Friday, December 28, 2007

Second Year Mark

It's been exactly two years since I started writing this blog.

I've been looking back at the posts from a year ago, and I find that I am much less happy than I was back then. Specialization came and, rather than freeing other paladins to join me on the front lines, it chained me, and bound me to join the vast majority of my brethren (90%!) spamming heals from the back.

Do I really like playing my paladin, or do I just love the paladin archetype?

The paladin archetype, that of a holy warrior, is really, really strong. Even a movie like Tales of the Past--a WoW movie steeped in over three years of WoW lore--depicts a paladin as a divine fighter.

One of my very first posts was about how important the mental image of your character is. Watching that movie just hit home how much I want my paladin to be that style of paladin. For a brief moment in Blackwing Lair, that paladin was my paladin. And it also hit home that being a hybrid will never happen again.

WoW Paladins are healbots. The design of Flash of Light, coupled with the extreme specialization now in the game, ensures that, now and forever. A low power, high efficiency heal that resets the swing timer has doomed us to a life of spamming heals from the back.

I could pretend to be a tank, or DPS, but that puts stress on the already thin healing corps, and that just feels selfish to me. We're already struggling to field a full set of healers. Our Shadow priest had to respec back to Holy, and I think we're down to one Resto druid. And quite frankly, I don't want to be a tank, or to be DPS. I want to be a paladin once again.

Do I like my paladin? Or do I just like the idea of a paladin, a hybrid melee character who healed and blessed her group while dealing retribution with a two-handed hammer? Coriel was that paladin once, will she ever be again?

25 comments:

Kiryn said...

My paladin perfectly matches my mental image of a paladin. Since my raiding main is a very much in-demand holy priest, I'm free to have fun as Retribution on my alt. I find healing as a paladin to be rather monotonous compared to my priest anyway.

I have a giant two handed sword and my DPS in heroics is often on par with similarly-geared mages and rogues. I've got a wide variety of buffs to support my teammates (dipping into Prot to grab Kings), and I can toss off heals to save people in emergency situations.

Problem is, my pally alt is exclusively for Arenas, Battlegrounds and Heroic 5-mans. I might run KZ with her eventually, but I doubt she'll ever see anything higher than that. Would this kind of paladin setup work in raids? I seriously doubt it, and that makes me sad.

formely maybe said...

I agree, I love all the lore surrounding the paladin, it kinda gives me the goosebumps sometimes. But wow raid paladins are def not my idea of a paladin for sure.

Jablaylo said...

I healed raids at 60 so I could get Ret gear and have fun.

I long for the days when our tiered sets were true hybrid sets and supported that playstyle.

Judgement and Avenger remain the pinnacle of paladin itemization in my mind. An opinion which betrays my own mentality towards my character.

I've main tanked everything up to Kael. In the current endgame, a skilled warrior can tank any one or two mobs better than I can. Most raids have enough tanks to manage all but a few mass mob encounters without a tankadin. I don't want to raid as a subpar OT/OH and shine at a bare handful of encounters.

I've persevered nearly 3 years ... but it's time for me to move on. Blizzard's WoW Paladin is not our current cultural definition of a paladin, and never will be. The best option for face smashing is Blood Elf... and the lore surrounding Blood Elf paladins is so un-paladinlike that frankly I find it nauseating.

The more I've tried to hang in there and make my character become what I envision him to be, the more the game design and philosophy moves me away from it.

I've been lied to, ignored, or disappointed for so long that when I step back and look at what I've put up with for 3 years, I'm ashamed that I didn't stop playing long ago.

Goodbye, World of Warcraft. I wonder if I'll ever find another game with as much unrealized potential as this one.

Macawber said...

"WoW Paladins are healbots."

I think you should qualify this with in my guild or on my server. Paladins can do things other than standing in the back spamming flash of light, you just need to find people willing to give you a shot. If you're not happy healbotting for your guild, maybe you should look for one that suits you better?

Revaan said...

"If you're not happy healbotting for your guild, maybe you should look for one that suits you better?"

Like...? Most Alliance guilds are so used to weak retribution DPS that they're not interested in giving ret paladins a chance. My guild leader did the math, and figured that a raiding retribution paladin is raid viable when (s)he puts out 600 DPS by him/herself, since the extra DPS given to others via ret buffs creates extra DPS from others in the raid. It's possible for retadins to hit that mark, but they'd need to work hard at getting gear before seriously applying for a raid guild, and even then they'd have to probably get into a guild just starting Karazhan.

Keelie said...

