Gotta love Ghostcrawler: Paladin utility in 3.3

Cross posted on Big Hit Box on 28 October 2009.

One of the best Blizzard posts ever:

Dear OP,



Spot the double-entendre in OP (original poster, overpowered).

I know some people don’t like the guy, but I’m a GC fan.  Probably because I’m a reasonable person.  And hes funny.  I may not like nerfs.  I may not like that a lot of my nerfs are because of arenas which I don’t really like.  But I am reasonable enough to understand the need for many of the nerfs.  I do feel a bit like PvE ret right now is a giant accident caused by the arena problem, and I hope that Cataclysm will tidy it up a bit.  But on the other hand, I’m competative and I bring great buffs to the raid so the scales are weighing heavily on the plus side at the moment. Whats happening in 3.3 then
Well the nerfbat has arrived. Sacred Shield has taken a massive nerf as a baseline spell.  Instead, to get the current Sacred Shield you’ll have to take Infusion of Light which is way, way up the Holy tree.  The idea is that Sacred Shield was meant to be a healing tool, and that for retribution and prot its overpowered in comparison to other tanks and melee.  Which it probably was.  Blizzard balances classes around certain abilties they are intended to use.  Its when people get creative and go outside those boundaries that things like this happen.

Divine Guardian
I’ve not been posting about the many, many changes to this spell.  I said in my first post about it that I thought it would be nerfed because it was overpowered.  It was (theres a shock).  The duration has been halved to 6 seconds.  Theres also one fairly large improvement.  It no longer ends when Divine Sacrifice is removed.

Lay on Hands
This one really worried me for a minute!  But it seems that it has been/will be reverted.  For a short while, Lay on Hands was no longer going to be castable on the paladin.  Now I love my Lay on Hands.  If it was taken away from me I would find myself being splatted far more often!  Its a great spell every ret pala should use.  Health looking a bit low and you seem to be on the wrong side of the room? LoH.  Raid damage hitting when you were already a bit low? LoH.  On 6% health and its all going a bit wrong? LoH.  I can’t count the number of times this spell has saved my life.

Now the forum trolls are out in force (OMG I’ll quit | Warriors go ‘haha’ | Nerf everyone else too ) and being fed tasty blue titbits.  I actually think the dev team does this to give us something to laugh about you know.

So are palas still OP?
This is what GC had to say for himself:

The Aura Mastery change (to 6 sec duration) is one we think is appropriate. If I had to guess, this one will stick.We are trying some things with Sacred Shield to make it more of a Holy tool and less useful for Ret and Prot (without being totally irrelevant). I don’t have a lot of faith that the implementation on the PTR is the one we’ll go with for a couple of reasons, but our overall goal is to make Ret less tanky and the Holy tree feel like it’s the right one to focus on for healing. I would expect a Sacred Shield change of some kind though.

I wouldn’t worry too much on the Lay on Hands change at this point. I don’t want to promise we won’t change the spell for 3.3, but our intent was to revert the others only change before it went out to the PTR, which is why we didn’t patch note it. We have already changed it back on our local builds.The paladin class isn’t just supposed to be for support anymore, but at the same time, the original intent for many paladin abilities was to help the group. Over time however they have contributed into making the paladin into a “one-man army,” able to play offensively, defensively and heal without say the stance changing or shapeshifting or sometimes event talent specialization required of other classes. Many of the LK balance problems we’ve had with the class are because of that core issue.With that said, we’re just not sure a Lay on Hands change really accomplishes much from a balance perspective, while it feels bad to lose such an iconic ability. We just don’t think the bang for the buck is there on this change, which is why we reverted it. But I’m not going to promise we won’t touch it.

In fact, I’m not going to promise anything with this post. 🙂 Please don’t dredge it up later to try and argue against any upcoming changes. I’m just trying to clear up some confusion.


Now this is a reasonable argument.  Step back a second and pretend you don’t want to be a one-man-army who is vastly OP (which secretly we all do).

