Updated Sun, Feb 24, 2008 by Messiah
Plucked straight from the ongoing discussion on the official forums, I take on this hot topic. Since the beginning of time, hmm, ok, since WoW's launch, there has been disharmony among men (and women) who play priests. The problem has been the inclusion of several "racial talents" and the perceived lack of balance between them. Some are very good, some are down right useless. The most controversial though has always been the dwarf Fear Ward ability.
Fear Ward, for those who may not know, is a spell that puts a buff on the target that allows them to ignore the next fear causing effect. Once you have been feared, the buff is used up and must be recast on you. The buff lasts 10 minutes and the spell has a 30 second cooldown. This means that in most cases it can prevent most PvE fears. It is also very useful in PvP where it can be used to ignore the fears cast by many opponents.
Players very quickly learned what an advantage this was in Raids and PvP encounters that many players rolled Dwarf priests just for the ability. Many times despising the dwarf race completely, but wanting the ability and its perceived strengths and advantages. The dwarf being an Alliance race, led to the belief that the Alliance had a huge advantage in both Raids and PVP.
Word came down from Blizzard at this years BlizzCon that all the Horde would be getting fear ward at some point. While no real specifics where given, there was a strong implication that all priests would be getting the ability. This has been discussed over and over again on the official forums and it seems there is some truth to it, as mentioned by "blue" in the European forums and discussed here in the North American forums. The questions now are: how good is it really, and should everyone get it?
I've played both factions to max level, and raided on both. Honestly, I can't say it was any harder or easier with either faction. Sure they are different and played significantly different (until the cross faction pally / shaman release with the Burning Crusade), but we got through each encounter given time and skill. The presence or lack of fear ward, never made or broke a fight. Alliance guilds have generally been the first to complete any new encounter in WoW, however generally not that far ahead of the Horde. This I believe has much more to do with the Alliance having a much larger population to draw from than anything else. After all if one team at a race can enter 30 cars and the other only 10, which is more likely to have the winning car?
In PvP, I can see a huge advantage to ignoring a fear, however it is just one of many ways to ignore, get out of or cancel a fear. There are many others. While I have never been a PvP fan, and rarely play PvP (the rare exception being on my undead priest), if fear ward was such an imbalance, why do the Horde own the battlegrounds on most servers? Surely such an overpowering ability for the Alliance would allow them to completely dominate the lowly horde. Yet, for some reason the opposite happens.
Oh, man, where to start... Ok, how about the simple answer.
Ok, now the complicated explanation. I'm not a proponent of similarity. I do like balance, but to me that does not need to mean that both sides have the same abilities. A prime example was the Paladin / Shaman split pre-Burning Crusade. Each side had their own abilities that was separate and unique to them, yet they were fairy well balanced, each bringing something unique to the table. While I understand Blizzard's reasons for allowing both factions both classes (balance issues around encounters), I still don't agree with or like the idea. This is the same with fear ward, I understand why, I just don't like the solution.
For a change, there was an amazingly clear, insightful and witty comment in the official forums on this topic, and yes Hell must have frozen over. A player named Scooperman made the following comment, that I agree with whole heartedly:
|Hey, let's just make everything the same! I love this trend Blizzard, keep it up. Soon I'll be able to MS on my mage for 2k while dual wielding and shooting my bow. Also, I'll keep enemy pets banished and healers feared while I frost nova all the melee classes right before I bubble and hellfire. GG|
In case you can't tell, he's being sarcastic.
Blizzard is known for the amazing balancing act they do with characters, classes and races in all their games. I just don't understand why in this and a few other cases they have chosen to take the easy way out, rather than finding some way to continue to have something that allows each faction to play in a distinctive and different way.
Maybe it's just me, but I prefer things to be different. I am all for faction specific classes and abilities. I am all for forcing different strategies on different factions. If over time an imbalance appears, I am all for finding a way to fix it. I just don't believe that watering down the difference between the two factions is the best way to accomplish that.
I've had my say, now you can have yours. What do you think? Should a class have the same abilities regardless of races or faction, or should there be some distinction? Tell us your opinion by visiting the forums and posting!