The Burden of the Hybrid

Judging by the title of this post, you may think that I intend to discuss the elusive “hybrid tax,” some sort of mysterious coefficient that gets applied to all of our base abilities to penalize us for being able to fulfill every role. I’m not even sure such a thing exists, I just know that it’s a term that was thrown around a while ago, before I got into blogging and min/maxing and all that stuff. What I really wanted to discuss was the personal burden of being a hybrid class.

Note: for this discussion, let’s take ‘hybrid’ to mean either druid or paladin; that is to say, a hybrid is any class that can fulfill all three roles of the Holy Trinity of MMO Gaming (Damage/Healing/Tanking). However, most of this logic can be applied to the quasi-hybrid classes as well: priests, shamans, death knights, and warriors.

I’m sure, as paladins, we’ve all gotten the whispers from random people asking us to “heal FoS?” or “tank Ony?” To be fair, if you’re just looking in /who for a holy paladin, there’s no way to distinguish between our specs without some form of outside inspection. However, I think everyone can agree that there is some sort of general expectation that we use our Dual Specialization ability to learn a different role.

After all, we can be tanks, healers, and DPS without having to reroll; why not learn something new and “be useful” for a change?

Reinforcing the “Main” in “Main Spec”

When you rolled your level 1 hybrid class, you read the description, you heard from all your friends how great it would be, and you had this grandiose expectation of what playing this class would entail.

Now that you’re 80, you’ve been through the thick and the thin. You’ve marched through quests and waded in the ankle-deep cesspool that is the LFD system. Maybe you’ve tried your hand at tanking or healing some dungeons. At max level, you feel like you’ve been through enough to know what it is you want to do with your class in the endgame.

And then it happens: you’re asked to do something else.

Let’s be honest, this isn’t like going from a holy priest to a disc priest; making the switch from DPSing to tanking was quite the transition for me, and the few times that I’ve tried holy were only after I read every “Holy Paladin 101″ post I could get my hands on AND after I got enough offspec gear from guild runs to make any freshly-80 holy paladin weep… and even then, it was messy.

I’ll admit that I’ve allowed myself to be coerced into things before. I was talked into healing on my druid for a 10m ICC with only one other healer when I had no clue what to do other than put a Rejuv on everything that was still alive.

When I raided on my shaman, I was coerced into raid healing Naxx and OS.

Hell, I was convinced to main tank ICC 25 back when my tanking gear and experience were a mere fraction of what they are today.

I hated every minute of all of these experiences. The feeling of not being in control, of not knowing what to do and when… it was anxiety-inducing, to say the least. I don’t think I’ll find myself in the same situations, though, since I have such great main tanks from which to leech information and experience.

Also, one of our holy paladins would literally kill me if I, or any other paladin, went holy.

In short, no hybrid class should feel responsible for bringing a “viable offspec” to the raid. If a feral druid loves to DPS, then that should be all he or she is concerned about. Same goes for a holy paladin, or shadow priest, or any of the myriad of hybrid spec and class combinations.

If you’re in a “hardcore” raiding guild, and your raid leader wants you to change roles, stick to your guns. Don’t be afraid to pull up your application to the guild and remind him or her that you are there as your main spec and your main spec only. If they truly need your spot for a healer, they can bench you and take a healer. If one isn’t on or your guild roster isn’t quite so large, it’s not your fault. Any half-enlightened raid leader will realize that trying to put a square peg into a round hole is a bad idea anyway.

Let’s face it, no one wants to play a game when they’re not having fun. So take a lesson from my past mistakes: don’t let anyone coax you into doing something you don’t want to do or don’t feel comfortable doing. Stick by your assertion that your main spec is your main spec for a good reason, and disregard anyone that says otherwise.

This post is brought to you by the Devil’s Advocate, because while Antigen loves the ability to be a versatile raider, the DA sees things… a little differently.