600 DPS is a fairly low number to aim for, isn't it? I put out nearly that right now, in PvP gear. I'll probably begin raiding again, but instead of Prot, I'll be Ret. I'm shooting for about 700-800 DPS with raid buffs, capped hit, and a few more PvE oriented pieces from Gruul's and Mag.

I sort of agree Macawber - guild needs are important, but if you're not enjoying what you're doing, why do it? This is a game. Sometimes it's necessary to do something because it needs to be done, but if that's your entire experience with WoW, then that's no good.

The problem is, I think if you apply to a guild as a Holy Paladin, you're often stuck that way. Not only have you used your healing ability to get you into a guild, as you gear up more and more, you just get stuck in that position - and it'd be unfair to apply as a Holy Paladin and then respec, since healers ARE often in short supply. I APPLIED as a Protection Paladin, and they've never really counted me in as one of their healers, so there's been no pressure at all to respec, aside from the occasional joke.

Hadrian said...

I think the issue is that you want to be the Paladin you want to be - in a raiding environment.

Raiding is the hardest thing in WoW. To be a raider, you have to be part of the elite. Having full epic, Tiered gear, and looking awesome etc. comes with a price.

For Paladins, this price might be spec'ing Holy.

In short - if you can't take the heat - stay out of the kitchen.

P.S. I personally spec between Ret and Holy every other raid (depending on who's around). When I'm Holy, I'm usually num 2 Healer, with low overheal. When I'm Ret, I'm usually Num 2 DPS. So we really can do everything.... just not at the same time.

Scrubvert said...

After 2.3 came out, 40/0/21 became a very tenable build. If you're spamming FoL you don't need Divine Illumination. If you have a tankadin in your group, Sanct aura will increase his threat ceiling by 10%. Imp SotC brings 3% crit to the whole raid. You can stand up front and swing the light in between heals, and throw some hefty burst damage when you need to.

There are a few fights that will force you to stand back, but they are the exception.

Dazanna said...

Hybrid Paladins really have been dead since 1.8 came with the class change that broke the old 11/x/31 or x/26/x builds. Since then (along with the complexity of fights requiring total specialization and the reduction of raid sizes) the game has really squelched any positions for hybrids.

The main problem as I see it is the fact that so much of endgame is now based around healing. There are so many "can you put out x raid HPS" (Naj'entus, Bloodboil) or "can your healers last x minutes" (Council, Mother) fights in the game right now that nearly everyone who can heal is stuck doing it. And not many people want to heal. It is (along with tanking) the most thankless job in the game, and almost always no fun whatsoever. And that turns so many people off to it that the few who are willing to sacrifice everything for it are stuck that way forever.

As someone stated before, the problem also lies with the common notion that Ret Pallys are terrible DPS, which simply isn't true anymore. Alliance players have had the "retnoob" stereotype so ingrained into the culture that its almost impossible to get anywhere as a raiding ret pally. What really needs to happen in the next expansion is to give Ret a really sizable raid utility, much like what Shadow Priests got in TBC. If Blizzard can make Paladins in melee a highly desired raid spec for whatever reason it would fix a lot of problems.

Of course, the Death Knight seems to be exactly what Paladins were originally advertised as; heavy DPS/tank hybrids with backup heals (according to an interview a while ago the DK is going to have some sort of "selfish" heals for himself only, a la Drain Life). Blizzard really needs to fix current class balance before they go adding in more.

Rohan said...

Retribution is not what I envision, though it may be closer. Retribution does not heal. It cannot, because time spent healing decreases DPS, and modern Ret gear has very little +healing.

Besides, if I went Retribution, I'd know it was only possible because my fellow paladins stayed Holy. That they sacrificed their fun so I could have fun. And I'd rather stick with them.

I suppose that it's possible that they genuinely want be a Holy paladin, rather than anything else, but somehow I doubt it. I think they're Holy because we need healers, and someone has to heal.

That's actually an interesting question. If a guild has 5 Holy paladins, and decides that they want one Retribution paladin, how do they go about getting that paladin. Should they recruit from outside, or allow one of the Holy paladins to switch? If they allow one to switch, how do they choose which one?

Euripedes said...

Quite bluntly, this whole problem started when Blizzard had designed one of the best healing trees that exists, coupled it with some of the best healing gear that exists, and combined it with the same class that had laughably itemized melee DPS gear and a melee DPS tree that was, at best, annoyingly stupid.

They've fixed some stuff, but a Paladin won't be totally awesome until we have "Smite Evil" going off for for 8k damage on stuff.

