Friday, April 16, 2010

Holy Cataclysm

Blizzard announced recently the changes that they anticipate for the Paladin class in Cataclysm and I have held off on responding to allow time to think about the changes. I know a lot of people posted blogs already on the topic, but I am always fashionable late to the party and with good cause. So without further waiting allow me to present my thoughts on the aspect of the Paladin I love the most, Holy:

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.
I have to wonder why the emphasis of pointing out that the holy tree will have a talent to increase this. As a holy Paladin, I do not care about damage and if the talent is only for this ability it will be a wasted talent. I hope they put it in a line with other talents that does not force us to select something that we will not use. Is it cool? Yeah probably so, but I think wasting talents for a healing spec on this is not good. My guess is that it is towards the top of the tree where the protection types can dip in and pick it up without costing too much to them, or at least I hope.

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.
I find this spell to be useless in its inital description. Why? I am not going to run my holy hiny up into melee range to hit this ability and have it be effective. I suppose reserving my negative attitude until after I see what the "short range" is, but my guess is they are going to base it off of the old totem ranges thus relegating this to emergency moments where perhaps a ranged class goes down. I have to wonder about this though as most often in a lot of raid settings we typically try to spread out and not stayed clustered together for the fatal one shot boss AoEs.

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).
Added in later:

As for the Guardian of Ancient Kings. First, it's important to understand that this is not a pet nor does it have a pet bar associated with it. Second, it's also not meant to last for very long. So, it's not a pet in the traditional sense. It's a friend in need when you need it, but not a permanent companion
While it is cool sounding in nature, I think it is a completely wasted talent. I do not forsee myself building to pick this thing up. Why? Look at what the benefit it gives a healing Paladin. It heals the weakest party member. For a five man, it is another gimic that is situational. For a raid, there is a raid healer who will be doing this. My guess is that when you pop this, by the time it actually heals the weakend party member, a Druid HoT will have already done the job and wasted the spell. Now if they fix it to be a smart heal (where it changes targets if its current target moves beyond another), then it will have a much better chance of me keeping it. Time will tell, but honestly I am not optimistic about this at all.

Cleanse is being rebalanced to work with the new dispel system. It will dispel defensive magic (debuffs on friendly targets), diseases, and poisons.
This is in line with what they are doing with all the classes. I really am not in favor of having every class be able to do everything. I understand it allows players to play the class they love for PVE content, but it cheapens the game for those who picked a class because of a certain reason that is now being blurred. Oh well, I realize I am in the minority on the subject of not every class should be viable for everything.

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 one is kind of a slap in the face. You can see that they are removing more utility from our class and disquising it as a buff to Might. I suppose it may help cut down on the overabundance of Paladins in the game, but that is doubtful. I will reserve hating this until I hear more about how it will relate to our talent builds. Will the improved talent still be in the Holy tree to increase regeneration of our mana or will it be in the Improved Might talent, which will force us to change our builds in a way that we may not wish to?

Holy Shock will be a core healing spell available to all paladins.
I disagree with this on many levels as this was my signature move. It let everyone know that I was a Holy Paladin. Why not make Devine Storm and Avengers Shield available to all specs as well? It is no secret Blizzard has pushed for Paladins to use Holy Shock more, as is evidenced by the tiered bonus they pushed for us to take. I personally have always used Holy Shock and will continue to. I just hope they keep it as an offensive spell for us. I doubt this will happen since they are adding Crusader Strike for all Paladins to use as well.

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.
What in the world do they mean here? I understand the parts related to the retribution Paladin, but not so much the two lines that they mention Holy Paladins in. I guess for this one I have no clue and will not commment on too much other than to say that all the crying and gnashing of teeth over Devine Shield is being answered by the thought of weakening it. I really hate that because it is one of the abilities I love for PVP and PVE. If they shorten the duration of it I hope the lower the cool down of it. It would be only fair. Perhaps they are planning to put talents into the trees to effect this ability in different ways for the different specs. I truly hope they think this out entirely before they destroy one of the best mechanics in the game.

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.
Followed by:

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.

In addition we’re changing the paladin heal design to match that of the other healers. Holy Light is the middle heal. It’s very efficient, but not particularly fast and doesn’t have a lot of throughput. Flash of Light will be the faster heal that costs more mana. (Currently paladins sort of flip the model around by having a fast, efficient heal.) Holy paladins can talent into an additional heal that is like a giant Holy Light. It might take three of these big heals (or two crits) to get a tank from death’s door back to 100% health.
Still more:

Currently on live, Beacon of Light is a tool that allows paladins to target more than just the main tank. In Cataclysm if it just doubles their healing, it is going to be overpowered. We have two ways we might handle this and we’ll \experiment to see which feels better. The first is that Beacon only works on some heals, such as Flash of Light or Holy Light (but not the big one). An alternative idea is that Beacon increases the mana cost of a heal cast on a beaconed target, since you’re essentially getting a double heal. Under this model, Beacon itself would cost no mana.
So what we see here, in my opinion, is the breaking of our class. Sure it is being phrased nice, but they are mad that the overall community of Paladin healers keep going back to Flash of Light. So now they are trying to hit us with making it more expensive in mana cost. They are pushing us to a Holy Light focus by adding a bigger heal into the mix. Do not get me wrong, I am all for more healing spells, but I would prefer more useful spells. All this change means is that the new Flash of Light will be Holy Light and this new ability is going to be the new Holy Light which makes Flash of Light become the new Holy Shock. Beacon of Light from what I read is going to now cost us more mana per spell cast when it is up or only work for some spells such as Flash of Light and Holy Light? Their reason is that it was intended to save time on targeting and cool downs and not really mana? That is weird because I thought they gave us Beacon of Light to allow us heal mutliple targets? I guess I have not understood my class at all.

