Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Revamping Paladins by Upgrading Abilities

In a previous post I mentioned how much I like having 3 offensive abilities with 6-10s cooldowns, like the current WotLK Retribution and Protection trees have. I've been thinking about it, and my fondness for that structure and pacing has only increased. I think it would be really nice if the baseline paladin played like that.

We are a long way from the days of 15s Judgements, but still, levelling a paladin is much less interactive than any other class. I do like how paladins have a more moderate pace than rogues and warriors, but only using Judgements until level 40 is a bit too boring.

However, one of the problems with giving the baseline paladin new abilities is that when the paladin gets new abilities in the talent trees, she gets new buttons to press during combat. This leads past the sweet spot of 3 abilities, and into more warrior/rogue button-mashing territory.

Then the solution hit me. Instead of giving the paladin entirely new abilities in the talent trees, the new abilities should be upgrades and replace the baseline abilities in the paladin's rotation.

WoW doesn't use a lot of upgraded abilities. New abilities and spells are usually additive, meaning you often use them in addition to your current abilities, as opposed to instead of your current abilities. There are some replacement abilities, however. Devastate replaces Sunder Armor, Mangle replaces Claw. And there are a few when levelling. Cleanse replaces Purify.

So what I was thinking for the paladin class is that the baseline paladin gets three active combat abilities before level 12 or so:

1. Judgement. Has a 10s cooldown and is like the WotLK version.
2. A weak Strike (Holy Strike?) with a 6s cooldown.
3. A weak Cleave/melee-AoE style ability with a 10s cooldown.

This base paladin would play very similarly to the WotLK Retribution or Protection paladins, at least in terms of buttons pushed during combat.

Then as you go down the trees, you get new abilities that replace the second two baseline abilities. These abilities are tailored to the specific talent tree. Each ability would share their cooldown with the baseline ability, ensuring that the paladin would switch to the upgraded ability without changing the pacing of the class.

For example, in Retribution, the paladin would upgrade Holy Strike to Crusader Strike at level 40. At level 50, Divine Storm replaces the baseline Cleave. In some ways, each ability performs the same function as the previous ability, only tailored to the spec.

In Protection, Holy Shield replaces the Cleave, and Hammer of the Righteous would replace the Holy Strike.

In Holy, Holy Shock would replace the Strike. It's a 6s ranged strike, with a healing component. We'd need a new ability to replace the Cleave, but it would be something that hit multiple enemies and yet had a healing or ranged component to it.

The basic idea is that all the Strikes share a cooldown, and all the Cleaves share a cooldown. This way the pacing of paladin combat is maintained, the baseline gameplay isn't so boring, but each spec gets upgrades and a unique playstyle, and ends up in more or less the same position as current design.


  1. Very good idea. It would also hopefully teach them how to use those higher talent abilities instead of suddenly jumping into a completely new play-style as it currently does.

    Of course, some of us like the ability to attack a mob, surf the web, come back in a minute or two with the mob dead and go on to the next one.

  2. I've often quipped that the Pally was great for watching TV while playing WoW. When I was leveling through Outland, I'd actually log off to go get my mage to farm anything that wasn't soulbound, which seems a waste when you consider that the whole reason I was on the Pally was for exp. :(

    "Replacement" talents are a good idea, which they're using on some Death Knight abilities now. I think it would work, especially if you consider that sometimes a non-prot Pally is asked to gather up adds.

  3. The judgment changes combined with the scaling seals leaves me with a lot of questions for how mechanics will work, particularly at the low end.

    With the loss of Crusader aura, and the removal of Judgement, they will have to Move on of the judgments down into the pre 20 level range.

    I'm not as concerned about about anything below level 20 as it just not that hard to finish up Ghostlands.

    But that still leaves 20 or 31 levels until you can really have a greater level of interaction.

  4. Sorry 2 quick corrections, I should have said 21 to 31 levels and I meant Seal of the Crusader not Crusader Aura.

  5. Very nice idea's. Would really wish these would be implemented so that leveling my second paladin would be abit more interactive :P

  6. "Devastate replaces Sunder Armor"

    Not true.

    Sunder still has a valuable place in the Prot-Warrior arsenal. Particularly with the 'mouse-over-sunder' macro.

  7. Devastate effectively replaces Sunder Armor. There's one corner case where SA is better (building threat on a Crowd-controlled mob), but 95% of the time, Devastate is better.

    Either way, it still illustrates my point that replacement abilities are rare in WoW.

    Also, this idea might help with current SoR scaling issues. The two new abilities would add some extra damage, so the SoR AP coefficient could be cut back to a reasonable value without hurting levelling.