Beldinn since his mana pool is 60% larger than the best water he can get), or I swich gear and continue on as Feral while I wait for my mana to regen.

Looking Ahead
After looking at all of the different classes that I play, how I want to play them, where I want to play them, what goals I have for each both short and long term, I find that the druid class is the only one that I have any sincere desire to dual spec, and it’s the only class that I personally see any true benefit coming out of.

On the one hand I could use Balance to burn through everything I need to until I run out of mana, then switch over to my Feral (dps) spec to continue on as a cat, and then I could switch back. But the problem there is that you lose all of your mana/energy/rage when you change your spec. So switching back to Balance would mean that I need to drink and restore my mana right after I made the switch, which would nullify the very reason for switching over to feral in the first place. At that point I might as well just stay as Feral until I am going back to town for some reason.

Will I bother with getting a dual spec for Beldinn? Possibly, but probably not. Having a decent set of great pretty well nullifies the need to bother with a second spec when you aren’t at least in Outlands. If I do go ahead and get him a dual spec it will start off as Balance/Feral and then probably move to Balance/Restoration or Restoration/Feral once I get into either Outlands or Northrend.

I can see how dual specs will help people at end game, especially if they manage to farm the raids and by doing so are able to build two full sets of gear that they can use for their specs. But early on though, even at level 40 when you can first purchase it, there really isn’t much of a need to bother with it.

Collecting multiple gear sets at lower levels is really a bit of a waste of time unless you plan to stay in the level bracket for battlegrounds. Otherwise you’re better off just gearing for your primary spec and leveling on. Even though I have multiple sets of gear for Beldinn, most of his Feral gear is made of bits and pieces that came from his 19 and 29 twinking. It still works just fine for when I need it, but I’m not going to bother keeping all of that gear up to date when I have an option of upgrading my Balance gear instead.

If you are playing a hybrid class then you can handle (at least to some degree) the various roles that you can fill with your class with a single spec. A tank spec will not perform as well at healing or dps as one who was specced as such, but they can usually get by.

Looking ahead, I see Dual Specs becoming a thing of my past. Unless I decide to dual spec Beldinn and it turns out to be exceedingly useful then I do not see myself bothering with it again. If they chopped the price down dramatically, then I might look at it a bit more, but probably not even then unless it was about 10g.

Final Thoughts
Looking at various classes I have played, the only real reason I find to bother with dual specs for my own play style is to have one set up for PvE and another for PvP. But even then, I don’t think that I can justify a 1,000g price tag for something that is not going to be used all that often. Even if I run PvP like nobody’s business am I really ever going to make enough changes back and forth to justify that amount of gold? I seriously doubt it.

At this point in time I do not see myself purchasing a dual spec for any of my characters save for the possible exception made for Beldinn. Having run with a druid before on my paladin though, I know that a Balance druid can perform all the healing needed for two manning instances below average instance level well into the 50’s. Will I dual spec at that point? Probably not.

I think with the introduction of the Gear Manager (even though addons already existed for such functionality previously, that the need for dual specs for anything other than raiding is limited. If you need to tank instead of dps, then it’s not that hard to throw in your tanking gear and do the job. If you’re supposed to be a dps caster, then it’s not that hard to switch over to using your healing spells for a while instead. All it takes is two clicks of a button and you go from filling one role to another.

Are dual specs helpful? Sure, if you actually put them to use then they can be a real help. Do I feel that they are worth the money it costs to get them? No, I don’t. Not even at level 80.


Posted by on July 28, 2009 in World of Warcraft


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6 responses to “Dual Specs: A Review

  1. We Fly Spitfires

    July 28, 2009 at 1:30 PM

    Good write-up.

    I use dual spec on my Priest because I wanted a viable PvP spec (Disc) without gimping myself for PvE (Shadow). Also, with my Warrior, I wanted to be able to tank in groups yet still solo with high DPS. In both occassions, dual speccing has been fantastic.

    Does it warrant such a high price though? No way. I really don’t understand why they put that price on it.

    • Psynister

      July 28, 2009 at 2:12 PM

      I’m glad some people are getting good use out of it.

      I know my wife did a fair job of using it herself, leveling as Prot but running instances and raids as Heals.

      For me, it just doesn’t fit. But, I don’t do end game stuff (man, I say that a lot).

      The paladin AoE grinding nullifies the need for a Ret spec for questing, so maybe it’s just the classes I’m playing here.

      For instance, I hate Warriors, so I would have no idea what a dual spec could do for them save for information I receive from people like yourself.

      Maybe dual spec shouldn’t be looked at from a hybrid perspective so much as a diverse perspective?

  2. ironfeathers

    July 28, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    It’s definitely a case-by-case thing.

    My mage is specced Arcane and Fire because of how often I was respeccing him. My priest? Discipline/Shadow. My guilds are so filled with healers that if I want to run anything with this character I have to be able to DPS with him, but I love Disc healing so I have the spec for when I do get the chance to heal.

    My warrior, who is primarily a tank, will probably get a DPS spec because I enjoy warrior DPS. My DK tank and hunter? Notsomuch. Their roles are permanent.

    I definitely agree that the price is a bit much, though I can earn 1k gold in a week if I buckle down and put my mind to it (hell, maybe even less time).

  3. Kimberly

    July 29, 2009 at 1:49 PM

    For my paladin, dual-spec was the shiny new toy that I HAD to have IMMEDIATELY because it was SO COOL!! After all, I was a hybrid and it’s made for hybrids, right?

    Wrong. Akromah is currently holy/prot, with no desire to tank ever again. After seeing what 3.2 does to my Naxx-10-with-a-sprinkin’-of-Ulduar geared healing, I might take her ret/prot.

    On my mage, I never thought I’d need dual spec, yet with her I use it all the time. She’s arcane/frost on one spec for soloing and dailies and frostfire on her other spec, for grouping.

    I do think 1K gold is pretty steep, even though I’m paying for the convenience of being able to switch on the fly.

    • Psynister

      July 29, 2009 at 1:58 PM

      So mages are getting a lot of use out of this, where the hybrids aren’t…

      If I hadn’t abandoned my mage on the old server, perhaps I would look into building up some gold for him and picking up that second spec to see how I like it there.

      Maybe I’ll end up transferring him over to Korialstrasz and picking it up on him there?

      Who knows, I might give it another shot at some point and decide I like it, but for right now I can’t justify that cost for so little return (a bit of convenience here and there).

      It’s like buying a 4-wheel drive car for when it snows, and then only using it when there’s snow out. That’s a hefty chunk of change for something that’s not getting used constantly.


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