Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My 'Stance' On Paladin PTR Changes

We know interupt this UI series to bring you late breaking news from the PTR. Let's go to our man on the scene, Todagrond for more on this story.

Thanks Honors. Yes, we've got news from the PTR and it's not looking too good for Paladins.

# Sacred Shield: The damage absorption effect from this ability now triggers only once every 30 seconds.

# Talents
* Holy
o Infusion of Light: This talent now also reduces the cooldown on the effect of Sacred Shield by 12/24 seconds.

* Lay on Hands can no longer be cast on yourself.

* Protection
o Divine Guardian: This talent no longer increases the amount of damage transferred to the paladin from Divine Sacrifice. Instead it causes all raid and party members to take 10/20% reduced damage while Divine Sacrifice is active. In addition, the duration has been changed to 6 seconds, however the effect does not terminate when Divine Sacrifice is removed before its full duration.

That's the latest from the PTR. Back to you, Honors!

Thank you, Todagrond!

Let's take a look at this news and the changes one by one.

Lay On Hands

This some simply isn't happening. Put down the pitchforks. How do we know this? We just happen to have Lead Developer Ghostcrawler, live from Blizzard HQ, to join us.

Mr. Ghostcrawler, would you care to comment on the Lay on Hands change?

I wouldn't worry too much on the Lay on Hands change at this point. I don't want to promise we won't change the spell for 3.3, but our intent was to revert the others only change before it went out to the PTR, which is why we didn't patch note it. We have already changed it back on our local builds. (

Okay. We can take a deep breath and relax on that one.

Divine Guardian

When something is difficult to explain and understand, that's often a symptom of bad design. We saw that symptom with Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian. The new iteration on the PTR is much simpler to understand.

You pop Divine Sacrifice and start soaking up damage. You can soak up to 2x your buffed health. When you pop Divine Sacrifice and if you are speced into Divine Guardian your raid gets a 20% damage reduction for 6 seconds. You are still only soaking damage from your party and if you absorb more than 2x your lifebar in 6 seconds the 'raid wall' remains.

The skill makes much more sense and it's a nice external tank cooldown and 'raid wall' for predictable bursts. At 6 seconds, I doubt it would overly encourage stacking Paladins, but I have underestimated the skill before so I might be underestimating it again.

Sacred Shield

So basically this change really hurts the usability of Sacred Shield for Protection and Retribution. Basically what will happen is you will get a 30s buff, and if you take damage while you have that buff, you will gain a 6s absorb shield. This can only proc ONCE in the entire 30s.

Now read the part about Infusion of Light taking it back to current internal cooldown, allowing 5 procs in those 30 seconds. What the Developers are basically doing is making Sacred Shield a 35 point Holy talent before it does anything meaningful.

This one isn't going Live either. Let's bring back Mr. Ghostcrawler once more. Mr.Ghostcrawler, what are the Developers trying to accomplish with this change?

We are trying some things with Sacred Shield to make it more of a Holy tool and less useful for Ret and Prot (without being totally irrelevant). I don't have a lot of faith that the implementation on the PTR is the one we'll go with for a couple of reasons, but our overall goal is to make Ret less tanky and the Holy tree feel like it's the right one to focus on for healing. I would expect a Sacred Shield change of some kind though. (

I understand wanting to make deep Holy more attractive. It's an issue you have been dealing with all of Wrath. It's driven, in part, because the 0/0/0 Paladin is still a decent healer.

So allow me to offer this suggestion, originally put forth by poster Candiru on Maintankadin,

Sacred shield would make a good 11 point talent in Holy. Make Aura Mastery baseline level 80 skill.

I think that's a great suggestion. AM is more useful to all specs than the proposed Sacred Shield would be. Sacred Shield feels more like a Holy talent anyway.

If you do nerf Sacred Shield effectiveness for Protection, and that seems to be the goal, I think I'll be specing out of Divine Sacrifice/Divine Guardian and puts those points somewhere else.

Any comments, Mr. Ghostcrawler?

The paladin class isn't just supposed to be for support anymore, but at the same time, the original intent for many paladin abilities was to help the group. Over time however they have contributed into making the paladin into a "one-man army," able to play offensively, defensively and heal without say the stance changing or shapeshifting or sometimes event talent specialization required of other classes. Many of the LK balance problems we've had with the class are because of that core issue. (

I don't see the 'one-man army' argument at all, but I do I actually agree that one of the problems with balancing the Paladin class is our lack of stances or forms.

A central issue with the current design of the class is that a 0/0/0 paladin is a functional healer, and nothing else.

Here's a little thought exercise for you. You have a Paladin, Druid, Warrior, and Priest. Each of them is level 80 in appropiate gear for the job but they have 0 talent points.

I'd trust the Paladin to heal, but tank? Maybe. DPS? He's really going to struggle. Now think about the other classes. Obviously, the Priest can't tank and the Warrior can't heal. But my contention is that each could perform the roles they are capable of specing into as a 0/0/0 better than a 0/0/0 Paladin, in all roles except for Healing. I tend to think the reason for that because they have forms/stances.

Allow me to offer this suggestion: give Paladins some type of Forms/Stance/Presence system in Cataclysm. Tie them to Auras, or call them Auras and make a separate buff for the resistances. Then you'd have Concentration Aura for the healing 'stance', Devotion Aura for 'tank' stance, and Retribution aura for the 'dps' stance.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Ghostcrawler.

Now let's turn this over to our audience now.

What do you think? Would giving Paladins a form/stance system make the class easier to balance?
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