Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Blizzard's Lack of Vision For Paladins

The various paladin forums have been discussing a few posts by Blizzard on the Alpha forums. Joanadark has a good rundown at Tankspot.

I do not have confidence that Blizzard will be able to fix the paladin class. So far, they have demonstrated an utter lack of a vision for what the paladin class should be. And they show no sign of coming up with a plan anytime soon.

The old vision of the paladin class shattered upon the rocks of raiding. Ever since then, Blizzard has been frantically running around slapping band-aid fixes on each of the paladin specs, hoping to get them--and for the majority of the game, only one of them--at least somewhat raid-viable.

The only saving grace for the paladin class, the only reason we are consistently taken to raids, is because our Blessings are overpowered. Salvation > All.

Think about this:

Even with the upcoming changes to spell and melee statistics, there is not a single statistic which is desired by all three Paladin specs.

Strength - Holy and Prot don't want
Intellect - Prot and Ret don't want
Stamina - Holy and Ret don't want
Crit - Prot doesn't want
Hit - Holy doesn't want
Spell Power - Ret doesn't want
Attack Power - Holy and Prot don't want
Defensive Stats - Holy and Ret don't want

Maybe it's just me, but that seems crazy to me. There should be at least one stat in common to all three specs.

Take a look at the base 0/0/0 paladin. What can she do? She's missing the essential tools for melee dps (SoC, CS). She's missing the defining talent for healing in Illumination. She's missing Holy Shield, the vital talent for tanking.

I think Blizzard needs to start from scratch. Stop with the band-aid fixes. Stop swapping talents around madly. Wipe the slate clean. Come up with a vision for the base paladin and then expand on that vision with the talent trees.

I don't think this will happen in Wrath. I think, just as in TBC, we will get more and more slap-dash patches until one or two individual specs finally become viable, eternally relying on the crutch that is our Blessings.

What is a paladin? I don't know anymore. And so far, Blizzard has shown that they do not know either.

28 comments:

Turkson said...

Ouch.

Pretty scathing and depressing read. But you may be right.

Anonymous said...

Any class that can tank, heal, and dps isn't going to have one unifying stat. It's the same with druids. It's the same with any class that can both melee and cast spells. That in itself doesn't mean the class is broken. That said, for other reasons, the class is broken - mostly because blizzard seems to be afraid to let them be real tanks, healers, and dps.

2nd Nin said...

I think its possible to make it work out, and I think Blizzard might be able to do it if they look at it correctly. The other idea is that Protection Paladins suddenly start sharing gear with warriors, death knights rather than being spell damage, so we pickup str/ap -> spell damage talents.

Overall I think we need to be reconsidered, but our optimisation when done well is good, our stats need more synergy, and we need more gear like the 2.3 chest rather than the 2.4. Blizzard just need a good paladin player.

Jason said...

You are a hybrid... the other hybrid tank (Druid) has the same problem when it comes to gear. No common stats for the trees. Bear and cat share the agility... but that is technically the same tree so...

Even balance and resto don't share. You want to load spirit and + healing in resto, and +damage, crit and int in balance.

In my vision of Unified Power that is coming in wrath. You will, depending on your "main" spec get +AP / +Def, +Heals, +Spell Damage (for the druid)

Yours would be +Ap (ret), +Heals (holy) and +def (prot).

Too bad blizz hasn't told us much about this unified power business

Anonymous said...

"Maybe it's just me, but that seems crazy to me. There should be at least one stat in common to all three specs."

I'm not sure any hybrid class has one stat that is common to all three specs.

tacklebeth said...

EMO much :)

I am happy with how paladins work right now. It is true I can't tank unless prot spec, can't heal unless holy, and can't dps unless ret. I also have a bank full of purple gear. I have all 18 and 20 slot bags with and have less than 20 slots in my bank without any soulbound items. I don't even have that good complete of ret gear. Nor do I have all three holy sets you needs (crit, haste, max +healing)

Some of the changes they are talking about seem cool. I'm not sure how it will work out. But Titan's Grip! (got a lv70 dps warrior) so I don't care that much yet.

Boudi said...

I can't think of one stat all 3 druid specs share either. I don't really enjoy my pally even though I got her to 50 really quickly-now she's stuck there. I got bored of prot leveling, and don't like ret-and I'll delete her before I level solo holy. While I wholly agree the class needs some fixing (as do most of them) I don't think because a hybrid class doesn't share 1 stat it's necessarily flawed.

Dazanna said...

