Friday, June 06, 2008

Paladins Are a Melee Class.

One of the most maddening misconceptions others can have of the Paladin Class is that they are not fundamentally a Melee-based Hybrid Class. The point they most often put forward is that Paladins are most often healers and that some Paladins (usually Shockadins) use ranged spells to do damage. But lets look at the evidence:

  • Paladins Use Mana

  • But mana is just a name for a fairly generic power system. What happens if we changed the colour, called it 'Faith' or 'Zeal' or 'Goldfish'? The name of the Power system, or indeed how it works, means very little.

  • Paladins are Healers

  • Paladins have all of 2 baseline low-cooldown healing spells, three with talents, that they may use as a matter of course in a given encounter. By comparison they have a huge number of non-healing skills and skills with affect both melee and healing. We don't call dispute that Hunters are a ranged class even though they have a wide range of Strikes at their disposal because the vast majority of the rest of their abilities, and talents, require range. Why do we do the reverse with Paladins?

  • Paladins have a Holy Tree

  • This is by far the most perplexing. Yes, we have a Holy Tree, but we also have two (count them, 2) Trees dedicated to performing a function in melee range. Shouldn't this indicate that melee is an integral part of the classes dynamics?

  • But but but, Shockadins

  • Yes, it's true, Shockadins do exist as an offensive spec. They take their name from Holy Shock, the 31pt Holy Talent, but unfortunately melee-based (Swing + SoR) damage still contributes more damage than any other source. Further, every source of damage from a Shockadin except for Holy Shock itself requires you to be within 10yards of the enemy. Whether you class an ability as a 'spell' (consecration) or 'skill' (thunderclap) it's the range which is important... Warriors aren't any less melee-oriented for having Thunderclap or Commanding Shout.

  • Paladins are Spellcasters

  • 'Spellcaster' is a meaningless term, defined more by a predetermined assumption of what constitutes a spell or by the power system used by the class. For example, Repentence is a 'Spell' and yet Blind isn't, even though both work in a nearly identical way. Similarly the scaling of any ability has been arbitrary since Vanilla, for example see old Arcane Shot or multiple Paladin abilities which scale with a pick'n'mix of melee and spell stats. Those calling Paladins Spellcasters are in effect assigning their assumptions and preconceptions to the class rather than logically analysing the skills they have available and the roles those skills encourage.

    That Paladins have been pigeon-holed into a Healing role (or before that, a spam-Cleanse role) does not make them less of a melee-oriented class from a design perspective, it simply means that chain-casting healing as a mechanic is too strong (or alternatively Paladin melee abilities aren't strong enough). The vast majority of interactive abilities which are available to a Paladin require melee range to be effective or are designed to keep Mobs in melee range, and so to consider Paladins to be anything other than a Melee class makes no sense. Additionally, I would argue that the most development time and effort should be made to draw them into melee range, not to make Paladin healing more viable in WotLK. Frankly, I'd count it a failure if at least 50% of raiding Paladins aren't engaging encounters in melee range, and even more of a failure if more Druids and Shaman were up front than Paladins.

    There, not only are Paladins a melee class but I've laid out my argument for why Paladins should be considered (and redesigned if necessary) as such in Wrath when creating new Skills, extending the talent trees, and creating concepts for where Paladins should be in 5-man, 10-man and 25-man encounters. Don't like it? Well perhaps you should have been playing one of the ranged-hybrids to begin with, there are plenty to choose from.


    Josh 09/06/2008, 15:52  


    Just for the record, you mention that at least 50% of Paladins should be in melee. Many top-tier guilds (guilds raiding Sunwell or on the doorstep of Sunwell) are running with 3-4 paladins nowadays: a Ret, a Prot, and 1-2 Holys. 5-mans, PuG's, and 10-mans are where the problems lie for Ret Paladins - Holy and Prot usually have a place in those situations, since healers and tanks are scarce, but DPS is plentiful, and Ret brings no CC.

    Suicidal Zebra 09/06/2008, 17:42  

    True. However in 25-mans it should not be 'many', it should be 'most'. I have little time for the argument brought by many raiding guilds that 'if you have a healing spell, you will be healing in raids', and whilst many BT/Sunwell guilds are finally getting the idea it remains to be seen if this philosophy will extend into Wrath given the presence of another DPS/Tank hybrid. It pretty much requires encounters to be tuned to needing 19-20 non-healers.

    I'm at a loss when it comes to 10-man and 5-man roles, though I don't mind as much as I used to because of how relatively well Prot Paladins are doing in those arena's right now. CC is definitely the key, and as such some buffs to our anti-Undead CC should go some way improving our lot in many Wrath instances.

    Alternatively, more party-specific group utility could be the answer. Blessings scale very well in 25-mans but poorly in smaller environments, so perhaps a strong Offensive Aura deep in Ret would be a good solution... How about changing Sanct to a flat 5% damage boost Aura, dropping Repentence to Baseline and then sticking an Imp. Sanct Aura at 31pts providing a passive haste (or something more fun? That, or Buff repentance to the length of Sap and on a shorter cooldown than currently. Finally, dropping CC requirements slightly in 5 and 10-mans and boosting personal Ret DPS (whilst simultaneously nerfing the benefit we get from WF Totem such that the overall impact is zero in 25-mans raids) would at least go some way to removing the stigma of Ret Paladins.

    (or - if we really wanted to be out there - How about a talent deep in ret boosting Offtanking abilities temporarily... hrm, I may need to think on that. It could step on a lot of druid/warrior toes *grin*).

    Suicidal Zebra 09/06/2008, 17:49  


    Also, I should mention that I envision 2-3 Paladins per 25-man raid becoming the norm (rather than 3-5) in Wrath because of A) how poorly off Holy is in Healing now, and B) how situational Prot tanking is. 1 Holy 1 Ret for encounters where Paladin tanking isn't required and 1 Ret 1 Prot (+1 Holy) for AoE-tanking encounters. Unless Paladin population gets a massive boost in Wrath I just don't see the population levels being there support the dubious utility having a 3rd Paladin brings over for instance another Priest or Druid.

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