Katiya EU bronze dragonflight said...

I also specced Holy for raiding, however I was able to grab some tanking gear at 1/2 DKP rather than let it get sharded so now I can on occasion spec to tank :)

Which is what I wanted my paladin to be originally - up in the face of mobs buying time for the casters to kill it!

But switching back and forth is not really doing it for me, so I'm levelling another paladin to be my tank.

Bit of an extreme solution, but I'm looking forward to it.

Kiryn said...

"...a raiding retribution paladin is raid viable when (s)he puts out 600 DPS by him/herself, since the extra DPS given to others via ret buffs creates extra DPS from others in the raid."

Meh, I can pass 600 dps with nothing more than my own self-buffs, and my pally's gear is nowhere near what I'd call raid quality. I haven't upgraded her blacksmithing sword past the first tier, and most of my slots still have 5-man blues in them. 600 dps is a pretty low mark for a ret pally who knows what she's looking for in gear.

But *shrug* it is certainly the case that healers are needed more. I'm one of those rare people who actually enjoys the healing role in groups, but I can't foresee a day when there would be so many healers around that I'd be able to bring my non-healer alts on raids for a change of pace.

I'm sure that if my only character was a ret pally, I'd have a lot of trouble finding a guild to raid with that wouldn't be constantly asking me if I'll respec holy.

Deuel said...

Personally, I think a Paladin review is imminent. When Wrath of the Lich King debuts I have a feeling that the majority of Prot and Ret specced Paladins will switch to Death Knights. Sure some die hard Paladin fans will stay, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the percentage of healing paladins jump to 98%. I think (well, hope) Blizzard will see this coming and make those changes that will truly reunite the Holy Defender, not just making us choose one or the other. I mean, if a Death Knight can tank with a two-hander, why can't a Paladin be more than Flash of Light.

Anonymous said...

In my guild, two of our three best-geared tanks are Paladins. Also at 70 we have 3 Holydins and one recent aquisition who is Ret; he's recently started running Heroics and Kara, btw.

I think a lot of the "solution" is to find a guild that will let you play as the spec you want to. Now, if you don't like the idea of specs at all, that's a bigger problem. Blizz's design calls for everyone to be a tank, healer, or DPS, and you can see it in the talent trees; it ends up playing out in how people assign spots in raids.

Coriel, I think you aren't experiencing any of our hybrid character because you are healing all the time, and perhaps Blizz should address that; I know you've written about wanting Holy Pallies to melee, and perhaps if they gave y'all some kind of channelled, AoE heal that corresponded to dealing damage, and/or a Holy version of the BM Hunter's Ferocious Inspiration, that would get you there. Maybe a HoT?

Anyway, I believe our hybrid nature is alive and well in the other two trees - I have gear sets for each role, and on a typical Kara night I tank 3/4 of the time and heal the other 1/4 (Maiden, Aran, etc). A Ret Pally can OT in Kara or ZA (thread on Maintankadin about that) when in Prot gear.

If you don't like Holy, then try one of the other two out for a couple uniterrupted weeks, and if you find you like one of them better, stick with it. If your guild doesn't support you playing in a fashion that is fun for you, then new guild time.

Galoheart said...

"WoW Paladins are healbots"

Hmm, most paladins maybe, but I won't say ALL Paladins.

I love my Paladin but I've never being a Healbot and have no desire to be one. I rolled a Paladin to be Melee/Defensive and that's exactly how I play my Paladin. I heal only in emergencies when someone is in need of lifesupport healing. Otherwise I stick to putting my plate out front and tanking everything. My true idea of a paladin don't exist in the game as we know it either. Yet I still love my Paladin.

Angelus said...

There is NOTHING selfish about wanting to have fun. So there aren't enough healers? Big deal, that's not your fault. You shouldn't punish yourself with doing something you don't enjoy because the WoW community thinks it's selfish when people won't healbot them.

You aren't alone in this btw. The image of the WoW Paladin is VERY different than what game mechanics have created.

You can even look at something as recent as the official shorty-story Unbroken. Though the story is mostly about Shamans, there are parts in there that live up to the Holy Warrior that heals, purges, and all that. But when it comes down to it, he swings that hammer breaking bones and smashing kneecaps.

Sometimes I wonder if the team in charge of WoW lore ever have "words" with those in charge of game balance. Or the other way around.

Lightshield said...

For anyone to dismiss all paladins as healbots is fine with me.

Lets make all druids feral, all priests holy, all warriors prot, all mages fire, and all warlocks affliction. Tell you what, lets just make everyone a human with the same 10 basic spells.

