Dual Specs and Expectations

07 Oct

As is often the case, comments made on Twitter have inspired me once again to write something here. As you can see from the title, I’m here to talk about Dual Specs and Expectations concerning them. To be more specific, I’m going to talk about oner particular expectation: Hybrids must dual spec in order to fill the Tank or Healing role, or be considered “second string”.

Disclaimers: There are a couple of things that need to be said before I get into this, because I’m not here to bash people, I’m here to bash ideas.

1) Twitter allows you to post only 140 characters at a time, so it’s pretty easy to have something you say get twisted because of poor wording due to the small limit.

2) I have two characters that are dual specced. A Frost/Fire Mage, and a Prot/Holy Paladin. So before I get into my article here, know that I took a second spec on my paladin specifically so that I could fill both of those often needed roles.

3) I have been an officer in every guild I that I have put any serious effort into becoming a part of. While none of those guilds are Raiding Guilds, they have all be guilds that do participate in raids.

As a side note here, I’m at work and barely have time to write this in the first place, so go forward knowing that I did not have time to proof read and edit it. If something doesn’t make sense, put it in context with what’s around it and see if you can figure out what I actually meant.

How We Got Started
As I said, I’m not here to bash people, so I’m going to leave names out for those of you who read the blog but are not in Twitter’s WoW circles because I don’t want any of what I say to come across as an affront to them personally. So instead we’ll go with Tweep A, Tweep B, and Me. Tweep A made a comment that prompted where we start here, so that’s why we’ll start with Tweep B.

Tweep B: if a hybrid doesn’t have a heal/tank offspec they get relegated to 2nd string, imo
Me: If someone expects me to dual spec simply because it’s available, I /ignore them.
Tweep B: No one expects others to do anything. But you narrow your own chances for raid/group invites. /shrug that’s on you.
Me: I’ll take someone specialized in one spec over one who might (not) know their off spec any day. Don’t mind narrow chances
Tweep B: well to be a real dual spec invite worthy you def need to know both specs ;)

So here comes the first expectation. If your class is capable of tanking or healing and you aren’t that spec, then you narrow your chances for raid/group invites.

So if I’m playing a Ret Paladin and I don’t have a heal/tank offspec then I’m slid into “2nd string”. Growing up in Texas and playing High School football, I’ll tell you what second string means. Second string means you get to warm the bench and clap your hands until one of us out on the field gets hurt (/g Grats on the achievements, guys!). And those of us who had the football version of dual specs, meaning we were first string on both Offense and Defense, know that the WoW relation to that is that second string doesn’t step foot into a raid unless the first stringers aren’t online or are otherwise unable to raid. Sure, you rotate your second string linemen in there when you are dominating the other team (the instances you have on Farm-mode) so that they get some play time, but when you’re going after the state title your first string is the only one getting the play time.

So, nobody expects my Ret Pally to do anything, and yet if he doesn’t live up to having a Tank/Heal off spec, then he’s sitting on the bench. I’m not expected to do anything, as long as I don’t expect to see any play time.

The first tweet drew my agro, and the comments thereafter set off my rage timer.

Moving Right Along
So from there, Tweep A comes to straighten the discussion.

Tweep A: Face facts: There is usually a bigger need for tanks/heals than there is for DPS. So yes-if you have a tank/heal capable (c)
Tweep A: class and dual-spec them w/out T or H, then yes, in a progression guild you are going to be more of a “2nd string” (c)
Tweep A: simply because you are not willing to step into one of those vital, often underfilled roles if needed.
Me: So if you want to dps, never roll a hybrid. Do dps-only classes get second stringed for not rerolling hybrid alts?
Tweep A: That is not what I said at all, and I resent you twisting my words. If you are say… a druid, and your two specs are (c)
Tweep A: moonkin/kitty, then you are not quite as useful as say, the tree/moon or bear/kitty that can DPS AND tank or heal as needed.
Me: Twitter can’t handle all of what I’ve got to say. Blog post incoming. (I replied here, not seeing the two following tweets yet)
Tweep A: EVERY person in a raid is useful, but when it comes down to certain encounter requirements, someone that can step up as a T/H–
Tweep A: when needed is slightly more useful than someone that cannot, as far as hybrids go.