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.
I completely am against making every type of DPS, Healer, or Tank viable to do everything in this game. It aggrevates me because it takes the hard work that I have put into my class and the feeling of accomplishment when I do raid heal and throws it out the window. I do not want to be a raid healer. My class has always been tank healers and we have excelled at this. Why fix what is not broken? If I wanted a raid healer then I would have looked to level a Druid.

Holy paladins will use spirit as their mana regeneration stat.
No big deal here. Just means we will have to see what the math works out to be on all of this. Will stacking Intellect provide adequate mana regeneration or none at all? Either way, it means that I will now have my Rogue gather all of the +Spirit gems as well in preparation of regemming my Paladin. After all, better to be prepared than not right?

Meditation: This is the spirit-to-mana conversion that the priest, druid, and shaman healers also share.
I think it is pretty self explanatory. I still do not like the movement of all classes doing the same thing, but such is life. I can either accept it and play or quit to only return later because nothing else is out there with the staying power of WoW. I will adapt and move on as always.

Critical Healing Effect: When the paladin gets a crit on a heal, it will heal for more.
Added in later:

There also seems to be some confusion about Critical Healing Effect which simply means a critical heal can do more than 150%. (Think of talents like Ruin for warlocks.) We wanted to keep some of the feel of Holy paladins getting big critical heals and caring about crit in general. This mechanic wouldn’t really have worked in Wrath of the Lich King because big crits just translated into overhealing. In Cataclysm that shouldn’t be the case.
Wow, I remember a while back where some folks came around here telling me that critical strike rating was not a good thing for us. Well, looks like Blizzard does not agree. So much so that they have given us this nifty talent to up our critical heals. I wonder how this is going to fit in with the talent changes? Are they taking away our free +Crit rating in the retribution tree? Interesting, but like most else it is still lacking a lot of substance to pass judgement on.

Things are going to be a bit vague yet since many ideas (as you can read in the preview and my follow-up) are still ideas that we want to try out. Also, from reading the various posts in all of the class previews, we're running into a few misunderstandings that will hopefully clear up with time and additional information. One of those misunderstandings is in regard to certain abilities either being perceived as too PvP centric or not PvP centric enough. We'll do what we can to correct these perceptions and expand upon this information as we go along. There is a fine balance being done that is looking at creating a variety of tools for each class that are neither purely situational nor a part of every rotation.
To be honest, in my opinion, do not bring unfinished information to the general public; however, from a designer standpoint it makes sense. Throw out all this incomplete information and see what the experts have to say and think. There are countless horrible replies to these posts but there are also a lot of well thought out questions to the designers who can then go back and plug in the wholes. I personally do not like this because everything we see today will be different tomorrow and unrecognizable, save in name, a month from now.

We get a lot of "everyone is getting the same abilities" and we also get a lot of "why do my abilities play into strengths I already have instead of covering my weaknesses?"

It's okay to have strengths and weaknesses and it's okay to have roles and niches. We just don't want any of those to be too extreme. Some players think they are too extreme and some think they're not extreme enough, which probably means we're somewhere in the middle and thus pretty close to our target overall.
I see a political future for someone here!

This is an example of something I said just above. For many players "fix my core issues" means "I don't have to have weaknesses."

Pitting your strengths against another's weaknesses are one of the things that marks a good player. Understanding your own weaknesses and trying to play around them is another.
This is the final blue post! Nothing really useful here. I know you cannot bash the designers, but I think it would have been best to leave it with the statement above. The bottom line is that we are in development phase for classes. They bring the information to us to review and tear apart. They then will go back and address the underlying thought and see if it fits with their design or if they missed the mark. They understand the feelings of us all and we owe it to them to not get the pitch forks and fire just yet. Am I happy with everything they have listed? Absolutely not. I am quite aggrevated because I liked where we were. We were tank healers who excelled at single target healing. We were not raid healers, when push came to shove I did step in and solo heal signifigant parts of fights like Razorscale (at proper gear level) and Saurfang (at proper gear level). I was proud of those accomplishments because they were simply that, accomplishments. They forced me into situations that tested my abilities in a ways I was not meant to heal or perform. I am afraid that if Blizzard blurs the lines too much I will not want to heal because the challenge will not be there from a class perspective. Am I wrong for this? Maybe, but I like being put in a box and having to break through it. I do not like being put in a giant room with every other healing class and being shown the door to walk through, but that is the overall state of the game both good and bad.


Eus said...

Again, your version of blog is a "kinder" speak compared to mine.

Sorry, pitchfork in one hand and a fiery torch in my other. I'm ready to rock some shit!

Furthermore, once Blizz gets done with holy pallies, we'll be able to stealth, poop out totems, and change into a cat form and go lick ourselves in a corner somewhere. There is absolutley no reason to bleed all classes to be carbon copies of each other. Each class with each specific talent tree is special in their own way for a reason. Again, they can take these ideas and shove them for all I care.

Flash Heals RIP: 4/2010

Yogi said...

I play a holy paladin as well. These announcements are just aggravating. Not just for paladins, but healers in general. I honestly think that the coming changes, are pushing me to forgo Cataclysm and look into a game with more diversity and deeper content. The excitement is gone for me. Its a bummer.

Ruhtra said...

@ Eus - Yes, I suppose we can say that. I don't think we have to worry about a cat form either, but I understand your thoughts.

@ Yogi - I agree it is aggravating but I do not think it is to the point where you should consider quitting. Remember there is a good amount of time (assuming since we have no release date yet) between now and when they release the expansion.

My advice is take the information with a grain of salt as it is all bound to change. Go enjoy the game and have some fun with alts, friends, and guildies.