17 Responses to “The Burden of the Hybrid”

  1. Issy November 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    Interesting (and really lovely screenies).

    There are 2 sides to the argument of role and class
    1. Do what benefits the guild most
    2. It’s your character, don’t be a fucking martyr

    I fall mostly into 1, because I love to know I’m helping the team.. but at the same time, the game is all about having fun.. and if a particular role isn’t fun for you, what is the point in playing at all.
    I recently got dual-spec on my new warrior, after being pissed off at spending 4 hours in a lfg queue as a dps (see my husband’s post at but the thing is, I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t secretly enjoyed tanking :)

  2. tinker November 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Sure, stick to your guns… and when your guild wants and needs a hybrid capable and willing to be a dual-purposed raider, kiss your raid spot goodbye.

    Now, I know you don’t really raid in a guild that will do whatever it takes to get server firsts and push the envelope of progression, but take a look on EJ’s LFG threads. “LF 2 Healers, 1 holy pally with ret offspec and 1 priest (holy or disc) with preference for a shadow offspec” is not that uncommon.

    No, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do, but if you have a non-dps offspec, then you’re indicating interest in that role through your talent points. What’s the point in speccing prot if you hate it, or holy if you don’t understand it? I don’t take tanking gear for a REASON… I will NEVER use it.

    • Antigen November 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

      “if you have a non-dps offspec, then you’re indicating interest in that role through your talent points.”

      I agree with this sentiment… to a point. We all have to start somewhere. You don’t just respec and then jump right into progression encounters; for me, it took a while to build up my confidence and ability in my tanking offspec before I felt comfortable stepping up to do so in a raid setting, which is the precise reason why I hated that ICC 25 when I was made to main tank: I didn’t feel that I was ready.

      Having the spec shows you’re trying; bidding against others (especially others that already DO tank) for cutting-edge tanking gear shows you want a piece of the action.

      “when your guild wants and needs a hybrid capable and willing to be a dual-purposed raider, kiss your raid spot goodbye.”

      I’m not debating this. In fact, I stated that “[i]f they truly need your spot for a healer, they can bench you and take a healer,” implying that you may indeed get cut for being inflexible.

      It all depends on you. If you’re the type to want to be in the raid no matter what, and are willing to learn a new role, then by all means. But if it really is something you don’t want to do, you shouldn’t put yourself in the position to be “bullied” into it. If that’s the case, then maybe a guild that would do something like that isn’t for you.

  3. Hana November 2, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    Back in vanilla and TBC I was quite simply a moonkin. Nothing else to it. I wouldn’t respec for squat. And my guild was fine with it.

    At the start of WotLK, I was in a 25-man guild and I was a moonkin. End of story. Needed a healer? I’d bring my holy paladin. Needed a tank? I’d respec my paladin. Moonkin was the main spec of my main and that’s what she did.

    Dual specs came out and I thought long and hard about what the second spec should be, and for a while I had nothing. I joked about making it cat so that I could keep my healing and tanking on my paladin.

    Finally I moved to a 10-man guild and my second spec became feral so I could backup tank. Because we wanted to have a small dedicated raid team that would rarely get benched (we run with just 11 raiders) secondary specs “for the good of the raid” have become par of the course.

    Everyone has a main spec, but people are encouraged to pick up a functional off-spec in the event someone can’t make it that night. So we have two tanking off-spec and one healing off-spec in the roster, which gives us wiggle room for absences in our mainline tanks or healers.

    It won’t work for every guild, but it’s in our guild application form that hybrids are highly encouraged to have a functional off-spec and be willing to use it, so there are no surprises for anyone who joins us.

    • Antigen November 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

      In a practical sense, I find your guild’s views entirely within reason. It’s nice to have those assurances in case of no-shows and the like. One of the tanks for our second 10m was actually main spec Fury; the fact that he stepped up to fulfill a role when it was needed is extremely commendable.

      Realistically, no one should be surprised if they play a hybrid class and are asked to do something other than their main spec. But there’s a difference between those types of people who gladly step up to the challenge of helping where needed, and the types who love their role, but can’t stand the other aspects of their hybrid class. Just because your class can tank or heal doesn’t mean you have to tank or heal.

  4. Rilgon Arcsinh November 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    Hell, I was convinced to main tank ICC 25 back when my tanking gear and experience were a mere fraction of what they are today.

