So over the past few days I’ve been following the steady stream of news filtering in from Blizzcon 2009, looking at the new races, the new zones, new raids, new everything we can expect to see sometime in 2010 (hopefully). However, one of the major things that came up was the confirmation of the new race/class combo. It was there that a terrible, and what I hoped had been a vicious lie was confirmed as fact.
Yes, gnomes will be priests. In addition, Worgen, Tauren and Goblins will all be joining in on the party, leaving Orcs as the only race that can never get to be cool. The thing is, I don’t think that priest passes should be given out so willy nilly to anyone looking to get in. I don’t necessarily disagree to the addition of gnomes though I certainly don’t have to like it, but I’m beginning to wonder what the process is for deciding which race would get each class. The more I look at it, the more I began to think that some classes simply shouldn’t be priests.
Let’s look at Tauren for example. I know that some people are one hundred percent opposed to the new classes being given to the race. The reasoning behind this can range from a feeling that suddenly developing a devotion to the light just isn’t in line with the past religious beliefs associated with the race to the fact that it’s a little late in the game to suddenly be adding cloth wearing to a race traditionally seen as somewhat martial in the past. Me personally, I can understand them getting paladins as to me that class requires zeal instead of devotion, which is much easier to come by when you’re a warrior race who respects strength as much as wisdom. No, to me Tauren priests are wrong, simply put in there because Blizzard thinks that a prerequisite to being a paladin is that the race must be able to be priests as well. It feels forced.
But that’s not the only example of new race and class combos, just the one that strikes closest to home for me. Another one that’s caused a ruckus lately is the thought that Trolls are soon to become druids as well. Now I’ll admit that when I first read this change, my eyebrow raised up ever so slightly. But the more I thought about it the more that Trolls having a druid’s power made sense to me. The trolls in both lore and the NPCs have had a long history of animal worship that fits along the lines of druish behavior, though personally I wouldn’t call them druids. Along the same vein that Blood Elves are called “Blood Knights” even though they’re actually paladins, so too should Trolls have their own form of druids.
The other class combos seem to make sense to me though. I get how Night Elves, Dwarfs and Orcs can be mages as all three races have histories showing an affinity for magic, especially the night elves. Dwarf shamans could probably have been snuck into the vanilla wow without nary a thought and Human and Undead hunters aren’t really anything to get excited about in the overall scheme of things. All of these seem to “make sense” as far as most people who play are concerned, but does it really matter? Should there even be class restrictions based on race?
This is a thought I’ve had many times over the course of all the MMOs and tabletop games I’ve ever played before. I can certainly get behind the idea that certain races are more pre-disposed to being certain classes which should be reflected in things like stat bonuses and racial abilities. But I also believe that every race does and should have it’s misfits. That “crazy” person who answers the calling of a different path, one not commonly associated with their race. They may get slightly punished for it with certain stats being inferior or racial abilities suddenly becoming useless, but that’s the price you pay for being an oddball. As long as they’re willing, though, why should there be restrictions?
Now I played EQ II for a couple of months (oh, the shame), and this is a game that subscribes to the be the class you want to be regardless of race ideal. True, I never made an ogre mage or gnome monk or anything like that, but it was still cool to know that I had the option to do so even if the only reason I would’ve ever rolled a character like that is for RP reasons. When it comes to WoW, sometimes I think that this methodology wouldn’t be so bad. It’s not beyond the realm of thought that perhaps some night elves, seeing their immortality stripped, might choose to walk a darker path of power, becoming warlocks. Or maybe there’s a human out there who truly appreciates nature in all it’s glory and endeavors to become a druid.
But in the end, the decision is up to Blizzard on which races become what classes. Now that they’ve thrown out the idea that races and their number of classes need to be balanced, we can finally play combinations that some people have yearned for. As soon as the games patches in the new combos, I’m sure you’ll be seeing some much shorter shamans and some much taller mages running around the world of Azeroth, which is good for both the business of running a game and the recreation of playing that game. All I can say is that as soon as Creepy McTinyhands shows up to the priest meetings, I’m so out of there.