*WRATH SPOILER*

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spell damage and healing are being merged into a single stat, spellpower, so all other healing/caster hybrids (Holy/Shadow Priests, Balance/Resto Druids, Elemental/Resto Shamans) will all share gear in the next expansion. Holy Pallys can't do this because our DPS tree uses melee stats instead of caster ones, making the problems even more pronounced.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*END SPOILER*

I do think you are entirely correct, but it won't be fixed. Blizzard has known about the problems pallys have had since the pally class review in 1.9, where they decided that pallys should have 1 raiding spec (though to be fair holy was still pretty worthless back then).

I really agree that they should just nuke the class, but they won't. It would be too much work designing 2 "new" classes for the expansion. They will give Prot a Last Stand, Ret some sort of DPS utility and Holy some AoE heal. That is what would (sort of) fix us now. Of course that would again leave us underpowered at level 80.

C'est la vie, Death Knights are looking cooler and cooler (and perhaps that is their plan to make sure there are enough DK's in the population).

Suicidal Zebra said...

I agree, and this lack of multi-purpose stats contributes in general to a lack of genuine hybrid roles at end-game.

As for Blessings, I'd love to see what would happen were Tranquil Air totem to become raid-wide (except for Tanks) and 30% like BoSalvation. I've said for some time that Blessings, particularly BoSalv, were the crutch keeping Paladins raid-viable and with any luck such a (brief) change would be a real eye-opener to the raiding community at large.

Rohan said...

Druids do have the same issues with armor.

But, imo, the vision of the druid class is a character who shapeshifts into different forms to accomplish different tasks. By and large, I think the druid class fulfills that vision.

Yeah, there's issues in that the specialization inherent in raiding makes doing different tasks, and hence shifting, unnecessary a lot of the time. But the vision still exists.

What's the equivalent vision for the paladin class? A melee character? Whoops, Holy doesn't melee! The only thing paladin specs have in common anymore is the fact that they cast Blessings on people.

Green Armadillo said...

2nd nin's idea (giving Prot Pallies spell power from another source, such as STR, via a talent) is a great one and I hope it gets used. Loot tables are going to be a nightmare with all three plate tanking classes wanting widely divergent items (spell damage for Pally tanks, nothing shield-related for DK tanks).

Blizzard has really painted themselves into a corner with Pally design. Completely ignoring all time constraints, I'm not even sure if it's feasible to completely redesign a class in a four year old MMORPG. Someone's character simply isn't going to be able to do what it used to anymore, and that's the stuff that SWG's infamous NGE was made of.

Anonymous said...

Oh damn very sorry to hear that. Dont know how true it is though. But I do know I like paladin tanks generally, and I dislike paladin dpsers - cant quite see the point. Paladin healers seem cool also, though I have less experience with them. But yes, a paladins highest profile in a raid tends to be their buffs - not too cool if that's all ppl know you for.

Playing a druid is awesome - I have no compaints about the hybrid nature. Feral is great dps + great tanking, all with the same talent spec, and some variations in gear. Resto druids rock too - switch talents and gear and you're a very powerful healer.

No class is perfect all the time for everyone - even a "pure dps" class could compain of getting bored with their class's lack of hybrid potential.

Also, dont forget that so much of what ppl perceive to be a class role has to do with how well players play that class. If you know an awesome pally tank, you may thing pallies are the ultimate tanking class. Ditto for warriors + druids. Ditto-vice-versa if you know bad players.

There is so much more to WoW than the algorithms programmed by the development team, thannk god!!! As a community we often make proclamations on the viability of classes for certain activities, without taking into account the person operating the controls.

Anonymous said...

I have played paladin nonstop since release and I share your pain. As a holy PvP pally now, it's hopeless to try to compete against the other healers in 2v2 or 3v3.

But I do hold out hope, even though I agree with you that Blizzard has handled the Paladin class terribly up to this point. Why? Look at Warriors, Druids, Warlocks -- they were not always the powerhouses that they are today. In fact, they were all underpowered classes that Blizzard sought to fix, and they did a pretty good job of that.

The fact that they recognized that Paladin needs a complete rework (hopefully) means they will look at all aspects of the Paladin as they did for other weak classes and bring us to a level that is par with all the other classes.

Rav said...

Apparently the Paladin will get a mayor revamp on WotLK, explaining the lack of talents on the Alpha right now.

It's quite probable that one of the changes they'll add is switch Protection Paladin to Warrior/Deathknight gear. Maybe the Retribution changes was to test the challenges on switching gear.

As with everything regarding the expansion, we'll have to wait and see.

SolidState said...

I don't get it, why the QQ?

Sure, ret paladins are broken. But holy and prot?

