The State of Paladin

I try and stay positive when I focus on developments in the WoW world, but it’s getting hard to grit one’s teeth through yet another round of nerfs being fired like buckshot into the ranks of the paladins. Even when they’re not aiming at you, it’s almost a given you’ll get some collateral damage – probably right in the face.

Rohan of Blessing of Kings has been doing a good job of keeping up with the changes – the vast majority of which are nerfs – to paladins in the last few weeks, and I’ll point you there if you want to catch up on what’s changed (and changed, and changed again). So, What Went Wrong is a recent example of his interesting and insightful posts.

I’m angry, and bitter, and very very frustrated. I will try not to rant, but I make no promises. The change that’s frustrating me most is the story of Avenging Wrath, which was our shiny new Paladin spell at level 70.

The Backstory
In TBC Avenging Wrath was only a damage buff. It lasted 20 seconds, on a 3 minute cooldown, and triggered the Forbearance debuff – which lasted a minute, was triggered by Avenging Wrath, Blessing (now Hand) of Protection, Divine Shield (aka bubble), and Divine Protection (aka bubble; made you immune but you couldn’t attack at all, and shared the DS cooldown) and locked you out of all those spells while active.

Nice boost, right? In practice, it was rarely used.

  • PvE: it did nothing for Holy paladins (the vast majority of paladins in TBC), Ret paladins were a rarity in PvE (although those that existed would indeed have found Avenging Wrath useful), and generally it was mostly used by Protection paladins looking to crank up their TPS (since they didn’t have to worry about Forbearance, as they weren’t going to be bubbling).
  • PvP: pretty much never used, because it was purgeable/stealable, and locked you out of your only defensive ability to boot. No-one was going to give up the ability to bubble just for a damage buff that was almost certain to get wiped off anyway.

From The Sublime…
So, in the WotLK beta, Blizzard detached Avenging Wrath from Forbearance, and gave it a buff to healing done as well (finally making it useful for Holy paladins). This was, as far as I know, to encourage people to actually use it, and it worked. Finally, people were using their Level 70 spell – and loving it. To compensate, Forbearance was increased to a 3-minute duration. Fair enough.

…To The Ridiculous
Except, of course, that ret paladins were bubbling, blowing AW, and owning people up in BGs while completely immune – and strangely, other people didn’t like that very much. Blizzard clearly felt that this was an absolutely urgent issue, and hotfixed in a nerf (without even testing it first on the beta realms or the 3.0.3 PTR). Avenging Wrath now causes Forbearance again (which has been reduced to 2 minutes rather than 3).

The forums exploded as soon as this was announced, of course. Ten pages of respondents said “for god’s sake, don’t put it on Forbearance, just make AW and DS unable to be triggered at the same time, like trinkets”. This was apparently ignored, as were the nearly-as-numerous suggestions to have AW cancel DS and vice versa, or have AW just not give a damage boost while bubbled… et cetera.

Where Avenging Wrath Stands
So, let’s take a look at the net change between TBC and now, shall we?

Forbearance: Was 1 minute. Now 2 minutes.

PvE: Holy paladins will no longer use AW unless they really need the throughput buff and can be certain they won’t need to bubble for survival. Ret paladins may use AW, except on fights where they know they’ll need to bubble for survival. Prot paladins absolutely will not use AW (losing the TPS boost it provided), as it would lock them out of Divine Protection (which is now a Shield Wall ability rather than just being ‘bubble-lite’).

PvP: No-one (with any sense) will use AW. It’s still vulnerable to purge/steal and will still lock you out of your most vital survival ability; a paladin who’s blown their bubble is a vulnerable, probably-soon-to-be-dead paladin. And it’ll lock you out of your bubble for longer than it used to. Good times.

So, in other words, we are now worse off than we were in TBC. Thanks for fixing us, Blizz! Much appreciated!

“Paladin” Doesn’t Just Mean Retribution
This post was announced on the forums as an “upcoming Ret paladin PvP nerf”. However, it is in fact a nerf to all specs in PvE as well as PvP.

