the skillcap is just fucking massive so tier lists won't matter until it's top 20-30 players in the world playing each other
and even then shit is still winnable. although even something like street fighter every character has horrible and really good match ups
While I agree with you, you can hardly deny his point about gameplay options and variation with a much more limited skillset.
I wrote this over like 3-4 breaks in work so might've lost track of what i was writing halfway through. Hopes it makes some sense.
Another thing I think most people overlook when hating on ability pruning is why they dont like it. When you get to the core of it, the issue isn't really that you have fewer abilities but that those abilities doesn't have enough impact individually. I realise most of the abilities players are missing are utility, but it's easier to explain with dmg abilities. If you have 10 different dmg abilities with different priorities, I think most people feel like each keypress is more significant than if you had 3 even if the overall dmg is the same. This is because 1) There's is more things to keep track of and occupy your mind, and 2) The added dmg from executing your dmg properly is more obvious. While this makes the game feel less passive it's a trap and creates it's own issues. I played ele blast all of mop despite unleash being better because while ele blast had its obvious flaws, being able to reliably have significant impact on the game every 15sec was more fun than mindlessly pressing the same button and hope something happened. So when everyone is complaining about ability pruning and the game being too dumped down, I think what they're really trying to say is that they dont feel like they have a large enough impact on the game. Designing the game to make each individual ability more meaningful is the way to go.
If every ability, and therefore gcd, have a larger effect on the game pvp would seem faster faced and reduce a lot of the rock/paper/scissor of arena, because reacting faster and correctly to the enemy becomes more important. Easy things to do to improve this is reducing the amount and power of cds, while increasing the power of frequently used abilities.
Amount of cds:
Imo the main problem with the amout of cds is with defensives. Almost no dps specs should have more than 1 significant defensive cd. Spriest is well designed in regards to that in my opinion. They have 1 significant defensive cd, disperse, and a short cd weaker defensive, guise or fade or whatever.
Disperse will almost always save them but without resetting the game because they wont be fine if they get cloned, or their healer sits cc, for the duration of it. They also cant pop it mindlessly while counter pressuring because, unlike cds a la die by the sword, because it has an offensive tradeoff. Besides disperse they have a weaker and shorter cd defensive, fade or guise. Ideally they should only have 1 small cd instead of 2, but because guiseing to avoid dmg makes it quite a lot harder to get fears, and the dmg reduction from fade being a glyph, it works out alright. You could argue that we shouldnt the shorter cd defensives, but imo having a small cd that wont really save you vs significant dmg but lets you react to minor rng streaks is one of the few cases where pressing a less impactful ability feels good and reassuring, even though im completely contradicting the rest of my post.
An example of a poorly designed defensive, imo, is survival instincts. because it has 2 charges and can be popped with no trade off in pressure or mobility or anything. One of the main issues with having multiple defensives, or defensives with charges, on a dps spec is being able to chain them, or use them within a short time of each other. Between that and trinket and your healers trinket and his cds and your other dps's peels you'll rarely run out of cds if you rotate them properly. This, and the fact that you're not sacrificing pressure or anything else, encourages mindlessly popping a cd without judging the situation, if you take any kind of significant dmg, and makes it harder to punish ppl for wasting their defensives.
Power of cds:
While the key issue with the amount of cds is mostly defensives, for power of cds it's mainly offensives. Reducing the amount of defensive cds without reducing the power of offensive cds would result in trading cds by default, which makes the offensive and defensive cd irrelevant since neither will have an impact on the match. Therefore reducing the power of offensive cds is needed so that they can be dealt with by other means by outplaying your opponents.
For example as ele shaman vs godcomp back when deep was used on kill target. Say the godcomp landed some cc on your healer and go for kill, the proper scenario should be something along the lines of: they land the deep on the shaman and probably some cross cc on shamans other teammate. The godcomp pops offensives and the shaman and his healer doesnt have a trinket and at least 1 significant cd, that should be kill. However if the shaman manages the ground the deep and maybe interrupt a sheep for his teammate he should be able to live for a reasonable amount of time with just his small cd and some peels. Sham rage is a bit in between significant and small cd imo because unlike disperse it should definitely be possible to kill through sham rage but it shouldnt be worth it to tunnel through without giving a fuck. The bad scenario without reducing power of offensive cds would be that the dmg from the cds is so high that healer and/or shaman instantly pops their significant cds/trinkets regardless of the grounded deep and stopped cc.
Increasing the power of frequently used abilities:
By frequently used abilities i dont mean lava burst or shred, but short cd reliable dmg/healing increases like unleash, ele blast or swiftmend. The main focus for this should allow almost everyone to deal a reliably increased amount of dmg frequently, but not repeatedly. Ideally it would be different abilities buffing each other to increase your options for how to deliver your healing/dmg and make it feel different than just pressing a harder hitting version of your filler ability. They should also have some kind of downside as well, forcing you to hardcast or losing a small amount of sustained dmg.
Lets do another ele shaman example: Ele blast is 12sec cd, unleash is 15sec cd and lava burst might as well have 0 because of the procs. Unleash gives a 40% dmg increase to the next fire spell, but its consumed at the end of the cast so if you use your unleash and then cast a spell while doing an instant just as the cast ends both get the 40% increase. Ele blast, while elemental dmg, is affected by unleash. So every 15sec you can do a eleblast+lava burst both dealing 40% extra dmg. This is enough of an increase to have a meaningful impact on the game without being super frustrating to play against because while it's quite a chunk of dmg you have no way to repeat it more often than 15sec cause you're limited by the unleash cd. Imo this is a good mechanic because you sacrifice a little sustained, mobility and leaves you vulnerable to interrupts, for the extra burst. You could argue that there's no reason for lava burst to be in that burst "rotation", then fix unleash to only affect first spell and leave it at unleash+ele blast. I think including lava burst has benefits though. First of all because lava burst is 100% crit it reduces the dmg range of the burst so it's easier to balance for being significant without 1 shotting, but it also forces you think slightly more about when you're using your lava bursts, adds another way to reduce the burst (purging the proc) and makes it slightly less trivial to set up(very little with the amount of procs you get, but more on that later).
Another good example of this kind would be back when mages were novaing someone to shatter them with frostbolt+lance. Again, sacrifice some mobility and leaves you open to interrupt, and in this case a root, for some extra dmg. With this combination again, you're limited by one of the abilities cd, nova, and thus cant just spam the extra dmg.
While i dont know how big of an issue that is for other classes, the frequency of procs is also way to high. i'd rather see lava burst hitting slightly harder and then reduce the proc chance to half of what it is currently. depending on how much the dmg is buffed, you might have to put a 2-3sec icd on the proc though to prevent stupid dmg on lucky streaks. Lava burst especially is an ability that has had its impact reduced greatly every expansion since it was introduced. Im not saying we should go back to it hitting as hard as it did in wotlk, but surely a middle ground could be found. Though i assume one of the biggest reasons it has ended where it is though, is pve with only 1 flame shock up isnt getting that many procs while in arena you'll often have 5 flame shock up.
Obviously there's a ton more things to do, but those are easy ones that would go a long way imo.
If done right each spec would probably the same or less abilities than now, but feel less passive. I also think it would shift the meta to a playstyle i personally find more fun.
The biggest reason people feel like the game is being dumped down and complain about ability pruning has less to do with ability pruning, but more to do with the fact that each individual ability doesnt have a big enough impact on a game.