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.
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.
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.