If you've been actively following some of the blue announcements across the WoW forums or through the blogosphere, you've undoubtedly heard about the upcoming service to switch factions. What isn't known about this service are the specifics:
- Whether or not a player will be able to change races, but keep the same faction. No. Players will only be able to switch to a race of the opposite faction.
- Whether or not a player will be able to choose a specific race in their new faction, regardless of their original race. (Unlike the Orb of Deception) Yes, but you will only be able to switch to a race that has your class type available to it. So, if you play a Human Paladin, you'd only be able to change to a Blood Elf Paladin.
- What about switching back? No. You'd only be able to switch back to your originally chosen race.
- Whether or not accounts will allow a player to have both Horde and Alliance characters on the same PvP server.
- What the cooldown of this service for a single character will be. We do not have any information to share on this at this point in time, however, we will have restrictions on the frequency by which players can change their faction.
- What the impact will be on servers with existing faction imbalances due to raiding popularity.
- What the impact will be on battlegroups with consistently lopsided starts due to faction imbalances.
- What the impact will be with regards to comp racial homogenization with respect to Arena trends.
From a comp and meta game perspective, racials can make or break a fight. For example, RMP (Rogue Mage Priest) mirror fights, teams with triple Undead players generally have a short term advantage as Will of the Forsaken functions to nullify the first Psychic Scream of the opposing Priest. Likewise, if, through the upcoming changes to Resilience, Warlocks become dominant again, classes that have the option of playing as Undead for WotF will fare better in the long run.
On the Alliance side, with the nerf to Stoneform, the 'talent-fication' of Desperate Prayer and the change to the Human racial from on demand Perception to a two minute cooldown trinket (Every Man For Himself), Humans have become one of the more popular races across the board. As Humans are able to utilize an additional trinket, they often have more burst or utility depending on the trinkets available to them. In the past couple of seasons, especially in the 2v2 bracket, this has been a pretty huge benefit as burst damage has often surpassed the average mitigation capacity for the average player.
When it comes to race to race comparisons across faction lines, certain racials tend to be more beneficial to the teeming masses than to top players. One example is the Night Elf Shadowmeld compared to the Tauren Warstomp for Druids. While top pros can use Shadowmeld to avoid a fear or other form of CC through good timing, I believe that the average Druid would benefit far more from Warstomp, if anything to get Cyclones off on interrupt happy melee or to stun multiple players in an attempt to break a train.
So, what do I think about this? I think that IF Blizzard allows you to choose your new faction's race AND if Blizzards allows accounts to have characters of different factions on the same PvP server, there will be a definite shift in faction for specific comps. This will be particularly true if players a) focus on 3v3 instead of 2v2 and b) stack resilience, thus creating a slower, less burst-centric game. Paladin healer based comps will likely go Alliance for the Human racial. Priest healer based comps will likely lean towards Horde for WotF. Shaman comps will likely sway towards Horde as well due to the Orc/Tauren racials being favored over the small heal over time and +hit aura from the space goats. Druid healer comps are likely to go either way depending on their DPS' favored classes.
Honestly? I don't want to play a Night Elf chick or a Human Priest, because I abhor the animations, but if the crew swaps factions, I may have to tag along.