15 April, 2007

What the Paladin Class Should Have Been

NOTE: This is not my work, but a repost of a forum thread by Targos of Smolderthorn - posting on his 70 Tauren Shaman. I found it well thought-out, and worthy of presentation to those of you who, like me, never really adapted to the WoW Paladin's only viable endgame role and playstyle. Flame if you want, but don't flame me because again, I didn't write it.


First of all, this thread is not about Illumination. In fact, it's not about any current Paladin abilities. This is instead a reflection on what Paladins should have been -- as defined by Blizzard's philosophy but butchered in their execution.

Blizzard has always touted Paladins as combatants, as knights wielding heavy weapons in the thick of things. They are not damage dealers, they do not go on berserker killing sprees. Instead they are reserved, honorable, defensive fighters who battle for the protection of others, and not for glory.

The lore behind them is compelling. Paladins have shaped Azeroth like noone other throughout Warcraft history (and judging by Draenei, Warcraft future). However in this game, their current implementation is nothing short of an insult to that role by lore, and role by class description.

To avoid the the bird brain attention span problem on this forum, I will post the meat of my suggestions first, and ramble on second. Basically, my proposal on how to fix Paladins is nothing more than 4 new (and old), linked abilities.

Holy Strike
A strike that converts 100% of the Paladin's next regular melee attack into Holy damage.

Crusader Strike
An instant strike that deals 100% weapon damage, plus 10% of your attack power and 20% of your spell damage.

Righteous Strike
An instant strike that deals 50% weapon damage and restores 300% weapon damage in health to nearby party members. Also reduces threat.

Divine Strike
An instant strike that deals 50% weapon damage and coats the Paladin with a magical shield that will absorb an amount equal to 100% weapon damage. Greatly reduces threat.

All these strikes would be on a shared, 6 second cooldown. They would also all refresh Judgments on the target, as Crusader Strike does now. In addition, every time a Paladin strikes an enemy, a debuff would be applied to the target that increases the effects of his or her strikes by 5%, stacking up to 3 times.

Holy Strike would be ideal for tanking, and Holy DPS Paladins. Crusader Strike is for Retribution Paladins, as it is now. Righteous Strike is for healers, and is exactly the kind of combat healing potency that is required to move Paladins out of the back of groups. Divine Strike re-emphasizes Paladins as a defensive class, and can be used by either healers or DPS, but not by tanks due to the threat reduction component.

What would these abilities solve? Maybe not bugs, maybe not poor talents. But certainly 100% of everything that is wrong with the class at the core.

The short version:

- It would solve Paladins being the only melee class without a single baseline melee ability.

- It would help bring Paladins to the front lines -- where they belong according to class description.

- It would give Paladins some much needed control in combat, instead of total reliance on procs.

- It would give Paladins some much needed interactivity, instead of seal + auto-attack.

- It would finally give Paladins some combat options that are not dispellable.

The long version:

For one, most Paladins are in the "thick of" nothing. Everyone knows that during hard encounters, any class that can heal will be made to heal. And since currently Paladin healing is all ranged, it is best utilized from the outskirts of battle, where they don't get hit. This however alienates Paladins from participation in the actual combat, entirely. Unlike other healing classes, Paladins can't even help debuff or DPS from a range.

Paladins also strongly lack interactivity and control in battle. Their combat system relies almost entirely on autoattack procs, which is laughable for a pure melee class. I say pure melee class because even though Paladins use spells, they are not casters and in fact have the weakest ranged combat options of any class in the game.

Not counting their Undead-only spells, they only have 1 baseline ranged attack, and even that is only usable after they've meleed over 80% of your health away. The only other range they can get is via a 31 point Holy or a 41 point Protection talent, and those are on a 15 second and 30 second cooldown, respectively. Now, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't call that a "caster."

Finally, Paladins suffer from a completely dispellable combat system. Their blessings, seals and judgments can all be purged, leaving them with little else but auto-attack and an aura. To be honest, it is really unclear to me why their seals are removable, when even Shamans -- who are not limited to their weapon buffs -- enjoy persistence.


Since I can't post on the forums anymore with an expired account, I will add my own comment to this. I love his suggestions, and agree wholly with his analysis of the problem. The question at the forefront of my mind, however, is what about our healing spells? Even if all these changes were implemented, the presence of ranged healing spells with a cast time would still not alter the status-quo. My assumption is that in his thinking, we do not even have Holy Light or Flash of Light. Paladin healing is thus done completely through Righteous Strike. Even I haven't gone this far in my suggestions (I favored making HL and FoL instant-cast, with cooldown timers so they could be used when most needed but not spammed, thus allowing the Paladin to do other things in melee). I'm also assuming that he's gotten rid of the bubble, replacing it with Divine Strike - something much less potent per instance, but usable much more often.

