Listening Music: Fix You, the author's favorite Coldplay song. The best part of this performance, the "crowd run," happens 3 minutes into it. Watch it, if just for that.
Last Week: Last week, we discussed the racials of blood elves, undead, and trolls, oh my! The last two Blood Sport articles look at racial abilities from a perspective of effectiveness in the arena.
This Week: We'll be discussing racials, for the third (and last) week straight. A lot of arena players would rather play without racials entirely. On ArenaJunkies, there are lots of people who subscribe to a nerf movement every few weeks and add a little signature or avatar in to say "nerf Will of the Forsaken" or "nerf Every Man For Himself." What if racials got removed? Would WoW be better or worse because of it?
I have an opinion on it that I'm going to share with you -- hopefully you'll agree. So let's weigh some arguments for removing racials...
Cons (removing racials would be bad):
The forsaken just wouldn't be the same without those three translucent exclamation points. Before I played WoW, I saw a video of an orc using Blood Fury, and I was amazed. The animation looks so cool, and you can get it at level one! Every time I see a tauren shaman run to me, I instinctively jump behind a pillar. It'd be hard for me to get it out of my system that he can't War Stomp anymore.
Some of my closest WoW buddies still call me by my original character's name. I haven't played that character in years. I suppose racials provide a kind of link between person and avatar, especially for people who have had their characters for an extended period of time. Not being able to use those abilities that might have persuaded you to choose that race in the first place is just kind of ...lame.
Removing racials would destroy any semblance of cool in-combat ability that is unique to your race. Okay, this might seem obvious. Without racials, the only thing separating a gnome from a draenai in combat is size, and size doesn't matter in arena.
I don't even want to think about what RP servers would do if racials were removed, even if just in arena -- they'd probably make the Bloodlust sound in real life. 50% of you reading this just made your best Bloodlust impression. No reason to be ashamed. I tried too. I came off sounding like Chewbacca. It was awesome.
Some strategies revolve around getting that Arcane Torrent off, or using Berserking at the right time. If you've gone up against a good shadowplay (affliction warlock / shadow priest / restoration shaman) in 3v3, you might know what I mean. Using additional silences or haste effects at just the right time is very powerful for that composition in particular. This is probably the strongest argument of the bunch for this side.
Pros (removing racials would be good):
No fear of under-optimization
Example: Dwarf warriors. I love dwarves far more than humans.
I mean, come on, Gimli was the best character in Lord of the Rings. Admit it, "you have my axe" rings through your head every time you see a dwarf warrior (which is exceptionally rare these days). One of the reasons I got into WoW was because of South Park's Make Love Not Warcraft episode. Cartman played a dwarf warrior. Enough said.
Sadly, I can't arena as a dwarf warrior if I want my character to be fully optimized -- I need to race change to human to get that extra trinket. For those of you who scream "No! Stay with dwarf, you love it so!," while I could certainly stay dwarf warrior, I would be unoptimized, and therefore, at a disadvantage. Dropping racials in arena would allow my character to be fully optimized, regardless of what race I decide to choose.
Also, in case I didn't mention it already, Stoneform sucks and I lament over it every day.
No more race changes!
If you're like me, you're willing to spend a little bit to get the most out of your character. Racials go through nerfs and buffs just like any other ability. Albeit not quite as often, power shifts in racials can warrant a quick $25.00 race change (or $30.00 for a faction change).
The great Will of the Forsaken nerf of 3.3 was a great way of diversifying the arena community races (horde side, at least), as well as creating some additional revenue for Blizzard. Now I'm not saying Blizzard is lining their pockets with every race nerf or buff -- far from it. However, it's incredibly annoying for the players to shell out some presidential cloth every few patches just to stay competitive.
Race/faction changes are one of the best things that have ever happened to arena. Someone who might have had an inferior racial for all of World of Warcraft vanilla content or The Burning Crusade can now play with the abilities they desire. Changing races for better abilities, of course, come with the sacrifice of losing what made your character so special to you in the first place.
I hate blood elves. Sadly, I currently play one because it's the best race available for my 3v3 composition. Sad, I know. Now, I could choose another race that is slightly inferior but more aesthetically pleasing, but I wouldn't have won multiple games on the back of Arcane Torrent. That's just not a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Having a super small Thunderfury isn't quite as bad as losing a game due to a successful big heal, but it's still not exactly what I want my character to be.
If you're playing alliance-side arena, you're probably playing with a lot of humans. Removing racials from arena would allow players to choose their racials based on other portions of the game, and we'd begin to see more dwarf warriors. Dwarf warriors are always a plus.
Okay, so I saved the most persuasive reason for last. Having the best gear for your class helps you to succeed in arena -- likewise, having the best racials for your class is incredibly important.
While I've hinted around to this in previous points, let's make it abundantly clear: If you're playing with inferior racials, you're at a serious disadvantage in the arena. I'd say 1-5% of arena games are won or lost because of racials. That's as many as 1 in 20 arena games. That might not seem like a big deal until you realize that 20 points lost is also 20 points you'll have to gain back, and a good morale loss to boot. Even if it's just one game, that's probably one too many.
It's the author's opinion that racials should be removed from arena. The imbalance of certain racial abilities just don't have any place in a competitive contest. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for racials being awesome. I love Every Man For Himself, Will of the Forsaken, Shadowmeld, etc. Racials can be unique and fun with World PvP, or in battlegrounds. However, when it comes down to two equally matched teams -- and a team loses because they didn't want to fork over twenty-five bucks for a race change, there's just something wrong. Even if it's just one game loss.
I know lots of human PvPers who don't want to be human. When I look at the cons list (and I might have missed some, please inform me if I have), I don't see any compelling reason why we should be able to use racials in arena other than certain strategies. But hey, that's just my two cents. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!
Disclaimer: This column is about arena PvP. Even though the author has extensive raiding, soloing, and battleground experience, this article has the perspective of a gladiator. The benefits and detriments described therein prescribe to these conditions, as they would be quite different in other scenarios.
Want to ascend the arena ladders faster than a fireman playing Donkey Kong? Check out WoW.com's articles on arena, successful arena PvPers, PvP, and our arena column, Blood Sport.