Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pally Sense Tingling

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, I hope you’ve come to understand that I’m not type to post a ‘sky is falling’ kind of post. I’d like to think I’ve taken the good with the bad over the years I’ve played Honorshammer. But even I get uneasy sometimes when I read stuff from Greg Street aka Ghostcrawler, the Lead Developer of World of Warcraft. When this guy talks, people listen.
Recently, the Crab gave an interview to Eurogamer about the upcoming Expansion for World of Warcraft, Cataclysm.
The question and answer that got my Paladin Sense tingling was this one.
Eurogamer: Is there a particular class that you thought needed an overhaul more than the others?
Greg Street: I think the Paladin is one I'd say probably needs some of the most work, it got a lot of work in Lich King but it's still not quite there. Each individual role, the damage, healing and tanking all have problems, in some cases they're over-powered but a little simplistic in other cases, so we definitely want to address that. Without changing - you know, it's a very popular class, I think it's our most popular class at the moment, so we don't want to make it unrecognizable either.
His answer was not Hunters, who are having their entire Resource system overhauled. His answer was not Death Knights who are having all 3 of their trees overhauled to give them one tank, two dps trees. No, his answer was Paladins, who the Developers spent much of Wrath trying to get right.
Remarkably, in the space of three sentences, Ghostcrawler confirms essentially every complaint that’s been leveled at the Paladin class since 3.3 hit.
Paladins are over-powered.
Paladins are too easy to play.
Paladins are the most popular class.
Had those statements come from nearly anyone else, I would have debated them with every fiber of my being. Had they come from anyone else, I wouldn’t have believed them. I can ignore some random poster on the Official Forums. I can ignore Trade Chat guy. I can’t ignore Ghostcrawler. I’ve always maintained that what he said was basically reality. No one else has access to the knowledge and datasets that Ghostcrawler does.
I can try to take some solace in the fact that he didn’t say in which cases Paladins were over-powered. I don’t know if the nerfbat must swing at Prot, Holy or Ret. Because is something is over-powered, it, by definition, needs to be nerfed. I’m fairly sure the overly simplistic part is talking about Ret. It doesn’t take very long playing a Ret Paladin to notice the difference, especially after playing a Fury Warrior. If anyone plays a DPS Death Knight and a Ret Paladin, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the differences in the simplicity of the two classes, because I know less than zero about Death Knights.
But I don’t even think that’s what bothers me most about it. Nerfs and Buffs come and go from Patch to Patch. I’ve never been one to chase the Flavor of the Month. It came to my class, I wasn’t pursuing it or even wanting it. I think what bothers me the most is that the people leveling complaints at the Paladin class were right, and I had it all wrong, likely was blinded by my own bias towards the class.
I am hopeful that Paladins are given a glimpse of their new trees soon since Druids, Priests, Shamans, and Rogues just got to see their Cataclysm trees so we can see just what the vision for the Cataclysm Paladin will be. I’ll reserve my final judgment until that time.


Zebb said...

I love my paladin, it's been my main since the game came out. But you seriously can't deny that it is an exceptionally simple class to play, and to produce tremendous amount of output. In all three specs.

Holy - Turn on the HL firehose, and spam it nonstop for eight minutes, interrupting only to DP or get out of the fire.

Protection - 969 is the simplest tank rotation out there; it can be easily macroed to two keys. It's the way to go for both single-target and AOE. And tossing out an occasional extra frisbee or Righteous Defense doesn't do a thing to interrupt it or make us rejuggle our resources.

Retribution - Hit a button, any button, just maximize your GCD efficiency. Even if we pick the absolute worst priority in clash resolution every time, we only lose about 3% of our damage (try that as a cat druid or enhance shaman). Our ramp-ups and debuff applications all happen automatically, no thought or decision making required.

A little bit of complexity would be welcome, so long as we aren't too horribly handicapped when we have to throw out a random HoP or BubbleSac.

Anonymous said...

