Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Movement And The Hybrid Dps Tax

About one week ago Vaneras posted a sticky about hybrid vs pure dps.  The key part is about the hybrid dps tax:
In our design, the pure dps classes (hunter, mage, warlock and rogue) should do slightly higher dps than hybrid damage-dealers all things being equal. All things are rarely equal. Player skill, gear, raid comp, latency, random luck and most importantly the specifics of the encounter will often favor one class, spec or player over another.
This raises the question of what mechanics tend to influence dps.  There are two basic types: 

Direct.  These are buffs like Storm Power on Hodir or Shadow Crash on General Vezax.  They have an immediate effect and will obviously favor certain dpsers over others (high-crit classes for Hodir, casters for General).  Direct mechanics are generally a positive increase in dps, although there are exceptions. 

Indirect.  These are primarily mechanics that force movement (although something like XT's Heart that favor a 30-second window of dps count too).  These are present in practically every fight, and they generally decrease dps.
  • Ulduar: Nearly every fight has something that forces movement, with the possible exception of Flame Leviathan and XT (if you get lucky and never get a Light Bomb or Gravity Well).
  • Northrend Beasts: Snobolds and Fire on the Ground for Gormok.  Poison and Burning Bile for the Worms.  Moving to dps Icehowl when he's stunned.
  • Lord Jaraxxus: Legion Flame, and movement to keep Nether Portals or Infernal Volcanos in range.
  • Faction Champions: Yes.
  • Twin Val'kyrs: Light and Dark Orbs, and switching Essences for a vortex/shield.
Direct Buffs are the exception - the only one in ToC is from Lord Jaraxxus, and only one class (mages) can benefit from it.  Most mechanics that effect dps are of the indirect type, and practically every fight has them - because a fight where you stand still and never move gets pretty boring.

The problem with this is that fights with movement tend to favor pure dps, and most fights are movement fights.  Not for player skill reasons, but because all of the pure ranged dps classes have an instant/high movement ability:
Hunters: Disengage
Mages: Blink
Warlocks: Demonic Teleport

These abilities aren't perfect or flawless but they are much better then what moonkins, elemental shamans, and shadow priests have - which is nothing.  On any fight with a decent movement requirement (which is practically every fight) they give the pure dpsers an even bigger advantage then they might otherwise have.  I never expect to beat a good mage on Hodir, because I know that mage can blink to pick up Storm Power, to avoid crashes, to get fire - the list goes on.  I know that a warlock on Twins should beat me because he can teleport back and forth between essences as necessary, and he has an easier time avoiding Orb Surges.  A hunter on Mimiron should beat me because he can jump over fire, and I can't.  And the same holds true for most current fights - there are always mechanics that favor instant movement abilities, and therefore favor pure dpsers.

To a large extent I don't have a problem with this.  The issue is that hybrids come under a double tax, once for being hybrids and then a second time for dpsing a fight with movement.  If I can be within ~5% of a mage on a stand-and-nuke fight then I'm ok with that - the problem is when I drop to 10% or 20% below a mage because he has Blink, and I don't.

I hope that Blizzard fixes this in Cataclysm by giving all the hybrid casters some way to move around instantly, but I'm not super confident - it seems to be an issue that floats under the radar most of the time.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there, I have only been reading you so far, but haven't commented. Nice blog, man, it helped me tons.

    My problem atm is exactly the same as yours, however even worse, so to say.
    I am in a quite okay-ish gear, totc10heroic/25 normal mostly (4xt9.245, and so on). Our guild is doing totc25 heroic (learning Anub currently, rest of bosses and normal is on easy farm), the others in the raid are similarly geared.

    I am falling 10-15% behind other hybrids. My DPS is around 6500 (talking about singletarget), they do 7-8k. Arcane mages are just insane, they are sitting on 9k+ easily. Only shadow priests are comparably low to us (except if we have 2-3 mobs, then they easily beat us fluffkins).

    As for the foreseeable future, i checked Rawr, our VERY BEST, optimal gear setup (4x t9.258, 272 cloak, 2x Reign trinkets, etcetc, raidbuffed, flasked everything counted in) has like 8250 dps [it says 6660 for my current one which is quite accurate], while other hybrid BIS simulations (ret and enh for sure) show 9500-10000. I don't even dare to research arcane mage endgame numbers... I'd probably /facepalm.

    So best I could do was to pray for 5% to be true, but it sadly is not. Not even compared to other hybrids.
    Blizzard promised we wouldn't suck anymore like in TBC (just because we bring raidbuffs), but rather have comparable and competitive dps, with some margin of difference. Well, that margin became frikken wide again :D

    If we want to find reasons, I think it's not only to the fact that we don't have teleport/blink/whatever, but to the fact that we scale poorly with everything (haste, spirit at least, not even heroism, and not with crit after a certain level), while some others scale TONS better with them, any of those stats. Also, our damage output is very RNG-driven, "thanks" to Eclipse, and there isn't many things we can control about it (no effective CDs, treants we have to count with in a way that they hopefully get heroism unless it costs 1 extra wave of them, and starfall is kinda weak).
    [Besides that, there could be the easy and obvious answer that I just suck at playing a moonkin :P which ofcourse cannot be excluded..]

    Cheers, best regards,
    keep up the good work.

    Absynthia (Argent Dawn, EU)