On Behalf of All Hybrids; How many taxes do we have to pay?

I completely read GC’s sticky on hybrids, and though I respect the analysis, I have to say it’s slightly incongruous with the current state of WoW.  If we are discussing Wrath WoW exclusively, and he was, then we need to discuss the hybrid tax already built into game mechanics.

The Pre-Pull Tax

This is the tax GC is talking about.  The idea that you have versatility means you should be taxed.  Versatility is defined by the idea that you can switch roles if needed.  This versatility is enough reason to tax a hybrid according to the sticky.  It, however, is not enough reason for a hybrid with a DPS spec to consistently fall below a pure on every fight because the there are many contributing factors to influence final damage meter numbers.

I will contend if the numbers are not significant enough for a noticeable disparity, then the hybrid tax doesn’t really exist.  If a rogue can put out more damage than a shaman only half the time, the tax isn’t enough to even talk about.  If the number is a miniscule percent where movement, skill, or server communication can contribute to overcoming the hybrid tax, it doesn’t really exist.  If there is no hard and fast rule with which to compare because the answer will always be L2P Noob, it doesn’t really exist.  Make no mistake, GC’s comment of “It isn’t a hard and fast rule. We aren’t going to provide a hard and fast rule because players would then attempt to invoke that rule every time they thought their damage was too low instead of exploring other ways to improve their character’s performance” is the politically correct way of saying L2P.

We should all remember just because a player rolls a hybrid and could be versatile; it in no way implies they can be successful in an alternative role or that they even want to do it.  I know plenty of DPS hybrids who have no business healing or tanking.  In fact, even asking them to do so would be signing your own death warrant and a repair bill to make you cry.  Ask any hybrid who is DPS exclusively and you are likely to get any number of responses.

  • Here Kitty Kitty: I enjoy the rogue style of in, kill, and out play, but the rotation is boring or awkward to me.  I prefer more involved gameplay required to maintain kitty DPS
  • MOAR DOTS: I really enjoy the dots required for locks, but hate pet management and the oversimplified affliction rotation after patch 3.1 so I play a shadow priest.
  • Faceroller: There are days when I don’t actually feel like playing WoW and would rather just bang my head against the keyboard and put out competitive DPS so I play a ret paladin.

Well maybe you don’t hear that last one that often, but you know we have all thought it.  The desire to “bake” the tax into the hybrid from the character creation screen is an unsophisticated tax and one that should be abolished.

The Post-Pull Tax

The tax that matters is the post-pull tax, or the tax a hybrid is willing to pay while in combat.  I read the GC remark, “The Blizzard definition of hybrid in this context has nothing to do with whether you can perform multiple roles within a single fight or even within a single raid. It has more to do with the potential for your class to ever fulfill more than one role,” but this is absolute garbage.  A hybrid already pays a hefty fine for the ability to perform a second role while in combat, and it’s a loss of DPS.

When an enhancement shaman chooses to use his maelstrom weapon stack on an instant chain heal in the raid if the tank needs some emergency loving, he has decided he is willing to pay the hybrid tax.  The cost of this tax is exceptionally high.  First, there is the free insta-cast not being used to bump up his DPS.  The heal isn’t propped up with talents like the raids designated healers and as such, the heal is severely taxed because it will not be as powerful as a resto shamans chain heal.  Even with the extreme cost of the heal, it could prove to be the heal that turns a one shot into a wipe.

When a boomkin or kitty decides (or is directed) to share an innervate or cast a battle rez, they are also taxing their DPS.  Those casts, especially for a cat druid with a tight rotation, can send a druid in a freefall from the top of the damage meters for the boss fight, however the success of a raid can depend on druids willing to pay the hybrid tax and sacrifice their DPS.

I could come up with dozens of examples, as I am sure most anybody can because we have all seen the hybrids pay their tax in the middle of combat.  We have seen competitive elemental shamans or boomkins get pissed when the mage beats them out on the damage meters, and no one ever actually thanks them for the heal they dropped to prevent the wipe.

This is the true hybrid tax.  It isn’t something GC or anyone at Blizzard should feel they have to bake into a class.  In fact, knowing when and being willing to pay the hybrid tax is often only done by the best hybrids.  The others just bathe in their tubs of mediocrity and push their numbers higher and higher on the damage meters so they can compete with the pures.  Reacting to disaster on instinct makes better players, not worse, so why would you want to tax those players for choosing a class when they already pay the tax in GCDs, procs, diminished output for their non-spec hybrid abilities, and a loss of DPS?

The Forgotten Tax

The most interesting thing about the hybrid tax is the real tax, at least in the more traditional sense of the word because it costs gold.  Before dual specs, the hybrid tax was incurred with spec switching.  Early in Wrath, my druid was switching between balance and resto about twice a week.  My weekend spec was balance so I could get some questing completed and during the week I played resto so I could do my raid healing.  A 100g a week saved by the pures who are capable, though some do have a second spec, of performing their role with a single spec is one hell of a tax on a hybrid.  Now, instead the respec fee we are charged a one time fee to dual spec.  It is a tax on all the hybrids who, if they are like me, were willing to buy in an attempt to keep their sanity when soloing.  Ever tried soloing world quests with a resto spec?  Go try it on the PTR with a premade in the best gear available for about 5 minutes and if you don’t actually want to jump off Thorim’s perch then we can talk about dual specs not being mandatory for healers, otay?

Aside from the dual spec tax, there is the tax involved in creating multiple gear sets with proper gems and enchants on all of them.  It takes tons of Azeroth gold to assemble and maintain multiple sets of gear, and this is a cost not associated with pure classes.

The Cost of Versatility

I currently have three lvl 80 toons and all 3 of them are hybrids.  All three are dual specced (a prot/ret pally; resto/balance druid; blood tank/blood dps DK) and I absolutely respect the hybrid tax.  I understand I have dibs on pugs or guild runs because I can do any role I feel like doing on any given day.  I willing pay the hybrid tax with all 3 toons but I still wonder why do hybrids have a tax baked into the class when there are enough examples of the hybrid tax being applied across multiple aspect of the game?  The Blizzard answer to this question is the one the great and powerful crab should sticky.

Time for an Ambien

  • Derek

    As a bear/moonkin druid and enh/resto shaman I completely agree. Excellently thought out and written article. I wonder if GC will read it?