And here’s the second expectation: You are going to be 2nd string if you are not willing to step into one of those vital roles (tank/heals). I’ll point to disclaimer 2 up above, as I fully acknowledge that fact that Tanks and Healers are, generally speaking, harder to find than DPS, and I know how vital they are.

Now, I never said anything about having a hybrid spec dps/dps, I’ve been talking about being a hybrid class that’s not dual spec at all. So Tweep A’s response is arguing a point I didn’t make, which might be where we went off track. My point, which was glossed over with the “resent you twisting my words” part, was that the arguments against what I said line up with my comment; If I’m play a dps hybrid, then Tweeps A & B both think I need to dual spec to fill the tank/healer role or be considered second string. And the only way I can avoid that is to roll a class that is strictly a dps class. If I roll a hybrid class, then I need to be willing to dual spec to fill the tank/heal role, even if I don’t want to do either, or I’m considered second string on that fact alone. My response to that was, if having that role filled is that important to you, then are all dps-only classes penalized in the same way?

If I want to dps, regardless of what class I choose, then I want to dps; plain and simple. Whether I’m a hybrid class or not, if I want to dps then that’s what I want to do. And by the idea presented in the tweet (disclaimer 1), then I’m sent to 2nd string because I don’t want to play a role that I didn’t choose (tank/heals). I don’t care if I’ve got a good throwing arm, I’m a big guy and I like to hit people. If I wanted to be the freaking quarterback (dual spec Prot/Holy Paladin) then that’s what I would have signed up for.

As I mentioned, rage timer’s already gone, so my comment above was snarky. Nonetheless, it’s there to make a point which was glossed over at the time. The point I’m making is what I was just talking about, if I want to play dps, then that’s what I want to play. Just because I know how to throw or catch doesn’t mean that’s what I enjoy doing. I want to crash my helmet into the mobs’ faces, plain and simple. If I wanted to catch, run, or throw the ball then that’s what I would have rolled.

Topic Twister
So there at the end of the last block of twitter text you see the following:

Tweep A: EVERY person in a raid is useful, but when it comes down to certain encounter requirements, someone that can step up as a T/H–
Tweep A: when needed is slightly more useful than someone that cannot, as far as hybrids go.

I don’t disagree with that in the least. Hybrids are capable of filling multiple roles and one that’s willing to do so is definitely deserving of being on 1st string. If he wants to be the quarterback, then by all means let the guy. I’m just here to inflict as much pain on the opposing team as I can, which is my role. Let’s say one of our receivers (dual spec Balance/Resto Druid) decides he’s tired of catching the ball and wants to dps for a while. According to the thoughts expressed on twitter here, I’m sent packing to the bench because the guy decided to switch roles. He’s not necessarily any more useful in the dps role than I am, but because he also likes being a receiver he gets to take my spot whenever he wants.

So take me, the hybrid, out of the equation here and replace me with a mage, dps-only. Put him in the same position, same situation. The mage isn’t going to be sent to the bench, because dps is his only option. Sure, he had the option when he rolled the character, but he doesn’t have any other expectations to live up to because he stuck to a class that fills a single role even though he might have another level 80 that could either tank or heal. Afterall, he’s just a “dumb jock” that hits like a truck but can’t catch to save his life and if he tried the throw the ball he’s be lucky if it even went in the general direction it was intended for, we don’t expect much out of him even if his brother (tank/heal alt) does happen to be an All American quarterback.

Where We Went From There
Several other comments followed that, including some from other tweeps that didn’t appear above.

Me: Twitter can’t handle all of what I’ve got to say. Blog post incoming.
Tweep A: I was thinking the same thing. I’ll wait on yours though. I also realize i may have worded things rather poorly
Tweep C: I’d rather have someone stick to what they like/are good at rather than “encourage” them into a role they don’t.
Tweep C: Even if that’s “just DPS”…
Tweep D: I was thinking about writing something like this myself yesteray. I’ll see if your posts inspire me further. :P
Tweep B: my opinion is formed from pugging a lot, raid leading 10s and 25s pugged, and being annoyed by plate wearer QQ crying for a tank

The conversation, up to this point in time, sort of died off after that as we went to write the blog posts here instead of trying to cram everything into 140 character bursts.

