I'm an Unholy DK/Survival Hunter/Subtlety Rogue!
According to you, I and millions like me, simply haven't discovered the "optimal" way of playing these specs. The reason for them underperforming is because we suck, as opposed to them suffering from mechanical problems compared to their counterparts.
Since I'm such a terrible player, I'd love for some Blizzard insight into how I can play my spec(s) and get those amazing results you seem to think I'm capable of.
I'd also love it if you could tell me how my spec can handle things like:
-On demand burst single target and aoe damage
-Target switching problems
I'm listening Blizz.
I passed this along to Xelnath, as he's the one who made the statement you're referring to. Here's what he has to say:
I'll own up to this one. Our players are incredibly creative, dedicated and focused on maximizing their classes' effectiveness. That said, I've seen some incredibly talented Subtlety rogues pull off damage nobody thought was possible. Sometimes the truth is hidden out there – when a majority of players are drawn to the current theorycrafted max-dps spec – there's fewer eyes to find the tricks to maximize the effectiveness of another spec.
I don't know how to play your class – you guys are the masters there. Sometimes an "underpowered" spec is actually just underloved.
Thanks for the passionate discussion.
So....which is it? We don't know how to play our specs or we do?
When looking at the big picture of class design and performance, the answer is kind of both. I think the point is that specs not played nearly as often as others aren't necessarily underpowered. Our data may show a much smaller percentage of players using certain specs, though a good amount of the people who do use them competitively tend to do very well.
Here's a follow-up from Celestalon:
Unholy and Survival are definitely underpowered in 4.2, and are getting buffed to compensate in 4.3. However, the point that Xelnath was trying to make, I think, is that they're not as far behind as people think they are. With just a couple minor buffs, these specs are able to be competitive, in at least some encounters. Subtlety is a good example of this already: Subtlety is a very difficult rotation to play, and suffers quite a lot of drawbacks. But in some encounters, those drawbacks can be mitigated, such that it becomes the optimal spec. For example, the top Subtlety rogues are beating the top Combat and Assassination rogues on Baleroc, since that fight plays to Subtlety's strengths. Will Subtlety win on every fight? No, probably not. But they're not nearly as far behind as most players think, and sometimes can even be better. We're hoping the changes to Survival and Unholy (and Destruction, and Beast Mastery) in 4.3 will help push those specs into a similar situation. We really hope people give these specs a chance.