PvP aside I almost never die in raids.  In order to die I or someone else has to screw something up big time (pull aggro, healer dies, stand in fire like a moron, etc.).  I have so many saves its unreal.  And most of them I can just pop and carry right on dpsing.  Now imagine you’re a druid or a shaman or a rogue?  Do they really come close?  Shamans are the only other melee who can heal without changing form and therefore nerfing dps.  They are squishy.  Our shamans drop like flies at things I barely even notice.  So I can understand the problem.  I’d love to say thats because I am a great player, but I don’t think that would be true.

So whats really making ret palas OP?
Armor.  We have lots of it.  Plate means more health compared to mail, leather and cloth.  I’ve been a clothie and I remember the difference.  I remember stacking PvP gear to live back when Aran was hard and the extra HP made a difference.  Warriors don’t have as many other saves, so their armor is not as OP.  Death Knights are at least as OP as paladins!

Cooldowns.  We have lots of them.  I can LoH.  I can bubble, I can use an Art of War proc for a Flash Heal.  Druids can dash (reduced dps).  Shamans have Earth Shield (not as powerful sadly for them).

Abilities.  I can cast a Holy Light.  Because I get spellpower from strength its effective, even if it is a mana hog.  I can use Sacred Shield.  I get healing back from Divine Storm.  I get heals from Judgement of Light (which admittedly all other healers get too).  I get additional healing from Divinity.

I totally get the accusation that ret palas are a bit … tank like.

If I ruled the world…
Now for the opinion part, concentrate.

Theres certainly no good solution that will be implemented in 3.3.  I suspect in Cataclysm there will be a major shake up of talents.  If Blizzard want the three specs to be more distinct, then the lower talents need to do their double duty and the higher talents need to be more specialised to their respective roles.

Divinity?  Should move up if its making ret palas too tanky.  The Sacred Shield change?  Makes perfect sense.  PvP abilities in the prot tree should come down the tree so that PvP builds can access them.  Abilities you don’t want to make paladins OP in PvP  or non-tank specs should go up.   This would solve a lot of problems.  Divine Storm is good because its essential.  It can be used to put OP tanking talents out of reach of ret.  Make sure Holy does the same thing.

This in turn, would trigger a rethink of some of the talents.  Retribution is often criticised for being a bit dull at high levels.  Repentance should be lower down the tree – its dull and boring and not that useful.  The many many improved crit abilities could be consolidated and crit that should also be available to holy and prot should be lower with more interesting raid buffs and ret only crit being higher.  I’d also like to see an end to ‘increases damage on certain mob types’ abilities.  I get the reason, but they’ve caused us grief in the past.

I would like to see new abilities.  On all my other 80s (paladin, druid and death knight) there is some creativity required to get a good spec.  You can choose to take a combination of abilities that differentiate you from the rest.  In retribution, to its detriment, there are dps abilties, which you should take all of, and then utility points, which you juggle.  Thats less true of prot and holy where you make trade offs that affect how you play (holy-ret vs holy prot for healers or Crusade vs Seals of the Pure for tanks).  For ret its Vindication vs. DSac.  Thats not really the same thing.

Seal of Command could be higher up the tree, and at that point a little more powerful (just a little!) so that its clearly good for short fights all the time.  I actually like Seal twisting and that could be used to affect other things.    I’d like to see an Improved Crusader Strike that made it a bit more exciting.  Perhaps something fun that procced off of Divine Plea for us?

I’d also be happy to accept some bubble consolidation.  Even I get confused by how many bubbles I have!!!  Consolidate Hand of Protection and Divine Shield.  Put a short cooldown on it (say 3 minutes) and make it castable on anyone.  But add a long debuff on it (say 10 minutes).  So you can use it a couple of times a fight, but not on the same person.  Then make that debuff affect Divine Protection.  And instead of the shared 30s cooldown just make it so Avenging Wrath can’t be active at the same time as the bubbles (make one cancel the other – that’d make people more careful about them!)

