My take on hybrids vs pures

So this is a DPS blog, and one of the major ongoing, most over talked subjects is the giant hybrid vs pure argument. So I guess this wouldn’t really be a real DPS blog unless I waffled about it for a while.

That and I’ve been trying to write a blog post for the last week and it just won’t be written, so I’m going to try something I’ve been considering for a while.

I’m going to try and talk a bit about the history of pures and hybrids (although I’m bound to get some of it wrong), and then I’m going to take a look at where they are now, and what I view as the current philosophy of pures and hybrids, and how they are balanced.

Hybrids in vanilla were typically joke classes, druids, paladins, shamans and priests at best had one ‘functioning’ spec for end game, typically the healing spec. The other specs were there for leveling if you were lucky, or filled with random talents that did random things… like moonkins with a talent to promote hitting people with weapons. Paladins primarily sat around casting the various buffs for the whole encounter because blessings would start falling of the first people by the time you got to buffing the last person, shamans let us have totems… and yeah. That was about it. Unless you were a warrior. Warriors while technically a hybrid seemed to have been given the pure treatment in that they could actually pew pew (or so I’m told), and tank in the other spec.

In burning crusade things started to look up for hybrids. They were given a proper place in the raiding end game. They were not the heavy damage dealers that rogues, hunters, mages and warlocks were, but they provided important and required buffs. Without hybrids your pure DPS did abysmal DPS, without your pures your hybrids didn’t do the DPS required to bring down the boss, it was a symbiotic relationship. Some may argue that this was a particularly elegant solution to the problem of making both hybrids and pures relevant and required by raids. But it also produced the problem where by missing one buff, or one specific class that you may not have been able to raid at all that night. Or that people would have to bring much much lesser geared alts in order for the raid to proceed. Not to mention encounters that required extremely specific raid make ups (Oh I’m sorry, you didn’t bring 5 resto shamans today? Sorry can’t do that boss), that required extensive wait lists and planning.

In wrath things changed a bit. Hybrids were brought up even closer to pures, and the buffs were spread around. Somewhere along the lines a 5% number was tossed around. Hybrids would do 5% less DPS than pures (where this number comes from no one knows). Personally I suspect that it was a number brought out of thin air by players.  The official line spouted by GC himself was that pures were to do slightly more DPS than hybrids, in order to preserve a reason to bring hybrids.

And now we’re in cataclysm. How does it all work now? What is the gap? Is there a gap? Lets dive into that.

These days most DPS classes are extremely well balanced. All classes are within 5% of each other, (ignoring the extreme low cases of sub rogues and frost mages (ironically, both are pure DPS)), but even those are being brought up to par. With the majority of DPS classes existing in a very small middle band which is even smaller than 5%. But where does this leave hybrids and pures? Why bring a pure DPS when a hybrid can come and also be a back up healer? A back up tank? Of spec tanks and heals? With raid gear (especially on 25 man) dropping even more frequently than ever before, its even easier to gear up off specs and produce a even more flexible raid composition.

If pure DPS classes have the same damage output as hybrid DPS classes, why bring a pure?

Is there really a advantage of bringing a hybrid? Is gearing up a off spec really so important? Will heals thrown out by hybrids be so important? This is even more true with most pures having some level of self heals now, which I feel is a important distinction between now and previous expansions. Most pure DPS have some form of self heal, although not all (but who really cares about hunters?). So this starts to nullify, that advantage. Is this simply a left over view about something that doesn’t exist anymore?

With all this, what advantage does a pure have? Is there any? I believe so. If we follow the idea that each DPS spec is designed with different strengths and weaknesses in mind, but being roughly equal, then we can we can follow a simple idea. A pure DPS class has the advantage over a hybrid in that a hybrid DPS can’t respec to suit a specific fight, a pure DPS can. Is this a good advantage to have? I believe so. It leaves pures and hybrids relatively equal,  but a pure player who can play all 3 specs will have the advantage. The important bit here I feel is that the onerous is on the player, rather than just blind luck in having picked the right class, and if they don’t push to be able to play all 3 specs then they are on equal footing as hybrids.

On a side note, I’m also looking between the pures (at least the ones I’m somewhat familiar with), and seeing some parallels between them. We each have a AE spec (demonology, fire, survival, and who cares about rogues anyway), and we each seemingly have a mobile spec, and a single target burn one. I think. Thats another post for another day though.

(To top it of, who really cares about mages?)

(Because warlocks are the only real DPS class, right?)

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  1. Horavus
    June 21, 2011 at 7:34 am | #1

    Hm interesting take on that situation. I used to do that back in Wrath on my lock, rogue, and hunter.

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