After the release of The Burning Crusade, many Horde players raced to level a pally to 70. The addition of this new class prompted many raiding guilds to encourage this, looking to pallies to round out their endgame rosters. Sneet, guild leader for Grim on Daggerspine, was one of these players. He put aside his warrior, the Main Tank in most raids, to bring his new Belfadin to 70 as quickly as possible. This screenshot was taken in February, so, as you can see, he became a raid viable paladin pretty quickly.
Some of the comments for Elizabeth's first Pally column stated that Belfadins were too new to the class to be knowledgeable enough about it. I think that's bunk. A raid boss doesn't stop the action to ask the paladin a question about pre-TBC talents. This isn't a history lesson. We are writing about the issues facing current paladin players. (Though history lessons are pretty cool, too.) Factions are now getting similar raid experiences because they have the same combination of classes, causing post-TBC information to be more universal and therefore more valuable.
I asked Sneet what changes need to be made for endgame paladins to be more successful. I was pleased to discover that this was something he had analyzed extensively. Following are Sneet's views on endgame pallies and the changes he suggests to improve them.
(Robin's note: The following text is taken from whispers in WoW and edited only for punctuation and expanding abbreviations. It turns out that transcribing an interview from screenshots is a lot more work than copying and pasting from a chat program. Lesson learned.)
From what I see overall with the three trees:
Holy right now is great, pretty powerful. If something had to be changed, maybe put in a heal over time or aoe heal. However, holy is already powerful. I have trouble split healing on large dps fights, if I am a sole healer. That's a problem I run into in Arena above 2v2. In a nutshell, we only have single target heals.
The protection tree right now -- I haven't put much time into it (Robin's note: Jason has), but from what I observe, the problem with the tree is itemization for tankadins. They have too low of stamina and their aggro generation is slightly gimped vs hard/slow hitting mobs.
Next is the retribution tree -- every paladin's hidden desire to spec into. (Robin's note: Not me, but I'm weird.)
The problem with retribution is:
a) People have a stigma of retribution paladins being very bad, mostly because most casual paladins are specced retribution and do not have the gear to support it, thus making the player look like a fish out of water -- totally useless. Breaking the stigma is going to be hard, because the problem with retribution is it's very, very gear dependent -- possibly worse than a Fury Warrior.
b) In a raiding situation, retribution paladins have group buffs that are cool, but not enough for people to give them a chance. Refreshing judgments and 3 Crit Melee/Spell Crit, raid-wide, is cool, along with 2% damage to everyone in the paladin's group, but it just isn't enough.
The good retribution paladins don't really need an increase in DPS, but more utility to bring to the group, to help others, to make up for the lower DPS they have. So talentwise, if they somehow added in a new buff/debuff, it will help break the stigma of retribution paladins being worthless.
One easy way they could try to fix it, is if they made the Vindication Talent proc on bosses again. The talent reduces the Strength and Agility of the target by 15% for max ranked talent. When it was introduced, it used to land on bosses. However, a patch afterward, they removed it from affecting bosses and made bosses use Attack Power instead of Strength/Agility. So, if they do that, they would have to change the boss stats. Also, the problem with that change is that Vindication is so early in the tree, people would argue that a paladin should spec Holy/Retribution and just melee, then go back to healing.
A better idea is to make Repentance a trainable talent or add in a new talent somewhere that provides a debuff. There are enough Hybrid group buffs. If it were my choice, I would want a talent that lands a debuff on the target boss that reduces their stats somehow.
Warriors have Attack Power and Attack Speed debuffs. Druids have Insect Swarm, which reduces percentage to hit. Paladins need a debuff to apply to a target that would be worth it to bring a retribution paladin into the further raid instances. I can't say what exactly -- there are a lot of noble ideas on the paladin forums -- but it would have to be balanced right, which Blizzard is actually good at.
Do you agree with Sneet's assessment of Paladins in the endgame? What would you like to see changed for the raiding Paladin?
Robin Torres is raising a couple of Blood Elf Paladins of her very own on two different servers, because one just isn't enough. In her search for knowledge about her new favorite class, Robin interviews more experienced paladins. If you want to be one of those paladins, please email Robin.Torres@weblogsinc.com for a possible future column.