What do you think?
How would you solve the ret pala problem?  How would you make the class more fun without making it OP and how would you reduce survivability without making us too squishy?



7 thoughts on “Gotta love Ghostcrawler: Paladin utility in 3.3

Add yours

  1. W-crusher (my partner in crime) can probably answer the question about ret better – though from my PvP experience I can say that SoJ is not a closer – and our interrupt 40sec CD is a bit long. Twisting seals to SOJ is proccy – you can’t depend on it.

    As far as SS goes – I posted about it myself today – and included numbers from some H TOC 10 fights. I’d appreciate your feedback on it – maybe I’m way off base.

  2. lol, in arenas any other class (except rogues, poor little fellers) can easily put down a ret in pvp if they know how to play. Rets have little chance of ever coming close to killing a healer unless that healer is a nub. And the only time a ret applies a little bit of pressure is with wings up. at which point any other class with a little skill will just dispel/cc/kite until its over.

    in bgs however (where i think most the qq comes from) rets look godly cause theres so many scrubs there.

    one more point ide like to make is that while ret can do alot of things, it cant do anything well (like dps)

  3. @Adgamorix
    That was a great post and I encourage people to hop over there to see the PvP perspective and the prot one. Mine is definitely more of a PvE ret perspective. In PvE ret I have 1427 spellpower before any buffs. So mine absorbs a bit more.

    But I’ll let you in on a secret – I forget to use SS a lot. I think you are right when you say the change is aimed largely at the holy/protadins. But overall, looking at LoH, bubbles, Art of War, etc. I still feel I have way more survivability than the other melee. Even the DKs.

    @ Skiny
    In PvP I know ret has been nerfed heavily but I can’t really comment on that as I don’t PvP.

    However I totally disagree with your last statement. Ret can and does dps well! I have really good dps in raids. Do I top every fight in 25 man? No, but neither does any class in our guild. But there are several fights where I should easily manage to do it and others where I have a good chance. In 10 man its even better and I am often at the top because ret brings a lot of its own buffs. Ret is competitive as melee dps.

  4. Well if you dont pvp you wont really feel the loss of LoH as much, Im not playing WoW atm but my main was a ret paladin so the changes, specifically LoH is a massive blow… guess I’ll be rolling a Death Knight or a Rogue when Cataclysm hits !

  5. Oh forgot to say Ghost Crawler is a little gimp, he can try and be as funny as he wants but if people have played paladins since Vanilla WoW they will know how pathetic we were, it seems we are destined to be buffed then nerfed without any long term plan put in. Why not give us some more attacks to keep us happy? I mean seriously look at the amount of Attacks available for a DK its unreal, yet we are stuck with a rotation of 3 or 4 buttons!

  6. I’m not too worried about the Sacred Shield change. I mean yes it sucks to loose some defensive tool, but hey it still give you a 50% chance crit on Flash of Light for 30 secs, and procs a HoT effect for 100% of Flash of Light’s healing value. Coupled with Sheath of Light when your FoL crits, its still valuable to keep that up.

  7. The main problem I see with paladins is that there is a lot of glut in the Holy tree and a lot of tasty, tasty things for healers in both the other trees. One of the main problems Blizzard has right now (from what I’ve read) is that paladins are going deeper into Ret to heal, rather than Holy. They had this problem with Prot healers in arenas being so OP last season, too. They need to go through and gut Holy, IMO. Having a five point talent that is worse than a three point talent for priests is pretty terrible.

    The crit chance and HoT is actually what is getting nerfed. Stealing from MMO-Champ: “Sacred Shield can now only occur every 30 sec. (Up from 6 sec)” That’s the secondary affect that pops when you take damage. So you’ll be getting the crit and the HoT once every 30 seconds now when the damage absorption pops, instead of every 6 seconds.

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