We see that the one I started off talking to is speaking of that “dumb jock” I mentioned before that can’t do anything but dps and is crying for a tank. Well in that particular situation, by all means sit the loser down on the bench because he’s a wuss that doesn’t deserve to be a lineman. But to say that the rest of the hybrids on the line deserve to sit on the bench because they have no desire to play the game as a quarterback is an insult to their talent, disrespectful to the effort they have put into filling their role, and a slap in the face to everything they’ve done to help carry the team to where it is now. Doing that is a perfect reason for me fire you as a coach (/ignore) or for me to leave the team (/gquit) and their expectations to deal with the situation on their own.

Enough With the Football, We’re Nerdy Gamers
Alright, so breaking it down here, what’s the point that I’m really trying to make here?

You cannot judge a player by his class and put unfair expectations on that player, if you expect to excel in your role as a coach or if you expect them to excel in their role as a player. Your role is not to tell people what to do and what will happen if they don’t do it your way, your role is to find out what talent your players have and put it to use. If you have a hybrid that’s willing to dual spec and actually fill both roles, then by all means do what you need to do in order to get him geared up for both roles and give him practice in each so that he knows what he’s doing. But if you have a hybrid that only wants to fill one of his class’s roles, then accept the fact that the person has a right to do that.

If you try to force people into a role that they don’t want to fill, then not only are they likely to lose interest in being a part of the guild, but in my honest opinion you suck as a leader of that guild. Seeking out talent is a good thing, finding what people can or can’t do, or what they are or are not willing to do is part of your job; that’s what you do. But forcing people into the roles that you want them in, or punishing them for not doing what you want is an abuse of your authority and you don’t deserve it in the first place.

Now, if you have a player on your team that doesn’t want to fill any of his roles, then by all means get rid of the lazy punk and bring in someone else. If he literally hurts the team, then get rid of him. But a player who is capable of tanking, but doesn’t want to doesn’t hurt the team as long as he is willing to fill the role that he signed up for. If you are honestly hurting so much for a tank that you cannot run anything without one, then the answer to your solution isn’t punishing your hybrid, it’s doing your job as a leader to go recruit yourself a tank/healer. If nobody in the guild wants to role a tank/healer, then you need to recruit for the role, not force the square peg into the round hole.

Every team wants to win, whether they’re in a three-point stance or they’re farming dailies to buy mats for the night’s raid. Every player on those teams want to win as well. But officers that use force of will or punishment to get what they want out of their team do not deserve to have those players as a part of their team. They deserve to fail, they deserve to fired.


Posted by on October 7, 2009 in World of Warcraft


8 responses to “Dual Specs and Expectations

  1. Nocheczador

    October 7, 2009 at 4:01 PM

    Only my hunter has a dual spec, but the secondary spec plays basically the same as the first. My other 3 characters will not. I have thought about it, but it means learning 3 more play styles along with mechanics changes and potentially carrying around more gear than an army soldier. That would be 8 differing styles that I had to cram into my brain for a game that is suppose to at its most basic level be a joy to play. No thank you to that stress.

    Hunter – DPS
    Paladin – Tank…a healing spec would mean lugging around another complete set of gear and learning how to heal…No Thanks.
    Warrior – Fury…I wanted some plate DPS. I got it. If dual spec had been around before she was created, I might have added Ret to my Paladin…she will not tank. Once again it would require lugging around another complete set of gear and learning how to warrior tank.
    Death Knight – Unholy DPS…he’s a banker and for kicks, he replaced my deleted low level mage and now has job security due to him being 80 and a high level enchanter.

    So that’s how I roll. Some players seem to love to just find a way to discriminate. It’s so silly and maddening at the same time. If someone plays their primary role well, helping everyone to succeed, how can you demand that they know a secondary role and play it just as well? And if they do not know a secodary role and play it well, then say take a hike. That just burns me up. Okay I’ll end here now. Geewiz, WoW community.

