DWARF MAGES AND SHAMAN:
MS: Let's move on to one that's a little less controversial.
DW: Yeah, Dwarf Mages are one of the handful that, to me at least, are a complete no-brainer. Not only were they briefly playable in Beta, if I remember right, but there's been at least one famous Dwarven Mage in ancient lore.
MS: Right, I mean, if you go into Blackrock Depths, you can see a whole bunch of Dark Iron Mages. And lest we forget, Emperor Thaurissan himself was a Mage, and an incredibly powerful one!
DW: Yeah, we essentially have Dwarven Mages to blame for the Searing Gorge, Burning Steppes, AND Ragnaros himself. Of course, those are Dark Irons, but it's not too much of stretch to figure there might have been some Bronzebeard mages as well. If all else fails, consider it a side effect of studying all those runes the Explorer's League found in Northrend. Some Iron Dwarves exhibit mage-like powers, so it's a return to roots as well.
MS: Dwarves is dwarves; it only makes sense that the ability to use arcane magic isn't exclusive to one race of Dwarf. Speaking of Dwarves, there's another combination that people actually seem to be accepting pretty well...
DW: Oh yeah, Dwarven Shaman are another no brainer. To be honest, I was fully expecting we'd get Dwarven Shaman back when Blizzard first announced the concept of Alliance Shaman. The Wildhammer Clan are friendly to the Alliance and are a very shamanistic society.
MS: Even without the presence of the Wildhammer Clan, look at all that the Dwarves have learned about themselves in Northrend! I mean, a race carved from the very earth itself ought to have some sort of special connection with it!
DW: Yeah, I very specifically recall allying with some Earthen who used Shaman spells. Those same Earthen could very well teach some of their fleshly cousins the secrets of the elements -- and much like they've rediscovered part of their heritage through the Stoneskin racial, the Dwarves could very well rediscover a very basic connection with the earth itself.
MS: I anticipate that we'll see a Wildhammer Clan representative offering his shamanistic services to Magni Bronzebeard in a quest before 4.0, but the Earthen connection is pretty good too, so it'll be interesting to see which path they take.
Mage columnist Christian Belt's perspective: Dwarves are short. Not as short as Gnomes, but still short. Also, Dwarves have Stoneform, which is good for removing things that kill Mages, like poisons, diseases, bleed effects, and a stiff breeze. It also temporarily increases our armor by 10%, meaning we will go from like 10 armor to like 11. A racial trait that increases our chances for survival is always going to be a good thing as far as Mages are concerned. Dwarves come with built-in resistance to Frost spells, so that'll keep us warm when we face...other Mages. As with Night Elves, there's nothing here that will increase our DPS, but a little extra survivability is always nice when you tend to charge into battle waving a stick and wearing a dress.
Shaman columnist Matthew Rossi's perspective: I think they'll have some good racials with Stoneform and Mace Specialization (making it easier for a Dwarf Enhancement Shaman to get into raiding since he'll have a good jump on expertise) but the lack of the +hit Draenei racial will make Elemental less appealing. It'll also be a slight hit for their raiding chances (guilds sometimes take a draenei just for the racial +hit) but then again, they'll still have Heroism. (Sacco note: And something draenei are severely lacking -- kickin' beards!)
HUMAN AND FORSAKEN HUNTERS:
MS: Adding new hunter races isn't necessarily surprising to me lore-wise so much as it's unexpected given the number of races that already have the hunter class available to them.
DW: At the same time, the lore is there, and I'm strongly of the opinion that you can never have too many Hunter twinks. They're just so much fun!
MS: I think a lot of players would really like to have a Forsaken hunter.
DW: For them, you only have to remember who their leader is: Sylvannas Windrunner, former Ranger General of Quel'thalas. Considering the head Forsaken is and was one of the best and highest ranking hunters on Azeroth, you'd have to think she'd have the ability to train some more rangers of her own if she so desired.
MS: It'd also give her a more tangible connection with her ranger-heavy allies, the blood elves.
DW: We also saw the Dark Ranger corps show up in Northrend, so the next expansion would be the perfect opportunity to swell their ranks. And in case you're concerned about the fact that Rangers are traditionally elven instead of human, recall that Nathanos Blightcaller, formerly Nathanos Marris, was a human.
MS: Which brings us to the next topic, human hunters. People have historically cited Nathanos Marris' death as the "reason" for no human hunters. Your take?
DW: I don't know that I quite buy that reasoning. There's plenty of reasons for Humans to be Hunters. We know that Humans enjoy a bit of good old fashion hunting. Humans have figured prominently in all of Hemet Nesingwary's Safaris, often taking leadership roles. While not every Stormwind Human is going to be amazing at woodcraft, there's plenty of Humans who don't mind getting their hands dirty out on the frontiers and forests.
MS: Look at the sheer number of trappers and hunting outposts in Northend -- all led by humans!
DW: Exactly! Humans in Northrend appear to make their living primarily on hunting, trapping, and fishing, and their Vykrul Ancestors definitely have Hunters in their ranks, complete with wolf pets. So the bloodline is there for Human Hunters as well.
MS: Not only that, but the rest of the Alliance has a pretty big hunter element -- dwarves, night elves, and going away from playable races for a minute, there's the High Elves. It's not as if the High Elf Ranger population is getting any larger, and adding humans into the fold by having a Ranger-General teach them elven bowcraft might be a great way to bolster their forces -- as well as ensure that the craft isn't lost for good should something terrible happen.
Hunter columnist Eddie "Brigwyn" Carrington's perspective:
For Humans, here's a racial rundown.
Diplomacy – I have to admit it. I've always been jealous of Humans and their 10% reputation gain bonus. I know it seems like a small thing, but being able to eek out some key reputations a little bit faster will make the leveling experience a little less painful.
Every Man for Himself - The ability to remove all movement impairment or loss of control effects is a huge benefit in both PvE and PvP. No longer will Hunter's fear a bosses or player's mind control spell. Human Hunters can pop out of it and get right back to pouring on the DPS.
Mace and Sword Specialization – Neither really help the Hunter much. The Mace Specialization doesn't apply at all since Hunters can't use Maces. But the Sword Specialization, as small as 3 expertise points are, will help you in melee while leveling or questing.
Perception – Every Hunter hates a Rogue sneaking around looking for a perfect opportunity to Backstab you. Being able to have an extra racial in the arsenal to detect them along with a Flare will can be a huge benefit during PvP.
The Human Spirit – Spirit isn't worth stacking as a Hunter, but a bit freely given is nothing to complain about.
And for the Forsaken:
Cannibalize – Hunters are always clamoring about bag space, especially while leveling and farming. Typically we manage this by using the same food our pet likes. But now we can maybe empty up an extra space and use Cannibalize on all those Humanoid or Undead corpses.
Shadow Resistance – Reducing the damage of Shadow attacks by 2% might seem like a small thing. But really it can be the difference between being able to have a killing blow with an extra attack or instant death. Not a bad trade-off if you ask me.
Will of the Forsaken – Being able to remove Charm, Fear and Sleep attacks are great. I know it doesn't help with the Mind Control or Fear attacks, but at least these won't hinder the Undead Hunter.
Underwater Breathing – No more Nagrand Cherries! Okay, maybe that's the least of the benefits. I just remember that there were several times I tried to hide out underwater only to get ganked when I came up to breath. Not to mention all those underwater collection and farming quests that can now be completed at ease.