    Yes, what a world-rending tragedy that you got a raid spot when you probably wouldn’t have if you weren’t tanking. /eyeroll

    Be grateful that you CAN perform multiple roles and that you DO have the flexibility to do so, vastly increasing your attractiveness to raid groups and guilds. You already do all the DPS of a pure DPS plus have the flexibility to do more stuff, so quit bitching.

    • Antigen November 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm #

      “Be grateful that you CAN perform multiple roles and that you DO have the flexibility to do so, vastly increasing your attractiveness to raid groups and guilds.”

      I am very grateful, and am also very attractive. Thank you for pointing this out.

      • Issy November 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

        “and am also very attractive”

        Pictures or it didn’t happen ;)

  5. Rhidach November 2, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    It’s funny reading the comments attacking your post because apparently neither of them read it and instead decided to attack the message they derived from their own interpretation of it.

    We all pay $15 a month to play this game, for our own goals. If you want to play a Ret Paladin, or a Boomkin, or a Shadow Priest, then you shouldn’t feel guilted into playing anything else. BUT, like you said, there are consequences. And likewise you can be flexible and reap the possible rewards if you choose to be flexible.

    But, the point, which apparently so few of us got, was there is a choice. And that people shouldn’t feel coerced to make that choice if they don’t want to.

    Great post! Totally not bitching at all. Believe, I’ve seen bitching, and this was not it.

    • Stop November 2, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

      Considering the people who chose to attack the post are (1) a professional troll with a known chip on his shoulder the size of Minneapolis towards hybrid classes, and (2) his girlfriend, is anyone really surprised there was a misinterpretation?

      Seconding Rhidach. Great post, Antigen.

      • Rhidach November 3, 2010 at 9:28 am #

        I certainly wasn’t surprised, haha.

  6. anafielle November 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    We have seven paladins in some of our raids. Two holy, two prot, and three ret.

    How many of them bother to have offspecs? One. Only one paladin – prot, holy, or ret – has a raid capable offspec. That one and single person who actually USES his hybridness, is Antigen. To me, that doesn’t mean he has to tank all the time, although I use him for his tanking – not because he has a tank spec – but because he’s my favorite of the offspec tanks… it doesn’t mean he HAS to. It means he CAN.

    There’s a difference.

    Yes, I see the point where a hybrid is (obviously) more valuable than someone who doesn’t have a raid viable offspec. I used to brag about how many people with offspecs I had in my 10 man, because I saw it as a sign of the general high commitment and skill level and flexibility of my raiders. Hybrid-ness and multiple useful specs are something you bring to the table. It’s an ADDED value. It’s not a REQUIRED value.

    Tinkerpriest is correct to point out that high level guilds do recruit specifically for people with offspecs. If you got recruited with the expectation that you’d use your offspec, then yes, you have an equal responsibility to use that offspec. You promised to use it as much as your mainspec.

    That is NOT that case anywhere in this blog post. This post isn’t aimed at those people.

    The post was really talking about the pressure to do something you don’t want to do. In fact, tinker is pretty much agreeing with you by saying she doesn’t want to pick up prot gear, although I don’t think she sees it that way.

    If a raid leader told her she had to pick up prot gear to stay in the raid, when she wasn’t recruited as prot…. now, that would be a different story!

    We have seven paladins in our raid, and only one single paladin has an offspec. It’s because he is skillful and wants to help, not because it’s required. IT’S NOT REQUIRED. That’s the point. Sure, it’s helpful, and you have a better shot at a raid spot.

    But it’s your choice whether to take advantage of it, and you should never be bullied into it – just like no one should ever find themselves bullied into doing anything in this game.

  7. Chriantha November 3, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    I haven’t healed since… classic. Where I did alright in 5′s and UBRS, and failed miserably in 40mans. As for Ret, I have only a single 2-hander in my bank. Its old, nobody can get it anymore, and it gives -25 Stamina (yes that’s negative.) A cookie if you can guess what it is. I do have a ret set for PvP. It was never very decent until recently where I could buy wrathful gear for honor post 4.0.1 and I still don’t have a 2-hander.

    I really enjoy tanking. I plainly understand the risks I take when “I stick to my guns.” I was regularly sat in Ulduar for other tanks–especially on General Vezax where I had poor mana regen and the raid leaders deemed it more efficient to use a Warrior tank (to kite his powered up state) and eventually a DK to cooldown it. I understand that if I had to be absent for whatever reason, that an off-tank may step up and take my raid spot–and in doing so I might not see that fight for weeks because they were the tank the raid had practiced with.