The paladin tanks I know are some of the best tanks around. In 5 man runs, normal or heroic, there's no other tank I would want to have along. Anybody saying otherwise is crazy or trying to sell you something. In raids, I've seen paladin tanks MT every boss up to Morogrim in SSC (in morogrim they are even more important, for tanking the murlocks). Sure, I haven't been beyond Morogrim. How many people have? How can you say a class is broken if for 90% of the people, it works great?

Holy paladins are fantastic healers, pretty much can heal forever and have an amazing effective healing - very little overhealing. There's no one I'd rather see MT healing on an intensive fight. Priests? They'll run OOM halfway through the fight and let the MT die. Druids? In tree form they lack the big heals needed to keep a MT up. Shaman? Not enough of them around :) Give paladins group healing in WotLK and you fix their one remaining weakness.

Rohan said...

Heh Solidstate, actually Retribution is currently in the best shape. It's only problem is that you only want one; a second Ret paladin is useless.

Prot has a niche tanking multiple mobs or old content, but is otherwise sub-par. Take a look at Honor's Code. He's currently working on Hyjal, and does the bulk of the tanking work for the first four bosses, and then gets subbed out for Archimonde.

Holy is in pretty bad shape at the moment. It does its thing, but the inability to heal multiple characters is really hurting it. Basically raid damage is becoming the limiting factor for healing, and all the other classes deal with that far more effectively.

Merlot said...

I think the 'vision' for paladins is fine. As guardians of the holy light, they use blessings and auras to bolster themselves and their allies, and use judgements and seals to bring wrath on their enemies. They are crusaders, and I think their abilities seem to fit very well in that mould.

The problems with the class, as far as I can see, are much more mundane - their melee isn't strong enough to compete for dps slots, their tanking abilities make them sub-par for certain encounters, their healing is rather inflexible. (I've no idea what happens in the arean...)

Aren't these things that can be fixed with talent tweaks and itemisation?

Nifen said...

I've always said that if I were in charge of paladins in WoW, I'd blow the class up and start from scratch. Blizzard can get all 3 specs to work, I don't doubt that, but Rohan is right--there is no vision for the paladin. None of the three specs really feel like a paladin anymore. The original, pre-raiding paladin as the "5th man" in a group was the closest they've ever gotten, and that paladin is pretty much gone. I'd like to see them figure out a way to bring the paladin back to his roots--a two-handed hammer-wielding holy warrior, with moderate healing ability in the form of instant cast heals with cooldowns. But the things they'd have to do to bring that about will never happen because there are plenty of people who like the current system.

Hybrid stats should not be a dirty word, but class roles have become so specialized that everyone recoils when you suggest that a paladin should have tanking, healing, and DPS utility all at once. Because it sounds like you're advocating that a paladin should be able to heal as well as a priest, DPS like a rogue, and tank like a warrior all at the same time. And that's not it, that's never been it. But the way the game is set up, that is the only way such a request can be interpreted, because encounters don't require hybrid mechanics, and there are no ways of measuring hybrid performance. I'd like to see the design team really innovate in this area, but it's not something I expect will ever happen in this game, where certain patterns have asserted themselves too strongly.

Anise said...

I think the change to make all raiding accessible to 10-man groups may have a significant impact to how paladins can again become the "5th man" or "10th man". The design focus on 40-man and 25-man encounters is partially to blame for this hyper-compartmentalization. A design focus to make things accessible to ten friends who like playing together and overcoming obstacles and solving problems can only help the hybrid classes be hybrid.

puppybrother said...

Personally, I want Int on my retadin or tankadin, so I can keep going longer.

But that is the only thing the specs have in common, sadly.

I'll be surprised if paladins aren't left out in the cold (heh) for WotLK. We need to bring value to the raids that will be more than a buffbot sitting in Group 6.

Anonymous said...

"Priests? They'll run OOM halfway through the fight and let the MT die."

Priests no longer have this problem since the 2.3 and 2.4 changes to spirit-based mana regen. I should know, I have both a holy pally and a holy priest, and my priest lasts a lot longer in boss fights. Says something about the state of holy pallies =/

Typhoonandrew said...

I was a holy paladin in pre-TBC and had the awful pleasure to heal through MC and many other places. You're spot on with this post, and even if the Paladin class has improved recently; it is still the ugly red-head when compared to the Druid, and shameful compared to Priests and Shamans.

Paladin needs to be re-focused and gear for pallys; and gear for all classes should be optimised so that you can minimise the amount of gear you lug around.

Even my warlock is running out of bag space, and warlocks have simple gear needs compared to a hybrid.

Queue said...

The one common attribute paladins share is armor

Paladins can survive better than any class. The problem is that in a raid, a holy pally has no need to survive...he can control his aggro and load up healers stat. Same goes for Ret.

If Holy/Ret had an ability that allowed them to MT mid fight to give the healers a breather they would be loved.

