Paladin Changes Abound

So I figured being that the blog is named “Techadin” I should actually post about something Paladin related once in awhile, especially with the Paladin changes being put out a couple days early. I’m not usually one to make a huge deal out of changes for a game/expansion that’s not even in beta testing, but I just can’t pass this up.

I have always found a genuine joy in the Paladin class and I think I’m finally starting to nail down what it is about the class that keeps me coming back. The versatility of the Paladin class is one of the selling points for me. As a tank, healer or DPS there is a healthy measure of both offensive and defensive abilities available to vary your gameplay. An interesting point is that all three Paladin specs are scrutinized for being overly simplistic, yet all three have levels of perfection not attainable by the average player. I’m actually a big fan of classes (or games in general) that are easy to learn but difficult to master and I truly believe this is why I’ve been able to fend off the thought off switching mains for Cataclysm.

Alright, down to business…let’s take a look at some of the proposed Paladin changes for Cataclysm. While I predominantly play Holy/Ret I have tanked with my Pally as well so I’ll try and hit on all three specs as best I can. Also, I just wanted to note that the raw information is derived entirely from MMO-Champion’s write up and I in no way take credit for any of it.

New Spells

*** Blinding Shield (level 81): Causes damage and blinds all nearby targets. This effect might end up only damaging those facing the paladin’s shield, in a manner similar to Eadric the Pure’s ability Radiance in Trial of the Champion. The Holy tree will have a talent to increase the damage and critical strike chance, while the Protection tree will have a talent to make this spell instant cast. 2-second base cast time. Requires a shield. ***

This is a very interesting ability for both Prot and Holy Paladins. For protection spec’d Pally’s this ability offers not only some momentary CC but additional threat generation. Being able to talent into Blinding Shield for an instant cast does suggest that this will be a main part of Prot’s regular rotation which should be interesting.

Blinding Shield also looks quite interesting in the hands of a Holy Paladin. Having access to a talent to increase damage and critical strike chance makes me think that we’ll be spending more time “up close and personal” while in combat. It’s also safe to assume that this spell will serve a purpose in PvP but I have another reason or two supporting the use of Blinding Shield in PvE as well.

*** Healing Hands (level 83): Healing Hands is a new healing spell. The paladin radiates heals from him or herself, almost like a Healing Stream Totem. It has a short range, but a long enough duration that the paladin can cast other heals while Healing Hands remains active. 15-second cooldown. 6-second duration. ***

Here we go, now things are getting interesting! While it’s currently unknown how strong the heals from Healing Hands will be, turning ourselves into a mobile/situational totem is pretty damn cool. One of the things we lack as Holy Paladins is a more true form of AoE healing. Not only does Healiing Hands offer a new form of AoE, it also suggests that we’ll be able to spend much more time in melee range during combat, putting us in a very unique position.

*** Guardian of Ancient Kings (level 85): Summons a temporary guardian that looks like a winged creature of light armed with a sword. The visual is similar to that of the Resurrection spell used by the paladin in Warcraft III. The guardian has a different effect depending on the talent spec of the paladin. For Holy paladins, the guardian heals the most wounded ally in the area. For Protection paladins, the guardian absorbs some incoming damage. For Retribution paladins, it damages an enemy, similar to the death knight Gargoyle or the Nibelung staff. 3-minute cooldown. 30-second duration (this might vary depending on which guardian appears). ***

This has gotta be what has peaked the most interest amung the Paladin community. Having our level 85 spell available to all specs and able to function differently for each adds some much needed variety to our class.

Casting Guardian of Ancient Kings (GoAK) as Ret is slightly underwealming, more damage is always nice but it would have been nice to see something like haste or another beneficial buff for GoAK’s duration.

Prot’s ability to absorb incoming damage is a SLIGHTLY more creative use of GoAK, but it’s more or less what you’d expect of a tanking application.

Saving the best for last (just kidding) I honestly do think that GoAK is centered around Holy. GoAK’s application as a tank and/or DPS spell is fairly predictable but finally…finally we have a smart heal! A 3 minute cooldown isn’t all that bad, a 30 second duration ensures we’re not waiting TO long to pop it a 2nd time while also offering a practicle enough up time.

The amount of healing/damage absorbtion/DPS the guardian does may change my opinion of its usefullness, but as of now I’m beyond pumped to have a chance to try this out.

Ability and Mechanics Changes

*** Crusader Strike will be a core ability for all paladins, gained at level 1. We think the paladin leveling experience is hurt by not having an instant attack. Retribution will be getting a new talent in its place that either modifies Crusader Strike or replaces it completely. ***

While I don’t necessarily view Paladin leveling as broken or “hurt” by the lack of an instant attack, I’m sure this points towards the initial leveling process being much more fun. Also, giving low leveling characters access to abilities like this means that we could have some more interesting low level instances ahead of us, more variety never hurts after all.