What would these changes do for the class? Quite simply, they would ensure a continuity of melee playstyle from character creation to and through endgame. Paladins would not be heavy damage-dealers by any stretch, but they would still be extremely hard to kill and able to beat the snot out of you if allowed into melee range for some time. Paladins would be the primary AoE healing class in the game, and do so by means of melee. Imagine trying to melee down a Paladin alternating Divine Strike and Righteous Strike.

Anyhow, I'm bored on a Sunday afternoon and thought I'd give you guys something else to think about besides the nerfs. Targos' suggestions really resemble what I imagine the Warrior Priest will be like which, I suppose, is why they appeal to me so much. I just hope that all the Holy Paladins talking about leaving WoW for Warhammer now in their forum posts stay the **** away from my Warrior Priest. Please, roll a Shaman, Rune Priest, or Zealot (or whatever they come up with for Dark Elves/High Elves).


Anonymous Arganoth said...

Well, what if the range on our heals was shortened? Healing range is what, 40 meters? (Sorry been awhile since I played)

Shorten that down to 10-15 each in addition to these changes. That puts the paladin "up front" because they HAVE to be...and if they HAVE to be up front, they might as well smack something with a hammer am I right?

Now if it was me fiddling with things, id make Holy Light instant cast with a 10-15 second cooldown, flash of light would remain as is. Both would be reduced in their range, the strikes would be implemented, and everything would be hunky dory...at least more hunky dory than it is now. Talents in holy to reduce the cooldown and increase the range of paladin heals, retribution talents that augment allies around the paladin as he hits stuff with his hammer, protection talents that allow the paladin to protect his nearby allies as well as himself.

It'll never happen, but we can dream cant we?

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would be amazing... no HL no FoL..using melee atks to heal...MAN..I cant wait for warhammer

8:49 PM  
Blogger Micah said...

The post sounds good to me.

It's what Paladins should have been from the beginning - melee strikes on a 6 second cooldown to mimic the 6s cooldown Shocks of Shaman, and Seals to mirror Shaman weapon buffs.

I also appreciate the idea of having instant cast heals with longer Cooldowns to de-emphasize ranged healing.

However, due to the way people have understood Paladins to this day, they would be rejected and basically kicked out of raids unless there were MAJOR raiding incentives to brining Paladins.

Since it can't be DPS, it has to be healing or Buffs. So... yeah. We're stuck with a similar problem.

So long as we say "Paladins aren't a DPS class", all they're good for is Healing, Buffing, and Tanking, and they're not really accepted for tanks since Warriors are superior in almost all ways.

We're left with Healing and Buffs once more. Unless the healing and buffing + whatever damage we do is somehow equivalent to the power of bringing either a pure healing class or a pure DPS class, we'll be nothing but third stringers.



9:11 PM  
Blogger Vaelin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I hope that Blizzard takes some interest in well thought out posts like that.

The Paladins in WC3 were as Targos (and Blizz's own lore) described - melee fighters that healed and buffed their allies. It would be great to see a return to that, and I don't think his suggestions are too outrageous.

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you quit?

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice ideas, kinda what I did expect when I first rolled Paladin.

Now I've just grown into being a healer and/or tank. I'd probably have rolled a priest though if I knew I'd enjoy healing.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. There is nothing in lore that says paladins couldn't go on killing sprees or are purely defensive. I'd get into talking about uther or arthras here, but whatever.

2. The strikes mentioned would be nice, but in addition paladins would need some kind of extra combat options like every other melee class has (ie, snare, interrupt silence/a way to get into melee range).

3. There is no way the paladin will get to the front lines in pve without a nerf to healing and either major group additions to dps, or a major dps increase.

There is no way a paladin is pvp viable on the front lines without a dps increase, a way to get into melee range, a way to keep opponents there, and a silence/interrupt.

Overall the class was botched. Having a plate class that is best served to stand in back and heal is flawed. Blizzard lost any vision for this class when it's undead killer role was dropped two weeks before launch.

That doesn't mean the class is useless, paladins are probably the best pvp support class in the game, and have been for some time. But, a class can be useful without being enjoyable to play.