Kinda dumb isn't it?

Seriously, the reason that we are forced to heal is because people have gotten accustomed to us doing so and the current endgame raids require a disproportionate amount of healers.

Alex - aka Firelight said...

Happy New Year Rohan!

I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for all your help you've given me the past few months.

I've really appreciated everything you've done.

After all you didnt have to!

Dont give up on Coriel. Maybe one day you'll be able to pick up your mighty hammer and smite the hell out of raid bosses again as you did in the old days...Just get your guild to hire more healers!!

Nifen said...

Everyone saying, "you don't have to be holy" is, I think, missing Rohan's point. First, I doubt this is a matter of his guild forcing him to spec a certain way. It doesn't sound like Rohan is truly being forced to spec healbot; it's just there's a need for healers, and if you're good friends with your guildies, you help out how you can. And if you're good friends, just leaving the guild is kind of a nuclear option and creates more problems than it solves.

Second, ret or prot still isn't what Rohan wants to do. I've resigned myself to being prot since I feel it's currently the best way to approximate what I want a paladin to be (holy warrior), but like Rohan I miss the days where I was a hybrid, doing whatever I had to from moment to moment (without constant gear changing or respeccing) to help my team. I've never felt more like a hero than I did back in the days where I'd run the level 60 five mans, smacking things with a big hammer, casting off heals when the main healer was oom or otherwise incapacitated, putting a bop on a foolhardy caster, stunning a loose mob for long enough that the MT could get it back, etc. That's how I earned my reputation as a good paladin among my in-game friends, and I miss it. You can do all these things still, but not at the same time. Maybe I shouldn't ask for too much fluidity, but I used to be able to hybrid well without completely changing gear and respeccing constantly.

My solution would be to shorten lay on hands' cooldown to maybe 5 or 10 minutes, get rid of flash of light and holy light, and give us instant cast direct heals with cooldowns (not sure how long, but under 10 seconds) that can only be cast on other players. That's almost exactly how the WC3 paladin worked. I don't know why the WoW developers ignored the foundation set by their own source material, but the WC3 paladin felt like a proper paladin, and the WoW paladin doesn't.

PapaNasty said...

To give my 2c, I think that even though your guild may be in dire need of healers at present, that you should gear your other specs and try them out to see if perhaps they match your mental image a bit better.

This is what I've done, and really feel that my Paladin fits the mental image I have of what a Paladin should be. I tank in ssc, pvp as ret and occasionally heal when I want a bit of a change. If my guild needs any particular spec I've accumulated enough gear through heroics etc to competently fill any role.

Personally I find tanking to be particularly fulfilling though, to be the brave knight standing against the forces of evil! dodge, parry, block then exorcise the demons from within them with righteous judgement!!

Also it's just quite inspiring to be battling against 5 or 6 mobs all at once, while generating excessive threat aswell, when an equivalent geared warrior would likely only tank maybe 2-3 max.

I love Paladins :)

saxononyx said...

Okay, I have to admit, I am a healbot paladin and love it.

However, I also started of witha very differant image of what a paladin would be. I envisioned the holy warrior standing tall amongst hordes of enemies smiting them left and righ whiles occasionaly tossing of heal and cures to his friends.

Over all my vision is closest matched by the prot. paladin but make a couple of changes to the tree and I think he becomes more what I see.

replace improved concentration aura with a cleanse aura, that say casts an aoe cleanse every 5 seconds.

second replace spell warding with Holy Blade 5 point talent 15% per point that each critical hit with the paladins weapon will heal a random party member for 500 health.
at top level its 75% chance of healing some one.

Eclesis said...

And that's the very issue that "hybrids" and "pure" classes have been debating back and forth since Day One.

You cannot make a hybrid 100% as good as a "pure" class at all of the aspects of what they can do, at the same time, or the pure class has no reason to exist. Thus, you have specialization - you can be a healer, a tank, or DPS, but only one at any given time. Because those are the only supported roles within WoW's PVE system, and there is no place for a guy who's mediocre at everything.

My first character, years ago, was a Shaman. I thought to myself, I have a character that could heal, melee, and nuke, and thus I should be able to do all of those at the same time, right? And for awhile I was that terrible noob who drew aggro constantly, never had the mana to heal, and pinged away with a 1h/shield with WF up. That noob would never have gotten into the content I'm raiding now, because that's not how the game works.