    It can be troublesome when one’s class is imbalanced against oneself. It bothered me a lot, especially in my early Burning Crusade, that people would tell me: “You can tank Karazhan… but after that just go holy. Its not worth it.” But… that’s what I enjoy playing. And, honestly, the competition for that tank slot makes me a better player. If not for that, I’d probably slack off and become absolutely terrible–which happens from time to time.

    Maybe… just maybe, I’ll off-spec Ret instead of Double-prot, but I’m terrified of touching any piece of Holy gear. Not because I couldn’t eventually learn it, but because once placed in a raid vital position… the guild very often stops recruiting as much for it. And then, I’d be stuck there. It happened to another protadin in the guild. He eventually quit playing due to burnout and frustration of having to switch roles on the hardest fights in the game–trying to learn entirely different movements and mentality without enough time to really practice either one as much as he should have been allowed.

    Granted he was only one of over a dozen to burn out on that particular fight, but… if I’m going to beat my head against a brick wall, I want to be doing it with the full confidence that I know what I’m doing—and enjoying it.

    My only other advice is: If anybody is going to ask their raiders to go off-spec to fill any raid spot or afford the raid greater flexibility, keep recruiting for the spot they’re being asked to fill. Off-specs are stop-gaps like telling somebody to put in overtime. And if that person ever gets sick… then the raid can very well be doubly screwed. :(

    • Antigen November 3, 2010 at 9:21 am #

      This is EXACTLY what I was talking about, or thought I was talking about, in my post.

      I think Blizzard has gotten pretty good at making most of the specs in the game raid viable (with a few exceptions, of course, and 4.0.1 pretty much turned everything on its head), so we are no longer faced with the dilemma of one of our specs “not being worth it,” thankfully.

      I wasn’t paladining in BC, but I’ve heard a lot about those days, where Ret and Prot paladins were laughed out of raids (more so Ret paladins, from what I’ve read). Still, there were a few dedicated protadins and retadins who clung to their favorite specs with the hopes that maybe, one day, Blizzard would make them whole again. Sure, some would call these souls hopeless, but they really just found something they loved in those specs and didn’t want to give up the dream.

      And you have a Corrupted Ashbringer?! /drool

      • Chriantha November 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

        In Burning Crusade, one had to really whore stam and effective health to be viable. At least until patch… 2.3? 2.4? gave us a small overhaul to Touched by the Light that brought us in line with other tanks on health. Granted, there were so few of us I could count all the protadins alliance side with one hand. Then people learned we could tank Shattered Halls without CC and that consecrate generated the threat of god. Then a lot more started alt-ing little protadins of their own. :D

        And yes, I have Corrupted Ashbringer. You win a cookie!

        Besides. The ones who dedicate themselves to a single spec are usually the ones stubborn enough to see a fight till it dies. MT’s who love tossing on DPS gear all the time usually don’t last as long. Less so the case for DPS who occasionally OT. Not sure why that is. >.>

  8. Vidyala November 4, 2010 at 12:49 am #

    Being a hybrid… is tough. In fact, being a person who is able and willing to play another character or switch “for the greater good” in general can be tough. I ended up playing a moonkin really so that we could have a resto druid backup (instead of my mage). I reasoned that moonkin wouldn’t be so different from mage.

    The fact is… I hated it. I love being a resto druid. But when I’m DPSing… It just wasn’t nearly as much fun. I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself otherwise. I’ve played other characters than my mage because we needed healers, etc. etc. At some point you DO have to stick to your guns! Like Hana, though, in a ten-man guild we can’t take hybrids for granted. All of the healers have useful off-specs that they can play if needed, and even the pure DPS classes are expected to have two useful PvE specs for different encounters and needs.

    I think what *I* took from your post is that it can be awesome to be the flexible one who is willing to switch to help the guild out – right up until it stops being awesome. As a hybrid, you need to watch for that line and make sure that you respect yourself enough to say, “Whoa now, enough,” and that the guild you’re in also respects your chosen spec and desired role!


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