Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Following up on the Balance and Elemental comparison

Following up on Monday’s post regarding Elemental versus Balance inequities lets look at just one common example that I see regularly involving a Rogue. On my Druid in Balance PVP with 1000 Resil I’ll ride up in a group to the lumber mill and hang back a bit so I’m not immediately focused. I’ll drop into cat form near the top of the road up so I can track humanoids and see how many Horde are coming, but more importantly to see if any disappear which would indicate either a Rogue or a Druid. Some times I see dots disappear but other times I don’t. If I do I’m careful to stick close to the largest group otherwise I give myself a little more latitude. I’ll choose a target – normally a caster or healer – and open up with IS and MF and begin casting Wrath. But many times a Rogue is there and I just didn’t see him and as I’m often the focus target for stealthers it usually doesn’t take very long before I find myself in trouble.

A Rogue will always open with Cheap Shot, with it’s automatic stun. My first reaction is to pop Barkskin for the 12 seconds of damage reduction and then wait for the kidney punch. When I see kidney punch I’ll use my trinket and start running, hitting Nature's Grasp and then dropping into travel form to give me some distance. If I’m facing a not so well geared Rogue, or for whatever reason didn’t take all that much damage in the opening I have the option to drop into bear form and use bash before switching to travel form and getting some distance. If I’m lucky and the Rogue didn’t have Cloak of Shadows, Sprint or their trinket on cooldown I can usually get enough distance so I can pop out and throw on some heals and then root and hit him with IS/MF or dropping back into travel form and putting more distance between us if I feel its necessary. If he’s stealthed again I won’t stand still long enough to find out if he’s still gunning for me (of course he is), instead I’ll be running until I’m out of combat and then stealthing myself. On the occasions when he apparently doesn’t have any cool downs available and is still rooted I can usually nuke him easily enough but how often does that happen? Not all that often.

My issue is that a lot of the time I never survive long enough to get away. My 12 seconds of Barkskin is often not long enough to get me through the encounter, and it’s irrelevant if my trinket is on cooldown. I have no innate damage reduction whereas an Elemental Shaman can easily get 30% damage reduction from talents that applies passively whenever stunned, feared, or silenced. That’s pretty powerful considering a Balance Druid has to pop Barkskin and then hope he doesn’t need it again before the cooldown is up and Elemental shaman have the same mechanism to root a player and then also use travel form to get distance.

Using the same example, with my much undergeared Shaman, once I see kidney punch I’ll trinket out then immediately hit Thunderstorm and drop my earth bind totem. Thunderstorm knocks back further than Typhoon does but doesn’t daze so the Rogue will be back on me in little time. Except I’ve already started running and cleansing before dropping into Ghost wolf form for more distance, and the Rogue has to run around or through my earth bind. If he doesn’t have cloak of shadows or sprint available I’m gone and can turn around to flame shock then hit him with lava burst and drop my elemental for additional damage if necessary.

If you look at this dispassionately I think the Elemental Shaman has the slight advantage for escapability under these circumstances. Especially in that the earth bind totem is a powerful ranged root that even if it doesn’t root someone still can act as an obstacle that has to be avoided or destroyed. But I think the Druid has the decided advantage from range. I don’t think Druids have quite the burst DPS as an Elemental Shaman but they have ranged, spammable roots and have a pretty nice burst AOE spell in the form of Starfall that can be used while on the move and can heal and remove debuffs with travel form. It’s darn nigh impossible to stop a Druid – you either kill him or he gets away generally.

This to me is definitely the way to look at things. Standing back and comparing two not entirely similar classes isn’t easy. But when you look at things situationally they become much clearer and put things in proper context. For me the ultimate consideration in any battle ground is being able to pick and choose my fights. As a Druid I can stealth. I can ambush or flee entirely hidden from view but I can’t as a Shaman. As a Shaman I’m at all times viewable while at the same time not being able to see those who aren’t. A lot of time I don’t have the option to decide whether I want to engage or not as I can only escape once in combat through my ghost wolf form and can be ridden down. I never have the option to run away and vanish. Even with the perceived disadvantages I still prefer my Druid over the Shaman.