It’s hard to find a good World of Warcraft blog, though WoW Insider probably comes closest. Unfortunately, the range of articles is pretty wide, and while there are some great pieces on classes, techniques, and other guides, there’s also some uninformed material that only serves to further misinform. Such is the case with a recent article, The Light and How to Swing It, written by two players of Blood Elf Paladins. I draw attention to this article because of late, my WoW-time has gone into exploring the Paladin class, and I’ve always had a thing for hybrid classes and the design decisions behind them. While I won’t comment on everything the article or respective comments touched on, let me briefly address a couple issues.
On Discounting the Blood Elves
A lot of hoopla on the comments section to the aforementioned article discounts the authors because they happen to play Blood Elf Paladins, rather than Dwarf or Human Paladins. While it’s understandable that readers may discount “n00b” Paladins who are unfamiliar with the class, that fact has little association with one’s faction; Horde players may have rolled Paladins for reasons different than their Alliance counterparts, but one’s knowledge of a class is only partly related to the time they’ve played one specific character; the player of a Horde Paladin may have played an Alliance Paladin in the past, or done the extensive research necessary to know their class, even though they may not have played a Paladin in cutting-edge raid environments. Not all of us have had the opportunity to down Black Temple bosses, mind you.
Returning to the motivation factor for rolling a Paladin, it’s true that many Horde players chose to roll a Paladin because of the hoopla surrounding a Holy Paladin’s healing abilities. However, from a Horde player’s perspective, there are few Holy Paladins running around; most Horde Paladins I’ve encountered have been Retribution-specced, with only the occasional Holy or Protection Paladin in the mix. This seems a similar experience to playing on the Alliance, where at end-game, a lot of the non-Holy Paladins decide to make the switch to Holy for raiding purposes.
Interestingly, Holy Paladins wearing cloth is not a new thing. I recall, almost two years ago, running Upper Blackrock Spire with a Paladin who rolled on Priest gear because of the healing bonuses. Similarly, I recall Restoration Druids doing same. Yet, for some reason, Horde Paladins get a bad rap, as if in-game lore has soured the Alliance to anything related to Blood Knights.
When it comes to lore, there’s even less of a foot Alliance have to stand on. As the only race that doesn’t have a Warrior class available to it, Blood Elves should be more inclined to have Protection Paladins available than Dwarves/Humans. In fact, considering the state of the Paladin class prior to Burning Crusade (BC), one should expect most all Alliance Paladins to be Holy specced, since prior to BC, Paladins were incapable of DPSing or tanking.
In the end, Alliance Paladins need to shut up and consider Paladin advice on a case-by-case basis, and not disregard certain comments only because it’s coming from a Horde player. The fact of the matter is, there are just as many clueless Paladins among one faction, as there are in the other.
Thankfully, people are slowly realizing that Paladins can tank. The problem is, they still think Paladins can’t tank as well as a Warrior. Ironically, not only have I not seen a Protection Warrior while leveling my own Paladin, I haven’t seen a Warrior carry a shield, even when they wanted to tank (not that most do, mind you). The fact of the matter is, Protection Paladins tank as well as any other tank spec/class in the game, and in some situations, do better. Where the Protection Paladin’s reputation begins to falter, is where poor playing by other classes causes disruption in group mechanics. This is particularly true when Warriors intentionally pull aggro off a Paladin tank because they want to generate more rage, or when Rogues don’t attack the tank’s main target and refuse to Feign because they want to save energy. Cut it with the “race for highest DPS” shit; you’ll do fine on the damage meters if you play smart enough to keep the group alive long enough for those meters to even matter.
We hear time and time again that hybrids aren’t meant to compete against “pure” classes in a respective area, and yet some people gain hope when they see a Holy Paladin out-heal a Priest. This, in addition to the “race for highest DPS”, is why Retribution Paladins maintain their stubbornness and want a high-DPS spec available for the Paladin class. I won’t argue against a buffed DPS spec, despite the fact that I’ve come to the conclusion that Protection is the “true” Paladin spec post-BC. What I will say, however, is that for this dumb damage-meters notion to go away, all one needs to do is write a better damage meter.
I propose a better damage meter because a lot of players don’t consciously recognize the benefit of bringing a hybrid along in a party. If the damage a Rogue does with a Paladin’s Blessing of Might is computed as the Rogue’s damage, the Rogue assumes no tangible benefit from the Paladin was gained. Instead, the Rogue sees only marginal damage and healing done by a friendly Paladin. What damage meters should do, is compute the damage the Rogue did because of the Paladin, and subtract it from the Rogue’s score and add it to the Paladin’s score. In this way, everyone in the group buffed by the Paladin becomes an extension of the Paladin. Similarly, every buff in the game should reflect back upon the respective caster. Admittedly, such calculations would be very difficult to do, but not outright impossible.
The point is, rolling a hybrid class means you don’t care if you’re not top healer, or top DPS character in a group. The whole premise behind the Paladin, even outside of WoW lore, is to be a faithful holy warrior, whose personality is the embodiment of honour and humbleness. You shouldn’t be in it for the rank, or glory, merely the safety and survival of one’s companions. Otherwise, you’re not a Paladin in the first place.