In general, the Retadin play style is simpler than that of most DKs. At first, both classes start with a linear rotation (Ret rotation starts with a judgement etc.; DKs have to put on disease effects for maximum output). After those first few seconds though, things change. Ret rotation is still pretty linear, but the DK has to keep an eye out for several things. Unholy DKs have to keep their debuffs (3 diseases plus Death Coil's DoT) and buffs (Desolation, maybe ghould frenzy) up, and Frost DKs have watch for KM procs. And let's not forget that Runic power is a more complicated system than a mana bar.
That being said, Ret (and all palladins) have a ton of utility that can add a level of complexity to play. As a retatdin, you can insta-cast FoL, and throw out various Hand spells that could easily save someone (plus something obvious I am probably missing). Juggling these CDs while keeping you DPS up is a fairly sophisticated task.

Anonymous said...

Well I dont play a DK but I do play a kitty along with my Ret main. Kitty is a LOT more engaging than Retadinning, and... ok shoot me now... kitty scales FAR better in terms of damage output vs gear level than Rets do.

I'm in about the same level of gear on both toons (2pcs sanc, 2 not for 4T10) with ilvl 264 weapon and majority BiS pre-HMs gear elsewhere. Last time I checked, Retpala was pulling 9.8k on saur and fester in 25man (spores permitting), kitty 10.4k. For both classes (being hybrids) its pretty decent damage. But then you get Sindi or Prof or LK, with all the target switching... kitty can keep up around 8k... pala drops to under 7k... even if I seal swop it doesnt seem to help, maybe I'm doing something wrong but its kinda embarassing when your alt is better than your main.

When compared to warrior dps and DK dps (equivalently geared)on those same fights, palas are definitely broken. I have always maintained that we are the most mis-understood class in WoW... /shrug, its my 2c...

/prepares to be flamed..

Rhii said...

I've gotten very frustrated with being a tank healing machine. I think (like you) I'm changing my main for cataclysm.

I thought about the class preview for holy, and people seemed very excited about the changes... and they seem like fine changes to me, but I wasn't excited about them and I didn't think they'd make me less frustrated.

And I kind of thought how pallies are essentially a one-function healer with some neat toys. We do throughput. Yes, we have bacon and hand spells and a nifty little small shield with a nifty hot... but really that's just icing on the throughput. The new spells seem like more of the same, a little aoe heal to go with our little hot, and a fancy angel trick... but really, seems like we're still going to be all about single target throughput.

We're essentially a class with no group healing, and extremely low healing on the move (hots, instants) and that feels kind of broken to me really. Sure I'm an op tank healer, but I can't do anything else. No other healer is a complete one trick pony.

So yes, I think GC is right, at least regarding holy... we're op in some ways and oversimplified in others. I guess my thing really just that I didn't know that's what a holy pally was like when I started playing one, and that's not really the role I want after a little more experience. Shaman, here I come.

chillen said...

This may be a big assumption, but due to the fact that we are the most popular class, even though pally tanks are OP (I agree, but see below), the class can't be changed too drastically because they would be affecting too large of their subscription population.

With regards to tanks being OP - we are only OP with regards to our AOE threat, and specifically in ICC: between Holy Wrath snapping up all the undead and Seal of Command proccing on Hammer of the Righteous, things are a little too easy. Other then our AOE abilities (and maybe Ardent Defender), I don't really see how we can be considered OP.

My guess is that Holy Wrath will not be much of an issue in Cataclysm (not too many undead around anymore) and they'll probably fix the SoC proccing issue or just not allow tanks to use SoC. Reducing our AOE abilities is not really a big deal, especially since the developers have said time and again that AOE will not be used as much in Cataclysm.

So what else can they do to make us less OP? Maybe remove Ardent Defender, or require us to hit a button to make it work - like warrior's Last Stand. With the larger health pools in Cataclysm, this might not be a big deal either.

They're not going to kill the class. We will still be very viable tanks in Cataclysm. I can't see them changing us so drastically that we feel like a different class. Remember, we're the most popular class and if they pissed off that many paladins its possible that the Blizzard bottom line (and in turn, the Activision bottom line) would be negatively affected, and we all know the liklihood of that happening :)

However, if they make pally tanks a little more difficult to play - I say bring it on. I always take the "difficult" tanking jobs in ICC - I kite the oozes, I round up all the adds (I let the other tank MT Rotface or the LK). Why? Because tanking can be pretty monotonous, and tanking the "difficult" part of the fight is more exciting. I'm really looking forward to using different abilities for AOE mobs compared with single-target mobs (other then switching my seal from Command to Vengeance).