So lets say a holy pally clicks a talented ability. Stats have a scaled increase to +heal, tanks. Heals all raid members for 1% of damage taken lasts for 15 seconds before the holy pally passes out (i.e. FD) from the exertion. Pally must remain out of combat for 30seconds.

Give the rets a similar one that increases spell and physical dmg by 1% of dmg taken. Give them 2 hour cooldowns.

...

Now i forget what i was posting about...but this would be cool

Artorin said...

OK... I have a 70 pally and a 70 druid and I love hybrids. I really don't understand what all the fuss is about people complaining about the state of the pally class. I really don't. I think for the most part classes are fairly balanced atm.

In warcraft 2 the game pretty much the horde and alliance units were pretty much exactly the same in stats and abilities. When blizz made starcraft they achieved balance but every unit was completely different.

I think that is the state of the game. All classes have there advantages and disadvantages. In raid they perform in synergy with eachother. What is the difference between pally and druid healing? One is proactive and one is reactive plain and simple. Is one better then the other? Perhaps in some situations but really no.

When it comes to tanking Pallies have more utilities to survive then druids do. Yes warriors have more then both but big deal? You don't see warriors trying to aoe tank trash in Hyjal either.

I've seen ret pallies top the dps charts... so you can't really say that is broken either.

And I hate it when people refer to warriors as pure tanks. They are hybrid tanks just like the rest.

RJ said...

Rohan, I believe that your earlier comment regarding the "unified vision" and comparing Druids and Paladins is unfairly crossing 2 separate thoughts.

The unified vision, so to speak, for the Paladin class is that of a holy warrior, someone who wields the power of the Light to help his/her allies and smite his/her enemies. This does not restrict the Paladin to only melee attacks, so there isn't really an issue with Holy fitting into that.

Which brings me to your second thought. Yes, Holy Paladins don't melee in a party/raid environment. But by that same token, Resto Druids don't either, nor will they change forms for different tasks. If you have to come down to your party/raid's Resto Druid needing to shift into bear form, you're in more trouble then you think. Both specs can be argued to "break" their vision, but that's only because of the specialization required at the raid level.



Your mention of Hyjal is also unfair. Think about that statement the other way: If a Paladin tank is the only choice for the bosses and waves leading up to Archie, then what use is the Warrior? The Warrior would be "useless" for 4/5 fights, which makes it harder for that one class to gear up and be ready for the -one- fight in the entire raid that they excel at. You'd be effectively 24-manning.

Of course, that statement is not actually true, as Warriors are still excellent tanks for the bosses and some of the mobs in the waves. The fact that one boss has gimmicks which favours one tank over another does not make the other tanks sub-par. Should we say that the Warrior is a sub-par tank because it can't tank the Hyjal trash? Each tank has it's own niche, and it's instances like Hyjal that show how they all work together.

Goeben said...

I'm puzzled and amused -- and a little bit relieved -- to read all of these comments about the sad state of Paladins. I just recently started a Paladin as an alt project so I am doing some research into the class.

I have a 70 Resto Shammy and I am thoroughly familiar with all the QQ about how Shammies are broken, not true hybrids, not viable for raids except as healers, etc., etc. Pallies and Druids are envied as classes that have it all -- DPS, healing, and tanking potential, as well as PvP and arena viablity. I come over here and find the same sad songs, just a different refrain: Pallies are broken, Shammies and Druids have gotten all the love, etc., etc.

There are a lot of great and unique things about every class, including Pallies, and any class and spec can shine when well played. Skill and effort always trump mechanics and gear. So what if you have to work a harder than another class? So what if you have to prove yourself to your guild? There is a solution for every problem in this game, if you are willing to work at it. And if you enjoy the class, it should be worth the effort. But if playing a Pally is really so bad, just stop. Roll and alt or find another game.

Anonymous said...

One thing I'd really like to see is all Paladin abilities scaling with attack power like death knights do (even our healing spells).

That way strength/atk pwr increases a healadin's healing power, tankadin's threat, and ret pally's dps.

And Ret and Holy will be sharing Crit and Haste in WotLK. Letting all three specs use attack power instead of a mix of attack power, spell damage, and +healing would go a really long way to turning paladins into a more hybrid kind of class.

Anonymous said...

I gave up on my lvl 70 Paladin about two years ago. The Paladin is the worst class in the game, he can't fight, no group heals, and can't hold aggro a lot of the time. Blizzard seems to like the evil guys and gives them all kinds of power....Blizzard wake up the Pally should be the badass in the game, all others should flee when they see him coming, instead pallys get beat up by lower classes. Oh, he can last a while, lol, then die....hahahaha