This follows on the heels of the last nerf, just four days earlier, also hotfixed in, reducing mana return from Judgements o the Wise and damage from Seal/Judgement of Command. Those really were Ret nerfs, not applicable to other specs, but in that post Ghostcrawler says “we still intend to lower the damage of other Seals and Judgements” (except Seal/Judgement of Blood and of the Martyr) – which basically means that Seal of Righteousness (the main seal for Holy DPS) and Seal of Vengeance (the main seal for tankadins) are getting it in the neck. Explain again how those are Retribution nerfs, given that Ret uses primarily Seal of Blood/Martyr and Seal of Command?

It’s really starting to feel like Blizzard has forgotten us Holy and Prot paladins are even here.

Testing Times
However, what also concerns me in the second nerf thread is Ghostcrawler saying (emphasis mine):

We are going to hotfix the nerfs to Judgement of the Wise (from 33% to 15%) and Seal and Judgement of Command (down 20% damage) to live. We need to start getting more testing on these changes right away to see what they do to Retribution in PvE and PvP.

What, in God’s name, do they have a Beta test and a PTR for, if not testing changes? Why the hell are they hotfixing nerfs to the Live environment before they’ve tested them?!

And then we have the issue that they’re hotfixing untested nerfs in left, right and centre, but when it comes to fixing damage done by these nerfs, the response is “we’re exploring this … we’ll let you know” and “as soon as we’re comfortable that we haven’t over-nerfed Ret, and a couple of other things, we’re going to look at healer dps again to make sure you can solo” and “we do realize this hurts Holy and Protection as well, and that is something for which we are prepared to offer compensation”.

So, the cheesy Bubble+Wings IWIN combo made people unhappy enough that it had to be hotfixed (despite the fact that it was a once-every-5-minutes combo for 12 seconds), but repairing the ongoing effects of these hamhanded, scattershot nerfs is something that has to be carefully considered, orchestrated, and implemented? Does anyone really wonder why paladins are feeling angry, bitter and victimised at this point?

Frankly, I think Blizzard has really dropped the ball on Paladin development. I will still be playing Sailan when the dust settles (unless something really really dire happens), but I can’t blame other paladins for rerolling or quitting entirely.

15 thoughts on “The State of Paladin”

  1. This kind of slipshod balancing sounds similar to the crappy job Blizz with “fixing” spriests. Fingers crossed what take a deep breath, go back ta the drawing board and fix it right, ‘steada keeping on running amok all willy-nilly.

  2. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m not full-bore upset because honestly I hadn’t taken full advantage of the separation of Avenging Wrath from Forbearance. I only did the bubble/AW combo once in PvP and since I’m not ret it’s not something that’s likely to happen again any time soon. Even in PvE I haven’t quite wrapped my head around using it as a healing buff.

    So I can’t really say I’m going to miss what I haven’t used. What really gets me though is exactly what you mentioned about the fact Forbearance is now two minutes. Having it increased to three was a fair trade-off when Avenging Wrath didn’t cause it, but now that it does I wish they’d roll it back to one. I miss being able to use my second bubble in PvP. Three minutes is so long that I’m generally either dead or no longer need the second bubble by the time Forbearance wears off.

  3. Since no one at Blizzard dev plays Paladin, they really cannot be expected to know what to do with our class. That’s an old joke from the Fangtooth days that still applies. Long time Paladin will know what I’m talking about.

  4. Well said, Siha. Epic post.

    I will continue to play my paladin, and most likely enjoy it very much. However, Blizzard’s implementation of these hotbreaks (can we call them that, since they don’t actually fix anything at all?) is embarrassing, to say the least.

  5. I have avoided posting/talking about the Pally nerfs because you and Rohan do a better job of it! I just link my guildies to your blogs.

    The ennui from nerfs continues… logging into find the AW hotfix was not a happy day for me. What happened to surgical nerfing of Ret? The giant nerfhammer is slamming Holy and Prot a lot harder than I expected. Its hard to stay hopeful and not spend more time on my alts.

