Recently I was on one of my many ventures through the official WoW forums (forums.worldofwarcraft.com) and I was directed by someone in the Shaman forum to the Damage Dealing forum where a heated discussion was taking place regarding Bloodlust/Heroism (for the purposes of this article I will be shortening this to ‘BL/H’). It was an extremely hot topic for a while there and even provoked a couple of comments out of Ghostcrawler (You can find the thread I am referring to, now locked because of post limit, here). Now, when you read the official forums you learn to turn on a bit of a filter because there is a lot of bad posts and bad players out there, not to mention all the trolls. However, this thread had a few really good posts and the general themes of the arguments being made by both side were thought provoking; for me at least.
To summarize, the discussion came down to this: Blizzard’s new policy for WotLK has been ‘bring the player, not the class’. It is a push to make individual classes/specs less beneficial to a raid composition by making their buffs/abilities available to multiple groups. As a relatable example: if you want the 3% hit debuff to be placed on raid bosses you either have the option of bringing a Shadow Priest (providing Misery) or a Balance Druid (providing Improved Faerie Fire). The desire behind this is to prevent what was occurring more and more later into BC with ‘stacking’ certain classes and excluding others. The idea is good in theory in that it does not hinder anyone’s gaming experience simply because they did not choose to play the latest best class that people want to bring to the raids. However, Shaman have the advantage of still being the only class to provide providing BL/H which, in many player’s opinions, is too influential to an encounter.
The argument coming from the other camp is that there has to be limits to the homogenization that occurs in the game. What is the point of even having classes if there is no uniqueness to them? If everyone provides exactly the same thing the game will be walking a slippery slope to becoming too bland which leads to a boring, generic experience. BL/H is seen as an iconic shaman ability should not be shared with anyone else. (On a side note, I was surprised to find how a large number of people sharing this belief were non-shaman who just liked the uniqueness of the ability.)
Ghostcrawler came out saying that they did not design any of the hard modes around BL/H and that they do not believe that any 10 man hard mode encounter in unable to be accomplished without it. 25 man content is a different story, he continued, and thought that although the inclusion of a shaman in 25s was considered necessary it was not unreasonable; a point to which I have to agree. One shaman in a 25 man raid is hardly a big ask. Hell, I am lucky if I cast it once a raid because we roll with 3-5 shaman every night (1 Ele, 1 Enhance and up to 3 Resto).
Both sides of the argument carry pretty valid points and I am actually on the fence to some extent. BL/H is an extremely powerful benefit to the raid and can, without a doubt, decide the outcome of a fight. A personal example I have would be the XT hard mode (both 10 and 25). First times I did this fight we needed the BL/H when the Heart dropped just to be able to kill it in time and activate Hard Mode. A couple of weeks later, however, we did not. Better gear and some experience with the fight makes up for the gap and we were killing it with time to spare without the aid of BL/H. This is, of course, just one particular example. The point I am trying to convey with it is how although at first it may seem like an unquestionable necessity, but as you improve it may no longer be the case. That is why I have to side with GC on this one, because I believe that he is probably right when he says no 10 man Hard Mode encounter needs heroism. Does it make it more difficult? Without a doubt. Necessity? No.
The other point is that it is not like it is hard to fit a shaman into a raid. GC hinted on this when saying quote: “If you needed 3 or 4 shamans then I could see the point. If only Enhancement shamans brought Bloodlust, then it might cross the line”. By the fact that any of the three specs can provide this benefit, it makes it a whole lot more viable and reasonable. We can fit into a ranged DPS, melee DPS or healing role, it is not like we are difficult to manufacture a role for. If you really feel BL/H is a necessity, then you should probably stop complaining and just look for a shaman. Otherwise accept the fact that the fight is going to be a little more difficult and keep working at it.
As for the homogenization issue, I personally believe it is a good thing if Blizzard is careful with how they handle it. I was not in a top-end guild at the end of BC and was only halfway through Black Temple when WotLK dropped. As such I did not see the class stacking that was going on through Sunwell and only heard the stories, but from the sounds of it it was pretty extreme in how limiting it made the raid compositions. It is pretty clear we do not want to see that stuff again and this homogenization movement has thus far been a success in preventing it from occurring in Wrath.
Bloodlust and Heroism are an ability that I believe are unique to shaman and should remain so, but the day Blizzard makes a fight that is unbeatable without it then it becomes unfair. Until that day I am going to keep on enjoying this weapon that only we carry in our arsenal.