*** Cleanse is being rebalanced to work with the new dispel system. It will dispel defensive magic (debuffs on friendly targets), diseases, and poisons. ***

While I can’t say I’m surprised by this change I also welcome it with open arms. The more I’m able to offer utility to my raid the better. The amount that Blizz has said about reactive healing in Cataclysm (as opposed to pro-active healing in WotLK) also means that we should be able to make use of our revamped Cleanse with much more ease.

*** Blessing of Might will provide the benefit of Wisdom as well. If you have two paladins in your group, one will do Kings on everyone and the other will do Might on everyone. There should be much less need, and ideally no need, to provide specific buffs to specific classes. ***

This is HUGE and will mean much less time spent in raids worrying about buffing. While there will be fewer classes that can make use of both Might and Wisdom in Cataclysm, (such as hunters do now) I’m all for the homogenization of my abilities if it means less time wasted before boss fights. I don’t see this being much of a change in 5-man dungeons but when it comes to blanketing your raid with any/everything possible this will definitely be a nice change.

*** Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins. ***

I don’t think this is necessarily practicle anywhere BUT in PvP. It has been predicted by many people that bosses in Cataclysm will require much more situational awareness and mobility, but I can’t see a Ret or Prot Pally needing a relatively small heal on the fly anywhere but in PvP. Quite a bit is being done to vary the usefulness of the Paladin in PvP and seeing as this can’t possibly effect the PvE game negatively I can’t say I’ve got any issues with this change.

Wrap Up

For the majority of the remaining changes and information I want to refer you to the article at MMO-Champion as it’s comprised of a LOT of discussion style information and I think I’ve made you all trudge through enough text on one page already. While I’m not going to go through the rest of the information/points line by line I do want to take some time to hit home on what stands out in my eyes.

Easing off our defensive focus in PvP: Even though I don’t do a lot of PvP, I do agree that the Paladin’s Ret and Holy specs are heavily based on multiple “oh shit” buttons and survivability tactics. Seeing that we (like all other classes) will be based/balanced my heavily around BG’s is music to my ears, sometimes I think a lot of PvP related changes are a bit to over the top as they are meant to address Arena matches where the slightest change can have much more of an impact.

Making Ret harder: Anything that Blizzard can do to make the Retribution playstyle more then a 4 button FCFS (first come first serve) priority system the better. I’ve heard similar intentions for other classes as well, you will more then likely be able to stick to a set rotation, but the class will more heavily favor those who are able to think ahead and make decisions more “on the fly” then we have to currently. Bring it on Blizz!

Sacred Shield going to a 30 minute duration: At first I thought this was to good to be true. While the mana cost associated with Sacred Shield isn’t overly cumbersome, having to refresh it every 30 seconds can be. I almost think that 30 minute duraction is a bit TO much, but the less often I have to worry about refreshing my shield the better. 😛

A bigger Holy Light: It seems that Paladin is intended to undergo similar changes to most other healing classes. Flash of Light will remain our smaller heal (although it’s mana cost is being ramped up) but Holy Light in it’s current form will become more of our “go to” heal. It’s hard to say this isn’t the case already but having a third spell that’s even more of a nuke is interesting and I can’t wait to see how it pans out.

Potential Beacon changes: All I can say is that Blizz had better not screw with beacon to the point where it’s more difficult to use then effective. By the sounds of it Beacon of Light may have no mana cost but the heals used in conjunction with it will have increased mana costs. Blizzard is saying that they never intended for beacon to be used as as much of a mana saver as it has turned out to be, surprising. We’ve been hearing over and over again that healers are going to have to mange our mana more then we have been, the potential changes to beacon alone should more then accomplish that.

Mastery Bonuses: The reason I’m not taking more time/space to go over mastery details is because honestly…they’re a little boring. Tanks block/absorb more damage, Ret deals more Holy damage, and Holy gets a boost to our critical heals. The 3rd Holy mastery based on our criticals is vaguely worded but it seems that our crits will do even more then they would normally…shifting our focus back towards Crit as a stat such as it was earlier in WotLK before haste/mp5 was king.

Wow, if you’re still reading I do commend you…I didn’t quite expect to go on for quite this long but there’s enough happening that I didn’t want to leave out a whole lot. As I said earlier, all the raw information I presented above was taken straight from the write up at MMO-Champion and I would encourage everyone to stay tuned for any updates on our class and any other Cataclysm information. Remember, none of this is confirmed and we still have a LONG ways to go before Catalysm. It is more then likely that a lot of what we know now will change in the coming months and I’d hate to see people get overly bent out of shape over the information we’ve been getting. I’ll do my best to stay ontop of any incoming information pertaining to the Paladin class and throw out extra posts as I can.

– Cornelious

    • zekethesquirrel
    • April 15th, 2010

    I am a little concerned with what they’re going to do with Beacon, but the rest of the changes sound promising. It seems like Paladins change a lot with each expansion, and this one is no different. I can’t wait to give these changes a try.

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