The sky's not falling for pally tanks - maybe they're just making it more interesting!

Chris said...

I personally see a few problems:

1. Pally healing does not fit the new healing model, so overhaul away.

2. Argent Defender is a bit OP

3. Too much utility in ICC, (2 stuns, 1 silence, etc) I'm the only class that can solo interrupt the risen archmages, The only class that can completely lock down a Val'kyr on P2 LK alone (a slow, 2 stuns, SoJ)

4. Ret is too simple.

5. DS Still breaks some game mechanics (Gaseous bloat can be wiped, Touch of insignificance also)

There is a laundry list for Paladins; I guess I can see GC's point.

Firespirit said...


I play DPS pally as a main, and have played my DK as Blood DPS (He is now a blood tank).

And buddy, I am here to tell you that they are both simplistic... Too simplistic.

Ret pallies have a priority, of course. One skill lights up, you press it. Two skills light up at the same time? You press the one that does more dps.

Blood DPS (which will be going away in Cata) is just as simplistic. Spin your diseases up, and then follow a rotation. It is so simple, that (blood at least) it completely ignores runic power - you just dump whatever you have at the end of your rotation whenever your runes are on cooldown with deathcoil.

I will say this, though. The penalty for going outside of your rotation was severe. Much more severe than with a retadin. If you goofed up, it often meant standing and auto attacking for 15+ seconds to let all of your runes come off cooldown to reset your rotation.

BUT, I have to ask myself. Are we really looking for just a penalty for screwing up, or are we looking for actual depth of gameplay? Penalty != fun. At least not for me.

BTW, if you want to look at a blood dps rotation to compare, I have a blood dps guide up on my blog.

Forreststump said...

"If anyone plays a DPS Death Knight and a Ret Paladin..."

Well, whaddaya know - I qualify! These are my alts behind my resto druid namesake, so let's see...

The thing that makes retribution paladins simpler than DPS death knights is that the vast majority of the time is spent around four buttons: Crusader Strike, Judgement, Divine Storm and Consecration. Their priorities may change depending on which tier bonuses and/or librams are in play, but it is still the same four buttons.

Yes, you have Divine Plea to press occasionally if replenishment isn't keeping up. Yes, occasionally you will use Exorcism when AoW has procced and all four aforementioned buttons are on CD.

By contrast, DKs have different rotations and (sometimes) different buttons entirely, depending on which tree they are talented in. All three can put up good numbers and bring differents buffs to the raid buffet - personally, I like Blood's style the best. Then, there are diseases to monitor and maintain. And then, there are buffs to monitor and maintain.

I will readily concede that ret is VERY easy comparatively - and I have over 130 days played on him (formerly my main - my first toon from Vanilla), so it isn't a concession made lightly.

Helion said...

I'm not very familiar with the other tanking classes, have never played them. The protection spec for paladins just feels right to me. From that perspective, it seems tome like that spec is the one that needs the least work and attention, although I am the first to admit I am not fully informed.

I see more problems with Ret, even more with Holy. And I don't like what I am seeing in terms of Blizzard's direction with the Holy paladin so far. They seem hell bent on ramming Holy Light down our throats, making it the go-to spell for us. To me, that means tank healing. Spamming HLs on tanks fight after fight is simply boring. Spell Power/Flash of Light build is a lot more fun and challenging. Why would Blizzard discourage this?

Ret has an overly simplistic combat system. If they change it, they better change our ability to dish out damage, because I agree Retribution's dps is far from stellar compared to other classes. I have always viewed the Ret Paladin's utility as a trade off to the relatively low dps. Adding complexity to achieve the same mediocre damage would be annoying.

Hana said...

I think Ghostcrawler is right about the paladin class needing work. I have never once been ret, but the ret paladins I've know have told me that the spec is ridiculously easy.

