Community Team: In this segment, we will be talking with Greg Street about the paladin class and discussing where this class started and where we feel they are going, as well as covering an assortment of topics relating to itemization, buffs, abilities, and other cool stuff.
Q: Where do paladins fit into the larger scope of things currently and where do you see them going from this point forward?
A: The paladin is an iconic class from fantasy role-playing, and one which Warcraft has been able to put its own stamp all over. Obviously they figure prominently in the lore, up to and including the Lich King himself.
The paladin started out as a defensive buffing class. Early on, buffs were pretty much the entire reason you’d want to group with a paladin. (And if you want to put a fine point on it, it took about all of the paladin’s attention to keep those buffs up).
End-game paladins in vanilla World of Warcraft were pretty much healers, which was disappointing for some players to discover once they reached level 60. As most of our readers probably already know, the paladin class was exclusive to the Alliance. We realized that we kept pushing the paladin and shaman abilities closer and closer together to solve faction imbalance issues, and that process was hurting the classes, so we’d be better off just having paladins and shamans on both sides. In Burning Crusade, paladins gained the ability to tank and could do so quite well in some situations, but were still positioned more in an off-tank role. In Wrath of the Lich King, we finally embraced all three specs of paladins: Protection paladins can tank anything. Retribution paladins are a legitimate dps spec in both PvE and PvP. And of course, paladins could still heal.
Q: What is it that makes them unique compared to all other classes?
A: Despite our design changes to share buffs around among more classes, we still kept several abilities unique to the paladin in order to keep a hint of their original role. Thus paladins have everything from their powerful Blessings to their bubbles like Divine Shield, the ability to dispel multiple kinds of debuffs, and utility abilities like Blessing of Freedom or Hammer of Justice. Paladins can wear plate armor in all three roles, which is particularly powerful for a healer. Finally, the Seal and Judgement system is a unique mechanic that works like no other class.
Community Team: We’ve received quite a bit of feedback concerning the current itemization for paladin tier-set gear and the importance of other stats over MP5.
Q: Specifically, how do we feel about the healing itemization for paladins thus far? Do we still feel MP5 is as important as other stats such as Int, Crit, Haste, and Spell Power? Are there plans to incorporate more of these other stats in later tiers of paladin healing gear?
A: In Lich King up until now, MP5 has not been as valuable to most paladins as say Int, Crit, or Spell Power, and really it wasn’t intended to be. It is particularly relevant that you are hardly ever choosing between Int and MP5. However, we also think that MP5 became undervalued as a stat and as most of you know, we are buffing it for 3.2. Furthermore, we think we have allowed paladin mana regen through Int and Crit to get a little out of control. We don’t want to force paladins to care only about MP5, but we also don’t want them viewing it as a total junk stat, like say Agility, either. Crit is just too beneficial to be strictly a regen stat.
From the 3.2 PTR testing so far, it seems like some Holy paladins are taking a second look at Haste and MP5 possibly instead of Crit. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, and we will adjust as necessary, but it’s nice to see paladins at least consider the stats now before making a gear decision.
We have also hinted before that we’ve had trouble developing distinct niches for MP5 and Spirit and are considering collapsing those two stats in the future. This would be a change with a lot of ramifications though -- we wouldn’t just replace MP5 on gear with Spirit and call it a day.
Community Team: Paladins provide a slew of powerful buffs and spells that help all classes with tanking, healing and damage-dealing.
Q: How do we feel about raid-wide paladin buffs instead of limiting the buff applications per class, only?
A: We think it works out fine. It’s a different buff mechanic than other classes and helps to ensure that the second or third paladin is still considered valuable instead of letting a single one buff everyone.
Q: Blessing of Sanctuary is designed around providing buffs for tanks; are there plans to re-work its design to provide added benefits for more than just tanking?
A: No, we want it to be a tanking Blessing. However, we want it to be a superior tanking buff than Kings for the Protection paladin. In the 3.2 patch notes, we indicated that Sanctuary will also provide the same Stam buff as Kings, but will not stack with Kings (though Kings would still provide bonuses to the other stats).
Q: Do we feel Flash of Light and the changes in store for it will allow for additional diversification for the existing healing spells available? Aside from Holy Light, Flash of Light, and Holy Shock, are there any plans to provide paladins with other interesting healing spells later down the road?
A: Later down the road most likely, but it won’t be for 3.2 and it won’t be with something that looks like Prayer of Healing or Wild Growth. We do think paladins will have more of a use for Flash of Light now with the extra benefit to Sacred Shield. The changes to Beacon of Light in 3.2 should make paladins an exceptional dual target healer.
Community Team: Now that we’re on the topic of paladin buffs and spells, dps and versatility has been a topic of concern for many players with respect to both PvE and PvP.
Q: All classes vary in dps from one encounter to another; however, some paladins may feel their dps can be less competitive at times in comparison to other classes, more so in straight stationary single-target dps encounters. How do we feel paladins are doing in terms of dps across the board?
A: Retribution dps is too low in PvE in 3.1. We are buffing it in 3.2 through the new way Seal of Vengeance / Corruption will work. This Seal is designed to really deliver damage once the paladin gets five stacks up, which will make it the Seal of choice for boss fights. Seal of Command will be used in PvP or PvE for short fights. We expect overall for Corruption / Vengeance to be the “go-to” Seal much of the time, perhaps even in PvP, provided you can keep the buff up.
