Buffing Buffers who Buff (or perhaps buff buffs?)

A lot of talk was made last week over Dr. Street dropping hints that a buff-oriented class might be in the cards for the next expansion. Now, keep in mind that Blizzard considering an idea has a lot more to it than meets the eye.

  • Ogres were considered a possible playable race, even to the point where they were conceiving what female ogres would look like.
  • The class added in Wrath was a three-way race between Necromancer, Runemaster, and Death Knight. Eventually, they just took the concepts they liked from all three and blendered them into the DK we know today.

All that being said, the idea of a class that exists primarily to make other players more awesome is something that Blizzard struggled against in the past. I remember Shadow Priests being really popular during Burning Crusade because Vampiric Touch turned them into passive mana-batteries for the rest of the raid. Everyone remembers how mission-critical Shamans were for Bloodlust/Heroism backing during Sunwell Plateau. Ghostcrawler’s later adoption of “bring the player, not the class” and subsequent changes to niche-filling classes created a circumstance where players got to play what they wanted and still go to the raid, but even up through today we’ve got players saying “if I don’t have anything special to bring why does the Raid Leader put me in the roster?” (There’s a lot of ways to answer that question, but that might be a different article altogether.)

What a lot of people have been saying in response to a buff-oriented class is that the class would have to be indispensable to the raid, meaning that as long as raid-sizes stay 10-25, non-buff players would be sat. But what if the special thing about the buff class was that it could bring ANY buff to the raid?

Bear with me here: the eight raid-buff matrix (Stats, Stamina, Attack Power, Spell Power, Haste, Spell Haste, Critical Strike and Mastery) are distributed across the eleven classes, which allows for a great diversity of raid compositions. Most individual classes might only bring one or two of those buffs (some being delimited to certain specs), and while hunters technically have the ability to bring just about any buff, that’s dependent on bringing a particular pet. What if this buff class was able to bring all eight buffs? Perhaps not all at once, but to the extent that raid leaders could open up their raid compositions a bit more because they wouldn’t need to worry about having to cover the 8-buff matrix?

Everyone is thinking that the buff-class needs to bring something unique. My take is that yes, they need to have a unique playing style, but there doesn’t need to be a ninth buff slot that only these buff-meisters are able to fulfill. Hell, if you give them Bloodlust/Heroism, it would be a boon to small-time beer-league guilds running 10s that just haven’t got the bench depth to bring it. I was in that situation plenty of times.

What do you think?

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