As far as the other specs go I'd have to say that paladin tanking is overpowered in certain situations. I know H HoR is leaps and bounds easier as a paladin tank than a bear, and that's not even counting the AoE stun just because the mobs are undead. I can't think of any fights where I've thought "Wow, this is so much easier as a bear than a paladin."

Paladin tanks are just so sticky. Their threat is good, Holy Shield is fantastic for large multi-mob pulls, and they have a lot of utility (Hand of Protection on other raid/party members, Cleansing diseases of themselves to take the strain off healers). Their utility goes above and beyond other msot other tanks. Bears do have the all-important battle rez, but since they're usually tanking, it isn't always possible for them to use it (I consider figuring out how/when to brez while tanking a boss one of the hallmarks of a good bear tank).

Healing-wise... I'm not entirely why there are so many of them. Simplicity maybe? My server's littered with holy paladins. Can't get into a VoA without them tripping over each other. (I once did a VoA 25 wth four of them. It was ugly.) PuG raids specify they need a "raid healer" because otherwise they get more paladins.

Holy paladin mana regeneration has been described as ridiculously crazy though. Despite multiple nerfs throughout WotLK, paladins are still stacking int and rarely worry about going oom. It's difficult for another class to beat their throughput unless there's a ton of raid damage going on.

I like my holy paladin, but more for PvP than healing in raids. I know I'm obnoxious to kill, and take some pride in that. Of course, that could just be another sign that we're overpowered.

Helion said...

Oh, and regarding the appeal of Holy spec... I have a tree, currently at level 53 or so. I find the tree's healing mechanic much simpler than the holy paladin's. In fact, when I started to heal, I was turned off by the paladin's seemingly complicated (compared to the tree's at least)mechanics. Pally healing seems much busier to me, having to keep track of the beacon/SS every 30sec to 1 min depending on your talents, the 30 sec HoT on the shielded toon, and the judjement for haste. Maybe the tree mechanics get more complex at higher levels. How about other healing classes and specs? How simple or complex is the Holy Paladin's healing mechanic compared to them?

Anonymous said...

Check the latest post on there for a little info about a buff and also a weird change to consecration.

Wankster of Magtheridon

Jasek said...

My pally was my main all through vanilla, BC, and about the first half of Wrath; I never thought I'd ever play another class, I loved the paladin so much. Eventually, though, I came to the conclusion that Wrath somehow overcompensated and broke the class; it became horribly, terribly, mind-numbingly dull (particularly retribution). I tried all three specs in Wrath in an attempt to find something to like, but ultimately gave up and leveled a resto shammy as a new main and a mage alt for when I need to blow stuff up.

Forreststump said...

"I know H HoR is leaps and bounds easier as a paladin tank than a bear..."

Made me think of my particular perspective on healing for said instance:

"I know H HoR is leaps and bounds easier as a resto druid than a holy paladin..."

But, I digress.

Helion said...


Great observation. Healing H HoR with a holy paladin felt like a confirmation that I could heal. Everyone knows it too. Soon as I got into HoR, the tank, a DK, said he hoped I had "my game on", specifically saying that the instance is definitely very tough for the holy paladin to heal. Of note, I had just completed my finishing touches on my Flash of Light/Spell Power build (stacking Spell Power to maximize FoL output, rather than intellect to maximize mana pool). I may have used HL once or twice throughout the whole instance and no one died. Of course, there is much more to that than what any one person did, but I still consider it a fine personal wow achievement. Too bad the FoS build will probably not be viable come Cataclysm.

Cherutti said...

Designers give paladins like twenty supporting abilities and consider them quite solid. Players don't bother. Designers give paladins impressive offensive/healing abilities in addition.

What they didn't do is put that whole bunch of supporting stuff in a little box. And now we have tanking things plus hands, judgements, seals. Healing things plus hands, judgements, seals.

So designers struggle to balance exceptional players with this arsenal and average players who naturally don't wanna know about the “plus”.

I say, flush the arsenal. It was impressive, I admit. Maybe, build another, smaller one. Maybe, not flush everything. But time to move on.