    When I dinged 70 I was Holy and AW was this thing that looked cool and I knew I would never use in my entire life as a raiding Healadin. Then the blues said “we want Healers to use AW but we don’t want to do a straight healing boost because that would be dull.” And they did it anyway and it was nice to have! And now its gone… I think I will pretend I never had it to begin with.

  6. My. Sentiments. Exactly.

    On the money, as usual, Siha. I just wrapped up a rant of my own on the topic – it boggles my mind why they didn’t hotfix AW to a simple bubble-lock out instead of reversing their decision to detach it from Forbearance.

    The good news, though, is Ghostcrawler has insinuated that a 30 second lockout might be the solution they ultimately go with, assuming they also detach it from Forbearance (again)…

  7. Well said. I know exactly how you feel – everything looked so promising at one point in the beta and now it’s really just depressing. I thought at one point things might turn out like BC where we started out strong, and then things go downhill. But now I don’t think we’ll even get that.

  8. The mistake Blizzard made was on timing. If they had changed from pre-3.0 to what we have now (beacon of light, pushback fixed, judgment fixed, tank dps upped, ret viable), people wouldn’t complain.

    It’s just that while they did a bunch of awesome things, they also worked in a little too much burst damage and made the game unbalanced. The process of fixing that feels worse than it would have if they had not changed the class at all.

  9. Do I agree with Blizzard’s changes? Not necessarily, but I definitely think that people take things out of proportion, especially when its concerning their class. Blizzard has said that they’re going to bump up prot/holy damage as soon as they get the ret numbers down right, so that matter is only an issue of time (already they switched HotR to be 4x multiplier rather than 3x).

    From the perspective of a holy paladin, I was happy to see with this expansion’s beta how blizzard has definitely did a lot of work on revitalizing holy paladins. I enjoyed playing beta because I could feel the amount of change that has happened. We have a lot more healing options now, we are much more mobile, we now have many more toys to play around with.

    Remember, that even with the nerfs in the past 2 weeks, the overall TBC->WotLK transition has been a huge buff for paladins of all specs, all of our specs seeing bigger buffs than almost any other spec in the game. Perhaps only boomkin got similar magnitude of changes.

  10. Ghostclawler has announced on the forums, that they will “eventually” put Avenging Wrath on a 30 sec shared cooldown with Divine Shield.
    That is totally fine with me and i guess most of the Paladin population.
    Anyway, the way how these past few weeks played out was the evidence of incapacity for Blizzard’s Paladin work. How could they even get it so wrong in the first place?
    It also shows, that the massive force of QQ on the forums actually effects something. Very much even.

  11. @Amiens: Sorry, but honestly, what good will it do levelingwise when they buff holy-dmg in a month? Or do you really think they will buff it next week? I am just not enough of a masochist to level holy at the current dmg-output….
    Every other healer class has gotten its dps buffed, except palas. And we had the worst dps to begin with because of the lacking synergy of our dps and our healing gear. For healing we need spellpower and caster stats. For dps we need melee stats. Every other healer has a spelldamage-dps option (shamans-ele, priests-shadow,druids-balance). And they have real synergy between their dps and their healing tree…

    @OP: You forgot to mention that the damage % of AW was turned down too… So aside from the holy point of view it got nerfed pretty hard…

  12. Thank you.

    You have summed up very nicely how the Paladin community feels about all these changes. There have been a lot of carelessness and duplicity on Blizzard’s part towards the Paladin class and that needs to be dealt with before all this anger and bitterness goes down.

  13. This same silliness hit druids recently too, which made me think of swapping to my spriest, who also then got messed with for no reason.

    So I’m thinking a pure class and spec seems to be the only thing left really.

  14. I don’t thing Blizzard really knows how to “balance’ hybrid classes well between PVE and PVP. If any attempt is made to balance hybrid, its allways in favor of PVP, but the game is a MMORPG first with PVP mixed in. So if classes are balanced for PVP in mind they suffer in PVE and thus the 21 plus Paladin nerfs that bascily left them 2 steps behind everyone esle in PVE.

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