Q: Exorcism will be usable in both PvE and PvP once more which is great; aside from allowing this ability to be used against other players, what were the reasons to go down this route in redesigning this attack?
A: Exorcism never did a ton of damage to players, but it was an instant attack which meant paladins could use it while closing with an enemy. It was essentially just free damage and never a decision of any kind. The new approach to the spell prevents it from being used while closing, and also makes Retribution paladins have to pay a little more attention to their combat rotation -- you want to use Exorcism when Art of War procs, and generally not at other times.
We understand this is a small adjustment to Protection paladins, which is why we improved Hand of Reckoning. The 3.2 patch will be pretty good for paladin tanks overall so hopefully they will forgive us.
Q: Consecration seems to utilize a sizable portion of mana per application of this spell; do we have plans on making this a bit more mana-efficient?
A: We think the mana cost is appropriate. Retribution and Protection paladins have enough ways to earn mana back that it doesn’t seem to be slowing them down much.
Community Team: Specifically with the various spells and abilities that paladins have in a PvP encounter, there have been questions concerning regarding survivability and utility, let’s get into some of these.
Q: Do we feel Divine Shield is fine in its current rendition versus other abilities such as Shattering Throw and Mass dispel?
A: Divine Shield is just a very powerful spell, so game-changing that we thought it needed a counter. The problem is that only one class has access to Mass Dispel, which we feel makes priests too much of a “hard counter” to paladins. We understand that classes will to some extent always have other classes they are better or worse against, but we want to avoid extremes. Shattering Throw is an attempt to let someone other than a priest have the chance to break the bubble. We implemented the ability as a ranged attack to help discourage warrior “tunnel vision” in just always unleashing all their attacks on the same target rather than having to switch targets on occasion.
Q: Will it be possible to prevent Avenging Wrath from being dispelled as well? This ability is the means to allow for on-demand maximum dps output for a brief period of time and only affects the paladin.
A: It’s possible but not probable. Really this is symptomatic of a larger problem, which is that the dispel game has become too important in PvP. If the other team has a dispeller, then abilities like Avenging Wrath get totally shut down. If the other team lacks a dispeller, then they may be in trouble. This leads to junk buffs and inconsistencies on which abilities can be dispelled or not. We are going to redo the entire system, though not for 3.2. One direction to take dispelling is to give magic dispel to all the healers (since 90% of player spells are magical), but to prevent offensive dispelling of any kind, or at least prevent dispels for “your-class-is-supposed-to-have-this buff” like Arcane Int or Fort.
Q: Do we have plans to introduce a stand-alone interrupt ability for paladins?
A: We would like to add this kind of utility to paladins. First we have to get the burst damage under control so that Ret paladins are not winning PvP encounters by blowing players up. When we accomplish that, we’ll look at finally giving them more tools.
Q: With the slew of options to either "jump into" or "jump out of" PvP encounters for either offensive or defensive purposes many classes receive, do we have any plans to incorporate special abilities for paladins to either help them escape tough situations or quickly get into pvp battle (i.e. Deathgrip, Typhoon, Summoning Circle, Disengage, etc.)? It seems paladins are the only class without a short cool-down ability on the same scale.
A: Players are pretty good at detecting problems, but for solutions they tend to just look around at what other classes have that is working for them. Homogenization is something we fight as much as we can, which is the reason not every class has Death Grip and not every class has Charge. Judgment of Justice is intended to be the gap-closer for paladins. If it becomes a huge liability, we’ll evaluate, but at the moment paladins are doing extremely well in PvP without it.
Q: Ranged attacks are extremely limited for paladins and are not considered a primary form of dps. However, players feel they would like an ability that will aid them in bridging the gap between melee vs. ranged. Do we have any plans to implement something to this extent?
A: We’ve already changed the “no ranged attacks” philosophy on paladins already and don’t feel the need to continue making them better at range.
Community Team: We’re on our last set of questions here, so let’s switch it up a tad and talk a bit about Librams and aesthetics.
Q: Do we have plans to incorporate a larger variety of Librams?
A: We try and make sure the three main paladin roles have their Librams covered. As these are special items that no other class can use, we have to make sure we don’t drop them too often in PvE encounters, but we have no problem putting more on badge vendors. Usually it’s just a matter of time because a new tier of content, like the Call of the Crusade patch, already involves making literally over a thousand new items.
Q: Do we have plans to incorporate Librams as a more prominent aspect of the paladin class? Also, can we expect to see Librams as a physical aesthetic item on the paladin? Much like the quiver is for the hunter (except only the hunter can see their own quiver mounted on their back).
A: This is something players suggest a lot, and honestly something we’d like to do. It’s a pretty iconic image from Warcraft, especially Warcraft III, to have the paladin toting around their libram. Someone at BlizzCon last year asked if they could beat on people with it. This is a big task to put on the art team though so we would want to make sure we do it right. The same answer would apply to shaman totems and hunter quivers. On the other hand, it took a long time to finally update the druid cat and bear art so don’t look for this in 3.2.