Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What is a Paladin?

If you look on the Blizzard paladin class forums, you'll see a lot of unhappy paladins. They feel that we are unable to tank, or do damage, or even heal effectively. They feel that in the endgame the paladin is reduced to a mediocre "buffbot", who's sole purpose is to provide buffs to other classes who do the real work.

There is some truth to these complaints.

However, I think that the problem with paladins goes deeper than this. The paladin class is not underpowered, in my view. The problem is that it is designed for a different game than the one that exists. The paladin class is designed for levels 1-59 5-man PvE. It simply has not made a successful transition into PvP or raiding.

To see my point, remove the paladin and shaman, and take a look at the other classes in WoW. There is a lot of symmetry in place. We have one tanking class (warrior), one healing class (priest), four DPS classes (mage, warlock, rogue, hunter), and one "replacement" hybrid class (druid). The reason I call the druid a replacement hybrid is because they can replace any other class, but not the same time. If you don't have a warrior, substitute a druid. If you don't have a priest, substitute a druid.

It's reasonably clear that Blizzard intends a 5-man party to have one healer, one tank, and some DPS. But where does the paladin and shaman fit in this scheme? In my opinion, they are meant to be a "5th-man" class. Like the druid, they are a hybrid class. Unlike the druid, they cannot fully replace the warrior or priest. However, in my experience, the combination of "tank, healer, 5th-man" is stronger than either "tank, tank, healer" or "tank, healer, healer". They do this by providing necessary redundancy to both tank and healer, at the same time. They cannot replace the first tank or healer, but they can replace the second tank or healer.

So, in summary, the ideal 5-man party is "tank, healer, dps, dps, 5th-man". The paladin and shaman are designed as 5th-man classes, and are not intended to replace any of the other three roles.

In my experience, Blizzard has nailed the mark here. Playing my Paladin in a 5-man instance is a complete blast, and is a ton of fun.

The problem is that the game has expanded to more than 5-man instances. More thoughts on this to come later.


  1. I've seen paladins do a pretty effective job in pvp battlegrounds as "floaters," teamed up with heavy DPS (mostly rogue) players.

    Otherwise, I like your ideas, and I'm going to direct the paladins in my guild here to see what they think.

  2. Paladins in PvP are an interesting issue. I'm a Knight-Lieutenant, so I do have a fair bit of experience with PvP.

    In my view, if a paladin is being effective on the battleground, it is more a sign that the Horde team is weak or unbalanced, rather than any strength of the paladin.

    I'm planning to write up my thoughts in more detail though.

  3. Well said and thought out, explaining the Paladins role perfectly. And actually I will be switching to a Protection/Healer Paladin, because while my paliden does very well in BG agianst all classes except hunters with most emphasis on Retrabution Talents, I feel i can better help my guild and other parties by letting them do the damage while i give assistance. I like being the knight in shinning armor.

  4. pallys can do very well as primary healers with the right shit

  5. this is a very misdirected page because I have main healed through many of games harder bosses. Pally is designed for single target heals. My holy light (rank 11) does over 8000 heal on crits and my flash of light crits for nearly 2700 (rank 6) Pallys in my opinion can take big hits while keeping parties membes and a tank alive with improved concentration aura easily. Also I would not try to make my pally as the one posted on the page most of the T4s that gamer wears isn't as good as actual arena gear except for the helm it is better. Pallys can also effectively off-tank a large qaunity of mobs if specd properly to keep healers from gaining agro from lazy mages shadow preist etc. paladin; the backbone of a raid, main healer, off tank, main tank, dies slow, and can kick your ass.

  6. I feel that you're comments explaining what a healing paladin does are a rather moot point.
    Look at the gear of the Picture of "Coriel" his/her paladin.
    It's obviously a healer.

  7. hey man,

    i read youre blog about the palading and where it stands in raiding. i must say i agree on some points (im 70 druid myself) but there are some other things that i find totally not treu, in my eyes paladins are great healers in 25 and 5 man instances also a paladin is perfectly capable of tanking i even prefer paladin tanks above anything else theye build massive aggro and can aoe tank better than anything else. i would like to talk to you sometimes you seem a nice guy add me on msn or something (

    yours faithfully,
    70 NE druid Quel'thalas

  8. paladins complaining about not being affective in dps,healing,tanking is kind of ridiculous. The one complaint about being a paladin is that you have to rely on gear alot espically as holy, and ret. My guild has hyjal on farm status and are starting illidan attempts. And i'm usually on top of heal meters with the resto druids. There are certain fights where a paladin cant heal the most effectivley in boss encounters. Such as void reaver, and gurtogg bloodboil. Usually on VR you see the resto shaman's nad the healing classes with hots on top of healing cause of the sole fact that paladins cant cast heals while moving. On gurtogg you see the circle of healing just destroys the healing meter. SO pretty much the point of this is that on some fights other healing classes do better then others. When it comes to tanking you have the same issue. Such as hyjal trash and some ssc pulls a prot pally is probably the best tank you could have for thoses raids. As far as pallys for pvp the only bad thing about pallys for pvp is that you are pretty much worthless in 2v2's usually a resto shaman or a resto druid will be the best healers for 2v2 setup and probably a 3v3 setup as well. But pallys do shine in the 5v5 bracket. A pally in the 5v5 bracket is amazing to have simply cause of the buffs you have as well as BOB, and blessing of freedom are amazing to have in 5's. so the pallys that think they arent doing good or just think that they are worthless please dont think that it pretty mcuh depends on the encounter ur doing as well as the pvp situation your in. btw i'm new to this blog rly happy i found it. been looking for a good pally blog for a while. :)

  9. actually

    paladin's are the best tank healers in end-game pve in my opinion

    i'm a pally healer myself and i do more than a good job healing

    i won't comment on the other specs though

  10. Paladins are quit capable of Main tanking in any raid if geared correctly. Better in some encounters then the other tanking classes and not as good as the other tanking classes in another encounter. It is situational. The exact same goes for a Paldin healer.

  11. im sorry those are lies reason why pally tanks are considered badd is because they arnt played right. in a 5man instance pally is better and in raids id chose a pally tank over a war tank anytime.also pally gear is harder to get i see alot of pally with warior geartherfore they dont have enough spell damage all key figures to look for.

  12. Commenters should note that this article was posted in 2005. Lot of water under the bridge since then.

  13. ?? are you retarded? pallies and shamies can easily be healers.

  14. Damn. Looks like Paladin sucked back in 2005 as well. More proof that Blizzard doesn't know their ass from their elbow about how to balance the class.

  15. I like your views as well.As an all content player (PvP+PvE), I've racked up over 70k hks over the years,and 56k of those on my paladin,as Marshal.There is no other class I'd rather be in control of to do this enormous task.The survivability of a small group with one paladin healer vs any other heal class is greater.In my experience the hardest class to kill is a pro holy spec paladin.

    PvE wise there are rarely nights where the meters don't have top pink in them.I'm impressed at the capabilities Blizzard has given us with all new talents,but then not impressed at how massively OP paladins are now,for the game loses attraction when there is no more challenge left to it.

    I agree that paladins ,as healers,can be as versatile as any other class.

    Great articles and comments btw.I follow this blog on a regular basis now.

  16. I find that a tough Dwarf Paladin can really fight well, & it's great to have some healing power available too, especially if you get caught alone.