The All-Around Brothers: Versatility and Mastery
Cataclysm launched many changes — such as the new Mastery system. One of the first “brand new” stats added, Zarhym explained in 2011 the intent to have this stat as a type of passive skill that all classes would like (but only some would pursue), and would vary based upon the specialization chosen.
We’ve now more or less accepted mastery as a part of the game. However, a few new stats have been added, one of which is similar to mastery in theory — versatility. As explained in an early dev water cooler, this stat aimed to make hybrids feel more “hybridy” — in other words, it would appeal more to, say, a shaman that wished to swap between elemental and restoration, or perhaps a warrior changing from a DPS specialization to Protection.
Same Ends to a Means
The watercooler explains that versatility replaced readiness, a stat designed to reduce cooldowns for certain classes that proved to be simply too strong. They wished for it to be a strong throughput stat — not necessarily the strongest but also not undesirable.
It can be argued now that these two stats are designed to provide the same thing: a stat that changes how a class “feels” that might be strong for some, but is all-around “good.” 1% healing or damage is, after all, 1% more healing or damage, and the mitigation is certainly icing on the cake.
However, many classes have seen versatility unveil the weaknesses in mastery. Arguably, most classes have incredibly balanced secondaries at this point in the game — except that many classes see an imbalance with mastery. Mastery’s development has cycled closer and closer to something that should feel “fun,” rather than something that simply worked.
Monks, for example, can tell you all about Mastery’s good and bad. Brewmasters like mastery for the clean mitigation it gives, but a Windwalker or a Mistweaver will do everything they can to simply avoid it. Elemental shamans see a similar issue in which it simply does not line up with other stats.
This isn’t a question about scaling (that is for an entirely new discussion) but simply this — versatility does mastery’s job at being all-around more desirable better than mastery does for many classes.
My Class Loves Mastery! We Hate Vers!
This is not a bad thing. I actually fully believe that Mastery can be a wonderful stat, but I also believe that newer things added to the game can do its job just as well in most cases.
Versatility is nice in that it gives added damage or healing without being an RNG stat. However, its main issue is that it’s boring and it does not really add to game play other than a subtle increase in numbers and mitigation. Additionally, it can be argued that it should never be a strong stat for a specialization the way that it is for something like a Frost Death Knight.
For some classes, Mastery is something similar. It simply does not add compelling game play, because it is simply X% more damage to Y ability. However, is it truly better for it to be this way, or should it add to gameplay through procs (such as Windwalker’s Brewing: Tigereye Brew)?
Mastery procs create issues due to either being too strong, or too weak — they are added RNG that most players are not so interested in, whereas Versatility is simply an increase in damage rather than a chance to increase it. The thing is — new aspects in this game have been done that, in many ways, can emulate mastery. For example, proc masteries could easily be moved into attunements. Take Windwalker’s mastery — new Tigereye Brew stacks could simply come from a chance through a passive increased by an attunement.
For more passive masteries, it can be argued either way. Mastery simply acts as a versatility-light, that may be balanced slightly differently. In other words, for some of these — the spells could be adjusted to scale differently, and then have Mastery completely removed.
So, are you saying to get rid of it?
Absolutely not! If anything, I believe that mastery can be fun — it simply has been poorly designed for certain classes. Additionally, Versatility has complicated its design by its mere existence.
With the removal of reforging, the importance of well-balanced stats has increased for many classes — one cannot simply remove 40% of a bad stat into a better one.
With the gear changes — that is, having only certain pieces retain Agility or Strength or Intellect — having an all-around stat or most secondary stats be very good is critical in Warcaft‘s design now. However, having two stats attempt to do this — well, that is certainly an “interesting” choice.
How have you liked your masteries lately?
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