I was looking at the Paladin Tier 5 armor on Paladinsucks.com, when it actually struck me that paladins have really changed in 2.0/Burning Crusade. There are three different versions of T5, one for each tree.
Previously, in my opinion, there wasn't a lot of difference between the paladin talent trees. Sure they changed how you did things, but in the end you ended up in the same place. Melee a bit, heal a bit, off-tank a bit.
This was a great situation for me, because I loved respeccing and playing with new talents. The fact that I may have respecced Protection just meant that I would be more likely to be casting Kings or Sanctuary on the raid. Otherwise, I'd still be meleeing/healing/off-tanking, same as if I was Holy or Retribution. Maybe slightly better at one aspect than another, but not enough that it made a real difference.
But now we have real specialization in talent trees. And armor to back up that specialization. Armor which will cost DKP and significant amounts of effort. This means that it is coming time to pick a specialization and stand with it. No longer truely standing outside the tank-healer-dps trinity, but taking up a spot within it.
I'm sure the prospect delights a lot of paladins, who were in guilds which never really understood them, and tried to force them into the trinity. Now, their path will be laid out, and expectations will be clear. Yet I'm going to miss the paladin of old a little bit.
Part of this is that Protection is my favourite tree, and the one I was planning on speccing into for the Burning Crusade. Yet, when I saw the armor, I realized that I was not sure I wanted to be a tank. Previously, I would have just been a protection paladin, and would still be doing paladin duties while someone else tanked the boss. Yet the Protection armor is not just armor for a paladin, it is armor for a tank. Someone who's role in a raid is fundamentally different than that of a paladin today.
Tomorrow I will have to choose: am I a healer, a tank, or a damage dealer ? Yesterday, I was a paladin. Nothing more and nothing less.
On the whole, specialization is a big gain, yet I think that we will still lose something in the process. But judging by the reaction of my fellow paladins, this too seems a price worth paying.
Well, whatever Retribution is supposed to be. Maybe it's damage, or maybe it's the one tree that corresponds to my current vision of the paladin.
Edit: Why does everyone miss the "price is worth paying" part?
I will miss the hybrid role of the paladin, but I was one of the few paladins who really got to play as a hybrid. (And this was deliberate. After my first raid guild, I sought out guilds that would allow me to play as a hybrid.) Most paladins got pidgeonholed as healbots, and didn't even get a chance to hit things. For them, this change is an unmitigated win.
Heck, if you look through the comments on this blog, there are a lot of comments disagreeing with me, and asserting that paladin-as-healbot is the best and most efficient use of a paladin in a raid.