Friday, June 19, 2009

[Patch 3.2] Can't Kill This

I think like most of you I’m still trying to digest the Patch 3.2 notes. I’m going to assume you’ve read them, and not repost them all here.

We don’t have a PTR yet, so much of my initial reaction is speculation. We also know that much of the patch notes can and will change over the course of the PTR.

So let’s dive right in with the big news, the change to Ardent Defender.

Ardent Defender: Redesigned. Currently, any damage taken by the paladin while at 35% health or below is reduced. Instead, any attack that would reduce the paladin to 35% health or below has its damage reduced. In addition, once every 2 minutes an attack that would have killed the paladin will fail to kill, and instead set the paladin's health to 10/20/30% of maximum.

I am greatly concerned that so many people look at the buffs to Paladins and immediately think we are going to be overpowered without looking at the whole picture. They see that our new Ardent Defender looks similar to the Blood Death Knight skill, Will of the Necropolis. Will of the Necropolis was deemed to be overpowered therefore the new Paladin skill must be as well.

What is missing from that analysis is the context of the Paladin’s entire toolkit. Paladins have one cooldown right now, Divine Protection. Blood Death Knight’s had at least two others in addition to Will of the Necropolis. They also had more armor, more pure avoidance, and most importantly more health than a Protection Paladin. This gave Will of the Necropolis a much larger threshold to work with, as well as giving the Death Knight other tools for damage reduction in addition to Will of the Necropolis.

The idea behind the Ardent Defender change is to give Paladin’s a Last Stand type of move, without having to copy/paste Last Stand to the Paladin spell book and calling it Holy Stance of Righteousness.

Last Stand is a straight Effective Health increase, as is the new Ardent Defender.

Since we don’t have a PTR there are many details we simply don’t know. Many times in my playing experience, I’ve read something in the Patch notes and formed an opinion on it (love it! Hate it!) only to have that opinion changed once we got the ability on the PTR or Live realms.

Just one example is we don’t know if the damage reduction percentage has been changed. It is currently 30% on live, but we don’t know if that number was tweaked. You see how it says our health is returned to 10/20/30%. It’s a 3 point talent. On Live that 10/20/30% is the damage reduction. I would not be surprised at all to see a flat 15% damage reduction when we finally see a PTR. That’s a nerf to the current skill and certainly one I’d exchange for the buff we are getting to it.

We also don’t know if the damage reduction applies to the entire hit that would take us under 35%, or just the amount that would take us under.

Let’s look at an example. You have 40k hit points. You get hit for 15k and are now at 25k. AD doesn’t ‘kick in’ until you reach 35% of your max health, or 14k hit points. This is known as your AD threshold. Therefore AD does nothing.

You get hit for 15k again. Your healers are asleep, watching TV, CC’ed, in Ice Blocks, etc. You got no heals. Now you are at 10k, and under the AD Threshold, but you are only 4k under. So does the entire 15k hit get reduced by AD, or does AD only reduce the 4k portion.

The second part of the AD change is also called into question. It’s basically a Cheat Death/Guardian Spirit type of buff. I absolutely love it and I’m sure it will be a wipe saver, but let’s think about it before you go calling it OP.

Last Stand, Vampiric Blood would still be better in situations where you are taking several high damage hits like Mimiron’s Plasma Blast, or Thorim’s Unbalancing Strike plus his normal melee, especially on Hard Mode. AD will save you once, and put you back to 30% health. You will still be in the AD Threshold which is nice. But now it’s on cooldown for 2 minutes. If the situation happens again before those two minutes are up, you’re a dead Dwarf.

Also keep in mind that the Paladin can’t control when she blows her cooldown. We can’t use it proactively, the way Vampiric Blood, Survival Instincts and Last Stand can be used. We also can’t save it for the hard part of the fight. Although, it’s unlikely, the cooldown could get used on an easier part and be unavailable for the hard part of the fight. The Paladin has no control over that.

Personally, I like the fact that it is auto triggered. The reactive, passive nature of many of the Paladins abilities was something I always enjoyed about the play style.

I’m also curious how it will work with Divine Intervention. Could I Divine Intervention someone, but then be put back at 30% health instead of dying? Basically, I would be giving up my cooldown to save one else, and it would only work on a fight where I’m not actively tanking something like Mimiron Phase 2.

It’s also going to make ‘calling a wipe’ a little more difficult.

“Just DIE, Honors!”
“I’m trying to!!!”

It is my hope that the Ardent Defender changes will go through as outlined by the Developers and in the Patch Notes. Paladins need a second cooldown. The solution created by the Developers is creative and fits well with the Paladin’s play style.

There’s much more I’d like to say about Patch 3.2, but this has already gotten a little long, so we’ll touch on some of the other changes in another post..
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