Attempting to return to regular blog posts about the state of the game(s) and encourage discussion amongst the clan and those outside of it, I have posted my latest installment: Early Impressions of Paladins 5.0. In this blog post, I give my opinion about the state of Retribution during Cataclysm, and then express my optimism that the new talent system may actually pave the way to individualized playstyles…that are viable.
Let me just say, that I am completely and totally impressed with the changes Blizzard made to paladins as of the MoP patch, 5.0.x (Was it .4 or .5? I know we’re on .5 now…but I digress.)
Anyone who seriously played a paladin prior to Cataclysm would agree that Blizzard truly did BREAK the paladin at the beginning of the expansion. It is very rare that I will admit that a spec or class is broken. And maybe it’s unfair to say the paladin as a whole was broken, maybe, more fairly, retribution was broken. Healing wasn’t bad, prot was acceptable, but retribution was horrendous. I found my cloth characters with much lower level gear were significantly more survivable than my well geared retribution paladin. And it’s not because I didn’t adjust to the new play-style. Anyone who knows me knows I adapt and learn rotations almost like second nature.
For those who aren’t aware and thought paladin’s were a “roflstomper” in Wrath don’t realize that the reason paladin was so powerful wasn’t because of it’s incredible damage output. In fact, single target damage (especially in pvp) was noticably lower than other melee classes. What separated the paladin from others was its increased survivability. The paladin didn’t out damage other classes; it out survived them. A good ret paladin could 1 on 1 almost anyone. In fact, I often beat superior geared ret paladins simply because I played smarter than them and took advantage of my survivability.
The reason I go off on this tangent ties back to one of the glaring problems in Cataclysm: Blizzard removed their survivability. Now instead of using Art of War procs to stay alive a paladin had to build up 3 holy power which only happened by using one skill: crusader strike. Additionally, they made a significant chunk of our damage come from Inquisition which also required 3 holy power and had to be kept up every 30 seconds. Crusader strike was on a 4 secondish cooldown without haste, which means that in any 30 second period a paladin was lucky to generate 8 holy power. To further exasperate the problem our hardest hitting attack, Templar’s Verdict, was only effective with 3 Holy Power. So now you have Templar’s Verdict, Inquisition, and Word of Glory all needing 3 holy power and only the ability to generate 8 (best case scenario).
Now you have a class that requires a significant amount of time to ramp up its damage mixed with the fact that damage/survivability trade-off; further exasperated by the fact that any of our heals completely suck anyway, leaves the retribution paladin broken. Having played retribution since BC (where Ret was pretty pathetic, but not nearly as much as it was in Cata), the spec went from my most favorite, to most dreaded. Questing in Tol’Barad in the first months of Cataclysm was horrific. One mob would almost kill you, two would be a matter of luck, and three would be almost certain death. Compare this to my death knight who has almost no healing skills who is rounding up and mass killing entire areas… with lower gear. See the problem?
Now in Blizzard’s defense (which I find difficult to say because they messed up so horribly), they did fix the problem to some extent. By the halfway point of Cataclysm the really did improve the paladin, but then had the ridiculous idea of nerfing Word of Glory to a 20 second cooldown, then finally 10 seconds for ret. Again, I digress, they made it better for us and the class became tolerable and at times enjoyable. Although it still greatly lacked the survivability it had.
Having now had the chance to look at each spec (although admittedly, I’ve only actually ran a dungeon with ret so far), the situation has improved dramatically. Playing retribution is FUN again. Not just tolerable, but FUN. Now, I admit the healing on ret might be nerfed, but overall, I regained the survivability I hadn’t experienced since Wrath of the Lich King. But that’s not all, the new talent system is fun, and actually warrants choice. I am no longer forced to pick between exclusively “fun” and “functional”. Now many talents that were exclusively for one spec are now available to any spec in a class. It allows me to mix and match and play in ways that I had only dreamed of before.
What I thought was merely a superficial change is starting to show the possibility of making the bland and boring dynamic. Now, maybe, we can start creating our own play styles. Think I’m over exagerating? Maybe, but I’m excited to see how it turns out…and a bit anxious hoping they don’t nerf it into oblivion and kill the party before it has begun.
All visitors are welcome to a friendly discussion of this post and the state of paladins past and present on our message board. Please feel free to join in, guild member or not!