Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Price of Specialization

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[1] ? 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.

[1]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.

6 comments:

Proudfoot said...

The reason that paladins were looked at in a certain way was in part due to talents and in part to lack of itemization for other specs. You could spec ret if you wanted to but that didn't make lawbringer any good at doing dmg. You could spec protection but the talents sucked (for tanking) and there was no armor to support it. Now there is and the choice is yours if you would like to choose one of the new roles or stick to the healer role.

Anonymous said...

No offense because I really like your blog, but it seems to me that paladins complain more than any other class in WOW. You guys are pissed because of your hybrid roles in raids, but now that Blizz gives you some options, your going to complain about that too. I think the Paladin class is for indecisive people in general, hence why they aren't in high demand for raids.

Thoma said...

What hyrbid role in raids? In raids we can heal. That's it. Maybe off-tank a bit of trash. But our primary, unescapable job was healing and decursing. That's what pissed alot of us off. We got pigeonholed into a single role without any choice.

GSH said...

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.

Doeg said...

Specialization also brings up another issue:
There are already classes that probably tank better (warrior), probably heal better (priest), and you can take your pick for dealing damage (no lack there).

So it will be very interesting to see how the class roles play out in the BC instance / raid environment.
For some reason - presumably endgame instance / raid design - Blizz deemed it necessary to give the pally class to Horde and shammy class to Alliance.
My guess is that those people who played both Alliance and Horde endgames saw a pretty big difference in how raids went because of the pally / shammy difference.

The big remaining question is, "Why the class swap?"
Especially since most people probably would have rather seen a new class like Monk (or something; anything *new*).

I know a few people who want to try an Alliance shammy or Horde pally, but it will remain to be seen how many people will stick it out to the point of level-70 raider. I suspect that it will take quite a while for the gap to close. Though there may be some incentive to 'get there first' and represent a class that, for a time at least, will be rarer than even raiding priests.

I'm very curious as to how it will play out.

Lightshield said...

@ Anonymous (28 Dec 07)
Uh, yeah we complain a lot. The reason is because when most of us made paladins (horde excluded) we envisioned a front line fighter with healing ability. We had NO CLUE that we were making a class that was forced to heal due to average tanking ability and subpar DPS.

In addition, your comment "the Paladin class is for indecisive people" is entirely inaccurate. We like to maintain our flexibility and that flexibilty (along with our buffs/auras)are why paladins ARE in high demand for raids.