Paladins, in particular, suffer from the media image vs actual gameplay problem. Every Paladin I see in Blizzard's media appears to be Ret. They swing around giant warhammers and look really badass. But Ret is the least common and least desired spec of Paladin, because of the overabundance of DPS as opposed to healers or tanks if nothing else.

It's a little ironic that multitasking in raids is best done by a "pure" class - the Shadow Priest, who quite legitimately provides substantial healing and utility to his raid while dealing damage. In the right situation, bear and Paladin tanks get away with a little of that too (it's not uncommon for me to be 2nd or so on DPS on an AoE run of Shattered Halls), but most classes have one function and one function only.

If what you want is a hybrid role in raids, I don't know that is possible under the current PVE design. Ret sounds like it might be closer to what you're looking for, but it still isn't a true hybrid. You could try Ret or Prot just for kicks, and see if either of those provides some distraction from healbotting. Mental image aside, I find Paladin healing to be completely mindnumbing and would not be raiding if I had to raid as Holy.

Volfmir said...

I may be responding to an older post, but I feel very enamored by it.

My first MMO was WoW. The day I logged into my friend's account more than 2 years ago to grind honor for him back when Grand Marshal's gear was rank-entitled and Paladins could stomp face as Ret. I remember him telling me to always spam Consecration to get as many tags as possible.

Before I made my Paladin, I had tried many classes. But none so satisfied me as that Holy Warrior. I knew nothing of Warcraft lore, and only saw the righteous guardian of the Paladin as the only class for me. I wanted to mush faces with giant faces while rezzing my fallen compatriots.

My Paladin is a little older than your blog, by just a couple of months. I've tried every spec except Shockadin, I have three sets of gear (Used to have four, until they added the healing -> spell damage component), and I'd like to say I've mastered the three aspects of the Paladin: the fighter, the protector, and the cleric. I solely heal in raids and insatnces now, with the common respeccing to Ret for PvP and farming, and Prot for crazy dungeon runs. I'm being tried out in Gruul's as Retribution this coming weekend, and I couldn't be more excited. I have collected a very good set of gear, done the calculations, gathered the flasks and pots, and enchanted and gemmed all my gear. I hope to prove to everyone that Paladins can be what I always saw them to be: Holy Warriors. With the calculator from maxdps.com, I can push 650+ DPS with the right group. If this works out, I may taken as the raiding Ret Paladin.

No matter the outcome, Ret or Holy, I will be happy with my Paladin as both are aspects I enjoy. I hope you can find your niche with your character in whatever you do with her. Just make sure you're having fun.

Druneknclod said...

Hello Coriel,

I've enjoyed your blog for a few weeks now, in fact I liked it so much that you've inspired me to make a similar blog today... I'm a ret Pally though so mine will be focused on that. http://blessingofmight.blogspot.com/

But the main reason for my post is to address your unhappyness. I find it's all to common with Paladins. The misconception that Holy is the only "viable" spec is just killing a lot of great Paladins. I had a rouge whispering me the entire 20 minutes of AV laughing that I was a Retribution Spec.

Here's the bottom line; it seems you don't want to heal anymore. Then do it! Head to SW and respec yourself. If your guild doesn't like it then too bad.

I would never want to be in a guild that threatens to kick me out because of my spec. Now you may get less invites for instances (maybe) but you can fill any downtime with PVP where Ret is arguably the best spec to go with.

I read all the posts here, including the one that said:

I envisioned the holy warrior standing tall amongst hordes of enemies smiting them left and righ whiles occasionaly tossing of heal and cures to his friends.

Let me tell you, I AM on the front lines, standing tall amongst the hordes of enemies. With my 2H weapon I cleave thru the horde and many times will jump right into a pack of horde, grabbing thier attention with conceration spams, two seperate stuns and damage in excess of 2,000 per hit. Then I'll bubble myself for an extra 6 seconds of life allowing a teamate to reheal, or healing myself if nessisary.

I'll be the one taking the flag in the AV, I'm there defending the bases in AB and it's me in the middle of EOTS defending the narrow pathway so my teamates can pick up the flag and run it to victory.

Let's not forget the Arena, where the opposition figures me for a weak healer and leaves me alone... and regrets it 10 seconds later when I've just killed them with a great weapon crit followd by another 2.5k from a judged seal.... Don't think it doesn't happen, with a 30% crit percentage I throw out huge damage all the time!

If this sounds more exiting then spamming heals all day and having folks yell at you for not keeping them alive... it is!

If your WOW experience is lacking, then you need to respec yourself. If you really like to heal then you can always go back. But for those that like the action, you'll never look back!