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

one could only hope for changes like these, it would make playing a paladin fun agian. Like many of us probably thought it would be like at level 70 before TBC released.

1:28 AM  
Anonymous rush said...

I was really into this post and thought maybe... maybe.

Then i read:
"Anyhow, I'm bored on a Sunday afternoon and thought I'd give you guys something else to think about besides the nerfs."

...and then reality struck.

Really good ideas.. but the truth is blizz have shaped the future of the paladin class.. they always have and always will continue to slowly destroy our class, although we did finally get crusader strike. So with enough nerfs there comes a buff... right?

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been thinking it would be an interesting test/change to make our heals instant cast, but double the cooldown so we end up with the equivalent of a 3s flash and a 5s holy. The problem I ended up being annoyed with as a raiding pally was trying to go to the frontlines and either getting bashed in the face for whatever reason, or needing to heal and stop attacking to do so. If we had instant heals, our dps (agreeably shitty) doesn't suffer too much. I don't think we'd be able to mainheal a heroic anymore but given we're supposed to be offhealers anyway it wouldn't be a horribly life-ending change.

Down with holy. Down with ret. Down with prot. Up with class-wide unity.

Someone please tell me how this is stupid.

8:34 AM  
Blogger crazyflanger said...

Blizzard would never fully re-work a class this late in the game. If drastic changes were made to the paladin class the forums would still be full of whiners. I'd personally welcome the changes. Instant cast heals w/ cool downs would FORCE us to be off healers. No way around that.....

I've been the main healer in every group I've been in for months. I'd group with droods, priests and shaman, when it came down to healing I'm always top choice. Not because paladins are the best healers, but because priests, droods and shaman will all out dps a paladin. It is less effiecient in a group to have priests heal and paladins DPS, or even support....because after all...the support role is DPS and heals when *NEEDED* and in five mans....one good healer is plenty.

Since Blizzard is not likely to change the class perhaps in a future expansion 'paladin' will be renamed to "Nancy Flower-People" and a blizzard will intruduce a new class called "real paladins"


5:28 PM  
Anonymous Brute - Uther said...

I'm enjoying my paladin way more now than I ever have, specced full protection. And all you guys saying warriors are better tanks in every way... I'm sorry, I just don't see that. Our itemization is a little off, but there are still tons of items that have strictly tanking stats (stam/def/dodge/block, no str) that are useful to any plate-wearing tank.

So warriors have 1200 extra health and last stand. So what? A HUGE factor in tanking is the skill of the person at the keyboard and a commitment to tank. We have serious agro generation and taunt, whereas we didn't before.

Its true that in a good guild with good players, the warrior will still usually be picked to tank a one-on-one because of equal skill and a slight edge in mitigation, and that needs to change. But that leaves tons of potential encounters where the paladin can be a secondary tank, and AOE tank, or even the primary tank if your warrior is either AWOL, just doesn't feel like tanking, or your guild doesn't have a tanking warr period.

Things I'd like to see blizz change about our tanking:
1) Give us at least 600, prefferably 1200 health extra by the time we hit 70. Do it at the expense of spirit, agility, and strength, in that order.
2) Put just as much stamina on our tanking gear sets as on the warrior's tanking gear.
3) Make more pure tanking gear (i.e., if a piece has stam and def on it, don't put any str, and for the love of God don't put Class: Warrior on it.)

As for the ret tree... well I'm starting to think like others that it maybe shouldn't be about DPS'ing per se, but should have some very good melee-oriented support tools. They started out right with abilities like Vindication and the teir 6 Judgement of Crusader improvment, but imo this should be the MO of most of the tree.

My opinions on holy... I think that we should be slightly superior to the druids on healing simply because we are healer/tank hybrid, but beyond that I'll say nothing, because since BC came out I've been 0 holy (0/49/12 FTW).

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Leord said...

Actually, this is so good idea, and fits so well with Paladins in lore (just read the "Day of the Dragon" and "Of Blood and Honor" books, they describe real paladins!).

Please be adviced though, that many players like the current "healadin" as it is, even if it does not really fit, and there would be no chance in the world Blizz would change something from one way that is impopular to another way that makes tonnes of players angry. This is great for the ret and prot parts of the paladin.

The thing you suggest here of instant heals with cooldown is very WC3, and very WC in general (as opposed to "WoW"), but consider pvp. It would be imba overpowered.

