What Class Previews Can Tell Us About What’s Coming For Paladins

OMGFWTBBQ.

I have never made such a long title to a post.  But its all I could think of.

Down to the nitty grity, though.  Class previews (at least some of them) are out.  It is an interesting glimpse into what the devs are going to do in cataclysm.  Let’s take a look at the four that have been posted, and take some guesstimate work on what this means for the pally.

First and foremost, Mastery.  They are unique to every class and talent tree.  And I like them.  I was worried that they would be implemented in the same way that Diablo 2’s “synergy” was implemented (for the record, I think WORST design of any “system” in Blizz’s history), but it turns out that they are actually…. pretty cool.  But not only do they alter the “cool” factor of each spec, they are going to make it (at least for DPS) an easy “knob” to tune us up and down, if we get out of hand.

This, from the Shaman preview:

Unleash Weapon (level 81): Unleashes the power of your weapon enchants for additional effects (see below). A dual-wielding Enhancement shaman will activate the effects of both of their weapon enchants. Instant cast. 30-yard range. 15-second cooldown. Undispellable.

Here are a few examples of effects we’re considering for this ability:

  • Windfury Weapon – Hurls a spectral version of your weapon at a target, dealing 50% weapon damage and increasing the shaman’s Haste for the next five swings.
  • Flametongue Weapon – Deals instant Fire damage and buffs the shaman’s next Fire attack by 20%.
  • Earthliving Weapon – Heals the target slightly and buffs the shaman’s next healing spell by 20%.

I think what the dev’s are trying to do is bring more inter-activity, and choice, into more play styles.  Does this not sound like judgements to you?  I’m not at all hurt that they are trying to “copy” a paladin mechanic.  No, thats not what I am getting at.  What I am getting at is that this makes an interesting CHOICE for the shaman in combat.  Much the way our seals and judgements work.  Its fun and intriguing gameplay, and I like it.

This, also, from Shaman preview:

Primal Strike (available at level 3): Primal Strike is a new weapon-based attack that every shaman will learn very early in the game. Our goal with this ability is to make leveling as Enhancement rather than as Elemental more viable, since many key Enhancement talents become available at fairly high levels.

Do you see the implications here?  WOOOOOOO!   Yes, if you have leveled a paladin recently, you know how UNfun auto-attack is.  That is 80% of everything that paladins do up to lv 40.  And after 40, it still remains a large part of our attack cycle until we get all of our talents down.  Revamp of pally lvling, GO!

For you healy pallies out there, from the Priest preview:

Heal (available at level 16): While priests already have a spell called Heal, the existing version becomes obsolete at higher levels, which is something we intend to change in Cataclysm. Introduced at a low level, the “new” Heal spell will functionally work much like a down-ranked Greater Heal did in the past, adding more granularity to your direct-healing arsenal. If you need to heal someone a moderate amount and efficiency is an issue (making Flash Heal the incorrect spell for the job), then Heal is what you want to use. Heal is intended to be the priest’s go-to direct-healing spell unless they need something bigger (Greater Heal) or faster (Flash Heal). We will be following a similar philosophy with all the healing classes.

Blizz has said that Holy pallies have been pigeonholed into single target healing (ok, maybe NOT those exact words).  More precisely, that we dont have enough tools in our toolbox.  I think we cal look forward to a few more heals – and maybe FoL will not be spammed constantly 🙂

Also from the Priest preview:

We want to make Holy a little bit more interesting to play. One new talent will push the Holy priest into an improved healing state when he or she casts Prayer of Healing, Heal, or Renew three times in a row. The empowered state varies depending on the heals cast.

Ok, at face value, this looks… interesting.  Tamarind has strong feelings about this, in the fact that he feels it pushes priests even more into specialized roles, rather than being able to “heal on the go” and use the big toolbox they have.

I think differently.  I dont think one “empowered” state will hamper the other spells that could be used.  Just make those it is designed to work with a bit better.  But we dont know, its too early to tell.

What you can take away from this is that the design team is starting to think outside of the box.  And thats what Holy paladins need.  No more direct spells, PLOX.  KTHXBAI

Now on to the jucy stuff for rets.  Lets look at the Warrior preview:

Inner Rage (Level 81): Whenever the character reaches a full 100 Rage, he or she will gain a buff that causes attacks to consume 50% more Rage and do 15% more damage for a short amount of time. This is a passive ability so it won’t need to be activated by the player. The goal for this ability is to provide a benefit for hitting max Rage instead of it feeling like a penalty. However, we also don’t want warriors to feel like they’re supposed to pool Rage and do nothing until they hit 100, so we’ll be closely monitoring how this plays out during the beta testing, and making adjustments as needed.

Alright, we cant draw a direct comparison to Warriors here.  They have a rage bar that is designed to be filled during combat, and constantly emptied.  We have a Mana bar.  It starts full, and we hemmorage mana, doing lots of strikes to keep it up.  But from tweaks and changes of patches past, I can say that this is something that Dev team has struggled with for a long time.  Too much regen, mana no longer matters.  Too little, and we stand and auto attack.  I think we are a bit on the high side right now with ret.

What would be interesting is mana regen toned down just a bit.  Then something like inner rage for when pallies are low on mana, but need to regen.  For a very short duration, all attacks do x amount more damage, and cost no mana.  In addition, you gain 10% of your base mana after the effect expires, and reduces the current cooldown of divine plea by 30 seconds..  This effect cannot happen more than once every 3 minutes.

The idea is to give us a slight damage boost, and encourage intellegent use of mana resources.  Another dimension to ret play that pallies have long been lacking?

There are the positives that I can see.  More will come out with rogues and dk’s, and I will do a short writeup after they are out.  But here is one statement that scares me, from the Warrior preview:

Whirlwind will hit an unlimited number of targets, but only for 50% of weapon damage. The intent is for this ability to be used in multi-target scenarios and not on single targets.

You just gave us cookies, dont take them away!  Pallies are AOE powerhouses, only druids really compete with us (seriously, NERF TYPHOON!).  And when you think about it, what is *the* iconic DPS pally move?  Its Divine storm.  The animation, the sound, everything.  It IS paladin DPS.  Let’s hope the same thing is not in works for that.  Its a fun button push.  How consecrate, that darned mana hog, that can go this way.  But NOT Divine Storm.

Overall it seems that the devs are trying to simply things, give them more tools to balance, make gameplay more engaging, and rebalance the leveling (because lets face it…   now 85 levels, thats a BIG barrier to entry into the game).

Lets see what DK’s and rogues have in store….

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