The Light and How to Swing It: BlizzCon paladin info roundup

Gregg Reece
G. Reece|10.27.10

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Please send screenshots as well as any comments to my email at

So this is pretty much going to be a collection of blurbs from the BlizzCon 2010 class Q&A panel. Some questions that were asked throughout the day were things that have come up in the past, but others had new information that hadn't even hit the beta servers yet. The panel members from left to right consisted of Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street (WoW lead systems designer), Kris Zierhut (WoW senior technical game designer), Owen Landgren (WoW game designer), Ion Hazzikostas (WoW game designer) and Chris Kaleiki (WoW associate game designer).

I went back and tried to do a much more thorough job at transcribing the information than we do in our live blogs (because none of us can type as fast as Ghostcrawler speaks). Also, I've added a "too long didn't read" (TLDR) version of each question at the beginning for those of you who don't read the whole post before commenting. For the rest of you, there is a full transcript as well as links I've found to videos of the panel on YouTube and linked directly to where the question is asked, if you want to actually see what was happening. This isn't official video, so it might get pulled for copyright issues, but until then, it's a great reference.

Where did the holy power mechanic come from?

TLDR: Q: Why did you add this resource? A: Because paladins without a resource are hard to balance, are just whack-a-mole, and this gives the ability to add more depth. Is it perfect yet? No, but we think we'll get more out of it than trying to make you mana-only.

Question: [video link] My question is about the paladin. For a long time, from vanilla to Wrath of the Lich King, we've had health and mana bars. Then one day we come out of nowhere and holy crap we've got combo points! So, the holy power bar. I like it, but where did this all come from?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: We decided that mana feels good when it's the kind of thing that lasts for a long period of time and then you run out of it near then end, and then you have things like Evocation or whatever that can give a little bit of mana back. But, otherwise, it's dependable over short periods of time, but then it goes away.

And so, really, the paladin was designed like so the mana bar will constantly go down and then it will constantly get refilled again, and that just never felt right. So, more or less in Lich King, the paladin design became they have no resource at all except for cooldowns. Which they kind of have to manage whatever is coming off of cooldown; you have to play whack-a-mole with whatever is coming off and you hit that. It worked okay, but honestly, we've gone -- I think every in this room is pretty familiar with the problems we've had with that design.

And we decided that ultimately they needed a real resource. We needed a resource that kind of had that build up and then hit really hard at the end feel. Um, holy power is as nearly a big of deal for the paladin as combo points are for the rogue. I mean, a rogue can do nothing without that. A paladin can ignore it a little bit and do OK. So, it's a new feature, don't get me wrong. We're going to have to iterate a lot before it feels right, but we're pretty excited about where it's going.

Kris Zierhut: Without having a meaningful resource decision, it's just that cooldown whack-a-mole where one macro can play your character. We want there to be more to paladin than that.

Chris Kaleiki: I feel like a lot of the class revamps we did -- I mean, look at the class and say, "Where is the gameplay?" Healers have unlimited mana. Where's the gameplay in managing your healing spells? The hunter, I mean if you look -- like pretty much take a black Sharpie and put it over your mana bar, because you don't even think about it. Where's the game play there? That was the same design intent for holy power for paladins. Just to give them some game play with their resource.

Holy resistance

TLDR: Q: Most classes have two different types of damage. Paladins only have one. Why don't they have multiple types of spell damage to choose from? A: Because they're paladins and paladins are all about holy.

I'm not doing a transcript for this one. Here's the video link if you'd like to watch it. The original question actually came down to QQ about holy damage not being resistable in PvP. The devs actually said at the end that if you're dying in PvP due to a lack of holy power resistance that you've got other issues. Instead, I'm going to talk about what I wished the question was really about.