    • Psynister

      October 7, 2009 at 5:16 PM

      Thanks for the reply, Noch.

      Carrying around multiple gear sets sucks. I have to do that on my paladin and can confirm the lack of fun in doing it. When I know I’m just soloing I leave all the holy stuff in the bank, but you never know when the guild’s going to ask for help with something at random.

  2. Kaladar

    October 7, 2009 at 4:36 PM

    Sounds like something I recently saw in a guild. GM punishing raiders for their raid going over when a 5-man raid group couldn’t find a healer. That in of itself has nothing to do with the post, but.. at the same time, I could easily see someone with the same mentality of that GM ‘forcing’ .. or at least attempting to force .. guild members to spec a certain way.

    • Psynister

      October 7, 2009 at 5:19 PM

      Exactly. We both know how that one turned out.

  3. Matojo

    October 8, 2009 at 8:48 AM

    If you try to force people into a role that they don’t want to fill, then not only are they likely to lose interest in being a part of the guild, but in my honest opinion you suck as a leader of that guild.

    Yes, this.

    I’m one of those people that actually likes tanking and healing in pretty much any class (that I’ve tried – haven’t had a chance to tank as a druid beyond level 24, haven’t healed as a paladin or shaman in Northrend). My Death Knight only has a DPS spec because I’m only able to tank when my prot pally friend isn’t available. Unless I want something, I’m likely to just switch to one of my pure DPSers if DPS is needed.

    I wouldn’t dream of telling any of my guildies or friends, “If you don’t take a healing or tanking offspec you’re going to have to sit out on our runs.” I don’t say a “useful” offspec because, it seems your twitter pals were missing something very obvious:


    I hope that those folk eventually have to call a run or five ’cause they can’t find enough DPS to fill their ranks. :P

    • Psynister

      October 13, 2009 at 8:47 AM

      I love tanking, and I think I’m going to enjoy healing as well but I haven’t gotten much practice with it yet.

      The discussion though, from my part in it, was centered around sticking people to 2nd string if they didn’t have a tank/heal off-spec which is a broad statement that carries several implied statements as well. The one I made already, “If you want to dps, never roll a hybrid” yet at the same time the counter arguments that came were that hybrids with tank/heal off specs were more versatile and as such would be chosen for a group before one who was not. So the implied statement there is that if you want to be chosen for a group then you need to be a hybrid and you need to have a tank/heal off spec. So basically, you should never roll anything but a hybrid with a tank/heal off spec.

      So, to make life easier we should just go ahead and roll a guild full of paladins and druids and screw everyone else. Now, everyone flip a coin. Heads you’re a tank, tails you’re a healer.

  4. Frijona

    October 14, 2009 at 9:37 AM

    I’m probably totally selfish for saying this, but it bothers me when hybrid classes choose to DPS. Given how the PuGs I’m in are always looking for tanks and healers, I just don’t understand how Warriors who are such amazing tanks want to DPS, etc. (I give Death Knights more leeway because they aren’t as good at tanking.)

    I rolled a Warlock because I wanted to play a Warlock. If Blizzard decided to give us a healing spec, I’d learn it!

    • Psynister

      October 14, 2009 at 11:36 AM

      Everyone’s opinion is welcome here, and opinions are generally selfish by design so don’t worry about it.

      Every hybrid class can dps, so why would it bother you? You say yourself that if Warlocks had a healing spec that you would learn it. With that same thought why would you not expect a hybrid who can heal to learn how to dps as well?

      The majority of players today tend more towards leveling solo than they do leveling in a group. Not necessarily out of preference, though that’s the case with many such as myself, but because so many others are focused on already-leveled characters rather than rerolling with friends. When you are leveling solo you aren’t going to be a healer and being a tank is typically a bad idea (unless you’re an AoE grinding Paladin), so the remaining option then is dps. So while you spend all those levels in a dps spec you generally come to love it as that’s what you’ve been doing your whole character career.


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