Today’s the day the long-awaited paladin changes have been announced by Blizzard. It’s about bloody time! So I decided to post my thoughts on these changes as I think they will eventually play out to be.
New Paladin 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.
For one, I’m not particularly enthusiastic about Blinding Shield, but I do think it will make a good addition for Protection paladins. I don’t think I’ll ever use it when healing though. The cast time would be too long to use as a panic button when I get aggro, and other uses seem pretty limited. I could be wrong though, I’m not the most experienced paladin in Azeroth 🙂
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.
Now this sounds pretty neat. I am curious about the exact mechanic this spell will bring to the healing game though. It all depends on how much this actually heals and how short the range will be. Potentially, this could be really cool and a very good addition to our healing spells. It also has the potential of failing miserably though, and that is what I’m afraid of. Oh well, the Beta will probably streamline the way this spell works. Hopefully.
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).
Now this spell looks like it can either be very OP or just a big fat fail. I am having serious doubts about the effective healing this guardian will do. Will it take incoming heals into consideration? Will it intelligently switch heal targets? Is it static, or does it move with the paladin? I can imagine something like popping Healing Hands and Guardian of Ancient Kings and running around to heal everybody. That could be very cool, as it would be very different from our current healing style (running around healing isn’t exactly a strong point of holy paladins right now). I do doubt if it will be effective enough though. Time will tell, but I’m moderately excited about these 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.
- Cleanse is being rebalanced to work with the new dispel system. It will dispel defensive magic (debuffs on friendly targets), diseases, and poisons.
- 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.
- Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins.
New Talents and Talent Changes
- We want to ease off the defensive capabilities of Retribution and Holy paladins slightly. We think the powerful paladin defenses have been one of the things holding Retribution paladins back, especially in Arenas. One change we’re considering is lowering Divine Shield’s duration by a couple of seconds. Having said that, Retribution does pretty well in Battlegrounds, and Battlegrounds will be a much bigger focus in Cataclysm since they can provide the best PvP rewards. Furthermore, the healing environment of Cataclysm is going to be different such that a paladin may not be able to fully heal themselves during the duration of Divine Shield to begin with, so this may not be a problem.
- We feel Retribution paladins need one more mechanic which involves some risk of the player pushing the wrong button, making the rotation a bit less forgiving. In addition, we want to add to this spec more PvP utility. Right now the successes of the Retribution paladin in PvP seem to be reduced to either doing decent burst damage, or just being good at staying alive.
- We want to increase the duration of Sacred Shield to 30 minutes and keep the limit to one target. The intention is that the paladin can use it on their main healing target. That said, we would like to improve the Holy paladin toolbox and niche so that they don’t feel quite like the obvious choice for tank healing while perceived as a weak group healer.
- We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains a fast heal, but will be more expensive to justify the cast speed. Holy Light will be the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput. Beacon of Light needs to be changed so that its benefit is letting the paladin heal two targets at once, not letting the paladin get two heals for the mana cost of one. It’s intended to save GCDs and targeting time, not mana.
- Holy paladins will use spirit as their mana regeneration stat.
- Protection paladins need a different rotation between single-target and multi-target tanking. Likewise, we’re looking to add the necessity to use an additional cooldown in each rotation.
- Holy Shield will no longer have charges. It will be designed to improve block chance while active, and will continue to provide a small amount of damage and threat.
The list with changes in abilities isn’t all that exciting, really. Yes, us holy pally’s will get used to using spirit as a stat, since MP5 will simply cease to exist. And it’s okay to have the duration of Divine Shield lowered a bit, though I am curious by how much it will be lowered eventually. Not that big of a deal though.
I kinda like the change to Blessing of Might, though I’m not sure it should still be called Blessing of Might in this case. But that’s just minor detail. One blessing for both melee and casters seems fair. And I do approve of keeping Kings a separate buff. It just feels more balanced that way.
Yay for Crusader Strike to all and boohoo for making Cleanse holy-only. I have mixed feelings about Holy Shock though. I kinda feel like we’re losing something, though it’s not really lost. And I’m not sure if I think it’s completely fair that Retribution and Protection also get Holy Shock. I would rather have seen a change that included a different effect of the spell based on current spec, as with Guardian of Ancient Kings.
I can’t really say anything about the PvP changes for Retribution paladins, since there’s just nothing to say. Yay for the duraction increase of Sacred Shield though! I have one minor wish about this change though. I’d like it to be talented in the Protection tree, instead of just giving any pally a 30 minute SS. Preferably so that both Holy and Retribution can also spec into it, but that way at least it’s a choice.
And what’s with the Greater Heal thing? Is Cataclysm really going to be so brutal that we’re going to need an even bigger heal that our currently biggest heal? Or is it just going to be one of those healing spells that nobody will ever use because it just takes too damn long to cast and your target will be dead by the time it lands? In light of this, I do predict that the healing in Cataclysm will be entirily different from now, otherwise a spell like this would not be viable. Imagine that damage is coming in steadily, without heavy spikes that cause your tank to lose half his health in one shot. Imagine that the rate at which healing can be done, you’re not going to keep the tank up above 90% all the time. Imagine that you will actually have the time to cast such a big heal. Wouldn’t you? If mana is going to be more of an issue than before, it would probably be very efficient to do so. The only thing that is necessary for this spell to be viable, is a different healing environment. And that has already been announced to be the case in Cataclysm. My conclusion: if Cataclysm is really going to change things for us healers, this will be one epic spell to have.
I have mixed feelings about the Beacon of Light change as well, but I’m leaving that aside to see how this will develop during Beta. I don’t think Beacon is viable if it only works on Flash of Light, but it might be fair to increase mana costs for duplicated heals. I think it will be hard to define a working model for this though. We’ll see.
Yay for alternate rotations for Protection paladins! I’m all in for this. I’m planning to respec my Retribution spec to Protection somewhere before Cataclysm and I think this will make it much more interesting to play. I’m not sure on the Holy Shield change though. Really, I just don’t know what to think. I tend to like the idea that it works without charges, but I think it depends mostly on how it will turn out to work in the end. Wait and see!
All in all, I’m not unhappy with the proposed changes. I’m just not thrilled either. We’ll have to wait and see how Beta will affect this. Okay, that’s it. I’m out for now 🙂 Phew!