For those of you that remember all the way back to The Burning Crusade, there was a demon we had to kill in Hellfire Peninsula called the Vacillating Voidwalker. This guy was a pain in my butt. Whatever damage type you hit him with first other than physical, he becomes 75 percent resistant to and also uses that damage type for its own spells. This was also back when almost all paladin damage was holy, before they'd moved a lot of it over to being physical. So, you'd attack one of these things and you were suddenly doing 25 percent of your normal damage and had no real way to counter it from within your class. The way I got around it was engineering. I'd lob dynamite at him. He'd take the the explosion's damage, swap to 75 percent resistance versus fire and then I'd start wailing on him with holy damage.

That particular scenario still kind of haunts me, because I had to go out of my way to get around it to finish a quest. As a one-damage-type class like we were at the time (and still essentially are, but with more physical in the mix), you suddenly become completely ineffective against your opponent -- and then it starts hitting you back with that same damage type. As was suggested in the panel, I think adding something to paladins that did a nice "cleansing fire" type damage would allow players around this particular scenario. But, if I want to be truly honest with myself, I do agree with the developers from a lore perspective. I just don't agree with it completely from a game mechanics perspective.

Grand Crusader being weak

TLDR: Q: In the prot tree, Grand Crusader is weaker than Reckoning and doesn't fit well into the rotation. Any fix for that? A: The numbers need tweaked and that's fairly easy for us to do, but we're waiting to see how Inquisition works with it at 81.

Question (paraphrased a bit): [video link] Your idea for Cataclysm is to move away from the 9-6-9 where every GCD has to be filled and one of the ways to do that was Grand Crusader. But currently the math is showing Grand Crusader to be the lowest-DPS and -TPS talent, even behind Reckoning. The problem is that Avenger's Shield will only fit in a Holy Wrath spot in the single-target rotation. Any plans to change that to perhaps proc Sacred Duty so that it becomes a more interesting mechanic that doesn't fill every global cooldown?

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: I think the mechanic in that case is interesting. You get a proc for a big hit and it's one of your harder-hitting spells. I think that the numbers are just off now, because we don't want Grand Crusader to be worse than Reckoning, for example. That's an easy thing to tweak the numbers on, once we see the numbers a little more on how things stabilize with Inquisition damage and that sort of thing. But it's a valid point.

Protection holy power generation

TLDR: Q: Can prot pallies have more holy power generation? A: No, but we will give you holy power via a talent when you hit Divine Plea.

Question: [video link] It's roughly two questions that I have for you. The holy power generation for prot paladins is slightly gimped for generation of threat overall. Do you have any intention of giving like Judgement a guaranteed holy power charge? Or giving us a chance on proc in the prot tree to give us more holy power generation? Because ret spec right now, you have more things that generate random holy power charges, or you have the mastery that gives you free holy power. So you're always constantly doing an active spell or activating a stronger ability. Do you have any ideas for fixing this problem?

Kris Zierhut: So, one of the traps we want to avoid with prot paladin is the idea that you can try to keep Inquisition up and Holy Shield up at the same time. You can try to keep both of your finishers that buff you at the same time and feel like that's what you have to play as. If we give you too much holy power, it will actually make it harder to play the paladin, because you have to play it perfectly. And then the guy who's not as good is going to be really terrible by comparison. On the other hand, the reason I think the [prot] paladin's threat is bad right now is that warriors are generating too much threat, and we fixed that last week. Your threat should be very comparable to warrior. We've been doing a lot of tests on that to make sure that they're comparable.

Ion Hazzikostas: At the same time, we recognize that playing a tank spec in particular, it can be frustrating to feel like you're lacking the resources that you need do your job. When something comes in that you need to react to, to pick it up, and the resource isn't there and the button isn't there to push, you feel that you're hamstrung in that. To that end, one of the things that we did with the initial pass on prot paladins is to give them a 3-second Crusader Strike so that their overall holy power generation does exceed ret's in most cases.

Another very recent change we made is to add a talent to allow Divine Plea to give you up to 3 holy power when you push it, so that you can have the equivalent of a prot warrior who Bloodrages before the pull so that they can go in and get everything to stick to them right away.

Kris Zierhut: Actually, Bloodrage is gone, sorry. But you get Battle Shout now.

Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street: But you can Divine Plea on a pull now and start with 3 holy power if you're a prot paladin.
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