Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Facepalming Over the Paladin Preview

So the Paladin Preview was released today by the WoW developers.  Some interesting some stuff and I think the overall directions they're trying to take the class are good, but there are some suggestions that are just making me plain /facepalm.

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.

So basically this is our "Consecrate as an AoE heal" that everyone has been suggesting since... oh, probably 2005.  But as has been outlined several times before, that idea has several limitations.  Unless raid damage is nowhere near as intense and spiky as it is now, this will be completely unfeasible to use proactively (ie. running up to a damaged group of people and using it).  So it'll probably only be useful for fights where the raid has to stack up together anyway for tactical reasons.  I'm hoping this eventually turns into a paladin version of Wild Growth, because right now I'm just seeing too many limitations.

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.

I hate the Blessing system with a passion, enough that I could probably write an entire blog post on this single subject.  This is a step in the right direction, but if the goal is to let us stop using PallyPower, this won't cut it.  Are they going to keep the talents that enhance these buffs?  And what about Blessing of Sanctuary?

Right now half the raids I end up in involve this dialogue:

Retribution Paladin: Holy Paladin, you do Kings, I'll do Might.
Holy Paladin: But I have Improved Might, I'll cast it on us and you kings us.
Warlock: I'm missing Blessing of Sanctuary.
Holy Paladin: Only Prot pallies have that.
Warlock: But we have a Prot pally in the raid.
Holy Paladin: But he's not prot this fight since we only need one tank.
Rogue: I don't have Blessing of Might.
Retribution Paladin: Hold on, we're working on it.  Protection Paladin, why don't you have PallyPower?
Protection Paladin: What's PallyPower?
Holy Paladin: /facepalm
Balance Druid: I need Wisdom, you gave me Might.
Rogue: Why does the Balance Druid get might?  I still don't have Blessing of Might.
Feral Tank: Why don't I have Blessing of Sanctuary?
Retribution Paladin: Okay Balance Druid, you have Blessing of Wisdom.
Balance Druid: Why do I only have the 10 minute version?
Retribution Paladin: Because I put the 30 minute version on our Feral Tank.
Balance Druid: Why does he get it?
Feral Tank: I'd rather have Blessing of Sanctuary.
Warlock: That's what I'm saying.
Rogue: Wow, three paladins and I can't even get Blessing of Might:
Retribution Paladin has left the raid.
Holy Paladin has left the raid.

If I still have to have some version of this conversation, then Blizzard has failed, and I will continue to want to punch a kitten in the face every time the raid leader says "okay everyone, raid buffs and let's pull."

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

No.  No.  Just... no.  This is stupid.  What the hell.  The whole article talks about how Retribution paladins are tough to balance because of all their defensive abilities, so they want to remove some of that and give them more offensive tools.  Well, part of the paladin defensive abilities are their heals, and right now the baseline Paladin healing kit is already too strong.  Almost every patch the players find some way to cheese talent trees and gear to get paladin specs that clearly weren't intended.  Remember the Sheathadin during beta? (Holy paladins going deep into Retribution for Judgments of the Wise and Sheath of Light)  Or the Protholy spec in patch 3.1?  (Protection paladins throwing on Holy gear so they could double dip in spellpower provided by the Touched by the Light talent).  Other classes QQ'ed, Blizzard changed up the talents, and we never get the offensive tools (snares, gap closers, etc) we so desperately needed in PvP.

So now they're giving every paladin two more heals, which means even more potential for PvP QQ and players finding clever ways to abuse specs, and Blizzard deathly afraid of giving us anything actually fun and useful.

We want to add to the Holy tree a nice big heal to correspond with Greater Heal. Flash of Light remains the expensive, fast heal and Holy Light is the go-to heal that has average efficiency and throughput.

Um... what?  As far as single-target heals, we're set.  We've been set since 2004.  Flash of Light is our cheap, small heal.  Holy Shock is our expensive, fast heal.  And Holy Light is our big, expensive heal.  We really don't need a "Super Holy Light," or whatever they're talking about.  We need something that targets people in an area, or heals over time, or heals the most damaged party member, or procs when something else happens, or ultimately does something besides transfer some percentage of my blue bar into a targeted single player's percentage of their green bar.

Beacon of Light will be changed to work with Flash of Light. We like the ability, but want paladins to use it intelligently and not be constantly healing for twice as much.

We all knew Beacon as we knew it was going to change, and limiting to what heals it can be used for is a good idea. 

Addendum: Looks like the devs have followed up to the preview.

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.

So we don't have a small, cheap heal at all?  What if we want to top someone off?  I either need to burn a ton of mana with Flash of Light or bomb a Holy Light on them?  Huh?

Also on the live realms currently, paladins have huge mana pools and massive throughput. The trade-off is that they are excellent single target healers and much weaker in other roles. We want paladins to be slightly more interchangeable with other healers. In Cataclysm, you should be able to have a Holy priest on the tank and a Holy paladin on the raid. We’re not sure we’ll back off of the current healing roles completely, but we definitely want to add more breadth to those whose roles are currently too narrow.

Nothing here indicates Holy paladins will have the ability to effectively raid heal.  We're apparently going to have four single target heals, a very limited AoE heal that's on a 15-second cooldown, and a "smart" heal on a 3-minute cooldown.  And we're supposed to raid heal with this?

Overall, some fresh and interesting ideas were presented by the devs.  But it's clear there's going to need to be a lot of iteration on these ideas to get all three specs to a good place, because otherwise a lot of these ideas either suffer from "more of the same" or "throwing out the baby with the bathwater."

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