And THIS is why Druids are upset at Patch 5.0

Feathers, fur, and bark is flying furiously after the Blizzard Live Class Balance session. Why? Because they announced in no uncertain terms that they intended to push Druids back in the direction of being hybrids first, and birds, cats or bears second.

And lo, the argument started. A lot of Druids are very, very upset, and a lot of non-Druids – including WoW Insider editor in chief Alex Ziebart, who plays a paladin, the other massively hybrid class – don’t see why they’re so upset.

At which point, Beruthiel of Falling Leaves And Wings started writing down her concerns

“If Alex were a druid, and a tank, there would never have been the option to toss out clutch heal while actively tanking. Because for a druid to maintain their fundamental ability to tank, they must be in feral form. To shift out of feral form while actively tanking a raid boss has a 98% chance of leaving your raid with one dead tank. There was no “hybrid” option there. Sure, the druid has the option to heal, but they lose all of their functionality as a tank to exercise that option to shift. They can no longer perform their prime role.

When push comes to shove, I find myself asking is that really “hybrid”? I mean, really, when did “hybrid” and “shifting” become synonymous terms? Why can’t I be a hybrid while still retaining the core abilities that permit me to perform my role?

I mean, if we put Alex into my shoes as a druid, the minute he want to help pinch heal the raid he’d be flattened as a tank. Let’s stay with paladins. What if every time a Holy Paladin wanted to use a more base ability – say hammer of justice – they became locked out of their healing spells for 10 seconds. Because a resto druid who wants to stun a mob can’t heal for roughly that amount of time when they shift to bear, generate rage, and then bash. Why do I get penalized from performing as a healer to have the same functionality? Is it all because I have the ability to shift? Somehow that just seems faulty.”

I found this post an interesting read as a non-Druid, and someone who’s divorced from the situation entirely. I must admit, when I read the Blizzard devs’ responses to the class balance questions, I was quite enthusiastic – I remember great 5-man runs with druids acting as hybrids, and I was enthusiastic about that play style coming to the end-game.

But, whilst I still think that it’s a very cool idea, after reading Beru’s post I can certainly see the problems. It’s a difficult balancing act, and I can easily see the potential for Blizzard to get it wrong. And that makes the ensuing debate, and the development changes, all the more interesting to follow.

Do you think Blizzard will get druid hybridisation right this time?