There has been a whole lot of talk lately about Paladins and their incoming changes yet for some reason it has been completely calm here at Holy Shock regarding the subject? Every now and then you may see a reference or find a comment from one of us about the subject but as a whole we have tried to avoid the topic as there is still much time between now and when the changes will go live. That being said, we are starting to get a more complete overall picture of what direction the design team at Blizzard is wanting to lead us in and that is what I am wanting to look at talking a little bit about today.
So, in recent comments I have made it very clear that I am worried about my class. I am worried that the changes will either overpower us or underpower us. I will not lie, I like where the holy tree is at right now in the game. It provides the large powerful heals that you want for tanks and a lot of resource abilities in hands, blessings, and other abilities. I like it so much that I at one point during the expansion was sporting to PVE holy builds at the same time. I like it so much that I have two sets of gear, one for healing with flash and one for the blinding light. You can visit the Paladin forums and see how much debate there is over what build to use and which one is better. You can find multiple posts on forums and on blogs about what stats are best overall. In short, for the talented holy Paladins out there, the class is in a good position in my opinion and we are a clear cut tank healer.
That being said, Blizzard wants to change all healers to be able to step in and fill a role. There can be no debate on this with all healers being changed to have a small, medium, and large heal. All healers will have some sort of an area effect heal as well. The differentiating factor will be in the class specific abilities, which for Paladins will be Beacon of Light (changing), Sacred Shield, and other such spells. I think it is painfully clear that while Blizzard is making it possible for every healing class to perform a sepcific healing function adequately, there will still be classes that lend theirselves to doing specific roles such as tank healing versus raid healing. The designers have even suggested this in different posts, but the message is clear that they want the concept of bring the player not the clas to be more than a fancy slogan.
So what role do I see Paladins performing in Cataclysm then? I think the majority of the Paladin player base, as well as the overall player base, will see the class as still being a tank healing class. I think that how we decide to heal will signifigantly change in the area of how and where we wish to position ourselves. As I begin looking over the newer spells and seeing words like "AoE" and "Frontal Cone" used to describe our newer healing spells, I get the distinct feeling that positioning myself within melee range is idealy where the designers are wanting us to be. This could also lend credit to the thought of using our abilities to heal more than just a tank. Perhaps we are progressing to a style of play that will describe your healers more as melee ranged healers versus caster ranged healers. I say this because I do not believe that Blizzard will give us a lot of range on our AoE heal and the front cone style of healing would be best used to assist with the healing of those in melee range. One thing is certain, and that is nothing is certain until the changes are patched in right before Cataclysm. Until then, I plan to view everything cautiously and I shall attempt to not get all bent out of shape over concepts and ideas which may or may not make it into the final cut.