Friday, December 30, 2005

Paladins in Raids, Part I

Continuing on from my previous post about the role of paladins, I'd like to examine the role of paladins in raids, and why this is a source of dissatisfaction for many paladins today. Two caveats, though. First, I'm not an experienced endgame raider, I have not gone into Molten Core. Rather these observations come from trends observed in non-epic raids, forum posts, and conversations with other paladins. Second, I make the assumption that the paladin is designed for a "5th-man" role, and not one of the three standard roles (tank, healer, dps).

There are two problems, both related to each other, at the heart of paladin dissatisfaction in raids. First, the increase in numbers eliminates the need for the 5th-man role. Second, and more importantly, the paladin's role in raids does not match the player's vision of her character.

To see the first point, lets take the standard 5-man party of tank, healer, dps, dps, and 5th-man. If we expand it to ten people we get 2 tanks, 2 healers, 4 dps, and 2 5th-man. However, the point of a 5th-man is to provide redundancy to the tanks and healers. So instead of taking 2 5th-man, let's take 1 tank and 1 healer. Each can provide redundancy for their respective groups much better than a 5th-man. Boom, we've just eliminated the paladin's role, the one that it was designed for. The ideal raid now consists of 3 tanks, 3 healers and 4 dps.

But that's not all. The need for tanking does not scale with additional numbers. The entire point of a tank is to funnel all damage taken by the group to a single point. Then the healers funnel all healing to the same point. In the ideal raid a single person, the Main Tank, would take all of the damage and receive all of the healing. (In practice, of course, it is much messier, but the ideal is still valid.) So in our 10-man raid, we don't really need the third tank, as the second should provide enough redundancy. Instead we replace the 3rd tank with another dps or healer. (Usually dps, as healers are rare). So the ideal 10-man group is now 2 tanks, 3.5 healers (usually ends up as 3 healers), and 4.5 dps (ends up as 5 dps).[1]

Here's where real life comes into play. There are a lot of paladins and shamans. There are few priests. Of necessity, paladins and shamans are forced into the healer slots in raids. It is important to note that the healer role is not the role that paladins were designed for. The role they were designed for, 5th-man, simply does not exist in raids.

Now why do paladins chafe at being forced into the healing role? Why don't shamans raise the same level of complaints? The answer, I believe, lies in player psychology, and the nature of paladin healing. Another post for another time.

[1] If you extrapolate these numbers out to a 40-man raid, you'd see that they come very close to a raid that has 5 of each of the 8 character classes (counting all paladins and druids as healers). Hopefully, this is an indication that I am on the right track.


  1. OK I have to disagree. Pallies are the best end game healers. Im in all epics holy priest and pallies can out heal me all the time. The thing is they are best at single target healing ie. main tank healer. Shamans as healers are the best group healers ie healin more than 1 person. Druids are the best with hots ie keeping people alive through spell inturupts. The priest is an all arround healer he can MT heal, group heal, and heal over time. The priest isnt the best at any "type" of healing but is pretty good at each "type" of healing.

  2. I realize I come a month later myself but... check the date of the post. Even better, read the mention of MC as being raiding content. This post is before BC. Pre-2.0 paladins were really expected (and able) to do pretty much everything at the same time, due to generic (read: poor) itemization mainly, and we were abysmal healers, let me tell you. Our function was keeping a baseline of constant healing so the 'real' healers could bring the tank back to green numbers.

  3. I found the first comment funny and an eye-opener to how much more versatile palladins are nowadays for raidguilds. Heck, it's true for almost all classes that they can now bring multiple viable builds to a raid and it isn't as much cooky cutter as it was in the 'old days'.

  4. I have a 70 paladin on windrunner. It is my main, and the only character I really want to play. I chose the class and race because I thought it would suit my personality, and I like it. The problem I have is that paladins imho have severe class issues, such as this: 1) As a RET paladin, you have to compete with mages and rogues, which will ALWAYS outdamage you, and to boot they have crowd control abilities. So there is just no need for a dps pally in a group. 2) If you are chosen to join a group scenario as a healer, they've picked you because no better healer was available. Shamans, druids, and priests all do better, and can deal quite good to phenomenal damage at range by nuking... something paladins can't do. 3) All damage we deal must be in melee range, so we have to RUN to our target before we can start dmg, whereas any nuking class can just switch targets and blam. So this limits our overall damage dealt.

    In PvP, the talents you really need leave you no options for grouping. You cannot be the tank, and you're not going to be the healer. So you spend 50g to be able to PvP worth a darn, then have to go and respec for another 50g just to be invited into a group that was hard up and didn't really want your class anyway.

    So the question comes down to... what are we good for? We can't dps, we can't heal as well as others, we can't crowd control, so what is our role? Where do we shine where other classes fall short?

    My vision when I started this toon was that I would be primarily a melee damage dealer, often a tank, and my healing abilties would be that once in a while lifesaver that came in useful as a pinch. Instead, I am never a damage dealer. I am also never a tank, because warriors do that better, and there are plenty of them to go around. So what I'm asked to do and needed for is healing, which was the last thing I wanted to do when I made a plate class character that carries swords. (If I wanted to heal, wouldn't I be wearing robes or something?)

    I think blizzard needs to take a look at the paladin class and give it something to be proud of. Investing 750 hours into a character only to find you've wasted your time on something that is generally outclassed on every ability (and the one ability you are needed for you only do 4th best relative to other classes) is frustrating, to say the least.

  5. Im a ret pally on winndrunner and i have to dissagre with the ppl that say a pally cant dps just as good as any other class, im almost always in the top 10 on damage meaters, and befor you say o well the other ppl are bad where a bt raiding guild,a pally can tank heal and dps just as good as any other class if you know how to play one :)--tolarian

  6. My main is a T4.5 geared healadin on Anvilmar server and I have no problems out healing Shamies, Druids or priest's with the same gear level.

    A main benefit of having a plate healer is to keep aggro off of the clothies. They can take multiple big hits and keep on going while the other can not. By running Righteous Defence the Pali aggro will be higher than that of a Priest but lower than the tank.

    My only complaint is that we need some sort of cc ability. In WOTLK shamies will be getting a polimorph ability leaving the pali as the only class without sustainable cc (with the exception of undead).

    All in all, I enjoy playing a healadin.