In the Paladin class fantasy thread, I saw Ornyx mention Auras contributing to the whole "bring the player, not the class philosophy".
I want to make a thread just about that philosophy in general.
Since release, I've seen the full gamut of evolutionary states on that topic. Playing a Shaman as one of my main characters early on, I remember being loved for bringing my totems to the group. Even having to deal with people fight it out to see which Air Totem I would use. Shamans were also the one and only Bloodlust at the time.
I remember establishing a good friendship with a Fury Warrior who was always eager to group with me for Windfury Totem, because just me being able to provide that buff made his experience more enjoyable.
And for me, being able to buff my buddies was a good part of my enjoyment of playing a Shaman.
So I realize the other end of the spectrum is what Blizzard worries about - groups feeling the HAVE to have every particular class to provide their each individual buffs or they feel gimped.
I personally have never seen this actually play out except when I was in the most hardcore of raiding groups. Obviously Bloodlust was a big deal, but I've never seen a raid called because we didn't have a Druid on to provide Mark or Gift of the Wild. That just doesn't play out in reality for 99% of the players in the game.
I'm sure all of the WoW devs have thought long and hard about that philosophy, but as a long time player, I just want to provide some enthusiastic feedback that may encourage a second look at it.
Bring the player, not the class has only ever been relevant to the hardcore end of the playerbase. And maybe that's fine? Seems reasonable to expect the most hardcore players to be a bit more deliberate with their group makeup. However, most casual guilds and players are always going to bring the player not the class. There has been a TON of homogenization. I never thought I'd see the day where we've totally lost some of the most iconic buffs in WoW like Arcane Int/Mark of the Wild/Etc. (Just about every other design choice other than the buffs has been extremely positive imo btw).
It's when you let specs be a little rough around the edges that you can have all different types of players find their niche. Something like Bloodlust being spread around to another class or two is absolutely fine. Powerful, raid wide stuff like that makes sense, but completely gutting smaller, FUN buffs like Windfury Totem or Blessings just feels completely wrong.
As someone who is more on the casual end but plays with more hardcore friends, I'd love to be the guy who can just make those guys better. This way I feel like I can provide more to the group's effectiveness than just personal #'s.
Why not make room for talents like this? As a shaman I can either take a passive, an active CD, or a group buff/aura/totem. While that talent will lower my personal dps a bit, it can buff the group.
Yeah, it will always need to be balanced, and it might have to also be balanced around being just as effective in smaller groups vs larger groups so it's not just infinitely scalable... but still don't believe 100% perfect balance should ever be a goal, let alone even possible.
There is always going to be something that edges out the other thing, and a small percentage of players with the intent to min/max will try to exploit that. Who cares? This isn't what most players will care about.
I would, and I'm sure most players would take a personal dps loss to provide a fun buff to their buddies. I got Windfury for you guys! I'll be your mana battery healer! These are enjoyable roles to take on in multiplayer games.
I agree wholeheartedly with the player who defended the old Paladin Auras in the Paladin class fantasy thread. The feeling of being able to provide a more enjoyable experience to your fellow players and groupmates as more of a Support role is something that should be considered a bit more that it appears to be now.
From my perspective, I just see more and more balance and homogenization as the killing of fun. And fun (not perfect balance) is really what this game should be about first and foremost.