According to Lead Developer Kalgan, Blizzard determines the necessity of PvP-based nerfs based on class representation in Arenas and their overall population relative to that of other classes:
One of the things we look at is class representation in arenas (although normalized for class popularity). In this particular chart, a value of 100% means the class is represented as we’d expect, a value over 100% means the class is represented that much more often than we’d expect, a value below 100% means they’re represented less than we’d want (obviously this chart doesn’t include a spec breakdown in any way).
2v2 3v3 5v5 Druid 276.0% 184.0% 80.5% Hunter 43.0% 50.2% 43.0% Mage 8.7% 96.0% 96.0% Paladin 19.7% 29.5% 147.4% Priest 113.3% 164.8% 185.4% Shaman 37.8% 50.4% 138.6% Rogue 144.2% 175.1% 61.8% Warlock 149.2% 93.2% 111.9% Warrior 130.4% 90.7% 79.3%
Edit: one other detail regarding the chart, this one is set at 2200+ rating.
He later responds to a request for the chart relevant to the 1850 rating with the following:
2v2 3v3 5v5 Druid 184.0% 138.0% 92.0% Hunter 50.2% 50.2% 50.2% Mage 61.1% 87.3% 87.3% Paladin 68.8% 88.4% 137.6% Priest 133.9% 133.9% 154.5% Shaman 75.6% 88.2% 138.6% Rogue 154.5% 154.5% 82.4% Warlock 121.2% 102.5% 102.5% Warrior 90.7% 85.0% 85.0%
What this essentially means is that the high number of highly-ranked Druids in 2v2 and 3v3 brackets relative to the low number of players who have play Druids (ostensibly at level 70) has lead Blizzard to conclude that they needed to balance us in the other direction. At the same time, our low overall population makes our second-to-last place in 5v5 — purportedly the most competitive of brackets — seem less egregious in their eyes. Shouldn’t the fact that our class is so low in overall population have lead them to one or more conclusions about our overall viability — in both PvE and PvP? And honestly, shouldn’t the fact that we can play four different, mostly distinct roles (healer, melee DPS, magical DPS, tanking) lead one to expect a higher than average class population? And really, by this "logic" when all the Druids ranked 2199 or lower reroll because they are unhappy with their class and its recent nerfs, we’ll continue to get nerfed.
In defense of outcries at the low "OPness" ratings for Warriors relative to player perception, Kalgan explains:
There are lots of warriors. Considering how many there are, fewer of them than one might expect are super-successful in 5v5.
That doesn’t necessarily mean we’d buff them for 5v5. We aren’t slaves to the charts, they just help inform our decisions. =]
And finally, two more quotes from Kalgan related to Druids:
Synergy definitely plays into the results. In addition, there are also all kinds of class relationships that come into play. For example, in most cases we’d expect that the over-representation of Druids in 2v2 accounts somewhat for the underrepresentation of Paladins, and probably also contributes to the Mage 2v2 effect.
We certainly do take [PvP specs] into account. For example, we aren’t bamboozled by the numbers into thinking Shadow Priests or Feral Druids (for example) are where they need to be. That being said, players can change specs more easily than they can change classes, so we do view class balance as being more important than spec balance (not that spec balance isn’t important too).
Overall, very bad news for Druids. Blizzard obviously sees no reason to redress issues with our class in 5v5 brackets, despite the general propensity of top PvP players to create, level, and gear the characters that work the best rather than play the first character they created and took through Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, etc. out of a sense of attachment. By balancing classes based upon relative population — especially in the highest brackets — they are completely discounting a core property that makes these players tick.
This is the first time Blizzard has given any indication this is how they strive for class "balance." Most of us assumed that they were trying to balance class representations overall. One has to wonder if our lower class population hasn’t lead them to be comfortable with the relative — and increasing — undesirability of Druids in endgame 25-man raids.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with an interesting bit of analysis from Akala of Arygos (US). He did the work; I’m just pleased to bring it to your attention:
165 Druids with 2200+ ranking in the 2v2 bracket = 276% In other words you expect 60 Druids at that ranking.
192 Warriors with 2200+ ranking in the 2v2 bracket = 130% In other words you expect 148 Warriors at that ranking.
That’s a 3-to-1 ratio. Based on Wow Census numbers for every level 70 Druid there are 1.4 level 70 warriors. Seems a little screwed up to me.
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