It would need to be a bigger cooldown, like 7-8 sec on Holy Light, and unfortunately a kinda large increase in mana. Still, make it a short ranged spell, some 15-20 yards. Make same range with FoL, as some said, otherwise leave it in current design. For the "holy fanboys" have pretty deep Holy talents to increase range of HL and FoL to 40 yards, while still making sure there is high utility in melee, so this does not just forces all palas to specc deep holy.

So a Paladin could still main heal a Heroic, if specced for it! Base heals is continous FoL, and when too low hp on target, blast a instant HL or Holy Shock.

Naturally, making HL more expensive in this way would have to mean Holy gets back its 100% illumination mana returned after critting a spell, or it would run us dry in notime in PvE.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Vaelin said...

Actually, when I conceived of changing HL and FoL to instant-cast, I envisioned them with 30 second and 10 second cooldowns respectively. Talents in Holy could reduce them down to 20/5. Holy Light as instant cast, with only a 7-8 second cooldown, would be ridiculously overpowered in PvP.

11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think ret is fine like it is. I mean, when you get to the point that your pally is a gatherer ret is the only way to go.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Kaziel said...

I just hope that all the Holy Paladins talking about leaving WoW for Warhammer now in their forum posts stay the **** away from my Warrior Priest. Please, roll a Shaman, Rune Priest, or Zealot (or whatever they come up with for Dark Elves/High Elves).

When did Holy Paladins, those of us who enjoy the job of being a healer, but prefer being in plate, become the enemy. When did we stop being comrades who enjoy a different playing style, and become keepers of a status quo that you hate and feel must be destroyed for you to enjoy your play style?

Looking back to your posts in March, Vaelin, it seemed to me that you were advocating not the destruction of the current Holy Paladin style of play, but the enhancement of a style of play that focused on dealing damage to heal, or some variant of that (akin to the planned idea for Warrior Priests of WAR). I found the idea of everyone getting what they wanted a noble cause.

But now it seems to you that those who do not stand with you, oppose you. This could not be further from the truth. I want Ret Paladins to have a place in raids and not just a token "We'll bring one if we can't get a Holy Paladin" place, but people thinking "Man... totally gotta bring a Ret Paladin as well as a Holy Paladin, and Prot Paladins for tanking!"

10:51 PM  
Blogger Vaelin said...

Back in March, I was still paying to play the game. I believed, somewhat naively, that it was possible for everyone to have what they wanted in the Paladin class. Since that time, I've canceled my WoW account and come face to face with some harsh realities.

1) The Paladin class, especially since the Horde got Paladins, has become infested by players who rolled one explicitly to be a healer - namely Horde Priests (understandably) unhappy with their crappy Holy tree. At game launch (when I started and rolled a Paladin), suggesting to someone that they roll a Paladin to be a main healer would have made you sound like an idiot.

2) As long as the Paladin CAN spam heals with a cast time, they WILL. The only way to effectively change how the class is played and provide ANY viability for a meleeing Paladin is to fundamentally alter this mechanic, or buff other trees to an absurd level such that even the most hardcore raiders actually want to bring a Paladin to hit things.

3) Blizzard has too much time and money invested, and too much pride to admit they completely jacked up the "holy warrior" archetype, and efforts to bring it back as such are futile. Yes, I'm a little bitter, but much less so now that I'm not paying Blizzard to continue cramming the Paladin into the healing pigeonhole.

4) Right after it became clear that the "alleged" nerfs to Holy Paladins were true, many of the formerly elitist Holy Paladins started talking about how they were now looking at Warhammer. While I'm sure such comments were intended merely to spite Blizzard (in vain, seeing has now nobody working for them ever reads the class forums anymore), the very last thing I want is some of them actually following through and flooding the ranks of the Warrior Priest - lobbying Mythic to turn it into another cleric.

I was really hoping Holy stayed strong. That way, every Paladin player could have what they wanted - just not all in the same game. Players who wanted a priest in plate could play WoW. Players who wanted to be a Paladin tank could form their own guilds, deny or restrict Warrior recruits, and play WoW. Players who wanted to smash things and help their teammates in the process could roll Warrior Priests and play Warhammer Online.

The Paladin Holy nerf was stupid. Holy Priests didn't get much in the way of buffs (lol, binding heal). Prot and Ret got sidesteps, but no real buffs.

I'm sorry if my posts make you feel guilty about playing with a Holy spec. Many such players are just making the best of the situation. Most of my fury is aimed at those with the "spec to heal or quit the class" mentality. I think a lot of them need to go retake Paladins 101 (Blizzard included).

9:41 AM  

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